Monday, January 10, 2011

Equality Of the Sexes In The Church

The Catholic Times' opinion piece on the Bishops Sub-committee on Women Issues had some interesting things to say. Written by a Religious Sister, who is the secretary of the Sub-committee, discusses what she would like to see happening within the Church: more equality between the sexes, leading to a healthier relationship of men and women.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the sub-committee and many suggestions were made to celebrate the event: inviting a well-known woman theologian from the States to give public lectures, conduct a seminar to discuss what women have done in leadership roles in  Europe and the States,  invite women groups to meet together in a symposium talk-fest to discuss their various positions regarding women and the Church. They are dreaming, planning and imagining many other possibilities.

In the past,  they have had  informal gatherings with other women groups to discuss  what women have given to the Church and society. They have attempted to deal with topics in a moderate way. They avoided the topics of equality within the Church, the efforts to achieve equality, the use of women for works of service and not leadership roles and the alienation of women within the community and also  topics that dealt with the deepening of women spirituality, the discovery of the mothers' instinct,  and the development of the  value of life -- areas of confrontation.  They considered the uncontroversial area of what women can contribute to the Church and society with creativity and wisdom.

On one occasion the person who chaired the discussion summarized the talks and  concluded with the question, "Can it be understood that  from today, there is no need to consider equality within the Church or change of structures as a topic of discussion?" A long-time member of the sub-committee quickly responded, " We have and it has been useless. We have given up." One could see, the secretary said, many heads nodding in approval.

She ends her opinion piece by saying that the committee has tried, though feebly, within our patriarchal society to enhance the condition of women in the Church, but with little success. With all their seminars, symposiums,  events, surveys, printed materials, talks and reports over a ten-year period, she has seen little improvement in the status of women within the Church.

Society has made great advances in this area with many of the walls crumbling. However, in the Church, the patriarchal Confucianism of our society and the hierarchical  structure of the Church have prevented any meaningful change.  The Church suffers a  great loss when women's gifts and efforts are not used;  Sister wonders what God would think.

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