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    • The Celibacy Wars: A Reason for Hope? August 9, 2014
      Quite suddenly, my news feeds are full of stories and opinion pieces on celibacy and gay Christians, from the evangelical Christian Charisma News and the like on the one hand, to the gay Advocate on the other. On the religious…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
    • Pope Francis: The Family as a “Centre of Love” – and Inclusion. August 8, 2014
      In a message to the First Latin American Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Family in Panama, Pope Francis’ thoughts on the nature of family deserve close attention by LGBT Catholics. What is the family? Beyond its more pressing problems…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
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    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
    • Email sent to my followers June 27, 2014
      Whew! It's time to catch my breath. Since the release of Queer Clergy in February, I've been on the road ... Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and California. I have been the guest of book clubs, adult forums, LGBT reconciling groups, the Pacific School of Religion, and I've been a guest preacher (always a treat for an old lawyer). I've mad […]
      Obie Holmen
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    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
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    • Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence August 21, 2014
      One of the books I'm currently reading is Michael Morwood's It's Time: Challenges to the Doctrine of the Faith, a book that focuses on the crisis of faith confronting Christianity in general and Roman Catholicism in particular. In response to this crisis, Morwood proposes that we discard institutional claims of unique access to a heavenly deit […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Photo of the Day August 20, 2014
      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:Photo of the Day – April 17, 2014Photo of the Day – August 28, 2013Photo of the Day – July 25, 2012Photo of the Day – November 17, 2011Photo of the Day – July 17, 2011Photo of the Day – December 19, 2010Pacific SkiesImage: Michael J. Bayly.
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    • Quote for Day: "Tear Gas Is an Abortifacient. Why Won't the Anti-Abortion Movement Oppose It?" August 20, 2014
      Michelle Goldberg at The Nation today:Tear gas is an abortifacient. Why won’t the anti-abortion movement oppose it?Why, indeed? Why are many people who call themselves staunch pro-lifers, and who are willing to go to any length to oppose health insurance coverage for women that includes the morning-after pill — a contraceptive — completely silent about the u […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • Bibles, Churches, Gays, Religion: Bilgrimage Readers Continue an Important Discussion August 20, 2014
      Recently, I responded to a question asked by a thoughtful reader of this blog (Bob/tinywriting) about how one determines when Christian groups have gone completely off-track as they appeal to the Jewish and Christian scriptures to ground their claim that they authentically represent the message of Christ. I also later added to that initial discussion several […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
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    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
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    • The travails of young love July 30, 2014
      On a bit of a hiatus from blogging for the summer as I recollect my spirit, but I may have some reflections to share this weekend about the difficulties of young love. Been listening to tales of heartbreak from some of my young students. And young River Viiperi has broken from his partner of two years, Paris Hilton, so these must be difficult days for him as […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
    • Papa Francesco does it again July 14, 2014
      Well, the whole world - or at least the semi Christian world - is all a flutter over yet another freewheeling interview of Pope Francis conducted by acknowledged atheist and La Republica journalist Eduardo Scalfari. Before the ink had barely dried, Father Lombardi of The Vatican Press Office was already huffing out his damage control , assuring us that Scalf […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
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    • プロミスとアコムならどっちで借りるべきか? August 2, 2014
      借り入れまでの審査時間の短さで、キャッシング先を消費者金融にしようと決めた方もどこの消費者金融がよいのかで困っていませんか?消費者金融でもトップといってもよいプロミスとアコム、借りるならどっちを選ぶとよいのでしょうか。プロミスの最大の特徴は、金利の低さでしょう。プロミスの金利幅は、4.5%~17.8%の実質年率となっています。比較してアコムの金利幅は4.7%~18.0%となっています。(アコムカードローンでの金利となり、アコムクレジットカードでのキャッシング金利は違ってきます。)また、無利息サービスもプロミスは、プロミスポイントサービスにお申込された方が対象に行われています。一方のアコムでは、無利息は期間限定のサービスとなっています。いずれも無利息になるためには条件があるのですが、プロミスではポイントサービスへ […]
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    • A contemporary crusade? August 20, 2014
      On the plane back from Korea, the Pope appears to have endorsed military action in Iraq. Here's a video of Francis speaking on this issue, from the Catholic News Service ...I was surprised and kind of disturbed - the church seems much more militant about this conflict involving Christians than it has been about any other current conflict ... think of Fr […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

