I’m tired of hearing that everything crappy is feminized.

tridentine mass

photo by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, available from http://fssp.org

What did Cardinal Burke actually say about the feminization of the Church? I still haven’t read it, but I’m guessing it’s like a lot of what he says: true and necessary, but expressed in a frustratingly tone-deaf way that is more or less guaranteed to encourage argy bargy. Sorry, but that does seem to be his specialty. So I haven’t read it, because I already have my own opinions about the priest shortage and about altar girls, which I will save for another post.

What I have read is a lot of the commentary on what he said, and the response seems to fall into two categories:

(a) What a load of misogynist  crap! Any man who feels threatened by femininity has pee pee problems, and is just looking to pin his inferiority complex and his likely impotence on anything with a vagina.

(b) Yeah! You show those feminazis! Every time I go to Mass and see the altar crawling with women, I want to puke. My Catholicism is strong and muscular, and my wife and daughter know better than to even think of getting in between me and God.

(c) Har har, Burke really tips his hand when he turns up all decked out in silk and lace and poofy hats. Looks like Mr. Manly Man is overdue for a trip to the therapist for his . . . predilections.

***

I’ll address (c) first — the jeering at Burke for his lacy vestments.  I am really uncomfortable with mocking or criticizing clergy who have a taste for old, traditional clothing and ceremonies and elaborate liturgical gestures. These things look different to modern eyes, and to me, they often look silly; but they were clearly never intended to be femme.

They were intended, as far as I know, to set the priest, and what happens at the altar, apart from everyday, practical things — much like the royal robes of a king or queen. I assume that, to many people, including Cardinal Burke, this is what they still suggest. I wish we could talk about what is wrong with the macho man version of Catholicism without implying that these guys are all secretly gay.

***

Now for the question of whether or not the Church has become too feminine. I believe that the people who say (a) (“Women rule! Boys drool!”) and (b) (“The Church needs women like a fine restaurant needs cockroaches!”) are both making the same mistake, at least in regards to what has gone awry in the Church:

They are both making the mistake of assuming that all the most notorious bad fruits of Vatican II are actually feminine. We’re assuming that clown or puppet Masses are feminine — giant clay vases filled with dead sticks and sand are feminine — felt and burlap banners are feminine — Marty Haugen’s melodic tapioca is feminine — liturgical hijinks of every kind are feminine — goofy or blasphemous liturgical dance is feminine — sunshine-and-buttercups catechesis is feminine — bad theology is feminine — heresy and sloppiness and irreverence and silliness of every kind are feminine.

Now hear this: these things are no more authentically feminine than porn is authentically masculine. Instead, they are a revolting distortion of what femininity is meant to be; and that is why they are so bad for the Church.

I am awfully, awfully tired of hearing that bad theology, bad music, bad dancing, and bad felt banners are feminine. I’m a honest to goodness woman, and I find that shit just as offensive and off-putting as men do. Men and women are equal in the eyes of the Church. Men and women have different gifts to offer, and the Church has different gifts to offer to men and women. We ought to be able to talk about what does and does not belong in the Mass without pitting men and women against each other, or reducing each other (or ourselves!) to offensive stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

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  • Lydia

    *slow clap* This so needs to be said.

  • hamiltonr

    Thank you Simcha.

  • Sheila C.

    No kidding!

    My husband’s response to this is that the Church IS, by Her nature, feminine. She is the BRIDE of Christ. The Church’s role is to be submissive and responsive to God’s will. It’s no surprise men are uncomfortable with this; it doesn’t come as naturally to them. So then shouldn’t they try learning from the best — that is, holy women?

    It’s a fact that Christianity was called “a religion for women and slaves” by the ancient Romans. Mithraism was much manlier, but where is it now? Our noblest saint is a woman. The first messenger of the resurrection was a woman. The witnesses at Calvary were all women except one. Isn’t it possible that the spiritual life just comes a little easier to women? That’s especially true when you realize that the gap between men’s and women’s participation in religion spans almost all denominations and religions.

    Both men and women have things to offer, but if there’s a deficit in “manly virtues,” the men need to show up and contribute them. I’m not going to stop going to church too just to “balance things out”!

    • Athelstane

      “…if there’s a deficit in “manly virtues,” the men need to show up and contribute them.” Judging by what I see in the pews in most parishes on Sunday (weekdays are even more imbalanced), they aren’t showing up, though. Especially not men under 35. My experience last week: 200 or so, about 70/30 female, and only six men under 35 (five of which were African students). And that is a fairly typical parish hereabouts (mid-Atlantic).

