Change has come to the Catholic Church. After centuries of accusing women who disagree with them of witchcraft, they've abandoned their antiquated ways and embraced a more modern way of thinking — accusing women who disagree with them of "radical feminism." And you say the Church isn't progressive!
TIME's Tim Padgett has a great take on how the modern Catholic Church has doubled down on fighting the forces of progressive women in a last-ditch effort to preserve its waning power, and argues that these efforts will ultimately end up expediting the Vatican's global irrelevance. Case(s) in point(s): declaring the ordination of female priests a "grave sin" on par with pedophilia in 2010 (so I guess that means that the Church will exert great effort to shelter people who do it from any sort of punishment?), launching a bizarre inquisition into the "radical feminist agenda" of American nuns, accusing the Girl Scouts of preaching "feminist theology," and very publicly, very loudly fighting the Obama administration's Preventative Care Mandate that would have required that most religious employers give female employees the option of using their insurance to purchase birth control. Their latest anti-lady tirade was against Yale professor emeritus Sister Margaret Farley's book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which condones female masturbation, same-sex relationships, and non-procreative sex.
The Vatican's reaction to Farley's six-year-old book is not just staunchly conservative; it's downright regressive. In fact, the Church's approach to a similar work by another nun was decidedly more muted ... in the 1100's. Sister Hildegard of Bingen, a German nun and leading feminist thinker, wrote all sorts of stuff the Church would scoldingly dismiss as "feminist" today — that men and women are equal, that God's true nature is maternal, and that sex for pleasure is ok. But the dudes in funny hats at the top of the hierarchy left Sister Hildegard alone.
It's clear that the Church believes that calling something or someone "radically feminist" will cause everyone to recoil and dismiss, which is both a gross overestimation of how important the Church's grandiose proclamations are to the daily lives of everyday Americans and an underestimation of how few fucks most people give over whether or not something is declared "feminist" by a bunch of old guys. What should have been a witch hunt that gathered the faithful into a wagon circle of mass hysteria (minus the 60,000 or so dead people who were probably not witches) has turned into an alienating, feeble fist shaking. Accusing women of being out of line doesn't have the gravity it had in, say, 1540.
And Padgett notes that the Bros Before Hoes battle plan the Church has chosen is unwise. It may even be backfiring. Since the early 1980's, the number of women engaged in the Church has been dropping like Lucifer from the heavens — ladies of Generation X, or those born between 1962 and 1981, rolled their eyes and stomped their Doc Martens away from mass in droves, and Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1995, are less likely to have attended mass than their male counterparts. Even Ireland, Catholic as Eucharist Ireland, is seeing a decline in mass attendance. Only 35% of Irish people said they attended mass last year — that's down from 82% who were massgoers in 1981.
It's a shame the Church is making such a disastrous call here; an institution as old and well-funded as the Holy See sits in a position to effect real social good and empower women rather than shame them. At the very least, as an entire generation of women is turning their back on the Church, their children are missing out on the fun, singalong aspects of mass. Where would an ex-Catholic's singing in the shower repertoire be without "Lord of the Dance" and "Crown Him With Many Crowns?"