Misogyny is a terrible sin.
The sin of clerical misogyny is the sin of the priesthood. It is, in particular, the bishops’ sin.
I know quite a number of Catholic women who are suffering painful alienation from their Church because of the sin of misogyny which is committed against them and against all women by the bishops and by various priests. The sin of misogyny is a generational evil that goes back long before the beginning of the Church. It is woven into human history so completely that it seems both normal and inevitable, a part of the natural order.
It begins in the garden, when sin itself entered into the world. Misogyny was the first manifestation of the curse that fell on humankind at the Fall, and it has plagued us ever since. As such, misogyny has become deified and misogyny apologetics have become part of our theology and even our assumptions about what it means to be human.
The baseline enforcer of misogyny has always been religious faith, which the male half of the human race has used as a weapon to insert their own sinfulness into the codifications of holy writ that they create. This is just as true today as it ever was. The primary difference is that modern Catholic religious leaders — as opposed to their less educated and cruder Evangelical brethren and leaders of many other, even more misogynist faiths — feel the need to deny and obfuscate their misogyny.
No religious leader will ever admit that this is simple male arrogance manifesting as male privilege. They hide this behind pompous claims that God Himself is the source and reason for their misogyny. The story of clerical misogyny, as they tell it, is that they’re not misogynists, they are merely the purveyors of the hate-filled divine will and the regrettable misogynist truth about the natural order of creation.
This is a lie. But it’s a twisted, practiced lie that gets buffed and polished and dressed up in the silk and satin of religious-speak babble talk as needed. There’s something smooth and seductive about misogyny that is clothed in the dulcet tones of passive verbs and the obscure language of religious legalese. It doesn’t sound as cruel, discriminatory, destructive and evil as it really is. It’s a pig, wearing lipstick and clothed in velvet.
But, it is still the pig of misogyny. Underneath the misdirection the ugliness writhes like a bag of worms. Misogynistic religious speak is just hate speech, clothed in anti-Christ phoney theology.
Women and girls are made in the Image and Likeness of the Living God. Misogyny is a horrible, death-dealing, life-destroying, terror-inducing sin against half the human race by the other half of the human race.
I know and converse with a lot of women who are so alienated and wounded by the misogyny they have encountered in the Church, in particular by the frank and open misogyny of the Church’s political actions since Trump began running for president of the United States, that they are either considering leaving the Church or have left it already. I also know women who are agonizing over whether they should take communion, with their hearts so full of anger and sorrow over the vast difference they feel between themselves and the rest of the body.
These women are enduring intense spiritual suffering at the hands of their religious leaders. They are not leaving the Church lightly, but after long periods of agonizing woundedness because of the Church’s cold indifference to the basic human rights of women and girls. Disillusionment, rejection, and alienation are real suffering, a kind of white martyrdom that people who are subjected to discrimination in the larger culture and the deification of that discrimination by their religious leaders endure alone.
I am writing this post to address one aspect of that alienation for those women and men who suffer discrimination, both in the larger culture and in their Church. If you’re a black person who is told by your bishop that you can’t be Catholic and support Black Lives Matter, if you are a woman who is outraged by the Church’s support of rapists in high places who is told that your anger is because you are an unnatural woman, a feminist (as if that was a dirty word) and probably sick and mentally ill, I am writing this for you.
Misogyny and racism are sins against life itself. You are not committing a sin by fighting against misogyny and racism. You are not going against God to take a stand for the human rights of all human beings.
The people who are sinning are the priests and bishops who are indifferent to these things. The sin lies in always finding something else that is more important than the human rights of women, girls and black people of all ages. The sin lies in carefully searching the resumes of the leaders of the movements which are trying to change this discrimination until the bishop or priest finds an affiliation or idea that he can use to condemn the entire movement and then use to threaten the faithful with sin and expulsion from the Catholic tribe if they don’t abandon fighting for justice.
The sin is the bishops’ sin, and that of the priests who follow them in doing this.
You have sins. We all do. And you need to ask for forgiveness for your sins and thank Almighty God for His love and grace when you receive that forgiveness.
But this particular sin that is roiling your life and faith is not your sin.
You know how much you can take and how you feel. I respect and support you decision in this as an expression of your unique self. All I can say is that there is no reason for you to deprive yourself of the healing power of the Eucharist because of the bishops’ sins against you as a woman or a person of color or a gay man or woman.
You have not sinned in this regard. You have been sinned against. It is the verbal sophistry of the abuser, writ official and clerical, and echoed by puppet misogynists beside you in the pews, that claims that you are the one who has sinned in this. That is an illusion and a lie. It is emotional and spiritual abuse.
The anger you feel is righteous anger. Pray for the bishops. Pray for the priests who preach hate. Pray for misogynists in Catholic media and comboxes. Pray for their conversion and sincere change of heart.
Pray for an end to violence against women, an end to misogyny and racism, an end to hate and discrimination in all its evil forms. These things are part of the curse of the Fall. Misogyny was never a commandment. It took evil religious leaders to make it into that. Misogyny was always and is now a curse. It comes from the pit. It is satan’s best and most successful attack on humanity.
You have no reason to be defensive before the name-calling crazies of right wing Catholicism because you stand against misogyny. Pray for them and give them and their fallenness to God. Take communion. Reach out and touch Him in the Eucharist. Be healed by it.
And then get about the work of standing in Christ’s holy name against misogyny and racism in all their many forms.