Does the Catholic faith require that the father is the chief breadwinner of the family?

Sentire Cum Ecclesia must be a little disappointing to its fans these days. I just don’t have that much time to blog. Right now, I am up at Kaloramo in the Dandenongs, sitting outside a closed café overlooking Silvan Reservoir. Locals will know where I am. I am waiting for my daughter to finish her dancing class and smoking my pipe. So, I have time to blog.

But blog what? There are, now, quite a few Australian Catholic blogs that keep you up with the news of the world. My RSS feed on my iPhone downloads more material than I can read. Some of it I would like to comment on, but there is rarely something I feel the need to say that others have not said already. And by the time I come to blogging on a topic, it is usually no longer “news”. So current affairs is out.

I thought therefore that I would do something else – one of those things that you only get on Sentire Cum Ecclesia: thrash out a theological problem to find out what the “mind of the Church” really is on a matter (so that we can all then confidently “think with the Church”).

The topic I would like to address is one raised in the combox to the previous post: Does Catholic dogma (or, alternatively, Catholic moral theology) assert that the father is to be the breadwinner for the family as distinct from the mother’s task which is the raising of the children? Gareth and Cardinal Reg reckon “yes”. I am not so sure.

The major reason why I have my doubts about the affirmative answer to this question is because the question itself assumes a particularly modern Western way of dividing labour between the “home” and the “workplace”. The practice of the father “going out to work” is reasonably recent even in Western culture. In many other cultures (eg. a “hunter gatherer” culture) it would make little sense. True Catholic dogma (or moral teaching) must be universal in its formulation, and such that it can be applied explicitly in a particular context (I just formulated the principle – I may be wrong in thinking it. Add that to the question to be debated).

Here is the gist of the conversation so far:

1. Gareth said:

I love to be controversial, so I am going to throw a cat amongst the birds here by adding that I am sure another reason that the Church’s ‘No’ to women priests hasn’t really sunk in is because the Church has failed to adequately speak out against secular feminism per se.
When was the last time I heard JPII or Benedict make any statement against the notion that it is opposed to Biblical values that a women take the place of a man in modern society? I don’t remember many Papal statements encouraging motherhood [in reality, there are plenty of these, I think – add this to the investigative task and see what you can come up with] or that a mother stay be [sic] in their rightful place as full-time mother during a child’s early years. In fact, to the contrary – Papal statements seem to celebrate and encourage this???…

2. Schütz said:

There are many papal statements encouraging motherhood [Dear Reader: please help me find such statements – I was writing from a general impression], but the propositions you put forward here as “biblical” are not Catholic teaching [or at least that is my impression – the purpose of this post is to work out if that is so or not]. That is why you do not hear the popes saying this kind of thing. The Church is on favour of anything that strengthens the family. Thus the demands of the workplace upon either parent – father or mother – would be wrong if it negatively impacted upon the family. But there is no dogmatic reason why the mother cannot be the major breadwinner of the family while the father is the one who stays at home to care for the children [again, that has been my assumption – I want your help to tell me if I am right or not].

3. Cardinal Pole said:

“13. … It is a most sacred law of nature that a father should provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; …”
[Leo XIII., Encyclical Letter Rerum novarum,
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html
But one doesn’t need a Pope to tell one this; it is a matter of natural law.

4. Schütz said:

I wonder.
1) the pope believed this to be a “sacred law of nature”. Does this come under his magisterium of teaching revealed faith?
2) was the pope saying that, even at the level of natural law, this was the duty of fathers in particular as over against the duty of mothers? In other words, was he discounting the possibility that this is the sacred duty of parents as such? Was he saying that this duty primarily falls to fathers? Was he saying that between them both parents could not together arrange for the provision of their family as best suited their situation?
Just wondering if you are not being too narrow in your interpretation of Pope Leo’s statement.

5. Gareth said:

Sorry, totally disagree with you here David – it is Catholic dogma (even defined at Council of Trent) that a male is HEAD of the household. [Actually, St Paul said that the husband is the “head of his wife” in 1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 5:23; can someone give me chapter and verse of the Council of Trent on this?]
From this, it is pretty self-explanatory that generally speaking God desires that a male’s primary responsibility is to be provider and protector of the family, whilst the female’s primary responsibility is the rearing of children. [Actually, I don’t think this follows necessarily at all.]
Papal statements even in the 1930s and 1950s by Pius’s XI and XII did not beat around the bush – they espoused families and governments to be faithful to this model and anything less as a deviation from God’s plans. [Is it? That would assume that God’s plans for the arrangement of the family economy only ever came to fulfillment in the Western modern culture…]
JPII’s and Benedict’s statements on the issues are wishy-washy and seem to give a positive light to secular feminism. [Is there a kind of feminism which is not secular, but Christian?] Catholic institutions seem to also not care.
No-wonder Papal pronouncements on women priests do not seem to set in deep if the Church at the local level seems no different from the rest of society on the broader issue of family models and being counter-revolutionary to secular feminism that states a women should live their lives as of a man…

6. Cardinal Pole said:

“Does this come under his magisterium of teaching revealed faith?”
I expect that it came under his Magisterium of teaching morals, not Faith. [That seems right]
“this was the duty of fathers in particular as over against the duty of mothers?”
Clearly. [I would need to see the whole context of Pope Leo’s statement to judge whether this was “clear”.]
“In other words, was he discounting the possibility that this is the sacred duty of parents as such?”
He clearly said “father”, not ‘parent’, so yes. [But if the father has died, or has deserted his family or for some other reason is unable to provide for his family (eg. disability) does this duty not then fall to the mother? If so, she must have some share in the duty.]
“Was he saying that this duty primarily falls to fathers?”
It would seem to be something stronger than that. [What, exactly?]
“Was he saying that between them both parents could not together arrange for the provision of their family as best suited their situation?”
No, obviously he wasn’t; he said “father”.

7. Gareth said:

John XXIII made similar magisterial statements.
The doctrine on the matter can be found on the duties of marriage section in the Council of Trent. [Again, reference?]
I once read it is actually a sin to deliberately deny for no legitimate reason a male as his place as primary breadwinner. [That would seem a bit strong – and while “primary” might pertain to the father, does this mean that “secondary” does not pertain to the mother? I mean, in many contexts today, a father’s income alone is not sufficient to provide for the needs of a family.]

Okay. Over to you.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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115 Responses to Does the Catholic faith require that the father is the chief breadwinner of the family?

  1. Schütz says:

    Okay, I will start. The full quotation from Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” is:

    13. That right to property, therefore, which has been proved to belong naturally to individual persons, must in like wise belong to a man in his capacity of head of a family; nay, that right is all the stronger in proportion as the human person receives a wider extension in the family group. It is a most sacred law of nature that a father should provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; and, similarly, it is natural that he should wish that his children, who carry on, so to speak, and continue his personality, should be by him provided with all that is needful to enable them to keep themselves decently from want and misery amid the uncertainties of this mortal life. Now, in no other way can a father effect this except by the ownership of productive property, which he can transmit to his children by inheritance. A family, no less than a State, is, as We have said, a true society, governed by an authority peculiar to itself, that is to say, by the authority of the father. Provided, therefore, the limits which are prescribed by the very purposes for which it exists be not transgressed, the family has at least equal rights with the State in the choice and pursuit of the things needful to its preservation and its just liberty. We say, “at least equal rights”; for, inasmuch as the domestic household is antecedent, as well in idea as in fact, to the gathering of men into a community, the family must necessarily have rights and duties which are prior to those of the community, and founded more immediately in nature. If the citizens, if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire.

    So the context is the right to property. The “father” of the family is said to have this right so that he can provide for his family. Nothing is actually said here about the rights or duties of mothers – Pope Leo assumes the situation current in Europe at the time he was writing, ie. that fathers were the chief breadwinners. He assumes this, and so asserts the father’s right to property to enable this. Of course, in modern times, parents usually own property in partnership and together carry out the duty of providing for their families. In fact, in the second half of the paragraph, Pope Leo is talking about the rights of households/families, without distinction between mothers and fathers.

  2. Dan says:

    In this day and age, with rising costs of living (food, petrol etc etc) it is the case that, for many, it is no longer possible for mothers to stay home. In which case, the mother, out of necessity, becomes an additional “breadwinner”.

    It may be that, for what ever reason, the father cannot work, and so, I don’t think wrong for the mother to be the main “breadwinner”.

    It may be, as is the case in today’s world, that the mother having had a child (or more), wishes to go back to work, because she likes it, and after numerous years of slogging it out to achieve that degree (and working some crappy part time job to finance it), feels working this job is a wonderful thing she had earned, and indeed is entitled to. Now, to say, “well, to bad, you have kids now” is I think unfair. I don’t see anything intrinsically wrong putting them in the care of your own parents or daycare (I’m assuming her’s is a day job, finishing around five).

    Also, if I were a girl, I wouldn’t like the idea of working hard through high school and uni, just to spend my life in a house! Times have changed, and if women wanna work go for it!

    My mother wanted to be with her children, and so she made the decision to quit he job and devote her life to us. I think all women should be able to freely make such a decision, without feeling there is some socially constructed obligation to stay home.

    BTW Does anyone have any objections to mums working after the kids have grown up and are in high school and uni (and at home)?

    • Catherine says:

      I would argue that it is very important for kids to have a parent caring for them in the first two years of their life for bonding and optimal child development. Obviously child care workers do not love your child and the staff to child ratio i think is maybe 1:3 or 1:4 for babies!! I believe studies have shown that children in child care are stressed as demonstrated by increased levels of cortisol. If the parents cant be at home for their kids, maybe the grandparents could do it, but if you won”t give up work for two years and I apply this to MUMS AND DADS, do you really want a kid.
      Dads are very important to kids and many kids and adults express that they would like/have liked more time with their dad.
      I dont think life can go on business as usual once people have kids. Someone needs to be tapped into what is going on with the kid and that takes time.I think kids suffer if both parents work full time and I have seen plenty of stressed parents when both of them work full time ( and sometimes even if one is doing part time). Kids can;t put their crises on hold according to the demands of their parent’s job.Kids get sick and have to stay home from school, they develop anxiety disorders and refuse to go to school, they get bullied at school etc and parents need to be available to deal with these things and if both work, particularly if both work full time its a problem. Whether it is the dad or the mum doing the parenting doesn’t matter. Some dads are better at some aspects of parenting then mums

  3. Quasi-Seminarian says:

    I unfortunately lost what I had just wrote. So here is a short version.

    Gareth, in the Council of Trent in the marriage section, nowhere is primacy given to the male. If you wish to double check this you can read it here: http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct24.html Now as for it being “sinful” to take a man’s place as “primary breadwinner”, this statement is too broad. Catholic Social Teaching responds to the sitatuation it is presented with. Now if someone wrote a book stating what you said, then well, good luck to them. It is not contained in Catholic Social Teaching. What is contained as is found in Rerum Novarum, is that a just wage should be paid so that a family can be provided for. If we remember that women were paid less and that industrialised work was not fun and was not protected by laws, or guilds or labour unions, it was very unsafe. Especially since daycares did not exist and other such modern conveniences.

    The problem that we have, is that if a just wage is not paid, it requires that a woman work (for less pay then her husband) and care for the children. This is a double load. It is not just. Communism promoted the idea that wives should work, consequently they soon found out that they had a double load.

    The principles that remain are that children should be cared for and instructed in Christian living and virtue. Furthermore it is from the family that society derives. Children should be educated and raised in the context of the family. Granted not everything is always possible, but we should always strife for the preferable. I personally don’t like homeschooling, but I acknowledge its legitimacy and I will defend it, even though if I personally prefer a formal school.

    The other principle also remains, a text without a context is a pretext. If you read Rerum Novarum, you will find that the Pope affirms the family. How a family lives out its life in responce to life’s challenges varies. If something is forbidden, it is to be interpreted (and often is in itself) specifically. If something is granted it is to be interpreted broadly.

    My reading is that the family is affirmed and that at the very least one member of the family is able to care for the children. This may well be preferable that it is the mother due to her ability to feed infants in a manner that men cannot (at least until the invention of the refrigerator and other milk producing/exctracting devices), but this is where the family has to decide. They should be exhorted in virtue and encouraged to make the best decision for the welfare of their family.

