Ordaining married men before ordaining women as priests perpetuates injustice

Nora Bolcon, Special to The Review | December 1, 2019

Some individuals don't like the question of whether to allow for ordaining women as priests before ordaining married men. Neither does Future Church as a group, or US Association of Catholic Priests or Voice of the Faithful.  I have written to all of these groups and it is clear that what they really care about is getting married men into the priesthood.  Many of our priests who may no longer serve, due to marrying, are on these groups' memberships.  All three of these groups don’t deny that the majority of the married priests who are pushing the ordination of married men do not support women priests at all.  You get that clear answer only if you bluntly ask for it.   I was told by a Director of  US Association of Catholic Priests that barely 50% of their group actually support female permanent deacons.  These groups are misleading, in this area, as they intentionally give the impression that they would definitely push for women to be priests right after married men get ordained and women are allowed to be deacons, but this is not their true agenda when you press them on the subject.  This is not an assumption on my part.  I have literally written all three groups and all three stated that they could only get their membership majority to support ordaining female deacons. They act like they seek equality in leadership and are very careful how they word their statements in order not to lose the following of their youth and more progressive supporters.  It is not where their hearts really are. 

This is why I have tried to warn WOC and WOW and Roman Catholic Women Priests not to support optional celibacy for male priests unless women are already being ordained priests.  These new married male priests will drop women and we will likely have less support than we have now for women to gain priestly ordinationl.  Once there are no restrictions on men, all these men are going to desire is acceptance from the celibate men in power over them, and that will mean disassociating from their oppressed and rejected sisters.  The time to repel this misogynistic priority is now – later will do real harm to women’s fight for equality.   Demanding equal priestly ordination for women first, before seeking optional celibacy for priests, helps ensure a greater number of Catholics will really fight for all sacraments to be made available to all people.  If married men don’t need to depend on women to fight for their desired ordination because they have already gained it, they won’t bother to help women later. 

Women significantly give up their edge in the current situation of protest, if married men feel no concrete obligation to perform a quid pro quo to the women who helped them.  Also, if men felt confident they would not get what they want unless women are ordained first, they would be far more likely to push for genuine equality to come very quickly.  If all priests, nuns, and lay people who do want change stood together and demanded women be ordained equally and immediately, as a matter of human dignity, or they will not go to mass, or perform as priests, nuns, bishops, or give funds to their parish or diocese, this situation would be resolved overnight.  The number of people who want change is ample enough to change everything.  We just have to act together more aggressively and not support church functions until change is made.  Some will tell you I am wrong, but the numbers are on my side.  We could not function if even a quarter of us  active Catholics just froze up all actions and protested outside churches until women were ordained priests and bishops.  I honestly don’t think it would take a whole month.  We already know almost half of all Catholics worldwide want this change now.

We in the U.S. have our own voting history as an example of how asking women to wait is a misogynistic request which leads to further oppression of women.  In 1870, protesters fought to get black men and women voter rights.  Black men led the women to believe that they would help them get the vote once they got the right themselves.  So they were encouraged to push very strongly for black men to get voter rights as this would likely be quicker than pushing for both.  Black men got the right to vote with the help of many women protesting alongside them.  However, black men did little to nothing, later on to help women gain the same right.  Women in the U.S. had to wait 50 more years to get that same right, and few men helped them to fight for it. There is a big lesson here but few seem to have ears to hear it.

[Nora Bolcon, Pawtucket, RI]

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