Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 3, 2007
Feminization of the Church blamed on fatherlessness
Every man is called upon to be a father
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"Every man is called by God to be a father, whether he is married or not."
- Fr. Bob Bedard
Her respondents were 61 per cent women and 39 per cent men. "This ratio also reflected the general male/female ratio of participation in Church and Church-sponsored events," she wrote. On whether the Church should allow women to be priests, only nine per cent strongly disagreed, while 73 per cent strongly agreed or agreed.
Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, has worked since 1989 in the formation of priests for ministry. He recognizes for some the male priesthood is a stumbling block.
"The liturgy should never become a battleground for the sexes or a stage to illustrate inequalities or exaggerations," he said. "The liturgy is meant to lead people to God."
While the feminist movement has produced good changes, Rosica said, some exaggerations of feminism and feminization in general have led to "a crisis of fatherhood and paternity and the crisis of sexual identity" in North America.
This is having an impact on candidates for the priesthood and religious life, he said.
"When the equality of men and women is misread to mean that men and women are essentially the same or interchangeable, we violate common sense," he said. "We negate the mystery of sexual difference."
Halifax Archbishop-elect Anthony Mancini is deeply concerned about the denigration of fatherhood and of the male priesthood in North American society. "How can you be a sign of something if you've been turned into a joke?" he asked.
"God created men and women in his image," he said. "I think it's together that we portray best who God is."
"Part of the challenge there is to figure out how we can make the male part of the operation a more evident one," he said, pointing out that aim is "not to take away anything from women.
Bedard noticed the huge problem of fatherlessness back in the 1960s when he was teaching high school. He too sees a tendency for men to be "patronized and looked down upon."
But women aren't forcing men out of their spiritual roles, men are abdicating them.
"Every man is called by God to be a father, whether he is married or not," he said. "Men need to father people.
"That's what we do as priests we father people, try to provide an imitation of God the Father," he said. That includes being strong, being firm, declaring your position, but being kind, gentle and understanding, too.
"You have to be right in there," he said.
Men respond differently to women who have a militant style, Bedard said. "Some say you got to hold the line. Others say 'What's the use of fighting with that crowd?' Which is the worst thing to do."
Carol Kuzmochka, the Ottawa Archdiocese's coordinator of adult faith development and leadership formation, said she knows the complementarity of the sexes is a goal of clerical leaders, and she shares it. But "we're still trying to discover what that is."
"There's a lot to be done to bring women into their full place in leadership," she said. "But that does not mean men don't also need help and support in finding their place in leadership."
Bedard is less concerned about the sex of those in ministry than he is about their orthodoxy. Many women he encounters doing work in liturgy, catechetics and other areas are "into a different agenda."
They want "new Church affairs, more democratic, less governed by rules and regulations and more open to what's happening in the world," he said. Many seem to believe "the things happening in the world are the things of the Holy Spirit" such as same-sex relations.
"There's a big, big job to do, to purify the ranks, not only of the hired lay people, but also the clergy as well," he said. "The reason that so many of the lay people have the new agenda is that they get a certain amount of support from some of the clergy."
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