      We can blast us guys for not showing up, but at some point, perhaps it’s worth at least asking if the Church in most places isn’t doing something to drive them away.

      • donttouchme

        It doesn’t matter if men show up or not. Didn’t you read her comment? Females are just naturally holier, and her husband is good, submissive little man.

        Greater female holiness is of course why wives are told repeatedly through the entire Bible and all of Church history up to 1960 to be obedient to their husbands–because men need to follow the example of women. Obviously.

        • margaret1910

          It may be a bit surprising to you, donttouchme, but I actually agree, sort of, with you here. How ridiculous, sheila, to say that women are more naturally spiritual and that men should “learn from the best”. I must say bleh. Women are not the more gifted spiritually, and I cannot believe that anyone would say that? Now, if you want to say that the greatest of creation was a woman, I will applaud and agree.

          • Sheila C.

            Good golly, I meant female SAINTS, not average women. I’m sure as heck not the best, and my husband is my role model as far as holiness goes. But yes, the best saint is a woman. And for fidelity long after things have stopped being pleasant, the women at the foot of the Cross are a good model.

            Did NOT mean that women are better. But it does appear that statistically they are more prone to attend Mass. And yes, it is arguable that women are better at being submissive, which was the context of my sentence. At any rate we have more practice at it.

            IF women are attending Mass more than men, men should look at that example and follow it. No one is saying “oh no, there is one single man up in the sanctuary, now women will leave the Church!” And I’m going to give men the same respect — they and they only are responsible for their choices; they do not need the Church to cater to them. If God commands them to go to Mass, they should go,

          • margaret1910

            Ok, Sheila, I misunderstood you. My apologies.

      • Sheila C.

        Okay, ask the question, and maybe see if you can come up with an answer. Personally, considering the gap is (as I said) across all religions, I don’t think it’s the Church’s fault. Perhaps someone would like to do a statistical survey of men’s attendance at parishes depending on things like gender of altar servers, musical choice, homily topic, and so forth. However, I can already predict what will happen. If “conservative” choices are more popular with men, we have to switch over and do those. If “liberal” choices are more popular, we can’t pander to people’s wishes because the Mass isn’t about them.

        I find many things frustrating about the parishes where I attend Mass. However, I still go because that’s my duty as a Catholic. So I’m going to put myself out there a bit and say that men should do that too. Unless sucking it up and doing your duty regardless of how you feel is “effeminate”!

        • Athelstane

          Personally, considering the gap is (as I said) across all religions

          Many Western Christian denominations do, certainly. But the Eastern Orthodox and Orthodox Judaism do not suffer from this gap, though. Might be worth asking why.

          Even within Catholicism, one can find similar exceptional pockets – for example, Eastern Rites, and traditional and semi-traditional Roman Rite communities.

          If “liberal” choices are more popular…

          Are they more popular? What choice do you have if you don’t like what the cantor or music director has chosen? Was a vote ever held?

  • Brennan

    I posted this in regard to an article about Cardinal Burke, and thought I’d repost it here as it seems to fit:

    I agree that “feminine” is not the right word, but rather “effeminate”. The liturgy is the first place where this has started (and it wasn’t even started by women). The reformers of the traditional Mass wanted a liturgy that wouldn’t offend Protestants and would cater to their concept of “modern man”. That type of acquiescence and obeisance is effeminate and not attractive to the masculine nature. Toss in the happy clappy nature of most parish liturgies, where the high point of the Mass seems to be the handshake of peace and it’s no wonder men are not attracted by an emasculated liturgy.

    The feminine in the Church is a beautiful and wonderful thing, and should be interwoven into the Church’s life. I liken it to a Gothic cathedral where you have the masculine – the sense of order and strength in the outer facade, along with the feminine – the beauty of the stained glass, the decorations, even the vestments. Both are necessary.

    The same can be said for the traditional Latin Mass (shown in the picture at the top). There’s the order, decorum, and ceremony men crave (which is why you’ll see ordered ceremony in almost every official function involving men from the military to the Knights of Columbus), all grounded in ancient prayers that were not reformed to pander to “modern man”. Men are attracted to that (and I’m sure a number of women like it as well).

    Then you have the more feminine beauty of music, such as Gregorian chant, the way the interior of the church looks, and other aspects. When it’s done well, it’s a place where both the masculine and feminine are given their due and are in harmony with each other.

    • Paula Howley

      “the beauty of the stained glass, the decorations, even the vestments.”
      So this is all that is feminine to you? The way stuff looks?
      My husband mentions the ‘feminization’ of the church and how bad it is and I really can’t think of a more insulting thing to say to me except for maybe to call me the C word.

