Francis latest interview. Feminists won’t be pleased.

The Holy Father had an interview with the Italian daily Il Messaggero.  It isn’t all that revelatory and I suspect that not too many people will be excited about it.

There is little more statism in it. One thing to note, however, is that our feminists are not going to be happy with this interview.  Not one little bit.

Here is the section about women in the  Church (my trans.):

M: If you will permit a criticism…

Francis: Of course…

M: You speak, perhaps, little about women, and when you speak about them you take on on issue only from the point of view of motherhood, woman as spouse, woman as mother, etc.  But women by now are heads of state, multinationals, armies.  What posts can women hold in the Church, according to you?

Francis: Women are the most beautiful things that God created.  The Church is woman.  Church is a feminine word [in Italian].  One cannot do theology without this femininity.  You are right that we don’t talk about this enough.  I agree that there must be more work on the theology of women.  I have said that we are working in this sense.

M: Isn’t there a certain misogyny at the base of this?

Francis: The fact is that woman was taken from a rib … (he laughs strongly).  I’m kidding, that’s a joke.  I agree that the question of women must be explored more deeply, otherwise one cannot understand the Church herself.

M: Can we expect some historic decisions from you, along the lines of a woman head of a dicastery [Vatican department], if not of Clergy

Francis: (laughs), Beh, many times priests wind up under the thumb of their housekeepers… [le perpetue… are “housekeepers because in Manzioni’s I promessi sposi, don Abondio’s housekeeper was named “Perpetua”]

So, feminists and the promoters of women’s ordination get nothing and then, again, nothing.

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  1. Lisa Graas says:

    As a woman, I am grateful. Thank you, Papa Francesco.

  2. Bosco says:

    Heaven help us! I’ve read and re-read these remarks of Pope Francis and the only thing that springs to mind is that 1980s Wendy’s commercial where the little old lady stares at her burger and demands:

    “But where’s the beef?”

    I don’t think there’s any beef, Argentinian or the otherwise, served-up in the Pope’s replies.

    The only displeasure that sour-pickle feminists might take away from this is that the Pope is recorded as laughing twice.

  3. Iacobus M says:

    Ah, an artful dodger – he never quite answers the question. But no, the fems won’t like it.

  4. slainewe says:

    “Francis: The fact is that woman was taken from a rib … (he laughs strongly). I’m kidding, that’s a joke.”

    Does my pope really believe that the story of the creation of Eve is a joke?!

  5. Nan says:

    Oh, the housekeepers. Yikes! I’m sure feminists will love that!

  6. Back pew sitter says:

    I’ve had a strange day and maybe I’m just not getting it, but can someone explain the ‘joke’ Pope Francis alludes to about woman being taken from a rib. I thought she was….no/yes? (And saying this is not in any way demeaning to women or mysoginist….just as it is not being demeaning to the Church to describe her (yes, the Church is she) as being born from the side of Christ.)

  7. APX says:

    I think there needs to be a better clarification of what the Church means by mother, spouse, etc when She refers to women’s role in the Church as such, as well as clarification as to what it means to be a priest, as opposed to just a position in the Church.

    Most people when they hear the words spouse and mother, don’t think in the spiritual sense, so they think the Church expects women to get married, be submissive to their husbands and push out babies as a blanket statement to all women. What gets neglected to mention are the woman in the Church who remained single (at least in the natural sense of the term) and served
    the Church and Her children in the spiritual sense of the term spouse and mother.

    To those who see the Church as a corporate organization and the hierarchy as a corporate ladder that the Church refuses to let women climb because they’re women, the aforementioned will never make sense to them.

    All this being said, the Church does have Her share of misogynists both in the congregations (I have even had one man at my parish tell me that he had authority over me because he was a man and I was a woman, thus I had to listen to him) and in the hierarchy, but they should be viewed as, “the views and opinions expressed by these people are that of those who have them and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Church.”

  8. Imrahil says:

    Church is a feminine word.

    Also in English, it seems, if it’s a Catholic speaking. We can just not un-personify her; at least I cannot, but then I’m German.

    It’s interesting, too, that even when we speak of men, the word “soul” applied to them is still feminine.

    (The State, though, is masculine.)

  9. JKnott says:

    Back pew sitter: I was wondering the same thing. I always thought that the Church considers the Bride of Christ being born anew out of the side of Christ on the Cross and as symbolic of Eve born from the side of Adam (according to Genesis.)
    Also, thought that Theology is the study of God and not His creatures. Although many use it that way.

