Saturday, December 1, 2012

The New Apostles' Creed has a sexist line?

The Catholic Church, to which I belong, will fully implement the new English missal in all Masses starting Sunday, the first in the liturgical season of Advent. This is according to reports

I'm all for the changes in the liturgy in the Mass, if it will help improve or strengthen the faith of the people and make the Masses even more relevant and timely, among other things.

However, I'm a bit bothered that in the new "Apostles Creed" prayed in the Mass (the prayer that begins with "I believe in one God"), a line there seems to be sexist. Why? Because the line (12th line) refers to only "men" and not to "women" also. I subscribe to the use of politically correct gender-fair language in written and spoken manner, and I think the use of "men" only in that line could have been improved by just using "For us" instead of "For us men..." (Or, maybe just drop altogether the phrase "For us men" and start the line with "For our salvation..."

I know that some people still subscribe to the teaching that the word "man" already refers to "woman." But with all the efforts being done by various sectors, groups, and advocates toward gender equality and the recognition given the differing situations and needs of "women" and of "men," and with all the world conferences, conventions, agreements, and laws that provide for the advancement and empowerment of women, I think that (again) subsuming "women"  under the all-general term of "men" in the new "Apostles Creed" is a step backward for gender equality and the empowerment of both women and men. My fear (I hope though unfounded) is that for those who are not yet, or not yet fully, gender-sensitive, reading or reciting that line over and over again in the "Apostles Creed" might reinforce (even subliminally) their traditional mindset that women have less roles to play in society and in other aspects of life, hence no need to further mention "women" in the same breath that "men" are mentioned. Another traditional mindset (in basic linguistics especially) is that the word "man" already encompasses "women." But, of course, I hope people will be, in general, more progressive thinking than what my expectations suggest. In the meantime, for gender equality advocates like me, I can only continue to "cringe" whenever the congregation comes to that "sexist" line while reciting the prayer in unison at the Mass, or else I pause at the word "us" in the "For us men..." and continue on to the next phrase "and for our salvation..."

I know that my opinion is a mere speck on the institution of the  prayer and the Church. But, I guess, I just wanted to get that off my chest :)

The New Apostles' Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen

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