Roman Catholic men only

only men vote cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Today is the pope’s official last day. He retires. The papal conclave will begin the long process of voting on the next pope. All men. An enclaved conclave.

I was talking with a seminary student today. She’s from a church that didn’t support her decision to enter the ministry. Because she’s female. A very small percentage of women from her denomination seek ordination, and their chances of finding a church that will receive their ministry are small.

I heard a journalist from the Vatican on the news yesterday saying that the next pope is going to have to draw a line in the sand to prevent women from getting ordained and voting, etc., while at the same time make women feel that they are still a part of the church.

They just don’t get it.

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  • Aviatrix

    Quite a nifty trick to try and pull off. Separate but equal, my ass. You are an important part and fully included – um, except here and here and here and don’t even think about there. Your place is special – there’s a nice comfy seat for you, there in the back – a special place where you belong. Yeah, tell that one to Mrs. Parks.

    The particulars are different but the principle is the same.

  • Gary

    Amen Aviatrix. Well said!

  • Carol

    There is nothing like self-interest that has the power to blind us to justice. Just another tragic affect of our disordered thinking, desiring and willing.

    Luther was correct when he challenged the Medieval Catholic Scholastics over their teaching that *sin* was man turned down toward the things of earth rather than up towards the things of heaven by teaching that *sin* was actually man turned in upon himself or, as modern mental health professions state “narcissistic egoism, a disorder that closes us off from others rather than opening us up to them.

    A Holy Saturday meditation on death and sin from Orthodox theologian John

    Death and sin are inseparable cosmic realities in fallen creation, because
    “through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus
    death passed unto all men” (Rom. 5:12). According to the prevailing
    patristic exegesis of that passage, then, it is this universal mortality that
    makes personal sinfulness inevitable. Dominated by suffering, fear of death,
    and insecurity, man came under the power of an instinct for SELF-protection
    and SELF-preservation. He began to struggle for his OWN survival, at the
    expense of his neighbor, even if this survival could be only temporary (and
    therefore illusory), since “death reigned from Adam to Moses, even upon those
    who did not sin as Adam did” (Rom. 5:14). Indeed, it still reigns, in spite
    of all human efforts to conquer it, except by Jesus, the Christ.

    Mortality is, therefore, the ultimate condition of fallen man. It keeps him enslaved,
    dependent, and inevitably concerned about his threatened
    self, with a tendency to use others for his own selfish interests.
    The vicious circle of death and sin, however, was BROKEN by God
    Himself, who came “to serve, and not to be served,” who said that it is
    “better to give, than to receive,” and “who gave Himself for the salvation of
    many.” In a world where struggle for survival at the expense of others is
    the law, He showed that death for others is the ultimate act of love. And
    when this act was performed by God Himself, a new life indeed came into the

    This “redemption” brought by Christ defies rational explanation, yet its significance
    is overwhelming. It is an event that took place in history, that, like all historical events,
    took time: the time of Jesus’ earthly life, and the three days of His burial.
    –John Meyendorff, The Time of Holy Saturday, from ORTHODOX SYNTHESIS: The
    Unity of Theological Thought, edited by Joseph J. Allen

  • Doug

    “They just don’t get it” . . .
    And they never will — not until the Church’s membership and lack of candidates for the priesthood dwindle to the point where, out of sheer desperation, they’ll scratch their pointy-hatted heads and say, “Gee, maybe we need to rethink this.”

  • Elizabeth Duffy

    “They just don’t get it”

    I’m always surprised by how willing non-Catholics are to comment on how the Catholic Church ought to do things. Maybe, YOU just don’t get it.

    Have you read any Catholic theology on the issue? Or are you so intent on imposing your worldview on a 2000 year old world religion that you can’t be bothered?

    Speaking of a “narcissistic egoism, a disorder that closes us off from others.”

  • Actually it would have been better if I had said, “We just don’t get it!” because we are the church. All of us. And I still claim WE still don’t get it. Thanks for the rebuke, but I still believe that the church is in gross error. And it’s long history doesn’t justify it one single iota.

  • So weary of this….both Protestant and Catholic. Sadly, this deception is on the rise again in Evangelical circles because of the teaching of a few influential men. My 26 year old daughter struggles with committing to church because as someone working towards her PHD in education, she will be given equal opportunity to teach on a college and university level, but not be allowed to teach in the church… How surreal is that?!
    If church leadership continues on this road, they will lose a whole generation of young and vibrant women.

