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I am tired of people condemning the Catholic Church for its supposedly negative attitude to women. So what is, and always has been, its real understanding of the relationship between the sexes?

God endowed men and women with identical dignity as persons.equality

Being a man or being a woman is very deeply imprinted on the individual human person; it is a different way of feeling, a different way of loving, a different calling with respect to children, another way of believing. Because he intended that they should be there for each other and complement one another in love, God made man and woman different. That is why man and woman attract each other sexually and intellectually.

Both men and women are human beings created in God’s image and children of God redeemed by Jesus Christ. It is just as unchristian as it is inhumane to discriminate unjustly against someone because one is male or female. Equal dignity and equal rights, nevertheless, do not mean uniformity. The sort of egalitarianism that ignores the specific character of a man or a woman contradicts God’s plan of creation.


I was catholic
I worked in the church
The church told me who God said I should be but did not recognize my interpretation of what the Spirit said my life should be.
The local manifestation of the church discriminated against me because I am a woman. I was not invited to meetings my male colleagues were invited to. My credentials were equal to theirs.

The church says who and how women should be. Jesus did NOT do that.
When he visited with Martha and Mary, Mary sat with the men listening to him while Martha did "the woman thing" in the kitchen. - complementary roles. Jesus did NOT send Mary into the kitchen.

Women may have been equal in the very early church meeting in the home of Prisca.
But for the majority of time the church has duplicated patriarchal society and made women inferior to men.
"The local manifestation of the church discriminated against me because I am a woman."

This I would see as a local problem to be solved locally.
It was sanctioned by the local bishop. There were six of us in the theology department of the college run by the diocese- three men and three women. The men received notices of meetings.The women did not.
Local perhaps but reflecting the position of the official church.
Tell that to the Popess.
I must have another word.
God - if indeed there is one did not, does not, use a cookie cutter, one labeled "male" the other "female".
Each individual is unique. We are each a unique combination of genes.
That combination gives each person their gender, their sexual orientation, their physical and psychological makeup. These characteristics make them who they are and what talents (and problems) they have. These characteristics draw us to each other.Each person unique in his/her desires and rejections.
That is the way life obviously is.
If there is a God and he is the creator of this situation, I guess it must be as he wants it.
Does God make mistakes?

PS - why does "God" need to be "he"?
"God - if indeed there is one did not, does not, use a cookie cutter, one labelled "male" the other "female"."

I'm sure that even a cursory glance at the human body would tell us otherwise.
LOL !!!! And each is made yet different.
Having a sexual organ does not determine who you are!
And having a penis does not make one superior.
erk. a cursory glance might say that, but a thorough look indicates no cookie cutters in use, but a wide and varied and multidimensional set of continua.

"athgarven, stop trying to tell god what to do" :)

(my quals: i spent five years in an endocrinology lab, looking at human bodies that expressed gender in a wide variety of ways, from chromosomally to behaviorally. i strongly suspect your glance has been considerably more cursory, and i don't think the better of it for that.)
Thank you for this, just thank you.
which "THIS" is meant?
Sorry for being unclear, I meant 'this' as 'this whole entry' :-)
I am about to comment on this from a Unitarian Universalist theology.

I am quite sure that God makes no mistakes. Further, that God made humans in God's own image.

But God, being neither male nor female, while at the same time both, created human gender and human sexuality within a range. This being so, the classifications of "male" and "female" are not always so clear cut. There are male bodies with female genders, and vice-versa. There are people born intersex, with no clear sex (and, one might argue, as such, possibly the CLOSEST to God's Own Image). And, yes, while the majority of men & women are attracted to one another, God also created the other possibilities to occur as well.

Thomas Aquinas argued that that which occurs in nature must be from God. But, in the thousand years since Thomas Aquinas lived and died, it has become clear that all of these things that I mentioned as ALSO in nature, not against it, and therefore, also not against God.

This is the theology of my church. I do realize that the theology of your church differs.

Edited at 2013-08-17 16:23 (UTC)
To repeat myself: With all the 'differences' one encounters God endowed men and women with identical dignity as persons.
You are conflating God with the Roman Church.