  10. amenamen says:

    Housekeepers of the world, unite.
    The hand that holds the ladle, rules the world.

  11. amenamen says:

    I am interested in the latest papal expression, “Beh”.

    Here’s an informative little website:

    “Boh” and “beh” are just two of the untranslatable words that make the Italian of native speakers such a zesty, mouth-watering linguistic sauce …

    … Beh! (or Be’!). Just like “well,” “then,” “so” or “the fact is,” beh reinforces a sense of reluctance or hesitation in expressing a different opinion. If you comment that Angelina Jolie is a terrific actress, an Italian might say, “Beh, è senz’altro bellissima, ma a me non sembra mica così brava” (Well, she’s certainly beautiful, but to me she doesn’t seem all that good).

  12. Susan G says:

    I may have responded quite harshly when a “Catholic” friend posted the Jezebel article on this. I *may* have linked, quoted and recommended that she read Mulieris Dignitatem, referenced the female doctors of the Church and Mary. The Catholic Church as a misogynist organization… it cracks me up every time!

  13. Legisperitus says:

    Back Pew: It may or may not be significant that the Holy Father considered the rib thing a joke. I think it shows he is aware that the secular world tends to focus on the story of Eve as a central aspect of the Church’s alleged misogyny, and the joke he was making was pretending to make Genesis the subject of the conversation, which would have been like charging into a hornets’ nest.

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The reporter said that all this was taken from misogyny, and the Pope said it was taken from a rib.

    Ah say, that’s a joke, son — as Foghorn Leghorn might say. (And Leghorn is in Italy, no?)

  15. iPadre says:

    They used to say that the housekeeper had more authority in the rectory/ parish than the curate.

  16. True, the feminists got nothing. But I find the Holy Father’s beating around the bush on these and other controversial topics a bit unnerving. On one hand he gives the enemies of Holy Mother Church nothing, yet no line in sand is being drawn, perhaps subtly, but not absolutely.

  17. Joan A. says:

    Feminists are never pleased and never will be. There is something inherently destructive in true feminist ideology, that directly contradicts what St. John Paul would call “the feminine genius.” This feminist/destructive (anti-life) tendency may be what the Holy Father touched upon when he half-jokingly referred to the LCWR ladies as “old maids”.

  18. marcelus says:

    He said it before: women need to be included, not clericalized.

  19. Michelle says:

    Back pew sitter — there are two stories in Genesis of the creation of humans, one where Eve is created from Adam’s rib (Gen 2:21-22) , the other which does not presume an ordering (Gen 1:26-27). The former story was used for centuries in the Church to support the position that women were less than men. It’s a joke, because the Church no longer teaches that women are less the image of God than men.

  20. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Dear Michelle,

    Could you please explain when it was that “the Church [taught] that women are less the image of God than men”?

  21. Nan says:

    @Absit invidia, perhaps papa thinks the line has been drawn so there’s no reason to reinforce it since it’s unchanging.

  22. jm says:

    “…our feminists are not going to be happy with this interview. Not one little bit.”

    Of course neither will conservatives. It is a weak response all around esp. coming from a Pope.

  23. Dennis Martin says:

    For Michelle,

    The Church never, ever, taught that women are less the image of God than are men. Feminists have made the claim that She did teach this, but the joke is on them, because the assertion goes back to a joke pamphlet written in the 1600s by a Lutheran.

    see “The Myth of Soulless Women,” by Michael Nolan in First Things, Dec. 2007

  24. Tony says:

    To everyone who is angry about the Eve joke: the reporter asked if he was being misogynist, he responded by making a stereotypical misogynist joke. It was pretty funny.

    If Benedict XVI or St. John Paul II were to make the same joke, everyone here would be all “Oh isn’t he funny turning the liberal media’s tricky questions against them by making a joke!” Let’s give the Vicar of Christ the benefit of the doubt…

  25. Michelle says:

    Johannes Andraes, author of the authoritative commentary on canon law (Constitutions of Clement) in the 13th century: Eva processerit ab Adam et sic ipsa non est imago Dei in creatione. Eve came forth from Adam’s rib and so is not the image of God in creation. Cited going forward.

  26. Elizium23 says:

    The lame-duck ICEL translation did immeasurable damage to the vision of Church as woman and bride. Two generations of English-speaking Catholics grew up wholly unaware of the theology of Bride and Bridegroom. Anyone who misunderstands this should have toothpicks applied to the eyes (if necessary) while they watch Jeff Cavins expound on the Book of Revelation, which is a book all about the Sacred Liturgy and Holy Matrimony, believe it or not.

