Look at moiye! Look at moiye! Look at moiye please!*
I was going to title this piece with the movie title What Women Want. The trouble is I don't really know what ALL women want. I know what some of them want and of course what I want as a woman. I'm talking about what we want in the way of Church AND our world. It was prompted whilst thinking about Cliff's take on needing a new relationship between men and women earlier in the week.
Firstly, women in the Church want to be seen. They want to be acknowledged that they are there. In word and action, but definitely in word.
For the past 15 years the largest number of women leaving the Church are young professional women. Why? Because the language does not include them. I'm speaking of course of the Western civilised world. What women want in poorer third world countries is much more fundamental … like food to feed their children and clean water to drink and medical care. Inclusive language wouldn't even register on their radar … YET!
In our country and those where women are now well educated the word Man means just that … someone of the male gender. A brother is a male. We are all children of God and heirs to the kingdom with our brother Christ but church language speaks of sonship. A son is a boy child. In some languages this non-inclusive language is not a problem as gender specific and neutral pro-nouns negate it. Yet the new English texts about to be released and almost ALL of the Vatican Documents talk almost exclusively to men.
A post on this board last week was of great spiritual depth but I shut off as soon as it mentioned brothers. Admittedly the poster is in a position of being in the clerical all-male world and probably of the generation that finds it difficult to change such language due to habit. I really think we need to make an effort Gentlemen. Please.
If women are not in our Churches, and as the older ones die out, there are fewer and fewer younger ones to take their place, then you can betcha bottom dollar that their children won't be there either and neither will their husbands.
I was at Mass on Ash Wednesday at a Parish where the PP was on a long sabbatical and the locum Maltese/Australian priest complained about the lack of people willing to help in the church. "We can't even get any women to clean the Church" he lamented!
Well I can tell you if he'd said men and women I'd have put up my hand, but to that old timer it was only women's work. Men don't clean! He didn't get any of the usual suspects either … the older, mainly Maltese, congregation weren't falling for it either it seems.
I have a friend, who has recently left the Seminary in Sydney … he didn't fit in … he was too "liberal" for their liking. He'd make a great priest. He told me that the old tradition of 'custody of the eyes' is once again being taught to the young students. I have to say all my flabbers were gasted.
I really have to ask … how can a Priest recognise Christ in the people he serves if he can't look in their eyes? As a nurse, and having worked in very busy emergency rooms for many years as well as general wards, if a patient was really sick and probably going to die, if you didn't want to connect with them, deal with the pain of their suffering, then while you looked after them you were told to never look them in the eye. Once you did that you actually saw the human suffering and it might affect you emotionally. It was by doing just that that I often encountered Christ in the most amazing ways. If a priest can't look a woman in the face then he's not much good to her. He can NEVER understand what he needs to understand to help or guide her.
I read a post to the Vatican 2 email list maybe 6 years ago. It was by an elderly ex-priest. He told us how back in the early 60's, under the guidance of his Spiritual Director he gave absolution to a paedophile priest, while at the same time refusing absolution to a mother of 10 because she disagreed with him about her need to use condoms – an item he had never seen, until some years later, but most vehemently condemned.
What women want is real spirituality that speaks to them...
What women want is real spirituality that speaks to them. We too need to be fed. It was believed until as recently as the 60's that women didn't need other women's friendship because all they needed was a man. Women need other women to bare their souls to. It isn't possible to do that with a celibate male, especially one who won't look you in the eye.
I know women who want to be priests, I'm not one of them, but these women are so often already priests in their ministry to others they just aren't officially acknowledged as such.
Women want peace and harmony in their worlds. Those with children and grandchildren want better lives for their daughters and grand-daughters. Isn't it amazing in this day and age that American women can tell their daughters they can be anything they want … even President of the USA and Australian women can do the same … You CAN be anything YOU want … even Prime Minister of Australia or a garbage collector … oh, except a Priest in the religion I had you baptised in!
I would very much like to hear from the other women posters on this board, and the fellas too if they have some input, what THEY want from the Church.
We welcome your thoughts in response to this commentary in our forum.