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.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).
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.
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.