Cardinal Burke’s Woman Problem

Cardinal Burke’s Woman Problem January 9, 2015

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke 1

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons


I’ve written about this before. 

There was a reason why I entered my anti-God period. It had a lot to do with violence against women and the indifference of the church — meaning the whole of Christianity — to that violence. 

I spent 17 years, wandering in the spiritual wilderness over this. When Jesus basically reached out and scooped me back into His arms, I was confounded. The unconditional, ecstatic love that He showered on me was a complete contradiction of Who I had thought He was. 

Still, I was faced with a conundrum. If the men who claimed so stridently that they, and they alone, spoke for God, were telling the truth of things, then what place did I, a female person who actually felt that I was a full human being and not some smidge of what’s left of a human being after the preachers got done limiting me and my life down to what they thought was acceptable, what place did I have in any church that bore the name of Christ?

The Jesus I met seemed to me at that time to have very little to do with the mean-spirited, woman-despising message I had been given by His spokesmen. I loved this Jesus I encountered, and, right from the first, I trusted Him. But that other Jesus — the one who supported the double standard and thought women and girls should live their lives in the circumscribed margins of life that these men of God set out for us, who basically wanted us pushed aside, that Jesus I had been told about and bashed with, I mistrusted and feared to my core. 

I was so confused that I prayed and asked God directly if He hated women. This wasn’t a test. It wasn’t an argument. It wasn’t even much of a prayer. It was a plea and a question from the bottom of my shattered heart. 

I don’t always or even often get direct, immediate and discernible answers to my prayers, but God answered me then. I’ve been walking my walk with Christ on rock-solid certainty of that answer ever since. 

I realize that the Church does not recognize personal revelation except in very rare and well verified circumstances, and that even then these personal revelations are not binding as a matter of faith on the people of God. I think that’s a sound practice. 

I also think that this position on personal revelation makes Cardinal Burke and me just about even so far as this woman question is concerned. I had a personal revelation that God loves the female half of the human race and that He’s not so happy with His preachers who say otherwise. The good Cardinal evidently has had a personal revelation of some sort that the many and manifold problems of the Church are due to those of us who have two X chromosomes. 

In the Gospel according to him, the priest shortage is due to the existence of altar girls. His explanation for this is that boys don’t like to be around girls. Even aside from the fact that we are talking about adolescent boys, a good many of whom seem to rather like adolescent girls, that is absolute nonsense. 

There are a number of factors that have contributed to the priest shortage; the cultural upheavals — the sexual revolution, dissolution of the family, the priest sex abuse scandal, birth control — of the last 50 years chief among them. In addition to the huge changes in society, a major reason for the priest shortage is due to the 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody will talk about.

As most Catholics over the age of 12 have probably observed, a good many of our priests are gay. Homosexuals are a much smaller pool of potential applicants than straight men. Also — get ready for this Cardinal Burke — straight adolescent boys don’t really want to spend their time with gay men. They just don’t. Call it homophobic. Call it adolescent sexual insecurity. Call it whatever you want, but there is one thing for sure about it: It’s not due to altar girls. 

In another report, I read that Cardinal Burke is decrying the “feminization” of the Church. In his view, men don’t go to church because there are too many women there. 

Uh huh. 

Men just hate being around women. I’ve noticed that all my life. They don’t like the way we smell. They don’t like our soft hands or higher voices. And they really can’t stand the way we look. 

I guess that Oklahoma parishes are just unduly macho — or maybe that’s sissified, I can’t figure it out exactly — but we’ve got a lot of men sitting in the pews every week. And quite a few of them are sitting beside their wives, daughters, mothers and, yes, even their girlfriends.  

I’m not sure how Cardinal Burke plans to run his Church if he and those who think like him manage to turn it into a Spanky and Our Gang Woman Haters Club House, but my personal opinion is that if they succeed in chasing off the women, they might think about closing up shop. 

Jesus did not found a boys club. He founded a universal Church that welcomes everyone. When Our Lord walked this earth, He went out of His way to treat women with honor and dignity that men of that place and time found scandalizing. 

God sent me to the Catholic Church and since the One Who owns the whole deal told me to be here, I’m staying. But I’m not going to listen to anybody, no matter what kind of hat they wear, who says things like altar girls are the cause of the priest shortage and that this Church with its all-male priesthood which makes all the decisions is too “feminized.”

Frankly, between this kind of thing coming from American cardinals, and the doh-si-doh about marriage coming from Germany and Belgium, I’m beginning to wish somebody would pull the plug on these guy’s mikes. 

I’ve struggled with this all my life and I can tell you that ramblings like those from Cardinal Burke were a big part of what kept me walled up in what I thought was self-protective armor against a God I believed hated me. 

You’ve gotta be careful, you men of God, telling half the human race that God thinks less of them than He does the other half. Aside from the enormous harm you do to the souls of the people you are supposed to be shepherding — and this little dance with misogyny is massively damaging to both men and women — you are defaming the Lord. 

