I seem to have collected more in the way of counter arguments to popular thought, than supporting arguments, but that might be a good thing, since some of these counter arguments haven't crossed our minds in decades.
The resource material should be useful for choosing people to interview and lines of inquiry for research, and providing common language to talk about these ideas.
NB. I have not repeated the relevant material from the pre-requisite reading list which you can find here
Topics of Controversy
25 July 2016 Jack Green
This is a very useful article for developing responses to the requests for married clergy as an antidote to child sexual abuse.
9 Feb 2017 Michael Cook
A rare and detailed look at the Royal Commission's statistics on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, showing that it was a much wider problem than priests only. It is actually a family problem, and priests come from families.
12 Jun 2017 Katy Faust
Therefore, every community throughout history has wrestled with the same problem:
How do you require of men what biology makes optional?
Interestingly, nearly every religion has come up with the same answer: society-wide expectations that a man commit to a woman prior to sex and remain committed to her, and only her, throughout his life. And up until the last ten minutes of history, we have all called this “marriage.”
'12 Rules For Life' by Jordan B. Peterson, Rule 11, pages 298-299
'Girls will play boys' games, but boys are much more reluctant to play girls' games. This is in part because it is admirable for a girl to win when competing with a boy. It is also OK for her to lose to a boy. For a boy to beat a girl, however, it is often not OK – and just as often, it is even less OK for him to lose. Imagine that a boy and a girl, aged nine, get into a fight. Just for engaging, the boy is highly suspect. If he wins, he's pathetic. If he loses – well, his life might as well be over. Beat up by a girl.
Girls can win by winning in their own hierarchy – by being good at what girls value, as girls. They can add to this victory by winning in the boys' hierarchy. Boys, however, can only win by winning in the male hierarchy. They will lose status, among girls and boys, by being good at what girls value. It costs them in reputation among the boys, and in attractiveness among the girls. Girls aren't attracted to boys who are their friends, even though they might like them, whatever that means. They are attracted to boys who win status contests with other boys. If you're male, however, you just can't hammer a female as hard as you would a male. Boys can't (won't) play truly competitive games with girls. It isn't clear how they can win. As the game turns into a girls' game, therefore, the boys leave.'
Ed. Have we not seen this in action when female altar servers are permitted to serve?
Could this be one of the many reasons why Israel, Jesus and Catholicism have restricted priesthood to men?
Sep 2017 Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
This is an acutely perceptive analysis of modern culture, including the following gem:
'Having children or raising them involves enormous sacrifice of time, money, effort and energy. Religious people understand the concept of sacrifice. We live by it. It's part of our lives. But people in a secular, consumerist, individualist culture find it much harder to live by sacrifice. Nothing in the culture says sacrifice, and throughout history that is the reason why when a culture begins to lose its faith, its birth rate starts to decline. This is not just happening now. It has happened throughout history. It happened in Ancient Greece in the second century BCE. It happened in Ancient Rome. It happened in Renaissance Italy. The people who've done the research say there is no case on record in which a secular society has been able to maintain its birth rates. Within a century, every society, when it becomes secularised, starts to decline demographically. So the 21st century is going to be more religious than the 20th century even if not one person changes his or her mind from being non-religious to religious. It will happen for a simple reason: throughout the world today the more religious you are, the more children you have.'
17 Dec 2017 @noplaceforsheep
The claim that celibacy is an indicator of paedophilia comes about as a result of the Catholic church winning hands down in the numbers of sexual abusers in institutions. People are, quite reasonably, searching for explanations and the most glaring difference between the Catholic church and other institutions is its demand that its priests are celibate. This demand, it is argued, leads to priests sexually abusing children because they have no other outlet for their needs. However. Hundreds of thousands of children are sexually abused in non-institutional settings, and by members of their families and family friends. The overwhelming majority of the male abusers in such situations have access to adult sexual partners, and they are not celibate. It is gravely misleading to peddle the suggestion that celibacy is an indicator of or a precursor to the sexual abuse of children. The Catholic church and its celibacy protocols enable paedophiles to enact their fantasies, however, they do not cause paedophilia.
Likewise, the notion that more women in positions of authority in churches will somehow prevent child sexual abuse is not borne out by the experience of victims in non-institutional and familial settings. There are women aplenty in these settings, mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, grandmothers, the majority of whom are unable or unwilling, for very many complex reasons, to prevent a child being sexually abused. The notion that parachuting women into middle management in the churches will stop any paedophile in his tracks is insultingly ludicrous. It will not.
18 Apr 2018 Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, excerpt from letter by a young father:
'We crave the truth, no matter how blunt or difficult it is for us to swallow or for the shepherds of our flock to teach. Our culture is roiled in confusion concerning the basic tenets of human nature: From a very young age, we’re deluged with propaganda that distorts basic scientific truths about gender, paints virtue and chivalry as “toxic masculinity,” denigrates the family, and desecrates the nature of sex and its fruits, especially the unborn child. We urgently need the Church’s clarity and authoritative guidance on issues like abortion, homosexuality, gender dysphoria, the indissolubility of matrimony, the four last things, and the consequences of contraception (moral, anthropological, and abortifacient). My generation has never, or rarely, heard these truths winsomely taught in the parishes. Instead, we hear most forcefully and frequently from our bishops' conference and our dioceses regarding the federal budget, border policy, net neutrality, gun control, and the environment.'
