Women and religion?

Whispers in the loggia is on fire at the moment, a totally essential read. There are numerous posts of great interest not least the heartbreaking Iraqi stories, St Charles, Cuba, the mid terms in America. And a predictable, yet depressing piece on Irish Catholic Women.

On the other hand Fr Ray is talking about the feminisation of the Church in England.

Women don’t know how lucky they are that they aren’t called to the priesthood, that’s all I can say.  The Catholic faith is indeed quite masculine in its approach, perhaps dogma is a more male attribute than spirituality and I think as a sweeping generalisation women are more spiritual, whereas men are more naturally religious.

I attend the ever so slightly more solemn mass on Sunday evening at my parish and the male female divide as far as I can tell, certainly among those under 40, is roughly equal.

Men like debating religion, argument when conducted properly and with civility is highly enjoyable to men, not so with women. Having spent my formative Catholic years in very masculine Catholic environments, my university Chaplaincy’s dedicated following was very male dominated and the years of my conversion consisted of no holds barred debate held almost exclusively among men, which was at times infuriating, but always challenging and formative.

My experience is that women like to watch men debate, argue, and occasionally chip in themselves, but if you engage them directly in the fray then they run to the hills.

Ironically the two most important people in my conversion are women, one who I fancied and chasing skirt into the Church is not the worst thing that can happen to a man. The other who is so amazingly formidable in faith, with such strong grasp of the counter cultural nature of Catholicism and contemplative prayer, she was always ready to stick to her intellectual and theological guns, it totally caught me off guard. She can still smile a benevolent smile and deliver the theological coup de grace at the same moment.

Anyway, yes I should stop reminiscing. The vital role of women in the Church is to keep the men honest. We may be religious but we need that feminine guidance that keeps us pursuing holiness (and romance) as well as religious observance. If you think that is misogynist then you underestimate the power of what men will do for women. Besides I’m not sure deep down women really want women running the Church, and on that bombshell I’m going to leave it there.



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