The real scoop
Here's the real scoop--my blow by blow interpretation of the LETTER--just as you requested! Enjoy!
Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the use of Insincere Flattery and Twisted, Convoluted Jargon as a means to Pacify Women and to Assist Women to remain Passive, Passionate, and Naively Content in their role as Man's Helper.
LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ON THE COLLABORATION OF MEN AND WOMEN
IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD
1. The Church, expert in humanity, has a perennial interest in whatever concerns men and women. In recent times, much reflection has been given to the question of the dignity of women and to women's rights and duties in the different areas of civil society and the Church. Having contributed to a deeper understanding of this fundamental question, in particular through the teaching of John Paul II,1 the Church is called today to address certain currents of thought which are often at variance with the authentic advancement of women.
The Church is the self-proclaimed and (we think) Godly-annointed expert on issues concerning the proper roles of men and women in civil society and in the Church.
The Church is concerned about the enduring, non-stop feminine quest for equality and dignity within civil society and the Church itself. This is a problem that won't go away and it is in the Church's interest to circumvent that problem before we lose control. Therefore, the Church must address the issue of women's rights and duties in manner that is most likely to bring these women back in line through a manipulation of their thought processes.
We have to get women to understand that there are things more important than their individual dignity and rights. Therefore, Bishops, it is most important to impress upon women the Church's deeper understanding of the issues and that women ought to bow to the Church's wisdom.
Step one in this indoctrination is to inform women that the Church knows what is best for them--but we must deceptively sugar-coat this bitter pill in a manner in which they are most likely to appreciate and swallow. We must convince women to think "black is white" and "white is black." In other words, Bishops, you must convince women that having equal rights in civil society and in the Church is in fact a detriment to their advancement.
After a brief presentation and critical evaluation of some current conceptions of human nature, this document will offer reflections – inspired by the doctrinal elements of the biblical vision of the human person that are indispensable for safeguarding his or her identity – on some of the essentials of a correct understanding of active collaboration, in recognition of the difference between men and women in the Church and in the world. These reflections are meant as a starting point for further examination in the Church, as well as an impetus for dialogue with all men and women of good will, in a sincere search for the truth and in a common commitment to the development of ever more authentic relationships.
Bishops, we need to skew the issues. We can do this through a biased analysis of the issues and show women how these issues are in conflict with the necessity of safeguarding their true identities as man's helper. However, we must convince women they are not mere helpers, but rather that they are equal partners in the "collaboration" between the sexes.
In furtherance of this objective, Bishops, ask men and women to share in a dialogue concerning "the essentials
of a correct understanding
of active collaboration in recognition of the difference between men and women
in the Church and in the world." Of course, this is a convoluted way of saying, "women must understand their proper role within the world," but we must make the window dressing more attractive. By asking women to share in the dialogue, we are trying to make the woman feel important and instrumental in recognizing the differences between men and women as we carefully indoctrinate them concerning the essentials.
I. THE QUESTION
2. Recent years have seen new approaches to women's issues. A first tendency is to emphasize strongly conditions of subordination in order to give rise to antagonism: women, in order to be themselves, must make themselves the adversaries of men. Faced with the abuse of power, the answer for women is to seek power. This process leads to opposition between men and women, in which the identity and role of one are emphasized to the disadvantage of the other, leading to harmful confusion regarding the human person, which has its most immediate and lethal effects in the structure of the family.
Those who advocate for women's rights and dignity tend to emphasize the oppression and subordination of women. As we have seen, when the inequities are outlined, women tend to become antagonistic. They want what men have. They want equal pay for equal work. They want to be considered for promotions. They want to occupy positions of power. In this regard, women become the adversaries of men.
When women seek power, the opposed men are disadvantaged. In seeking power, women are confused in regard to their proper role as a female and this confusion is harmful to the family. It is not within their domain to seek power in civil society or in the Church; their domain is within the family structure. We must indoctrinate women into believing that their struggles for equal rights--and their struggles for the power necessary to gain those rights--are harmful to the family.
It is essential to the correct understanding of active collaboration in recognition of the difference between men and women that women do not become the adversaries of men. Women must concede their place in the world, must allow men to maintain the power, and must remain man's passive, passionate, helpmate.
A second tendency emerges in the wake of the first. In order to avoid the domination of one sex or the other, their differences tend to be denied, viewed as mere effects of historical and cultural conditioning. In this perspective, physical difference, termed sex, is minimized, while the purely cultural element, termed gender, is emphasized to the maximum and held to be primary. The obscuring of the difference or duality of the sexes has enormous consequences on a variety of levels. This theory of the human person, intended to promote prospects for equality of women through liberation from biological determinism, has in reality inspired ideologies which, for example, call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality.
We must never forget that women are different than men. If women fight for the same rights that men have, the differences between men and women will be obscured. That cannot happen. We must never forget that biological determinism requires men to be in positions of power and requires women to be man's helpmate through family nurturing. If the Church concedes that men and women may readily intermingle their different roles within society and the Church, [gasp] then we wouldn't be able to so readily condemn homosexuality as an aberration from the natural order of things.
3. While the immediate roots of this second tendency are found in the context of reflection on women's roles, its deeper motivation must be sought in the human attempt to be freed from one's biological conditioning.2 According to this perspective, human nature in itself does not possess characteristics in an absolute manner: all persons can and ought to constitute themselves as they like, since they are free from every predetermination linked to their essential constitution.
Unfortunately, women are starting to believe, and erroneously so, that biological differences are insignificant. Women do not believe that their lives should be predetermined solely on the basis of gender. However, women are predetermined--as an absolute--to be man's helpmate and nothing more. We cannot allow a woman's motivation to seek equal rights and power to get in the way of this predetermination based upon the biological differences between men and women. That, my dear Bishops, is the challenge that the Church faces.
This perspective has many consequences. Above all it strengthens the idea that the liberation of women entails criticism of Sacred Scripture, which would be seen as handing on a patriarchal conception of God nourished by an essentially male-dominated culture. Second, this tendency would consider as lacking in importance and relevance the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature in its male form.
If the Church does not meet this challenge and keep women in their proper place in accordance with predetermined roles based on gender, then our sacred scripture will be criticized. We don't want people to view the Church as having a patriarchal conception of God nourished by an essentially male-dominated culture. That view would make us look bad, even though we must NEVER FORGET the IMPORTANCE and RELEVANCE of the fact that Jesus was a MAN.
Because Jesus was born to this earth as a MAN, God has ordained that women should be subordinate to and the helpmates of men. (We just don't want women's liberation to blow the Church's interpretation of the sacred scripture all to hell.)
4. In the face of these currents of thought, the Church, enlightened by faith in Jesus Christ, speaks instead of active collaboration between the sexes precisely in the recognition of the difference between man and woman.
Because of the damnable women's liberation movement, the Church, enlightened by our faith in Jesus as a MAN, we must now speak in terms of "active collaboration" between the sexes in order to seek female cooperation in our religious view that men are destined to lead and women are destined to follow.
To understand better the basis, meaning and consequences of this response it is helpful to turn briefly to the Sacred Scriptures, rich also in human wisdom, in which this response is progressively manifested thanks to God's intervention on behalf of humanity.3
Our religious views (see above) are based upon our interpretation of the
II. BASIC ELEMENTS OF THE BIBLICAL VISION OF THE HUMAN PERSON
5. The first biblical texts to examine are the first three chapters of Genesis. Here we “enter into the setting of the biblical ‘beginning'. In it the revealed truth concerning the human person as ‘the image and likeness' of God constitutes the immutable basis of all Christian anthropology”.4
The bible tells us that God made MAN in HIS image and this is the basis of all of our religious views when it comes to the predetermined roles of men and women.
The first text (Gn 1:1-2:4) describes the creative power of the Word of God, which makes distinctions in the original chaos. Light and darkness appear, sea and dry land, day and night, grass and trees, fish and birds, “each according to its kind”. An ordered world is born out of differences, carrying with them also the promise of relationships. Here we see a sketch of the framework in which the creation of the human race takes place: “God said ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness'” (Gn 1:26). And then: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gn1:27). From the very beginning therefore, humanity is described as articulated in the male-female relationship. This is the humanity, sexually differentiated, which is explicitly declared “the image of God”.
God said how things should be. God made the distinctions. God made an "ordered world" born out of differences. We must abide by the natural order of things as mandated by God. We must abide by the sexually differentiated male-female relationship as dictated by God.
6. The second creation account (Gn 2:4-25) confirms in a definitive way the importance of sexual difference. Formed by God and placed in the garden which he was to cultivate, the man, who is still referred to with the generic expression Adam, experienced a loneliness which the presence of the animals is not able to overcome. He needs a helpmate who will be his partner. The term here does not refer to an inferior, but to a vital helper.5 This is so that Adam's life does not sink into a sterile and, in the end, baneful encounter with himself. It is necessary that he enter into relationship with another being on his own level. Only the woman, created from the same “flesh” and cloaked in the same mystery, can give a future to the life of the man. It is therefore above all on the ontological level that this takes place, in the sense that God's creation of woman characterizes humanity as a relational reality. In this encounter, the man speaks words for the first time, expressive of his wonderment: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gn 2:23).
The biological differences between men and women are important. Man needed a helper to cultivate the garden and subdue the earth. Man was lonely. Therefore, God gave man a gift. God gave man a woman as his helpmate and a sexual partner.
To deceive women, we must play with semantics. Therefore, Bishops, you must inform women that even though their proper role is that of helpmate, you must convince them that they are not viewed as inferior. They just have their proper place in the world--nothing more, nothing less
As the Holy Father has written with regard to this text from Genesis, “...woman is another ‘I' in a common humanity. From the very beginning they appear as a ‘unity of the two', and this signifies that the original solitude is overcome, the solitude in which man does not find ‘a helper fit for him' (Gn 2:20). Is it only a question here of a ‘helper' in activity, in ‘subduing the earth' (cf. Gn 1:28)? Certainly it is a matter of a life's companion with whom, as a wife, the man can unite himself, becoming with her ‘one flesh' and for this reason leaving ‘his father and his mother'(cf. Gn 2:24)”.6
A woman is predestined to be man's companion, to be man's wife, to be man's helper in subduing the earth--but it is still the man's job (and not the woman's job) to subdue the earth.
This vital difference is oriented toward communion and was lived in peace, expressed by their nakedness: “And the man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame” (Gn 2:25). In this way, the human body, marked with the sign of masculinity or femininity, “includes right from the beginning the nuptial attribute, that is, the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift and – by means of this gift – fulfils the meaning of his being and his existence”.7 Continuing his commentary on these verses of Genesis, the Holy Father writes: “In this peculiarity, the body is the expression of the spirit and is called, in the mystery of creation, to exist in the communion of persons in the image of God”.8
Men and women are sex partners. By expressing her love through sex, the woman becomes a gift to man and fulfills the meaning of his being and his existence. Through the sexual uniting of man and woman, life continues to be created in the image of God. (Woman was God's gift to man and, as such, he dominates her, she serves as his helpmate and sexual partner, he impregnates her, and she gives birth to new life.)
