"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, December 22, 2006

The irony du jour

For Zenit, art professor Elizabeth Lev reports on a recent formal conversation in Rome on "Feminism and the Catholic Church" between her mother, Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law at Harvard and President of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences, and Lucetta Scaraffia, Professor of je ne sais quoi at the La Sapienza University in Rome. Here's the part I most like:

Scaraffia, in her insightful talk, brought out the historical foundations of feminism. She proposed that the ultimate solution to the feminism-in-the-Church question lies in more women holding decision-making positions in the Church. Indeed, one of the most amusing moments of the evening came when one woman in the audience demanded to know when a woman would be placed as the head of something in the Vatican. The three cardinals present pointed in a single gesture to Glendon, who is the president of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences.

For her part, Glendon did not suggest that the answer is flooding the Holy See with résumés to become head of this or that, but to courageously live out the vocation common to all lay people, men and women, to bear witness to Christ out in the secular world. She speculated that an implicit "clericalism" still lingers behind much of the push for women occupying positions in parishes, while the more fundamental work of evangelizing the secular world is neglected.

How delicious! The one example on earth of what Scaraffia called for did not agree that such was what was women, and men, most needed. The more important answer is to be a leaven in the world, not to seek power like those of the world.

Irony is powerful. Catholics need to hear more of it. Of course, they need to get it too. About that, I'm not sanguine. If my experience is any guide, Catholic progs are singularly lacking in the sense of irony. But that sense seems to go with the Faith. Any God who saves the human race by letting people torture and execute him as a threat to public order has quite a sense of irony. We need to share it.
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