Dowd isn't resigned to spiritual and psychological abuse. To the contrary, she skillfully skewers the dogmatic intellectual inbreeding that has led to this sorry state.
I, too, belonged to an inbred and wealthy men’s club cloistered behind walls and disdaining modernity.
I, too, remained part of an autocratic society that repressed women and ignored their progress in the secular world.
I, too, rationalized as men in dresses allowed our religious kingdom to decay and to cling to outdated misogynistic rituals, blind to the benefits of welcoming women’s brains, talents and hearts into their ancient fraternity.
To circumscribe women, Saudi Arabia took Islam’s moral codes and orthodoxy to extremes not outlined by Muhammad; the Catholic Church took its moral codes and orthodoxy to extremes not outlined by Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus is surrounded by strong women and never advocates that any woman — whether she’s his mother or a prostitute — be treated as a second-class citizen.
Negating women is at the heart of the church’s hideous — and criminal — indifference to the welfare of boys and girls in its priests’ care.
I made my choice years ago, as it became obvious to me the reigning clergy operated with principles far removed from the basic goodness of the faith that Jesus inspired. I left the Catholic Church. Many women stay, though. They feel they and their children have nowhere to go, and the daily contempt and manipulation they suffer from the Church fathers - while abusive - is familiar. And, like Dowd and Miller, they're hopeful that they can help them mature into humane beings.
[...] in the Roman Catholic corporation, the senior executives live and work, as they have for a thousand years, eschewing not just marriage, but intimacy with women and professional relationships with women—not to mention any chance to familiarize themselves with the earthy, primal messiness of families and children. Indeed, it seems the further a priest moves beyond the parish, the more likely he is to value conformity and order above the chaos of real life. [...]
One parent in one room where a bishop was deciding the fate of an abusing priest would have saved countless families from a lifetime of misery. "It's a pretty good guess that we would not be in this same predicament were women involved," says Frank Butler, president of FADICA, a group of Catholic family foundations. "For sure."
It is a reforming moment, then, a time for the men of the Vatican to take the wisdom of their own words to heart. The Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s was an effort to better integrate the antique church with the modern world, and its documents overtly address the changing place of women. "The hour is coming," read the council's closing documents, "in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment…women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling."