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by Joan Byrne

In "Ted's Story" (#2, Why I am a Catholic), Ted Lambert talked about the way the Catholic Church had, amongst other violations of human rights, "held women in subjection", and he explained how he had founded "in God's Name" to protest and correct "the baneful almost universal practice of male-naming God".

He went on to say "It seems almost impossible that Catholics will cease to use father, son, king, he, him, almighty etc...to image God as male", and I can understand his concern about male gender bias and its consequences for women, but Jesus was male, and we cannot change that. Any change of name or image must surely come from God, and I have been wondering if the appearances of the Mother of God at Lourdes, Fatima, and Medugorje, to name but a few of Her appearances, have been an indication of God's intention with regard to gender bias which has been misinterpreted.

We have been told very firmly by the Church hierarchy that Mary is the Mother of God, not God the Mother, but what if that is another case of male reinforcement of the gender bias to ensure the continued subjection of women. In capitalising on Her appearances, the Church has continually promoted the Blessed Virgin image of Mary, and that image has imprisoned Her for centuries. The Church hierarchy has not allowed Her to become a dynamic role model for women, and that treatment of Her has contributed more to the subjection of women, than has the male naming of God.

Similarly, in considering the way the New Testament has been used to deny women the opportunity to become priests, it seems to me that even God the Father is not allowed to update His thinking. The New Testament has also been firmly closed, and that set me wondering what would happen if God the Father and God the Mother sent Their daughter to implement change in the gender bias. Would the Church hierarchy welcome Her with open arms, or treat Her as the Jewish hierarchy treated Jesus?

Would we accept a woman as God's Daughter as Jesus was and still is accepted as God's Son?

None of us was present when Jesus was baptised and God the Father is reported as saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". None of us know for sure who wrote the New Testament documents, nor do we know how accurate those documents are. Yet, we accept that Jesus is the Son of God. So, what would happen if we were all faced with a situation similar to that faced by the Jews two thousand years ago?

Their world was very similar to what our world is like now. Theirs was dominated by the all-powerful Roman Empire, which used its military power to impose its political will on less powerful countries and there was religious turmoil, division, and disillusion. In our case, it is the all-powerful American Empire which is using military force to impose its political will on the world; and we have Jews, Christians and Muslims killing one another while all believing that God is on their side.

Our world has sunk further and further into the religious and political quagmire created by men in the Middle East centuries ago, and there is an obvious need for God's intervention, as there was then. But would a woman be accepted as God's Daughter if she claimed to have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit and heard the words: "This is my daughter, in whom I am well pleased"? Would Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders be prepared to question the possibility that they were witnessing the Second Coming, which Jesus promised two centuries ago?

The New Testament has taught us to expect the return of Jesus, but what if His Mother was fed up with the way that womankind has been treated during those centuries, and decided to do something radical about it? Mary has been appearing on a regular basis for a long time now, just as God the Father is reported to have appeared on a regular basis during the Old Testament times and during Jesus' lifetime. What if She has been heralding the Second Coming and Her message has been misinterpreted?

What if Mary is God the Mother and Her Daughter had been on earth for some time now, suffering for a much longer period than Jesus suffered, because men had refused to listen to the message She was trying to impart? Instead of abolishing the "male-god language and image" as Ted Lambert has suggested, wouldn't it be wiser to start listening to women, in case one of them is the Daughter of God and She has a mission to transfigure mankind?

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