Through this same spousal perspective, the ancient Genesis narrative allows us to understand how woman, in her deepest and original being, exists “for the other” (cf. 1 Cor 11:9): this is a statement which, far from any sense of alienation, expresses a fundamental aspect of the similarity with the Triune God, whose Persons, with the coming of Christ, are revealed as being in a communion of love, each for the others. “In the ‘unity of the two', man and woman are called from the beginning not only to exist ‘side by side' or ‘together', but they are also called to exist mutually ‘one for the other'... The text of Genesis 2:18-25 shows that marriage is the first and, in a sense, the fundamental dimension of this call. But it is not the only one. The whole of human history unfolds within the context of this call. In this history, on the basis of the principle of mutually being ‘for' the other in interpersonal ‘communion', there develops in humanity itself, in accordance with God's will, the integration of what is ‘masculine' and what is ‘feminine'”.9
Through this "spousal perspective," God gave woman as a gift to man and man is made in God's manly image. Therefore, woman exists for the man. This is God's will.
The peaceful vision which concludes the second creation account recalls the “indeed it was very good” (Gn 1:31) at the end of the first account. Here we find the heart of God's original plan and the deepest truth about man and woman, as willed and created by him. Although God's original plan for man and woman will later be upset and darkened by sin, it can never be abrogated.
The bible tells us the truth about man and woman, as willed and created by God--and this truth--that women exist for men as their helpmates--can never be abrogated through the liberation of women from their predetermined biological roles. Bishops, we cannot stand by idly and allow women to gain the same rights and status as men in civil society and the Church!
7. Original sin changes the way in which the man and the woman receive and live the Word of God as well as their relationship with the Creator. Immediately after having given them the gift of the garden, God gives them a positive command (cf. Gn 2:16), followed by a negative one (cf. Gn 2:17), in which the essential difference between God and humanity is implicitly expressed. Following enticement by the serpent, the man and the woman deny this difference. As a consequence, the way in which they live their sexual difference is also upset. In this way, the Genesis account establishes a relationship of cause and effect between the two differences: when humanity considers God its enemy, the relationship between man and woman becomes distorted. When this relationship is damaged, their access to the face of God risks being compromised in turn.
Gosh darn. Tell women that in the beginning, God wanted men and women to live as equal partners (wink, wink), but original sin screwed up the plan. Bishops, you must impress upon women what happens when they don't live in accordance with the Church's interpretation of the bible--their relationships with their men become distorted--and maybe they won't go to heaven and see the face of God!
God's decisive words to the woman after the first sin express the kind of relationship which has now been introduced between man and woman: “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gn 3:16). It will be a relationship in which love will frequently be debased into pure self-seeking, in a relationship which ignores and kills love and replaces it with the yoke of domination of one sex over the other. Indeed the story of humanity is continuously marked by this situation, which recalls the three-fold concupiscence mentioned by Saint John: the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life (cf. 1 Jn 2:16). In this tragic situation, the equality, respect and love that are required in the relationship of man and woman according to God's original plan, are lost.
Bishops, you must stress that the current status of inequality is the result of original sin. As a result of original sin, God determined for women, "your desire shall be for your husband, and HE SHALL RULE OVER YOU." Make women believe that it is their pure self-seeking that kills love and strengthens the yoke of domination of men over women. The equality, respect and love between man and woman according to God's original plan (wherein a woman was God's gift to man and must exist for her man) have been lost and tragically replaced with unquenched selfish desires. If women would simply and unselfishly accept their predetermined place in this world in accordance with God's original plan, they would not feel the stinging effects of domination and would instead feel loved and respected. (See how easy it is to manipulate with words! Bishops--use language as your tool to bring them around to the Church's way of thinking!) Women would again be equal to men, with each sex responsible for their own predetermined spheres of importance and responsibility--women within the family and men as the leaders of the subdued world.
8. Reviewing these fundamental texts allows us to formulate some of the principal elements of the biblical vision of the human person.
Again, we must impress upon women the "essentials" of a "correct understanding" of active "collaboration" (tee hee), in recognition of the difference between men and women
in the Church and in the world.
Above all, the fact that human beings are persons needs to be underscored: “Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God”.10 Their equal dignity as persons is realized as physical, psychological and ontological complementarity, giving rise to a harmonious relationship of “uni-duality”, which only sin and “the structures of sin” inscribed in culture render potentially conflictual. The biblical vision of the human person suggests that problems related to sexual difference, whether on the public or private level, should be addressed by a relational approach and not by competition or retaliation.
Bishops: Please impress upon women that men and women are "equal" and they "complement" each other although they are not predestined to fulfill the same roles--each has their own equally important, but different role on this earth based upon their biological differences. Therefore, women must be rational when it comes to "perceived" inequalities and not compete or retaliate against men. (Hey, Bishops, if you call upon women to address the problem from a "rational" perspective, they will be easier to manipulate because they don't want to be viewed as "irrational.")
Furthermore, the importance and the meaning of sexual difference, as a reality deeply inscribed in man and woman, needs to be noted. “Sexuality characterizes man and woman not only on the physical level, but also on the psychological and spiritual, making its mark on each of their expressions”.11 It cannot be reduced to a pure and insignificant biological fact, but rather “is a fundamental component of personality, one of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others, of feeling, of expressing and of living human love”.12 This capacity to love – reflection and image of God who is Love – is disclosed in the spousal character of the body, in which the masculinity or femininity of the person is expressed.
Bishops: Stress the "importance" and "meaning" and "reality" of biological, sexual differences that "characterize" men and women. Stress that these differences are imbedded in men and women by the Creator and they are an integral part of their personalities that cannot be altered. Due to these REAL biological differences, men and women have different modes of expressing human love. Women express human love by remaining man's passive, passionate helpmate. Whereas men express human love through masculine, rather than feminine, modes.
The human dimension of sexuality is inseparable from the theological dimension. The human creature, in its unity of soul and body, is characterized therefore, from the very beginning, by the relationship with the other-beyond-the-self. This relationship is presented as still good and yet, at the same time, changed. It is good from its original goodness, declared by God from the first moment of creation. It has been changed however by the disharmony between God and humanity introduced by sin. This alteration does not correspond to the initial plan of God for man and woman, nor to the truth of the relationship between the sexes. It follows then that the relationship is good, but wounded and in need of healing.
Men and women cannot separate their sexuality (gender roles) from their Creator's will. Attempts to deviate from the Creator's will causes wounds in need of healing.
What might be the ways of this healing? Considering and analyzing the problems in the relationship between the sexes solely from the standpoint of the situation marked by sin would lead to a return to the errors mentioned above. The logic of sin needs to be broken and a way forward needs to be found that is capable of banishing it from the hearts of sinful humanity. A clear orientation in this sense is provided in the third chapter of Genesis by God's promise of a Saviour, involving the “woman” and her “offspring” (cf. Gn 3:15). It is a promise which will be preceded by a long preparation in history before it is realized.
To heal the harm afflicted by original sin (evil), each man and woman must unselfishly assume their correct gender role in order to return to the "original goodness" declared by God. It is in error for a woman to focus on the inequalities between the sexes because that gets us nowhere. Once a woman has a correct understanding of her proper role and unselfishly embraces that role--sin will be banished from our hearts and all will be healed. History of mankind prior to the arrival of Mother Mary and Baby Jesus on the scene should nail that correct viewpoint to the cross.
9. An early victory over evil is seen in the story of Noah, the just man, who guided by God, avoids the flood with his family and the various species of animals (cf. Gn 6-9). But it is above all in God's choice of Abraham and his descendants (cf. Gn 12:1ff) that the hope of salvation is confirmed. God begins in this way to unveil his countenance so that, through the chosen people, humanity will learn the path of divine likeness, that is, the way of holiness, and thus of transformation of heart. Among the many ways in which God reveals himself to his people (cf. Heb 1:1), in keeping with a long and patient pedagogy, there is the recurring theme of the covenant between man and woman. This is paradoxical if we consider the drama recounted in Genesis and its concrete repetition in the time of the prophets, as well as the mixing of the sacred and the sexual found in the religions which surrounded Israel. And yet this symbolism is indispensable for understanding the way in which God loves his people: God makes himself known as the Bridegroom who loves Israel his Bride.
History demonstrates the way to salvation (for good to triumph over evil) lies within the covenant between man and woman. God (the Supreme Being) loves his people (his supporters and worshippers) like a Bridegroom (a supreme man made in the image of God) loves his Bride (his worshipping wife and supportive helpmate).
If, in this relationship, God can be described as a “jealous God” (cf. Ex 20:5; Nah 1:2) and Israel denounced as an “adulterous” bride or “prostitute” (cf. Hos 2:4-15; Ez 16:15-34), it is because of the hope, reinforced by the prophets, of seeing Jerusalem become the perfect bride: “For as a young man marries a virgin so shall your creator marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Is 62:5). Recreated “in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy” (Hos 2:21), she who had wandered far away to search for life and happiness in false gods will return, and “shall respond as in the days of her youth” (Hos 2:17) to him who will speak to her heart; she will hear it said: “Your bridegroom is your Creator” (Is54:5). It is substantially the same reality which is expressed when, parallel to the mystery of God's action through the male figure of the suffering Servant, the Book of the prophet Isaiah evokes the feminine figure of Zion, adorned with a transcendence and a sanctity which prefigure the gift of salvation destined for Israel.
Our creator wants all women to become a man's perfect bride. It is a man's place to rejoice over his bride the same way that God rejoices over his people. A woman who wanders away from her predetermined destiny based upon biological differences must return to her proper place and exist as her man's helper. This is the path to salvation.
The Song of Songs is an important moment in the use of this form of revelation. In the words of a most human love, which celebrate the beauty of the human body and the joy of mutual seeking, God's love for his people is also expressed. The Church's recognition of her relationship to Christ in this audacious conjunction of language about what is most human with language about what is most divine, cannot be said to be mistaken.
The Church knows the divine path to salvation as set forth above and cannot be wrong
in its interpretation of God's will.
In the course of the Old Testament, a story of salvation takes shape which involves the simultaneous participation of male and female. While having an evident metaphorical dimension, the terms bridegroom and bride – and covenant as well – which characterize the dynamic of salvation, are much more than simple metaphors. This spousal language touches on the very nature of the relationship which God establishes with his people, even though that relationship is more expansive than human spousal experience. Likewise, the same concrete conditions of redemption are at play in the way in which prophetic statements, such as those of Isaiah, associate masculine and feminine roles in proclaiming and prefiguring the work of salvation which God is about to undertake. This salvation orients the reader both toward the male figure of the suffering Servant as well as to the female figure of Zion. The prophetic utterances of Isaiah in fact alternate between this figure and the Servant of God, before culminating at the end of the book with the mystical vision of Jerusalem, which gives birth to a people in a single day (cf. Is 66: 7-14), a prophecy of the great new things which God is about to do (cf. Is 48: 6-8).
Again, the path to salvation (for good to triumph over evil) lies within the covenant between man and woman. (The "human spousal" experience.) Through biblical metaphors, we are reminded of the masculine and feminine roles which are predestined and ordained by God. This leads us to the birth of Jesus.
10. All these prefigurations find their fulfillment in the New Testament. On the one hand, Mary, the chosen daughter of Zion, in her femininity, sums up and transfigures the condition of Israel/Bride waiting for the day of her salvation. On the other hand, the masculinity of the Son shows how Jesus assumes in his person all that the Old Testament symbolism had applied to the love of God for his people, described as the love of a bridegroom for his bride. The figures of Jesus and Mary his mother not only assure the continuity of the New Testament with the Old, but go beyond it, since – as Saint Irenaeus wrote – with Jesus Christ “all newness” appears.13
Mary represents femininity and motherhood on the new path to salvation. Jesus represents masculinity--and the love of the supreme being for his people and the love of a bridegroom for his bride.
This aspect is particularly evident in the Gospel of John. In the scene of the wedding feast at Cana, for example, Jesus is asked by his mother, who is called “woman”, to offer, as a sign, the new wine of the future wedding with humanity (cf. Jn 2:1-12). This messianic wedding is accomplished on the Cross when, again in the presence of his mother, once again called “woman”, the blood/wine of the New Covenant pours forth from the open heart of the crucified Christ (cf. Jn 19:25-27, 34).14 It is therefore not at all surprising that John the Baptist, when asked who he is, describes himself as “the friend of the bridegroom”, who rejoices to hear the bridegroom's voice and must be eclipsed by his coming: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn3:29-30).15
At the behest of his mother called "woman," Mary asked Jesus to offer wine as a sign of new life (of salvation) at a wedding feast. The same happened again when Jesus was crucified and he offered up his blood as a sign of new life (of salvation). Bishops--in making this comparison--you can AGAIN emphasize that the path to salvation lies within the covenant between man and woman wherein man is responsible for tending the garden and subduing the earth and woman is his passive, passionate, helper.
In his apostolic activity, Paul develops the whole nuptial significance of the redemption by seeing Christian life as a nuptial mystery. He writes to the Church in Corinth, which he had founded: “I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a chaste virgin to her one husband” (2 Cor 11:2).
The covenant between man and woman (the whole nuptial thing) is the key to redemption. (Bishops! Keep pounding this in! Over and over and over again!)
In the Letter to the Ephesians, the spousal relationship between Christ and the Church is taken up again and deepened in its implications. In the New Covenant, the beloved bride is the Church, and as the Holy Father teaches in his Letter to Families: “This bride, of whom the Letter to the Ephesians speaks, is present in each of the baptized and is like one who presents herself before her Bridegroom: ‘Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her..., that he might present the Church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish' (Eph 5:25-27)”. 16
See above! A bride must be holy and without blemish. (She should not be selfish; she should be man's helper!)
Reflecting on the unity of man and woman as described at the moment of the world's creation (cf. Gn 2:24), the Apostle exclaims: “this mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:32). The love of a man and a woman, lived out in the power of baptismal life, now becomes the sacrament of the love between Christ and his Church, and a witness to the mystery of fidelity and unity from which the “New Eve” is born and by which she lives in her earthly pilgrimage toward the fullness of the eternal wedding.
We can never be saved from sin if women stray from their predetermined role as man's helper due to imbedded biological differences. The only way to overcome original sin and return to paradise is through the "fullness of the eternal wedding."
11. Drawn into the Paschal mystery and made living signs of the love of Christ and his Church, the hearts of Christian spouses are renewed and they are able to avoid elements of concupiscence in their relationship, as well as the subjugation introduced into the life of the first married couple by the break with God caused by sin. For Christian spouses, the goodness of love, for which the wounded human heart has continued to long, is revealed with new accents and possibilities. It is in this light that Jesus, faced with the question about divorce (cf. Mt 19:3-9), recalls the demands of the covenant between man and woman as willed by God at the beginning, that is, before the eruption of sin which had justified the later accommodations found in the Mosaic Law. Far from being the imposition of a hard and inflexible order, these words of Jesus are actually the proclamation of the “good news” of that faithfulness which is stronger than sin. The power of the resurrection makes possible the victory of faithfulness over weakness, over injuries and over the couple's sins. In the grace of Christ which renews their hearts, man and woman become capable of being freed from sin and of knowing the joy of mutual giving.
Bishops, you must stress the following: With a correct understanding that the path to salvation lies within the covenant between man and woman as originally set forth by God, Christian couples avoid selfishness as well as the "subjugation" of women that resulted from original sin. Male and female roles in this covenant are "separate, but equal" in importance. Once they assume the correct masculine and feminine roles based on their biological differences and the devine will of the Creator, they will come to know the joy of mutual giving.
12. “For all of you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ... there is neither male nor female”, writes Saint Paul to the Galatians (3:27-28). The Apostle Paul does not say that the distinction between man and woman, which in other places is referred to the plan of God, has been erased. He means rather that in Christ the rivalry, enmity and violence which disfigured the relationship between men and women can be overcome and have been overcome. In this sense, the distinction between man and woman is reaffirmed more than ever; indeed, it is present in biblical revelation up to the very end. In the final hour of present history, the Book of Revelation of Saint John, speaking of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1), presents the vision of a feminine Jerusalem “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). Revelation concludes with the words of the Bride and the Spirit who beseech the coming of the Bridegroom, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev22:20).
The distinction between man and woman pursuant to God's plan has not been erased. The competition and animosity between the sexes can be overcome so long as the bride correctly understands her proper role and is adorned for her husband as his passionate sexual partner and his passive assistant. Salvation is the reward.
BISHOPS: Remember to keep waving the "salvation" carrot in front of their faces! If your followers want that carrot--then they MUST abide by the correct understanding of the covenant of men and women and their proper roles based on their biological differences within civil society and the Church!!!!