It is the Roman Church (and many other religions) this is wrong about women.
Until Rome gives women sacramental equality there id discrimination and a denial of God's gifts.
As the new pope said recently "That door is shut".

Would the priesthood being open to women solve the problem as you see it?
Someone else has already spoken to this quite eloquently.
There are two aspects to women receiving holy orders.

Not every priest will be a bishop. Not every priest even wants to be.
Priests - male and female - are called to service to God's people.
Particularly, it is a service of bringing the eucharist, the food of the spirit, the Body of Christ, to his mystical body, the church.
It is to this service, the root of Orders, that some women are called to.
As with any calling, it is heard in the heart and known to be the reality of the self.
There is evidence that this calling was once acknowledged by the church.

The second aspect is the governance of the institutional church. By custom this has been reserved to those in orders. Men only in recent times.
Allowing women into roles of authority could be accomplished without opening orders to them. Anyone can be pope theoretically. Could anyone with the proper knowledge rule a diocese? Could the office of bishop be separated, made liturgical only, from the actual running of a physical entity? Would this be desirable? Probably not. Women already have positions of power in many dioceses. But ultimately it is the bishop who makes the decisions.

As long as it is men only sitting with miters on in the nave of St Peter's a visual message is sent. Women know they are in the back of the bus.
I have never seen a statement that was so offensive to both extremes in this issue.

I've been having a hard week. Thank you. I feel better for having read it.

(The clear and reasonable character of it is especially suited to producing frothing outraged indignation.)
Sorry about your rough week. I hope you have a quiet, peaceful and restful weekend.
I politely disagree. In terms of the Church as an institution, it certainly has created a structure which disallows a variety of formal relationships with the divine to women (from priesthood up to being a pope). The Church obviously regards these positions as of real significance given that it is largely composed of them but yet denies them to women. I do not understand why a celibate woman would not be eligible for such roles. You note that the sexes have different callings with regard to children yet the Church supports communities of nuns, and so, therefore, accepts and even favors female celibacy and, by extension, a female role that does not involve motherhood. What is it about such women that makes them ineligible for a more developed role within the Church? How is such limitation not an implicitly negative stand?

Oddly enough, I don't necessarily blame the Church for having taken such a role over the centuries. The Church exists within Western culture and was inevitably shaped by it even as it shaped the culture. I would like to see the Church to make steps forward in this area during my lifetime and have some hope (given its relatively recent reversal of its opinion about altar servers) that it will. In the meantime though, the Church (whether purposefully or not) is communicating the idea that women are essentially limited by their nature within the Church structure itself and limited to relevance as the producers of more Catholics outside it.

I am being genuine here - I truthfully do not understand the Church's reasoning regarding female priests and would love a clearer explanation.
As I understand it:

The Church, the body of the faithful, did not invent the ritual of the Eucharist (the Mass). Jesus himself celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples and therein anticipated his death; he gave himself to his disciples under the signs of bread and wine and commanded them from then on, even after his death, to celebrate the Eucharist. “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24).

Jesus did not invite any woman to share in this supper. I'm sure he had his own reasons for this. The only 'real' function of a priest is to celebrate the Eucharist.

Edited at 2013-08-18 09:21 (UTC)
The church as we have it was created by Paul, not Jesus.
Jesus created nothing.
He left a group of confused followers who soon scattered.
The reconstituted followers did indeed create the eucharist.
The gospels are teaching documents created approximately 300 years after Jesus had become the Christos, the anointed one.
Those gospel accounts of the supper and the events of his death vary. There were many accounts among the early groups.
There were many ways of celebrating in the early church. These new "Christians" were not unique in having a meal be central to their gathering.

Eventually, when the sacraments were stabilized and stories created for their origins and administration we get that wonderful Jesus and his friends story that then is used to justify the exclusion of women.

If the church is the living body of Christ it must meet the needs of it's members. Just as a human body has cells getting nourishing blood and vibrant with life so too must that mystical body. It is not ossified or fossilized.
By that logic, why are women allowed to participate in the Eucharist at all?
Complementarianism is a pernicious ideology IMNSHO. It sounds reasonable (and indeed is so when practised by reasonable people), but always seems to lead to discrimination against women.

This a major reason why I left the religious denomination I grew up in.