Because God doesn’t hate women and He doesn’t want us at the back of the bus.

I know. 

I asked Him. 

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106 responses to “Cardinal Burke’s Woman Problem”

  1. If you had a like button, I would have pressed it. Preach it, sister; right-on! I, for one, am utterly sick of this specific type of woman-problem in the Church. And, as you know, God doesn’t operate that way and doesn’t like it.

  2. I’ve heard other people claim that altar girls reduces the amount of priests but there doesn’t seem to be any empirical evidence that this is the case.

    I respect the office of Cardinal Burke and I know he does mean well but when he talks about sexual matters and the church he really reinforces all of the negative stereotypes that people have about the church. A lot of what he says is just embarrassing.

    • Boston – has 1.8 million Catholics in the diocese, and about 300 parishes, and they allow altar girls. They have about 90 men in their seminary, but have asked that men from all over New England come to their seminary. so the numbers might be a little inflated.

      For years Arlington and Lincoln were the only remaining dioceses in the United States to prohibit girl altar servers.

      The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska
      Currently the diocese has 47 young men in seminary despite having only less than 98,000 Catholics.

      The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia
      Despite only having 68 parishes, the diocese currently has 38 seminarians.

      • Fred, did you know that people with red hair have a higher proportion of skin cancer than those with black hair? However, if you dye your red hair black, it will not affect your chances of getting skin cancer.

        That’s because the red hair/skin cancer juxtaposition is a correlation, not a relationship. Your example about priests and altar girls in these two dioceses is a correlation, which is to say that it is meaningless. There are many other difference between Boston and Lincoln besides altar girls. You could just as easily say that Lincoln has a dry climate, while Boston has high humidity, and that is the cause of the difference in vocations. It might also have something to do with the more conservative social climate in Nebraska vs Boston.

        The point here is that just saying that two things happen together does not in any way show that one causes the other.

        • Rebecca, you have sons. If girls do stuff the boys tend to hang back. Girls are usually quicker and neater. Boys won’t bother. Altar girls really don’t add anything. Why are you making this a rights issue?
          Our boys are in trouble. They need to learn to be men.

          • Yes Anne I have sons. They are all boy. And they like girls. Never had one of them run away from anything because there were girls present. Quite the opposite.

      • I can more likely see Lincoln succeeding in vocations for the increases in Eucharistic devotion than the gender of altar servers.

  3. Rebecca, This has left me perplexed. I’ve heard and read Cardinal Burke and have never ever seen as much misogyny as you describe and it really surprises me. I’ve heard his opinion about altar girls and I agree. I’ve noticed that if girls will do something, boys won’t. The girls do stuff quicker, sometimes better and are bossy. Altar serving is definitely where vocations begin. Just because we women can do stuff does not mean we should. That’s the way God made us.
    I believe Card Burke’s comments on women began in a discussion of certain women religious, like Joan Chittister and other dissidents. Again, I agree with him about those women. Women really have taken over a lot of parishes and serve well. I also know a lot of them say they do a better job than the priests. Maybe. But I’ve seen some of them say they would be better pastors and priests than the priests. No. Not ever.
    Finally, when did you do a survey to come to the conclusion that “the priesthood is largely homosexual.” Really. Is this just a rant or what?
    I cannot agree with most of what you wrote. I’ve seen too much destruction from first world, white, whining women complaining about being oppressed. Give me a break.
    Jesus loves me for who He made me. I know He loves you, too, and that you love Him. i just cannot see why you are in high dugeon.
    So what if a Cardinal says some stuff you don’t agree with. I hope I’m not held to a standard of perfection when I stand before the Lord. And, I’d much rather spend time with Card Burke than some of the under cover nuns and professional Catholic women I know.

    • Cardinal Burke is pointing in the right direction. Perhaps “feminized” 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. 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.

    • Finally, when did you do a survey to come to the conclusion that “the priesthood is largely homosexual.” Really. Is this just a rant or what?

      According to research referenced by Wikipedia about Homosexuality and Roman Catholic Priests:

      Studies find it difficult to quantify specific percentages of Roman Catholic priests who identify as gay priests,[12] although the John Jay Report reported that “homosexual men entered the seminaries in noticeable numbers from the late 1970s through the 1980s”,[13] and available figures for homosexual priests in the United States range from 15–58%.[12][14]

      A 2002 Los Angeles Times nationwide poll of 1,854 priests (responding)
      reported that 9 percent of priests identified themselves as homosexual,
      and 6 percent as “somewhere in between but more on the homosexual side.”