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  28. Bosco says:

    Uh oh! Time to place a phone call to Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office and Keeper of the Papal Fig Leaves.

  29. frahobbit says:

    The holy Father was ribbing us? sorry.

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  31. benedetta says:

    Bravo Holy Father.

    Note the secularist premise: a woman who is a mother = misogyny.

    Just saying it does not make it so. In fact, saying it a zillion times in a zillion ways through shouting still does not make it so.

    A woman who is a mother = blessed

  32. benedetta says:

    Look at it this way, why do the secularists not say: a man who is a father = hatred of men. Although I admit that secularist portrayals of fatherhood can be quite demeaning…but that is only to establish the misogyny?

  33. Nan, good point. Thank you.

    I’m mainly concerned about those out there who think the line has never been drawn or that the line can be shifted, willy nilly, by whomever is at the helm.

  34. J_Cathelineau says:

    Anyway I would like to have another Pope. One that acts as one.
    Ive been suffering Msgr Bergoglio for too many years. Its like a nightmare.

  35. Peg Demetris says:

    I’m quite satisfied being the most beautiful thing God crated. If I changed it, what would I be changed into? Ugliness.. I’ve been that before I knew Him.

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  37. paulbencatholic says:

    I think this is a good argument against women priesthood and feminism in general:

    Women & the Priesthood – Dr Peter Kreeft

  38. Imrahil says:

    Dear Dennis Martin,

    certainly women are the image of God (and noone suggested they would not have souls, and immortal spiritual ones at that [animals, by scholastic terminology, have souls too], though your link does not seem to link anywhere).

    Yet I can hardly understand St. Paul in his well-known treatise on the veil (“not woman was created image of God, but man, woman was created image of man”, etc.) otherwise than with woman being “less the image of God than man”. (Note less != not.)

    F.w.i.w. if you suffer my private musing, I’d add that to the degree that man is more of the image of God than woman is, woman is more of the image of both creation, and mankind. You know Chesterton: “Men can be men; but mankind is a woman.”

  39. APX says:

    As our priest said in one of his daily sermons awhile back, “If YOU have a problem with Pope Francis, it’s because YOU haven’t prayed hard enough for him.”

  40. Ohio Organist says:

    Most of the priests I know are under the thumb of their female liturgists.

  41. robtbrown says:


    According to St Augustine Eve coming from Adam’s rib teaches that woman is man’s equal and belongs at his side.

    The text you cited indicates that Johannes Andraes was not familiar with the works of St Thomas or St Augustine. Maybe he wrote that text when he was mad at his wife

  42. robtbrown says:

    During my 8 years in Italy I learned that everything there is complicated and is usually different from what meets the eye–nothing more so than relations between men and women.

    I once asked in an Italian, married with children and grandchildren, who was the head of the Italian family

    He said that the man was the head, but the woman was the commander

  43. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Michelle: Latin or it didn’t happen. :)

    1. It’s actually a heretical proposition to say that woman is not fully human, not made in the image of God, or doesn’t have a soul. The Gnostics did tend to say this, so it got besmush-o’d in the early centuries of Christianity.

    2. Yup, it’s pretty standard to say that woman was made from the rib to show that she is not to be over the male’s head or under his feet, but to walk beside him and be his fitting companion. St. Albert the Great say that, St. Aug and St. Tom say that, even Jewish rabbis say that. It’s also standard patristics to say that man is the head and woman the neck of humanity, and that even comes down in the common Christian teaching to My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

    3. There are several situations where such a quote might appear in a text. One is as a proposition that will be argued off a little further down the text: “It would seem that….” The other is as a list of heretical propositions, usually a long list headed by the declaration that these propositions may not be held.

    4. If I have time, I will look up this maroon and see what sort of horrible smitings were visited upon him for insulting the holy women and the Blessed Virgin, if he did indeed say such a thing. I’m thinking boils, that’s a popular one.

  44. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Michelle: I did see the Latin, btw, so that was a joke; but it’s the context I need. Still, thanks for the search term.

    Re: authorship, you meant “Johannes Andreas.”

    Anyway, as the Enterprise computer used to say, “Searching….”

  45. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Johannes Andreas apparently didn’t work on the Constitutiones Clementi V (aka the Liber Clementinarum or the Clementines), because he was busy being a theology prof in Padua. (Where women were also employed as medicine profs, btw. I don’t remember if there were female math profs at the time, but there were women students around.)

    He did write tons of commentaries and books about the Constitutiones, among his other tons of canon law books and commentaries. So this is not going to be super-easy to find the source, unless it pops up in Google Books or somebody deigns to give a book/page/column/line source for the quote.


