Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Pope, Same Misogyny

Pope Francis has gone to great pains to appear more humble and less arrogant and imperial than his predecessor, Benedict XVI, but where it really counts, there has been no discernible change.   The Vatican orchestrated sexual abuse cover up conspiracy continues, the campaign to stigmatize gays and fan the flames of anti-gay animus continues -in France, even threats of violence have been disseminated as noted in a prior post - and the Church remains decidedly anti-woman.  Indeed, Francis has shown little tolerance for those troublesome Catholic nuns who actually seek to implement the Gospel message.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the continued misogyny under the new Pope. Here are excerpts:

[O]n Monday, it felt like it was back to business as usual when word got out that Francis is standing by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI’s clampdown on American nuns for their “radical feminism.” For all the renewal that Francis promises, the cold, hard reality is still that the Catholic Church is still one of the most misogynistic organizations around, no matter how popular the new pope might be.

No one was anticipating a major change for women in the church, and no one expects Francis to start handing out condoms in St. Peter’s square or suddenly ordaining women. But a positive gesture toward recognizing women’s value in the universal church could have started with softening the strict stance on American nuns.

The sisters, it seemed, were staying silent on the church’s pet issues of abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and the ordination of women. Their silence was interpreted as endorsement—by not speaking out against such “evils,” the report said, the sisters were effectively showing their approval for the practices. The clampdown was met with outrage across the United States, leading to a massive Twitter frenzy under the hashtag #whatsistersmeantome, started by James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large of America, a magazine on Catholic issues. “There is a danger of backlash because of the esteem [in which] so many Catholics hold nuns,” Father Martin told The Daily Beast at the height of the scandal. “For many Catholics, sisters are the glue that holds the church together.”.

On Monday, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met with LCWR leaders who had traveled to Rome in hopes of good news. Instead, according to a statement made by the Vatican press office, Muller “informed the Presidency that he had recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.” That’s not exactly what the nuns were hoping for.

Now the sisters must wait until the investigation concludes to see if they will have to disband their organization to continue their work or whether the Vatican will accept them as a vital component of the Catholic Church after all.

As with gays who remain Catholic, I wonder what is wrong with women who remain in the Catholic Church.   They are viewed with disdain by the priggish and often closeted members of the male hierarchy denied recognition for the key role that they play in keeping the Church in existence.  How many times must one be beat down and almost literally spit upon before you get the message that you need to simply leave and walk away.

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