Newsweek Calls the Catholic Church an 'All-Male Club … Keeping Modernity at Bay'

April 7th, 2010 12:00 AM

Hell hath no fury like a liberal whose world view has been scorned. Thus, Newsweek Religion Editor Lisa Miller really, really doesn't like the Catholic Church. Three weeks ago, she raged against American bishops standing in the way of ObamaCare. Two weeks ago, she attacked Pope Benedict and called the Church a “whiff of freakishness.” Last week, she went after Pope Benedict again and called Jesus a "typically cranky" religious figure. Now this week, in her April 3 article  “A Woman's Place is in the Church,” Miller said that it's “no mystery” why the Catholic Church has been facing sexual abuse charges: it's an “all-male club.”

“The problem—bluntly put—is that the bishops and cardinals who manage the institutional church live behind guarded walls in a pre-Enlightenment world,” she wrote.

Miller accused the Catholic Church of willfully ignoring “one of the great achievements of the modern age” — “the integration of women in the workforce and public life” — and the result has been the clergy facing “damage control” and a “credibility gap.”

Miller compared Catholic priests to college fraternity boys, saying that “insular groups of men do bad things.” Quoting Rev. Marie Fortune, a minister in the United Church of Christ, Miller wrote that the Catholic Church could have defrocked the sexually abusive priests at any time but didn't because it's a "boys' club, an institution that is so ingrown and conservative and out of touch with people."

Miller claimed that if women had more positions of leadership, the Church wouldn't be facing these sex-abuse scandals.

Kerry Robinson, executive director of NLRCM - a nonproft organization that "promotes ... best practices in the management" of the Catholic Church, told Miller that, right now, the Church is seen “as sins and crimes committed by men, covered up by men, and sustained by men. To overcome that, the church has to absolutely include more women.”  

The Church's clergy, Miller said, have a “sense of entitlement” and a concern for protecting their own interests rather than the needs of the faithful – and it's all because of the lack of women in the Vatican.

By “eschewing not just marriage, but intimacy with women and professional relationships with women,” Miller said, the “senior executives” of the Church have chosen to value “conformity and order above the chaos of real life.”

Turning to Robinson again, Miller claimed that if the Church continues to refuse women higher and more leadership positions, it will result in a “grave consequence.”

"A young woman looks at the corporate world and sees that she can reach the highest levels of leadership," Robinson said. "She is frustrated at the lack of opportunities to live out her leadership in the church. The grave consequence of that is that the church becomes less and less relevant to women. And the consequence of that is that it becomes less and less relevant to her children."

Miller only briefly mentioned in the middle of her 2,700 word article that women in power can be just "as ruthless and self-serving as men" and that "the perpetrators in a few of the recent European [sex abuse] cases have been women."

But that hardly matters to a liberal incensed that an institution won't remake itself in her own image.

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