Catholic gender stereotypes rooted in the ancient world?

Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia

Please don’t get me wrong. I consider myself a Catholic but, at the same time, cannot switch off my critical faculties just because I converted to that faith from a rather limp Anglican practice (limp because I rarely went to Church as a kid and young adult, except for the obligatory weddings and funerals).

I love the Catholic Eucharist and really don’t know if I could survive without its reliably uplifting love. For me the Eucharist literally is bread from heaven. I feel it and live it, and no atheist, materialist or neuroscientist will ever convince me that this experience is qualitatively the same as, say, a beautiful sunset, a Mozart sonata, or falling in love with another person. That’s just dead wrong.

However, some of the cultural and questionable aspects of the Catholic scene didn’t suddenly disappear the moment I was confirmed. It’s almost like I have to shut down my mind whenever I hear something that rings false or hypocritical during the Mass, all the while feeling the tremendous presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s a slightly strange situation. But when was life ever simple or straightforward?

With this preamble complete, I’d like to ask. If women are especially “religiously receptive,” as we see below, why can’t they be ordained as priests?

Image via Tumblr click for larger size
Image via Tumblr – click for large size

I know the standard Catholic answers. Or most of them. The reasoning I’ve heard seems weak—both logically and ethically.

So what do you think? Will Catholicism ever get past its ancient male chauvinism and reach out to one half of the human population in a fair, sensible way?

My guess is it will take at least a hundred years. Maybe more. Right now there is a known shortage of priests. And it seems the Church is mining the so-called “underdeveloped” countries for potential priests because so few in the so-called “developed” world are willing to commit. This global search is a good thing because it makes the Church more international here at home.

But still, the priest situation remains all male. And I find it a bit unsettling that not a few Catholic women and men identify with prefabricated gender stereotypes that the Church continues to legitimize and reproduce.

Source for quote appearing in this article: Printed flyer distributed in Catholic parishes by



  1. I loved your description of the Eucharist! As Catholics, we are so blessed to have such an intimate connection to Christ, and it is one that often falls underappreciated (I’m certainly guilty of this at least).

    As a woman, I disagree that the Catholic Church holds chauvinistic ideals. I believe that the Church upholds the dignity of the human person (regardless of biological sex) much better than society does, but especially in regards to women.

    I think understanding gender roles is a tough topic to grapple with, and I won’t waste your time bringing up arguments you’ve already heard.

    However, I think something worth considering is if the Church is right about something as radical as the Eucharist, what else might they be correct on?

    I wouldn’t ignore those questions that crop up if something seems hypocritical or off. We have to acknowledge that the people who practice Catholicism or imperfect, birthstone doesn’t negate the validity of the Church as a whole. Additionally, sometimes, seeking answers to our questions and uncertainties can actually​ bring spiritual growth. The Catholic Church encourages us to ask these questions and seek answers.

    Thank you for sharing this interesting and honest post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for taking the time to reply! I really appreciate it. Looking at your gravatar makes me feel a bit like a crusty ol’ critic with nothing better to do than carp away at things that bug him. But for me it’s not quite that simple. And I have to be true to my perceptions and reflections, always open to being corrected and humbled.

      So until the Lord reveals to me otherwise – directly or through others – I’ll probably see the RCC as wonderful, powerful, but also as something progressing through historical moments. That means, again for me, that what we see and hear today is not necessarily the complete fulfillment.

      Just look at the past, and some of the bad stuff that went on. The Church has done away with a lot of it. Indulgences, inquisitions, for instance. I think it still needs more honest reflection and action to become even better.

      So although I may seem like an old crank, my intentions are good… Some who don’t fit into the current teachings may feel marginalized. And that’s not very pleasant.

      It would be interesting to do a stat. survey to find out how many women vs. men volunteers do the housework and food prep for priests! 🙂


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