‘There you are,’ she said. ‘That’s what your Church thinks of us women – Adam’s spare rib: look at the first page of your holy book.’
‘She’ is a life-long friend: a friendship that goes back to the untroubled days of Kerry in the 60s, when Cherie Baby was top of the pops, and when she came to the Mater to train as a nurse. Fado, Fado – long before she became a feminist granny.
As John Lennon puts it, I could feel her pain. Yet I argued about Genesis: ‘Believe it or not, Una, the text is about the equality of man and woman.’ And I went on to show (not in these words) that the word ‘helpmate’ is a bad translation from the Hebrew which asserts the mutuality between man and woman in an intimate relationship such as marriage. The look on her face showed she was unconvinced. In any case, the argument was over a safety net. A long friendship in which I officiated at her marriage and baptised her children and grandchildren would not be jeopardised by interpretations of Genesis. God forbid!
Una’s take on that passage is understandable: indeed, a look at the wider canvass of today’s readings shows a harsh and imperious and chauvinistic tone. But ‘hold on a minute’ as Marian Finucane say, it may be well to remember that what Jesus is announcing is a vision of marriage. An ideal. You and I know that human nature being what it is often fails to live up to that. And He was always on the side of those who fail.
And the Church as represented today by Francis is a Church that will have a place for all: those who succeed and those who seem to fail: those whose faith is strong and those who are hanging on by their finger tips: those who get married in a church and those who are making a valiant effort to love each other without the conventions of ceremony.