      Asked if a “homosexual subculture” (defined as a “definite group of
      persons that has its own friendships, social gatherings and vocabulary”)
      existed in their diocese or religious order, 17 percent of the priests
      said “definitely,” and 27 percent said “probably.” 53 percent of priests
      who were ordained in the last 20 years (1982-2002) affirmed such a
      subculture existed in the seminary when they attended.[14]

      Anonymous studies have also suggested a prevalence of homosexual
      leanings in the Roman Catholic priesthood. Studies by Wolf and Sipe from the early 1990s suggest that the percentage of priests in the Catholic Church who admitted to being gay or were in homosexual relationships was well above the national average for the United States of America.[15] Elizabeth Stuart, a former convener of the Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement claimed, “It has been estimated that at least 33 percent of all priests in the RC Church in the United States are homosexual.”[16]

      12 Martin, James (November 4, 2000). “The Church and the Homosexual PriestAmerica.

      13 John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2004). The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-60137-201-7. Retrieved December 21, 2012

      14 Stammer, Larry B. (October 20, 2002). “15% Identify as Gay or ‘on Homosexual Side’“. Los Angeles Times.

      15 J. Wolf, Gay Priests, New York, 1989; R. Sipe, A Secret World: sexuality and the search for celibacy, New York, 1990

      16 Stuart, Elizabeth. Roman Catholics and Homosexuality, quoted by Kate Saunders in Catholics and Sex.

      In an article at the highly-regarded ‘Religious Tolerance’ site, with several references, a number of studies have indicated that, in US RCC seminaries today, the percentage of students with a homosexual orientation may be about 50 percent.

      • I think I ok’d this earlier. Did it fail to go through, or are you repeating yourself? Sometimes, you have to have a little patience about these comments. I do other things, or, for reasons I don’t exactly know, they get lost in Disqus.

      • Problem #1 Wikipedia
        #2 John Jay study which we paid for through USCCB. Big holes and they never made a connection between sexual abuse of children and pederasty.
        #3 it would have been very difficult to determine numbers of men with ssa in seminaries. 15-58% is so wide as to make the study useless, unreliable and questionable as to the actual occurrences
        #4 there was a huge problem in the ’70’s and ’80’s in seminaries. Heterosexual, normal men seeking vocations were turned away, which is why there was a big house cleaning.
        I was responding to Rebecca’s rant.

    • No body panic! Fr. Pablo D’Ors is part now of the Pontifical Cultural Council, and he is in love with the idea of putting women FIRST in the church, with his zen meditation he has achieved a higher level than regular priests and with his call to post your opinion through #lifeofwomen, he will collect all this opinions, submit them to vote and change the old Church into a more society fitting one. May God have mercy on us.

  4. Some people just fall into extremes, quasi-monk types.
    The old men – don’t worry about them so much – it’s the young ones you have to worry about.

  5. Cardinal Burke is pointing in the right direction. Perhaps “feminized” 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. 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.

  6. Yeah, I don’t think you really understood what he was saying. Perhaps if you read his full comments, you might get what he was driving at, which is nowhere as offensive as you believe it to be. No, there is no hatred of women in his comments or anything of the sort. But, if you read some of the accounts of what he said, which left out quite a bit, then you might get the wrong impression.

    • Thanks for sharing this. I agree with some of his points but disagree with some of his conclusions. The problem caused by the secular second wave feminists are waning and are being successfully countered by women like Rebecca and Teresa Tomeo and younger women who are honoring male roles and strengths. I hope Cardinal Burke will take the opportunity our pope has given him to examine his conscience for any pride or other issues.

  7. I think you should read the full interview, rather than the article of David Gibson, which picks out certain statements and places them in a woman-hating context. The Gibson article was quite unfair.

    Cardinal Burke said some other things which were quite valuable, especially on the importance of men as fathers and head of families.

    I don’t want to comment on the alleged “feminization” of the Catholic Church in the West because I don’t know enough about it to comment. I will limit my observations to my own country, the Philippines, and to parishes and dioceses I have been part of, as well as observations of parishes and dioceses that I have not been part of.

    “Radical feminism” doesn’t apply very much to the Philippines where from time immemorial women have had a lot of clout in Philippine society. But, I would say that the Catholic Church in the Philippines is “feminized” not because of pushy women but because of the passivity of men who have culturally been trained to think that their main role is to be as breadwinners, nothing else. Raising of children is left to mothers. Growing up, boys are pampered and allowed to enjoy themselves as please; girls, on the other hand, have been trained to take responsibility from an early age. This is changing among the younger generation but not as fast as I would like.

    When it comes to participation in Church activities, because of their early training it is the women who are willing to do the hard and grubby work of trying to form basic ecclesial communities, setting up and raising money for feeding programs for poor children, livelihood projects for indigent mothers, alternative learning programs for out of school youth, etc. What do the men volunteer for? The easy, photogenic tasks like Eucharistic Ministers where they process down the aisles ahead of the priest before Mass, under the eyes of the assembled community. And of course they like to give presentations and head committees as long as they don’t have to do the nitty-gritty work of actually making projects move forward.. Men do not like going out of their comfort zones unless there is a financial reward. Insofar as voluntary church work is concerned, the attitude seems to be, the Church should be grateful I even volunteered!