  46. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Ooh, found Michelle’s source! It’s a book called A Pernicious Sort of Woman by Elizabeth Makowski. Short version: canonnesses and other non-Benedictine patterns for religious women caused canon law problem, so some canon lawyers made bad arguments. Anyhow, will look into the source material if I can find it, but yeah, tons of footnotes and Latin in the actual book.

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  48. Evovae says:


    That’s an interesting quote, but it does not prove your point; the opinions listed in a canonical commentary are not church teaching. It is easy to find a variety of opinions from any number of purportedly “authoritative” church sources in order to back up a claim that the church “taught” any number of scandalous doctrines (St. Thomas Aquinas’s doubts about the immaculate conception come to mind).

    Unless I’m mistaken, though, what you’re trying to say is that many people throughout the history of the church have used theological arguments to justify invidious attitudes towards women. I don’t think that’s a disputed point (but NB: that doesn’t make it church teaching, either).

    What is disputed, however, is the attempt to say that because of that history, then ANY theological argument marshaled against any position that is CLAIMED TO BE invidious towards women, must therefore be false.

    But this context this assumes that a woman’s inability to be ordained a priest is predicated on some kind of female inferiority. Now, maybe someone somewhere made that claim, but I don’t think anyone is seriously making it now; in any event, it certainly never was church teaching.

  49. KateD says:

    In my experience, people from Argentina don’t do sound bites. Trying to extract meaning from a hand full of sentences, is an exercise in futility. This is something our instant gratification American media cannot comprehend, nor does it want to.

  50. KateD says:

    *limited experience

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  52. daniwcca says:

    Father Z, do you plan on commenting on other parts of the interview? People are going crazy about the “communists are Christians in the closet” headlines everywhere…..

    [SURE! Ho hum.]

  53. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Well, it’s old news that Communists are treating the forces of history like God and utopia like the Second Coming and the New Jerusalem, and then trying to immanentise the eschaton by performing ritual anti-capitalist actions. And it’s pretty obviously a form of belief that wouldn’t be the same if Christianity hadn’t come first. So figuring that it’s a form of atheism for people afraid to “come out” and worship Christ? Not totally off the wall.

    But of course, Communists are particularly savage toward any political movement that might seem attractive to Communists yet isn’t Communism; and the same applies to religions. An atheist trying to feed his Christian urgings with Communism (and not admit it to himself!) is often particularly nasty against Christianity.

  54. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Okay, chasing down the reference Michelle gave. This guy Johannes Andreas, the Paduan prof, didn’t write the Constitutiones or what have you. What he did was write several canon law commentary books which were influential: a commentary on Liber Sextus, an Apparatus for the Clementines, and a commentary on the Decretals of Gregory IX (among many others). A good chunk of these three commentaries were incorporated into later collections of the Constitutiones Clementi as part of the “glossa ordinaria,” the normal explanations that were written all around the actual canon law documents on the page. (The edition of the Big Canon Law Book of Bigness that the academic author was working with was the Corpus Iuris Canonici from 1546, so no telling if the big crazy moment is some kind of misprint.)

    The crazy bit was at the tail end of his gloss, from his commentary book on the Decretals of Gregory IX, on a papal document called Dilecta, which was a response by Pope Honorius III to a request by an abbess of Quedlinburg (one of the big rich influential royal canoness places), basically saying that she could threaten and punish anybody she thought needed it, but she needed the abbot next door to do any needful excommunicating. Johannes Andreas basically was determined to turn this into a papal declaration that ladies shouldn’t be bossing men around, which I can readily believe.

    And so the question is whether he actually went so far as writing down total heretical craziness, and nobody actually noticed (in which case, the canon law guys are maybe not paying much attention once they get to the tail end of the gloss), or whether canon law guys back then were totally flunking their theology classes (and canon lawyers could be totally secular laymen, so maybe they were), or whether they were all very bitter against the Paduan girls, or whether it was all a tragic misprint like the Fornicator’s Bible.

    But yeah, it pretty much screams that something is wrong and goes against all tradition and magisterial teaching. (Possibly there is more info elsewhere in the book about what drugs they were taking in Padua.) But of course it’s not considered strange these days that a prof can go off the reservation and yet somehow retain influence over the hapless masses of academe; finding yet another case like that wouldn’t be all that strange.

  55. The Holy Father has a dreadful way of sticking his foot firmly in his mouth. His intentions may have been innocent, but appearing to joke about sacred Scripture is exceedingly ham-handed.

