Friday, May 04, 2012
...at night, with people milling about, and a group of us making our way to the London Centre of Notre Dame University, which is just near the Square. This is where the Catholic Voices Academy meets, and the topic for the evening was feminism and the role of women in the Church. I am not sure that I did very well: I think I am too much conditioned by having to oppose the passionate anti-Church feminist campaigners of the 1980s and 90s. It was comparatively easy to "score off" against them in debates, but it didn't neccessarily win over the more neutral people who were listening in. Thus today there are young Catholics who know the feminist rhetoric, know that there are some answers to it, but do not find that the traditional Catholic teachings on this subject win hearts or minds. They seek ways to put the teachings more effectively - they like Bl John Paul's Mulieris Dignitatem and they like Pope Benedict's assumption that women can and should hold positions of influence in the Church, but they find it hard to give convincing sound-bite-sized arguments for the male priesthood, partly because they recognise that this requires a greater degree of genuine respect for the Christian faith than many of their listeners are prepared to give. They operate in a world where savage denunciation of Christianity is common - a tough world. They also know that there are many people who are genuinely seeking a way forward and who have been wounded by the messy break-up of families and relationships and who need love and help. I think my confident assertion about the Church valuing and honouring women - all those women saints, the central role of Mary etc - did not sound as convincing as they would have liked, and the bridegroom/bride nuptial reality of priesthood and Church is a deep mystery which can sound trite unless it is allowed to be discussed properly.
Posted by Joanna Bogle at 10:00 am