In the current NCR, two officials of the Women's Ordination Conference condemn Pope Benedict's recent remarks urging respect for the dignity of every woman as "egregious hypocrisy." Why hypocrisy? Because women are not ordained priests.
Conventional secular wisdom, today, calls for the equality (often interchangeability) of women and men. A century ago it didn't. Since the Church offends conventional secular wisdom in this respect, she is regarded by secularists as anti-woman.
Even prescinding from the unchangeability of doctrine, the situation isn't so simple.
Flash back a century, when conventional wisdom in Europe and America vaunted Edwardian male complacency, and ask yourselves which public edifices would have been named for women. You'd find the occasional building named after a monarch (e.g., Victoria Hall), but almost all the rest would be Catholic churches dedicated to her saints: St. Anne's, St. Brigid's, St. Cecilia's, St. Dymphna's ... etc.
Their unfriendly neighbors, remember, would have accused St. Anne's parishioners of excessive devotion to her womanhood ("Catholics worship saints ..."). The Church didn't receive congratulation for her "inclusiveness."
Does this consideration absolve individual Catholics of bias? Of course not. But it refocuses the question of who genuinely values the dignity of women: those whose enthusiasms for equality reflect the sentiments of the hour, or those who manage to find a place for the exaltation of women even when the social and cultural surroundings are hostile.
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