Monday, February 16, 2004

Feminized Church

Kieron Wood's article in yesterday's Sunday Business Post claims that the greater feminization of the Catholic Church may lead to its eventual end. Interesting statistics on fathers, mothers and children attending church.

I don't know what to make of Bishop Martin's comments about the role of women. I remember reading once that in "old Ireland" the Bishops never did anything that went against the grandmothers. The Bishops ran the Church, but they did the grandmothers' bidding. Were women powerless in that Church? No, but young people were.

The Irish Church is definitely in trouble and seems to have no idea where to go next. Pandering to feminists is, without doubt, a mistake. Whether you can avoid that without trying to reestablish the old failed Church is a conundrum.

A good place to start is with the priesthood. The Church needs priests - lots of them. I think the Church makes a very poor effort at selling the priesthood to young men. Is it for all men? Obviously not. But, there are young men out there for whom a "tough job" open to "tough young men" would appeal. An overtly masculine appeal would be the best way to sell the priesthood. There's way too much namby-pambyism about "doing good" (or whatever) inherent today's appeals.

I don't think there has to be any contradiction in a masculine priesthood. When I was growing up, the priests who gave me the feeling that they were real men were the ones I liked best.

One priest who worked in our parish was a Franciscan. He wore hooded vestments and sandals for God's sake. But, he was also an Air Force chaplain. He was tough as nails, fair, sometimes really funny. He believed altar boys should wear polished black shoes and keep their shoulders back. I really liked him and I thought he was a great ad for the priesthood, but by the time I was 17 or 18 most of the younger priests I met gave me the creeps (and, I don't think that's too strong a word). I considered it, but that was the biggest turn-off for me.