Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Please don't blame your sexism on Jesus...

I understand some hearts are aflutter after Cardinal Sean O'Malley's recent interview on the US television show "60 Minutes."  During the interview Sean hinted that he felt convicted-criminal-for-failure-to-report-child-abuse-and-active-Opus-Dei-bishop-of-Kansas-City, Robert Finn, maybe shouldn't be an active bishop anymore.  Rather than rejoicing, I find myself disillusioned that a) O'Malley is the first of the more than 5,000 worldwide bishops to open his mouth on this...over TWO YEARS AFTER Finn's conviction and b) this STILL has not been addressed by the pope. Talk about a "no-brainer" action to take...

In Roman Catholic Clergy time, perhaps two years is the equivalent of breaking the sound barrier for speed, but to me, it seems slow and underwhelming.  After all, I repeat: Finn is still the active bishop of an entire diocese despite Sean's groundbreaking public criticism. If Finn had ordained a woman, he would have been relieved of his duties before the sun set on the next day.  It doesn't speak well to papal priorities that the welfare of children is something to ponder for years before acting.

Sean also said the Vatican's handling of the US nun's visitation was a "disaster."  Thanks, Sean...Glad you caught on to that one too, albeit a little slower than the Finn situation.

But what really caught my attention were Sean's statements about women and Jesus. Here's a synopsis:

Reporter Norah O’Donnell asked if excluding women from the hierarchy was “immoral.”  O'Malley replied, “Christ would never ask us to do something immoral. It’s a matter of vocation and what God has given to us."

He went on to say, "Not everyone needs to be ordained to have an important role in the life of the Church...Women run Catholic charities, Catholic schools …. They have other very important roles. A priest can’t be a mother. The tradition in the Church is that we ordain men."  (Note the touch of "Venus envy" in that statement..."guys can't have babies so we need to prevent women from doing something men can to even the score" kind of mentality.)

Then in true "Happy Projection and Passive Aggressive Day" form, O’Malley smiled and uttered this humdinger, “If I were founding a church, I’d love to have women priests. But Christ founded it, and what he has given us is something different.”

You see, Sean tells us it's not him and the rest of the clergy who are sexist; evidently it's Jesus who is.  Sean really, really, really and I mean a million times really wishes he could ordain a woman but gosh darn it, even though Jesus said Peter could hold whatever he wanted loosed or bound....there was a disclaimer written in invisible ink only discernible by clergy eyes that says something like this, "except when it comes to ordaining women, approving of homosexuals or using birth control...there I draw the line guys...and I mean the 'guys' part literally..."

Sean, Christ didn't ordain anyone and didn't ask anybody to ordain anybody in Scripture. So, what you said on national television...Prime Time at that, was a falsehood.  Ya broke the 8th Commandment on that one, my friend.

Scripture does record Jesus naming some "apostles", a word that simply means "one who is sent."  And scripture also does record Jesus deliberately sending a woman...Mary the Magdalene...so she was by definition an apostle.  She was sent to announce the original "gospel" / "good news" of Jesus' resurrection.  And, Sean, in Mulieris Dignitatem, John Paul II acknowledged that she was an apostle.  So, it seems you've got at least two strikes against you in the truth department.

Furthermore, Sean, riddle me this....how come the first proclaimer of the gospel/good news of Jesus' resurrection was a woman but you and your band of brothers don't let women proclaim the gospel during Mass...at all...ever?  What happened to all that "we can't deviate from scripture" malarcky that you chaps like to repeat until it clangs against my ears like a noisy gong when it comes to excluding women?  You seem to forget that rule when it comes to including women.

But, I think the most offensive thing that you said, which I know you're just parroting what other sexist clerics have said before you, is the bit about blaming your and the clergy's sexism on Jesus.  I must insist you all stop doing that.  Please own your sexism and stop using Jesus as your scapegoat. Christ didn't give us an all-male priesthood.  The men and their male hegemonic culture gave us an all-male priesthood. Truly, for heaven's sake, own your discrimination; own your sexism.

Sean also prattled on about the abundant leadership roles women have.  Since my last blog article which introduced the idea of clergy key performance indicators (KPIs) was such a hit, I thought I'd define a few more clergy KPIs to measure equality.

Here's what I'd like Sean and all the other clergy to disclose so that the statistics can demonstrate just exactly how "important" they find women:

Number of priests who report to male leaders (R):_____
Number of priests who report to women leaders (r):_____ (I think that number is 0 but please humor me and fill it in.)
Number of men leading Curia offices (C):_____
Number of women leading Curia offices (c):_____  (Pretty sure this one is 0 too...)
Number of doctors of the church (DOCS):__35___
Number of female doctors of the church (docs):__4___
Number of saints (S):_____
Number of female saints (s):_____
Number of people who get to vote on bishops and popes (V):_____
Number of women who get to vote on bishops and popes (v):_____ (I know that number is 0 but again, please fill it in to take ownership of your responses.)
Number of doctrinal documents (D):_____
Number of doctrinal documents written by women (d):_____
Number of doctrinal documents actually referenced (REF):_____
Number of doctrinal documents written by women actually referenced (ref):_____
Number of people you talk to on a typical day (P):_____
Number of women you talk to on a typical day (p):_____
Number of people who advise you (A):_____
Number of women who advise you (a):_____
Frequency of receiving advice from people (F):_____
Frequency of receiving advice from women (f):_____

The Stained Glass Ceiling Indicator (SGCI) is calculated by dividing "r" by "R" and adding that to the result of dividing "c" by "C".  The closer that number is to zero, the lower the leadership roles for women.  I believe currently the SGCI is precisely 0.  That would be a ceiling that rests firmly on the floor with exactly zero millimeters of height.  Sean, your story is crashing to the ground and rests upon all those women leaders you tout.