    • Schütz says:

      Catholic Social Teaching responds to the sitatuation it is presented with

      That is an interesting proposition, which seems in the same ball-park as my proposition that “True Catholic dogma (or moral teaching) must be universal in its formulation, and such that it can be applied explicitly in a particular context”. I would be interested in what others think of this. It would seem
      1) to put a certain historical and contextual limitation on any specific aspect of Catholic Social Teaching
      2) to point to the existence – behind the specific Catholic Social Teaching in question – to a defined universal moral principle…

  4. Shan says:

    How could the faith require such a conception when it is a modern conceit (and a rather geographically biased one at that)?

    Such a proposition would necessarily imply that nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples are somehow wrong in that their work and home coincide. Breadwinning implies some level of discontinuity with the daily experience of the home by labouring to support the home.

    I think that this is a really silly question, and would question the merit in holding too fiercely to this conviction – especially since it seems to serve only a socio-political agenda and not a Christocentric one.

    Oooh scary feminists!

    • PM says:

      Scutz is right on two counts: the change in social structures (which Shan nicely underlines)and the anachronism of expecting the Bible or even magisterial teachings (which by their nature are universal) to give detailed prescriptions rather than broad principles to apply through the exercise of the pivotal and much-neglected virtue of prudence (which is a very weak rendering in modern English).

      The there is the question – if the texts support the construction put on them – of the level of authority they have. There is a difference between the ordinary magisterium in the strict sense and passing comment on contemporary affairs such as the fulminations of Pio Nono’s predecessor against the electric telegraph and railways. [Apologies, but it’s too late at night to find the reference.] Anyone who thinks other wise should abjure the internet forever!

    • Gareth says:

      Sorry, I disagree with my old friend Shan that a male as head of the household is merely a geographical or political persepctive – it is defintely a religious one.

      The famous or not so famous quote by St Paul that a man is Head of a female is more than economic call, it is also a spiritual parable that a woman is co-demeer of her husband’s and families souls and therefore must be at the side of her husband.

      The onus is on detractors to what myself and Cardianl Pole have argued that if natural law (and therefore one would presume God) has determined that a woman to bear and rear children (and therefore economically completly unable to even participate in the workforce for a set period of time), the onus is on you to demonstrate how a woman is equal in economic function to a man, when natural law has dictates otherwise.

      Ans as Catholics, you guessed it, the story gets muddled – as we believe that the use artificial contraception is a detrimant to God’s plan for moral behaviour, we must also accept that a married family must accept that in a females child-bearing years that it is God’s will that may fall pregnant at ANY moment.

      I fail to see how one can argue on one hand that Catholics must accept on one hand that a married woman must accept God’s will in when she is gifted to bear a child, but on the other hand argue that they may come and go from the workforce at ease as a man??

      I will continue this interesting discussion and provide the request links when I have a spare moment.

      P.S David – what I meant by a Christian feminism that differs from secular feminism is the belief that women should be treated with equal diginity and respect, but not as secular feminism’s basic arguement is that they are of equal function.

      • Shan says:

        Natural law now covers economic matters?

        I thought it adressed morality.

        Should a husband love and support his wife? Yes. And she should do the same. I think that that is a moral precept that all can agree on. But that is not the same as saying that the husband should be the breadwinner.

        After all, finances are not the chief way people in loving relationships support and love each other.

        • Schütz says:

          I think natural law does have a bearing upon economics, Shan – that’s what Caritas in Veritate was all about, wasn’t it? However, I don’t know if Gareth is quite doing the application right…

      • Shan says:

        Forgot to say, that men and women can easily become rivals. Relationships often fail because of that. Money is one way people try – mistakenly – to measure success. It would be very easy for a man to think he is better than his wife because he earns more than she.
        And to suggest that the faith insists, let alone advocates, such a prospect as men necessarily being breadwinners is quite silly IMHO.

        • Gareth says:

          Lol, as you suggested that is your opinion.

          A read of magiesterial texts as I provided in the article suggests God has planned (and the Church teaches) otherwise….

          P.S. Some people believe that men and women are more likely to be rivals if they are in competition with each other and as John Paul termed it, if women take on a ‘masculization’ role, rather than what God has designed as each complementing each other with different roles.

      • Catherine says:

        Now Gareth , POpe Bendict disagrees with you:
        http://www.jknirp.com/kave.htm

      • Clara says:

        ‘God’s will that . . . .may fall pregnant at ANY moment’
        Really? I thought a few preconditions apply.

        Let’s throw another encyclical into the mix. Humanae Vitae, amongst other things, teaches the need for ‘responsible parenthood’ which requires parents to ‘feed, clothe, shelter and educate’ their progeny, so abstinence would play a significant role in marriage. Catholic couples are NOT required to have as many children as ‘physically’ possible – they have responsibilities in addition to giving life.

        For a contemporary view on Christian womanhood perhaps Gareth and Cardinal Pole could read Edith Stein – but then again she was canonised by that wishy washy John Paul II.
        John Paul II also called for a recognition of the ‘genius’ of woman – and he did not mean her ability to ovulate.

        • Gareth says:

          But Clara, you must know that the Church whilst giving married couples the right to practise nfp, also teaches that if this is abused (e.g. if nfp is used for contraceptive purposes for a long period of time) then this can potentially be not in accordance with Church teaching either.

          The way I see it is the Church in reality teaches that God is a essentially a pro-natal God and if He desires us to have more than the average 2.1 children, then be it.

          Most couples that I know that practice nfp end up with more than two children and often end up with a surprise here or there (e.g. that extra child we werent excactly planning on, but God decided to send our way).

          My point is that I fail to see how Catholics on one hand can believe that we must accept as God’s will any unexpectant pregnancies as a ‘gift’ (which ultimately means the mother taking time out of the workforce), but on the other hand argue that men and women are the same when God has rendered that a husband be not economically hampered by the realities of nature.

          • Clara says:

            Sorry if I offended you Gareth, but the last encounter was over your view on annulments, with which I also disagreed.

            Yes, I agree that we must always choose life and that marriage must be open to life, but God is not so much ‘pro-natal’ as leading us to respect, protect and safeguard all human life. Yes, married couples using NFP should always welcome the baby that ‘God planned’ but that does not mean that they have no responsibility in spacing their family according to their means and their abilities.

            I was surprised some years ago to be part of a conversation with two prominent, conservative, Catholic moral theologians who were expressing their concern at the behaviour of some husbands who were unaware of the considerable child-bearing burden they were placing on their wives. Some women cannot cope with large numbers of children. Some women can cope with ten, while others are stressed with two. The one with a larger family is not a better mother or a better Catholic – they simply have different dispositions, or are in different circumstances. It is a judgment that each family must make for themselves. For a husband to be insensitive to the physical and psychological state of their wife is not pro-natal it is abusive.

            I have friends who separated because the wife – highly strung with a diagnosis of psychological disorder – simply could not cope with more children.

            I think the whole point of magisterial teaching is to offer principles by which to live, not to be prescriptive, or to assume that one size fits all.

            Families need to do what works for them. Some men are more nurturing than some women, some women have greater income earning capacity than some men. They can be trusted to sort out the details for themselves.

            • Hannah says:

              Hello Clara, I went with you till you reached this point ”
              abusive.

              I have friends who separated because the wife – highly strung with a diagnosis of psychological disorder – simply could not cope with more children.

              I think the whole point of magisterial teaching is to offer principles by which to live, not to be prescriptive, or to assume that one size fits all.

              Families need to do what works for them. Some men are more nurturing than some women, some women have greater income earning capacity than some men. They can be trusted to sort out the details for themselves.

            • Gareth says:

              A lot of families I know also would like to leave their worries behind and have the wife stay at home, particularly in the years when their children are under 5, but are unable to do so because of societal pressures.

              The economic model where the husband earned a basic wage in order to provide for his family had a lot going for it….

            • Schütz says:

              And what would be the problem, Gareth, if, in my family, my wife and I agreed that I would be the one to “stay at home” while she was the one who “went to work”? Admittedly, our kids are not under 5. But is there somewhere in the magisterium that gives a kind of age limit to the “sacred duty of fathers” to go out to work while “the wife” stays at home?

            • Gareth says:

              Sure your surname isnt Mrs Doubtfire?

            • Clara says:

              Hannah, computer wont let me post under your comment, but what do you find offensive? That a husband can abuse his wife by being insensitive to her emotional and physical needs and abilities? or that a couple separated because they were unable to cope? Nothing new in either of those scenarios.

              Or that magisterial teaching offers principles which need to be applied to the needs and situations of real live people and that real live people may not always get it right because they are human and there are many factors influencing the decisions they make?

      • Schütz says:

        The famous or not so famous quote by St Paul that a man is Head of a female

        In both 1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 5:23 Paul says that the “aner” (man/husband) is the “kephale” (head) of the “gynaikos” (woman/wife); “a man is head of a female” is not an accurate translation. Paul is not saying either that any man is the head of any female, nor that all men are the heads of all females.

        Be that as it may, in neither passage does Paul say that the “aner” is the “kephale” of the “oikos” (household/family). That certainly was the ancient Hebrew understanding, as multiple passages in the OT witness, as it was in just about all of the ancient world (eg. the pater familias in Roman tradition). But the two ideas are not theologically the same, nor does the one naturally or logically follow from the other. The partnership between a man and his wife would imply a shared relationship to the children (perhaps not best expressed as a “kephale” relationship), rather than a relationship where the man is the “kephale” of both his children and his wife as his “subordinates”.

        We have to be clear what we are talking about, and not be sloppy here. “The husband is the head of the wife” does not equal “the man is the head of the household”.

    • Catherine says:

      Shan
      Some conservative Catholic males seem to like the idea of a subservient wife chained to the kitchen sink , bleating”” Yes sir No sir three bag full to their every utterance””. Now, it is getting increasingly difficult for insecure men to find subservient little women who will kowtow to them so they have to scurry around trying to find some papal pronouncement to justify them (1)being dictators in their home home and (2) refusing to ever change a nappy.

      I forget which POpe it was, but one of them clarified what it meant about the man being the head of the house, and he placed so many caveats on it that at the end of the day the men were effectively nobbled. Will google and try to find it again

  5. CG says:

    Couldn’t resist adding this:

    • Schütz says:

      CG, thanks so much for this link. I have been giggling about them all day. If anyone wants to know anything about my sense of humour, then to say that these ads appeal to me should give you some idea! I just love the look on poor Michelle’s face in “Yia Yia on Fashion”!

  6. Gareth says:

    Hi David,

    I think I may have found a pretty good article that precisely pinpoints your original question of the what exactly the Church magisterium says about the issue.

    I had a quick scan of the article and am confident it is relatively balanced.

    The issue is titled ‘The authority of the husband according to the Magesterium” by Rev. Paul N Check.

    The direct link is http://www.familylifecenter.net/article.asp?artId=185

    I suggest that anyone that is serious about learning further, have a good read.

    The quotes by John XXIII that I was thinking about and you asked for a direct quotation are there.

    Interesting also John Paul’s ‘Christocentric’ arguements

    • Clara says:

      Here comes a rabid marxist feminist post . . .

      The concept of women at home while the men go out to work was a very short-lived situation in affluent western societies. Prior to the industrial revolution every member had a role to play, from the parents to young childern – every member of the family was an essential part of the family economy. The industrial revolution changed that – families were moved to the cities and again mothers and fathers were engaged in factory work with very little concern as to who would look after the children or the elderly . Indeed, many of the children were recruited into child labour. Just revisit Charles Dickens. With the industrial revolution came the fragmentation of the family unity and the exploitation of workers by capitalist. It was against this background that Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum – or rather, drew on the English experience as provided via Cardinal Manning. (There is a life sized 19th Century portrait of Cardinal Manning in the meeting room of the Trades Hall Council in Ballarat, honouring his commitment to striking waterfront workers.)

      My father’s family were subsistence farmers in the south of Italy, until he emmigrated in the 1950s. In that very traditional society EVERYBODY worked or they starved. Yes, there was a division of labour and it seems women were responsible for the bulk of it. The men were primarily responsible for the care of animals and the planting of crops. The women did the baking – a huge task – the cooking – the spinning and weaving (this was done primarily in the winter months when the men’s role was limited to reparing tool and general maintenance). During the harvest the women and most children over the age of five joined the men in the fields from sun up to sun down. The system only worked because this was an organic society and young toddlers and babies were cared for by grandparents or older siblings. This notion of women ‘at home’ is historical nonsense.