The Lay OBLIGATION to Discuss Women’s Ordination

We are all too familiar with the Vatican insistence that not only is women’s ordination impossible, but that even discussion of the subject is not permitted.

Others disagree. In  a hard-hitting editorial, the National Catholic Reporter argues strongly that not only do we have that right, but lay Catholics at least have an obligation to discuss this, at every possible opportunity, and in every available forum.

We must speak up in every forum available to us: in parish council meetings, faith-sharing groups, diocesan convocations and academic seminars. We should write letters to our bishops, to the editors of our local papers and television news channels.

-   National Catholic Reporter.

How do they get to this unfamiliar conclusion, so at odds with the familiar Vatican line?

The voice of the faithful

The starting point, the spark that lit their fuse, was the Nov. 19 press release announcing Roy Bourgeois’ “excommunication, dismissal and laicization”, for his role in encouraging and assisting the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, and in particular one notable assertion:

The most egregious statement in the  is the assertion that Bourgeois’ “disobedience” and “campaign against the teachings of the Catholic church” was “ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Bourgeois, attuned by a lifetime of listening to the marginalized, has heard the voice of the faithful and he has responded to that voice.

Bourgeois brings this issue to the real heart of the matter. He has said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and to say that anatomy is somehow a barrier to God’s ability to call one of God’s own children forward places absurd limits on God’s power. The majority of the faithful believe this.

The voice of scripture

So, one part of the NCR critique rests on the observation that women’s ordination has the support of the faithful. This is important in itself, and I return to it later. But there’s another part to the argument – that the Vatican claim to rest on a firm foundation in Scripture is unsound:

In October 1995, the doctrinal congregation acted further, releasing a responsum ad propositum dubium concerning the nature of the teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: “This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” The ban on women’s ordination belongs “to the deposit of the faith,” the responsum said.

However, this claim to be based on the “written word of God” is a recent invention, contradicted by earlier  conclusions of the Pontifical Biblical Society

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: “It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.” In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ’s original intentions.

What were “Christ’s original intentions”? We do not know directly from his words or actions, as he neither spoke of ordination, nor ordained anyone: the practice of formal ordination did not begin until well after New Testament times. Rather, the assertion rests on an interpretation, from the fact that only men were included among “the twelve”. There are two objections to this. First, as the women priests movement and others have noted, there certainly were many women prominent in the service of the Church in other capacities. The only person explicitly described in the New Testament as a “deacon” of the church was Phoebe, a woman. Should we conclude from this that only women should be deacons? Other women are also described as “servants” of the church (which is the meaning of the word “deacon”). More controversially, there is another example, Junia, described as “most famous among the apostles” – and Junia appears to have been female. There’s an even more example of women’s inclusion, familiar to all – but we usually miss its significance. In an article prompted by the Church of England failure to approve woman bishops, Tom Wright (former bishop of Durham) notes that

All Christian ministry begins with the announcement that Jesus has been raised from the dead.  And Jesus entrusted that task, first of all, not to Peter, James, or John, but to Mary Magdalene. Part of the point of the new creation launched at Easter was the transformation of roles and vocations: from Jews-only to worldwide, from monoglot to multilingual (think of Pentecost), and from male-only leadership to male and female together.

- quoted at Face2Face blog

And a contribution in the comments thread to that article, adds the important observation that

In the 2nd and 3rd Century church Mary Magdalene was called the “Apostola Apostolorum” (the Apostle of the Apostles) for that very reason Mr. Wright cites.

