VATICAN HAS A HISTORY WITH WOMEN
Update June 27, 2015:
In this post, first published January 7, 2008, I asked the pope to apologize. However, now I have found an article at the BBC that says Pope John Paul II did apologize for the excesses of the Inquisition !!! So I had not known any pope did apologize for it. The article is about the Vatican’s own report on the Inquisition. By the Vatican’s own count, “in the Inquisition’s heyday Germany killed more male and female witches than anywhere else, with some 25,000 people being put to death.” In Spain, it says, only 1.8 percent of the 125,000 interrogated were killed, but when I do the math, that comes to 2,250 people killed!! and presumably many more tortured (800 page, six-year Vatican report). “Vatican ‘dispels Inquisition myths’,” (notice quotes in title) by Verity Murphy, BBC News Online, June 15, 2004 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3809983.stm
The Catholic hierarchs preach about love of neighbor.
But when will these men (and yes, they are all MEN), begin to “love their neighbors,” the neighbors who happen to be female and comprise half the human race; love them enough to respect them, to value their opinions, include them in leadership positions, instead of actively excluding them. Oh, I forget. Women are supposed to be seen but not heard.
The hierarchs’ institutionalized bigotry trumps any law of love put forth by Jesus. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Mark 7:9, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe (or set up) your own traditions!” (NIV).
Well, there they are, all those holy guys, all those experts on religion, with all their fancy titles and long robes just like the Pharisees of old. Maybe they will explain to us why there is evil and suffering in the world and maybe we will hang on their every word (yeah, maybe). Of course, many women already know why there is evil and suffering in the world. It’s because men make wars, men make corporations that rip-off the environment and create poverty, and men commit violent crimes disproportionately. Could it be that the world is the way it is, because men are in charge of almost everything?
A central dogma for hierarchs is that God is a “HIM” and that women should be excluded from leadership roles and excluded from any role in any decision-making. And lots of women will go along with this. In one sense they’re right to go along because you’d never get men going to church unless they thought their god was a guy just like them, and unless men were in charge.
So when the male leaders of Catholicism finally decide how many angels can stand on the head of a pin, and so on, maybe they will turn their attention to the fact that they don’t represent half the people in their communities – the female half, that discrimination is not a pathway to God, and that as a result of their blatant gender discrimination (and dare I say disgraceful attitude towards women), they have made themselves unworthy of any leadership roles whatsoever.
It is rather amusing to think of this medieval bastion of male supremacy instructing us on the meaning of life, when they have yet to inject any meaning into their relationships with women. What a spectacle – a bunch of men asserting they know the absolute truth, and know it infallibly, yet accepting no significant input from women.
I’ve seen a couple of weddings where a woman minister presided and it was very nice – seemed very natural. Now that there are Roman Catholic women priests and bishops, thanks to a bishop who broke rank, maybe Catholics can begin to catch up to other Christian churches who have left the Dark Ages behind. Not that the Pope will ever accept these women priests as priests in HIS church.
The Catholic hierarchs fear to compete with women in the arena of ideas. Institutionalized misogyny, yes, a perversion of the natural order, yes, greed for power, yes, but there is more, something far more dangerous – a fear of women. Oppression driven by fear. And their oppression is virtually insurmountable because men form hierarchies and women don’t. Women form networks. Hierarchs with a command structure of organization will almost always prevail over networkers with loose coalitions of alliances. Women are as much to blame as men for this situation, if not more so, because if women for one moment stood together and said, “no more,” this despotic all-male hierarchy would be no more.
It is shocking to think of the harm that has been done to women by so-called “Christian” male leaders; harm that has been centuries in the making, beginning with the trashing of Mary Magdalene’s reputation, and continuing with the denial of Holy Orders to women, and the holocaust of women (the burning of “witches” and other atrocities against women by the Roman Catholic Inquisition). How could women allow other women to be burned to death as “witches” by the Church? It really is so sad that women cannot even rely on other women to protect them from evil.
According to Riane Eisler, men sadistically inflicted hideous tortures on many thousands, possibly millions, of “witches,” in intermittent witch-hunts over several centuries, on orders of the Church (see her book, The Chalice and the Blade, c. 1987, p. 140-141). The Pope should apologize to women for this holocaust. He should apologize immediately. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your sister; then come and offer your gift.”
At least in the early years of the Church, women were included in significant roles and received far more respect.
