“I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of ‘female machismo,’ because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo. Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.”
If developing a theology of women is so critically important to the church as you suggest, how much of your day do you devote to talking to women? How much room does this occupy on meeting agendas? How many women are present to represent women when such agenda topics arise?
Does a theology of women require creation, validation or ratification by men? Unfortunately due to the reality of the Catholic Church's male hegemony, there seems to be a need to gain male buy-in to do what is just with regards to women if one remains within the institution. Perhaps that is why so many leave. They have given up all hope that the hierarchy is capable of doing what is right and just.
Also, please do not dismiss my expressed concerns as "angry rant" if you do not share my opinions. Few things are as dehumanizing as telling another person how they do or should feel. I am not angry; I am wounded and unwilling to subject myself to those who don't know or care that they inflict wounds. Most wounded women leave the Catholic Church but I remain. However, I have redefined the hierarchy's role in my life because the hierarchy's behavior has earned my distrust. I am uncertain what they could do to regain that trust which they rightfully have lost By the way, look at your pew counts and statistics on former Catholics. I stand with the majority of the church - the people of God. How has the hierarchy succeeded in wounding so many people to the point of departure? When will it not only end but when will sincere efforts towards reparation and reconciliation begin?
P.S. After I published this letter I reflected more on what might be required for the hierarchy to regain my trust. You speak in another part of your interview about acting as a father. Please allow me to describe my real father's behavior by sharing a story.
When I was in school, my father took me to a very large mathematics competition. While awaiting results of the mathematics test taken by participants, a male participant's father approached my father, pointing at me while saying, "Why did you bring her? That's like letting a kid take a lick from a lollipop only to take it away. She won't need math to be a wife and mother."
My father looked the man squarely in the eye and said very calmly and deliberately, "She is here because she belongs here." It turned out I placed 7th in the competition. My father found the other father, waved my award in the air, again looking him calmly and squarely in the the eye and repeated, "She is here because she belongs here."
This made a huge impression on me but my father barely remembers it because it is just how he conducted himself with regards to all his children and all women. When hierarchy members are willing to stand and look any critic squarely in the eye while they say, "She is here because she belongs here" about women in any church role, then they might regain my trust and earn the privilege for me to call them "father."
I feel Fr. Roy Bourgeois did this which is why he has earned the privilege of me addressing him as "father." However, I am sure you are aware that Fr. Roy has been defrocked and excommunicated by the hierarchy simply because he imitated my father by saying, "She is here because she belongs here" about a female priest. An act of good faith would be to reinstate him and any bishop forced into silence or retirement due to their advocacy for women.
Last night during dinner I read my dad this letter. Several times he interjected saying, "that's right" to affirm points I made. When I read him his quote contained in the post-script, I got choked-up and interjected, "Dad that really meant a lot to me" after he had softly but more firmly said, "that's right" yet again in response. When I finished reading the letter he said, "Il papa should talk to la mamma. I think someday we will have a 'la mamma' instead of an 'il papa' leading." (As a side note to those reading who don't speak Italian, "il papa" means "the pope" in Italian but it also means, "the dad." "La mamma" means "the mom.")
I also read him the comment one of his 20+ grandchildren wrote. You see it below signed by AW. He solemnly nodded his head in agreement, exhaled another, "that's right" and added one of his most common and powerful parenting lines while switching to a disapproving nod as though addressing you directly as one of his children, "Francis, Francis...show me; don't tell me. Have you re-instated a single censured person yet?"