Male and female are thus revealed as belonging ontologically to creation and destined therefore to outlast the present time, evidently in a transfigured form. In this way, they characterize the “love that never ends” (1Cor 13:8), although the temporal and earthly expression of sexuality is transient and ordered to a phase of life marked by procreation and death. Celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom seeks to be the prophecy of this form of future existence of male and female. For those who live it, it is an anticipation of the reality of a life which, while remaining that of a man and a woman, will no longer be subject to the present limitations of the marriage relationship (cf. Mt22:30). For those in married life, celibacy becomes the reminder and prophecy of the completion which their own relationship will find in the face-to-face encounter with God.
God created the sexual covenant of man and woman on this earth to be only temporary. Although sexuality is necessary on earth to ensure procreation, the same won't be true after death where love never ends in our future eternal lives. For those who live a celibate life on earth, they do so in anticipation of the reality of life that comes after earthly death. [Bishops--we need to throw this in to explain why the Church desires our priests to live celibate lives in order to prepare them for their face-to-face encounter with God.] But, even those in married life can appreciate celibacy. [I think? what the heck?]
From the first moment of their creation, man and woman are distinct, and will remain so for all eternity. Placed within Christ's Paschal mystery, they no longer see their difference as a source of discord to be overcome by denial or eradication, but rather as the possibility for collaboration, to be cultivated with mutual respect for their difference. From here, new perspectives open up for a deeper understanding of the dignity of women and their role in human society and in the Church.
Men and women remain distinct for all eternity. (We have to advocate that position in order to justify our male-only priesthood.) With a correct understanding, men and women will not see their differences as a source of discord. Men and women will not deny their biological differences. Men and women will not try to eradicate their differences through a struggle for equal rights. Rather, they will work together as God planned with woman as man's assistant. Women should embrace their predetermined role based on biological differences--there is nothing undignified about embracing the role of man's helper.
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF FEMININE
VALUES IN THE LIFE OF SOCIETY
13. Among the fundamental values linked to women's actual lives is what has been called a “capacity for the other”. Although a certain type of feminist rhetoric makes demands “for ourselves”, women preserve the deep intuition of the goodness in their lives of those actions which elicit life, and contribute to the growth and protection of the other.
Bishops, you need to flatter women! You need to praise them for their enormous capacity to love others and to sacrifice for others! You must tell them that the "feminists" make selfish demands. You must impress upon women the importance of unselfishness by flattering their preservation of the "deep intuition of the goodness in their lives of those actions which elicit life." We want women to know--whatever they do to bring forth babies--is a good thing.
This intuition is linked to women's physical capacity to give life. Whether lived out or remaining potential, this capacity is a reality that structures the female personality in a profound way. It allows her to acquire maturity very quickly, and gives a sense of the seriousness of life and of its responsibilities. A sense and a respect for what is concrete develop in her, opposed to abstractions which are so often fatal for the existence of individuals and society. It is women, in the end, who even in very desperate situations, as attested by history past and present, possess a singular capacity to persevere in adversity, to keep life going even in extreme situations, to hold tenaciously to the future, and finally to remember with tears the value of every human life.
Again, Bishops, stress the importance and realities of the biological differences between men and women. Since only women can give birth to babies--pound on their "physical capacity to give life." We must impress upon women--whether they give birth or not--the biological capacity to give birth is what structures their personalities.
Bishops, flatter those women! You can attract more flies with sugar than you can with vinegar. Tell those women that they mature quickly and have a sense of responsibility--and these feminine qualities are essential to the very existence of life! Tell them how good they are in persevering through adversity! This will place their selfishness into proper perspective and perhaps make them feel guilty for thinking of themselves even momentarily in comparison to extreme situations and the value of every human life.
Although motherhood is a key element of women's identity, this does not mean that women should be considered from the sole perspective of physical procreation. In this area, there can be serious distortions, which extol biological fecundity in purely quantitative terms and are often accompanied by dangerous disrespect for women. The existence of the Christian vocation of virginity, radical with regard to both the Old Testament tradition and the demands made by many societies, is of the greatest importance in this regard.17 Virginity refutes any attempt to enclose women in mere biological destiny. Just as virginity receives from physical motherhood the insight that there is no Christian vocation except in the concrete gift of oneself to the other, so physical motherhood receives from virginity an insight into its fundamentally spiritual dimension: it is in not being content only to give physical life that the other truly comes into existence. This means that motherhood can find forms of full realization also where there is no physical procreation.18
Bishops! Impress upon women that MOTHERHOOD is KEY to their identity. But for their physical capacity to have babies, women ought to know they serve little other purpose on this earth. But, we must not consider women from the sole perspective as the givers of life. We must value women regardless of how many babies they have. We must respect virginity because virginity refutes the attempt to consider women within the confines of mere biological destiny. Motherhood, an essential key to a woman's identity, can find realization even when there is no physical procreation. The important thing is to keep women thinking about their proper role in society due to their biological differences regardless of the woman's child bearing or virginity.
In this perspective, one understands the irreplaceable role of women in all aspects of family and social life involving human relationships and caring for others. Here what John Paul II has termed the genius of women becomes very clear.19 It implies first of all that women be significantly and actively present in the family, “the primordial and, in a certain sense sovereign society”,20 since it is here above all that the features of a people take shape; it is here that its members acquire basic teachings. They learn to love inasmuch as they are unconditionally loved, they learn respect for others inasmuch as they are respected, they learn to know the face of God inasmuch as they receive a first revelation of it from a father and a mother full of attention in their regard. Whenever these fundamental experiences are lacking, society as a whole suffers violence and becomes in turn the progenitor of more violence. It means also that women should be present in the world of work and in the organization of society, and that women should have access to positions of responsibility which allow them to inspire the policies of nations and to promote innovative solutions to economic and social problems.