      • Brennan

        A Gothic cathedral looks masculine from the outside, so it’s not just the feminine that has to do with looks. I don’t use the word feminine as an insult, I use words like effeminate, banal, or ugly.

      • Guest

        “So this is all that is feminine to you? The way stuff looks?”

        that’s right, panties.

      • KarenJo12

        Why is “feminized” any more acceptable as an insult that ‘retarded’ or a racial slur? We realize that “Jew him down” and “N!@#$r rig” are offensive; why is using a word that means “related to women” as insult acceptable?

  • Aaron Taylor

    Preach!

  • BigBlueWave

    I don’t think calling it “feminized” is pitting men against women.

    Because I presumed Cardinal Burke meant it in good faith.

    He’s not against women, or women in the Church.

    He’s against things that alienate men. Which includes things that are feminized that shouldn’t be.

    • Raguel

      Girl altar boys, sanctuary otherwise filled with women assisting with the only male presence in the sanctuary being the priest. Go to any Eastern Church Divine Liturgy, or any Latin Mass community and you will not find a woman in the sanctuary while mass is being said.

      It’s quite simple really, when women start to do men’s work, men will stop doing their duty. That’s what he means by feminizing the liturgy. It’s not about Burke using the wrong term, the author and those who support her simply disagree with him.

      • Whitewaterlily

        Just recently I heard a priest complain he couldn’t find any altar boys anymore. He reestablished the altar rail in his church when he came to that parish, he gives Holy Communion preferably on the tongue/kneeling, he regularly reads mass in the the extraordinary form, his ordinary masses are reverend, and he also prefers rather traditional vestments. Yet, he has huge problems to recruit new altar boys while the girls would bend over backwards and are at the ready. In this case, it can’t be the women or feminine that drove the boys and men away… His opinion was that the parents don’t attend anymore (so why should the kids?) and everything else (e.g. sports) are more important to them than church. For me the question remains why this is the case for boys but not for girls???

        My personal experience is too, that in orthodox and extraordinary form masses male attendance is much higher than in ordinary form masses. (That’s why the priest’s problem puzzles me.) I don’t have an elaborate opinion on what the reasons are. My gutt feeling says the “feminisation- (or I would rather follow the suggestion of another fellow commenter and call it dumb-)theory” rings kind of true. Men are probably less willing to put up with all that liturgical and cathechetical hogwash.

        • Paul Giesting

          Maybe he hasn’t had enough time to reverse the trends. These parish cultural problems can take years to change. I would completely believe his complaint that he’s up against the idol of sports, and that’s got such a grip on the middle-class American psyche in these latter days…Another thing to pray for, however small it may seem.

          • Whitewaterlily

            Well, he is in that parish for 17 years. However, I too think it is a wider cultural issue. In the western world in general. (The parish I was talking about is in Germany – the same problems here, if not even worse.)

      • Nermal146

        I serve on the altar during the week, I signed up for altar service because I got tired of seeing the Priest setting everything up himself. A “gentleman” casually said to me “It drives me crazy that women are on the altar, it should be men because that encourages them to become Priests.” So I asked him if he or any of his male progeny signed up for altar service…He has no children, and his job keeps him very busy. Honestly, i really wanted to mess his face up a bit. I agree that serving with the Priests would be a great example for young boys, but if they are not signing up, then what should we do?

  • http://bloggoliard.wordpress.com/ Blog Goliard

    This post is very well done, and I thank you for it.

  • John Johnson

    Patheos is feminized.

    • Tom

      Not sure if serious.

    • http://www.bringustolife.blogspot.com/ Scott Woltze

      Though not Simcha. She still allows comments on her blog. You lose half the product when you stop accepting comments on a blog. Some of the comments are often more interesting and informative than the original post. Good for Simcha.

  • drogah

    Of course, what you’re saying here is precisely what Cardinal Burke says in the interview. He’s approaching this from the perspective of *false feminism,* which always has as its effect (and aim) the destruction of both authentic masculinity and femininity.

  • Ellen Johnson

    My dad always told us that the giant clay vases, burlap banners, terrible music, etc. came from the source of all terribleness: the 70’s.

    • IRVCath

      Precisely.

