Monday, September 28, 2015
The Pope has flown the coop, leaving behind billions of commenters' words scattered like pigeon droppings on sidewalks and church aisles in D.C., NY and Philly, and millions of people who followed his every move in the US. I'm one of those millions whose cabeza is filled with images and impressions from the hours I parked on the couch watching the wall-to-wall coverage.
Overshadowing Il Papa's charming grin, his genuine tenderness for the unfortunate, his unfailing courtesy (even with personages like Dolan and fat cat contributors), his obvious and honest joy in meeting and touching ordinary people and babies dressed as mini-popes, is my impression of acres and acres of MEN. Men in clerical garb solemnly processing in and out, up, down and around aisles; men guarding and sheltering the Pope from all untoward contact; men obviously "in charge" of everything (even though I'd bet my last nickel women organized and made it all happen behind the scenes as they do in every US parish); men glad-handing the Pope, so righteously full of themselves as masters of the Catholic universe.
Except for an occasional sleek and stylish VIP's wife, a thimbleful of congressional representatives, a gaggle of habited nuns and those few, extraordinarily talented and token female cantors at various venues, the only women in evidence anywhere were among the crowd -- often shepherding children.
Francis' only verbal references to women were a few kind words directed to religious sisters and "mothers."
What a strange, sterilized, masculinized milieu this Pope (and every pope, from historical accounts) moves in.
Not even a shadow of femininity falls on this leader of the global Church if the hordes of male caretakers can help it. Think of that and consider what a warped, twisted world it must be to encounter women only as servants or in positions of subservience -- never, ever, EVER as equals, for, in fact, there is no gender equality even possible within this ancient institution.
All decisions made for and within the RCC are limited to the ordained -- and who can be considered for ordination? Males only. Apparently, the exalted XY chromosome carries the ontological requirement to perform the mysterious magic. Women's XX chromosome is defective from the very instant of conception.
Francis has sparked a bit of hope by calling for "a theology of women" and stating that women "should" be much more evident in the Church. He has not, however, actually made that happen, short of a few minor appointments, and he has had ample opportunity to do so.
After witnessing the preponderance of the XYs surrounding him this week, however, I am laying aside all my hopes for any kind of gender equality. He is a product of his Italian/Latino cultural background as well as the all-male clerical culture in which he has lived for his lifetime. Add that to the powerful presence of MEN that comprise his world, and the future is obvious. Some things just never change.