    When I read Cardinal Burke’s interview, I wanted to clap when I read that part about how important it is for men to assume manly roles, to realize the importance they have in shaping the lives and character of their children. When fathers take an active role in the lives of their children, and also actively participate in parish life, then I think we will see a more masculine church.

    I am aware that in the West, a lot of women fulminate against the patriarchal Church. It’s not so much an issue in the Philippines, because here women are very much their own persons. Except for a few, there’s not so much angst. What we would really appreciate is more men taking responsibility.

    • Yes. Men should remember that they should boss around their wife and children at home as well as being the breadwinner. Father knows best. And the fact that boys are coddled and don’t have to do chores while their brothers laze around suggests a patriarchy where boys are valued more than girls. And Burke is in favor of men lazing around while women do grunt work. It is like the good old days Burke admires. He is against the women getting uppity and speaking in public

      • honestly, kag1982 you need to just keep your eyes on your own paper. Going on and on and on about Burke is becoming really tiresome. I understand that you were hurt by “conservative” Catholics and I am really sorry for that. But you need to walk away from this. Really, for your own good. I don’t know Cardinal Burke from a hole in the ground, personally, and I bet you don’t either. I’m not a fan of his whining about how the Church is “feminized”, at all. But he is not at all relevant to your life or mine, unless you allow him to be.

        • Margaret, I’m sure you mean this in a kind way, but it comes across as patronizing and hectoring — an attack by innuendo. Stop talking about the other commenters and get back on the issue. You do not know this person and are not qualified to say such things about them. Even if you did know them, you should talk about or to them in this way in a public forum.

          • I have read and re-read what you said about my comment, Rebecca. Your blog, your rules, of course, but my point was that kag is only hurting herself by her constant going on and on about Cardinal Burke. I do not see this as patronizing or innuendo at all. As I said, I am not a big fan of Cardinal Burke’s attitude, not at all. Please explain how I am attacking by innuendo, because I just don’t see it. Of course, I could be wrong, but what I see is that kag is attacking Cardinal Burke for opinions that he has not actually taken, with no evidence at all. As in: “And Burke is in favor of men lazing around while women do grunt work.
            It is like the good old days Burke admires. He is against the women
            getting uppity and speaking in public.”

            Not at all a fan of Cardinal Burke’s attitude towards altar girls, etc. But I do not see how I was patronizing or hectoring or attacking through innuendo.

            I do agree that I should have just talked about the issue, though. On that topic, I do NOT agree with Cardinal Burke, and I do think he has some issues with women in our time.

  8. Any group of men pledged to lifelong celibacy is going to have a blinkered or ignorant view of the female sex. Aside from the weird fact that they’ve never seen an actual vagina, their personal interactions with women before they became priests were either nonexistent or unsuccessful. A study commissioned by the USCCB found most of them to be psychosexually immature or underdeveloped.

    And a disproportionate number of them are gay (and riddled with neurotic guilt because they’re nailed tightly into the closet by a Church that officially doesn’t allow gay men into the priesthood). The Church’s own survey (incomplete because the Vatican pulled the plug on it when they saw where it was heading) put it at about one-third, versus maybe 5 percent of the general population.

    So this brave post has a lot of factual support. Thank you.

    • hmm, captcrisis, sounds like a whiny argument. So, if a man commits to celibacy, it is because he doesn’t know just how great sex with you is? or sex with women is the best ever, and if they don’t agree, they must be gay? Please get over yourself. Some men choose what they choose because they are adults and this is what they choose. It has nothing to do with homosexuality or heterosexuality, for pete’s sake. Oh,look, some women choose a life of celibacy even though they have seen a vagina. le shock.

  9. It could be that some of us (women) understand this point of view differently? I never dreamed of becoming a priest after I returned to the Church and found also that GREAT love of God. But I’ve seen how to tear down tradition is hurting the Church as a whole. I’ve been teaching catechesis for a year now, my preparation is mainly because I STUDY (that’s the gift God gave me, through my intelligence) and given the fact that in La Paz, Bolivia catechesis is a joke, I was more than committed to go and teach. Some of the girls in the group were/are altar girls. I never encouraged them, they just tried because the door is open. Already 2 of them told me that they would actually like to become priestess. And how not to have that attraction if you are so close to where it all happens??!!.
    What about boys? They get distracted with altar girls, for some of them are in their flirty years and bug them. So yes I do understand where those words are coming from Card. Burke and totally support them. Through Theology of the Body, I was able to understand what’s my role as a woman in the Church and I totally accept and comprehend why I shouldn’t be in the altar during Mass. Do I consider that a battle of equality of sexes? NO! I do however see a lack of good/committed priests that can guide women like me, who feels a late call to religious life. They actually tell me that is not a life, that I should get myself a child (YES even if not married) and keep on my professional work. I need priests who can spend time with us, not in dinners, social events and such. They no longer guide and the ones that do are so busy because we are destroying the roles that God ordered for man and woman. It is even worst when I see an educated US woman thinking that there is a battle from priests like Card. Burke. For many reasons I wish he was pope, so I wouldn’t have to explain my kids why this pope compares and puts in the same level Catechesis to yoga or zen meditation.