  • Gilchrist

    This is a disturbing article. There is no reason to use foul references, there is no reason to mock a Cardinal and there is no reason to take that which is sacred and a western Christian imitation of heaven and try to compare it to the fallen world’s perspective of sexualizing everything. I once had a like-acting woman to this author challenge me by calling St Francis a male chauvinist since he called the son his brother and the moon his sister. Somehow, in her desire to act foolish and speak like the clanging cymbals St Paul warns his church to avoid, her uneducated condition missed the fact that in all languages that have masculine and feminine nouns, it is poetic to address objects in that manner. I would tell the author of this disservice to take a time out spiritually and readdress priorities when it comes the her Church. I say this as someone that is not Roman Catholic but has much more respect and civility to the Church than her. Try reading “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” by St John Climacus, try saying a Rosary before commenting in the public forum, try taking a cue from the Blessed Mother of God and leave your personal measuring stick of judgment in the gutter when you approach those things Holy and Apostolic. If the author stood before me for the Eucharist, I would refuse it until she went to Confession and wrote a personal apology to the clergy member she assassinated with her words.

    • MeanLizzie

      So, you’re not a Catholic but you’re going all judgmental on the state of Simcha’s soul — to the point of suggesting she should be denied communion — simply because she has commented here on the comments that others are making about a Cardinal whose lessons she finds “true and necessary” (her words) but often delivered in a undiplomatic way that invites argle bargle from others. For this not-uncharitable assessment, you condemn (which, even if you were a Catholic would be outside of your purview) and demand an apology on behalf of a man who would likely be appalled to see the sort of cult-of-clergy that has grown around him. This is a disturbing comment.

    • Sheila C.

      “Liturgy” is, in Greek, a feminine noun. 😉

    • friendly_hedgehog

      From what I remember in my schooldays (some time ago!), the German word for “sun” is feminine and “moon” masculine – it isn’t quite the universal truth you make it out to be! In English, we don’t use gendered nouns, so assigning genders to them feels more like trying to make a point – perhaps this was a cause of confusion? I’m not sure why one set of genders would be more “poetic” than another.

  • Martha Oram

    Yeah he really didn’t say anything that crazy. People are just reacting to small snippets.

    I think the feminization thing comes in when talking about things like female altar servers or any kind of lay service rendered to the Church, where men are conspicuously absent and women proliferate. But even then, Cardinal Burke doesn’t say that women pushed men out – but that bad liturgy led men to get bored and leave (more to it than that, obviously). He says that to get men back, we need to get back to good liturgy.

    He really isn’t talking about women, except to note that their presence is now everywhere and what we’re missing is a strong masculine presence.

    • jenny

      “:.. bad liturgy led men to get bored …”

      And who developed / set up/ designed the liturgy….?

      • Guest

        feminized men

  • Christopher Hall

    I ask this in good faith: Is this something that you hear a lot? I mean, I can imagine one might hear it if one actually haunts a place with the painfully silly name “The New E*MAN*gelization”–wouldn’t know, I don’t haunt such places, and wouldn’t know if it’s actually that common. If it is something you hear a lot, it makes sense to say you’re tired of it. But if it’s really not ubiquitous or common or anything like that, then it’s giving it a false prominence to claim it is common, and making a river out of a trickle.

    • Dan F.

      I hear it nearly every time I read a “traditionalist” critique of the Church.

      • Christopher Hall

        I can think of a very easy solution to that, then. Can you guess what it is?

        • IRVCath

          Get off the internet?

  • Amused – Agnostic

    “true and necessary, but expressed in a frustratingly tone-deaf way that is more or less guaranteed to encourage argy bargy.”

    Oh the irony.

  • Leggy Mountbatten
  • Blobee

    eh, more tempests in teapots…

  • Tim

    “I still haven’t read it” but you decided to rant anyway?? Get a grip Simcha!

  • Meredith

    Hear, hear! Can we please say sloppy, ugly, mediocre, sentimental, banal, or saccharine instead of “feminized” or “effeminate”? I suffer the torments of the damned in these ugly churches with their terrible yowling cantors, and my XX chromosomes have not helped a bit! The architects of this ugliness often have names like Dan Shutte, Marty Haugen, or Fr. Vosko. So please, let’s stop dumping on women.

    • Brennan

      I agree with you. I specifically used the word “effeminate” because the word does not apply specifically to women the way “feminine” does. Effeminate can apply to a warped (or non-existent) masculinity where a genuine masculinity should be present. Thus the word can apply particularly to men rather than women.

      • Sheila C.

        “Effeminate” MEANS unmanly or womanish, and it applies to a man. The liturgy is not a man. It’s not supposed to be manly. I think we should drop the word “effeminate” as well as “feminized” when talking about the liturgy. Both suggest that more “manliness” is the solution, whereas I would say that we need more devotion.

        • Raguel

          Effeminacy is a vice spoken about in Corinthians and it applies to both men and women. It means that you are soft and unwilling to do what is hard and arduous.

