View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Women priests in Pittsburgh

"In essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty; in all things, Love."

I came across that quote a few years back. It’s the motto of the Six Principle Baptists.

I thought of the quote when I heard about the Catholic women ordained in Pittsburgh yesterday – eight as priests, four as deacons.

They can't function officially – their ordinations are not considered valid by the church.

I'm sure the word excommunication is going to surface a lot in connection with this.

But I was thinking about the Baptist quote.

I don't consider being male essential to priesthood. What is essential is a call from God (Hebrews 5:4).

Some or all of those women may have that call. I have known some women who have had it. I have known some male priests whose call I question.

Yes, I read what Pope John Paul II wrote on this issue. It was not infallible teaching on his part, no matter how hard you try to stretch the definition of infallible.

On the other hand, the years of training and official sanction by the hierarchy needed to be a priest – yes, that I consider essential (and so these women fall short there for now). Even the Baptists consider some steps,training and recognition essential for ordination.

I consider gender a non-essential for ordination, so I think there should be liberty here.

I have no problem with women priests. While on vacation I attended an Episcopal service with some friends, and the priest was a woman. She did a fine job – and her homily was better than a lot of those I’ve heard in Catholic churches. (So was the music, and the participation by the congregation. And there was no mad rush to the parking lot before the service was even over. That all says something about her and her leadership at the church.)

As for love, I think it is more loving to recognize God-given gifts in people, and to provide competent spiritual leaders for our churches.

Maybe the Catholic Church could learn something from those Baptists.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. Ordaining women would be the loving thing to do.
Is there a local 6 Principle Baptist church? They sound interesting.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
Interesting perspective. Does not the idea of the relationship between Christ and His bride fall apart a bit, though? Human whims and honest aspirations should not always be confused for "the loving thing to do", no matter how good the intentions appear. In the meantime, we musn't forget that it is Mary, a woman, who, these last 2,000 years, has stood head and shoulders over any man who has ever presided over the Catholic Church, with regards to being a model of perfect obedience. The mystery of a woman's role in the Church is really no mystery at all, if the significance of Mary, Mother of God, is embraced.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Does not the idea of the relationship between Christ and His bride fall apart a bit, though?

- How so? What does this have to do with ordaining women? Perhaps I'm dense, but I'm not sure what you mean.

Human whims and honest aspirations should not always be confused for "the loving thing to do", no matter how good the intentions appear.

- I agree. We have to be careful. Is is a whim, or is it a real call. From whatI have read, some of the women ordained would not have been ordained if there had been a screening process like that used in many seminaries (Catholic and Protestant).

... we musn't forget that it is Mary, a woman, who, these last 2,000 years, has stood head and shoulders over any man who has ever presided over the Catholic Church, with regards to being a model of perfect obedience.

- No argument there.

The mystery of a woman's role in the Church is really no mystery at all, if the significance of Mary, Mother of God, is embraced.

- Yes, but "woman's role" can be expressed in many ways - mother, wife, daughter, care giver, teacher, priest.

If God has called someone to be a priest - woman or man - who am I to second guess God?

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The full truth of the matter is that this hypothetical scenario is not only unlikely but impossible, according to the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has already long since spoken on the matter. The late great Pope John Paul II made it very clear - crystal clear, in fact - that women would not and could not be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church, in his Apostolic Letter of 22 May 1994, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ("Priestly Ordination"). This is a relatively short document which I would urge anyone interested in the subject to read (I linked to it in the previous sentence). Here are the key passages for my present purpose:

1. Priestly ordination, which hands on the office entrusted by Christ to his Apostles of teaching, sanctifying and governing the faithful, has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone. This tradition has also been faithfully maintained by the Oriental Churches.

When the question of the ordination of women arose in the Anglican Communion, Pope Paul VI, out of fidelity to his office of safeguarding the Apostolic Tradition, and also with a view to removing a new obstacle placed in the way of Christian unity, reminded Anglicans of the position of the Catholic Church: "She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his Church."(1)

[(1) Paul VI, Response to the Letter of His Grace the Most Reverend Dr. F.D. Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury, concerning the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood (November 30, 1975); AAS 68 (1976), 599.]

But since the question had also become the subject of debate among theologians and in certain Catholic circles, Paul VI directed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to set forth and expound the teaching of the Church on this matter. This was done through the Declaration Inter Insigniores, which the Supreme Pontiff approved and ordered to be published.(2)

[(2) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter Insigniores on the question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (October 15, 1976): AAS 69 (1977), 98-116.]

2. The Declaration recalls and explains the fundamental reasons for this teaching, reasons expounded by Paul VI, and concludes that the Church "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination."(3)

[(3) Ibid., 100.]

To these fundamental reasons the document adds other theological reasons which illustrate the appropriateness of the divine provision, and it also shows clearly that Christ's way of acting did not proceed from sociological or cultural motives peculiar to his time. As Paul VI later explained: "The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology - thereafter always followed by the Church's Tradition - Christ established things in this way."(4)

[(4) Paul VI, Address on the Role of Women in the Plan of Salvation (January 30, 1977): Insegnamenti, XV (1977), 111. Cf. Also John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici (December 30, 1988), n. 51: AAS 81 (1989), 393-521; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1577.]

. . . 3. Furthermore, the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe.

. . . 4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work » »

1:49 AM  

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