In order to keep women in their proper place, we must convince them that their feminine role in society and in the family is irreplaceable. We must convince women that they are destined to be responsible for shaping family values through their unique feminine personalities. If they fail in their role, society suffers. We must convince women that their presence in the world of work and in the organization of society is welcome--so long as that presence does not cause disharmony in their families.
In this regard, it cannot be forgotten that the interrelationship between these two activities – family and work – has, for women, characteristics different from those in the case of men. The harmonization of the organization of work and laws governing work with the demands stemming from the mission of women within the family is a challenge.
Accordingly, women should have access to positions of responsibility. This does not mean that women should hold or occupy positions of responsibility, because women have characteristics different from those in the case of men. Nevertheless, women should have access to the men who occupy those positions of responsibility. This access will allow women to inspire family values in the policies of nations. Because motherhood is an essential key to a woman's identity, women may inspire and promote innovative solutions to economic and social problems.
Women, however, must balance or restrict their feminine influences outside of the family in order to achieve harmony with the demands stemming from the mission of women within the family. Women face a challenge.
The question is not only legal, economic and organizational; it is above all a question of mentality, culture, and respect. Indeed, a just valuing of the work of women within the family is required. In this way, women who freely desire will be able to devote the totality of their time to the work of the household without being stigmatized by society or penalized financially, while those who wish also to engage in other work may be able to do so with an appropriate work-schedule, and not have to choose between relinquishing their family life or enduring continual stress, with negative consequences for one's own equilibrium and the harmony of the family. As John Paul II has written, “it will redound to the credit of society to make it possible for a mother – without inhibiting her freedom, without psychological or practical discrimination and without penalizing her as compared with other women – to devote herself to taking care of her children and educating them in accordance with their needs, which vary with age”.21
Women should be respected for their full-time devotion to their families. These women should not be stigmatized or penalized financially. (Laws should be enacted to subsidize families with stay-at-home moms for the good of society.) Women who work outside of home should be able to do so. However, the organization of work and the laws governing work must be harmonized with the mission of women in the family to provide women with an appropriate work-schedule
that will not interfere with her duties at home. We do not want a woman's stress from working to interfere with the harmony of the family.
14. It is appropriate however to recall that the feminine values mentioned here are above all human values: the human condition of man and woman created in the image of God is one and indivisible. It is only because women are more immediately attuned to these values that they are the reminder and the privileged sign of such values. But, in the final analysis, every human being, man or woman, is destined to be “for the other”. In this perspective, that which is called “femininity” is more than simply an attribute of the female sex. The word designates indeed the fundamental human capacity to live for the other and because of the other.
Bishops: Even though we should recognize a woman's presence in the organization of work so long as her work schedule does not interfere with family harmony, women must not forget their predetermined role as man's helper. She exists for her man and she must always be attuned to this biological imperative.
Therefore, the promotion of women within society must be understood and desired as a humanization accomplished through those values, rediscovered thanks to women. Every outlook which presents itself as a conflict between the sexes is only an illusion and a danger: it would end in segregation and competition between men and women, and would promote a solipsism nourished by a false conception of freedom.
The Church is willing to recognize a woman's value within society (use flattery here --->) thanks to the women for demonstrating values for the rest of us to follow as an example. However, we must be cautious when making concessions that place our stamp of approval on the promotion of women within society. If there are any conflicts between the sexes, women must be aware these conflicts are merely illusionary. Women must not allow these perceived conflicts (which are not really conflicts at all) to induce them to separate themselves from men as their helpmates or to compete with men.
Conflicts between the sexes may promote women to become selfish. They might forget their biological imperative is to exist selflessly for her man (and consequently, her family). We do not want women to develop a concept of freedom that falsely portrays a woman's true place in society.
Without prejudice to the advancement of women's rights in society and the family, these observations seek to correct the perspective which views men as enemies to be overcome. The proper condition of the male-female relationship cannot be a kind of mistrustful and defensive opposition. Their relationship needs to be lived in peace and in the happiness of shared love.
Women must never view men as enemies or competitors. The covenant betwen men and women is the path to salvation--they must live in peace and in the happiness of shared love. (Bishops: Stress this point often! After all, it is difficult to justify an argument against peace and the happiness of shared love!)
On a more concrete level, if social policies – in the areas of education, work, family, access to services and civic participation – must combat all unjust sexual discrimination, they must also listen to the aspirations and identify the needs of all. The defence and promotion of equal dignity and common personal values must be harmonized with attentive recognition of the difference and reciprocity between the sexes where this is relevant to the realization of one's humanity, whether male or female.
Even though society may strive to combat unjust sexual discrimination, society must also foster the family. Even if women are discriminated against, that discrimination must be accepted on the basis of biological differences if it promotes the covenant between man and woman wherein the woman is the man's helper.
IV. THE IMPORTANCE
OF FEMININE VALUES
IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
15. In the Church, woman as “sign” is more than ever central and fruitful, following as it does from the very identity of the Church, as received from God and accepted in faith. It is this “mystical” identity, profound and essential, which needs to be kept in mind when reflecting on the respective roles of men and women in the Church.
Huh? What is this double talk?
From the beginning of Christianity, the Church has understood herself to be a community, brought into existence by Christ and joined to him by a relationship of love, of which the nuptial experience is the privileged expression. From this it follows that the Church's first task is to remain in the presence of this mystery of God's love, manifested in Jesus Christ, to contemplate and to celebrate it.
