Sunday 4 August 2013

Dear Anonymous - A Reply

Dear Anonymous
Thanks for your comment. I hope you don’t mind if, with Father’s permission and having discussed your comment with him, I post it as an article. I think it has made points relevant to the original post and requires further explanation from me.

Hello Andrew,
After reading your article I felt concerned at some of the points you have suggested, and feel that I should respectfully give my opinion.
You suggest that people should be encouraged to move from emotion to intellect. Intellect is only one way in which we come to know God, the others being through scripture, tradition and experience. Therefore, all of these ways are valid ways in which a person came come to know God in their life within the context of a community of faith, for us Catholics this is obviously the Church.
I agree that knowledge comes through experience; my concern is that emotional knowledge is subjective knowledge and can lead us away from Divine Revelation. While emotions are a valuable part of our life experience, they are unreliable by the very fact that they are variable; which is why we can fall in love and out of love –and at the drop of a hat, sometimes.

As a woman I find some of your comments very difficult to accept, especially that women have been told that they should be offended by patriarchy by a group of 'secular feminists'.
I am genuinely sorry if you are offended; that was not my intention. I was pointing out that only when (strident) secular feminists felt offended by patriarchal language did Catholic women express any offence. We might say they were enlightened by sexual feminism, but might we not also say they were socially engineered by them?

Just because someone identifies themselves as having a feminist ideology does not mean that they should be automatically rejected.
I agree. I don’t reject Catholic feminists at all –a number my friends identify as Catholic feminists who seek the equality of women and their inclusion in the life of the world and the Church; but I think such women engage in a Catholic manner: one which does not denigrate their life in the home or their proficiency in nurturing of children. In that women are much better at relationship skills than men they are surely more suited to the nurturing of children than their husbands.

People can validly choose to hold a worldview which encompasses a range of complimentary ideologies and still hold firm to a tradition. I consider myself to be feminist and a Catholic. I am a feminist because I believe in the dignity of women and men which is not always respected in cultures and institutions, especially those who have been embedded in patriarchy. Patriarchy has had some positive impacts in society, but it has also had some damaging and violent consequences which are still being experienced by women today.
I too would hold to the equal dignity of women and men, and I abhor any kind of violence against women. But that should not mean a loss of the distinction between women and men. I am aware that some women feel damaged by patriarchy, but I have to say that the feminisation of the Church, as seen in ‘emotive’ liturgy with emotive songs and wistful dancing, is damaging to men. I and my pals were not invigorated by the liturgies we attended in schools or parishes; indeed we often found them amusing, and forced into a feminine spirituality. As a result, out of a dozen of us, only I continue to practice and I have to say, I was ‘saved’ by my discovery of the Extraordinary Form and the Catechism as taught by faithful priests.

The term, as I'm sure you will be aware means 'rule by the Father', a term which does not lend itself to inclusivity and mutual responsibility, values which are held strongly by many 'feminists'.
I’m not sure I can agree here: there can be no mutuality and equality if there is no male and female, yet there is a real and mutual yet distinct responsibility between men and women as fathers and mothers.

As Catholics, and followers of Jesus Christ, we are obviously concerned by oppression of any person or group who feel marginalised. Listening to their opinions is an important way of acknowledging who they are people, as children of God. If there is a way in language to express ourselves in a way which is more inclusive, this has to be more dignified and Christian, than holding fast to archaic understandings of the world and expressing them exclusively through language. After all, what is supremely important is what leads us to God, to love and to service.
We should all be concerned with any person or group being marginalised; but that would not mean equating sinful behaviours (such as homosexual acts) with graced behaviours (marriage between man and woman). We have to seek to include without approving of acts or attitudes. As for inclusive language, I have to say that of itself it does not necessarily imply equal dignity; equality and dignity might be better experienced in recognising our mutual interdependence, which arises from what is distinctive. For me, that distinction is lost in inclusive language.
I can’t help but add that as a group, we ‘Traditional’ Catholics are often actively oppressed and maligned by our fellow Catholics including, at times, by our Bishops, so we know what it is to be marginalised and oppressed. The rejection of ‘Traditional’ Catholics by those who claim to be interested in the liberation of the marginalised can then seem very false and duplicitous.

