Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Catholic Church and Women

The DV Code argues that the Catholic Church has been led by women-hating, power-hungry men who have done everything they can throughout history to suppress women and the "sacred feminine". Dr. Pia di Solenni (a friend of mine from Santa Croce in Rome) guest blogs on Fr. John Wauck's site about how wrong Dan Brown is about the historical relationship between women and the Church. Here's the intro to the article...

Pia de Solenni is a theologian in Washington DC, whose prize-winning doctoral dissertation in Rome dealt with gender issues in St. Thomas Aquinas. Slightly different versions of this article appeared in Hearst papers, a Canadian syndicate, and Catholic Exchange.

For those familiar with the history and tradition of the Catholic Church, The Da Vinci Code might provide more cause for laughter (at the absurd) than suspense. Author Dan Brown sounds as if he’s accusing the Catholic Church (and perhaps all Christian Churches) of not recognizing women, particularly in their role as mothers.

It used to be that the Catholic Church was faulted for talking too much about women as mothers and their life producing capabilities. Brown now suggests the contrary.

Had he done a serious historical analysis, Brown would have found just how groundbreaking the Catholic Church has been in its regard for women. In Catholic parlance, the Church is the bride of Christ, by no means a demeaning role. The Church eschewed mere cultural traditions and focused on the essential nature of women, starting with the fact that women are of equal dignity with men.

Women and men were subject to the same initiation rite, baptism, in order to become Christians. In a move that completely broke from ancient Roman law and tradition, Christianity understood that women were the bearers of rights (or decision making abilities) apart from their husbands and fathers. A long list of women martyrs, extolled by the Church for making their own decisions, witnesses this fact.

The Catholic Church, Brown’s subjugator of women, was also the first organized body to promote the education of women and to acknowledge that the decision of a woman not to marry was in fact a valid choice. Prior to this, women’s education was not endorsed or promoted by any government, religion, or large scale institution. Certainly, there were educated women; but they were educated because of private – not public – efforts. Similarly, most cultures had no place for an adult woman who chose not to marry. Even the so-called vestal virgins of the pagan religions were given recognition for their sexual relations with men of generally higher status, like a priest.

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