19 April 2007

Umm...No.

The Kansas City Star has an article by Phyllis Zagano titled, "For Catholic's womens ordination may be here sooner than you think." Zagana says:

Yes, I know all about the chances of snowballs surviving in the netherworld, but I still think Pope Benedict XVI is moving toward ordaining Catholic women.
I wouldn't count on it.

Three times in the last year or so, the pope’s comments leaned in that direction. The telltale words are “governance” and “ministry.” Each is technically reserved to the ordained.
Yes, but, "Lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this same power according to the norm of law" (canon 129 § 2 [cf. canon 228 § 1). Call me silly, but I think this is what Benedict has in mind.

In the flood of ideas coming from the scholar-pope, the theme of charity stands out. Would a pope turning 80 on April 16 ordain women to minister in charity?
Not in the way you have in mind.

A year ago, a Rome priest publicly asked Benedict if women could be included formally in Church governance and ministry. Surprisingly, Benedict said yes. He said so again on German television last August.
Again, see canon 129 § 2.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, he threw a bouquet to women, recognizing their discipleship in the early church. Before 20,000 people in the Vatican’s General Audience Hall, Benedict recalled that Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, as well as Mary Magdalene, were close disciples of Jesus. He reminded the crowd that Thomas Aquinas called Mary Magdalene the “apostle to the apostles.” She did, after all, announce Jesus’ Resurrection.
The pope acknowledged St. Paul’s conflicting sentiments: In Christ there is neither male nor female, yet women should keep silent in church. Conflicting? Yes. Decided? No. That, Benedict said, should be left to biblical scholars.
And biblical scholars know well what women did in the early church.
And so does he and so do we: what women still do in the church today (with the exception of shielding the nudity of women at Baptism).

Benedict did not use the word “diaconate” (the ministry of deacons), but he leans in that direction, coinciding with the historical record of women’s ministry. Women once were deacons. That is a historical fact.
True, but not in the same manner of men. Their functions were entirely different and there is absolutely no record of women ever being ordained as men were to the diaconate. Learn the full history, not just the part you like.

Does history matter?
That may well be the dumbest question I've ever read.

Well, Benedict is a theologian with an eye for history. He knows that what the church once did, it can do again. He, too, knows about the piles of historical documentation of women deacons.
When Benedict talks about women, he always begins by deflecting the idea of women priests, pointing out that Jesus chose male apostles from among his men and women disciples. Such is the Catholic Church’s fundamental argument against women priests.
At least you have this part right.

But that has nothing to do with women deacons. In fact, Benedict has now — three times — reiterated that women were actively engaged in Jesus’ ministry. And “ministry” is the key word when we’re talking about deacons.

Ministry is what deacons do: They minister in and through the word, the liturgy and charity. Deacons preach. Deacons participate in the Mass. Deacons manage the Church’s charity, or at least they used to.
Let's see. "When the needs of the Church warrant it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion according to the prescripts of the law" (cannon 203 § 3).

Of course, don't forget that lay persons can preach as well: "Lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases, according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops and without prejudice to canon 767 § 1" (canon 766).

Umm...unless I'm quite mistaken all who present at the sacred liturgies of the Church participate in them, especially in the Mass. I think the Second Vatican Council said something about that.

Also, if we pay any attention at all, it might be noticed that now much of the monetary charitable actions of the Church are directed by lay persons, at least where I come from.

Deacons watched over the stores and treasures of the early church. They cared for the poor and the orphaned, for the homeless and the widows with church funds, properties, and possessions. They even paid the salaries of the priests.
Many lay persons today watch over "stores and treasures" of the Church. Aren't the temporal works of mercy about these other things, minus the last one? Isn't there a precept of the Church that might apply here, too?

That may not be the case today, but it begs the question: why not?
Umm...I think it is the case today. Last I checked, my pay check has two signatures on it: the Pastor's and the business administrator's.

As Catholicism is increasingly bereft of priests it is concurrently flooded with deacons — there are over 15,000 in the United States alone.
Umm...no. As of 2004, there were 405,891 priests in the Church and only 32,324 deacons (L'Osservatore Romano, 2 August 2006). This hardly seems to be a "concurrently flooded" situation. For the curious, there were 4,784 bishops, 55,030 professed religious non-priests, and 764,459 professed women religious.

These are capable men, able to run a parish plant, manage Catholic charities, or oversee the cemeteries or the various aid societies of a parish or a diocese.
Well, gee, thanks.

