|via New York Times|
A lot of Episcopalians felt lodged between a rock and a hard place. These “Catholic light” followers of Christ were uncomfortable with this shift in their faith tradition and began to venture back to the beacon of all that is true and holy and unchanging – the Catholic Church.
Amidst the “bigot” / “homophobe” name calling across the aisle are the wives and children of these married, formerly Episcopalian priests. As this article obliged, we must “pause to ponder the environment that the priests’ wives might expect to encounter. After all, the status of the priest’s wife is perhaps even more strange and unsettling than that of her ordained Catholic husband.”
The author aptly notes how the early Christian church praised chastity (as Paul did), but did not mandate it until the First Lateran Council. By this time, the “priest’s wife had become a symbol of wantonness and defilement.” Medieval theologians determined that married clerics could defile the consecrated bread and wine due to their intimate relationship with their wives, those “furious vipers who out of ardor of impatient lust decapitate Christ, the head of clerics.” You know, because all women are either Madonnas or whores with insatiable sexual appetites. (No, really. That’s why some cultures force female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls and young women.)
Given that these conclusions arose during the same time as women were chattel, it seems consistent with the persistent blend of misogynistic cultural and religious practices. But it begs the question of whether policymakers within the Church have numeric dyslexia – it’s the 21st century, not the 12th, after all. Whoever these wives are, they are in a precarious and vulnerable position as the first wives to priests for almost 1,000 years.