With all the discussion going on about the HHS mandate which forces the Catholic Church to participate in the provision of contraception against the Catholic conscience, we are hearing much about “hierarchy” as if the Catholic hierarchy is itself the problem simply because it is a hierarchy. Notably, many of these same critics of “hierarchy” are somehow okay with the idea of women being priests. In the end, I think the problem that the Left has with “hierarchy” is not with hierarchy at all, or else they wouldn’t be calling for women priests. Rather, as I noted recently in an article responding to criticism of “hierarchy” from Sally Quinn, it is really “patriarchy” that the Left has a problem with. “War on Women” translates as “We Hate Men” and sometimes more specifically as “We Hate Fatherhood.”
Father Gregory Murphy writes that “patriarchy” has become a dirty word, partly because of the reality of absent fathers.
One of the endemic ills in modern society is the absent father. Women bear the brunt of giving birth in the first place, and (mostly) the initial nurture and care of the infant.
Fathers are now encouraged to get involved, and most gladly do so. But because of the brute facts of biology it’s most often the women who are left holding the baby if things go wrong, the male half of the couple finding it easier to deny their responsibility and walk away.
Certainly, resentment about the priest sexual abuse stories that have dominated headlines in most articles dealing with priesthood for many years now, has also resulted in resentment against patriarchy. Too many are attacking fatherhood (patriarchy) itself as bad because of absent or abusive fathers, religious or otherwise, and this is a travesty. We should not reject fatherhood altogether because of a few bad apples.
At National Catholic Reporter, a decidedly anti-patriarchy publication despite the word “Catholic” in the title, it seems becoming Episcopalian is presented as more tolerable than being Catholic with the following reasoning.
They leave because they are sickened by the sex abuse crisis, angry over the hierarchy’s unyielding stance on issues like contraception, disillusioned by bishops who rarely have anything to say about social and economic justice, and tired of dealing with priests who refuse to give them any say in their parish.
Many of those who leave go to other churches, especially the Episcopal church, where the liturgy and teachings are very familiar.
I would say that membership is not up at all in the Episcopal congregations precisely because of anti-family teaching, but even so, the claim is that people want to be able to reject patriarchy and the teachings that flow from it, but retain the trappings, like candles and vestments. At the risk of sounding uncharitable (it’s nothing personal), to me this would be akin to eating a poop cake with fantastic icing.
If we reject patriarchy, we reject fatherhood itself. In rejecting patriarchy, we reject the idea that fathers should take responsibility for their children. If it is important to you that our priests and bishops stop taking responsibility for the flock because the flock wants to eat poop cake with icing, then it seems to me you offer no reasoning for fathers not to settle for the idea that fatherhood amounts to no more than paying child support.
Fatherhood is on the decline partly because it is under attack. This is all the more reason to affirm all of our fathers, including the religious ones, especially when fathers (lay, priest or bishop) are under direct attack.