A Gen Yer argues AGAINST change

As a whole, older generations know Generation-Y as the "ME" generation. In the eyes of many Millennials, if something isn't suitable for us, we change it to be more suitable to our own personal preferences. Millennials have been raised this way. Our parents told us, "Do whatever makes you happy," or, "You can do anything you want." These are both stellar ideals, even in a less than ideal world.

There are things that some of us can't do. People with serious physical limitations can't perform the duties of a firefighter. Becoming an EMT may not be a good choice for someone with an aversion to blood. Women can not become Catholic priests.

I, like probably most young, politically liberal Catholics, am asked by my non-Catholic and Catholic friends alike for my opinion on the last scenario. Why shouldn't there be women priests? I don't know the entire theological argument for this point, but I am a firm believer in the Church's position: I don't ever want to see female priests.

Society has changed for the better in the past forty years. Women are a major part of the workforce. Men are increasingly staying at home. But even with these changes in society, men and women remain different.

Women received an incredible gift in the beginning with the ability to carry children in the womb. It takes incredible mental and physical strength to see a pregnancy to completion. Though it may seem sexist, I think women are stronger than men and better suited for childbirth. I know I couldn't handle the pain inherent in childbirth.

I believe that pregnancy is a gift because of a difficult personal loss my wife and I experienced two years ago. We lost our son, Joseph Michael Koutsoufis, stillborn at full term.

I envy the woman's role in pregnancy because my wife spent forty quality weeks with Joseph, nurturing his growth inside her. She carried and protected him until the last week. Other than feeling him kick occasionally, my only contact with Joseph was after he passed. I cradled Joseph's lifeless body in my arms. I ran my fingers through his rust colored hair. I swabbed blood from his lips because his skin started to decompose in the womb. I sat in the front pew for his funeral Mass trying unsuccessfully to be a rock for my family. I knelt at Joseph's casket graveside and said good bye.
by Daniel Koutsoufis (b. 1982)

I often wish that I had that nine months with Joseph, but I'm happy that my wife did instead. She deserved that personal experience. As Far Eastern traditions teach us, life is about balance; Yin and Yang. As Catholicism teaches us, women can choose to sacrifice their bodies for the life of a child, while men can sacrifice having children for the privilege of becoming a Catholic priest. Balance.

Catholic society has existed in roughly its current form for two millennia, emerging from the contemporaries of Christ. Gen-Y is an incredible group of people. But, who are we to think that we should be able to change apostolic tradition just because we don't agree with it? When did our opinions become more important than those of Saint Peter and Saint Paul? The Catholic Church changed enough as a result of the Second Vatican Council. Let's leave well enough alone.

1 comment:

  1. Daniel,

    I appreciate your perspective that your experience brings to this discussion. I do, however, worry about your over-simplification of the "men and women are different" theme. Not all women ARE capable of bearing children. Are women without a womb, or whose wombs don't function for any number of reasons, less "women" than their reproducing counterparts? In reality, when it comes to biology as well as any other system of comparison, there is as much variation within the sexes as there is across the sexes. Anything that you can say about women in general, or men in general, have so many exceptions that they must always be phrased as "most women..." or "most men..." if they want to be considered even remotely true.

    The history of women in priestly roles in the Church is sketchy at best, with more than a few scholars arguing that there were, in fact, women in priestly roles in the early church and within Jesus' inner circle. But the argument the Church makes is not just based on keeping tradition, but rests firmly on this idea that there exists a firm distinction between men and women - that we are essentially different. I'm not convinced of this, which is why I disagree fundamentally with the Vatican on this issue.