  • Betsy

    I went to mass on Sunday and was no longersurprised to see so few people present. Most were elderly. There were a few young families. Only 20 years ago, it was packed. Completely packed. I walked outside and saw that the gym was full of people watching their kids play basketball. Went to breakfast and saw tables of women discussing their latest book and young families eating breakfast in large groups of two or even three families. We were invited to baby show that afternoon and all of the women I once attended church with we’re there with their daughters. We laughed and talked. The discussion turned to church and it was apparent no one had been that morning or in quite a while. We spoke of faith at that party. We passed around another young mother’s tiny baby. So, Cardinals- it will be ok when you slam the door on us once again. We have found other ways to gather and other ways to be Jesus for one another and for,the poor among us. We are already gone and your silliness means little to us anymore. We all miss the gathering and praying together. But. you never wanted to see us or hear us and so we left. And with us went our daughters and with them went their children. You will not ever understand. Theologically there is no authentic reason for the nonsense you solemnly proclaim as a male centered patriarchy. You can continue to twist old traditions, but, we’re gone. Won’t be coming back. We will have some fond memories, but not many..

  • Carol


    I was a practicing Catholic for 25 years, a daily communicant until financial matters required my return to the workplace full time.

    I will be forever grateful the the Redemptorist priests, a Religious Order that is both evangelical and pastoral, for the theological/spiritual formation that they gave me.

    After I moved to another state, I attended Mass at the local Catholic parish twice. That was all it took to realize that the attitudes there were pre-Conciliar. I am presently an “active non-member” of the local Episcopal Church, which, while it is no St. Mary’s, is the most faithful in belief and practice (IMO) in my geographical area.

    I have come to the conclusion that, with the exception of the contemplative Religious Orders that have either remained or returned to vision of their Founders, most American Christian Churches neither teach nor practice anything like the faith of the early NT Christian communities.

    Of course, not all local churches are equally toxic. In fact, most are probably relatively supportive as long as the their beliefs and customs are not questioned. They are nominally religious middle class social clubs whose members are responsible citizens who treat one another with civility and reciprocal altruism. The problem is that there is a difference between the self-interested moralism of a good citizen and the transformational unconditional/kenotic love of a christian saint.

    There is also a difference between social stability based on social status sustained by a double standard legal system and and social stability based on equal justice for all. A Church that is not cercerned with BOTH personal predatory behavior and institualized socioeconomic injustices is not faithful to its calling.

    Attending a Conservative/Traditionalist Church is often like entering a 50’s time warp and attending a Liberal/Progressive Church is often like entering a 60’s time warp. Neither is adequately addressing the challenges of our 21st century globalizing technological society.

    I personally prefer to cope with the challenge of irreverance in secular society than with the irrelevance of the ecclesiastical sub-culture.

  • Ang

    Same applies to the New Apostolic Reformation self appointed Apostles and Prophets. Beware….

  • Kathleen

    Betsy, I love what you said!

  • Kathleen

    Oh, and David–right on!

  • “In Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female.”

    The Word holds the power to create and sustain faith. Not the particular gender of the one who happens to be proclaiming that Word.

    But then , we are not biblicists, are we.

  • shelly


    History is NOT an excuse for continued sexism and misogyny. And honestly, Elizabeth, I think you have some internalized bits of both. Not to mention bigotry OF YOUR OWN.

    Congratulations. You just proved NP’s point.

  • shelly


  • Wills

    If you do not like how the Catholic Church does things, don’t be Catholic.

  • Hey Wills. That’s advice. But bad advice. I don’t like the way gays are considered and treated in Uganda. It’s an atrocity and injustice. But I won’t say anything about it because I’m not Ugandan.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Old Adam: I like the scripture you quoted very much.

    Is the goal, towards which the church should be moving, covered in that verse in Galatians penned by Paul the Apostle?

    Or, is the goal, towards which the church should be moving, covered by the verses of constraint, also penned by Paul the Apostle?

    Which verses are the ultimate goal that the church should reflect, and which ones are the temporary constraints so that we might be understood by a culture and time?

    Your thoughts?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Caryn LeMur

    Betsy: I love what you wrote. You should keep on writing, by all means. Easy to read, and heart-touching.

    I wish I had the money to put that in the major newspapers across America. I would only add one line at the end: “Protestant churches – you are next.”

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Carol

    Old Adam,
    We are only biblicists to the extent that the text supports our presuppositions and prejudices.

    This is more often immaturity rather than hypocrisy because it is not usually done with conscious intent.

    Lord God of our Fathers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ that we may worthily serve the world in his name. ~The Book of Common Prayer According to the use of The Episcopal Church, Eucharistic Prayer C, p.372

  • Carol

    The Vatican is not the Catholic Church.

