Monday, September 21, 2015

pope enacts confession/repentence/forgiveness jubiliee, and still can't catch a break......,

thenation |  In reality, the letter offers false compassion. It’s one of many missteps this Pope has made in what is, I’m sure, a sincere effort to understand and honor women. For instance, he has insisted that the subject of women priests is off the table. And while he speaks of putting more women in positions of power in the church, he rejected the idea of appointing women to head Vatican agencies as tokenism. He talks about the “feminine genius” of women who are kind, conciliatory and self-sacrificing, and he says we need a new theology of women (not persons)—but he does nothing about it. 

It’s notable, too, that the launch date for the Jubilee Year is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, an infallible church doctrine which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived free of the stain of original sin, unlike the rest of us, including women. That holiday reminds women of the impossibility of meeting the saintly ideal of being both virgin and mother. Ever since Eve, the sins of the world, especially those related to sex, fall on our shoulders. 

Just a few days ago the Pope, claiming to be a “bit feminist” praised nuns for their courage. He noted that nuns “have this desire to always go to the front lines. Why? Because you’re mothers, you have the maternal instinct of the church, which makes you be near” to those who suffer. This inability to see women as anything other than mothers contributes to the inability to see the decision not to continue a pregnancy as a denial of womanhood, a sin against nature. 

Most troubling about Francis’ letter is that at the same time as he gives all priests the power to absolve the sin of abortion, he orders them to counsel the women who confess about the grave harm they have done. No doubt some priests will be kind. But some priests are picketing in front of abortion clinics and raging against abortion on Sundays. I fear for the well-being of a woman who sincerely seeks reconciliation and ends up in the confessional of one of these priests. 

Francis is trying. But his own inability to understand women as people, not mothers, will enable those priests to hear only that part of Francis’ message that tells women they did a bad thing—and not recognize why women did the best thing they could, given their circumstances.