Doctors of the church and saints aren't named until after death so we will handle them in a different category of posthumous indicators.  The At Least We Value Dead Women Indicator (ALWVDWI) is calculated by adding "docs" and "s" and dividing that by the sum of adding "DOCS" and "S". The closer that is to 0.5, the more equitable value of women in the church.  We know the number of doctors and female doctors of the church and in a previous blog article I reported that about 16 out of 100 saints are female.  So, we can actually calculate this one ourselves.  (4+16)/(35+100) = 0.148  Hmmm, 0.148 seems a lot smaller than 0.5....Sean, your story that crashed to the ground is now digging its grave.

The Feminine Voice of the Female Church Indicator (FVFCI) is calculated by adding v and d and dividing it by V+D.  This number should be 0.5 or higher if the female church actually has a feminine voice because voting and dogmatic writings are two of the official voices in the church.  A number of 0.5 or higher means the church's voice consists of at least as much female-originated content as male-originated.  However, this number is actually very, very low...approaching zero.  Thus, our female church's voice has a breathtakingly masculine sound.

The Deaf to Women Indicator (DWI) is a little bit more complex to calculate, so I'll break it into steps.  Multiply f by a and add the product to the sum of p+"ref".  This will be divided by the result of multiplying F by A and adding the product to the sum of P+"REF".  For the math geeks out there the formula is: ((f*a)+p+"ref")/((F*A)+P+"REF").

An example might help.  If a bishop typically talks to 50 people in a day and 5 of them are women and 1 of his 20 advisers are women and he receives advice from the woman 1 time per day while receiving advice 30 times per day overall and he typically references zero doctrinal documents written by women but 10 written by men per day, the result would be ((1*1)+5+0)/((30*20)+50+10) or 6/660 or 0.009.  If women and men are consulted equally then the DWI is 0.5.  The closer the number is to zero, the more deafness towards women.  "Aaaaaaaay, what did you say?..... I can't H-E-A-R you....."

Sean, I really wish you and some of the guys would complete this assessment and send it to me.  And, then, if the numbers do not support your claims about women leadership and importance in the church, I'd like you to go back on "60 Minutes" and say, "I'm sorry; I was very badly mistaken about that women leaders / women are important thing.  Jesus, I'm sorry I blamed my sexism and male hegemonic blindness on you."  Please let me know when this will air as I will not want to miss it.

In the meantime, until your Stained Glass Ceiling Indicator (SGCI) approaches 2, your At Least We Value Dead Women (ALWVDWI) and Deaf to Women (DWI) Indicators approach 0.5, and your Feminine Voice of the Female Church Indicator (FVFCI) exceeds 0.5, please stop spouting this fairy tale about women in leadership filling important roles.  Otherwise, you will leave me with no other option than to call "bullshit!"



  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. It is indeed bullshit, and Jesus Christ had nothing to do with it. The model for the institutional church as we know it today was the Roman Empire, personified at the time by the emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the official religion. He also dictated who would be pope. The Roman Empire had a Pontifex (chief religious officer) and the Church has a pontiff, and never in either case was the incumbent a woman. The Roman Senate? Men. The College of Cardinals? Men. That's 2000 years of zero change.

  4. You sound like a disgruntled nun.

    1. I am uncertain what sounds a disgruntled nun makes but I am not nor have I ever been a religious sister. Ditto for being a paid church employee.

  5. SO accurate... SOooo entertaining...
    I am very dissapointed every time I hear Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose literally FAWN over Catholic hierarchy, rather than ASK any HARD questions.

  6. If Cardinal O'Malley scores close to zero, could Cardinal Burke be anywhere but zero? Maybe Pope Francis will enlarge the C8 to C16 with the addition of 8 women?

  7. We do have choices of course. We can continue to await the Catholic Hierarchy's conversion, "pray" that they will listen to the voice of the faithful. We can acknowledge that this church has been, is, and will likely continue as a boy's club faithfully rooted in status, power and control. There are many other faith communities that recognize the wisdom of its members, where women and the traditionally marginalized are true leaders. Why blame or attempt to convert fire when it burns rather than warms? Better to deprive it of its fuel. Too many are conditioned to believe there actually is "One True Church." The Buddhists put it well with the adage: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

  8. Monica, a Sister but not disgruntled.November 19, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Thank you for your reflection on Cardinal O'Malley's interview. You expressed the concerns that I have as well. Could you send it to Pope Francis?

  9. My takeaway from the 60 Minutes interview was the use of the word "tradition". Recently, when supporters of continuing the ban on same sex marriages appeared before a court, they were almost laughed out of the court when they pulled out the "tradition" argument. Should be the same for Sean and the rest of the guys.

  10. Billiant.

    As for "Venus envy," that's the bit they always trot out-- well, men can't give birth or nurse a baby. And I say to them, men can't do those things because they lack the necessary physical equipment, so what is it that women lack which prevents them from celebrating the Eucharist, leading a parish, or advising a bishop?

    I never get an answer.