  56. Johnno says:

    Francis: “The fact is that woman was taken from a rib … (he laughs strongly). I’m kidding, that’s a joke. ”

    Oh? Please, kindly explain where precisely the joke is your Holiness? Another fine gem you’ve thoughtlessly thrown out to swine? Swine who will share in the laugh imagining that the Pope too has finally abandoned the Truth from Genesis for the heretical doctrine of evolution?

    The fact is that the Church was born from Christ’s side when blood and water converted the pagan… (HAHAHAHA how amusing!) I’m kidding, we don’t want to proselytize to anyone anymore!

    As for the discussion about Eve, a lot will of course center on what we perceive as the ‘image of God’ and the image of man, something that is rich and detailed. Yes, Eve was created to be subordinate to Adam, because she is a reflection of creation, which is subordinate to God. Thus as Peter Kreeft excellently explains, that makes all of creation, including men, the female aspect in relation to God. And it is why Women are more easily spiritually inclined than men. And thus is also why God instituted an all-male priesthood, to reflect His male role, the fact of the Incarnation as a man, and the role men are called to play as being at warfare against the demonic and erroneous. Feminists don’t like this because they want to be in the role of God. But in fact, they are beasts who will end up enslaved by their stupidity to evil men raised by their foolish example.

  57. maryh says:

    I knew someone else would be able to answer the Johannes Andreas quote. But I thought it interesting that the best Michelle could do was to quote an obscure canonist, not a saint or a pope or a doctor of the church.

    But I would note that two things are being conflated here –
    1) the idea that women are not in the image of God (which is what Andreas apparently was saying)
    2) the idea that women are less the image of God than are men.

    The first has clearly never been taught by the Church. The fact that the quote was from an obscure canonist and not a doctor of the church, a saint, a pope, or even a theologian, pretty much underlines that.

    The second, I think, could be more problematic.

    The way I might put it is this (and I’m just thinking “out loud” here):

    A woman, as a human being, is made in the image of God exactly and to the same degree as is a man. “Male and female he created them.”

    However, as regards her sex, that is, the specific way in which she differs from men, she is the image of humanity, the Bride, the Church, not of God.

    Similarly, a man as a human being, is made in the image of God exactly and to the same degree as is a women.

    However, as regards his sex, that is, the specific way in which he differs from a woman, he is the image of God and the Groom.

    In terms of sexual metaphor, God is male, not female. He came as a male human being, not as a female human being.

    So does that mean that men are “more” in the image of God? In some respect, I suppose so.

    But it leads to a couple of interesting observations. Women, as regards their sex, are the image of what they actually are – human beings. Men, as regards their sex, are the image of what they are not and never can be – God.

  58. Vecchio di Londra says:

    St Thomas Aquinas (in writing on The Creed about the Church’s universality) says:
    ‘…Secondly, the Church is universal with regard to all the conditions of mankind, since no one is excepted [abiicitur=cast off, rejected] neither master, nor servant, nor man, nor woman [Gal. 3: 28].’
    That whole passage in Galatians referred to (3:26-28) seems very relevant here:
    ‘For you are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus.For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.’
    This is quite a beautiful and revolutionary statement – unless we use it to hammer on about our imagined ‘equal rights’, which is not what it is about at all.

  59. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Maryh, you want to be careful about messing with Genesis 2. “Let Us make man in Our Own image” is one of the big Trinitarian quotes. The Hebrew for the bit about “male and female created He them” is very definite about both representatives of the sexes being made in the image of God. And God is allowed to create in His image however He feels like, whether with dirt or bones or whatever.

    If you think about it, Adam and Eve are the original of all the elder sibling/ younger sibling pairs in the OT. Adam has the birthright of priesthood and defender, and Eve is the one who is beloved and tricky, and who conquers after many strange adventures.

  60. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Interesting in this context are St. Anselm’s words in Cur Deus Homo, Book II, Chapter viii, “If woman, whom God made from man alone, was made of a virgin (de virgine), it is peculiarly fitting for that man also, who shall spring from a woman, to be born of a woman without man.”

    The first Adam has no mother, but this virgin Adam is by miracle the source of “the mother of all the living” – including the Blessed Virgin who by miracle conceived and bore the Second Adam.

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  62. jflare says:

    “…so they think the Church expects women to get married, be submissive to their husbands and push out babies as a blanket statement to all women.”

