Friday, April 30, 2004

Archbiship O'Malley and Feminism 

Boston.com reports that yesterday Boston's Archbiship Sean P. O'Malley apologized for and attempted to extricate himself from comments he made on Holy Thursday, in which he included feminism in a list of social problems. He states it was merely an incident in which word order and his neglect to define feminism that led to a misunderstanding. From the article:

"Feminism is a very elastic term, and I did not try to define it or categorize it," O'Malley wrote. "Other influences I mentioned were obviously negative, and so my comment was construed as an attack on feminism."

Regis College president Mary Jane England welcomed the archbishop's statement:

"The Catholic community has some very serious problems to work on, and we can't be distracted by ideologies or rubrics," she said. "I was glad the archbishop clarified his view of feminism. It can happen sometimes that you place words too close to one another, and they all sound like one thing, and I gather he had not intended for that to occur. I don't think we should be distracted by this, because we have to keep our eye on the ball, focusing on keeping sure that no child is ever abused again and working with the poor and with new immigrants."

What exactly was this simple slip of word order? O'Malley stated that the members of the Baby Boom generation:

"...are heirs to Woodstock, the drug culture, the sexual revolution, feminism, the breakdown of authority, and divorce." The sentence came in the midst of O'Malley's discussion of the challenges of ministering to baby boomers, of whom he said, "Typically, they are religious illiterates, but they are interested."

I really don't see how this statement can be taken as anything other than a criticism of feminism, and of anyone of a certain age (that would include me - I'm on the cusp between Baby Boom and Gen-X) who doesn't agree with the Catholic church teachings as a "religious illiterate." That kind of broad generalization sounds like the product of a distracting ideology.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:24 AM