Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Do You Get When You Marginalize Women?

More than ever, I’m now convinced that the fable about “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was actually meant to be a metaphorical jab at the Catholic Church. Growing up Catholic in the 1950s, I was taught that the Pope spoke with infallibility when he spoke “ex cathedra” on matters of faith and morals, so I assumed that his recent comments about condom use carried some substantive weight on the subject. I know now that, what I wasn’t taught in the 1950s, is that papal infallibility is subject to a vetting process by the Vatican PR machine, whereby an infallible comment by a Pope can be “clarified” so that the pontiff doesn’t come off looking like a befuddled old fool. It was in this spirit of Vatican “clarification” that I learned today that condom use hasn’t received a green light after all (see my blog of 11/23). What was I thinking??

This “clarification” comes on the same day that the archdiocese of Phoenix, Arizona severed its affiliation with a (formerly) Catholic hospital because a nun at the hospital chose to end an 11 week pregnancy to save the life of the mother. If you’ve ever wondered which life is valued most highly by the Catholic Church— the life of an adult woman or the life of an unborn fetus— the Bishop of Phoenix has answered the question. Incidentally, the Bishop excommunicated the nun at the hospital who made the life-saving decision. By contrast, priests who sodomize and molest young children are NOT excommunicated.

The global scandal over priestly pedophilia, by grabbing all the media attention, has masked the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is dysfunctional and morally bankrupt in many other ways that have nothing to do with children. What we see in Catholicism is an example of an institution that, by marginalizing women, has denied for itself the civilizing and soothing influence that women bring into every aspect of human affairs where they’re allowed to participate. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why any woman would freely choose to be Catholic when they have so many better options.

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