Skip to comments.The Feminization of the Catholic Church
Posted on 02/28/2011 5:35:55 AM PST by verdugo
The Feminization of the Church and Vatican II
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
There has been much talk of late about a long-observable fact: the feminization of the Catholic Church. My friend Jan was quite impressed with the term and thought it accurately expressed the reality.
I went to a Catholic church downtown yesterday, she said, and really, it was all women on the altar except for the priest. At Communion four ladies three in pants went to the side altar to pick up the chalices. The song leader was sensuous, in a blouse showing cleavage, waving her arms like a traffic cop. Only a few women in the pews were singing along. All the altar boys were girls.
The Mass service invaded by women and girls in Linz, Austria According to the National Pastoral Life Center (NPLC), today there are more lay ministers than priests working in Catholic parishes: that is, 31,000 lay ministers to 29,000 diocesan priests. It notes that this revolution in ministry has meant a stronger lay, feminine dimension in the Church. (1)
Quite correctly stated. Almost every parish across the country uses scores of lay eucharistic and song ministers, lectors, and altar servers for its various Masses. Then, there are the liturgists, youth ministers, social concerns directors, adult education coordinators and other professional pastoral positions that never existed before Vatican II. Lay ministers make most of the pastoral visits to the sick and prisoners. And roughly 80 % of these positions are held by women. The NPLC predicts that the overall pattern indicates the bulk of positions will continue to be filled by women. (2)
Parishes have become feminized, the NPLC report continues, not only because many lay ministers are women, but also because parish ministry has become more collaborative and concerned with nurturing. This feminine spirit is to replace, I suppose, a masculine spirit which is more akin with hierarchy and institution.
In short, todays parish minister is more like to be a layperson and a woman. And increasingly, women are on the altar doing almost everything including preaching.
The easily discerned cause
To understand the cause for this feminization, Jan decided to read a book on the topic by the reportedly conservative Catholic Leon J. Podles entitled The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity. But, she reported to me, the book didnt seem to really explain how things had changed so radically in so short a time. She asked my opinion.
Podles identifies the problem: an altar overrun by women, songs written to please a womans sentiments (You are my everything, etc.), an ethos of pacifism and self-surrender, all of which serves to render the men who still frequent the churches passive and emasculated.
A young woman in a sweat shirt distributes Communion without seriousness. Below, a woman-cantor directs the singing at the Mass
But he doesnt even get close to the nail when he tries to hit the cause for the calamity.
Quite extravagantly Podles places the principal responsibility for this process of feminization on St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the rise of scholasticism and the expansion of female monasticism. His rationale for such fantastic claims is simply too complicated to enter into here. There is convoluted twisting and turning through Platonic influences and Aristotelian dichotomies.
In the end he never finds the simple solution to the present-day astonishing crisis of the feminization of the Catholic Church. He fails to see the obvious, that this process is a direct consequence of Vatican Council II.
In the United States today, 45 years after Vatican II, 31,000 lay persons plan liturgies, direct the music groups, schedule the lectors and run the education programs for adults, engaged couples and children; four-fifths of these ecclesial ministers are women. Before Vatican II, most of those jobs did not exist; less than 1 % of these jobs were filled by lay people. (3) Before Vatican II the average parish lay woman were most likely to be found in the Altar Society or Holy Name Society. Today, almost 50 % of all administrative positions in dioceses are held by women.
Before Vatican Council II, Catholic men frequented the Sacraments, took family responsibilities seriously and filled the seminaries. After Vatican Council II, the churches emptied, the divorce rate skyrocketed, and the sacristy was overrun with women. A kind of effeminate man attracted by the New Theology entered the seminaries, and the virile ethos of the Church grew fainter and fainter. It is no wonder not only men, but also many women, are leaving the Catholic Church today or no longer assist at Sunday Mass.
Vatican II opened the doors to a lay, feminine church
At the 40-year anniversary of the closing of Vatican II, a spate of analysis of the Councils fruit flooded the Catholic press. I do not know of a single one that failed to underscore the new lay ministry as one of the significant marks of the Councils legacy. Of course, that lay component is mostly women.
John Paul II posing with altar girls Ministry transformation as part of the Church renewal is based in particular on the teachings of Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, which encourages the laypersons active participation in the liturgy. It also presents the Catholic Church as a communion of baptized believers with a call to ministry, which sounds an awful lot to me like the heretical Protestant statement that every man is a priest.