    • Just a quick point, not an argument, one way or the other. I’m not quarreling with the all-male priesthood; just the all-male priesthood blaming their failures (if they are failures) in the putting together the right liturgy and in vocations on little girls and women. This post is not about and it does not address the issue of women priests.

      • I think the Lincoln diocese still prohibits girl altar servers. I know they also have one of the highest number of vocations considering their size. Granted, there are many reasons for this, but can we really say there is absolutely no causal relationship between these facts?

                • It the priest is directly teaching something that is contrary to what the Church teaches, you might think about discussing it with him. But don’t make the assumption that just because teenagers tell you something that it is fact. Be careful about doing a lot of harm, both to the priest and to these teens by being overzealous about something that may not be anything more than teen-aged confabulation.

                  • I’m not saying specific things for that very same reason. I’m praying to find the way to talk with the Priest and explain him that altar girls are having this ideas and that maybe, just maybe it should be better not to encourage them if they get to understand why a woman has no business up there while we are at Mass.

  10. As a woman who dropped out of the Church because I couldn’t serve in any way because of my sex, I was appalled when I read in the interview that the Cardinal didn’t see any problem with keeping girls from serving in the Church. Perhaps it doesn’t matter to him that women leave over this and similar situations. I am glad he’s not in a place to force his beliefs down our collective throats.

    And by the way, I live in the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, where we have so many seminarians that we have to take up special collections to pay for all their education. Not to mention the seminarians in the local Franciscans and Holy Cross. Or the new members of the local sisters and brothers. And we have altar girls and boys both in our churches.

    • Sue, there are lots of places that women serve in the Church that aren’t altar servers or priests. You are describing clericalism. Not a reason to “drop out of church”. It is about God and our relationship with Him. Not about not getting to do what we want.

      • I am well aware of that now, and returned after a 10 year physical absence. Emotionally I was gone closer to 20 years.

    • Sue, what was it exactly that prevented you from caring for the sick, giving alms, praying, offering your suffering and frustration to be united with Our Lord’s Sacrifice at Holy Mass, bearing children, teaching CCD, volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, becoming a consecrated religious, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting prisoners, leading a Rosary group in your home, etc, etc, etc… Are none of these things acts of service to Holy Mother Church?

      • When I was in grade school? After the way I was treated by the monsters in habits I wouldn’t dream of becoming a nun, although I forgave one of the perpetrators before she died. The other two were dead before I got to that stage. The girls who liked sports and being active weren’t acceptable unless they did a good job of cleaning as well, since that was what the religious considered girls to be good for. And some day we would get to wash the altar linens. In the meantime we were to stay as far away from the altar as possible lest we contaminate it with our femaleness. I took them a step further and left altogether. Since I came back, I’ve done many of the things you suggest, or at least those which someone with very active ADHD can do without running the risk of making a bad situation worse.

  11. Excerpt from Mr. Burke interview:

    ‘…The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service.

    -…Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural.
    ….The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time.
    ….. I want to emphasize that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church….”

    I wonder what Mr. Burke have done to his own daughters if he had been married, and having many daughters and sons, eating together at the same table….

  12. A good conversation starter at the coffee bar but a bit closer in style and depth of content to The Daily Mail.

  13. This woman, sister of 6 females, mother of five daughters, teacher in an all girls high school, also believes you, Rebecca, are the one who is short-sighted, if not actually blind to what the church actually teaches and has carried out in action since Jesus gave us HOLY MOTHER CHURCH.

      • Kag1982, your comment seems misogynist. Just because we value women and do not believe we do not to be men does not mean we aren’t smart. A personal question: with the higher level math and science, did they teach you any logic?

      • I graduated #1 in my class at a major (60,000 student) university with a degree in Biomedical Science and I have CHOSEN to be a housewife and full-time mom for the past 18 years. Not a single regret… being a mother is a privilege. I don’t desire power or the recognition of the world, just the opportunity to help my children become what God wills for them. That, as my legacy, is more important than any other job on earth.

  14. Setting up a straw man (or as you have done, a straw crowd) to topple does little to advance an argument but much to inform about the arguer. Restraint of tongue and pen prior to contemplation serves well.

