"I think the priesthood will become a profession dominated by women, particularly if the Church becomes more marginal." Now, that's an interesting statement. It's all the more interesting because it comes from a priestess in the (Anglican) Church of England, one Vivienne Faull, and because she thinks such a development would be just dandy.
Commenting on the statement in the October 2001 issue of New Directions (a plucky magazine put out by residual Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England), Fr. Geoffrey Kirk says: "If one looks at those roles which carry authority and high status and which can be filled by either women or men, men predominate and have always done so." Curiously, Ms. Faull understands this perfectly. She understands that women will be attracted to ministry -- and men will be repelled by it -- in direct proportion to the increasing irrelevance of the churches.
Since the 1970s the liberal Protestant churches in America have opened up the ministry in a big way to women, largely in the name of relevance, of fitting in with the culture. But ironically, as women surged into the seminaries and pulpits, those churches lost millions of members (not only men) and became increasingly irrelevant. Those churches, not very long ago called the "mainline churches," have been relegated -- or have relegated themselves -- to the sidelines.
Fr. Kirk, relying on Steven Goldberg's The Inevitability of Patriarchy, says that "in the eyes of men, when a profession comes to be predominantly female, it is automatically lowered in esteem." (Fr. Kirk isn't applauding this, just stating a fact.)
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