    Weeeeellllllll…. However much the feminists may hate it, that is, more or less, what the Church DOES expect. We can agree that there will be certain numbers of women (and men) who do not marry or bear children, but who will live single, chaste lives, even if not consecrated (or ordained, in the case of men). Even so, such numbers of persons will typically be a distinct minority. Let’s remember though that, um, civilization ceases to exist if women within that civilization will not agree to bearing and raising children.

    “…one where Eve is created from Adam’s rib (Gen 2:21-22)…”
    Careful. As someone else hinted, this story from second Genesis has rather little to do with Creation, itself. Overall, the chapter refers to the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage.

    For the record, I don’t believe the Church teaches one sex to be “superior” to the other, at least not in the way that has been taken to mean in our times. If many will point to St. Paul’s comment about how wives should be submissive to their husbands, the statement immediately following states quite clearly that husbands are to love their wives as they love their own bodies.
    In other words, the sexes are always to be complementary in being the earthly, human images of God, our Father. Different and needed roles, yes. One “better” or “superior” to the other, no.

  63. Imrahil says:

    Dear maryh, thank you, I think that’s good points. On that, by the way, about women representing what they actually are, Peter Kreeft, if I remember correctly, found there the explanation why they appear more devout: because they have it the easier way…

    Dear Banshee, I think while yes that’s a Trinitarian verse, still, St. Paul’s well-known treatise on the veil is Scripture too. Now he does appear to imply that women are “somehow less the image of God than” women, and all maryh did was seek an explanation… which I think she did quite finely.

    Dear Evovae, but still the fact of woman’s exclusion from the special priesthood (and consequently the positions of authority, and a notable portion of those of social excellence, in the Church – and that’s not a musdevelopment but as it should be) creates an inferiority. And we won’t win a flowerpot with denying it.

  64. Suburbanbanshee says:

    A baptized man [male adult, vir] being compared to Christ as the head on the Church’s Body, doesn’t at all suggest that a woman is less the image of God than a man. If the Church is Christ’s Body, and baptized women represent all of Christ’s Body except His Head, that means they are not only the image of Christ but His Body.

    Heck, you could argue that by volume, they would thus be more Christ’s Body than men are, albeit that would be a pretty stupid argument in light of transubstantiation. :)

    Men and women are equally created in the image of God. Arguing anything else is the road to madness, gnosticism, and disrespect of both the Creator and the created, not to mention a lot of hard feelings around the house. That’s not a harsh statement; it’s a statement of fact and a gentle warning. (I have brothers, and as kids we fought over every conceeeeeivable topic. Opening up the wars between the sexes is not without consequences for either side.)

  65. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Now that I think of it, it would appear that some moderns out in the world believe in a sort of penanggalan heresy — Christ is the Head and contains all men, floating around without a Body, and women are the rest of the Body, running around on the ground with no Head. The amusing thing is that extreme Christian feminists and extreme man-osphere Christian guys apparently believe the same heresy, but with opposite views of what’s the good bit. :)

  66. jflare says:

    “…but still the fact of woman’s exclusion from the special priesthood (and consequently the positions of authority, and a notable portion of those of social excellence, in the Church – and that’s not a musdevelopment but as it should be) creates an inferiority.”

    The fact that a woman cannot be a priest creates an inferiority? If a woman cannot be a priest, neither can a man bear a child. If society and the Church cannot live without priests to offer sacraments and guide the faithful, neither can the same society or Church exist if no persons would be born to live the Church’s life.
    Seems to me that declaring women “inferior” because they can’t be priests demonstrates a secular intolerance for the idea of the complementarity of male and female.
    For what it’s worth, this also seems to me to demonstrate the typical modern day lack of knowledge of the social power women have exercised over the centuries. Even ignoring the social influence that women have exerted in aiding their CEO husbands, such assertions about women would seem to ignore the fact that nuns have run numerous hospitals and schools–filling the role of a CEO–for centuries. Such efforts don’t happen without exercising social influence.

  67. Imrahil says:

    Dear Banshee,

    I was merely thinking aloud around the words in Holy Writ, as follows:

    For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and reflected* glory of God: but the woman is the reflected* glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. […] Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

    *I inserted “reflected” under the impression of the German word in this place, “Abglanz”. Anyway, it should be clear that this is the intended sense of the whole passage, though I admit that I quite like the sentence “woman is the glory of man”, using modern meanings for the words, and would agree. ;-) >

    That is of course rather nuanced and deep-going, but we’d do us a disservice, I think, if we insist on an “in equal measure”, and consider anything else “the road to madness, gnosticism, and disrespect of both the Creator and the created”.

