Every so often I come across an article or a picture that raises my feminist hackles and turns me into a growling tigress. This is when some of my women friends roll their eyes, suddenly ashamed to know me, and sigh, “Claire, not again…. Why can’t you…?!”
For many years now, I have longed to be a mainstream Catholic woman, welcoming my Church with open arms and simply loving every tiny bit of it.
Take Pope Francis for instance. I pray for him every day, because he says much of what I have been longing to hear my Church say. Godde loves you whoever you are. Godde welcomes you. Godde pines for you. I also pray for him because he is taking on not only the ambitious and social-climbing bishops around him and the financiers all over the world, but also the Mafia in Sicily. I pray for him because I am worried he will be our next Oscar Romero — killed on the altar by people who cannot stand his message. So, yes, I do pray for Pope Francis daily.
When I see someone calling Pope Francis Another Alter Christus (Francis of Assisi was the first Alter Christus, i.e. other Christ), my reaction is that Pope Francis will be an Alter Christus the day he is surrounded by women. I am not talking of religious women here, who are taking care of the Pope’s household, needs, and meals. I am talking of housewives, mothers, and sinners, women like you and me. And I cannot imagine Pope Francis suddenly asking the opinions of women in the pew — not through his bishops, but by accessing women directly. Women who won’t tell him what he wants to hear, or what they think he wants to hear.
Yesterday I tweeted the Pope the link of a blog which touched me, entitled Torn Bread. A Catholic woman goes to an Episcopalian woman priest to receive the Eucharist. I understand her, I have done the same. Someone tweeted me back: “There are things that could happen, and things that will never happen. What you want from Rome is the latter.”
Now I will not waste my time and his, and yours, showing that the interdiction of Catholic women to become Catholic priests (we all know Catholic women who are now priests in other denominations) is just doctrine (hence changeable), and not dogma. I will not repeat till I am blue in the face that there is no Encyclical saying that women cannot be priests. There are just declarations, written by unenlightened minds, attached to privileges of the past. More and more, in fact, the sensus fidelium is recognizing the call of women to priesthood and history seems to want to unearth facts supporting the reality of women deacons and priests in the Early Church. Let those who have ears hear and those who have eyes see.
These concerns usually remain on the periphery of my awareness, since I prefer to focus on the daily readings and find out what Jesus has in store for my soul, heart, and spirit on this day. I would rather chat with Ignatius or with the Virgin Mary than fight earthly skirmishes.
Until a picture like the one above stares me in the face and shows me once again that in the Catholic Kingdom of Godde, as it is presented by the Vatican again and again through its hierarchy, there is no room for women, no room for someone representing my sex. Fifty-one percent of the world population, and probably eighty-five percent of the Catholic Church population (i.e. women), is kept invisible.
And it hurts. And I growl like a wounded tigress. And I walk away tears in my eyes, until I see a picture of Pope Francis hugging a man that would have me close my eyes in fright and run away. And I walk back to what I would like to call ‘home’.
I cannot truly hope or pray for a better Pope than the one we have right now. Were he suddenly to be surrounded by women the way Jesus was, then I would know this is the Second Coming — and remember all that comes with it.
Photo: Guardia Svizzera Pontificia