Sunday, August 01, 2004


The Vatican vs. "Feminism" --
My guess is that most people will read articles about "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and the World." But who is actually going to read the text?


So, let's go over the basic points of the document so you don't have to read it. If you're really lazy, you can skip to my summary at the end.

"INTRODUCTION"

-The Church is an "expert in humanity" who is interested in the concerns of men and women.

"I. THE QUESTION"

-The basic approach to women's rights has been to set up an adversarial relationship between men and women.

-The biological differences of sex has been replaced with the cultural construct of gender.

-Some believe that the human condition is a ~tabula rasa~ with no ties to biology and that no one possesses absolute characteristics.

-The Church prefers to speak of "active collaboration" between two sexes which are different.

"II. BASIC ELEMENTS OF THE BIBLICAL VISION OF THE HUMAN PERSON"

-From the beginning in Genesis, humanity is described in terms of male-female relationships.

-The second creation account of Genesis stresses the meaninglessness of loneliness. The creation of woman places humanity in a "relational reality." Man and woman are called to exist mutually "one for the other" in "interpersonal communion."

-Original sin replaced equality, respect, and love with the domination of man over woman, contrary to God's original plan.

-Although man and woman are equally created 'in the image and likeness of God," there remain sexual differences that are physical, psychological, and spiritual.

-The Bible contains the recurring theme of a covenant between man and woman.

-In the New Testament, Mary "transfigures" the feminine condition of Israel as the Bride, while Jesus embodies the symbolism of God's love for his people being similar to a groom's love for his bride. The letters of Paul especially stress the spousal relationship of Christ and Church.

-Spouses "drawn into the Paschal mystery" are able to avoid "elements of concupiscence" and the subjugation introduced by original sin.

-In Christ, the male-female relationship sheds rivalry, enmity, and violence while remaining distinct for all eternity. The "emporal and earthly expression of sexuality" is merely "transient" and a source of discord.

"III. THE IMPORTANCE OF FEMININE VALUES IN THE LIFE OF SOCIETY"

-Women possess an intuition of the goodness of actions which promote the life of the other; this is tied to the birth-giving capacity of women. Despite this, women should not be considered solely from the perspective of procreation; even without bearing children, women can contribute. Because women possess something whose absence leads to violence, women should have access to "positions of responsibility" but should not be stigmatized or penalized if they choose to spend all their time in the household.

-"Femininity" designates the basic capacity "to live for the other and because of the other" to which women are "more immediately attuned." An adversarial approach to rights is contrary to this value, which would seek to listen to the needs of all and create harmony while recognizing differences.

"IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF FEMININE VALUES IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH"

-The example of Mary is the ideal of the Church.

-For the Church to be like Mary does not mean the adoption of a "passivity inspired by an outdated conception of femininity." Instead, it is a model of "listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting."

"CONCLUSION"

-"God is love."


My Summary:
Using language that reminds me of multiculturalists trying to explain why different cultures should be accepted on their own terms, this letter says that men and women are different, but that shouldn't be a cause of conflict. Original sin introduced subjugation into male-female relationships, but people can rise above that through Christ.


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