      I happen to believe that children are best cared for by their own parents in their own home, but that does not mean Mum has to be with them 24/7. I have always done some part-time work even when my children were quite little. I worked about 10 hours per week as a sessional teacher in the TAFE. I believe I was still the full-time carer of my children. Ten hours away is simply a sanity break. The children were cared for by their father or a family friend. It was a win-win situation.

      It seems Gareth needs a little more imagination and a whole lot more life experience.

      Or perhaps I’ve got it wrong. I am on my way to perdition unless I get back into the home while the bank forecloses on the mortgage.

      • PM says:

        Well said. Interestingly but not surprisingly, I’ve known self-styled ‘conservative’ and ‘orthodox’ Catholics to write off Rerum Novarum and the magisterial teaching that followed it (Quadragesimo Anno etc) as sentimental socialist rubbish – the wonderfully named Professor Luckey of Christendom College attributes this to the influence of that well-known commie Aristotle. But he does not despair: the dim wits of JPII were enlgithened when he had an hour in the exalted presence of Professor Hayek.

      • Gareth says:

        Clara: It seems Gareth needs a little more imagination and a whole lot more life experience.

        Gareth: It is an poor and immature put-down, Clara to state during a discussion that another person’s opinions are not valid because they supposedly have no ‘experience’. Often the opposite is the case.

        How many times do we hear from our opponents that we have no right to be opposed to abortion or euthanasia because we supposeld have no experience in the matter. The opposite could just as well be true.

        • Schütz says:

          I am interested, Gareth, in whether or not you have ever been married or raised a family. I mean, how much of this is “theory” for you, and how much is actually practical experience of marriage and raising a family? I suspect the good Cardinal’s experience of this is somewhat limited. If you have not been a father or a husband (and I do say IF) you can forgive us old married men (and women) who raise our eyebrows at your wisdom and knowledge of the matter of household economy. Of course, I could be wrong. I just wonder if Mrs Gareth would enjoys being referred to as “the wife”. SWMBO in my life would not approve!

          • Gareth says:

            You are out of line here David.

            Questioning what my or the person known as Cardinal Pole’s personal circumstances are here and linking this to our personal beliefs is totally and utterly irrelevant.

            Do you think I wouldn’t know what a ‘modern’ family operates like or do you think I was raised by she-wolves or something or that have no contact with young Catholic families?

            On the contrary, my personal experiences (which I deliberatly choose not to outline) and the experiences of my close Catholic friends, a number of who have children aged under 5, has convinced me that I am more than right and the Church’s magesterial texts (which you asked for a summary of and now when they are provided you seem to be questioning them based on them supposedly not being relevant to modern circumstances – where I have heard that ‘trick’ before, cough the homosexual lobby uses the same arguement).

            I take it by your arguements also that if a person’s practical experience is only relevent to a discussion on faith matters, then Pope’s have nothing relevant to say about sex and we would all be listening to liberal Catholics for their fount of wisdom on the subject just because they have had sex???

            May I respectfully state that I think you are slighly frustrated that you put forward a test (e.g. demonstrate what the magesterium says on the matter in order to prove who is right) and the magesterial texts don’t happen to back up your pre-conceived ideals/biases of what you thought they would say and instead they appear to be broadly in support of my original preposition and now in some frustration or unwilligness to ackowledge that Cardinal Pole and myself were making strong points, you are coming up with crappy arguements such as the texts not being relevant to modern circumstances* (which I acknowledge to a certain extent, but with a disclaimer that this not take away from what the magesterium actually says or has said on the matter) or my points are not valid because I choose to not disclose whether I am married or not??

            It is all a bit unfair and frustrating on my behalf.

            P.S Better Mrs Wife than Mrs ‘Partner’

            • Clara says:

              Gareth, real life does teach lessons. I would be interested in having this conversation in 20 years time and see if it is the same.

              I had it all worked out but it didn’t go according to plan – God wanted to take me other ways so I could learn important lessons. In retrospect I do not wish I had been spared post-natal depression (To my surprise I didn’t do babies well) because I have learnt to empathise with the pain of others.

              I am constantly amazed by the faithfulness of people whose lives did not follow the rules and whose circumstances made living the Catholic ideal impossible. Two of these women were married to abusive men. One left in the 1970s with 5 children under eight to live as a single mother (her husband would not accept the 5th child). The other ‘did the right thing’ and married the father of her child – 35 years later she is still in the marriage and suffers terrible emotional abuse (incidentally, her husband is a very good provider but not very switched on emotionally). Both are daily Mass goers and both are an inspiration to me.

              My separated friends continued to practice their faith and are reconciling.

              God writes straight with crooked lines. St Augustine took a very long time to get it right, but when he did it was gold.

              Reserve judgment and be prepared to listen.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine, the reason I didn’t like the comments were that I didn’t ask (and accoringly don’t think it matters) David what his personal background was – so I don’t expect to be asked in return.

              Anyhow, what you have to say only highlights further that with radical feminsim ramptant in our society, we havent really answered the question of hwo is going to look after the children?

              For many people child-care (like I want someone else looking after my child) or their dead parents dont cut it….

              Inevitably nature takes precedence

            • Catherine says:

              Gareth God forbid you look after your child in anyway other than bringing home the bacon. NEWSFLASH!! Men are capable of changing nappies, burping babies, feeding them etc etc

      • Schütz says:

        I am struggling to find an original copy – in Latin, Italian or English – of Pius XII’s “Quando alcuni” (September 10, 1941). There are excerpts available on the web (eg. here: http://propatriarchy.blogspot.com/2010/08/various-reading-on-authority-of.html) which seem to give some context for his comments.

        Fr Check’s article cites him as follows:

        “God gave the husband charge of the wife, as well as physical strength and “the gifts necessary for the labour by means of which he must provide for all the needs of the family.”” I especially note the requirement that husbands are to provide for ALL the needs of the family. I would dearly love to see this in its full context, rather than through Fr Check’s lens.

        It seems to assume that “labour” is a physical exercise. Does the Pope’s statement apply to labour that is not “physical”? It seems to envisage a context in which the husband is literally a “labourer”. How would this fit in contexts where the husband does work that has nothing to do with physical labour? How would it apply to wives who are paid for work that is NOT physical labour? Questions unanswered.

        As for providing “ALL the needs of the needs of the family” – what kind of “needs”? This seems not to fit with at least one biblical picture of the “capable wife”, namely Proverbs 31. There the “capable wife” is pictured as providing many needs for her family, even by physical labour. Questions again.

    • Schütz says:

      From the essay “THE AUTHORITY OF THE HUSBAND ACCORDING TO THE MAGISTERIUM” by Rev. Paul N. Check (referenced by Gareth)

      Later in his pontificate, amidst a discussion of the “just wage” in Quadragesimo anno (social reconstruction, May 15, 1931), Pius XI upholds the role of the father as provider and the role of the wife as homemaker.

      I looked Quadragesimo anno up and found this paragraph, which seems to have bearing on our subject (nb. our subject is not the question of whether “the husband is the head of the wife” – St Paul clearly says this in 1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 5:23 – our subject is whether or not this then translates into a dogmatic requirement that the husband be the breadwinner of the family):

      71. In the first place, the worker must be paid a wage sufficient to support him and his family.[Cf. Encyclical, Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930.] That the rest of the family should also contribute to the common support, according to the capacity of each, is certainly right, as can be observed especially in the families of farmers, but also in the families of many craftsmen and small shopkeepers. But to abuse the years of childhood and the limited strength of women is grossly wrong. Mothers, concentrating on household duties, should work primarily in the home or in its immediate vicinity. It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the father’s low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children. Every effort must therefore be made that fathers of families receive a wage large enough to meet ordinary family needs adequately. But if this cannot always be done under existing circumstances, social justice demands that changes be introduced as soon as possible whereby such a wage will be assured to every adult workingman. It will not be out of place here to render merited praise to all, who with a wise and useful purpose, have tried and tested various ways of adjusting the pay for work to family burdens in such a way that, as these increase, the former may be raised and indeed, if the contingency arises, there may be enough to meet extraordinary needs.

      Note that Pius XI acknowledges that in many situations, such as that of farmers, craftsmen and shopkeeper, “it is certainly right” not just for the father but “the rest of the family” to “contribute to the common support, according to the capacity of each” and that this “is certainly right”. In talking about a “just wage” he is talking specifically into a social situation where men “go to work” as employees for someone else outside the house. He acknowledges that in certain situations this does not apply.

      He is against a situation where mothers are “forced” to abandon the care of their children in order to bring in enough income for their families. He is concerned that the “proper cares and duties, especially the training of children” not be neglected in a situation where both parents are working.

      I don’t think he even envisages in this statement a situation where husband and wife fully provide for the “training of children” together in partnership, and where the task of bringing in the household income is shared by the parents between them.

      There is no reason to extrapolate from Pius XI’s teaching a model of household income and employment and care of the children for all time. He is speaking into a specific historical and social situation. The running of a modern household is much more like the running of a farm or a trade or a shop was in Pius XI’s day. If exceptions can be made for these kinds of economic situations, then exceptions can be made for the new models that exist today – just so long as there is sufficient income and that care and nurture and training of the children is in no way neglected as a result of the adoption of these new models.

      • Gareth says:

        Hi David,

        I honestly don’t know if you or people are listening or taking things on board here.

        You asked the question of whether the Catholic faith require that the father be chief breadwinner of the family?

        Obviously, this is a loaded way to word the issue at hand as there is just about always an exception to every rule.

        In essence, what we are really examining is whether the faith teaches whether the primary vocation of a husband is to be a provider and protector of the family, whilst the mother is chiefly domestic or childrearing duties?

        I use the words ‘primary’ here, as this leaves the answer open to what a husband or wife’s secondary duties may or may not be depending on circumstances.

        The article I posted provides a whole heap of historical and magisterial quotes, as recent as John Paul II. It could not be any more consitent in providing a widespread historical coverage of Catholic theological ‘thinking’ (a better word than dogma here).

        In not one of these texts did I find anything that would contradict anything that I originally proposed. Please correct me if I am wrong?

        I could them all day to support my case, but will leave it to one or two. Of all the documents, I personally found Pius XI’s the most profound and to the point:

        May I quote the good Pontiff:

        At the beginning of the encyclical, Pius XI quotes St. Augustine, who described Marriage as an “order of love,” (cf. St. Augustine in Chapter Three) an order which calls for the primacy of the husband and the willing obedience and ready subjection of the wife. Like Leo XIII, Pius XI locates the theology for the husband-wife relationship in Ephesians 5:22-23.

        This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion.

        For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.

        Within the second half of the encyclical, in a section devoted to vices opposed to Christian Marriage, Pius XI resumes his treatment of the family order. He declares that “false teachers” will try to persuade wives to abandon the “honorable and trusting obedience” that they owe to their husbands, by asserting that it is “unworthy of human dignity.” The Pope states that “this is not emancipation but a crime.”
        (insert Gareth’s reaction here – WOW and in your face feminists).

        This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of the wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality).

        Now come on David. Pius XI didn’t live in the stoneages. He was addressing a modern advanced society here.

        Another quotation I liked was Blessed Edith Stein’s who was pretty blunt about it all:

        Stein describes the complementary nature of the spouses in this way: man’s vocations are first, as head of the family and then, to fatherhood (which is integral to headship); woman’s vocations are first, as a mother, and then, as a ruler (which is included in motherhood).

        I could go on and on, but will save it to those two.

        Now considering all this and weighing the rest of the magisterial text’s article, I put the onus on those that say what I proposed is not clear to mount an contradictory argument in any way that the magisterium points towards that God desires a man’s primary vocation to be provider and head of household and a woman to remain a companion and helpmate to her husband by serving God as mother and housekeeper.

        What I have issue with with those that question my proposition is not so much that modern circumstances do render magisterial teaching on the matter difficult to always apply (I am willing to acknowledge this, although it may be slightly exaggerated as I was raised in a single income family no problems), but there is absolutely no magisterial texts to prove that the Church actually supports the mdoern concept that husband and wives have complementary economic roles.

        I totally understand that in modern western societies the average family requires one and a half incomes to meet the cost of living, but this does not in any take away the evidence (i.e. magisterial texts) to answer the original question proposed here that Catholic dogma is more on the side of myself and Cardinal Poll’s arguments than many Catholic would care to admit or actually bother to read the Church’s historical thinking on the matter to learn what truly the Church has to say on the matter.

        • Schütz says:

          I put the onus on those that say what I proposed is not clear to mount an contradictory argument in any way that the magisterium points towards that God desires a man’s primary vocation to be provider and head of household and a woman to remain a companion and helpmate to her husband by serving God as mother and housekeeper.

