Thursday, March 29, 2012

“The Church View of Women is Based on Ancient Greek and Roman Culture” - Catholic Women Priests Part 2 by Diana Milesko

             To solve a problem, one first must approach it with an unbiased mind. This can be difficult when one has been indoctrinated since childhood about an issue.
            Then one needs to figure out where the problem came from. By tracing the Church back to the Ancient World, one learns that, because of the culture that surrounded it, the Church first accepted and then rejected women priests.
PLATO (427-347 BC)
            Greek philosopher Plato, student of Socrates, laid the foundations of Western philosophy. He wrote that in the Greek society, a women’s function was to produce children, especially sons. "Confined in the parental home until a husband was chosen--at which time she was in her mid-teens and he at least fifteen years older--the woman was transferred to his home to fulfill her principal function of bearing and rearing children. Sons were raised in the family but only one daughter, at most, was reared. Other girls were exposed; if they did not die, they might be picked up by slave dealers and prepared for a life of slavery or prostitution."
ARISTOTLE (384-322 BC)
            Plato’s student, Aristotle, who taught Alexander the Great, also accepted the subordination of women without being able to justify it. He posited that woman's inability to produce semen was her deficiency. (Aristotle’s father was a physician.) Women were 'incomplete' men, because semen contained the whole human being. Science has long proven this false. Both female ova and male semen combine to form an embryo.
THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-1274)
            800 years later, Italian Dominican priest Thomas Aquinas propagated Aristotle’s faulty thinking in his immensely influential 13th century arguments. The society of his time was in great upheaval and the Church sought to secure it’s absolute authority. The Church still sees Aquinas as a model for seminarians. He is considered it’s greatest theologian, despite the fact that his melding of Aristotelian thought with Christianity led to misogynist views of women; views prevalent until the 1960s, when they began to be challenged.
            Most Christians today presume women played little role in the early Church.  But the Church did not spring up suddenly into a well defined organization with buildings, officials and large congregations. In it’s earliest stages it was a social movement. It was informal, often counter cultural, and marked by a fluidity and flexibility that allowed women to assume leadership roles. [Karen Jo Torjesen. When Women Were Priests]
            In the two centuries after Christ’s death, Christians, a hodgepodge of peoples, were disdainfully dismissed as a “third race” by Greeks and Romans. Women priests, (presbyters,) deacons, and abbesses and were persecuted equally with men.  Otherwise, female priests were mostly ignored because they conformed to cultural norms. 
            Christian communities met in “house churches” to avoid persecution. Because women were heads of households, they were pivotal in Christian worship and served as priests (presbyters) and deacons.  As Christianity grew, it’s congregants moved to the public sector and became more visible. When that happened, pressure increased on Christians to follow Middle Eastern practices that decreed women belonged in the home.
            Thus Catholic Church hierarchy was born of politics and culture, not faith; its rules marginalizing women follow those of Middle Eastern and North African cultures in Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Algeria, Armenia, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

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