Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mislabeling Catholics as Misogynists

Recently, a couple of small blurbs in the Our Sunday Visitor (June 16, 2013 issue) caught my attention. One described the Archdioecese of Cincinnati receiving a verdict awarding money to a fired employee. Another summarized a study released at the World Health Assembly about abortion's negative impact on various women's health issues. Still another was an entire article about modesty using a New Jersey school's contentious method as a lesson. On the surface these stories are very different, however, at their core they reflect a similar theme: the misogyny of the Catholic Church.

An unmarried woman was dismissed from her teaching position in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after using artificial insemination to get pregnant.  Opponents decry this termination as yet another sign that the Catholic Church is misogynic. At the root of the court case, the woman in question had signed a contact to comply with the Church's teachings prior to employment. Well catechised and educated individuals know that conception outside of 'normal' intercourse is against the moral norms of the Church. Period However, poorly catechized and anti-Catholic individuals often use the established moral norms of the Church as examples of the archaic and unrealistic attitudes that pit the Church against women.

A study released during the World Health Assemby in Switzerland revealed that abortion has negative effects on women's health.  On one level, everyone knows the Church vigorously opposes abortion--even 'Catholics' that defend the "right" to abortion. Abortion is wrong. Period Knowledge of the Church's unwavering teaching on abortion doesn't prevent many from disagreeing and again pointing the finger at the Church's so-called misogynic ways. When the Church's position is backed by numerous scientific studies as well as ancedotal evidence, the Church and Her faithful followers are accused of "exaggerating" and even perpetuating a "war on women".

In New Jersey, a junior high school implemented a ban on strapless dresses for eigth-grade prom. Yet again, opponents to this ban paint the administration as misogynists. Regardless of this school's affiliation with Catholicism, it shares a similarity with many Catholic schools that implement a similar ban. Modesty is a hot-button issue even among faithful Catholics. The controversy among Catholics isn't about whether modesty is a virtue. It is. Period. Instead the controversy revolves around the definition and implementation of modesty. Again, opponents of the Church, and even some faithful members, label the Church as misogynic.

Supporters of the Church know Mother Church is anything but misogynic. While oppenents are accusing the Church of misogyny, they also claim Catholics worship Mary, a woman; both patently false accusations. The Church's position on these controversial issues actually protects women and maintains an inherent God-given dignity and value. Most women strongly desire children at one point in their life. Catholic teaching welcomes that. By establishing laws defining the sacrament of marriage and the marital embrace, the Church ensures women aren't used simply for satisfaction of sexual desire and offspring. Children are highly valued by the Church and are a natural product blessing upon a marriage. Stripping these children from women's wombs opens these women for countless physical, emotional, and spiritual harms. Banning abortion again protects women from this desecration. Modesty is not about protecting men from women's 'evil' charms. Instead, the Church's position on modesty reflects God's beauty shown through His creation and safeguards against perverting it. Contrary to forcing women to submit to harmful edicts, the Church's laws protect women and recognize God's dignity and beauty in women.

Mary's role in the Church exemplifies the Church's position on these three divergent, but complementary issues. As a faithful Jew, Mary said "Yes" to God's call and His laws, even when they brought her strife. Pregnancy prior to marriage could have led to death for Mary, yet she never considered her pregnancy anything but God's blessing. Through her adherance to God's laws and discipleship to Jesus, Mary maintained her modesty in appearance and action throughout her life. God so loved the world that He gave us His Son (John 3:16). His Son so loved the world that before He died, He gave us Mary as our Mother (John 19:27) and role-model.  Once again, the cacophonus accusations of anti-Catholics and poorly catechized Catholics silence the truth of the Catholic Church's stance on the universal beauty and dignity of mankind. How could a Church with beliefs like this possibly be misogynic?

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