18 Dec 2018 Fr Matthew L Schneider LC
Excellent analysis on why serious priestly misconduct gets covered up:
'Some time ago, I was in a similar situation and discussed it with a friend who had also found himself tied into an abusive situation in his place of employment. He laughed and said, “You know what? You’ve got only three choices: 1. Tell them exactly what’s wrong. Shout it from the rooftops and demand change and prepare to be crucified 2. Smile, resign and walk away. 3. Accept your lot. Put up and shut up.”'
23 Feb 2019 Valentina Alazraki
Her extraordinary analysis:
As a journalist, as a woman and mother, I would like to tell you that we think abusing a minor is as contemptible as is covering up the abuse. And you know better than I that abuses have been covered up systematically, from the ground up. I think you should be aware that the more you cover up, the more you play ostrich, fail to inform the mass media and thus, the faithful and public opinion, the greater the scandal will be. If someone has a tumour, it is not cured by hiding it from one’s family or friends; silence will not make it heal; in the end it will be the most highly recommended treatments that will prevent metastasis and lead to healing. Communicating is a fundamental duty because, if you fail to do so you automatically become complicit with the abusers. By not providing the information that could prevent these people from committing further abuse, you are not giving the children, young people and their families the tools to defend themselves against new crimes.
I think it would be healthier, more positive and more helpful if the Church were the first to provide information, in a proactive and not reactive way, as normally happens. You should not wait to respond to legitimate questions from the press (or from the people, your people) when a journalistic investigation uncovers a case. In the age we live in, it is very difficult to hide a secret…. Report things when you know them. Of course, it will not be pleasant, but it is the only way, if you want us to believe you when you say “from now on we will no longer tolerate cover-ups”.
If the accusation is shown to be credible, you must provide information about the ongoing processes, about what you are doing; you must say that you have removed the guilty party from his parish or from where he was practicing; you must report it yourselves, both in the dioceses and in the Vatican. At times, the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office provides information about a resignation without explaining the reasons. There are priests who have gone immediately to inform the faithful that they were ill and not that they were leaving because they had committed abuse. I think that the news about the resignation of a priest who has committed abuse should be released with clarity, in an explicit way.
Excerpt from Instagram post from @jenny-uebbing around 25 Jul 2019
'I actually think it is up to us, the laity, to rise up to meet the biggest challenge facing the Church today: a deep and real understanding of God's plan for our sexuality, and a radical turning away from the toxic sexuality embraced by our culture'.
New book, 'Into the Deep: An unlikely Catholic conversion' by Abigail Rine Fayale
And an interview with her about her conversion:
Now let me address the second accusation: that Catholicism is patriarchal. I grew up in a patriarchal religious setting, as mentioned above, where the feminine elements of Christianity were more or less blotted out. Feminist Christianity, in many ways, is the inverse twin of this approach; it seeks to root out and upend what is masculine, reading it as marked by domination. The Catholic cosmos, in contrast to both of these, is cosmos of harmonious synergy—masculine and feminine entwined together in fruitful spiritual union. When feminists look at Catholicism from outside, they look through the lens of temporal power, and all they see is a male priesthood and hierarchy, mistakenly thinking that is the Church. They see Mary as a passive, docile symbol, rather than the Mother of God, the representative human being and first Christian, who crushes the serpent underfoot. They see the male priest at the altar and overlook the gathered women who are living icons of Christ’s body and bride, a counterpart to the priestly iconography of the bridegroom. They misinterpret courageous female saints like Hildegard of Bingen and Catherine of Siena as rebels, rather than faithful daughters (and Doctors) of the Church. They disregard completely the profound insights on the question of gender from twentieth-century Catholic writers. I completed a doctorate in contemporary feminist theory and women’s writing and yet never encountered writers like Edith Stein, Prudence Allen, Adrienne von Speyr, Gertrud von le Fort, and John Paul II, because their contributions are completely ignored in the discipline of women’s studies. There, only one kind of conversation is allowed, and it happens in an echo chamber.
I first became a feminist because I was seeking an answer to this question: what is the sacred meaning of womanhood? Ironically, what I found within feminism was deep ambivalence toward the very concept of womanhood. I found a much more compelling answer in Catholicism. I have never had my dignity and purpose as a woman so celebrated and affirmed than under the mantle of Holy Mother Church.
Example of ministry of lay woman, formerly a prisoner in China
This book by Cindy Jacobs is about pathways for women gifted with charisms from God on more-than-ordinary levels and what light scripture gives to those pathways. Not everyone is called on that path, and it comes at a high cost. The method of exegesis used, 'interpret obscure scripture passages in the light of clear scripture passages', is of concern because very few people will agree on what is clear and what is obscure, so treat the conclusions with caution especially conclusions based on the interpretation on the meaning of a single word or name. The safeguarding measures she recommends are very good and of benefit to any woman who travels for speaking engagements.
