I was just wondering if much of the effort of the Catholic Hierarchy to protect the Male Celibate culture was based on fear of women? Does the male celibate culture provide a safe haven from female domination? Does this culture create a mens club where women are not welcome and men are able to be in charge and rule without fear?
I remember, as many of you do also, a time when women were allowed in the Church Sanctuary for one purpose only: to clean. They were not allowed to touch the chalice, ciborium, or to act as acolytes or servers. Only boys were invited into this world. Boys were groomed to be future priests and bishops, many being invited to attend Minor Seminaries, with contact with girls being severely restricted. Sexuality was seen as perverse and so often was expressed in warped ways. Women were seen as tempters – as Eve, tempting Adam. Women were there to serve the needs of the men, but had no real future as leaders – a threat to male autonomy. The priesthood was and is seen by many as the last bastion of mens place of power within the structure – where they and they only could rule – through fear and intimidation, without interference by women.
I remember in my family, many years ago as well as more recent time, the strength of the women; the emotional and mental toughness. I learned that it takes determination and faith to actually grow into love. Love does not come without a struggle and at times real pain. I have watched families grieve the death of a child – sometimes an adult child; and then the death of a spouse – and a sharing of not just physical intimacy, but real psychological or emotional intimacy because of their willingness to engage in the struggle; to develop that strength of character. I have also watched as marriages sometimes failed – where one or the other was not willing to pay the price. It is difficult to let go of our Ego, and that is what a successful marriage requires; a blending of the two personalities to become one. Love is that letting go of self and merging with the other as the Gospel teaches us. God letting go of the God-self in the incarnation and becoming one with all of humanity; with all of creation. Jesus, letting go of self to become one with his disciples who were very imperfect and dense most of the time. Jesus became one with the unwashed, the rejected, the refuse of society, and in his death, giving up of self, became one with all of creation.
I wonder if we as a Church – recognize our calling to become one with the Christ as He is one with us? I wonder if we, like the apostles, are dense and refuse to look around and see our calling? If we continue to form a patriarchal oligarchy, shutting women out and assuming with many of the fathers of the church, that women served one purpose (giving birth) and that human sexuality is in fact to be tolerated as an necessary evil, we are breathing with only one lung and thinking with only one lobe. The boys club so often formed men who were thirsty for power and domination. Sexual abuse is so often a symptom of this mind set. Fear of real intimacy; fear of the struggle to let go of the Ego, and fear of sexuality itself results in a very sick culture and people are damaged – rejected – used to compensate. We have created a culture where celibacy or virginity is seen as the highest virtue, and marriage is tolerated as a necessity, with the prime role of marriage, that of producing children.
I would hope that we as a church, will be able to take the time and make the effort to engage in the struggle to understand – to see; to reflect and then to act. We are in need of a radical change – a transformation that we as a people go through every so often. Birth, Death and Resurrection are realities of creation. The universe is constantly engaged in transformation; letting go of the old and giving birth to the new. This is true in all organizations, including political, religious, corporate, or social organizations of any and all kinds. Our weakness is that we work to hang on to the past – we are afraid of walking to the cross and dying, and therefore are afraid of the resurrection which is something unknown – a mystery. Jesus asked his disciples: “What are you afraid of??” At the time of his crucifixion, the apostles ran away and hid, while the women stayed with him.
I would suggest that it might be time to sit together and look carefully at our community and our mission. We are called to be a light to the world – to become the living Christ, healing the broken and wounded and feeding those starving for hope and life. The definition of insanity is when we keep repeating our mistakes and hope for different results. (somebody said that).
Just wondering!!! We all share the same journey; men and women together – we are connected and each adds to the other. With the Christ entering into the human relationship, we experience the reality of Gods presence and love within ourselves and one another.