OSV: “Cardinal Burke’s ‘Feminized’ Church comment sparks debate”
It is possible to have a charitable and reasonable discussion on the topics His Eminence has raised. Radical feminism has had a negative impact on society and on the Church; many can see this clearly as noted in the article.
Some can’t. The confusion by some of the commentators who disagree with Cardinal Burke deserve a rebuttal:
- Some quoted in the article, including Timothy P. O’Malley (Director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy) and Simcha Fisher (a blogger at Patheos), have trouble discerning what His Eminence said, drawing the false conclusion that Cardinal Burke thinks that feminization is at the root of liturgical abuses. If they thoughtfully reflected on His Eminence’s comments, they would realize that “radical feminization” was less that 1/5 of His Eminence’s comments and blame is placed directly on Bishops and priests for allowing liturgical abuses to take place. Cardinal Burke does not blame women for liturgical abuse. Somehow, both O’Malley and Fisher misconstrue and misrepresent His Eminence’s point; perhaps they have been victims of the “radical feminization” that Cardinal Burke laments; this perhaps clouds their reason.
- Mr. O’Malley, while fundamentally rejecting Cardinal Burke’s assertion that the Church has become feminized, unwittingly proves His Eminence’s point with his feminized sensitivities. Mr. O’Malley found Cardinal Burke’s language “unnecessarily hostile” (though it is unclear what specific language offended O’Malley) and that Cardinal Burke’s “incorporating vision of masculinity rooted in warfare” was personally distasteful. Two responses: 1) nothing in Cardinal Burke’s comments are “hostile” and to attribute “hostility” to Cardinal Burke is both a false accusation nd a weak-kneed pandering to feminized sensitivities; 2) O’Malley’s criticism of “masculinity rooted in warfare” reveals his own ignorance or willful rejection of the long tradition in the Church of the concept of spiritual warfare (e.g. see Paul’s comments about spiritual combat in Ephesians 6:10-20, the “Church Militant”, Dom Scupoli’s “The Spiritual Combat”, the Catechism of the Catholic Church #409, the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Malta, The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Dr. Paul Thigpen’s excellent new book Manual for Spiritual Warfare, etc.). Mr. O’Malley is the Director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and finds the idea of men’s engagement in spiritual combat offensive; no wonder that the liturgy has become feminized to the point of turning many men off.
- Another problem that pops up is the common sloppy use of personal experience of a few parishes as a trend. Ms. Fisher makes this common mistake; “Fisher said, adding that she has seen many parishes where active female parishioners do not outnumber their male counterparts”; so does Kerry Weber (editor of America Magazine) when she fails to refute the negative impact of radical feminization with this: ” “But any perceived challenges to these things today should not be attributed to what some perceive as the feminization of the Church” who added that men and women work together in her New York parish..”.
- While both Fisher and Weber attempt to make their points with personal experience and opinion, there is overwhelming fact-based evidence that men are opting out of participation of Mass (men are only 1/3 of regular mass attenders) and that women make up 70-90% of those who participate in leading parish life. Personal observations of a few parishes can sway the undiscerning but these kinds of personal experience narratives are are simply opinion masquerading as arguments. And they are not representative of reality.
- Many commentators are up in arms about Cardinal Burke’s assertion that the Church has become feminized. They have no facts, just outrage and personal observation to attempt to challenge what a Cardinal has asserted; it is prideful and confused to argue with a Cardinal of the Church without some basis other than one’s personal offense and hurt feelings. Where are the facts? Here is a fact: a recent Crux poll shows that 75% of those responding agree with Cardinal Burke’s assertion that the Church has become feminized. That bears repeating: 75% of Crux readers who took the poll (and Crux is certainly not a hot bed of conservative Catholics) agree with Cardinal Burke that the Church has become feminized.
- This article, like the bulk of the commentary so far, misses much of His Eminence’s incisive commentary on what has led to the Catholic “man-crisis” and what to do about it. See this summary of Cardinal Burke’s interview for clear view of What Cardinal Burke Really Said.
What continues to be needed is charity and reason to be applied to the challenges that the Church faces. We all need to put aside animosity and societal conditioning and think like Catholics, using charity and reason.
Sometimes charity and reason that speaks truth hurts feelings. So be it.
We’re in a war, after all.