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In the light of centuries of misogyny and patriarchy exhibited by the Christian churches, especially but not uniquely the Roman Catholic Church, under the guise of divine command, it is disappointing to read Margaret Hickey’s defence (Irish Examiner, 31 August 31) of banning Fr Tony Flannery from speaking on ‘Church property’.
Her attempt at defence raises a lot more questions than she is even willing to address. There was a time, not that long ago, when censorship was thought to be the way to go in shutting up ‘unwelcome’ voices — witness Pius IX ‘Syllabus of Errors’ and the attempted silencing of over 100 leading theologians by John Paul II.
This will no longer do for one reason — the censorship approach demands deep intellectual dishonesty and no appeal to authority can extricate a person from this dilemma especially with people who are educated, scientifically and psychologically literate, and committed to democratic values.
You would have to conclude that Ms Hickey is unaware of the 200 years of Biblical research which gives the lie to most of her claims. I challenge her to produce even one Catholic or Christian theologian who would express the Church’s self-understanding in her terms.
She seems to be unaware that Jesus was a Jew who preached in Jewish synagogues when he was allowed. She seems to be totally unaware that the treatment of women by Jesus was radically counter cultural in its time. The ahistorical approach explicit in every conservative defence of Church doctrines and practice is equally intellectually dishonest — it will not hold under the most cursory scrutiny. The Church has always adapted to new philosophical and scientific insights while claiming not to do so.
I call on your newspaper to ask a theologian like Gina Menzies to respond to this essay.
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