Page 4, 14th October 1988

14th October 1988
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Page 4, 14th October 1988 — Rights and wrongs on women
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Rights and wrongs on women

LIKE many Catholic women, I am tired of hearing the feminists' man-hatred bleatings that there is widespread "dissatisfaction" about our role and status, that we "suffer" at the hands of the Church, and other distortions of feminist ideologies. What absolute nonsense. They speak only for themselves.

One of the fundamental errors of the "I want to be a priestess" brigade is that they imagine men in the Catholic Church to hold the "power", while women hold less "important" positions. (Whatever happened to the concept of service?) In their attempt to rectify this flight of imagination, we are witnessing a struggle which is destructive to ordinary women in the pew, to the Church and to the family which is at its very heart.

Valerie Riches Milton Keynes I SHOULD like to thank you for recognising in your editorial of Sept 30 that women are becoming very tired of being told by men what status they enjoy in the eyes of God.

None of us, I hope, deny the need to listen 'to :-traditionand scripture, despite the fact that these are sources mediated to us by men, but must we always be expected to suppress the evidence of our own lives, our experiences and our consciences.

Women do not insist on telling men what it is to be a man and all we are now asking is that we should be permitted to define for ourselves what it is to be a woman.

Not, I add, a mother or a virgin — because neither of these conditions are essential to femininity — but to establish what it is that makes us women, equal but different to men, fully human and desirous of serving God to our fullest potential. Valerie Noble Hitchen Herts AS an ordinary active Catholic lay woman, I often wonder who are the ladies on the National Board of Catholic Women. How are they chosen to represent us because I feel that they don't.

Surely one of our duties is loyalty to the Holy Father. Referring to the article by Martin Newland (September 30), I don't see why any Pope should have to consult women before making an Apostolic Exhortation. Didn't Our Lord say He would be with Peter (the church). The Pope will spend hours at prayer before making any Promulgation.

Name and address supplied

I CAN never help hoping that one day the patriarchal eye will clear and spare us some of the struggle to establish a woman's, or indeed any individual's, entitlement to be self-determining. So my first reaction to the current papal reinforcement of the division and battle btween the sexes was one of pain, not least that a man has the temerity to define woman, but also that this thinking, coming from he who claims divine

authority above all other people, will be broadcast and attended to in preference to that of lesser mortals. (Where does equality lie here?) However, there is a greater good on offer. John Paul does us a service by setting out the patriarchal ideal of womanhood for all to see, incidentally demonstrating that people should speak for themselves and probably provoking some at least to give greater weight to their own judgement. For, as is only to be expected, the patriarch or father-ruler seeks as his ideal counterpart the child-subject; an adult-to-adult relationship with a woman is not something he can contemplate with equanimity.

With this latest 120-page exposition of some of the contradictions inherent in the patriarchal ethos there is hope that more people will awake to the vital role of personal experience and testimony and that more will take up the real challenge of Christianity put by Jesus in Luke 12:57: "Then why do you not judge also for yourselves what is right?"

Ruth Clancy Manchester

FR McDade commenting (October 7) on your leading article about the Pope and women, is reproachful on behalf of himself, the Pope, all husbands and the rest of men at being made "the silent partners in the living out of our common humanity." This relegation has been sadly familiar to all women for centuries. Ann Cunningham Cheltenham

I REALLY must express my surprise that the Catholic Herald (September 30) should criticize the Vatican Statement on the Dignity of the Vocation of Women before it was published and its contents known.

I find it difficult enough to understand how Vivenne Hewitt can possibly state that the document "has set the often rebellious American Church at further odds with Rome, and also threatens to slow down unity talks with the Church of England".

If the US Church is "rebellious" that is by its own choice, not Rome's. If unity talks are slowed down is it not because an Anglican province has chosen to consecrate a woman bishop, rather than because Rome sees itself as having no authority so to do?

What I find more offensive, however, is the statement in your editorial that the statement "cannot live up to the challenge of its title because it has been written without recourse to any input from women themselves". How on earth can your editorial writer possibly know that?

Has he, I wonder, ascertained that Maria Fehr, Ngangula Kalama, Rita Marker and other female members of the Pontifical Council for the Family were not consulted?

Joan Watts Purley, Surrey




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