But not all women ask for respect. At the Home Owners Association meetings in my subdivision, the married women generally just sit there, mum as a bunch of fence posts – and these are women who are articulate, women who are smart, women who normally have a lot to say. But they won’t say a word when their husbands are there to “speak for them.” Only the men are expected to speak during the business part of the gathering. The women wait quietly while their husbands try to figure out how to get the road fixed, something the women could deal with, without wasting time posturing.
Why do women do this to themselves? Sit in the background? Well, for some women it’s a matter of pride to have a man in the house, to have that social status of being a “married woman.” So she always puts him first in a social setting and pampers his ego, so he’ll stay. For other women, it’s an economic necessity to have a “bread-winner,” so she keeps silent – doesn’t want to rock the boat. Maybe some women keep quiet because they believe their men are smarter and more capable than they are.
During the holocaust of women, the women who were the most submissive survived best, and maybe submissiveness has now been bred into the female portion of the human race; bred into women anywhere where men have engaged in violence against women, in other words, almost everywhere.
Well, there are plenty of Catholic women sitting quietly and submissively in pews, hoping and praying that things will get better. They hope that someday the Pope will agree to accept women priests and that women will no longer be second-class citizens in the Church. News flash! If you are sitting in a pew, you are a collaborator! The abysmal treatment of women in the Catholic Church would get immediate attention if the pews were suddenly empty. If you haven’t even asked your priest where he stands, you are definitely part of the problem.
And now the Vatican has forbidden talk about the subject of women’s ordination, like some medieval monarchy. Are Catholic women just all going to roll over and play dead? Tape their mouths shut? Stop thinking? Remain quiet as little mice? Just be submissive?
Is anything going to change if women don’t express their displeasure? It is sad to think that women had to march in the streets before men would allow women to vote in elections. If you never do anything or say anything, nothing will ever change. If you can’t skip church, at least stand in back of the pews with a placard.
Even if you are a woman who has no wish to be a priest or a leader in the Church, doesn’t it bother you that the Church, that should be YOUR church, is so profoundly disrespectful to women? That disrespect is a disease that has been entrenched for centuries and it is not going to be eradicated by women being passive, although certainly, the easiest thing for you to do is just go along to get along.
Do I think that anyone is going to pay attention to this post? No. I really doubt that the women who are still members of the Roman Catholic Church will do anything. Somehow they are able to compartmentalize the disrespect and keep their self-respect. Otherwise they would have left long ago.
Do I want to be a Roman Catholic priest? No. I could not recite the Creed week after week, “For us MEN . . . . He came down from heaven.” I am not a man so I won’t say, “for us men.” Also, I would not be comfortable with selling the idea of “Father-God.” While Jesus called the Divine “Abba” (something like Papa), I think he was trying to convey the idea that the Divine is more providential than a loving Parent, closer than close to us, a part of each of us; not that God is essentially masculine, and not that God is an old guy with a long beard perched on a cloud up high in the sky.
But there are plenty of women who want to serve Catholics as priests and Catholics should welcome women priests.
Well, now we hear that the Pope has invited leaders of the Muslim world to a meeting. [This post was first published a few years ago.] This meeting with Islam is long overdue, by about 1,400 years. Will the Pope invite any women to his meeting? Let’s hope he invites at least a few token women.
Maybe the Pope should set up a meeting with the female world and invite a few token men. It would be a meeting that is long overdue. The Pope could offer an apology for excluding women in the past to the women at such a meeting. Let’s hope it doesn’t take the Catholic hierarchs another century or two before they ask what women are thinking.
No matter what you call the Inquisition, whether you are talking about the Spanish Inquisition or the Roman Inquisition (in Rome), it is accurate to call it “Roman Catholic” because: The Inquisition, as a Roman Catholic institution, began in 1231 with Pope Gregory IX; the Spanish Inquisition was set up with permission granted by a pope in 1478; the Roman Inquisition was reinvigorated in 1542 under a permanent committee of Roman Catholic Cardinals; the Inquisition’s proceedings were run by Catholic churchmen and Catholic religious orders; and the purpose of the Inquisition was to increase the power of the Roman Catholic Church and the power of those aligned with that Church. What a shame the Church allowed the Inquisition to continue its evil for so many centuries!
Yes, Protestants also killed “witches” – maybe Protestants were influenced more than just a little by the example of Catholics?
We need a memorial museum dedicated to the victims of the Inquisition and other religious persecution – those Pagans, Jews, Moors, Protestants, Catholics, and Native Americans who were tortured and killed because of their beliefs. We need a memorial museum because there is a tendency among some to forget or to try to explain away the atrocities that were committed in the name of religion.