They can free priests to do priestly — rather than diaconal — ministry.
Lay persons call help free priests up, too, as so many do day in and day out.

If Catholicism were to return to its older tradition, that would add women to the mix.
But not how you're suggesting because it was never that way.

Then women could oversee church money and properties on behalf of the pastor or the bishop. What if women watched where the money went?
I think a lot of women do watch were the money goes. Her issue seems to be much more about money and power than about spirituality.

Perhaps then there might be more money around for the poor and maybe fewer financial scandals.
Call me silly again, but from what I've read and heard, many of the financial scandals were brought to light by women. And if you want more money for the poor, how about encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ to be more generous to the Church. Here's another thought: why not lower the salaries of professional athletes and give some of that to the poor, as well? There is plenty of money available for the poor, but the vast majority of it never finds its way to the Church.

And what if women deacons ministering in charity could preach each Sunday? Would not the church hear more about the way the gospel functions in the real world, here and now, in the 21st century?
Not by judging from what I heard women who "preach" each Sunday have said.

It’s just a thought, but it might be Benedict’s idea too.
I wouldn't bet on it.

20 comments:

  1. That one made my day.
    FYI, it's one of the dumbest questions I've ever read, too.

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  2. Those that think that women priests (or "deacons") would be the answer to the scandals of the Church do not read that local and national news. Men and women are both afflicted with the same problem-original sin. They both are subject to the same impulses of greed, lust, etc. Women are just sneakier. (Okay, that last comment was snarky, but I am a woman-I know.)

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  3. They also haven't had a good look at how the idea works elsewhere.

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  4. Thanks, Jeffrey!

    LOL! Nicely said, Sharon!

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  5. I was teaching catechism tonight and the topic of religious life came up and I asked if anyone could explain to me what a nun or sister was and one of the kids said "It's a woman priest." YIKES!!! I corrected that one quickly.

    Anyways, articles like the above don't really worry me too much because they can say all they want and make all the sociological arguments for the ordination of women they like, but it will always be impossible for women to be ordained to the priesthood. . . this coming from a young Catholic female theology student. . .

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  6. Well done!

    The trouble with articles such as this one is that the average Catholic in the U.S. has little theological understanding of even the most rudimentary of levels.

    Too many Americans believe that simply because its published in the newspaper (or on the Disovery, History, Learning channels, etc.) that it must be true.

    People today read articles like this and say, "Hey, that makes sense" because, as you say, they are only thinking sociologically.

    We need to find ways to help them think theologically.

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  7. I wish you well on that, but first you'll have to get them to think logically. That, alone, is a tall order.

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  8. Helping them think logically might well be the most difficult.

    I've been noticing lately that - in general, though certainly not all - my students at the high school don't quite seem to aware and conscious of how to carry a thought through to completion.

    There is a Franciscan priest in Quincy who has been advocating teaching philosophy of some kind in grade school and now I'm beginning to wonder if he isn't right.

    Logic seems to have been adandoned by far too many people today. It's time to recover it.

    I suppose the first step here is getting people to care, and that alone won't be easy, either.

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  9. I suspect it might be even harder.

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  10. We need to make a course in socratic logic mandatory for all highschool students. It seems most people have thrown logic out the window and so even if they disagree with the Church's teachings they're not able to construct a properly formed argument. You can't even discuss with someone who disregards the most basic logic.

    Furthermore, there's a real disconnect in our society between truth and the lives we live. It's hard enough to convince someone that there is such thing as objective truth, and if you succeed in that, then getting them to accept that if there is such thing as truth, they must live in light of that truth, is sometimes almost impossible. At least with my generation. Truth doesn't exist for most, and if it does, it's rarely viewed as relevant.

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  11. Anonymous4:44 PM

    Father,

    I know what conservative Catholics (and the Catechism, and JP2, and B16) say about the ordination of women, but may I ask you a slightly different question? Do you believe that God COULD ever create a woman who would be equal to you in the gifts necessary for being a skilled, caring, effective priest? If your answer to that first question is yes, or possibly, why would you oppose the Holy Spirit if it someday led this pope, or some future pope, to permit the ordination of women?

    (BTW, I enjoy your blog -- just happen to disagree with some of your posts. Regards. Steve.

