Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Feminization of the Catholic Church
Tradition In Action ^ | 2009 | Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

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, today’s 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 didn’t 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 woman’s 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 doesn’t 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 Council’s 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 Council’s 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 layperson’s 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 can’t.

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 II’s 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 JPII’s 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 women’s visibility in the Church. Here is one recent example. At the February 2008 Bishops Conference in India, the Prelates made “women’s empowerment in the church and society” a high item on the agenda to correct the problem of women’s 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. “Today’s 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 Vatican’s 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. “India’s Bishops strive for Gender Equality in Church Bodies,” National Catholic Reporter March 7, 2008.

TOPICS: Catholic; Theology
KEYWORDS: feminazi; feminazis; feminazism; feminism; feminization; feminizationofchurch; homosexualagenda; romancatholic; romancatholicism
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-85 next last
To: Religion Moderator

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

21 posted on 02/28/2011 6:48:16 AM PST by Cronos ("They object to tradition saying that they themselves are wiser than the apostles" - Ire.III.2.2)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: kidd
Catholic men are taught to be wimps. Jesus was a nice guy right?

It starts with a weak father figure who were too weak to truly run a household or limp-wristed schooling. Then the next generation is even weaker than the previous. It takes a massive upheaval to reverse the trend.

Go to any youth group and you'll see, as C.S. Lewis puts it, "Men Without Chests". They think people liking you is more important than people respecting you. If the men are too wussy to be men, women will fill the void. Just look at the new outpouring of female conservatives with more balls than most of the men. When women have to be the men, something is horribly wrong in your culture.
22 posted on 02/28/2011 6:49:44 AM PST by DarkSavant
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: miss marmelstein

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..

23 posted on 02/28/2011 6:50:21 AM PST by Cronos ("They object to tradition saying that they themselves are wiser than the apostles" - Ire.III.2.2)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: kidd

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.

24 posted on 02/28/2011 6:50:21 AM PST by miss marmelstein
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: DarkSavant
Chris Christie is Catholic and he isn't a wimp.

Yes, as Catholics we are probably too nice to folks who attack the Faith, but "feminization"? Naaah.

25 posted on 02/28/2011 7:17:55 AM PST by Cronos ("They object to tradition saying that they themselves are wiser than the apostles" - Ire.III.2.2)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: miss marmelstein

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!

26 posted on 02/28/2011 7:20:23 AM PST by Cronos ("They object to tradition saying that they themselves are wiser than the apostles" - Ire.III.2.2)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: miss marmelstein
The priests were tough in those days.
When I was a kid (50s), we had a parish priest who was a WWII vet and talked to us like we were his troops.
He caught one kid picking his nose and threatened, "If I see you do that again, I'll break off your arm and hit you with the bloody end of it."
They DO NOT make priests like that anymore. LOL ...
27 posted on 02/28/2011 7:21:47 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998; Cronos

Another Schism website.

What do you call a “Catholic” who protests Catholicism?

28 posted on 02/28/2011 7:37:04 AM PST by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: netmilsmom; vladimir998
hmmm... a "Catholic" who protests Catholicism...


ooooh, oooh! I get it - a Protestotismist?

29 posted on 02/28/2011 7:45:03 AM PST by Cronos ("They object to tradition saying that they themselves are wiser than the apostles" - Ire.III.2.2)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: verdugo

Wow. You are really far off the target with your statements to that poster. Really, really far off.

30 posted on 02/28/2011 7:46:53 AM PST by coop71 (Being a redhead means never having to say you're sorry...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Cronos


31 posted on 02/28/2011 7:54:32 AM PST by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Cronos; Religion Moderator

Poster of thread has history of witholding story sources/hosted links to control debate.

32 posted on 02/28/2011 8:04:59 AM PST by RBIEL2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Religion Moderator; Cronos

ooops looks like situation corrected; my comment is tardy

33 posted on 02/28/2011 8:06:37 AM PST by RBIEL2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: sueuprising

Good insights.

34 posted on 02/28/2011 8:35:23 AM PST by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture (Could be worst in 40 years))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Jim Noble
Very good response. But I didn't see the author extolling the Amchurch of the 1940-50’s. I certainly never have extolled it, I agree with what you wrote. While there were effeminates and progressivist before Vatican II (or else there would not have existed any at VatII), what the author is saying, is that Vatican II official opened the door to the effeminates and progressivists TOTAL takeover.
35 posted on 02/28/2011 8:40:54 AM PST by verdugo ("You can't lie, even to save the World")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: coop71

Please explain what you mean? I think you misread my posting.

36 posted on 02/28/2011 8:43:39 AM PST by verdugo ("You can't lie, even to save the World")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: verdugo; Anoreth

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.

37 posted on 02/28/2011 8:50:44 AM PST by Tax-chick (All the brothers have humongous monsters, and the universe is at peace.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: verdugo; Tax-chick

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.

38 posted on 02/28/2011 8:53:28 AM PST by mockingbyrd
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Tax-chick

oh snap!

39 posted on 02/28/2011 8:54:41 AM PST by mockingbyrd
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: miss marmelstein
I refuse to go to my in-laws Catholic events (Confirmation, etc.)

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.

40 posted on 02/28/2011 8:58:38 AM PST by steve86 (Acerbic by nature, not nurture (Could be worst in 40 years))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-85 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson