Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You know you're a liberal Catholic ...

... when political correctness trumps theological correctness.

Fr. Séan McDonagh
Scripture, when translated with any concern to accuracy, isn't gender-inclusive. If you think about it, it makes sense: it was written long before feminists discovered that English cleped humans in general and nonspecific individuals as Man and men, and began to feel left out. The problem doesn't crop up in Latin, which uses different words for the different concepts (homo and vir). 

However, there are many places in Scripture and the Mass where the masculine noun and pronouns are more correct because of the senses beyond the bare literal (the analogical, the anagogical and the tropological). To try to make these passages "inclusive" would be to vitiate their extended meanings and theological utility.

However, Irish eco-theologian [How trendy can you get?] Fr. Séan McDonagh doesn't give a rat's patoot. According to Giacomo Galeazzi of La Stampa, Fr. McDonagh has said, “All Catholic women should write to their bishops to tell them they are not men." He has said they should complain that “not one woman was consulted during the rewriting of missal and about the use of archaic formulas” such as “for us men and for our salvation”.

While I strive for inclusive language, I've long felt the problem with the feminist argument is that it treats women as linguistically stupid. Until the language police came along, English-speaking women were well aware that they were included in such "archaic formulas", being able to tell from the context whether the use of man, men or he/his/him was gender-specific or not. Taking the principle to its logical conclusion, we should have such ridiculous constructions as person-o'-war (or warperson?), personhole, and humaning the barricades. Do liberals really need to patronize the people they've come to liberate and empower?

But moreover, the new translation is a done deal. It's been introduced in the UK and Ireland, and it takes effect in the US in just a bit over two months. The National Catholic Fishwrap and Commonweal may cheer and huzzah whenever clerics like Fr. McDonagh or Fr. Michael G. Ryan (the creator of the "What If We Just Said 'Wait'?" petition) strike a blow for "the Spirit of Vatican II", but for the rest of us it's just old, cold and overcooked. It's going to happen, and the only people who will think it a disaster will be those who want it to be a disaster. 

The complaint about the missal's "sexist language" is simply another desperate attempt to avert the inevitable. Get over it. Move on.