Kathleen Peterson

Kathleen Peterson
I look forward to the day when women will be nice to each other.

Women can be the most loving and compassionate sisters in Christ, filled with virtue and integrity.

We can also be the most envious and intimidating of enemies.

Remember the awkwardness of middle school, the high school cliques, the circle of ‘mean girls’?  If you weren’t part of the ‘in crowd’ you were ostracized, or even worse, not noticed at all. As an adult, I still experience this.

Historically though, the one place that was off-limits to teasing, bullying, etc. was the sports arena. You could be torn down at the lunch table, but after school you could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your teammates who would build you up, celebrate your accomplishments, and help you to become your best. I found this to be true as a teenager while playing softball for Millcreek Youth Athletic Association.

It was my safe place. My daughters found the same support in their chosen sport.

These outlets allow participants to grow in virtue, to develop physically and mentally, and to learn how to win and lose with grace.

I’m not one to jump on the women’s movement bandwagon. I believe it’s caused more division than unity. But it has helped to bring women’s sports — that safe place — to the world stage.

One would think that we women would cheer each other on, and revel in the opportunity to battle on the field without any agenda other than to do our best, individually and as a team. Sadly, this is no longer something we can count on.

Pope Francis has championed women. Recently, he gave his blessing for the women of Vatican City to start a soccer team. Although they’ve had a men’s team for over 40 years, this would be the first time that female soccer players would be able to represent the smallest country in the world on the international stage.

Their first foreign match was to be held in Austria, on June 22, against Vienna's Mariahilf.

But, in a straight-up mean-girls scenario, several members of the Mariahilf team and their supporters decided to misuse the moment to make a political statement. Instead of celebrating and welcoming the Vatican City women, they chose to dishonor them. They defiled their bodies with agenda-filled messages of hate against the Catholic Church and her teachings about the sanctity of life.

To the credit of the Vatican City women, they chose to forfeit the match rather than allowing the opposing team an inappropriate forum for their protests. These are women of integrity who have learned virtue on the field.

What should have been a day of great joy became one of disappointment for the players and their supporters.

It was also a huge setback for women in general.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get out of middle school, or if the mean girls will ever become nice.

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of all women so that my future granddaughters will be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and celebrate their achievements with their fellow sisters in Christ… on a safe field.

Now, that’s a goal!

Kathleen Peterson is a deacon's wife and Catholic blogger, She is currently serving as interim editor of Diocese of EriE-News.