Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Egalitarian Catholic Spirituality

The Virgin Mary is worshipped throughout Catholicism almost as much as, if not more than, Jesus. A few years ago, a large group of Catholics actually petitioned the Vatican to elevate Mary to Jesus' level - they were turned down because that's not how theology works.

The hierarchy and doctrine of the Church have a long history of misogyny, heterosexism, and mistreatment of women. Women must be subservient, silent, obedient, and serene breeders (if not chaste virgins for life).

In practice, however, particularly among the lower classes, the spirituality of Catholics is more woman-centric. Check how many shrines to Mary are in your neighborhood, how many rosaries hang from rearview mirrors (or that people wear, which a good Catholic isn't technically supposed to do), how many Mary/rosary tattoos you see. Then all the Catholic woman saints and leaders: St. Joan of Arc, Dorothy Day, St. Barbara, Mother Theresa, St. Ursula, Princess Diana (I'm aware that she was Anglican, but that didn't stop my childhood parish from praying to her), etc. In spiritual practice, Catholicism gets rather egalitarian.

The hierarchy may topple from the scandals in a largely secular world, but people will continue the rituals, symbols, traditions, etc. of Catholicism. Which means the worship of a female icon isn't going away anytime soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment