In the last few years, it is the churches led by women priest, that have brought in more and more ordinary people. Those churches and priests with traditionalist attitudes are more likely to appeal to 'intellectual' Catholics ( both Roman and Anglo varieties) and certainly who know the ins and outs of the liturgy and ceremony. Very little if any opening for those who come from different traditions or are new to the Christianity altogether. Having come from an Anglican Catholic background, but with a Roman Catholic partner, I have experienced and the best ( and the worst of both camps).
I love all the ceremony but it leaves me empty when there is not the time, energy or even the aptitude for pastoral care/input. As such it was to a woman priest that I turned to in distress several years ago for help with reconciliation. She spent an hour listening and counselling me before asking me if I would like to make my confession. After wards she hugged me. The male priests these days give you five minutes or less, the last one I went to was giving me a 'general absolution' before I had, had time to say anything. Friends, both male and female have had similar experiences. Most of them who remain in the Roman Catholic Church don't bother with reconciliation any more as it feels empty. As for me? I am Roman Catholic most of the time but if I need spiritual guidance and support then a women priest is essential.
You have a very good point. I have to admit my experience of women as counselors, doctors, listeners in general coincides with yours. I do try myself to have more open ended times for Reconciliation - Saturday mornings, Wednesday after 7 p.m. Mass and First Thursdays, 1-8 p.m. If you came to Holy Family I would do my best to listen carefully and, if it were face to face, say a prayer imposing hands over you. And, if it were appropriate, to give a hug.
Part of the problem you refer to is that we have scheduled our confessions right before Saturday evening Masses and the priest feels a lot of pressure. Another part is that we men are on the whole not as good listeners as women tend to be - or at least not as given to conversation. If I had a dime for every woman who has made that complaint about her husband, I could pay off our school porch. On the other hand if I had a dime for every man who has made a similar complaint, I could maybe buy a cup of coffee.
But my argument in Why Women Can Never Be Priests was not that men are superior to women. It was more like trying to explain why only men can be grooms (and only women can be brides). Even tho we might be a fairly sorry lot, there are some responsibilities men must shoulder - and which we will have a hard time doing without women's encouragement. I'm grateful to God to be in a parish where I experience a lot of that. It would be rough going without it. Do you see what I mean?
Anyway, Elizabeth. My prayers. Do write again.
Fr. Phil Bloom
CatholicHome Study Resources
Homily on Boston Scandal
Boston Globe's Misleading Article on Catholic Church