As we know by now the great priest Maryknoller Roy Bourgeois was unceremoniously tossed out of the Roman Catholic church for daring to suggest that women should be ordained. Many years ago when asked about this flagrant discrimination Bishop Tom Gumbleton of Detroit put the question into a theological category. The failure to allow women to have all seven sacraments “is a sin.” It is that simple. It is against the values of the reign of God that all people are absolutely equal, all are one in Christ. To perpetuate such exclusion is simply wrong; to do it in the name of Jesus and his reign is a scandal.
Misogyny however is not peculiar to the Roman Catholic Church.It has, like slavery before, a long and inglorious run in many religions and Christian denominations .Thankfully history has caught up with the societal prejudice called sexism. This was merely one of “the signs of times” which the great pope John XXlll alluded to in the middle of the Vatican Council. In acknowledging this, Pope John was prophetic.
The past 50 years has seen a growing acceptance of this truth. Women have slowly taken their place as leaders in many fields.though few would maintain there is absolute equality. Nevertheless there has been great strides made here. Most of the Christian denominations have female priests for example but some still fight a rearguard action. Included in this group is the Southern Baptist Convention.This led former US president Jimmy Carter to sever ties. In a recent article Carter said that “ the Convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.” The devout Christian Carter has now cut ties in a public manner. He states the obvious:
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us.
Carter now is part of a global group called the Elders. In part their message is to leaders in religion:
We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasize the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.
Jimmy Carter makes the obvious plea for gender justice, the very same plea which got Fr.Roy Bourgeois expelled from the Catholic priesthood,
Sadly the oldest Christian denomination is still stuck.