    “Cardinal Newman said there were three authorities in the Church: the authority of tradition, the authority of reason and the authority of experience, which he placed respectively in the hierarchy, the university and the body of the faithful.
    He added that if one of these three became too dominant, the right exercise of authority in the Church risked being compromised. Each needs to be strong; for example, the theological faculties have their authority. Charismatic movements, for example, easily tend to give too much authority to experience. There have been moments when reason appeared to be absolutized, as in some countries in eighteenth-century Europe. Today, I think that some groups within the Church give too exclusive a stress to tradition, to the detriment of reason and experience.”
    —Timothy Radcliffe, OP

  • good use of “we”

  • “Which verses are the ultimate goal that the church should reflect, and which ones are the temporary constraints so that we might be understood by a culture and time?”

    That is such a good and complex question; and one I wrestle with often! Looking forward to Old Adam’s response.

  • JohnH

    I know it ticks me off that I can’t bear children, what is up with that? how completely unfair, right? I am being denied the power to be a joint creator with God and bring new life into the world and instead am regulated to my own special place.

  • Carol

    Scripture states that “without a vision [not an *ideal*], the people perish.”

    A vision is like the lode star that keeps us moving in the right direction; but does not provide much guidance on how to cope with the obstacles that we encounter on the way to our final destination.

    There is no transcendent absolute principle that fully meets the challenges of our life journeys. That is why legalism is so dehumanizing.

    The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse. By itself, the law can never create anything better… Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions. – Vaclav Havel

    “No general principle can decide each concrete case; always secondary principles and special circumstances enter into consideration.” –David Spitz, The New Conservatives
    Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government, nor even the market economy, will function properly.” –Vaclev Havel, Czech Politician

    When practicing the Law of Love, we are pretty much “flying by the seat of our pants,” relying on common sense and intuition rather than a moral manual or theological dogmas to keep us from making errors in judgment.

    Thank god for Gospel’s message of forgiveness! Perhaps that is the godlike perfection that Jesus urges us to strive for, to become a forgiving person rather than a blaming person.
    Unlike the Decalogue, which addresses sinful external behavior, the Sermon on the Mount seems more concerned with character formation and internal attitudes.

    Ideology has replaced vision in the church turning many Chrisitans into “avenging angels” rather than “ministers of reconciliation.” Our American governing processes began to become dysfunction when the Moral Majority/Religious Right began to gain political power.

  • Gary

    Sadly, there won’t likely be a response.

  • “[B]ut I still believe that the church is in gross error. And it’s long history doesn’t justify it one single iota.” Appropriately said from the mouth of a “true” “protestant” who apparently has spent much of his life searching for the “God” that suits him, rather than searching for truth. I suggest you read Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s autobiographical book on their conversion story and search for truth, “Rome Sweet Home.” You can certainly opine about anything you want, including Catholic teaching on limiting the priesthood to men alone, but you ought to know something about which you speak. Your cavalier use of the cliche “they just don’t get it,” only serves as more fuel for anti-Catholic bigotry that seeks to minimize Catholic teachings such as the ministerial priesthood, same-sex marriage and abortion. If you really want to “get it,” i.e., as in “understand,” I commend you to Peter Kreeft’s discussion given many years ago–just Google Peter Kreeft and “women priests” and you can listen to the audio. Or perhaps you are not interested in any of that meaningless “history.”

  • God, help us. That is our only true hope.

  • Jody


    “Of course, not all local churches are equally toxic. In fact, most are probably relatively supportive as long as the their beliefs and customs are not questioned. They are nominally religious middle class social clubs whose members are responsible citizens who treat one another with civility and reciprocal altruism. The problem is that there is a difference between the self-interested moralism of a good citizen and the transformational unconditional/kenotic love of a christian saint.

    There is also a difference between social stability based on social status sustained by a double standard legal system and and social stability based on equal justice for all. A Church that is not cercerned with BOTH personal predatory behavior and institualized socioeconomic injustices is not faithful to its calling.”

    Now that is thoughtful commentary and I thank you for it.

  • I don’t know how gays are treated in Uganda. But my husband just came from a board meeting at which he chatted with a professor who spent his sabbatical year in Botswana. He asked him how the society is there and how things are with AIDS and such. The professor said the society is totally promiscuous and never mind the rampant AIDS. If a girls wants a cell phone she just prostitutes herself for a bit, etc. The exception is Uganda, where the conservative policies are having some effect. In checking for info, we can see that the rate in Botswana is 23% incidence and Uganda is 5%.