  15. This is an absurdly false and uncharitable interpretation of Cardinal Burke. What a double standard there is when femininity can be celebrated in the Church but it is considered offensive to celebrate masculinity. I am a woman and I share his concerns. My parish is one of the many that have male-only altar servers and a high rate of priestly vocations, that is rarely if ever the case for parishes with girl altar servers. I do not know any Catholic women in my city who think girl altar servers are a good idea. Due to the confusion in recent decades about “women priests” there is really little excuse for falsely creating a scene as if of a “glass ceiling” within the parish during Mass itself with female altar servers who of course cannot be priests, this situation is contributing to confused resentments while (yes it’s true) far less often successfully nurturing vocations. By far the highest rates of priestly vocations in my diocese come from the parishes that have male-only altar servers. That is true in other places too. It’s the reality, so don’t blame Cardinal Burke for saying so.

  16. You are way off base here. Cardinal Burke said nothing hateful about women. It happens to be true that boys, especially older ones feel pretty foolish near the altar with a giggling 7 year old with pigtails. Little girls show that it is not manly to be an altar server. The diocese with the most vocations and priests per capita is Lincoln with NO altar girls! I am a woman too. And the most revered saint and the holiest of all creatures is a woman, Mary. At one time men protected women and now they don’t–they more likely use and abandon them. The dignity that womanhood deserves has been smashed in our society. The fact that a woman is not proper matter for the sacrament of Holy Orders does not mean she is less than a man. Rather there IS a gender different. We are equal but different and all the gender bending our society is trying to force on us will not change that. I am a mother. I have brought new life into the world. That, my dear, is power too. No one can take the place of a mother. The priest is there to serve the people of God in a consecrated life that should be poured out every day in service for the love of God and the care of souls. Yes, it is a travesty that corruption entered in but fallen human nature is always there.
    Be humble and ask God again about these things. And wear a veil to Mass and see what happens.

      • Warning: DON’T get personal with one another. I don’t want to delete, but I will if I must. Keep it on the issues and not each other. Play nice.

    • Brilliant Maggie. I would add that, just as no one can take the place of a mother, no one can take the place of a holy nun. Two generations of women echoing Satan’s “I will not serve!”, has left a hole in the heart of the Church that cannot be filled. It has left those few women who do answer God’s call to be treated as useless relics of a bygone era, while our children continue receiving substandard catechesis.

      We all need to learn the difference between, “I will serve.” and “I demand to be allowed to serve in the way that I wish, or I will raise hell until I’m able.”

  17. I left the Church over the high levels of misogyny I received from many Ordinaries, including my own at the time. Every time something like this is said by a church official, it acts as another vaccine, hopefully keeping the many women I know from every returning to the Church or rearing their children in it.

  18. Well said. I was in the seminary with Burke. He seemed judgmental and a bit sinister but not the misogynist/homophobic snake dragging a lengthy scarlet train and pumping himself up at every opportunity that he has become. (Goodness what a long sentence, but it’s a shoe/ruby slipper that fits him so I’ll let it stand uncorrected.)

  19. Sorry, but I find it ridiculous to blame female altar servers for a lack of priestly vocations. There are bigger rocks…amp up sacramental knowledge and practices…clean up our seminaries…be more welcoming and inclusive of all folks in areas of lay parish life and community service…and above all honor the truths of our faith with love and charity. Burke failed quite often with his attitude in St. Louis and that hurt the spreading of truth.

    • Cardinal Burke is pointing out, quite rightly, that the priorities of the post Vatican II church are badly skewed, and that is why there is a lacking of sincere priestly vocations.. and no doubt a glut of insincere types like Tony Adams below, who sought priesthood for nefarious purposes. What caused Catholic church decline was the leftward lurch of Vatican II, it told youth that the hierarchy didn’t believe what they were teaching, it also sought to diminish focus on Christ’s teachings, and lots of young people felt as a result the church lost meaning. Burke didn’t fail in St Louis, you resent the fact that he was respected by the people. You resent fact he states a truth you find inconvenient, it’s not ‘love’ to lie to sinners. Homosexual acts, adultery, stealing, lying, murder, secularism are mortal sins. When you commit these sins, and when you demand they be condoned, you are stating you don’t believe in God, you’re also seeking the corruption of others, which are further mortal sins. Christ spoke out on this many times. If you have such contempt for Christ’s teachings, you are not a Catholic, you’re not even nominally Christian

      • Ok. We don’t hector and attack one another on this blog. I am allowing this because the person who wrote it is new here. But do not do this again. Also, please don’t answer this. I do not allow that viciousness here that is so rife on the internet. Stay on the issues and get off of one another.

  20. You’re reading this all wrong Rebecca. Very simplistic interpretation and perhaps a bit too reactionary on your part.

  21. I am a 26yo Catholic male. I have heard my fair share of controversies over the years about the role of men and women in the Church. Yet despite every other Church-related news-worthy topic being about women and their role in the Church (and related “controversies”), never in my entire life have I EVER heard a sermon or talk about what it means to be a Catholic MAN. Never have I EVER heard an extolling of masculinity in the context of my faith. Have you?

