GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND THE CHURCH
Pope Francis’ decree of January 20th, 2016 that women may be included in the Holy Thursday washing of foot has sparked a lot of argument in the church. The argument on one part is that Jesus Christ who instituted this practice performed the rite on his all-male apostles and that the institution of the all-male priesthood stemmed therefrom. Therefore, the Pope’s inclusion of females in the washing of feet might affect the priestly ordination. Our local priest went on to forsee that a time might come when women strapping babies on their backs will be functioning as bishops of the church(forgetting that the male priests are unmarried).
On the other part, traditionalists believe that the Pope should let sleeping dogs lie, probably to avoid complications in the future.
On Holy Thursday, our parish priest drew the attention of his congregation to the Pope’s new decree so that his parishioners would not be surprised if they see or hear of some parishes that included women among the twelve whose foot are washed. He was prompted to clarify the issue with his congregation because one man from another parish met him and complained bitterly about his own parish where he heard that a woman was to be among the select twelve and he just could not worship in such a parish.
As the priest was washing the foot of the twelve men in my parish, I could not help but wonder the criteria for choosing these men and why no single woman was found worthy. Or could it be that we are scared that the women might entice the priest? Maybe that is the reason?
Need I blame the outraged man? Nope. He was merely the voice of many other people, including women. He is a product of religion after all and religion has done little or nothing to justify the existence of women as active part of the church. Women are excluded from most important decision making roles in the church, they are supposed to be mere observers, to be seen but not heard.
The Jewish tradition which views women as second class citizens influenced the church greatly and after all these years, any minor attempt at making the church all inclusive is still frowned upon.
Yet, even before the Pope’s decree, some communities and parishes were already including women in this washing of feet rite, just as the Pope has been including women and non-Catholics since he became the Pontiff.
Here is the latest picture (courtesy of PAMELA GELLER via urban infidel)
I agree with the Pope that
‘in performing the rite, bishops and priests are invited to conform intimately to Christ who came not to be served but to serve and driven by a love to the end,….’
I also believe that each of us in the church has a need and that need ought to be taken care of if we can, irrespective of gender. Therefore, parity of gender should also creep into our churches so that every member of the church is seen as equal and has equal rights to whatever the church has to offer.
Pope Francis has demonstrated this unadulterated love, love that has no because attached to it. He has made it amply clear that he is a Pope not just for the ‘righteous’ and the rich, but a Father and servant of all- the poor, outcasts, non Catholics and women. It behoves on us all to emulate Pope Francis in his show of love for all. It is a sign of strenght not weakness.