So, it is not surprising that the Pontifical Biblical Commission should have concluded “that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women” – and the assertion by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI that it does, is simply false.

We must also consider, when evaluating the Biblical evidence, not only the words, but also the context of the time. It is scarcely surprising that only men were included in the twelve: among Jews of the time, as in other Mediterranean societies, men took leadership roles in almost every aspect of life. The really notable feature of Jesus’ example, was not his exclusion of women, but how easily he included them in his circle, and engaged with them in discussions, to a degree that was far more inclusive than was usual for his day. From that perspective, it is unconscionable that the approach to women’s inclusion by the modern Church is not ahead of secular society, but behind it.

 The voice of tradition

The second part of their assertion is that the exclusion of women is “from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church”. But this too, rests on shaky grounds. There is at least some evidence that just as women were named in the New Testament as “servants” of the Church, from the time that formal ordination began, at least a few women were so ordained as priests: and definite evidence that many were ordained as deacons.

The voice of the Magisterium

The third part of the cIlaim, is that

“it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” The ban on women’s ordination belongs “to the deposit of the faith,” the responsum said.

It is here that NCR brings out what for me is its strongest, most fascinasting argument. We are accustomed to the Vatican claims about “Magisterium” in support of their pronouncements, but I for one am often unclear on what, precisely, constitutes authentic “magisterium” – and what is at bottom, little more than Vatican assertions. NCR reminds us that there are in fact, three magisteria in the church.

Blessed John Henry Newman said that there are three magisteria in the church: the bishops, the theologians and the people. On the issue of women’s ordination, two of the three voices have been silenced, which is why the third voice must now make itself heard.

-   National Catholic Reporter.

We know that many bishops, and rather more theologians outside the ivory towers of the CDF, do not believe that the door should be closed on discussion of women priests, or of married priests – and some would specifically desire to begin with their ordination, at least to the diaconate. Unfortunately, the unbalanced and unjust power structures currently prevailing in the Church makes it difficult or impossible for these people to speak up freely, without seriously endangering their careers and livelihoods.

That places a particular responsibility on the rest of us, those not beholden to the Vatican in material terms, to speak up on their behalf, as well as our own.

I am publicizing this important editorial as widely as I can. I hope you will do the same.

 

Examining the crisis: NCR Review

It’s been a while now since I wrote anything at all about the problems of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. That is not because I’ve lost interes, and still less because the problem has gone away – quite the contrary. I just reached a point, especially after the papal response to the Irish bishops, that there seemed so much to say, but also so much being written elsewhere, that the issue was in danger of becoming all-consuming, and with it, a risk of becoming contaminated with what my colleague Jayden Cameron calls “psychic poison”.  I needed to take a step back, and get some of the perspective that comes with distance.

With that advantage, I now want to make a regular return to the topic, not with my own thoughts, but by drawing to your attention some of the better commentary I have seen elsewhere – with the emphasis on commentary, not the gory details. I am also no longer particualrly interested in analysing the causes, (except  where there is something fresh being said), as much of these have been discussed endlessly, both here at QTC and elsewhere. I am now more interested in the likely long-term impact on the church (as I began to discuss here).

To kick this off, I wiant to draw your attention to what has become an impressive continuous series on the subject at National Catholic Reporter, some of which I will be discussing later in more detail.

 

NCR Series on the abuse Crisis

 

A proposal for dealing with priest perpetrators

by Mary Gail Frawley ODea on Jul. 28, 2010

About 5,000 priests and religious brothers have been identified as credibly accused of sexually violating minors. Most of these men were unavailable to criminal prosecution due to statutes of limitation; some within the statutes are in prison. The rest are dead, have voluntarily left the priesthood, were laicized, are residing in religious communities with more or — usually — less appropriate supervision, or wait in limbo for the church to adjudicate their cases.

Beneath the child abuse scandal

by A.W. Richard Sipe on Jul. 22, 2010

Many people, including bishops, date and label the "Crisis in the Catholic Church" to Jan. 6, 2002 when The Boston Globe began publishing its series about sexual abuse of minors by priests and revealing the conspiracy of bishops in covering up crimes. That was the flash point of a worldwide scandal. The crisis it epitomizes is more profound.

Read the full report here: Beneath the child abuse scandal

Scandal vs. crisis; PR vs. raw data

by A.W. Richard Sipe on Jul. 09, 2010

Ron Westrum, professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, suggests that organizations react in a series of stages to “anomalous reports.” They are: 1) suppression, 2) encapsulation, 3) public relations, 4) local fix, 5) global fix, and 6) investigation of root causes. He came to his formulation through the study of the battered child syndrome that many people, even professionals, found hard to admit was a widespread phenomenon.

It is not difficult to match the trajectory of church response to allegations of hidden clergy sex abuse against Westrum’s model. It’s a good fit.

Compromised hierarchy needs relational wisdom of women

by Charlene Spretnak on Jun. 17, 2010

If the church is to emerge from the crisis of the clergy sex abuse scandal and cover up and enter a new day, rather than being permanently degraded and diminished by it, a vital project of renewal is needed. It would involve all Catholics — laity, nuns and priests, including the hierarchy — in an energetic search for creative and vital means of replacing patterns of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting.

Mandatory celibacy: the heart of what’s wrong

by James Carroll on Jun. 08, 2010

Like all Catholics, I gratefully depend on the faithful ministry of the many good priests who serve the church. Yet I offer a broad critique of something central to their lives and identities — the rule of celibacy. Many priests will recognize the truth of what I describe.

I write from inside the question, having lived as a celibate seminarian and priest for more than a decade when I was young. In the Bing Crosby glory days, celibacy was essential to the mystique that set priests apart from other clergy, the Roman collar an “Open sesame!” to respect and status.

From a secular perspective, the celibate man or, in the case of nuns, woman made an impression simply by sexual unavailability. But from a religious perspective, the impact came from celibacy’s character as an all-or-nothing bet on the existence of God. The Catholic clergy lived in absolutism, which carried a magnetic pull.

Read Carroll’s full commentary here: Mandatory celibacy at the heart of what’s wrong

Sex: Obedience & Disclosure

by A.W. Richard Sipe on Jun. 01, 2010

Theologian Yves Congar once said, “In the Catholic Church it has often seemed that the sin of the flesh was the only sin, and obedience the only virtue.” This dynamic dichotomy forms the linchpin to the structure of the entire clergy sexual abuse crisis currently embroiling the Catholic Church.

But the sexual abuse of minors by clerics vowed to celibacy is only the symptom of a system desperately in need of fundamental reconsideration.

Surely Rome can do better

by James Ewens on May. 26, 2010

Let me take you into a situation that illustrates the church institution’s instinctive reaction to cover-up scandal. It was a workshop in 2000 for new Jesuit superiors. The presenter, a former provincial, was discussing the circumstances when a superior could break the bond of confidentiality between himself and the men he was in charge of. He said something could be shared with the provincial "If it was a matter of danger for the individual or to others."

Cracks in the wall of the curia

by Jason Berry on May. 20, 2010

Examining the Crisis

The Roman Curia is the Vatican bureaucracy. Most people know little about the men who run the curia. But press coverage of the clergy abuse crisis is closing in on cardinals whose blunders in the clergy abuse crisis have begun to draw criticism from other Princes of the Church.

As words fire back and forth in the press, the wall of secrecy that traditionally surrounds the curia is showing cracks.

Don’t expect accountability from the last feudal system in the West

by Donald Cozzens on May. 17, 2010

Miters somewhat askew, the recent queue of bishops from Ireland to Germany, and beyond stepping forward to offer apologies for sexual abuse by their priests is unprecedented for the European Catholic church.

