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.
Don’t tell anyone, but I even have a dictionary on the bookshelf where the children can open it and see ... words.
And thanks for the kind words! When Anoreth patents the holographic sarcasm-sign projector, I’ll make sure you get one.
To me, simply that it makes envisioning female priests that much more palatable. For Vatican III.
All that criticism of the Church in the 50s and yet the liturgy was perfect.
Does the phrase "Whited sepulchre" ring any bells with you?
I am an outsider to the RC, but I like B16’s fight to drive out the rot that has infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church. Protestant or Catholic, what does this “social justice” have to do with the Gospel. Nothing, it is warmed over Gramscian Marxism. The same rot that has poison ELCA, PCUSA, ECUSA, what have you.
Has the so-called Bible translation called “The Message” been getting any circulation in the Catholic Church? I saw one verse purporting to be Matthew 5:5. My response was “gaaack!”. It’s supposed to be “modern contemporary language”, but corrupted to “social justice” drivel, trying to turn the Word of God into a feel good self help book. Made me wanna run to the old King Jimmy (maybe Duoay in your case).
Not that I've noticed. In the US, the translation used in services and many publications is the plodding "New American Bible."
I got a copy of The Message at a Christian bookstore clearance sale. Sometimes I use it when I'm studying, for comparison with other versions.
I didn’t misread your post. You need to do some homework on the poster you responded to. Seriously. Do your homework.
Don’t tell me you have a thesaurus too, or you’ll be doomed to hellfire for all eternity!
1) Are you saying that you found on my thread article, the phrase "Sensuous cleavage in pants"?
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 ...
Perhaps the OP didn't read the article before posting it. Evidence for this includes the fact that he/she was able to post it, rather than being on the floor laughing hysterically.
My post #37 contained five complete sentences, an exclamatory phrase, and, I regret, a genuinely ungrammatical fragment. (The fragment was included for effect, but I've never really believed it's correct to do that.)
I do apologize. If English is not your, or the author's, native language, then my engaging in persiflage has been unkind.
The boys were very disappointed with the thesaurus. Pat wanted it to have definitions, and James wanted it to be a dinosaur.
yet again, I yearn for a “like” button on FR.
I loved those priests! The ones I knew were all WWII vets. Good guys. Tough, though.
LOL! The dinosaur bit sounds like something Brooke (my 6 y.o.) would say. At this point, she’s just glad that she got rid of that nasty C+ in Spelling by scoring 100 on 3 tests in a row.
I’m trying hard to viciously fight the bad spelling gene my husband possesses and so far, I’m winning. (Our oldest boy, Steven, has a 97 average in Spelling and his older sister, Kelly, who’s almost 13, has an A- in the subject). I’m letting them roll with the good math gene that Dad also has. It’s a keeper ;)
2) The above facilitated, open the door to: the insertion of purposely ambiguous language in VatII, that would later be interpreted to the benefit of the progressives
3)It was the change to the vernacular mass, which opened up the New Mass to all kinds of ad-libbing, as many masses as there were priests (and the Charismatic masses, Clown masses, Conga line masses, Polka masses). Something which could not be done with the mass had it been done in Latin.
Look, what happened was exactly what the progressivists had planned. They had no intention of just doing the New Mass in Latin with the same churches,high altars, vestments, altar men/boys, that existed for like 500 years. They wanted what you see. Had they done the Novus Ordo in Latin, with the same vestments, altars,churches, altar servers as in the 1950’s NO ONE WOULD HAVE NOTICED! That was not their intention, they wanted what you see today.
In the end, the shortage of priests is simple (it stems from the same cause of the shortage of mass attending men) - What man would want to be a priest (or attend mass) in this TOTALLY effeminatized mass environment? Only feelings oriented effeminatized men.
Would you be so kind as to eliminate my posting #56.
Thanks, and God Bless
The principle reason is to place young men on the road to the priesthood. A young man that served at the Gregorian Latin Mass from say 6 years of age till he was 18, knew the mass and rubrics and Latin better than 99% of the priests today.
Your first two points are good. I have to disagree with your criticism of the vernacular Mass. Ad-libbing can be done in any language, including Latin. Non-standard Masses are almost entirely due to loosely worded Vatican II standards and liberal Bishops who fail to reign in rogue priests, not the language in which they are said.
I don’t have any disrespect for those who want the Mass said in Latin. I would imagine that you have a strong sense for the importance of tradition and feel that the Mass in a different language imparts an element of respect that the Mass deserves.
But could a Charimatic Mass be said in Latin? Of course it could. Could a Latin Mass have folk singers singing the Beatles “Let It Be”? Of course. Could liberal priests promote the importance of turning to socialism in the middle of a Latin Mass? Of course they could, and they did it prior to Vatican II.
Had Vatican II been the same as it is now but kept the Mass in Latin, I don’t see any evidence that anything would have turned out differently.