Patriarch actually supports patriarchy

This recent statement from Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix (Arizona) is worthy of note:

“Do not be fooled by those voices wishing to erase all distinctions between mothers and fathers, ignoring the complementarity that is inherent in creation itself. Men, your presence and mission in the family is irreplaceable! Step up and lovingly, patiently take up your God-given role as protector, provider, and spiritual leader of your home. A father’s role as spiritual head of the family must never be understood or undertaken as domination over others, but only as a loving leadership and a gentle guidance for those in your care. Your fatherhood, my fatherhood, in its hidden, humble way, reflects imperfectly but surely the Fatherhood of God, the Father to those whom the Lord has given us to father.”

Admittedly, it is somewhat muted, but it is still a remarkable statement.

Most prelates do not present this kind of traditional teaching. I have only ever heard it from the occasional priest. I cannot remember the last time a bishop came out with something like this. Liberal bishops are usually quick to demand obedience to their office, but have tended to discount the rights of the husbands and fathers in their jurisdiction.


10 responses to this post.

  1. ”A father’s role as spiritual head of the family must never be understood or undertaken as domination over others”

    Akin to the role of a shepherd.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 4, 2015 at 4:58 am

      I like to compare it to the role of a parish priest. Serving his people, but with real (if limited) authority.


  2. Posted by DissidentRight on October 7, 2015 at 12:07 am

    “never be understood or undertaken as domination over others”

    A parish priest has the duty to expel open rebels from the Sacrament, no? I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but wives are sinful and frequently err. Eventually the Church will rediscover that husbands do, in fact, have the duty to stand up against their wives whenever necessary.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 7, 2015 at 12:23 am

      Thank you for that comment, DissidentRight, because it enables me to make a couple of points. Basically, I agree with you. However I think it is important to understand the language being used here by the bishop, which is very much in line with recent papal language. What is being deprecated is domination in the sense of unjust oppression.

      Healthy leadership, protection and guidance are all being mentioned positively. (I am actually a bit surprised that the local feminists have not made the bishop issue a grovelling apology for his remarks, with copious references to domestic violence and so on. Perhaps that is yet to come!)

      It seems to be that there remains ample room for a husband to stand up to a wife and correct her and expect her to obey him in anything lawful. In fact, he has a duty to do so. There is a very strong implication in Ephesians that a husband has a special responsibility for his wife’s final spiritual state.

      I also think that headship implies that he is entitled to a level of appropriate respect and deference due to his office. (“See that she respects her husband” as St Paul writes.)

      Different couples will apply this basic principle in line with their own understanding and personalities. In some couples, the model will be more moderate. In some couples, the husband will be more clearly the ruler.

      But yes, I also agree that the church is going to have to face two things. One is that husbandly headship must imply some level of just “dominance”. And the other is that many women like the traditional model. (I have to wonder what led to Bishop Olmsted’s remarks. It would be nice to think that the church is starting to be a bit more “red pill”.)


      • Posted by craig on October 7, 2015 at 12:06 pm

        Bishop Olmsted’s letter is 1980s-traditional — that is, its worldview is situated in that short pause between the Sexual Revolution and the current Sexual Reign of Terror (homosexual “marriage”, norming of pedophilia, regret=rape, etc.).
        Olmsted appears to be one of the good ones who is not actively trying to sell out the faith for worldly esteem.

        But the key concept so many supposed lovers of tradition miss is that in reality, there is no such thing as responsibility without authority. You can’t claim the man has responsibility for the well-being, spiritual or physical, of his family and simultaneously deny that he has the legitimate authority to direct them and discipline them if necessary.

        In the end, the letter never got past “man up, because man’s job is to sacrifice”. As Bogart might have said, “I wouldn’t bring up [that] if I were you: it’s poor salesmanship.” He talks about how fatherhood is good and invokes the biblical patriarchs, but never confronts the difference between the patriarchal ideal of a father and the modern secular image of a responsible and involved dad who nonetheless has no real authority over his charges.

      • Yes, as I said, it is not a full return to reality, but it is a step in the right direction. It seems clear enough to me that if he speaks of leadership, guidance and headship, that logically implies real authority.

        Maybe I have missed it, but I don’t see that Bishop Olmsted has said or implied that a man has no real right to direct and guide his family as he sees fit. (He may have limited legal powers because of the secular culture and laws, but that is not the issue in a spiritual sense.)

      • Posted by DissidentRight on October 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm

        Right, I agree.

        Before we rollback the feminized Church, we’ll need to start challenging their weak language at every turn. Male dominance is inherently bad? Really? What does headship mean if not “dominion”? Power does tend to corrupt, but it is not inherently evil. And it is only after men, husbands, and Christians abdicate their power that we all discover, too late, that things quickly take a turn for the worse.

        Besides that, and more importantly, men need to simply show and not tell. It is both unnecessary and counterproductive to explain to your wife the details of feminism’s failure, as if you were asking permission to be a man. Just be dominant, and just. Be just as ready to reject her bad decisions as you are your own. That’s what everyone really wants, anyway.

        Luckily for civilization, God programmed men to feel naturally disposed towards women. Looks like He does know what He is doing, after all.

      • Yes, I agree with most of that. The point is not that the Church is saying today that headship is a bad thing, but rather that unjust dominance is unChristian. The Christian style of leadership (a term the bishop had the sheer balls to actually use, to give him credit) is for the benefit of those ruled. It does imply genuine authority though.

        Incidentally, to say, as Pope John Paul II did in one of his encyclicals, that the father should “ensure the harmonious development of all members of his family” (or words like that) is to put it rather well. Especially when one remembers that the father should include himself in that.

        What does this look like in an ordinary modern marriage? Well, from personal experience this can range across symbolic areas, into ordinary decision-making, and into areas like a husband’s consideration of what is best spiritually for his wife (allowing that she has agency in this area as a free person, but that as the bishop says, “spiritual headship” rests with the husband.)

        In my experience, it can include, for example, a woman naturally asking permission for expenditures and keeping her husband apprised of her movements out of the house. It can involve a husband occasionally determining that a particular book is not suitable for his wife. And so on.

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