          Obviously men who have children are called to be fathers, whereas women who have children are called to be mothers. No argument there. But as to the “provider” and the “housekeeping”, I think you are imagining things, Gareth. You are working with a far too limited understanding of the household economy. My wife and I both “keep house” and we both “provide” for our family. If we didn’t, everything would fall apart. I’m hardly going to put my slippered feet up and read the paper and smoke my pipe while my wife is slaving in the kitchen and the laundry. Nor is she going to sit at home and watch the mid-day soaps when the kids are at school and I am at the office. And I don’t think God in any way demands that such should be the case.

          Parents are either fathers or mothers by reason of being either male or female. But beyond that, the roles within the family are not determined by divine order, and I do not believe that you have shown that they are. The Magisterial texts you cite are all historically bound to a particular time and culture.

          • Gareth says:

            Frustrating – I am sure mothers who freely choose to be hard-working stay at home mothers because they actually want to be with their children would cringe at your description of them watching tv soaps??

            I am sure you would find they serve the community equally as those mothers who put their children in day care and go off to work for no other reason than to pay off that glamorous family holiday or the new plasma tv.

            I don’t agree that the magesterial texts are historically bound, or at least, as much as you think.

            For one ‘modern circumstances’ may differ from country to country to region to region – I am sure outback or regional Australians would not like to be lumped into the same category of those that live in metropolitian cities. So the argument that ‘things are different’ these days becomes irrelevant because family life would differ remarkably from Mildura to Melbourne.

            Secondly on this point – Pius XII and John XXIII was addressing a pretty ‘modern’ audience in terms of historical timelines (e.g. they may not have had the Net back then, but they did have the majority of modern devices that we use).

            The onus would be on you to demonstrate how John XXXII’s address in the 1960s does not (broadly speaking) carry any weight?

            On the contrary, they should at least be appreciated, rather than dismissed out of hand.

            • Shan says:

              All texts have context Gareth.

              Not all papal statements are necessarily magisterial – precisely due to their context. (Consider that Pope Gregory XVI condemned railways as diabolical – due to their potential to challenge the security of the Papal States – whereas Pius XI had one built within the Vatican.)

              It may be correct to consider Pius XII and John XXIII as addressing modern audiences (although I might disagree), however we live in a post-modern society.

              In the fifty years since then, Western society has irrevocably shifted. Consider that the car is ubiquitous, literacy is almost universal, and families no longer live in proximity to their extended kin. Few walk to work, let alone Mass; everyone is plugged in at least to a phone – if not more; and many now travel overseas to holiday. These are things that were not true fifty years ago, and they shape and re-shape people’s lives.

              The idea that half a century ago life was very much the same is simply not true. My grandparents never grappled with how to care for their parents in their dementia – while my parents have. My grandparents lost children in infancy due to illness and accidents – my parents didn’t. My grandparents sent children off to war – my parents haven’t. My grandparents finished primary school, my parents finished year 10, and I am working my way through my third post-grad qualification.

              Life is different. Hell, my oven isn’t wood-fired, and can even microwave things.

              So yeah. Context is key.

              If it wasn’t then it would be easy to point to Pope BXVI riding the papal train and declare him a heretic for transgressing Greg XVI’s teachings.

            • Gareth says:

              I acknowledge your point, but you must also acknowledge that some things are also eternal.

              We humans change, but God doesnt change.

              Homosexuality is still a sin, no-matter how the ‘context’ changes.

              Sex outside marriage is still a sin, no-matter how the ‘context’ changes

              Killing a baby is still a sin, mo-matter how the ‘context’ changes.

              The list could go on – a lie is a lie etc etc

              And in the ‘context’ of this discussion, I don’t really see how the previous Popes general consensus that a husband’s primary (that is the key word here) vocation is providing, protecting and being the spiritual head of his household, whilst mothers vocation is orientated towards their mission in the home and childrearing and being a helpmate to her husband.

              Like I have said here before – what Pius XI, XII and John XXIII SAID on the matter still should be respected and acknowledged, rather than dismissed out of hand.

              After all, I have never seen an actual Pope or Catholic theologian argue against them…

            • Shan says:

              “We humans change, but God doesnt change.”

              Then the incarnation is a myth?
              Then prayers of supplication are pointless?
              If God cannot change, then is redemption even possible?

              “Homosexuality is still a sin, no-matter how the ‘context’ changes.”

              Interesting. I thought Catholics believed that homosexual attraction wasn’t sinful. I’m only basing that on the catechism, so whatever…

              “Sex outside marriage is still a sin, no-matter how the ‘context’ changes.”

              Well, that’s also interesting. At what point can a marriage be consummated then? And are we drawing distinctions between sacramental and natural marriages? What of those marriages that occurred prior to Christ’s life – were they sinful?

              I don’t mean to be entirely facetious Gareth; the point I’m trying to make is that we need to exercise care in our discussion, particularly in the language that we employ.

              The term “breadwinner” has a particular socio-historical meaning. It does not simply denote the provision of economic support, but it evokes a particular model of Western society (ie. that of the mythologised 1950s.) There’s nothing wrong per se in baptising the term, but there needs to be caution exercised in inculturation so that we do not deify a secular concept, but instead raise it to Christian dignity.

              And honestly, I don’t think you’re doing that. I think you are certain that this principal is sound and you are proof-texting papal statements to gird yourself some support.

              And in the ‘context’ of this discussion, I don’t really see how the previous Popes general consensus that a husband’s primary (that is the key word here) vocation is providing, protecting and being the spiritual head of his household, whilst mothers vocation is orientated towards their mission in the home and childrearing and being a helpmate to her husband.”

              And this is why I think you are proof-texting. I don’t think anyone in this discussion would disagree that the vocation of a husband is to love and support his wife, or a father to his children. However, you didn’t begin by discussing vocations, but specific economic roles. Having been unable to persuade the debate in your favour, you now talk of vocations.

              If this is your strategy in apologetics, drop it – it won’t work. Better to be honest and win friends, than disingenuous and save face (and nothing else).

              The thing is though that vocations are not economic. (In the sense of the market, that is.)

            • Gareth says:

              Gareth: I am not sure what you are on about here Shan or if you just posted the above to be annoying.

              My whole point here is Jesus Christ is the same as He was today and tomorrow, and certain truths still hold sway no-matter how technologically advanced a society is (which is a myth anyway as most human societies believe they have reached the pinnacle of human advancement only to look ‘behind the times’ in a future generation).

              Rather than myself proof-texting, I would rather say you and David have missed the whole point of what myself and the Popes are saying and are now arrogantly refusing to accept the Papal texts for what they are.

              If you own strategy for apologetics is to not accept that someone just well be right, then I suggest to take the same advice that you gave myself.

              The hard fact is what Pope Leo wrote in the 1880s, what Pope Pius wrote in the 1930s, what Pope John wrote in the 196os and what John Paul II in a whishy-whashy manner wrote in the 1990s on the duties of parents holds as much validity today’s world for Catholics as it did when they wrote it.

              I can’t stress it enough.

              As Catholics we believe the husband and father is head of the family. God has ordained this as such as St Paul reminds us in the Bible.

              He has authority as such, and his wife and children are subject to that authority. A wife and mother’s primary obligation is to her family. A career as anything other than wife and mother, while potentially important and meritorious, is secondary to her vocation as wife and mother. She should personally care for her children at home whenever possible, and her place is at the side of her husband, creating a good home and supporting him in his career.

              If you have issues with above or you somehow think you are more genius than God and have a new model that is more befitting than what God ordained, please fill us all in and provide any Catholic text to support it.

              If our society cruelly discriminates against mothers and forces them into workforce to supplement her husband’s wage whilst the children still require full-time care (e.g. aged under 5), then this is a sad violation of the Catholic family (Pope Pius XI put it more bluntly, a crime that takes away a woman’s true dignity) and as Catholics we should fight against and resist as much as possible, rather than taking on board what essentially is the ‘baby’ of a movement that hates everything the Catholic Church stands for.

              I can’t believe Catholics would even begin to question what our Popes have historically written and try to say this is only relevant to their own times and rather seek solace in secular feminism which aims to make women into carbon-copies of men and destroy the family through easy divorce, contraception and easy sex at the same time.

              Surely as Catholics we are called to go against the grain of society, rather than become pawns that simply accept what is dictated to us by this world.

        • Schütz says:

          Pius XI didn’t live in the stoneages. He was addressing a modern advanced society here.

          Precisely. If this were indeed a matter of divine ordering, it would be equally as valid for the stone ages, as for the modern age, and, dare I say it, the post-modern age – which was as far away from the good Pontiff’s imagination as his age was from that of the Stone Age cave-men.

        • Schütz says:

          Stein describes the complementary nature of the spouses in this way: man’s vocations are first, as head of the family and then, to fatherhood (which is integral to headship); woman’s vocations are first, as a mother, and then, as a ruler (which is included in motherhood).

          I think you might be limiting Edith Stein’s perceptions of vocation here too, for shortly after the passage you cite, she said:

          But the woman who “suits” man as helpmate does not only participate in his work; she complements him, counteracting the dangers of his specifically masculine nature. It is her business to ensure to the best of her ability that he is not totally absorbed in his professional work, that he does not permit his humanity to become stunted, and that he does not neglect his family duties as father.

          Truly, ever since the workplace became separated from the home – a recent, modern phenomena – we have had a situation which is unhealthy for both husband and wife – and, with the separation of school from the home – children too!

          Whenever pursuits outside the home – be it work or other interests – take precedence over care for the household on the part of either parent, then neither is fullfilling their “primary” vocation, which for fathers is to be a father and for mothers is to be a mother.

          That’s the sum of it, Gareth.

          (It is also, incidentally, why priests must be celibate)

      • Gareth says:

        It is a slight exaggeration to argue that each and every family needs two incomes to survive by the way and that the wife must rush out into the workforce and pretend that they are assigned the duties which God confined to a man.

        My own father supported his family on one income for over twenty years and and thousands of Australia probably still operate on the sole male breadwiner model. (for a variety of reasons). It is a fallacy to argue that a wife earning the same or equal wage as her husband is needed in each and every case.

        Anyhow, the magesterial texts on the matter are not only relatied to economic differences, they also related to spiritual and psychological duties – which is pretty obvious as men and women are psychologically different.

        If God created a women as a helper for their husband and to be at his side, and accordingly co-redeemer of her husbands soul, it follows that in a spiritual and educational context God has not only destined a man to be the breadwinner of the family but also the spiritual head in which he is directly responsible for the spiritual upbringing of his children and in which the wife is there as his side as helper, living their God-given vocation as wife and mother and responsible for rearment of children in the home.

        • Catherine says:

          Some families need two incomes to survive, but some women may need to get out of the house and away from the children on a part time or full time basis to preserve their sanity. Some women cannot be stay at home mothers on a full time basis without going insane from the monotony and mind numbing repetitive tasks. When men keep going on about how women should be at home with the kids all the time , I think these men are just scared to death that they might be condemned to changing nappies, mopping floors and doing the ironing. The thought of all that boring domesticity is too much for these men to bear, they sure as hell don;t want to do, so they say women are cut out of it . Well, here’s one woman who sure is hell is not and there are heaps more like me. I am delighted to see that David is an enlightened man and his wife gets to exercise her brain outside of the house. Provided men pull their weight in a marriage, everything will work out under various models of division of duties. ( 2 parents working part time, I full time, I part time, maybe two full time but someworking from home ect)

          • Stephen K says:

            Good on you, Catherine! I’m with you. I’ve been reading Gareth’s posts here and reject completely his arguments. And his father’s experience is of absolutely no probative value to the question that was posed: must the male be the primary breadwinner etc etc. I reject completely his implicit notion that a female is inherently theologically predestined or programmed to be a stay-at-home mother. I reject completely his proposition that this question could possibly be the subject of a moral requirement. And I reject his sweeping characterisation of “two-income necessity” as a fallacy: this is a complete “straw man”. No-one claims that two incomes are necessary in each and every case. But they are often necessary – it depends on commitments, costs, wages, etc. (Try paying city rental on the minimum wage or social security pittances! How much does it leave one for food, electricity, water usage, transport, shoes – they wear out faster when you can’t afford a car etc.)

            And, to top it all off, we hear God created women as a “helper for their husbands”? What fatuous exegesis! Even when they are brutalising etc?
            And what about all women who are not yet married, never will be, or are no longer? Have they failed their “destiny”?

            No, Catherine, I’m firmly with you on this. Women and men have a myriad of human qualities and talents to which they have a right to give full and free expression, if they can be so fortunate. A woman’s femaleness is not diminished by her singleness or her occupation anymore than my maleness would be.
            And, as you so rightly point out, work and fulfilment and rest outside the home is important for simple refreshment, let alone mental and emotional balance and sanity.

            [Gareth, your citations of pronouncements won’t wash with me: any Pope who says the things you say is either speaking in context – as David is trying to say – or is talking through his tiara.]

            On the contrary, I would assert that in any couple or family situation, the most prudent approach is to encourage the parent or partner who can most efficiently bring home the bacon to be a primary outside worker, and the most considerate is to allow each other to share the opportunities and responsibilities as they each feel comfortable with.

            In any case, it is not a simple matter of relying or preferring the male: one cannot often find work commensurate with one’s talents or temperament, within cost-efficient distance, or when and how well paid one would desire. Ageism and sexism still abound. The 1950 “Leave It To Beaver” stereotype is a fantasy, and its promotion feeds directly into a socio-economic policy narrative that turns a blind eye to the lower end of town.

            Catherine, you always make sense.

            • Catherine says:

              Well it would be terrible to think that incredibly intelligent, gifted women were doomed to be chained to the sink for the rest of lives because they had produced children. Maggie Thatcher had two kids but her husband Dennis was a very hands on dad. I would say that Maggie was a very driven, assertive woman, not fitting this stereotype of submissive, quiet, passive doormat that Gareth seems to think describes all women.Condoleeza Rice would be another very determined, assertive,driven, career focused woman not fitting Gareth’s notion of womanhood. He should stop putting people in boxes and let people do what they need to do. if he wants to be the sole wage earner ( God help him, he will rue that when he is providing for 15 children on a single income) he can go find some woman who will be agreeable to his framework and stop making out that everyone should be doing what he thinks is appropriate brecause that is God’s will.

              If the guy is supposed to love his wife as Christ loves the CHurch then he would want his wife to be happy and if it was for her happiness, mental health etc that she worked outside of the home (whether part time /full time etc) then he should knuckle down , help with the housework and the kids and make her career aspirations possible.

            • Gareth says:

              Stephen – probably 20 per cent of Australian families still work on the sole male breadwinner model and you have dismissed them as ‘leave it to beaver’.

              Not to mention that many women can’t even perform the same job as a man such as labour work due to pshyical inabilities. And before you complain that this is sexist or that you have problems with the Biblical notion that a woman was made as a helpmate for her husband (which is clearly in the Bible), remember God designed it that way.

              That shows you are not very tolerant.

              Catherine thinks most women want to rush out to the office in their business trousers and short-hair pretending they are a man but the reality is that most women with any sense in head once they have children become attached to their child and are frustrated that the current economic make-up of western societies (which was semi-created by the feminist movement and unbridled capitalism, the same movement that HATES the Catholic Church and adviocates that woman should murder their pre-borns inside the womb) forces many women into the workforce when they would rather be at home with their children.

              Read Catherine Hakim’s theory’s if you don’t believe me.

              And please remind me Catherine, how many children does Ms Rice have?

              I bet you when she hits 75 and no-one bothers with her because she choose to put career in front of children she will deeply regret it when other conservative women her age are being looked after by their grandchildren and children.

              Feminsim and everything that goes with it as a furthy.

              It is all about having the latest cars and a good house in the suburbs rather than serving the Church.

              All the woman in my immediate family once they had children also used their time as mothers to volunteer for Church groups such as St Vincent De Paul and the Legion of Mary and going to daily Mass to inspire their children.

              But I suppose all these things are not really important to you guys and you would rather see women dedicated to their work gossip group and social club rather than being mothers and helping out the Church?

        • Catherine says:

          Garethsaid: Not to mention that many women can’t even perform the same job as a man such as labour work due to pshyical inabilities.
          Catherine: So what, intellectually many women can match men in arole and even beat them hands down.

          Garethsaid:
          Catherine thinks most women want to rush out to the office in their business trousers and short-hair pretending they are a man but the reality is that most women with any sense in head once they have children become attached to their child and are frustrated that the current economic make-up of western societies (which was semi-created by the feminist movement and unbridled capitalism, the same movement that HATES the Catholic Church and adviocates that woman should murder their pre-borns inside the womb) forces many women into the workforce when they would rather be at home with their children.

          Read Catherine Hakim’s theory’s if you don’t believe me.

          Catherine says: Gareth is not a mind reader and therefore does not know and cannot comment on what Catherine thinks. I think some women are delighted to be stay at home mothers and others end up depressed and popping valium as they are not cut out for the role of stay at home full time mum

          Gareth wrote:
          And please remind me Catherine, how many children does Ms Rice have?

          I bet you when she hits 75 and no-one bothers with her because she choose to put career in front of children she will deeply regret it when other conservative women her age are being looked after by their grandchildren and children.

          CAthertine says: I don’t know what Condoleeza thinks about her life choices but it may be she didnt have a maternal bone in her body (newsflash for Gareth is that not all women desire to have children, not all women are interested in children and not all women are good at looking after or interacting with children) and doesnt regret having a rewarding and fulfilling career serving her nation.

          .
          really Gareth your bad attitude to women is really exemplified in this little statement from you:

          “”But I suppose all these things are not really important to you guys and you would rather see women dedicated to their work gossip group and social club rather than being mothers and helping out the Church?””

          Gee , those brain dead working women,according to Gareth they are just gossiping and socialising. Are working men just gossiping and socialising at work too Gareth?

          Good luck finding some woman to take you on with your chauvinistic views Gareth.

          • Gareth says:

            Catherine: according to Gareth they are just gossiping and socialising.

            Gareth: From most workplaces that I have been in, when there are too many women, it all becomes a big bitch session and many women are hard to work with.

            The workforce for many women is just another outlet to gossip or to pay off the family holiday to Thailand, when their husbands are already in high-paying jobs.

            Those with children try to act all tough and cool like a man, but they are stressesed out of their brains trying to juggle the two…

            No-wonder women were kept out of the workforce for so long…..

            My experience with men is there is the occassional prick, but the majority are honest good working blokes earning a crust for their family.

            I think you will find Catherine that when women act femine, men are more likely to respect them and treat them right. My grandfather was ‘I expect tea on the table at 6 man’, but he would always go out of his way to be a gentlemen and open the door for women or offer his place on the bus. He would literally kill anyone that spoke ill of his wife.

            Now, do the men of today show the same sort of respect towards women? The majority of men today see women as sex symbols and not much else. Men generally don’t show much respect and wouldn’t offer the dorr for a woman in a blue fit.

            Serves western women right for trying to act and be like a man – I am sure Australian church’s will fill with filipino brides soon.

            • Catherine says:

              Actually opening a door for a woman or giving up one’s seat for a woman is not necessarily a sign of respect, but can be a way of asserting one’s supposed superiority.

              If women are chatting at work, it may be that they are starved of adult social interaction in their domestic kiddy filled suburban prison and that work gives them a social outlet.

              Many men these days are stressed trying to juggle their careers and family life, it is not limited to women.

              Anyway Gareth maybe you need to go the Phillipines to find a woman who will travel back in time to the 1950s with you.

            • Stephen K says:

              Gareth, although I am not so naive as to think that no-one shares your views about women, nevertheless, reading the way you have expressed them, I am actually somewhat appalled. To think that opening doors for women more than compensates for expecting the woman in the house to ensure tea is ready by 6 pm only shows an inability to see how women might – and do – feel about such customs and that many indeed do see these as masking submerged condescension and contempt towards them as the “weaker sex” or as surrogate domestic servants.

              I think you have a very childish understanding of how many women think. It is true that not all women will react the same way, but it is not what you think you mean that counts, but what they, as individuals in their own right, might feel about such things. You cannot arrogate to yourself the moral high ground where people’s aspirations are concerned: theirs are their own, as yours is yours. Society has to cope with how people feel at any given era.

              Feminism is not all about wishing mass or universal abortion as you so sweepingly and inaccurately accuse: feminism is primarily about asserting the right for women to have social and personal autonomy that is not qualified or subject to a hermeneutic of the male. Many feminists may conclude that this means that no man should tell a woman what to do with either her own body or an embryo/infant within her body – and a core objection underlying this is that it is invasive in a way no man has ever been expected to suffer. You have to realise that the physical strength of the male that you mention is a powerful and ever-present factor in the relationship a woman feels and has always felt towards the male. I gained this insight one day when walking behind a giant of a man, about twenty stone and 6’ 8” high. At my comparatively minimal 6’ 2” and 13 stone I suddenly felt very vulnerable. I had never given any thought to how many women might feel at my own physicality, even though I think it has always been benign. Now I have an insight into how a woman might see things.

              You clearly have no such insight. I’m sorry, but though I do not deny your right to think what you like, I would be very fearful if your ideas were translated into public policy in government, for many women would be placed in very vulnerable positions again. Your paradigm that sees every single question in terms of your ideal of a monolithic Catholic Church is very, very scary.

              I’m totally on Catherine’s side here.

            • Clara says:

              Put a sock in it.

              Your generalisations about women are deeply offensive. The reality is that women work harder and smarter and what you might consider idle chatter round the water cooler is actually very sophisticated networking.

              Respect for women is not shown by opening doors but by treating them as persons of dignity whom God wills should use the gifts he has given them in the Church and in the world. Some of us are called to vocations outside the family. And working outside the home in no way diminishes our love and responsibility for our families.

              John Paul II is worth reading. Mulieris Dignitatem has some great insights on the breakdown of relationships between man and woman after the fall. Domination of woman by man is one of the bad fruits:

              10. The biblical description in the Book of Genesis outlines the truth about the consequences of man’s sin, as it is shown by the disturbance of that original relationship between man and woman which corresponds to their individual dignity as persons. A human being, whether male or female, is a person, and therefore, “the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake”; and at the same time this unique and unrepeatable creature “cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self”.32 Here begins the relationship of “communion” in which the “unity of the two” and the personal dignity of both man and woman find expression. Therefore when we read in the biblical description the words addressed to the woman: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16), we discover a break and a constant threat precisely in regard to this “unity of the two” which corresponds to the dignity of the image and likeness of God in both of them. But this threat is more serious for the woman, since domination takes the place of “being a sincere gift” and therefore living “for” the other: “he shall rule over you”. This “domination” indicates the disturbance and loss of the stability of that fundamental equality which the man and the woman possess in the “unity of the two”: and this is especially to the disadvantage of the woman, whereas only the equality resulting from their dignity as persons can give to their mutual relationship the character of an authentic “communio personarum”. While the violation of this equality, which is both a gift and a right deriving from God the Creator, involves an element to the disadvantage of the woman, at the same time it also diminishes the true dignity of the man. Here we touch upon an extremely sensitive point in the dimension of that “ethos” which was originally inscribed by the Creator in the very creation of both of them in his own image and likeness.

            • Stephen K says:

              Clara’s theological explanation sounds much more like it! I intend to read the encyclical she cites. In my opinion men cannot do too much to learn to see or imagine how each woman, as individuals and – to the extent possible – in collectives, might see and imagine. We must, in my opinion, start seeing femaleness (and maleness) as an integral aspect of each individual person rather than seeing it the other way round, i.e. as if everything I am or do is a function of a generalising gender.

              Thanks for your reference, Clara. I think your points are well made.

            • Catherine says:

              StephenK I shudder to think what Australia would be like if Gareth got to impose his misinterpretation of Vatican documents on public policy.
              Women would probably be denied higher education ( there would be no point to us having any, as after all we are only good for breeding and gossipping and putting the food on the table by 6pm for our lords and masters) and would be forced to resign from our low paid , unskilled jobettes once we reached our ( supposedly only )goal of marrying some Catholic Luddite and started producing a dozen children.

            • Stephen K says:

              Absolutely, Catherine, yes, that’s my fear.

            • Gareth says:

              You are all starting to sound like Betty Fredian and Germaine Greer.

              Give me a sweet traditional/conservative Catholic girl who wears a skirt and will make me a sandwich and say the rosary with me and not complain about it all over you femo-nazis

            • Gareth says:

              Clara: Domination of woman by man is one of the bad fruits:

              Gareth: It’s all a lie that women were ‘dominated’ by men by the way.

              Most women before the 1960s were more than happy to stay at home and join the Catholic Mothers Club (as a secondary means to gossip, no doubt) because their husbands had to track off to boring, pyschically labourous jobs in dirty factories that most women didnt want to do anway.

              My own deceased Nan once told me the day she was married, she couldn’t hand in her resigination quick enough.

              Like most things from the feminist movement – it is a complete and utter fabrication (first promoted by bitter anti-Catholics such as Anna Summers and Germaine Greer who didn’t like the Church because their Daddies supposedly didnt treat them right) that women were ever treated in an inferior manner.

              Don’t believe the hype.

            • Catherine says:

              Gareth I am sure we all hope you find some poor Catholic woman to oppress with your strange ideas very soon . I just knew your future doormat ( oops wife to be) had a wear a skirt as otherwise you might feel threatened that by wearing pants she would be usurping your role as the man.
              All those scotsman wearing kilts must be being feminised if all those women wearing pants are being masculinized.

            • jules says:

              I agree with you Gareth. Most women I know are working but would give anything just to stay home a little more. Because whether we like it or not working women are still doing 60% of the domestic chores .

            • Catherine says:

              Ah Gareth, with such charm you are going to be gathering dust on the bachelor shelf till hell freezes over.

          • Gareth says:

            Then I would reverse the question around and say if a father/husband is not required to be primary breadwinner, what is his role?

            In essecence I am saying to challenge the assertion that a husband’s primary role is breadwinner, is to challenge the place of the man and father as God has ordained.

            It is funny that Clara questions my Catholicism (rest assured I pay my dues every Sunday) for taking this doctorine and related issues seriously, yet to challenge (as feminism clearly does) that men and women (although equal in diginity and human personhood) are different in function is in reality challenging God’s created design.

    • Schütz says:

      As for John XIII’s address to the Federation of Young Catholic Women (Nous sommes particulierement (April 23, 1960) found in Spanish here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/speeches/1960/documents/hf_j-xxiii_spe_19600423_gioventu-femminile_sp.html), while he clearly talks about work that is “suited” to women, he doesn’t anywhere make the demarcation between husbands and wives which would suggest that a woman cannot engage in suitable income-generating work for the household.

      • Gareth says:

        Guilty conscious David trying to find ammunition for the Pope’s and ultimately God’s wisdoms.

        I would be interested to see if you could find a magesterial text that shows God created men and women to be in ‘equal patnerships’ in terms of their economic and sacred duties.

        • Schütz says:

          I don’t know about a “guilty conscience”, Gareth. I’m just going through all your “magisterial references” to see if they say what you say they do…

          Bottom line is that I don’t think they do. I think in most cases, you could say they were wise pastoral counsel in the situation in which they were offered. I don’t think they can be taken as “fixed in stone”, unchanging dogma of the Church for all time.

          There is a difference between pastoral counsel and dogmatic definition, you know, Gareth. It is an important distinction. The Pope’s usually make it abundantly clear when they are intending to lock something down indisputably.

          • Gareth says:

            Well if you are not willing to at least respect them David, could you prove to me how they are out of line or invalid?

            My own point is surely the long history of the Church’s ‘guidance’ on the matter must mean something.

            Surely also St Paul’s letters also must carry some weight. I don’t think he wrote that a man is head of his wife thinking with a disclaimer that this only applies until the Pill is introduced or until humans invent microwaves…

            Instead of people here actually reading what the Church has to say or has taught on the matter, all I have heard people come up with so far to not accept them is that they are not fit to the ‘modern context’ (extremly debatable, taking into account here also that Catholics view the use of artificial contraception as sinful rendering ‘modern’ arguements such as women being able to control their fertility and hence economic particaption as per a man as invalid), that you would like to see the text through a different summarised lens than the author’s (like is a different author is going to mysteriously change the texts??), that my own personal status has something to do with the texts being not valid or the typical line that we are not living in the 1950s (I sort of figured that one out).

            From my perspective, you asked for what does the Church really teach on the matter and you got it and now you seem to find it hard to actually accept that is what the Church has truly had to say on the matter.

  7. Gareth says:

    May I add that one reason that I am so ardent on this topic is that like the women priests arguments, Catholics generally are made to feel guilty by the ‘outside’ that we are somehow discriminatory or treat women inferior.

    Well I am going to put my hand up and say, I am proud that am Catholic, that the claim that the Church ever or does suppress women is whole load of b/s and think if one really has an issue that the Church perceives the fact that God made women and men vastly different or this is something to not to be celebrated, then they reflects badly upon the person putting the false accusation forward rather than the Catholic that is willing to acknowledge God’s genius.

    • Clara says:

      Disclosure: I am an historian.
      I am an historian precisely because dogma is best understood in the context of its development. Christianity is an historical religion, as a Church historian I look at the action of God in history as He reveals Himself in the lives and events of human beings. It is only when we look at those circumstances that we can begin to understand its purpose and intent – as it was forged through the lives and experience of REAL people. Dogma is NOT some hermetically sealed set of rules and precepts to be applied regardless of human circumstances. Dogma is life-affirming not life-denying.

      The way in which some contributors to this blog view dogma is anti-intellectual, reductionist, literalist, fundamentalist and ultimately meaningless or at worst alienating as a means of evangelisation.

      • Catherine says:

        Well said Clara

      • Schütz says:

        The relationship between history and dogma is a whole topic on its own. This discussion is, of course, a practical illustration of the conclusions we might each draw from that more theoretical discussion.

      • Pax says:

        Sorry for the typos in my other comment rushing too much.Clare your scholarly approach is laudable and we do have an obligation to use our gift of reason otherwise our faith runs the danger of being mere superstition. However the gift of wisdom is also given to those who immerse themselves in a life of prayer and love.Our Lady did not appear to the learned Reverend Mother of the convent at Nevers but the illiterate shepherd girl Bernadette de Sourbois and every Doctor of the Church was not a University graduate.
        God is Truth and Truth is God. In this life even the greatest of Church historians sees only dimly.It is God’s Truth that will continue to be revealed through His beloved Church despite the failings and blindness of its living members. Jesus warned us not to judge one another. Better to leave that to God who reads our hearts and minds and knows the degree to which our conscience and judgement were malformed by the culture and time we were born into as well as our own inherited weaknesses. Nevertheless within each time period of history there will always be false teachers and false prophets.Many such people were very popular initially and it took courageous souls to speak out and get people to realise their ideas were false.The beauty of our Church has been its openess to all. Jesus accepted any soul who sought the Truth.Male, female we are all equal in Heaven and on earth

    • Pax says:

      I too get tired of the fallacy that the Church has always oppressed women. Given the status of Our Blessed Mother I have always found such thinking an absurdity and it has been my experience that men with a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother invariably treat women with respect.Respect is crucial to all relationships.The desire to be in contro; is a very powerful one and we would all be wise to remeber Jesus’ example at the Last Supper.All power should be exercised with humility and an attitude of service not arrogant or possessive ownership.Male and female we were created and we all need each other.Unless your vocation is that of a desert hermit you exist in a world of both sexes.As to bread winning when you are hungry enough and cold enough you are simply glad that there is some on the table and who managed to provide it becomes a lesser concern.

    • Shan says:

      Gareth,

      You are all starting to sound like Betty Fredian and Germaine Greer.

      Give me a sweet traditional/conservative Catholic girl who wears a skirt and will make me a sandwich and say the rosary with me and not complain about it all over you femo-nazis

      Gareth you said the above. And you also objected to the idea that Catholics are “are somehow discriminatory or treat women inferior” [sic].

      Do you not see how those two comments are incompatible? (Let alone problematic for someone animated by love of his brothers and sisters in Christ…)

      Do you not see how – by calling your sisters in Christ “femo-nazis” because they disagreed with you – that you being unjustly discriminatory?

      After all, I disagree with you but you have referred to me as “friend.” Clara and Catherine however are “femo-nazis.”

      I know there are many available Catholic women here in Melbourne. If you are still single, why not visit our shores and introduce yourself?

      I’m sure that they will appreciate your desire for them to wear skirts to cover their fat bottoms while they make you a sandwich and prepare to kneel down for some hot prayer action.

      And of course, if they don’t, then they are “femo-nazis.”

      Or perhaps they are lesbians.

      Your “friend”,

      Shan

      • Catherine says:

        Congratulations on a great post Shan, I enjoyed it immensely!

      • Clara says:

        Gareth, I have read some Betty Friedan and some Germaine Greer, but I have also read John Paul II – and it is he who is most concerned that men – due to the fall – have a tendency to dominate women and women have a tendency to becoming doormats – These are exploitative situations and contrary to God’s will because they diminish the person. (see my reference to Milieris Dignitatem above – you might like to read it lest someone accuse you of cafeteria catholicism)

        Shan has made some excellent points on contexualizing church teaching. Encyclicals are essentially documents which address a situation in a specific time. Yes they highlight enduring principles but they are very very time conditioned. Rerum Novarum would have been totally incomprehensible in the thirteenth century – even though its teachings are ‘true’. (I can just see Thomas Aquinas grappling with it – lol).

        Our culture has changed and it needs to be addressed in a culturally appropriate manner. The Church knows this but certain self-styled pontifs like yourself know better.

        • Gareth says:

          Clara: but I have also read John Paul II – and it is he who is most concerned that men – due to the fall – have a tendency to dominate women and women have a tendency to becoming doormats.

          Gareth: I would be honestly interested to here what actual evidence John Paul has for this or like most things that stem from feminism, is it simply a fixation of people’s imagination that men supposedly dominated women because for centuries it was natural for men to go into mainly psychically demanding jobs, whilst women attended to home duties that required much more effort and time than today’s world (I can remember when my Nan didn’t have a fridge!!).

          Clara: Our culture has changed and it needs to be addressed in a culturally appropriate manner.

          Gareth: But how has it really changed Clara to seriously affect this aspect of Catholic teaching? Young Children and babies still require full-time care and the best western society seems to have come up with to deny this reality is that children in ‘today’s society’ may be placed in child-care a few days a week (something that I am not personally comfortable with) or given to their grandparents a few days a week, something that may be highly problematic for many families.

          Modern society also works on the premise that women can control their fertility through artificial contraception.

          If Catholics are serious about their faith, isn’t this premise rendered totally unapplicable to Catholics? Sure, nfp can work, but at the end of the day, things are still in God’s hands – a nfp couple is going to differ greatly from a contracepting couple.

          • Clara says:

            I have already posted the reference to John Paul II and Mulieris Dignitiatis – or weren’t yo paying attention?

            • Gareth says:

              Yes, I don’t actually read any evidence by John Paul that men apparently ‘dominated’ women besides he thinks they did.

              Something isnt true just because a Pope thinks so and I have on good authority that this bogus claim is not a fair assessment.

              In fact, the great majority of men should be congratulated for providing and protecting for their spouses and taking family responsibilities seriously pre-1960s.

              I think JP really wanted to appease secular feminsim which was rampant in 1988 and try to be ‘nice’ rather than provide an actual factual document.

              A read of this same document also reveals he is more on the side of women fulfilling their vocations as mothers rather than rushing out to the offices like men – read the part on his concerns on the ‘masculization of women’

          • Clara says:

            I happen to believe that institutionalised childcare is detrimental to children. They are best cared for within their family, but historically – in traditional societies – that has not always been the mother – in many societies the role was shared with grandmothers, aunts and older siblings.

            Indeed, much evidence in relation to post-natal depression shows that it is most prevalent where the woman lives away from her mother – hence grandmothers (and the extended family) have a significant role to play in the wellbeing of a family. Interestingly too, human beings are the only creatures where women undergo menopause and are thereby available to assist in raising grandchildren – further evidence that the Divine never intended a mother to mother in isolation.

            We no longer live in extended families, but women still need assistance in childrearing. This includes having a break from her little darlings, having a bit of intellectual stimulus (no hubby is just not that interesting ALL of the time) and develop her own sense of self. For some women paid work helps them achieve this. Most families work it out as best they can. What is paramount is that there is a degree of give and take so that EVERYONE’S welfare is taken into consideration.

            Good luck with your quest, Gareth, but perhaps an Amish girl might be more likely to accept your proposal than a Catholic one.

            • Gareth says:

              You didn’t really answer the question of who is going to provide full-time care for children did you Clara?

              You can’t make a case that society is different from yesteryear, if the best answer you can come up with for the best care for children is grandparents.

              I am happy if gradnparents help out here and there, perhaps even one full-day a week, but the most genuine and sensible answer in regards to rearing children is the mother.

              Natural law dictates that young children need as much care by their mothers as possible and puts to death the clamour that men and women in anyway have the same economic, social, psychological or spiritual roles in society and the Church.

              This dilemna is faced by all people, not just Catholics.

              If you spent as much time taking this into consideration Clara instead of taking cheap shots such as your little Amish joke (BELIEVE ME – Many Catholic women particularly with young families are as militant anti-feminist as me) it all might make a bit of sense what myself and the Pope’s and the Church have to say on the matter.

            • Catherine says:

              actually Gareth some couples share child care. In some cases both individuals work part time so that one parent is always with the kids. Try not to be so rigid in your thinking, there are alternative ways of doings, biology is not destiny

      • Gareth says:

        So it is ok Shan for Catherine and Stephen to make comments to myself that I am living in the 1950s or that I would never find a wife or that my opinions are not valid because I have chosen not to disclose my personal status, but when innocent banter is returned – this is somehow sexist??

        Like much to do with feminism, there is double-standards going on here.

        • Shan says:

          No, its not okay.

          Let’s reboot the argument.

          You maintain that the faith teaches that husbands are to be breadwinners.

          Two terms need to be clarified; ‘teaches’ and ‘breadwinners’.

          For the sake of simplicity let’s take the Catechism as the collection of church teaching (after all it refers to scripture and documents from tradition.) If needed we can use the footnotes from the Catechism to identify areas for further scrutiny.

          The term breadwinner originates in late feudal England when one would work for the lord (literally the “loaf-keeper”) in return for bread. The term is generally used to identify the member of the household who provides a material livelihood for others.

          A search of the catechism reveals no use of breadwinner (or bread-winner) but does, in the discussion of the seventh commandment, make references to economic activity that are relevant to our discussion:

          2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work.214

          Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.

          2429 Everyone has the right of economic initiative; everyone should make legitimate use of his talents to contribute to the abundance that will benefit all and to harvest the just fruits of his labor. He should seek to observe regulations issued by legitimate authority for the sake of the common good.215

          In the discussion on the fourth commandment ([CCC 2197-2257]) there is an explanation of the duties of parents, but there is no explanation of any economic duties.

          Elsewhere, in the presentation of the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of marriage, [CCC 1601-1666] there is no mention made of which spouse has the economic responsibility to provide for the household.

          On this basis, I think we can reasonably conclude that while some of the faithful may believe that husbands ought to be breadwinners the teaching of the Church on the matter is different.

          It neither proposes nor condemns such a proposition. Therefore I can only conclude that the faith does not teach that husbands are to be breadwinners.

          • Catherine says:

            Hello Shan
            I am glad you had the energy to go look at the Catechism in order to deal with Gareth’s strange ideas. I just couldn’t be bothered as I just knew, as I am sure you did too ( without digging up documentation)that the Church would not agree with Gareth.

            • Catherine says:

              Gareth you just keep demonstrating your ignorance. Babies do not need to be breastfed. Millions of people have been raised on formula. If people choose to breastfeed the mother does not have to physically be there, she can express the milk and the husband can give the baby a bottle.

              Yes some mothers love being stay at home mothers , good on them but that does not mean that all women want to do that or are happy doing that. I know women who hate being at home with the kids and are desperate to get to back and/or are having post natal depression so stop trying to inflict a one size fits all Catholic families.

          • Clara says:

            Hear! Hear! Thank you for your lucid explanation, but I am afraid it is pearls before swine . . .

            • Catherine says:

              of course it is pearls before swine when we are dealing with a male chauvinist …

          • Gareth says:

            If you bothered to read the whole conversation Shan you would have found that the Council of Trent (a real catechism, not the dodgy 1994 version, which among many things makes many vital contradictions which I do not wish to discuss here) put in dogma that a husband is Head of the household and a wife is subject to her husband’s authority.

            If you think the teaching of the Church is different, then show me anywhere in the history of the Church which it says otherwise?

            You have put forward the proposition that the teaching of the Church is different, but a clear read of the historical guidance that the Church provides on the matter suggests nothing of the sort and would be more in broad support of myself and Cardinal Pole’s original line of thought.

            • Shan says:

              Actually, I have read the whole conversation. I have found it difficult to keep track of your argument because:
              1. You mention texts but don’t explain them.
              2. You accrete additional arguments that cloud the discussion.
              3. You feel free to insult others and are upset when they respond in kind.

              Let me respond to your immediate post:

              The 1994 Catechism is not dodgy. To claim so without any further justification is simply derogatory and quite distracting. The first edition contained some poor translations which was remedied with the second edition, but that doesn’t reduce the Catechism’s value or prominence.

              The Council of Trent was a council. Not a catechism. The various catechisms that developed after Trent are limited in their authority inasmuchas they were authorised for use only in their dioceses, and were chiefly responding to the immediate pressing theological concerns of their locations (e.g. the nature of the eucharist, whether the worthiness of the minister of the sacrament affected its confection etc.) This is one of the reasons that the CCC is a preferable source – it is universal, destined for the whole Church.

              The headship teaching is a matter for exegetes. Saying that it is dogma is simply wrong.

              I don’t believe that dogma – teachings of the Church about revealed truth – is concerned with the domestic structure within a family, given as it concerned with the economy of salvation.

              If we were discussing the Holy Family, then yes, some of those matters are dogmatic. But in discussing normal families, it is disingenous to assume that their administration is prescribed by dogma.

            • Gareth says:

              Decrees of the Council of Trent.

              Please note the section of duties of husband and wife and explicit dogma that a husband is Head of the household.

              http://www.catholicapologetics.info/thechurch/catechism/Holy7Sacraments-Matrimony.shtml

              The 1994 version of the Catechism purposelly neglected many aspects of the Faith and even many sections are debatable (e.g. Catholic orders, Burial, capital punishment, sexuality etc etc).

              It was a whishy-whashy unambigious execrise to back Vatican II, when most Catholics would be better educated by the reading the Baltimore Catechism – at least things are spect out in black and white

            • Schütz says:

              Gareth, what you are quoting is the so-called Catechism of the Council of Trent, not a decree OF the Council of Trent. Please get it right. I know now why I could not follow your original argument.

            • Shan says:

              I’m going to be blunt because I think you are not sharp.

              Your opinion on the current Catechism is ignorant and wrong. I encourage you to discuss it in person with a good priest, because you clearly wont listen to anyone you met online.

              From the link you have cited, it seems that the Catechism of Trent does teach that:
              “The wife should love to remain at home, unless compelled by necessity to go out; and she should never presume to leave home without her husband’s consent.
              Again, and in this the conjugal union chiefly consists, let wives never forget that next to God they are to love their husbands, to esteem them above all others, yielding to them in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a willing and ready obedience.”

              Let’s assume that this is a true and accurate account of that Catechism (the site hosting the document provides no substantial identifying information.)

              On that proviso it is clear that this idea was once taught. It is similarly clear from the previously presented extracts from the CCC that the Church does not teach this idea (though she permits it to be held.) Given that dogma doesn’t change, we can therefore reason that this teaching is pastoral counsel and not dogmatic teaching.

              Alternatively, if the theory was still advanced by the Church then it would be in a more developed form. However this is not the case. So, we can read the Roman/Trent Catechism and inquire as to its nature – seeing as it has informed the document.

              In fact, the introduction of this catechism contains the following advice (emphasis added):

              As, therefore, the design of the work embraces a variety of matters, it cannot be supposed that the Council intended that in one volume all the dogmas of Christianity should be explained with that minuteness of detail to be found in the works of those who profess to treat the teaching and doctrines of religion in their entirety. Such a task would be one of almost endless labour, and manifestly ill suited to attain the proposed end. But, having undertaken to instruct pastors and such as have care of souls in those things that belong peculiarly to the pastoral office and are accommodated to the capacity of the faithful, the Council intended that such things only should be treated of as might assist the pious zeal of pastors in discharging the duty of instruction, should they not be very familiar with the more abstruse questions of theology.

              To wit: while everything in the Roman Catechism has value for pious reflection, not at all of it is necessarily dogmatic. Some of it – we know not how much – is pastoral, and therefore prudence must be exercised when claiming that its entire contents is dogmatic.

              On a different matter, can I advise you to exercise a little restraint in making sweeping generalisations? It undrmines your credibility. (e.g. “mothers who put their children in day care and go off to work for no other reason than to pay off that glamorous family holiday or the new plasma tv” and “probably 20 per cent of Australian families still work on the sole male breadwinner model”)

            • Gareth says:

              Shan,

              I stand by my comments about the ‘New’ Catechism, which in reality is simply propoganda for the failed policies of Vatican II.

              The Catechism got so many things wrong (infant baptism, universal salvation, christian burial, sucicide, capital punishment, homesexual attraction – the list could go on and on) or deliberatly ommitted (as you have highlighted even deliberatly omitting giving proper guidance to mothers to be true to their mission in the home and reject secular feminism and the sad state of affairs that forces them to become like men) that it can’t be trusted or at the very least Catholics should be directed to a much more concise Catechism that gives black and white directions, not go on an intellect rant that no-one can understand.

              Anyway, I don’t wish to discuss thie here but the new Catechism does proves my point on the previous post on women’s ordination that the Vatican has gone ‘soft’ on putting up a counter-cultural assualt to the evils of secular feminism…

              Male headship is clearly Catholic doctorine – what flows from this doctorine is guidance on the duties of husband/wife.

              Each Pope may choose to ‘unwrap’ (e.g give guidance to the faithful) this doctorine for their given timeframe.

              Whilst good Popes such as Pius XI, XII and John XXIII (read the oustanding article I posted in full please) freely condemned movements of their time that moved women away from their God-given vocation as wife and mother and predominatly orientated towards the home and raising children, John Paul seems to have fallen asleep in this regards or choose to not mention this in his Catechism??

              This does not delete what previous Catechisms had to say on the matter hence the need to be directed towards the Catechism of Trent, nor does it disqualify the male headship doctorine.

              Whilst previous Pope’s ‘guidance’ magesterial texts on the doctorine of male headship may not use the term ‘breadwinner’, they do follow a broad pattern that a husbands vocation is to be economic provider and spiritual guide to his family (which in effect means breadwinner but using different language), whilst a mothers vocation is primarily orientated towards the home and children.

              There are no magesterial texts or pastoral counsel as you call it to contradict this.

              Therefore it is safe to say that I conclude that you are wrong in denying that the Church is orientated towards a male breadwinner and outside the home/ female childrearing and inside the home type model, which flows from its male headship doctorine, outlined in the Bible.

              The Church historically DOES teach a that a husband is head of his household and as such his obligation is to be ecomonic provider of his family (e.g. put food on the table) whilst his helpmate his wife is orientated towards raising the family.

              If you really want to debate this, show me a church document that teaches/gives counsel otherwise?

              Show me anywhere which shows a male is not head according to Christian doctorine or that the husband and wife have ‘equal roles/fuction’ or should ‘share’ their vocations.

              On the contrary, as Pius XII, gave counsel, the Church always teaches the family is orientated in a hierachial structure with a husband as the head and wife as the heart and anything less is an attack on what God has ordained.

            • Shan says:

              I see little point in replying to you Gareth. If you feel empowered enough to dismiss the Catechism out of hand for its wishy-washyness, despite the involvement of two rather intellectual pontiffs (JPII and B16), then there’s no citation, no document I can provide that you will accept.

              Can I say that if you think your belief in this matter – or your manner in advancing and defending that belief – will combat social evil and lead people to God, then I think you are mistaken.

              Your conduct in this discussion – both linguistically and in terms of charity – has been so intensely offensive that I feel replused from commenting on David’s blog.

              Enjoy your life under the bridge.

            • Schütz says:

              Oh, Shan, please don’t be “repulsed” – I have so enjoyed your contributions. Keep in mind that Gareth is connecting the magisterial dots in a way that fits his preconceptions. His interpretation of the meaning and consequence of the doctrine of “headship” is both dogmatic and traditional – but this does not mean that it is traditional dogma of the Church.

            • Catherine says:

              I agree with Shan, Gareth, that you are beyond reasoning with, but purely in the interests of potentially having the last word here goes.

              Gareth said …””at the very least Catholics should be directed to a much more concise Catechism that gives black and white directions, not go on an intellect rant that no-one can understand.””
              (1)
              Gareth obviously you cannot comprehend the CCC, but don’t believe that the rest of incapable of understanding it, your lack of comprehension is YOUR problem .

