marți, 20 noiembrie 2007

Women and Religious Communities III.

Catholic Church

Historical Catholicism obviously considered women as second-class creations; they were excluded from the priesthood, cult, teaching, and almost every part of the Church. They were allowed to be nuns but not to lead a sermon. In the middle-age society they had no right to own anything, they were practically a property of their husbands, and they were not allowed to start a divorce. Catholic Church nowadays is still rejecting divorce, the women`s ordination is not even a debate-issue, strongly disagree whit the idea of contraception or abortion. In the other side there is the cult of Mary, the Holy Mother (which doesn`t have any biblical basics). This woman-mother-picture deeply influences the everyday-life of catholic believers. The cult of self-sacrifice, suffering, mortification and being a victim does not help today`s women in their equality-fights, and makes any kind of suffering acceptable for `noble` causes. Self-discovery and being valuable as an ego is not popular in this way of thinking. The problem is with that picture that women are not allowed to determine this for this is totally determined by man-masters of divinity.

Historical Protestantism (The Lutheran, Calvinist-Reformed, Unitarian, Anglican Churches in Europe)

Historical Protestantism during the 20th century redefined the women`s place in it`s communities. Most of churches allow women in priesthood, some churches therefore present some kind of restriction: for example the Romanian Reformed Church has an attendance quota in seminary-application: the proportion of women priests should not be higher than 15%. None of other Romanian Protestant Churches practices this quota. They don`t have dogmas against divorce, abortion or contraception even though they don`t agree with them; they consider this problem an ethical issue instead of dogmatical one. The responsibility in God`s presence and free will concerns each of the people, no one, not even a priest is allowed to practice psychological or dogmatical pressure to change one`s decision, the priest is not able to close the way to God being just a person as everyone else, because in protestant anthropology everyone is equal no matter if it is a man or a woman, priest or simple believer, and anz single person can talk to God without a priest`s attendance. Protestant churches being historical initiators of the democratic idea including the institution of church councils in their practice are more reflective and flexible to cultural and social changes. The idea of `semper reformandi` allows and requires changing if it is suitable to the Bible, because the dogma is not saint as it is in catholic tradition. The protestant Bible-interpretation deeply reflects to social changes, because the interpretation itself is not saint, so it is changeable. Protestantism has in it`s main point of view the present circumstances, and reloads the Jewish idea of reinterpreting the sacred texts for present requirements. Therefore the women`s place in protestant communities is more comfortable for today`s women. Protestant theology made a very remarkable step in 20th century: the religious orders which have been a contemporary social habits or attitudes such as the forbidding of teaching for the women are interpreted such as historical-dependent ones, and can be changed.

In dogmatics this changes are harder to perform. There is a feminist theology, but it hasn`t gained a change of theological paradigm. “Christianity`s alliance with social and political power has nonetheless turned it at many points in history into martial faith. The loss of such opportunity within the context of modern secular polities has opened new possibilities of recovering and reactivating its pacific, feminine, and relational codes.” (Linda Woodhead: Feminism and the Sociology of Religion: From the Gender-blindness to Gendered Difference; in.: Fenn, Richard K. ed.: Sociology of Religion; Blackwell, Malden, 2003; p.79 ) The Christian God-picture is a dominating, fighting, martial, rigorous father which reflects mostly to the Old Testament. The feminist paradigm can change this picture to a more feminine one: a peaceful, informal, relational, loving, emotional, intimate god-picture, which is not strange in Christian theology considering Jesus` preaching and the way of treating women. God can be not just a father but a mother as well (in Old Testament there are also motherly pictures of God), not an almighty, powerful, distant creator, a potentate divine, instead, he-she can be one with whom can be hold an intimate conversation, and personal relationship.