          1 Corinthians 6:9, the Effeminate shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

          • Dom Prosper Gueranger

            Actually Aquinas and other Catholic commentators on the Gospels say that “effeminacy” refers to masturbation.

        • Brennan

          The liturgy has masculine and feminine aspects, obviously. Both should be present. A lack of beauty can mean a lack of the feminine and a lack of ancient rubrics and prayers can mean a lack of the masculine. I’d say our present day liturgies are lacking in both masculine and feminine aspects which is why they are effeminate.

          But yes, I would say the lack of the masculine aspects are the most pronounced. I’m also talking about the liturgy, not the subjective devotion of the parishioners. Good liturgy should help inspire devotion in both men and women.

      • Meredith

        Hi Brennan, I appreciate what you are saying and I didn’t mean to accuse you of being anti-woman… however, “effeminate” and “feminine” both contain the word “femina” (Latin for woman). Merriam-Webster defines “effeminate” thus: “having or showing qualities that are considered more suited to women than to men.”

        • Brennan

          I am going by this definition:

          1. (of a man or boy) having traits,
          tastes, habits,etc., traditionally
          considered feminine, as softness or
          delicacy.

          2. characterized by excessive softness, delicacy,self-indulgence, etc.:

          Thus I am not opposed at all to the feminine per se, and think it is good in its proper place. But when almost the entire liturgy has a noticeable lack of any masculine characteristics (when there should be some) then it becomes effeminate.

          I believe the traditional Latin Mass with Gregorian chant (especially if in a beautiful traditional church) is an excellent integration of both the masculine and feminine.

      • Meredith

        Just want to clarify that you and I probably agree on a lot of liturgical things, Brennan. I actually prefer altar servers to be male-only… it’s like a prep school for the priesthood. I love going to the Latin Mass when I can. I just wish that people would make the case for beautiful, traditional liturgy and art without making it a boys-vs.-girls issue.

  • Athelstane

    In fairness, Cardinal Burke does make some of the necessary distinctions – for example, between “feminine” and “radical feminism.” (Whether he does so adequately or thoroughly enough is something worth discussing.) More to the point, his real point is that it’s more than just the (say) overwhelming presence of women in the typical sanctuary; it is the loss of “the profound supernatural sense of the Sacred Mystery” in Church life (liturgy and elsewhere) that has driven away many Catholics, but seems to be especially off-putting to men.

    A gentle, final point: “So I haven’t read it.” You have some worthwhile observations in here, Simcha, which is why it’s a shame that you hadn’t read the interview yet. It could have been the opportunity to develop some of them further.

    • Paul Giesting

      Yes. Seconded. Please do go read it, Simcha. It sounds like you’re already going to read it through the “Burke is a grumpy jerk who cheeses off people needlessly” filter, but even with that, I think what he wrote is really not that much like what you expect and pretty well placed.

  • Athelstane

    One other point: Though Cardinal Burke never mentions it, I couldn’t help but feel that lurking behind his comments was the critique offered by Leon Podles’ The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity (Dallas: Spence, 1999). The book is available online for free now here.

    Podles, certainly, is clear that the loss of the masculine extends far beyond the Catholic Church to virtually all of Western Christianity (he finds it still strong in the Eastern Orthodox), and long predating the 1960s – though certainly greatly intensified by the cultural revolution of that decade.

  • Tom

    Take a step back, now, tapioca pudding is amazing.

    • Paul Giesting

      Really, Marty Haugen is nowhere near the top of the tapioca list for me.

  • donttouchme

    Where do you hear that all the time? Honestly. I basically never do, except occasionally from anonymous internet commenters. Definitely not from bishops. Bishops basically only ever say that we need more women everywhere always. If they say anything about men they follow the JPII program still in effect as evidenced by the recent Synod: “Fathers who are often absent from their families, not simply for economic reasons, need to assume more clearly their responsibility for children and the family (Paragraph 8).” That’s all. Contrary to the teaching of the whole history of the Church, men today are at best tangential to the family and have no rights, only obligations they fail at. Thanks feminism. Thanks JPII.

    Also, men and women aren’t equal in the eyes of the Church. Their dignity is equal in the eyes of the Church. Which is kind of a misnomer because the sexes don’t have separate dignities, they have the exact same dignity, which is human. So it makes no sense to say they’re equal in dignity because that’s saying human dignity is equal to itself. Well, I guess it makes sense, but it’s redundant. 20=20. Yeah obviously so what. When popes have taught in the past before PC and JPII, they have said men and women aren’t equal, because they obviously aren’t. That’s a feminist sophistry.

    • Athelstane

      It was dismaying that that line in paragraph 8 was the only reference to men, or fathers, in the entire Synod document.

    • margaret1910

      Although I agree that fathers and men, in general, deserve much more respect, I disagree that men and women aren’t equal. Why do you think that “they obviously aren’t” I would argue that they certainly are equal, although different.

  • Dan F.

    In the economy of the Church, leading and serving are synonymous.

  • tlzita

    This post made me want to cry! Whenever I hear dumb stuff called ‘feminine’ instead of dumb, I always wonder, what I don’t get about this way of being ‘feminine’. Because I just see it as dumb and I think I must be missing that ‘feminine’ part that as a woman should make me want to put up felt banners or other art that isn’t particularly artistic.

    • Brennan

      Women didn’t initiate what was done to our liturgy or the subsequent iconoclasm, men did. Feminine stands for beauty, not the trite insipidness of felt banners or poor music.

  • Joseph Nelson

    In the article they hit an important, glaring point, that I think is overshadowed by all the dross talk of feminism. They speak of the lack of men going to confession, coupled with the rise in use of pornography and masturbation, and therefore most men living in mortal sin. It seems to me that it is only natural for there to be issues (lack of vocations, young men not wanting to be altar servers, men not stepping up to lead) in the church if most of the men in the church continue to live in mortal sin.

    • Silvina Leonnetti

      You make an excellent point. Add to that mix the fatherhood crisis and we should be able to see a more complete picture. Thinking that a few changes in the liturgy (which may be excellent changes in themselves, and very welcomed) are going to change the situation for men is a bit simplistic, in my opinion. The problems run deeper…

    • IRVCath

      Also a lack of nerve among men.

  • Lark62

    There is actually a commercial where several people were put in front of a camera and told to “throw like a girl” or “run like a girl”. Every one acted silly and incompetent. When asked why, they had no answer. The point was ‘when did “like a girl” start to mean ineffective and incompetent?’

    While I have nothing to add about catholic liturgy, it is time to demand that feminine no longer be used as an insult. Good post.

    • tt

      At the same time that anything that is pink became evil and destructive. Feminists who decry anything traditionally feminine are not promoting equality; they are promoting misogyny.

      • Lark62

        The way I see it, feminism means nothing more than autonomy and freedom of choice. If you like pink, great. Choose pink. But if you’re a female kid, it’s okay if you pick a different color. And if you are a male kid, it’s okay to declare that your favorite color is purple or pink.

        If you are female, you can play sports or not. If you like music, you can play the flute or the trumpet or the tuba. There are no “girl” colors or instruments. There are no “boy” colors or instruments. My opposition to pink isn’t that some people like pink, it is the decision by others that every female must choose pink.

    • TBTG

      I think you are being very PC because naturally a girl cannot throw like a boy. It is obvious. When a man is said to be acting like a jock who complains or finds it insulting? As a woman I’ve had enough of this feminist PC rubbish and I totally endorse Cardinal Burke’s statements.

      • Lark62

        The point was that female softball players can throw a ball quite effectively. Female runners run very well and very fast. Yet when told to “run like a girl”, every single person acted uncoordinated and incompetent. In our culture, “like a girl” has taken on a false meaning. I thought religion preferred honesty. Or are accuracy, honesty and respect too PC?

  • Tom Beigel

    I gather that my parish is much like others–nearly all leadership roles are performed by women. Looks like reserving the priesthood to men is to ensure that there is at least a token male present. The problem of getting men engaged in the life of the church is not a new challenge. I believe it was just such a situation in Spain that gave rise to the Cursillo movement. Early in Cursillo, the weekends were segregated by sex. I’ve seen quite a few men make a Cursillo and become more active in the church. The answer may not be as complicated as we imagine. If church leaders just sit back and wait for men to get involved, well I think we’re already seeing the result of this approach. Jesus went out recruiting his apostles. His most faithful followers were women, especially the ones who were there at the end. We need the active participation of all to be a vibrant church.

    • Athelstane

      It definitely predates the whirlwind of the 60s – as Leon Podles has documented, you can find evidence of concerns going back well before that in the American Church, and (as you note) Ibero-American cultures had a particular problem with it, going back before the 20th century – but it’s also clear that the problem has greatly accelerated since then.

      Proactively reaching out to bring men back in would be something, but unless the fundamentals of the spiritual life of the parish are addressed, it may not come to much. What are those flawed fundamentals?

      A liturgy that is more casual, more therapeutic and only engages any sense of the transcendent or sacrifice with rarity; homiletics and catechetics that avoid “hard teachings” or the Four Last Things; and music that reflects these approaches have all contributed fundamentally to the problem, in tandem with the general breakdown of the family (with all that means for the disappearance of fathers in family life) – all that is at the root of what alienates men (and indeed, some women), before we even get to the question of altar girls or mostly female EMHC corps, etc.

  • anna lisa

    What if Cardinal Burke has had a change of heart and is trying to win back favor with his new boss.
    What man could withstand the censure to “stop behaving like peacocks!”
    Maybe he’s finally getting with the program, and all of those old pictures are just coming back to haunt him.

    • Nan

      Cardinal Burke has always been with the program; God’s program and doesn’t need to attempt to curry favor with anyone.

      • anna lisa

        Nan,
        I agree with you. But think about it, aren’t all of us a work in progress? I don’t think even an admirable man like Cardinal Burke would tell you that he doesn’t need to change. Don’t take it the wrong way. Change hurts but it’s good, and the sign that we are willing to let the HOLY SPIRIT lead us.

  • Athelstane

    …positions of leadership participation

    Including the priesthood?

  • aj10

    I always assume “feminization” as used here is secret code for gayification, but I may be incorrect.

  • LiveOaksandSpanishMoss

    The problem of men not going to church is not new. In books from the 1800s and older you find lamentations about the lack of churchmanship among (especially young) men. You also see snide remarks about religion that amount to “look at those women and children at church doing foolish lady things, while we manly men drink beer and philosophize in the pubs.” Misogyny and church problems are much older than burlap banners.

  • Álvaro Gutiérrez Valladares

    What did Simcha Fisher actually say about Burke’s comments on the feminization of the Church? I still haven’t read it, but I’m guessing it’s like a lot of what is written on Patheos: superficial and unnecessary, and expressed in a frustratingly righteous way that is more or less guaranteed to make those who already agree feel justified in ignoring any and all differing points of view. Sorry, but that does seem to be their specialty. So I haven’t read it, because I already have my own opinions and that seemingly justifies speaking publicly about things of which I am ignorant.

    (Actually I did read it, because I don’t have the gall to do something as irresponsible as publish public commentary on something I have not read. If your commenters have that minimum of decency on your comments, you might try doing the same for your articles.)

  • Elijah fan

    . I love girls on the altar. If vocations depend on manipulating altar boys into staying on the altar for life then what place does God have in giving vocations? Are we nuts? BUT. BUT. The quasi pacifism of the last three Popes on the death penalty and on the Bible themes like violence is a type…type of femininity mentioned in Sirach: ” the harshness of a man is better than the indulgence of a woman”. The death penalty saves victim lives according to the US Supreme Court in 1976 when it stopped its own 4 year stoppage of the death penalty after reviewing competing deterrence studies. But girls on the altar and women on the altar…perfect. Without women, NYC would have to close the other fifty percent of its parishes.

    • Nan

      Girls are confused by being allowed to be on the altar as it lends credence to those who cry out for women’s ordination.

  • BTP

    Well, having taken the bother of actually reading Cardinal Burke’s comments, I wonder what this post is about. Simcha has earned some reproach for dropping the Cardinal in to a post that is really about whatever is bothering her this morning.

    Not her finest moment.

  • Noah_Vaile

    We were discussing 1st Corinthians and “factions” (and “factionalizing (word?)”) this morning in adult faith formation class.
    Ironic coincidence, this.

  • Whitewaterlily

    This author claims that boys/men are falling away from belief and church attendance due to a lack of father(figure)s and male mentoring: http://thosecatholicmen.com/how-parishes-can-stop-turning-boys-into-atheists/ I think he has a point there.

  • Nan

    You don’t like Cardinal Burke, that much is clear. Because of that dislike, you assume that whatever he has to say, there’s nothing positive, helpful or worth reading about it. Snark about a prince of the Church, who has done nothing save support Church teaching and rock out in manlace is unbecoming.

    • simchafisher

      Right, it’s clear I don’t like Cardinal Burke, because I said that what he said was true and necessary, and then I defended and explained his choice of vestments. Geez, read what I actually said, why don’t you.

      • simchafisher

        I was talking about what was wrong with all the typical responses to him. That’s what I was talking about. If you don’t believe me, read it again. Not to single you out – there are probably a dozen people on this thread who somehow got through my entire post without actually reading any of it.

        • Bucky Inky

          I think the confusion comes in (at least for me) when Cardinal Burke’s words are characterized as “frustratingly tone deaf” in your post. Is this one of the “typical responses to him,” or your (atypical) response to him?

        • Nan

          Perhaps you’re one of them.