    That said, the statement that woman was not in the image of God has found no support here except with some obscure canonist, and was immediately, and quite rightly, rejected by yourself with universal approval from the rest as certainly contradoctrinary and possibly heretical.

    On another note, I think we might even find a suggestion in Genesis 1 that the disparity of the sexes partains itself to Man’s being the image of God (I’m using “man” not in the sense of “male”).

  68. Imrahil says:

    Dear jflare,

    as a foreigner I’m perhaps using the word “inferior” rather non-reflection its connotations in tone, only in the Latin sense, so: sorry for that, I should at least have said that. Anyway, if you know a better English word without such undertones I’d be happy to use that.

    The Church obviously has, and in my view is meant to have, a hierarchy – not only in the technical and etymological meaning of the word, but also in the modern colloquial sense to which these gave rise. Now the idea that in some respects it cannot be said of men “this is 100% equal” may be adverse to the modern spirit or also the American spirit, but it is not averse to either Catholic dogma or Catholicism (i.e. as generally practiced and as the atmospheres that have been created in Catholic societies). This is, in my view, as it should be: It is quite natural to a devout Catholic to hold someone in high regard who consecrates the Eucharist.

    As the Catechism says (no. 1945), “The equality of men concerns their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it”. You can almost hear a “and, in the sense of a basic right, not necessarily anything else” behind it.

    A military superior that lacks the respect of his subordinates will probably be unsuccessful – but still the superior is superior and the subordinate is subordinate. (This is no direct analogy: woman is certainly not, and should not be, subordinate to man, in the sense of one sex to another.)

    So, we have a hierarchy in the Church and women are not part of it (now again using the technical sense) – nor are their husbands.

    Woman can run hospitals (and much other things), as you rightly note: but men can run them too. Woman cannot run parishes (forgive the expression), but some men can.

    Neither can a man bear a child.
    No, he cannot: but he can father a child. This is complementarity.

    Though yes there is something particularly holy about motherhood and about the female part in a marriage – reflected, by the way, in the fact that traditionally, brides would get a lengthy and elaborate blessing in the Nuptial Mass apart from the blessings given to both of them together.

    As for the Mass, priests are, by the explanation, men because they represent the Christ as head*; women, therefore, particularly represent Christ’s body, the Church as the dear Banshee brought up ;-) – I heard that the consecration of virgins is partly about that. But Mass – where the life of the Church streams from – can be celebrated without a consecrated virgin, or nun, or woman present: but it cannot be celebrated without a priest.

    These are facts, and they don’t go away along the lines of “it’s good therefore it’s equal” (which would be a rather unfounded assumption). It’s good, because Our Lord ordained it thus and He ordains naught but good things; it’s not equal, because you’d need to twist words to somehow declare it equal.

    [* Note: I am not referring here to the argument that Christ chose only men as apostles. This is, of course, the compelling reason the Church has no priestesses (combined with the fact that the Apostles and their followers, from the onset saw this as binding precedent). Yet I, for one, do think that this decision of Our Lord, itself, has some reason behind itself which we may merrily do suggestions about. In addition, I don’t think the attituded sometimes heard in orthodox apologetics – “Christ ordained no women; I wish he had, but I have to follow him” – while quite unproblematic ad intra, will be rather unhelpful ad extra.]

  69. maryh says:

    Point taken on the trinitarian quote from Genesis – my misquote.

    Still working this out, as a former feminist. A lot of “thinking out loud.”

    I think that to say “men are more in the image of God than women”, while it may in some sense be true, is not useful. One might say that a man is more in the image of God than a woman because of his masculinity and that a redwood tree is more in the image of God than a man because of its greater lifespan. What seems more important to me is to determine how the image of God reflected by masculinity leads to a difference of hierarchical roles.

    In terms of Church doctrine, the difference between men and women has not been used to declare one sex more valuable than the other, but to define a certain difference in roles. Men are not priests because men are “better than” women, but because their masculinity was designed by God, at least in part, to enable them to act in persona Christi. In fact, throughout the Bible, God delights in selecting those considered to be “less than”.

    So why does it follow from the fact that men are designed to act in persona Christi that they are also designed to populate the hierarchy of the Church, and that in marriage, the wife is required to be “submissive” to her husband?

    I put “submissive” in quotes, because of its negative connotations, but I would prefer the term “subordinate” because of what I consider a very apt military analogy. There is, in my mind at least, no necessary implication of a difference in worth simply because someone has command authority in a certain situation. If, in addition, the command authority is given in order to enable the one in authority to protect someone else, then it makes even more sense. Under certain circumstances, even the POTUS is “subordinate” to his bodyguards – at least if he wants to stay alive.