  • Carol

    The problem is not homosexuality, since I am assuming that the girls are not prostituting themselves to gay men.
    The problem is that a person would pimp herself out to own a cell phone and that heterosexual men would be complicit.
    Of course, if a government punishes sexual promiscuity in a certain segment of the population with death the people will become less promiscuous since it focuses everyone’s attention on the reality that aside from the immediate pleasure, there can be serious negative consequences.
    Fear of an inconvenient pregnancy before effective birth control technology was a factor in reducing promiscuity in Western society; but we have seen the change in behavior with the chance of that consequence greatly reduced.
    In tribal societies, where strength in numbers meant dominance and the entire tribe shared the responsibility for raising the young who were able to participate in the labor intensive subsistence economy at a relatively young age producing children at a very young age was a social responsibility. Sex was not only pleasurable, it was a social responsibility. Perhaps that is why gays are being singled out for the death penalty in Uganda.

    I am wondering if there are penalties for fornication and adultery, also. I don’t see how targeting only the gay population could account for that large a difference in the incidence of AIDS. Something just isn’t adding up when the sociological factors, not just the moral issues, become part of the picture.

    BTW, we know that AIDS first appeared in monkeys and it didn’t spread to the human population through the practice of bestiality. I worked with a priest who traveled to Africa before emergence of AIDS. He participated in a tribal feast where the participants drank monkey blood. He said he knew if he refused the cup his hosts would be insulted, so he took a couple of sips, but he was glad he had his pipe with him so he could kill the taste with tobacco smoke.

    I’m not opposed to disciplining our sexual desires any more than I am opposed to keeping our food intake at a healthy level; but I really don’t think that the draconian punishments are going to have the transformational affects that we are hoping for from grace. Whether killing people for homosexual behavior can be justified in terms of the contribution it makes to the common good or not is a secular civil judgment call. I don’t think that it can be justified from the Gospel perspective which reveals that we are all beloved children of God, not on the basis of our righteousness but in spite of our sins.

  • rose

    I grew up at a time when the Catholic Mass was completely in Latin, and none of my Catholic friends could tell me what was happening or why in their services. As a non-Catholic, I was not included. I should also say that my parents never attended church, but taught me to read from the Bible before I attended school, and the Creator was never only male. As an adult, I have served as a parish nurse in a Presbyterian and United Methodist church, and currently am working in the United Methodist Church for the Acts of Repentance towards Indigenous peoples. The church has long been complicit with genocide. Our local Onondaga Nation has no Catholic churches. I am curious about how the Vatican will pick their new ruler, but my matrilineal family will never be welcomed, and it no longer bothers me, as it did while I was a child. I, as a lay member, will be preaching next Sunday on the Prodigal son story, a story of prevenient Grace, which is open to all peoples, regardless of gender, race, ethnic background, Deafness…welcoming all to the Table. Praise the Creator who allows me to do this!

  • Coyotenose

    Elizabeth, Google “The Courtier’s Reply” to see how your argument has been rebutted.

  • Coyotenose

    “I didn’t like how Germans were murdering Jews by the millions, even invading other countries in order to find more Jews to murder, but I didn’t say anything about it because I wasn’t German.”

  • Coyotenose

    “Conservative policies” is a nice way of saying “imprisoning murdering consenting adults for their private activity”, isn’t it?

    The vast majority of AIDS infections in Africa are among heterosexuals. The murder of homosexuals that you seem to be trying to find a way to defend has nothing to do with a reduction in cases.

  • Pseudonym

    There’s one notable inaccuracy: in the cartoon, everyone outside the voting process is female. In reality, most men are outside of it too.

    Everyone on the “inside” is male, but most men are “outside”. It’s a gendered phenomenon, this is true. But it’s also about class and power.

  • Carol

    You got that right!

    I believe that the Vatican is the last remaining absolute monarcy, with the exception of Monaco, in western Europe.

    An attempt was made to broaden the governing authority of the Church by giving the bishops more than their present consultative Magisterial influence; but, as the latest scandals reveal, that change was never implemented and the power remains solely in the hand of the Pope in union with the Roman Curia rather than with the Pope in union with the Bishops which would be closer to the governing structure of the Othodox Churches of the East.

    Before the Great Schism in 1054 the Eastern Churches defined the Pope as “First among equals.” His authority was something like that of the Vice President to the Senate, a tie-breaking vote. Perhaps that is because, being the leader of the only patriarchate in the West, he would have a different and hopefully more objective perspective issue than the four Eastern patriarchs.

    BTW, Catholics are taught that the Eastern Churches are the schismatics; but if were five ancient patriarchs at the time of the schism and four of them are still in communion with each other which one is most likely to be the schismatic? And which one has a history of countless subsequent schisms? Hmmmm. . . .