I have to admit, that personally, the views expressed in this blog, and from certain quarters of the Church make me not want to engage rather than drawing me in to a community of faith and love in Jesus. Jesus treated all people in an inclusive way and chose to surround himself with the marginalised, giving them dignity and respect which wasn't becoming of the culture of the time.
I’m so sorry to hear that you feel tempted to disengage. I find it hard to see why Traditional Catholic views as Father and I hold and as were held by the great women saints of the Church, should make anyone, man or woman, want to disengage from the Church.  If I may be brief and bold, I think we Catholics simply want to see the woman as nurturer and homemaker without necessarily excluding a career or their place on parish groups; I cannot be anything but unhappy when life in the family home is presented -as it seems to be by strident feminists- as a prison or oppressive.

Sometimes it is too easy to see the world from our own fears and opinions, and it can be hard to move to the place of a marginalised 'other' but this is the way of Jesus, the way for us all to imitate.
I agree that it is easy to see the world through our own eyes and not the eyes of the’ other. Our Lord’s example of inclusivity is, I think, a mark of the Church throughout the centuries in that the Church led the way for women to enter teaching, nursing, social work etc., and even undertake reform in the Church (St Teresa of Avila) or bring the Popes back to their rightful home (St Catherine of Sienna).

 It is very easy to say what you have when you belong to a powerful group or position, it is very hard to stand in the place of the prophet and call for conversion and renewal.
I agree; being in the ‘powerful’ group can make it easy to simply defend; conversion and renewal are needed for us all, but we have to be careful that what we call renewal and conversion are not reformation and  alteration; renewal and conversion are about a return to God and His original plan, not innovation. I think we have to be careful that we do not see change as automatically good: as Father often says, change can be malignant: we call it cancer.

It is also much easier to judge others because of their seemingly 'lesser' viewpoint when you belong to a tradition deeply embedded in an ideology of patriarchy.
I think we need to be careful here: we need to distinguish between received revelation as expressed in Tradition and ideology; those without faith may simply see traditional positions as an ideology, but that is not the Catholic understanding of Tradition as a vehicle of Revelation.

I think many feminists who call for inclusive language are not being difficult but simply saying, 'there is a way which we can express ourselves and God in a way which is inclusive'. It doesn't take anything away from what we believe in the Creed. St. Paul himself said that there is no male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.
I don’t think Catholic feminists are trying to be difficult at all; I think they are genuinely feeling hurt but as I tried to say, I think that feeling is manufactured by secular feminism telling them they should feel hurt. Yes, we are all one, but Paul is, I think, speaking of secular ‘class’ distinction, such as slave and free; he is not eradicating gender in Galatians 3 or he could not have spoken out so forcefully against homosexuality in Romans and 1st Corinthians.

Finally, it is important to note that the Y chromosome is what determines the male of the species not the X. If we are going to encourage a movement from the emotion to the intellect, then we must ensure our basic facts are accurate.
Oops! I don’t know how I managed to get those the wrong way around-my typing skills are usually better than that! And I have just finished a further professional Diploma in Anatomy & Physiology too! I have corrected the erroneous text now, thank you!

I do hope you don’t mind me responding to your comment which, can I say, is beautifully and charitably written. I only wished to give your comment a better profile so that I could clarify, where necessary, what I was saying in the original post. Thanks very much for your comment. As Father Dickson would say, God Bless you and yours.


  1. A good post with some good responses I totally agree with the responses and I agree this person has been very respectful and charitable.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I think it’s important to remember that we should be forming the world, not being formed by it; and I agree that the lady commenting was very polite.


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