A couple of fridays ago I was at church for evening mass. Usually on Fridays there are about 10 faithful present, a small group of regulars.
There is a young lady from France visiting with us. Raised in the SSPX. She’d been in town for about two weeks at that point, and everyone had noticed already that she did not wear a head covering at mass.
During this mass, another young man present decided to fetch her one of the spare mantillas. He gave it to her and she put it on.
Evidently the priest noticed this. Immediately following recession, he brusquely called that young man into the sacristy and everyone present was privy to the loud berating that followed. Nobody could pray and, anyway, it was unpleasant, so we all went downstairs.
The principle supposedly at work, I take it, was that he had publically humiliated the young lady, so public humiliation was his just desert.
I do not think that principle truly applies here, since her disregard for the traditional custom of the Church requires correction and perhaps merits a rebuke. A layman taking it into his own hands during mass was not the ideal course; clearly it would be better done by the priest, away from eyes. Unfortunately he had done nothing about it in the previous two weeks. In my opinion, both the priest’s hesitation to correct and his reaction to the young man were over-the-top, and can only be explained by an excessive regard for the girl’s feelings.
This brings me to a larger point. It is only natural for us to show somewhat more regard for a woman’s feelings than for a man’s. Today, however, in post-feminist culture we see this natural regard exaggerated far beyond reasonable limits. We see a police officer in Toronto ‘named and shamed’, forced to give a public apology and effectively denounced by his superiors, all for advising young women they could lower the odds of sɛҳuąƖ assault by dressing more modestly. We see a young male waiter globally humiliated and fired from his job for writing “fat girls” on a bill given to his (very fat) customers.
And we see a young man publically shouted down by a priest for daring to hand a girl a mantilla during mass.
All of this goes to show that respect for women’s feelings has grown into a harmful pathology through which truth and virtue are suppressed. A woman’s feelings have become socially powerful out of all proportion to their real importance. In certain quarters this pathology is known as “white knighting”, because it is a parody of chivalry.
There are good reasons to believe this pathology affects large numbers of Traditional Catholics. It’s time we moved from sporadic mention to a real discussion of it. Because although a certain additional regard for female sensitivity is natural, its exaggeration is truly a threat to Catholicism, and it is worrisome to see it incipient in traditional priests.
Oh, the young French lady does wear a head covering now.