      • Nan

        I did read your post. You, however, aren’t in control of how people respond to your clear statement that you’re responding to Burke without having first read that to which you purport to respond. That shows your disdain for him.

  • RWW1

    Every lousy idea in my parish emanates from female laity gone wild.

    • simchafisher

      Hey, they sell that DVD at the gas station down the road!

      • RWW1

        Haha! I hate to be so hard on my sex but it’s true..

  • KarenJo12

    Thank you for this observation. Why is it necessary to speak of “feminine” and “masculine” at all? Felt banners and saccharine atonal hymns can be described as puerile, tacky, ugly, banal, distracting, silly, or an entire Thesaurus of perjoratives without ever resorting to gendered language. If someone uses feminine as a synonym for “inferior” I think it is reasonable to make certain conclusions about that person. That is Burke’s fault; Burke uses words derived from the Latin word for woman exclusively as insults. He clearly just doesn’t like women very mucH and his vocabulary demonstrates his dislike.

    • Allan Daniel

      Methinks the lady doth protest too much. It is clear that you don’t understand language as spoken by people without immense identity problems. Burke did not use the word feminine as a negative term. He spoke clearly about the objective current in the church today.

  • J P

    Ever since entering world stage via a robust, loving female he calls mom, men have needed a her in their life to assist them in shining thus competing with the brightest star in constellation. Women are failing them and will, in the end fail themselves. Listen not to the fifth column ladies, the chosen to be barren group, count them, probably millions of these poor ones w/o partners of any kind.

  • TBTG

    I am a woman but I find what Cardinal Burke said absolutely true. The Church in my country has virtually been run by women. Things might not be that bad in the United States but elsewhere it is and Cardinal Burke has an overview that many – including this writer – don’t have.

  • http://athenasantics.wordpress.com/ AthenaC

    Setting aside the question of whether “feminization” of the Church is a problem, he completely fails to consider WHY that might be. When I think of my own parish, there are a lot of women involved as religious ed teachers (of which I am one). But I think that probably has more to do with how gender roles still work in our society as opposed to a “feminization” of the Church.

    Of the women who are teaching, the vast majority of them are retired / stay-at-home parents / work part-time, so they have MUCH more flexibility with their time. Relatively few of us women have full-time work and still volunteer. But of the men who volunteer, ALL of them have full-time work and still volunteer; there are probably an equal number of men and women who have full-time work and still volunteer.

    So to me, the irony is that the solution to the “problem” of “feminization” is more feminism – encourage (or at least don’t DIScourage) more fluidity gender roles and you will likely have a different gender distribution.

  • Gradus Quia

    Burke is right, if you understand the usage of “feminized” from Latin, of which he has had decades of experience. it doesn’t mean anything like “feminine” in English, a philologically genderless language. The writer of the article errs, not simply via Feminism (the English word) and her own consequent separatism and self-obsession, but through lack of depth of knowledge and the use of reason.

  • Lee B

    I really believe Cardinal Burke has spoken well of this politically incorrect topic. I have that experience of being put off by mushy, effeminate priests that were anything but masculine in any way. It was revolting to be honest. It wasn’t until I stepped into an FSSP chapel, which has since become a Parish that I witnessed an incredible event, the Traditional Latin Mass. I was awestruck immediately! I knew nothing of Latin, it was by ”accident’ that I entered this chapel. However, it is my home 6 yrs later. Filled with children and young people who were thirsting for the Truth. The FSSP and Christ the King parishes and chapels is where the Truth is really blossoming. No mushy stuff here, just the Truth coupled with Charity and real clarity.

  • Allan Daniel

    Why the hell would you write about something you haven’t read and don’t understand?

  • Guest

    Cardinal Burke is a flaming queen. She has no room to talk.

    • simchafisher

      And welcome to my blacklist.

  • JL

    “I am awfully, awfully tired of hearing that bad theology, bad music, bad dancing, and bad felt banners are feminine.”

    They are not feminine, they are emotionalism – placing emotions over principles and reason. Which, like it or not, is much more prevalent driver of behavior among women than men. The root of the behaviors you point out were driven by effeminate, emotionalized, and yes, homosexual, men in the priesthood.

    The problem the CC is facing re ‘feminism’ parallels the problem the West is facing re ‘terrorism’. Both names are chosen out of fear of what may come if the source/root of the issues are called by their proper name.

  • http://rantingbiscuit.blogspot.com/ Biscuitnapper

    Thank you! I have to be honest, I tend to think that it’s infantilisation, not feminisation that’s the issue at hand. Fine, admittedly I’m also an annoying Social Justice Warrior type, but it does make me a bit concerned about how easily the two get conflated.