    And we find that where Church doctrine insists on “command authority” belonging to men and not women, it is precisely in cases of protection. Priests are called to protect their flocks, husbands to protect their wives, the Pope to protect the deposit of faith. In terms of roles, that which protects is masculine and that which is protected is feminine. To take it further, Christ identifies that the purpose of authority is not to “lord it over others” but to “save” and to “serve” even to point of death.

    Obviously, in real life, the protector must have some degree of obedience from the person being protected so that he can protect her.

    So why should men be the protectors and women the protected? The practical case is easiest to see in the case of husbands physically protecting wives from danger. Even in the case where a woman might be able to defend herself just as well as a man, a woman during her years of greatest physical strength is also most likely to be pregnant or nursing (most common age of weaning for most of human history was at 3 years, and longer nursing up to a point is directly related to infant survival). In other words, to risk a woman in combat when she would be most fit would also directly jeopardize unborn or very young children.

    Imrahil, you state that fathering a child is the complement to a woman bearing a child. I don’t think the two are very equivalent in effect. In fact, I might almost say that the huge difference in effect is the defining biological difference between a man and a woman.

    So yes, I would say that men incur “an inferiority” to women in the sense that they cannot bring forth children. And I would say that this is equivalent in importance and impact to “the inferiority” women incur because they cannot be priests.

    Part of the problem occurs if we attribute the reason for the protection of women to some lesser value or ability in women. We’ve seen that crop up time and again in history – women are to be submissive to men because they are not as smart or not as good or not as [fill in the blank]. Or if we expand the areas where men have authority over women to every man over every woman, such as in the example quoted above, where a man thought women are never to be set in positions of authority over men. Or to teach. Or preach. Clearly, the example of many female saints shows that is not what the Church, or her Bible, teach.

    Another problem is that our society has come to view childbearing and child raising as a something inferior to almost anything else a human being could do. When childbearing is not seen as something positive or worthy of society’s support, it becomes seen not as the defining gift of women but as a curse. The sooner all children can be conceived in petri dishes, brought to term in artificial incubators, and raised by those unable to do anything actually valued by society, the better.

  70. Imrahil says:

    Dear maryh,

    thank you for your comment!

    I guess I’ll write some longer answer yet… interesting.

    In the meantime I might mention that among all this “attributing the reason for the protection of women to some lesser value or ability in women” you, in general, rightly decry, there is one thing where there really is (in general) a difference to their disadvantage: physical strength. Which is why some speak of the weak sex – which is in general uncourteous and unfriendly to say, but there’s a physical fact – not (!!) something concerned with value – behind it that (at least to me) seems obvious.

    (Note that physical strength, though, has obviously nothing to do with the priesthood – as is proven from the ban, or used-to-be ban, on priests wearing arms physical defence is not their job.)

    They also say – I can only underline it highly, but I’m not objective in this case as I am a man and have only a male view to that matter – that there is one thing where they really is a difference to men’s disadvantage: beauty. Which is why they are called the fair sex. Quoth Olympe de Gouges: “the sex surpassing the other in beauty and in suffering the labor of pregnancy”.

    Then, when I said that bearing and fathering a child was complementary I of course did mean that it’s a complementarity with quite a difference (which is pretty much the difference between the sexes, at least as far as nature is concerned, actually). I’ll perhaps go back to that (and priesthood), though, when I made up my thinking ;-)

    As for “subordinate”, I rejected the term, above, in the sense of women being subordinate to men, per se. (Is not and should not be the case.) I quite agree, though, that for a wife w.r.t. her husband, it is – in a sense – the precise term applicable. (I’d not immediate have said it, for friendliness’ sake, but as you say it yourself and are a woman…)

  71. Imrahil says:

    “which is pretty much the difference between the sexes”

    which you quite rightly said yourself, in fact.

    Yet, that very thing means that it is complementary: the one sex does this, the other that, both are necessary, both are mutually exclusive. Hence it is anything that complementarity is about, no matter how large the difference (which I did not deny).

  72. GregB says:

    The main point about Eve being made from a rib of Adam is understood as her being bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. The conjugal act is called the one flesh union. Eve was made from a rib of Adam so that they would be consubstantial, of the same substance. This is clearly in keeping with the Nicene Creed in terms of image and likeness. It is my view that in Holy Matrimony God, husband, and wife are supposed to constitute a whole new trinity. In original sin and in the current assault on traditional marriage Satan’s objective is to disfigure this Trinitarian image and likeness.

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