The result has been the multiplication of lay ministries, with lay men and women replacing clerics in numerous church positions.
It is clear to the objective onlooker these three things are necessarily enchained: The Clergy is increasingly less numerous and more absent; Lay people are ever more present and taking over clerical tasks; Women are taking over the majority of the lay ecclesiastical jobs. No sign of change
I wish I could tell my friend Jan that I see positive signs of a less femininized Church in the future. But I cant.
Women and girls in the liturgy during Benedict XVI's visit to Bavaria
Pope Benedict XVI made it clear from the first day of his election that Vatican II will be the compass of his papacy. The compass, of course sets direction. (4) With regard to women and lay ministries, all his actions indicate he will continue the effort to empower women in the Church in all ways short of sacramental ordination.
By the end of John Paul IIs pontificate, women were 21 % of Vatican personnel. (5) Benedict XVI has stated that he would like to offer more space, more positions of responsibility to women and affirmed that he would consider opening more influential Church positions to women. (6) Following JPIIs model, he speaks often of the human dignity of the person, decries every kind of discrimination against women, and proclaims the need for equality of opportunity in the public sphere.
Among the Bishops, one finds this same concern to increase womens visibility in the Church. Here is one recent example. At the February 2008 Bishops Conference in India, the Prelates made womens empowerment in the church and society a high item on the agenda to correct the problem of womens under-representation in administrative and executives roles in the Church. They voted to set quotas, requiring that at least 35 % of members and office bearers in parish and diocesan pastoral councils should be women. The quota will grow gradually until women get at least 50% of positions. (7)
The position of resistance Catholic should adopt is more than a mere nostalgia for the old ways of worship. We have an obligation to resist this feminization of the Holy Church.
1. National Pastoral Life Center. Lay and Religious Parish Ministry: A Study Conducted for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1991 2. Ibid. 3. Todays parish minister more likely to be a layperson, Catholic News Service, October 21,2005 4. Forty years later, Vatican II continues to reverberate through the Church, Catholic News Service, Oct. 12, 2005. 5. Women chip Vaticans glass ceiling with increased numbers, influence, Catholic News Service, March 7. 2007 6. Vatican Shows New Openness to Women, National Catholic Reporter, November 3, 2006 7. Indias Bishops strive for Gender Equality in Church Bodies, National Catholic Reporter March 7, 2008.
Note — this thread has no links, no references. It purports to be a dissertation or something by some Phd and yet there is no way to affirm this or even to identify if we have permission to reprint this on FreeRepublic.com
you’re in luck — with Pope Benedict’s impulse, the Traditionalist mass and much of tradition is coming back. Though to be honest, I don’t see the problem with altar girls..
My husband was an altar boy in the early 60s. His main memory is being clouted on the head ‘cause he goofed up during the Mass. The priests were tough in those days.
Yes, as Catholics we are probably too nice to folks who attack the Faith, but "feminization"? Naaah.
when I was an altarboy we had a sacristan who had been around since 1943 and he even bullied the priests who had been altar-boys themselves and remembered old Roger the sacristan telling them to follow decorum!
Another Schism website.
What do you call a “Catholic” who protests Catholicism?
ooooh, oooh! I get it - a Protestotismist?
Wow. You are really far off the target with your statements to that poster. Really, really far off.
Poster of thread has history of witholding story sources/hosted links to control debate.
ooops looks like situation corrected; my comment is tardy
Please explain what you mean? I think you misread my posting.
This is a parody, right? (The whole article was a parody, right?)
I was quoting words from the article. If the article is suitable to be on the screen, then so is my comment.
Merciful heavens to Betsy! (Sorry, Betsy ...) I thought *I* lived in a bubble of humorless oversensitivity, but I was so wrong about that.
Tax Chick is one of our wittiest posters here on Free Republic. I hope my children can gleam some from her. And it is YOUR responsibility to monitor what your children see on the computer, not TC. But you can thank her for growing their vocabulary.
Oh, and Tax Chick has you TOTALLY beat in the kids department.
I hear you. Why attend when the disgust and aversion you feel could lead to a weakening of your own faith? In fact, we are prohibited from knowingly placing our faith in jeopardy. I used to stand in the vestibule as sort of a compromise but no more. The angst from even standing 100 yards away got to be too much. And I wasn't far enough away to avoid the assaults of the more aggressive 'peace be with you' operatives.