Woman as Reason: Church survives on sexism & hypocrisy

January 25, 2023

From the January-February 2023 issue of News & Letters

by Terry Moon

Student-led demonstration for abortion rights at Central Ohio College on June 28, 2022. Photo: Paul Becker/Becker1999

The Catholic Church has always been awash in misogyny: banning women from leadership positions; in Ireland enslaving pregnant women and taking their children; for decades banning LGBTQ+ people from worship and proclaiming their marriages invalid. It has enabled church officials to molest and rape hundreds of thousands of women, boys and girls, and still covers up that abuse while pontificating that it should never happen again.

This evil, while pretending to care for the poor and infirm, has instead exploited them—directly by turning them into slave labor, or indirectly by calling their exploitation “charity” while they are enriching themselves. Those under their “care” must toe their sexist, anti-LGBTQ+, exploitative ideological line.

This obscenely wealthy entity has supported rabidly anti-abortion politicians and judges who have mandated forced pregnancy—even at the cost of the women and others who can become pregnant. They helped install U.S. Supreme Court Justices who denied women’s human right to control our own bodies.

The harm of forced pregnancy is well documented, killing women by denying them needed healthcare and increasing suicides. It consigns families to lives of poverty, while crushing dreams of education and a life where children are loved and wanted.


And the damage keeps coming. A New York Times article documents how Catholic-owned-and-operated Ascension, one of the largest hospital chains in the U.S., created dangerous conditions in their hospitals in their drive for profits and obscenely high executive salaries.

Despite their non-profit status, which gives them huge tax exemptions, in 2021, with $18 billion in cash reserves, they paid the chief executive of their investment company $13 million. Even with those millions, they slashed labor costs by $500 million, as reported in 2019, mostly by firing essential personal.

This left them severely understaffed when COVID hit the next year. During the pandemic, Ascension cut more than 500 beds nationwide because of lack of nurses. At CommonSpirit Health one “overwhelmed nurse called 911 dispatchers, who sent the fire department to help care for patients.”

Nurses took the brunt of the firings, and those who were left faced the horrible consequences. During the pandemic, intensive care nurses were ordered to care for twice as many patients as the industry standard. Emergency room nurses refused to clock in after being told to care for 11 patients each, instead of the recommended four!

The Catholic Church is gobbling up hospitals not only to rake in the cash but to control what doctors can do and what patients can have. Pregnant women should seek care elsewhere if they don’t want to put their lives in jeopardy if an abortion becomes needed for their healthcare.


People rose up for decades to expose child sexual abuse by priests, only to have predators crop up elsewhere, as reported in The Washington Post. Predatory priests may have melted out of view in places like the U.S. and Ireland, but in Africa and Latin America, for example, they still have free rein.

A 14-year-old girl in Democratic Republic of Congo training as a nun told the nuns immediately she had been raped and who did it. The head nun told the local Bishop, Nicolas Djomo. Not only did he not punish the rapist priest until the police became involved, but he attacked the nuns who reported the rape.

First Djomo told the nuns and victim not to speak of what happened; then he offered the girl’s uncle $15,000 to cover up the rape in a country where most live on $2 a day. To his credit, her uncle refused. Next, Djomo dissolved the nuns’ association, which deprived them of a place to live, including the victim, who lived with them.

Because of the tenacity of the girl’s family, who went to the police, Djomo—eight months after the rape—barred the priest “from the ministry and having unsupervised contact with minors.” But then the Vatican ruled—without ever contacting the victim—that “there were insufficient grounds to show wrongdoing.” The Washington Post concluded: “The nuns, priests and the alleged victim who pressed Djomo about the accusations say he orchestrated a coverup that upended the life of the victim, kept his own reputation intact and absolved the alleged abuser within the church’s own system.”

Time and incredible effort have shown that the Catholic Church is an institution fiercely resistant to reform. Women’s subordinate position has ever been used to prop it up, be it nuns whose orders were created to never threaten the hierarchy but just to do the grunt work, or those who clean the church, launder the vestments and arrange the flowers. Misogyny is ingrained in society, as are disdain, discrimination and abuse. That has worked for the Church. They don’t want to change. Sexism works for the Church and they are determined to keep it.

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