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  12. It's not about being equal in ability, capacity, skill, etc... The Church's teaching that woman cannot be ordained points to an ontological reality. In celebrating the sacraments the priest does not act in his own person but rather is acting in the person of Christ. There is only one High Priest in the New Covenant, and that is Jesus Christ. In celebrating the sacraments the priest participates in the singular priesthood of Jesus Christ. It is no coincidence that the second person of the Trinity became incarnate as a man. This is essential to who Christ is. The male exclusive priesthood points to this reality that Christ, in his essence, is male. Christ's maleness is not accidental.

    Furthermore, it is also clear that Christ chose and appointed only men as his apostles. Christ challenged the cultural view of women at the time by eating with prostitutes, speaking with the woman at the well, etc. . . If he had intended for women to be priests he would have chosen them to be among his apostles.

    It is also important to remember that Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride. The ordained priesthood, as a participation in the priesthood of Christ, also operates in accordance with this image. This priest is a bridegroom who espouses the Church. This image would not function with a female priesthood.

    The previous poster asks why would you oppose the Holy Spirit if it someday led this pope, or some future pope, to permit the ordination of women? The simple answer is, this will not happen. It would be impossible. Even if the pope himself were to lay hands on a woman in an attempt to "ordain" her, no ordination would take place. It's an impossibility. Also, this matter has been infallibly defined in the doctrine of the Church and so it cannot be changed. The teaching can be elaborated upon and clarified, but never changed.

    I know the above question was directed at Father, and so I'm sorry for jumping in here, and I hope you understand that it is not my intent to be confrontational in responding. It's just frustrating as a young woman who loves the Church to so often encounter misunderstandings with regards to the Church's teaching on Holy Orders. As a woman studying Catholic Theology in no way do I feel belittled by the fact that I will never be called to the priesthood. In fact, coming to a deeper understanding of this teaching has helped me to see more clearly my own vocation and place in the life of the Church and come to a greater appreciation for our priests who participate in the total-self oblation of Christ on Calvary that we, the faithful, might encounter Him in the Sacraments.

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  13. Thank you, DilexitPrior. Well said! I've think you've answered Steve's question with the same response that I would give.

    I hope her response helps, Steve. If you haven't done so, I suggest you study these documents on the issue:

    Inter Insigniores: http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFINSIG.HTM (it isn't available in English on the Vatican web site)

    and

    Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html

    I appreciate your question, Steve!

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  14. Anonymous7:58 PM

    For Catholics, women’s ordination may be here sooner than you think
    By PHYLLIS ZAGANO
    Yes, I know all about the chances of snowballs surviving in the netherworld, but I still think Pope Benedict XVI is moving toward ordaining Catholic women.

    Three times in the last year or so, the pope’s comments leaned in that direction. The telltale words are “governance” and “ministry.” Each is technically reserved to the ordained.

    In the flood of ideas coming from the scholar-pope, the theme of charity stands out. Would a pope turning 80 on April 16 ordain women to minister in charity?

    A year ago, a Rome priest publicly asked Benedict if women could be included formally in Church governance and ministry. Surprisingly, Benedict said yes. He said so again on German television last August.

    Then, on Valentine’s Day, he threw a bouquet to women, recognizing their discipleship in the early church. Before 20,000 people in the Vatican’s General Audience Hall, Benedict recalled that Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, as well as Mary Magdalene, were close disciples of Jesus. He reminded the crowd that Thomas Aquinas called Mary Magdalene the “apostle to the apostles.” She did, after all, announce Jesus’ Resurrection.

    The pope acknowledged St. Paul’s conflicting sentiments: In Christ there is neither male nor female, yet women should keep silent in church. Conflicting? Yes. Decided? No. That, Benedict said, should be left to biblical scholars.

    And biblical scholars know well what women did in the early church.

    Benedict did not use the word “diaconate” (the ministry of deacons), but he leans in that direction, coinciding with the historical record of women’s ministry. Women once were deacons. That is a historical fact.

    Does history matter? Well, Benedict is a theologian with an eye for history. He knows that what the church once did, it can do again. He, too, knows about the piles of historical documentation of women deacons.

    When Benedict talks about women, he always begins by deflecting the idea of women priests, pointing out that Jesus chose male apostles from among his men and women disciples. Such is the Catholic Church’s fundamental argument against women priests.

    But that has nothing to do with women deacons. In fact, Benedict has now — three times — reiterated that women were actively engaged in Jesus’ ministry. And “ministry” is the key word when we’re talking about deacons.

