Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Secularism, Pat Power and women in the Church:

I'm one of those people who actually do think the Church could use women more effectively. 

Which makes it all the more annoying to see unhelpful Marxist-Feminist rants coming to us on Cath News courtesy of the ACBC's Director for the Office for the Participation of Women and Executive Secretary to the Bishops' Commission for Church Ministry, Donella Johnston.

Ms Johnston's blog post today is part puff piece for liberal bishop Pat Power, the recently retired auxiliary from Canberra, combined with yet another sympathy piece for the US peak religious women's body, the LCWR.

But it's main thrust is that women (and others) should resist the teaching of the Church if it conflicts with their secularist influenced ideas of the role of women.  In short, the sub-text seems to be, fight to be a priestess!

Godless secularists love +PP!

Ms Johnston's piece opens by puzzling over why Canberra, where more people claimed 'no religious affiliation' at the last census than claimed to be catholics (for the first time) should so dote on Bishop Power, even appointing him citizen of the year in 2009.

She sees the answer in the bishop's commitment to Christian love. 

I'd suggest it has rather more to do with the bishop's failure to actually confront secularist ideas that are opposed to Christianity, for the greater love is in speaking the truth, not appeasement.

Oh the horror!

It is not, contrary to Ms Johnston's claims, bullying or intimidation to speak the truth.  Nor is there anything in Scripture which says that the proper exercize of authority is a bad thing.  Quite the contrary.

Ms Johnston appears to take a Marxist analysis, which sees everything as about power: accordingly she 'watched in horror as the LCWR was put under the control of an Archbishop'!  And apparently now, if they persist on their current path, risking even excommunication, they will be 'courageous women' using their “feminine genius”.

There is lot's of talk of turning the other cheek, and going the extra mile.  But none at all of that most important of all virtues that Our Lord sought to teach us, namely obedience.

Transforming the Australian Church?

Ms Johnston, moreover, has an agenda for the Australian Church.  She asks her readers to consider, in the context of the Year of Grace:

"The Year of Grace prayer talks of a Church transformed, relationships healed and a nation that grows in compassion and justice. Here’s how we transform our Australian Church. Ready?"

Identify your fear. Name it. Hold your ground and confront it (him/her) with love – always love. No put-downs. No threats. No intimidation. No bullying.

Ask yourself the hard questions. Do a risk assessment. What’s the worse thing that could happen to me if I confronted my fear? I could lose my job? I could get excommunicated? I could have the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on my back? I could be de-frocked/ laicised? I could be crucified? Really? Try it.

Yes well, some people certainly do need to lose their jobs it would seem, if we are ever to truly recover a genuinely Catholic Church in this country!

Better yet, perhaps Ms Johnston and her supporters might meditate and act on the Pope's comments about the sin of Judas in staying on the inside when he utterly rejected what Christ actually stood for (as opposed to what he wanted him to stand for).

Women have been marginalized...

I think the thing that most annoys me about this kind of claptrap is that there really are things an Office for the Participation of Women could usefully be doing rather than waging an underground war for women's ordination and other related agendas.

My view is that women have effectively been marginalized in the Church since Vatican II. 

It has happened because the thriving women's religious orders that used to run our schools, hospitals and other charitable infrastructure have largely been turned over to the laity, and in the main that means to lay men, not laywomen.

It has happened because women were marginalized by the systematic annihilation of guilds and other organizations that provided a vibrant social infrastructure within our parishes that women could actively participate in, and influence policy through.

It has happened because women are marginalized by poor catechesis that means, for example, that most women don't today play the role they used to in teaching their children the faith, holding their husband's to it, or acting as a leaven in the world more generally.

And above all it has happened because a new clericalism has arisen since Vatican II that makes priests the central focus of the liturgy rather than the leader of his people in worship; and that give a lot of decision-making or approval responsibility, for example, in new bodies such as the Council of Priests (which have no effective lay equivalent) and Bishops Conferences (which  have no effective lay input).

There are things that can and should be done to address these problems. 

Shame Ms Johnston seems to be committed instead to an entirely different path...


Gen X Catholic said...

My generation has been entirely let down by the breakdown of genuine participation of women in the Church as Kate highlighted. (Not the, 'I'm a women, therefore I have the right to control everything including my fertility and if I want to be a priest you can't stop me!' approach that is common today). The nuns where taken out of our schools or had no replacements. As a result, devotion to prayer and catechesis went out the window. Faith was, for us, made to be
emotional rather than intellectual.

Through FB I have been able to connect with many of my classmates, and I would be surprised to find one other
member of my year who is a practicing Catholic today.
To be sure, no-one knew at the time just how devastating secularization would be on us, still we were not prepared in
any way to live our faith as adults or ,worse still, pass our faith on to our children.

And yet the same people who have done this to us still think that this is the only way forward for the Church. Newsflash! You have helped to destroy the faith of my peers, their children and who knows what other incomprehensible damage this has done/will do to society. Enough.

A Canberra Observer said...

How does the drivel she wrote for CathNews qualify her to comment on anything?

Terry said...

Gen X rightly notes that the lack of any real Catholicism in Australia today is the result of what has been handed down from previous generations.
I attended secondary school at a good Christian Brothers boarding school in the Rockhampton diocese, from 1969 to 1973. Religious Education, along with English class, ceased to live up to their name in 1971. In 1972, we had a religious education text, entitled "Come Alive" inflicted on us. It was so utterly boring and devoid of any Catholicism whatsoever, that we students, nicknamed it "Go Dead". It was a far cry from the Penny Catechism and the Green Catechism, that we were used to.
My advice to Gen X is, if finances and career permit it, move to the Armidale Diocese. You might find a bishop there, who shares your concerns.

Maureen said...

Gen X Catholic says that religion these days is based on emotion. That resonated with me immediately, I always used to tell my children what the nuns drilled into us, pre- Vatican 2: you love God with your Will and your Intellect, and not with your emotions.
I don't think that it would be so easy ,these days, to go back to convents full of nuns, but it always worries me when I see the number of women bustling around after Communion, cleaning up as though they were in the kitchen of the parish hall, teatowels and all.
The priest is always sitting down at this point, taking no part in any of it.

Anonymous said...

Donnella Johnston is incorrect in asserting that Canberrans appointed Pat Power Canberra Citizen of the Year 2009.

This was an ACT Government initiative aimed at getting the archdiocese on side to stitch up a lucrative property deal at Braddon.

Mal said...

Maureen, on one occasion I did see what you described. However, I believe that the cleaning of the vessels are to be done only by the priest or a deacon.

PM said...

I had a repressed memory syndrome when terry reminded me of "Go Dead" - not to mention the equally awful "Move Out". The students thought this was drivel even in the 1970s. I gave thanks daily for a couple of teachers who smuggled in some serious theology and scripture and even some of Dr Woodbury's Thomistic metaphysics.