An edited account of Fr Finet's first visit in Feb 1936 to Venerable Marthe Robin
from page 76 of Marthe Robin: The Cross and the Joy by Fr Raymond Peyret
'She told me about the great events that were going to take place, some of which would be very bad, others very good. In particular she said there would be a New Pentecost of Love, that the Church would be renewed by an apostolate of the laity, even saying that the laity were going to play a very important role in the Church, many would be called to be Apostles. She said that the Church was going to be totally rejuvenated, and that there would be many methods for formation of the laity, but outstanding among them would be Foyers of Light, Charity and Love. https://www.lesfoyersdecharite.com/en/
Edited from the Introduction to 'The Way Home: Beyond Feminism Back to Reality' by Mary Pride https://www.amazon.com/Way-Home-Beyond-Feminism-Reality/dp/1453699309
'Feminism is self-consistent; the Christianity of the 1950s wasn't. Feminists had a plan for women; Christians didn't. Motherhood in the 1950s had been reduced to a five or ten year span, lasting until the youngest of the two or three 'planned' children was in kindergarten. With an empty house full of labour-saving devices and a family which no longer seemed to need her, it was understandable that a woman felt trapped at home. All the action seemed to be out there in the men's world, while she felt bored and useless. The sad truth is that the 'traditional' role which feminists attacked had already lost its scriptural fullness. Christian women were staying home out of habit, not out of conviction. The Christian churches had actually paved the way for feminism to succeed. Denominations endorsed family planning and 'therapeutic' abortion. Church meetings were scheduled for every night of the week, giving out a clear message that family life was unimportant. Ministry was considered more worthwhile than motherhood, as missionaries were expected to leave their children in boarding schools as a matter of course. Church life centred on the church building, not the home. Even in the church building, children were whisked out of sight into the nursery, children's church, and their own Sunday school program. At every turn Christian women found that their biological, economic and social roles were considered worthless. Role obliteration is the coming thing in evangelical, and even fundamentalist, circles. All because two or more generations have grown up and married without ever hearing that the Bible teaches a distinct role for women which is different from that of a man and just as important. We are not called by God to stay home, or to sit at home, but to work at home! Homeworking is a way to take back control of education health care, agriculture, social welfare, business, housing, morality, and evangelism from the faceless institutions to which we have surrendered them. Homeworking, like feminism, is a total lifestyle. The difference is that homeworking produces stable homes, growing churches, and children who are Christian leaders. Every great fire starts with one spark. It is my hope and prayer that this book will be the 'spark' which leads Christian women to fall in love with their families again and to determine to be working wives – in the home!'
And a short excerpt from Chapter 1 of 'The Way Home': The Great Con Game
'What else do the 'biblical' feminists want? Ordination for women, of course – which oddly enough is coupled in their minds with careers for wives. 'If a woman has been called and gifted by God to be a pastor or a priest,' writes Virginia Mollenkott in 'Women, men and the Bible', 'it is a fearful thing for the organised church to block her from that ministry. And if a Christian woman has been called and gifted for some career outside the home, and her husband blocks her by refusing to assist with the care of their mutual home and their mutual children, isn't he frustrating the work of the Holy Spirit?' Mollenkott elsewhere makes it clear that if a husband refuses staunchly to become Mommy's little helper, the wife has a right to make the 'difficult decision' to 'abandon the relationship in search of a more affirming lifestyle.' So careerism justifies divorce of an uncooperative husband. Children, sex roles, biblical church government, and now marriage itself are all targets of the 'harmless' evangelical feminist movement. Stop and think calmly about this for a minute. We are being asked to embrace a lifestyle which unbelievers would have considered perverted only forty years ago. We are being asked to kill our babies, endorse homosexuality, nag our husbands to do our job so we can do theirs – under threat of divorce – and all in the name of Christ!'
An excerpt from 'What's Wrong With The World' by G.K.Chesterton, Chapter 3 of Part 2: The Emancipation of Domesticity
'Supposing it to be conceded that humanity has acted at least not unnaturally in dividing itself into two halves, respectively typifying the ideals of special talent and general sanity (since they are genuinely difficult to combine completely in one mind), it is not difficult to see why the line of cleavage has followed the line of sex, or why the female became the emblem of the universal and the male of the special and superior. Two gigantic facts of nature fixed it thus: first, that the woman who frequently fulfilled her functions literally could not be specially prominent in experiment and adventure; and second, that the same natural operation surrounded her with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything as everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at a time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worthwhile to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colourless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.'
The next blog-post in this cycle will be the first of two sample answers to questions raised in the submissions to the Listening phase of the Plenary Council for Theme 6: Open to Conversion, Renewal and Reform.
At the very end of the cycle I will put it all together in a printer friendly PDF.