              (2) you wish for ” black and white directions””. Well the world and what happens in it is not black and white and the absence of black and white directions I would say is an acknowledgement by the CHurch that rigid black and directions would lead to stupid situations and therefore the CHurch has left it up to individual families to work out how to best manage caring for their children.

              Certainly I do not need my every word, thought and deed directed by the Catholic Church and spelt out in the CCC. I have my own common sense and don’t need to consult the CCC everytime I wish to blow my nose or change my underwear, as I am sure does David, Shan, Stephen K and numerous other posters on this site.

              Gareth you need to develop a little more confidence in your ability to work out what is right and wrong instead of looking to Church to dictate your every move.

              Anyway, I don’t wish to discuss thie here but the new Catechism does proves my point on the previous post on women’s ordination that the Vatican has gone ‘soft’ on putting up a counter-cultural assualt to the evils of secular feminism…

              Male headship is clearly Catholic doctorine – what flows from this doctorine is guidance on the duties of husband/wife.

              Each Pope may choose to ‘unwrap’ (e.g give guidance to the faithful) this doctorine for their given timeframe.

              Whilst good Popes such as Pius XI, XII and John XXIII (read the oustanding article I posted in full please) freely condemned movements of their time that moved women away from their God-given vocation as wife and mother and predominatly orientated towards the home and raising children, John Paul seems to have fallen asleep in this regards or choose to not mention this in his Catechism??

              This does not delete what previous Catechisms had to say on the matter hence the need to be directed towards the Catechism of Trent, nor does it disqualify the male headship doctorine.

              Whilst previous Pope’s ‘guidance’ magesterial texts on the doctorine of male headship may not use the term ‘breadwinner’, they do follow a broad pattern that a husbands vocation is to be economic provider and spiritual guide to his family (which in effect means breadwinner but using different language), whilst a mothers vocation is primarily orientated towards the home and children.

              There are no magesterial texts or pastoral counsel as you call it to contradict this.

              Therefore it is safe to say that I conclude that you are wrong in denying that the Church is orientated towards a male breadwinner and outside the home/ female childrearing and inside the home type model, which flows from its male headship doctorine, outlined in the Bible.

              The Church historically DOES teach a that a husband is head of his household and as such his obligation is to be ecomonic provider of his family (e.g. put food on the table) whilst his helpmate his wife is orientated towards raising the family.

              If you really want to debate this, show me a church document that teaches/gives counsel otherwise?

              Show me anywhere which shows a male is not head according to Christian doctorine or that the husband and wife have ‘equal roles/fuction’ or should ‘share’ their vocations.

              On the contrary, as Pius XII, gave counsel, the Church always teaches the family is orientated in a hierachial structure with a husband as the head and wife as the heart and anything less is an attack on what God has ordained.

            • Gareth says:

              Walk away (ironically without actually engaging with the magesterial texts presented) if you want Shan – but I know I am right and no matter how much and Catholic women that am assualted by others (others initated the innocent banter by the way, but I dont see you condemning them??) I will stand by the truth .

            • Clara says:

              Gareth, I am totally unable to follow your arguments. To assist my interpretation could you please clarify whether you are (a) a member of the Catholic Church and uphold the validity of the Second Vatican Council and the legitimacy of the papacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI; (b) a cafeteria catholic; (c) a member of the schismatic Society of St Pius X; or (d) part of an obscure Catholic Amish sect from the depths of Tasmania?

            • Schütz says:

              Or to put it another way, Gareth, when you say that it is a “dogma of the catholic church” that “the husband is to be the breadwinner of the family”, which “catholic church” are you talking about?

            • Gareth says:

              David,

              I feel you are slightly misquoting me out of context here.

              Are you content that ‘male headship’ is Christian/Catholic doctorine?

              I think you would have pretty hard time arguing against this one (the explicit passages of Saint Paul, see also writings of Pope Leo XVI and Pius XI and no Pope has argued against it).

              All one would have to is to google something along the lines of ‘Is male headship defined Catholic doctorine’ to find a pretty clear-cut answer to the question.

              Well if we as Catholics we are faced with the clearly defined doctorine that a husband is head of his household and his wife and children are subject to that authority, it is up to theologians, Popes and Church leaders to unfold or give guidance to the faithful on what broadly this means.

              The perenial teaching of the Catholic Church and Papal guidance on the matter is orientated towards the male headship doctorine meaning that a husbands primary career is orientated towards supporting his family and the wife orientated towards the rearing of children. Both a husband and wife may have ‘supplementary’ or part-time careers as long as this does not interfere with their primary role.

              So when I expressed that the faith requires the husbands to be a breadwinner, what I meant is that in God’s eyes a husbands primary concern/vocation is ecomically supporting and spiritually guinding his family.

              So that is what I am trying to say. I am not sure what the big uproar is that people find this line of though somehow out of line – it is pretty standard and pretty -well outlined by previous Papal guidance to me. Popes traditionally have attacked with vigour attempts to move a wife outside their primary role as homemaker, so I would have thought if people genuinely have issues, it should be orientated towards them. Don’t shoot the messenger

              I hope this makes more sense now.

              I would be genuinely interested to hear what people’s alternate views here are..

              Has there been any Papal guidance to the contrary? Does anyone want to be so brave to deny the male headship doctorine? Taking into account that Catholic families should steer away from artificial contraception, shouldn’t by nature Catholics be more more orientated towards traditional family structures? Shouldn’t we genuinely show concern for mothers who want to be with their young children full-time but are forced into the workforce due to economic pressure? Shouldn’t we honour stay at home mothers a bit more considering they have sacrificed so much and are often the bacbone of our society and Church, but go without recogition (and often sneered at as being oppressed)?

              You have put so much onus on me, but I would be interested to hear your own take on these questions, particularly the one on any Church teaching that would contradict what I have stated?

            • Schütz says:

              Gareth, it is important that you understand that I have no difficulty with the scriptural teaching that “the husband is the head of the wife”. That was never the argument. The argument is (and has only ever been) about your particular understanding that in practical terms this “mean[s] that a husbands primary career is orientated towards supporting his family and the wife orientated towards the rearing of children”. I accept your clarification that “when [you] expressed that the faith requires the husbands to be a breadwinner, what [you] meant is that in God’s eyes a husbands primary concern/vocation is ecomically supporting and spiritually guinding his family”, but I still don’t think that is quite correct.

              The “meaning” of the doctrine of headship is not quite the same thing as the “application” of the doctrine. We could usefully explore the meaning of the doctrine at some time, but for now we are arguing about one specific application of the doctrine, ie. to the economic role of fathers. For a start, the apostolic doctrine is that “the husband is the head of the wife”, which is slightly different from saying “the father is the head of the household”.

              I agree that fathers’ “primary concern/vocation” is the provision of the physical needs of his family and the spiritual guidance of his family, BUT ALSO the nurture of his children. In the same way, I completely agree that mothers have the primary concern/vocation of nurturing their children, BUT ALSO the provision of their physical needs and spiritual guidance. Do you see what I mean? I believe that all three “duties” are shared by parents, and that this in no way denies the teaching that “the husband is the head of the wife”. The teaching that the husband is the head of the wife does not require nor automatically mean that the husband – as opposed to his wife – must be the primary breadwinner for the family.

              So all the papal pronouncements you present which defend “the husband as the head of the wife” are beside the point. The question is whether this doctrine – which certainly is Catholic doctrine – must be practically applied to the effect that the father should be the one who is the primary economic provider for his family’s needs rather than the mother.

            • Gareth says:

              When I quickly googled “Is male headship defined doctorine”, I found the following interesting article:

              http://www.levelwise.org/is-male-headship-defined-doctrine.html

              Interesting, a comment (wasnt me) at the end says they felt John Paul was quite silent on the issue, which was my genuine concern as well.

  8. PM says:

    If you’ll allow me to go off at a tangent on questions of faith and work, can the bishops give us Ascension Thursday back next year please?

    • Tony Bartel says:

      Maybe they will learn to count before then. As I was explaining to my daughter last night, Ascension is always on a Thursday because it is forty days after Easter.

    • Tony Bartel says:

      Actually maybe the government could give us back out Ascension Day holiday which was taken away at the English Reformation (now I know that will not happen).

  9. JoyfulPapist says:

    Last year, First Things posted a list of 50 things women should be able to do. The first 15 are from the Bible: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/06/50-things-a-woman-should-be-able-to-do/#more-19715

    Also last year, DarwinCatholic invited women he knew to debate Ephasians 5 – and then summed up their posts with this one, in which he gives his view of husbands as head: http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/2010/12/ephesians-5-round-up-does-wives-be.html

    At the end of his article is his summary of what the headship of the household means to a husband and to a wife.

  10. Stephen K says:

    Yes Catherine, you’re right. If you love someone, you want their good.

    We are not roles, we are persons. And what is a “role” anyway? A role is a contextual set of things we do; roles are not so demarcated unless we deliberately make them so. For example, being a parent (role) means I will do lots of things in engaging with and nurturing my children; being a husband (role) means I do lots of things and anything that will nurture my wife; being a son (role), means I can do lots of things that support my mother…..and so on. (Of course I haven’t done and don’t always do as much or as well as I should ).

  11. Mary H says:

    Actually, I’m as repulsed by Catherine sometimes (who did indeed start calling Gareth names well before the “femo-nazi” comment) as I am by Gareth sometimes (as when he refers to femo-nazis). I was even repulsed by Shan (who normally seems pretty charitable) with his comment about fat-bottomed, skirt-wearing traditional Catholic girls.

    While there probably are psychological differences between men and women, the primary difference that modern western society seems categorically unwilling to come to terms with is the biological difference. Biology is not *all* of destiny, but it is indeed a very large part of it. And when a society ignores the biological difference between men and women, it is always women who will be the most directly and obviously harmed.

    Yes, the husband is the head of the family, if by that you mean that he has the primary responsibility for the protection and material sustenance of the family, and that in cases where a decision must be made and it cannot be agreed between husband and wife, his is the final decision. This is his primary responsibility as the husband of the family. It doesn’t rule out participating in the day to day care of the children, but it means if a choice must be made that conflicts with one or the other of his duties, protection and sustenance come first. I disagree that this means he must always be the “primary breadwinner,” but that is often the practical result in a society that has tended to separate monetary activity from the family.

    The primary responsibility of the wife is to bear and raise children. Ideally, she should be the primary caregiver while the child is under a certain age. Where that age is, is probably somewhere between 3 years old and 8 years old, depending on the child. I base this on historical ages for weaning and on the fact that until recently breastfeeding was a matter of life and death for the survival of children. Additional research on attachment issues also underlines this need. It is true that the need could be met in the past by using wet nurses. However, as long as the infant’s actual mother is healthy and able to breastfeed, her milk will always be more tailored and better for the infant.

    So a wife may indeed contribute in other ways to the family, but her primary duty is to the children, especially the small children, and as with the husband, if other activities such as wage-earning interfere with this, her child-care duties come first. I disagree that this actually has anything directly to do with her duties in the home per se. If I recall my history correctly, some of the first European markets were held by women, who sold and bought goods accompanied by their small children, while their husbands were tied to the farm at home.

    The separation of wage-earning activity (and what sometimes seems like almost any public activity) from the home or the ability to take care of children has had the practical result of forcing the woman to choose between staying with her children (which was at least also compatible with housekeeping) and social interaction and / or wage earning.

    This separation has actually become worse rather than better over the past years. There are fewer social occasions and public activities where children are allowed, and at many if not most of those where they are allowed, few of those where they are actually expected, let alone accommodated.

    Are all women cut out to be mothers? No. Those who aren’t probably shouldn’t marry.

    Are all women cut out to be the mothers of many children (however you define that)? No. In such a family, the husband has particular responsibility to prevent too frequent pregnancy through NFP and if necessary, total sexual abstinence.

    Should a women who wishes to fulfill her duty to her children be significantly isolated from most social and intellectual contact? Of course not. This has not historically been the case, but it does appear to be the way modern western society is set up. As David has said, the separation of work from family has been bad enough for the husband, but it has still been workable. When equality for women means being subject to the same separation from family as men, it becomes untenable.

    Women have duties that are biologically determined, and to me, the Catholic position is that she must not be prevented from or penalized for the exercise of those duties. It is her husband’s duty to enable her to fulfill them. That is why he is the head of family, that is why it is HIS primary duty to provide for and protect her.

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