While everyone was freaking out yesterday about the pope’s actually un-novel and uninteresting re-assertion of longstanding church teaching that homosexuals should not be marginalized, they missed what he said about women, which was in fact, totally fresh.
Specifically, he said:
A church without women would be like the apostolic college without Mary. The Madonna is more important than the apostles, and the church herself is feminine, the spouse of Christ and a mother. The role of women doesn’t end just with being a mother and with housework …we don’t yet have a truly deep theology of women in the church. We talk about whether they can do this or that, can they be altar boys, can they be lectors, about a woman as president of Caritas, but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the Church. On the ordination of women, the church has spoken and said no. John Paul II, in a definitive formulation, said that door is closed.A lot of Catholic women yesterday read these words, looked out the window, and mouthed the words, THANK YOU.
Don’t get me wrong – the media wouldn’t let you believe it–but the church is teeming with women who love their faith, love their church, love priests like brothers, love their bishops, and especially love the pope. We don’t sit around and wring our hands about “female ordination” or wish we could use birth control or wonder why the church tells us not to sleep around.
That being said, this is a difficult and confusing time to be a woman living against the cultural grain. Many of us feel authentically torn between professional goals and vocational aspirations to be loving and present wives and mothers reigning over stable and happy homes. And many of us want to play a role in the church but just aren’t quite sure how. We can find a smattering of contradicting perspectives on these topics, but when we look to the church herself, we can feel a bit lost.
It is not only Catholic women, but good, loving Christian women who find the church's view of women confusing and discouraging. Is it possible that the protestant church could join with the Catholic body to develop a deep theology of women and God, one based not just on what we may or may not do.