Sunday, October 20, 2013


In order to understand the Roman Catholic Church--and especially the role of women--one has to consider the importance of the Virgin Mary and how she fits into the rest of the Faith. - KATE O'HARE/BREITBART

In the last couple of weeks, Pope Francis has been outlining a family structure to illustrate the relationships among different elements in the Roman Catholic Church, with Christ as the Father and Bridegroom, the Church as His dutiful Bride, and Mary as both a mother and, as she is sometimes called, the Queen of Heaven (inspired by the powerful Queen Mothers of Israel's Davidic kings).

This is only one of several concepts used to describe the Church, but using the family metaphor has allowed the pope to offer lessons in Marian theology, since many outside the Church particularly don't understand the devotion to the mother of Jesus. To some, it looks like idolatry; to others, sentimentality; to many, it looks like love for the Virgin Mary exceeds that for her Son.

But for Catholics, Mary is not worshiped as a deity but instead venerated as the highest of God's creatures, owing to her personal holiness, her assent to become Christ's earthly mother, and her faithfulness up to and beyond the Crucifixion. She is considered the first and model Christian, and since Catholics believe she lives on in Heaven, they turn to her to pray for them and offer support in hard times....

Ironically, for a Church accused of excluding women from positions of influence, many of its best-known and most recognizable figures are female. They include French warrior and mystic Saint Joan of Arc; Saint Hildegard von Bingen, a writer, visionary, prophetess, composer, herbalist, gardener and adviser to popes and bishops; Southern author Flannery O'Connor; writer and social activist Dorothy Day; and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a tireless caretaker of, and advocate for, the "poorest of the poor."

In a story seldom, if ever, told at women-in-media conferences, Mother Angelica rose from poverty and a broken home to become a cloistered Poor Clare nun (female Franciscans, named after St. Clare, an acolyte of St. Francis of Assisi, who's also the patron saint of television). Born Rita Antoinette Rizzo in Canton, Ohio, Mother Angelica went on to found a monastery in Alabama, then to launch the worldwide television and radio network ETWN. She also initiated the creation of a new order of Franciscan friars to help run the operation.