We are back to discussing the covenant between men and women (the nuptial experience) as the path to salvation--wherein a woman is a man's sexual partner and helper--and because Jesus is a MAN, men are leaders and women are followers.
In this regard, the figure of Mary constitutes the fundamental reference in the Church. One could say metaphorically that Mary is a mirror placed before the Church, in which the Church is invited to recognize her own identity as well as the dispositions of the heart, the attitudes and the actions which God expects from her.
Women! Look at our lovely Mary! Live by her selfless example!
The existence of Mary is an invitation to the Church to root her very being in listening and receiving the Word of God, because faith is not so much the search for God on the part of human beings, as the recognition by men and women that God comes to us; he visits us and speaks to us. This faith, which believes that “nothing is impossible for God” (cf. Gn18:14; Lk 1:37), lives and becomes deeper through the humble and loving obedience by which the Church can say to the Father: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Faith continually makes reference to Jesus: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5) and accompanies Jesus on his way, even to the foot of the Cross. Mary, in the hour of darkness, perseveres courageously in faithfulness, with the sole certainty of trust in the Word of God.
It is from Mary that the Church always learns the intimacy of Christ. Mary, who carried the small child of Bethlehem in her arms, teaches us to recognize the infinite humility of God. She who received the broken body of Jesus from the Cross shows the Church how to receive all those in this world whose lives have been wounded by violence and sin. From Mary, the Church learns the meaning of the power of love, as revealed by God in the life of his beloved Son: “he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their heart... he has lifted up the lowly” (Lk 1:51-52). From Mary, the disciples of Christ continually receive the sense and the delight of praise for the work of God's hands: “The Almighty has done great things for me” (Lk1:49). They learn that they are in the world to preserve the memory of those “great things”, and to keep vigil in expectation of the day of the Lord.
AGAIN--women, please--look at our beloved Mary--the mother of our leading MAN, Jesus. She is the personification of MOTHERHOOD and selflessness. Follow her example!
16. To look at Mary and imitate her does not mean, however, that the Church should adopt a passivity inspired by an outdated conception of femininity. Nor does it condemn the Church to a dangerous vulnerability in a world where what count above all are domination and power. In reality, the way of Christ is neither one of domination (cf. Phil 2:6) nor of power as understood by the world (cf. Jn18:36). From the Son of God one learns that this “passivity” is in reality the way of love; it is a royal power which vanquishes all violence; it is “passion” which saves the world from sin and death and recreates humanity. In entrusting his mother to the Apostle John, Jesus on the Cross invites his Church to learn from Mary the secret of the love that is victorious.
Bishops--Tell the women that when the Church encourages them to follow Mary's example, that does not mean the Church is advocating an outdated concept of passivity. NO! We are advocating a more modern view of passivity! From Jesus, one learns that passivity is in reality the way to love! It is PASSION which saves the world from sin--just like a woman's passion for her man will save the world from the effects of original sin and will lead us down the path to salvation!!! By the way--that passivity and passion recreates humanity through a woman's physical capability of giving life! Yeah!
We learn from MARY--the symbol of motherhood.
Far from giving the Church an identity based on an historically conditioned model of femininity, the reference to Mary, with her dispositions of listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting, places the Church in continuity with the spiritual history of Israel. In Jesus and through him, these attributes become the vocation of every baptized Christian. Regardless of conditions, states of life, different vocations with or without public responsibilities, they are an essential aspect of Christian life. While these traits should be characteristic of every baptized person, women in fact live them with particular intensity and naturalness. In this way, women play a role of maximum importance in the Church's life by recalling these dispositions to all the baptized and contributing in a unique way to showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers.
Hail Mary, full of grace. . . and like Mary, Church women are also naturally disposed to listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise, and waiting . . . the Church likes these things! Thank you women for the benefits of your femininity.
In this perspective one understands how the reservation of priestly ordination solely to men22 does not hamper in any way women's access to the heart of Christian life. Women are called to be unique examples and witnesses for all Christians of how the Bride is to respond in love to the love of the Bridegroom.
Therefore, women--you ought not feel discriminated against simply because the priesthood is reserved solely to men. This male reservation of leadership in the Church does not hamper you at all!!! NO! You women have a unique way of contributing to the Church. If you read what we said about your role in society, we acknowledged that women should should have access to positions of responsibility in civil society and we meant that--just the same as you should have access to the heart of Christian life. We don't necessarily want you to hold or occupy any leadership positions that would compete with men, but we value your influence! Way to go girls!
17. In Jesus Christ all things have been made new (cf. Rev 21:5). Renewal in grace, however, cannot take place without conversion of heart. Gazing at Jesus and confessing him as Lord means recognizing the path of love, triumphant over sin, which he sets out for his disciples.
Remember, it was that awful original sin that subjugated women. But, with the birth of Jesus, a MAN (an important and relevant fact), the path to salvation can be found through the covenant between men and women. The path to love and triumph over sin requires women to have a correct understanding of their biological imperative as originally ordained by God. A woman is a man's passionate sexual partner and passive assistant. Her role in the grand scheme of things is important and equivalent to a man's role--just different due to biological differences.
In this way, man's relationship with woman is transformed, and the three-fold concupiscence described in the First Letter of John (1 Jn 2:16) ceases to have the upper hand. The witness of women's lives must be received with respect and appreciation, as revealing those values without which humanity would be closed in self-sufficiency, dreams of power and the drama of violence. Women too, for their part, need to follow the path of conversion and recognize the unique values and great capacity for loving others which their femininity bears. In both cases, it is a question of humanity's conversion to God, so that both men and women may come to know God as their R