By keeping modernity at bay, though, the men who run the Catholic Church have willfully ignored one of the great achievements of the modern age: the integration of women in the workforce and public life. In America, 50 million women work full time; in the European Union that number is 68 million. Within most mainline Protestant denominations, these battles over the professionalization of women were fought-and lost-half a century ago. In Denmark, Lutheran women were granted ordination rights in 1948; in the U.S., the first female Episcopalian priest was ordained in 1976.
But in the Roman Catholic corporation, the senior executives live and work, as they have for a thousand years, eschewing not just marriage, but intimacy with women and professional relationships with women-not to mention any chance to familiarize themselves with the earthy, primal messiness of families and children. Indeed, it seems the further a priest moves beyond the parish, the more likely he is to value conformity and order above the chaos of real life.
"I see [the hierarchy] as outrageously indifferent to the welfare of children," says a fuming Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton. "For you and me this is hard to understand. It seems to us out of step with the world. But they don't want to be in step with the world."
A Woman's Place Is In The Church [Newsweek]