    It is precisely because any attempts to suggest that men have important roles that should be recognized and lauded is met by the angry, irrational accusations that you readily echo: that to suggest manly virtues exist and are laudable is to suggest that “God hates women and wants them at the back of the bus.” Cardinal Burke neither said nor suggested any such thing.

    • I’ve actually advocated for more sermons on what it means to be a Catholic man, beginning with accepting their manly responsibilities to their families.

      • And I respect that, as well as many of your other posts! Maybe as a man we just don’t “get it”, but what Cardinal Burke said resonates with me and my experiences. Where you see an attack on women in the Church, I see an acknowledgment of an elephant in the room (besides homosexual priests) that does honestly echoes in the heart of many men and leaders in the Church. I can testify to the fear of being accused of misogyny. I can testify to feeling that men must be silent and allow women to finally have “their turn”, even if this means an almost complete disregard for the spiritual needs of men. I think most men in general feel the social guilt of male oppression of women, and it is confusing to be in a Church that affirms the roles of men and women (against society) while seemingly being afraid to speak about them.

        I don’t think that anyone, myself, or Cardinal Burke is trying to send women back to the kitchens or the “back of the bus”. But maybe we can agree that there is definitely a problem with men in the Church, and it is a problem that people are being deafeningly silent about. You bring up the case of homosexual priests as if that discounts Cardinal Burke’s arguments, but why can’t it be both, and still far more than even those examples? To say that the Church hasn’t been affected by feminism (in both positive and negative ways) and that it hasn’t both consciously and unconsciously directed attention away from men and their needs because of that influence is something that I find strange for you to say. I’m not saying Cardinal Burke is right about everything and I think he uses some poor examples, but I think there is a lot there that resonates with men (and particularly young men) who have made the decision to still cling to Mother Church; I’m hoping that expressing this, perhaps that can count for something to you? I’ve long grown accustomed to media outlets calling Cardinal Burke a bigot and a patriarchical woman-hater, and was just disturbed to read what sounded like an echo of those sentiments here; I’m sorry for my accusatory knee-jerk reply.

        I do appreciate your reply. Hearing the thoughts of other faithful Catholics is always helpful to me even if I do not agree; hopefully we can help each other understand where the other is coming from.

    • Every Father’s Day growing up I heard sermons praising men and extolling them as the image of God. Every Mother’s Day women were exhorted to get up to speed, work harder and be more like that Proverbs 31 woman. Seriously.

      • Sorry to hear that! Sounds like a bad time, hopefully things have changed since then, they certainly have in most places.

  22. this straw man argument is on point!

    no he never said female altar servers were the cause. he said it was a contribution to the shortage of seminarians. sounds completely different to me. isn’t it interesting how such a small change in diction can change so much of the meaning?

  23. Rebeca, RIGHT ON!!!

    Serving in the altar is a ‘tradition’ with a small ‘ t ‘ that can be change from all males to males and females. In other words, it was NOT handled down from Jesus to the Apostles what is consider a Sacred Tradition with a capital ‘ T’ .

    • Sure…but if it contributes to the priest shortage, it might be worth taking a look at. Also, it galls me that permission was given for altar girls AFTER American Catholics were already disobeying the rubrics and having altar girls anyway. Talk about rewarding disobedience!

  24. I believe that to misunderstand and treat Cardinal Burke’s interview, like Ms. Hamilton, is a result of a culture that is forgetting the differences in sexes (particularly in men). Most men love femininity, but they love it in the other, not in themselves. To claim such a view of men implies anti-feminism is paranoia.

    So where an organization appears to require for membership one to embrace their inner female, many men flee. This is not to say femininity ought to be removed from the Church, but that masculinity have an equally apparent place, even if masculinity is politically incorrect these days.

  25. You should talk to Cardinal Burke. He’s been to Oklahoma before. He may never come back, but if he does, try to meet him. Or try to contact him.

  26. Anybody who reads this and responds with charity to this woman is a better, holier, more patient person than me. Got to get ready for the 2nd NFL playoff game.

  27. Rebecca, priesthood is not the highest position you can attain in the Church. You should aim for sainthood, which is open to women.

      • You have got to be kidding me. A celibate male bishop may still end up in hell, whereas by definition a Saint is going to heaven. And while the bishop may try to silence her, Jesus will raise up even the stones to speak on behalf of his Saints.

  28. The proposition that boys have become averse to being alter boys or doing other church things because “that’s stuff girls do” sounds believable to me. Boys desire to feel comfortable doing things associated with male activities.

  29. Fact: anyone who has ever read Christ’s teachings would never think He
    approved of abuse. Rebecca treats Christ the same way any abuser treats
    those they wish to victimize, as an excuse.

    Rebecca, #1, as a daughter of a divorced couple, a woman who was determined not to ever undergo a divorce so she took her obligations seriously, a wife, now a widow and a mother of a daughter, I’m fed up with frauds like you deliberately misrepresenting the faith for political agenda and profit. What you do is a gross act of abuse and I’m serving you notice, that your lies won’t be allowed any longer.