    Ministry is what deacons do: They minister in and through the word, the liturgy and charity. Deacons preach. Deacons participate in the Mass. Deacons manage the Church’s charity, or at least they used to.

    Deacons watched over the stores and treasures of the early church. They cared for the poor and the orphaned, for the homeless and the widows with church funds, properties, and possessions. They even paid the salaries of the priests.

    That may not be the case today, but it begs the question: why not? As Catholicism is increasingly bereft of priests it is concurrently flooded with deacons — there are over 15,000 in the United States alone. These are capable men, able to run a parish plant, manage Catholic charities, or oversee the cemeteries or the various aid societies of a parish or a diocese. They can free priests to do priestly — rather than diaconal — ministry.

    If Catholicism were to return to its older tradition, that would add women to the mix. Then women could oversee church money and properties on behalf of the pastor or the bishop. What if women watched where the money went? Perhaps then there might be more money around for the poor and maybe fewer financial scandals.

    And what if women deacons ministering in charity could preach each Sunday? Would not the church hear more about the way the gospel functions in the real world, here and now, in the 21st century?

    It’s just a thought, but it might be Benedict’s idea too.

    Religion News Service Phyllis Zagano is senior research-associate-in-residence in the religion department of Hofstra University and author of Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church.

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  15. Anonymous, I fail to see the point in posting Zagano's article which I have already posted, albeit with my own comments.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous10:31 AM

    Study CATHOLIC history, Father--not historical fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have, thank you.

    It might be nice if you would have the integrity to step aside from posting anonymously in this way.

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  18. Just one more for now:

    It would be wise to look at what the Holy Father himself acknowledges after he first speaks of Phoebe:

    "In other passages, Apollos mentions a certain Phoebe whom he calls "diakonos" of the church of Cenchreae, the small p ort city east of Corinth (cf. Romans 16:1-2). Althought at that time the title still did not have a specific ministerial value of hierarchical character, it expresses a genuine exercise of responsibility on the part of this woman in favor of that Christian community."

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  19. CarpeNoctem3:45 PM

    Hey Fr. Daren... picked up your blog, and I have this article from the Free Republic to offer for this discussion from an Anglican angle:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1825628/posts

    I'm not sure it exactly argues directly against women's ordination, but it certainly exposes what can go wrong when a "Catholic" ecclesial group denies an integral component of historical and scriptural faith and uses their own fantasies and politics to justify whatever ecclesiology they want.

    I believe one could call this an arguement ad absurdum: if priesthood congregational or personal or other subjective perrogative, then why not women? why not divorcees? why not pedophiles? why not Fido? I suppose that subjectivication of ordination in any way takes it out of God's realm of 'gift' and 'munera' and into the human realm of 'rights' and 'justice' (doing mortal damage to authentic Christian ecclesiology in the process). In the occasional problems that come up in the Catholic Church, it is clear to see that such a subjective approach to orders leads to 'sacramental disfigurment' through simony, the politics of human ambition, and abuse of benefices as it did at the dawn of the Reformation, as well as a host of other problems.

    Counterpoint this argument with 'normalizing' sodomy as a moral good... either in itself as the extreme argument or in its being 'as good as marriage' in a 'committed relationship'. Why not sacramentalize it? (Let's abandon the hopelessly old-fashined, objective rule that sexual relations between a man and woman should be reserved for marriage.)

    I doubt that J.H. Newman would have ever in his wildest nightmare guessed how far off the tracks his beloved Anglican church would go. It is interesting to consider l'afaire Robinson and W.O. have come together to show how Anglican orders depart from the authentic Christian revelation and thus render Anglican Communion is spiritually bankrupt. What might not be understood in the refined arguments of Apostolicae Curae can be seen clearly a hundred years later in the laboratory of 'real life'.

    I'm not saying this to knock Anglicans or Episcopalians. On the contrary, they are a community which is suffering an tremendous identity crisis at this point. Christian or not? Catholic or not? My hope is that they can come around and reject 'theological innovations' such as birth control and women's ordination, and this whole homosexual thing so that we can all be one as Christ commands.

    I, for one, see the woman's ordination stand of the Catholic Church, as difficult as it is, as a stand for sacramental and ecclesial integrity.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you, CarpeNoctem. You are correct in seeing the issue as one of crucial importance to sacramental and ecclesial integrity. The Church's documents on the ordination of women make this very clear. Be sure to check out Sr. Sara Butler's new book.

    ReplyDelete