Even as the apologies pile up and policies for dealing with abuse allegations are tightened and meetings with victims are promised, something remains amiss that takes the heart out of the bishops’ mea culpa.

On the crisis, Benedict XVI changes the tone

by John L Allen

Lisbon, Portugal — Not long ago, there was a brief flurry of speculation in the Italian media hinting that Benedict XVI was insulated from the full gravity of the sexual abuse crisis swirling around his papacy. Reports suggested the pope was getting only a carefully redacted daily press digest, producing a skewed impression of global discussion – and in particular, perhaps, shielding the pope from grasping the negative fallout of the “blame the messenger” commentary from some senior Vatican aides.

Tuesday morning, however, Benedict XVI seemed to show that he gets it just fine.

The gift of shame

by Mary Gail Frawley ODea on May. 10, 2010

Examining the Crisis

Jesuit Fr. James Martin suggests on the Huffington Post that the church’s hierarchy, from the pope on down, largely has failed to perform penance for its role in the relentlessly ongoing sexual abuse crisis. This omission is a grave deviation from the church’s own paradigm of penitence and restoration — the sacrament of reconciliation — which requires the penitent to make reparation to those harmed and to the larger community. The steadfast refusal to welcome the hope accompanying shame may be at work in this pastoral absence.

Church leaders are spinning their wheels

by Maureen Paul Turlish on May. 04, 2010

The institutional Roman Catholic church can attack every newspaper in every country in the world but that will not change the fact that as an institution it has participated in an extremely well documented, egregious pattern of enabling and covering up for the sexual abuse of thousands of innocent children the world over during almost an entire century.

Abuse crisis is actually a hierarchy crisis

by An NCR Editorial on Apr. 30, 2010

The sex abuse crisis is not fundamentally about sex. The phrase is a convenient tag that has been applied to a deeper, ongoing problem that, at its core, has to do with power and authority and how it is used in the church.

Secret sex in the celibate system

by A.W. Richard Sipe on Apr. 28, 2010

Viewpoint

Sexual behavior has a long and well-documented history. Even the current problem of sexual abuse of minors is neither new nor limited to clerics. It is a practice that crosses ethnic, cultural, religious and economic strata and custom. Incest (familial contact) is the most common. However, the sexual abuse of minors by declared celibate clerics poses special issues. There are three factors that draw special attention to the sexual practices of Roman Catholic clerics today.

Rehabilitating Peter, praising women

by Ross Beaudoin on Apr. 23, 2010

A homily for the Third Sunday of Easter

The gospel reading [for April 18] is a double-header. We get two stories in one. Both stories are about the apostle Peter, and they take up most of Chapter 21 of the Gospel of John.

Scholars tell us that Chapter 21 was added to the Gospel, which originally ended with Chapter 20, and that this “postscript” material probably dates around 60 years after the death of Jesus. These added stories must have been very important to the early Christian community. The question becomes: Why did the Johannine community feel the need to add these stories to the Gospel?

Revising history Vatican style

by Thomas P. Doyle on Apr. 21, 2010

The latest Vatican attempt at damage control and image recovery is really an example of history revision. The Vatican has posted to its Web site a short explanation of the 2001 motu proprio, Sacramentorum sancitatis tutela. This decree was not hidden in official secrecy and is fairly well-known throughout the world. The short article provided a summary of the main action steps for cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics. That offered nothing new. A real surprise, though, is found in one sentence: “Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.”

Turn this dreadful moment into a graced moment

by Fr Michael Ryan on Apr. 20, 2010

· Examining the crisis

As he read the scriptures for the Third Sunday in Easter, Fr. Michael Ryan, says, it was hard " not to read all this in light of what is currently happening in our church, and to express the hope that, during this current, painful crisis, our church leaders will hear Peter’s words as a challenge to humbly acknowledge that, despite their intentions, instead of speaking for God they have sometimes spoken — and acted — all too humanly."

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