During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI continued to miss the boat on women, amazingly declaring women’s ordination the gravest crime against the Church. Even worse one supposes than the massive pedophilia/bishops scandal for which no bishop has paid the price. It appears those inside the Vatican can not move beyond obsessive institutionalism forgetting that the Church is not an end in itself but an agent of God’s reign. In an interview with me, renowned religious scholar Karen Armstrong alluded to this by terming the Church, “simply a bureaucracy.” When the soul has left the building and an institution forgets its raison d’etre, the “powers and principalities” (formerly called Satan) twist the benign purpose of that group into a self-serving mode. A movement inspired by the Spirit-force of Jesus devolves into an ideology of power. This is not at all unusual in institutions per se, but inside the bowels of a great historical religion this is toxic. The great abolitionist Frederick Douglas phrased this well when he said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Now the demands for absolute equality, gender justice are reaching a crescendo within the base of the Church’s family. They are shaking the last wall to fall, that of the Curia.
Lest we forget Pope Benedict excommunicated all Roman Catholic Women priests and now Fr.Roy Bourgeois has been fired from the Maryknoll family for supporting female ordination—a position the majority of the society believes in. Add to this, of course, is the ongoing hectoring of the female religious leadership. None of these moves has played well with Catholics.
Now, take a mental picture of the upcoming conclave. 118 grey haired men shuffling into St.Peter’s to decide on a new leader. Just picture the optics. Yes, it is the Old Boys’ Club, Catholicism 101 in 2013. This surely will inspire women in the Church and the men who support them.
Sexism and patriarchy have had their day.The futile resistance of men like Joseph Ratzinger is coming to an end and none too soon.