    The tenets of the Catholic faith require Catholics to be responsible for their words and actions. We are called to strive to be like Christ, and as such, we’re called to put God first and respect and follow God’s laws. Marriage, like all sacraments isn’t to be entered lightly, just as you don’t take the Eucharist lightly, you are required to make reparation, by going to confession and sincerely confess and repent your sins, because the sacrament of the`Eucharist is participating in Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of our souls. It’s dishonest to take communion without repentence, and we’re harming ourselves when we do so. It’s the same when you marry. Marriage isn’t something you enter into on a whim. Yet too many do.. because they aren’t taking it seriously. You don’t get to blame others for your irresponsibility. God doesn’t create abuse, and you can’t blame Him for it. What I see is a liar, demanding the church change to reflect her secular ideology, rather than her doing the hard work of confronting her sinful nature and challenging herself to reject sinful whims and temptations.

    • Mary, again, I’m allowing this because you are new here. Get a grip. Stop attacking other people on this blog. Do it now.

  30. Are boys retreating from activities that girls are involved in because women have been marginalized to the degree that anything they do loses status? Perhaps the solution is to raise the level of respect given to women in the Church.

    • cmfe – I agree, to a certain extent. Some of the people who believe boys won’t participate in any activity with girls seem to think (and have raised their boys to think), that what girls do is less important than what boys do. Regarding the church as a whole, though, I completely disagree that women are marginalized. The fact that we aren’t marginalized by the church authority is the reason people are so angry about women participating in the liturgy.

  31. And are you seriously trying to suggest that the altars at nearly all Novus Ordo parishes aren’t dressed up like Bed, Bath and Beyond displays to satisfy the women who have taken over and made their parishes No-Men-Allowed, Ya-Ya Sisterhood Clubs??

    • Are you talking to me?

      If you are, then no, I’m not “suggesting” that. I’m flat-out saying it. I don’t know where you go to mass, but I attend in a diocese which is nothing like what you describe. The idea that parishes are no-men-allowed, Ya-Ya Sisterhood Clubs is something I have never even come close to seeing. Most masses I attend, including daily mass, are about 50-50 men/women. As for no-men-allowed … I’m close to speechless. Nope. Uh-huh.

      I’ve answered this with the idea that you are serious and not just venting, or that if you are venting, you will come back down to earth. However, this blog is not the place for this kind of talk. It defames the Church, degrades women, and incites hatefulness and unChristian behavior.

      I don’t run that kind of blog.

  32. Aren’t there recent stats on seminarians that show that 80% (or more) of priests were once altar boys. God definitely calls his priests from the altar. Something supernatural transpires on the altar. We have reduced the altar, though, in modern times to just another place to ‘help out’. The Priest could perform the Mass without any help but the Church had these spots on the altar to cultivate vocations. What else would be the point? Altar girls, in my opinion, just don’t make any sense. I don’t understand why other faithful catholic women can’t put aside their pride or sense of injustice, equality, etc. and do what makes sense for the future of the Church.

  33. Hi Rebecca – I don’t think Cdl. Burke was attacking women in any way. But it is true that there is a camaraderie among altar boys (who are mostly pre-pubescent) that is disrupted when girls enter the picture. I doubt that this is the major cause for the priest shortage, but it may have some impact.

    I’m also pretty sure that Cardinal Burke doesn’t think that there are too many women at church. He is talking about other issues.

    • I’m afraid that the editorials you’ve linked to which quotes (not interviews) Cardinal Burke are really too polemic in tone to be of much use so I would respectfully urge a bit of caution in rushing to conclude that these are an accurate of take of Cardinal Burke’s actual position. In fact, these two links remind very much of the sort of nonsense that Matt Drudge has been linking to in which Pope Francis is railed against as either a radical innovator or a coward who can’t manage himself in an interview. This sort of journalism is designed to cram us into ideological corners, not illuminate the teachings of the Church or draw us to the Truth.
      In fact, while the Columbus Herald announces “Cardinal: Feminization Hurts Church” no where does Cardinal Burkes actually say this! He does refer to feminized priests in context of the sex scandal but he does not say that women in the Church are a problem. The pastoral position on altar girls is one in which the Church allows for some diversity of opinion. It is a nuanced topic and I’m not sure that I would trust any parsed together string of selected quotes in coming to any conclusions on any one’s positions.

  34. Thank you. His Eminence flatly said men don’t go to church because there are too many women in the place and boys don’t like doing things with girls. Did he ever consider that boys don’t engage I activities with girls because they hear males like the cardinaltelling them girls are dull?

  35. The Church that has beatified women, who holds Mary in special regard, and has the truest sense of the “Feminine Genius” does not hate, marginalize, despise, disregard or disrespect women.

    The Church simply recognizes something that most modern Americans seem unable to see: that men and women are different. To deny these differences truly would be hateful.

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