Catholic Women Still Don’t Have Suffrage in Their Church – NCR

Jamie Manson writing in the National Catholic Reporter…

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the day that women’s right to vote was enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The passage of the 19th amendment was the result of more than 80 years of women agitating, picketing and lobbying; some endured jail time and force-feedings when they went on strike to protest their arrests…

…As we celebrate the suffrage centennial, it’s important for women, particularly Catholic women, to remember the arguments that anti-suffragists made in their opposition of a woman’s right to vote. They sound eerily similar to the Catholic hierarchy’s current arguments against women’s decision-making power in the church and against women’s ordination.

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  1. Roy Donovan says:

    But the church is controlled by less than 1% of its members. The church — at every level — is controlled by its clerics.

    So what is all this talk about “synodality?” How can the talk become the walk when it comes to women in the church?

    On one level, synodality means collegiality, which brings us back to where we started from. Collegiality in the Catholic Church means priests and bishops talking to each other and deciding what they want to do. Pope Francis has said that synodality, very close to his heart, “is walking together, and it is what the Lord expects of the Church in the third millennium.” But who is walking with whom?

    OK. There was lots of talking together and walking together at the recent Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region. Some 230 men and 35 women were in the Paul VI Hall and in the 12 language discussion groups — five Spanish, four Portuguese, two Italian, one French/English.

    But on the interrelated questions of married priests and women deacons, the talking and the walking fell short. There was overwhelming support for each proposal: 128 for with 41 against ordaining married deacons as priests, and 137 for with 30 against women deacons.

    Yes, women were at the synod. Yes, women were observers. Yes, women were experts. But not one of them could do anything more than sit and watch the men decide. As it happened, every vote was cast by a man.

    But the wishes of the group do not seem to have changed things.

    The question of women in the church stops at the doors of the male-controlled Curia. The underlying problem: lingering remnants of disgraceful beliefs presented by medieval cardinals and canonists, some even promulgated by popes. None today will say it out loud, but there is written evidence that church hierarchs saw women as a) unclean; b) stupid; c) untrustworthy; d) deceiving; and e) too many other offensive descriptors to record here.

    See Phyllis Zagano

  2. Mary Vallely says:

    “What many still do not realize is that making women truly equal in the church is about more than ordaining women. It’s about acknowledging that people of all genders are equal in the eyes of God, an acknowledgment that is essential for women to achieve enfranchisement and access to freedom and authority in their church. And if a church as large, powerful and influential as the Catholic Church says women deserve equal power, it would have an untold impact in countries, cultures and societies that treat women and other gender minorities as inferior.”

    I realise that some here will groan or sigh thinking, “here we go again” as an article on the issue of women’s rights is brought to the fore. I also dislike the word “power” as it is not power that women seek but equality!
    We all agree that Black Lives Matter. Women’s lives matter. Do we not all agree?

    There is an image sealed into my memory bank from two years ago when I was standing with other WAC members outside Armagh cathedral holding my ‘Ordain Women’ placard. A wee woman in her early 80s, a daily mass goer, always beautifully turned out in traditional skirts or dresses and whom I had wrongly assumed to be conservative in her opinions, leaned over to me and whispered,
    “Sure why would you want to join that shower?!”
    Such wisdom and I slapped myself metaphorically for making wrong assumptions!

    I do understand why most of my female friends won’t waste their valuable time and energy in trying to reform the church of which they are committed members. We certainly won’t see any steps towards accepting the equality of women under the present Pope much as I admire and respect the man. He is a product of his own culture and clericalist training.

    It is neither wise nor productive to bring protestors out into the streets in these days of the Pandemic but we must never give up pursuing by other peaceful means the right to have our voices heard. It is one of the greatest injustices in the Church that Christ founded.

  3. Phil Dunne says:

    I find it interesting that there are 2 comments on this report and 12 on the report on the ridiculous carry-on of the priest in the US who decided that his baptism was invalid.

    Part of the reason in my view is that fewer and fewer women care about The Vatican and its operations.

  4. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Phil @3:
    Surely it’s the content, tone, slant, intent and engagement of comments that are important, rather than just the number or even gender of the commenters? In any case, I see Mary Vallely true to form on this thread and it was, of course, the same Mary who first suggested the absurdity of the ‘failed baptism’ case and invited ACP priests and theologians to join the discussion. Brendan eventually did but, as usual on this site, when a vacuum presents itself fools like myself rush in where our more reticent ordained and/or qualified angels fear, or couldn’t be bothered, to tread.
    Phil, you yourself could make your presence felt a little more on this site. Issues of women’s roles, rights, suffrage, equality in the Church have often presented themselves here but have too often gone by default because women and men are either absent or content to cry ‘absurd’, ‘insane’, ‘chauvinist’ or call a plague on the Pope (present and past), the Vatican, the bishops, or even the ACP and all their works and pomps and empty promises.

  5. Joe O'Leary says:

    It’s not so much that one fears to tread, but that the very topic of the failed baptism is retrogressive and sends people chasing down sterile rabbit holes. The Detroit priest should not have succumbed to retrospective scrupulosity. He should have recalled Ecclesia supplet, which goes beyond the gimlet definitions of canon law. The Church is the ur-Sacrament (Rahner), present and active wherever Christians gather in Christ’s name (John Paul II). Mutual recognition of the validity of baptism is a well established ecumenical practice. Add to that Christus supplet and Deus providet and you have solid grounds for confident faith rather than fear and doubt. Care for church order and correct celebration is important in the present tense, but digging up the past is inopportune. (It becomes a disedifying game in the case of marriage annulments.) By casting doubt on the validity of the sacraments he celebrated, the priest and his diocese instilled a principle of doubt rather than faith into the lives of the faithful. They should at least have issued an assurance based on faith that there was no real danger of effective invalidity.

  6. Paddy Ferry says:

    Joe@5, an expertly stated summing up as usual. I agree with everything you say. Also, when I read:

    “Mutual recognition of the validity of baptism is a well established ecumenical practice”

    it brought to mind that my settled conclusion, over for many years, was that the only prerequisite for a non-Catholic Christian marrying a Catholic is that he or she –the non-Catholic– be validly baptised. Have I been correct in thinking that? Recently, I have had reason to doubt it.

  7. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Right Joe, Paddy and all. Maybe all we’ve got to do now is to persuade Francis that he doesn’t need to approve or sign off on every scrap of paper the CDF Prefect puts under his nose?

  8. Phil Dunne says:

    Not withstanding that the article is about women not having suffrage in the church it is obviously much easier to continue the comments on Mathew Hood in Detroit. Is there enough sand to bury all the heads in?

  9. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Too true, Phil. It’s the nature of so-called social media, I’m afraid. But your own brief observation @3 changed the traffic signal and derailed two trains of thought. A more substantial comment from you at that point on women’s suffrage in the Church would have usefully furthered the trajectory set by Jamie Manson, Roy Donovan, Mary Vallely . . . Perhaps you can still shunt us back onto the main line of Jamie Manson’s OP and the Phyllis Zagano article (channelled by Roy Donovan – I’m not clear who shared the original Manson piece.)

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