• RSS Queering the Church

    • Catholic High School Coach Dismissed – for Homophobic Violence! September 19, 2014
      As we continue to see punitive actions against same – sex Catholic couples who choose to protect their relationships in civil marriage, it’s worth noting that there is in fact nothing in formal Church doctrine, as found in the formal…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
    • When a Priest DEMANDS that a Couple Divorce! September 19, 2014
      Cardinal Damasceno Assis of Aparecida has claimed that the church has always supported stable same – sex relationships. At the level of teaching, there may be some degree of truth in that. At the level of practice, its a different matter entirely.…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • 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
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • 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 […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Fran)
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Quote of the Day September 20, 2014
      There are many with a deep and abiding understanding of the depth and breadth of the climate, economic, ecological, social, political crisis we are facing and its common twisted roots. They will not just travel to New York [this weekend to participate in the People's Climate March] and then go quietly home afterwards feeling satisfied and personally red […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Photo of the Day September 19, 2014
      For more photos of Eddie, see:• I Knew It!• Out and About – Winter 2013-2014• Out and About – Spring 2013• Out and About – Winter-Spring 2013• Photo(s) of the Day – December 7, 2012• Out and About – Autumn 2012• Photo of the Day – March 23, 2011Image: Michael J. Bayly.
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Back from the "Dead"/Book Reviews September 13, 2014
      Just getting back on my feet after eight weeks of very intense interactions with Czech kids in summer camp in the mountains. The experience was so intense I felt cut off from my own spirit from time to time, but worth every minute.  What great kids.I'm getting ready to review two books, John Boyne's magnificent fictional treatment of the sex abuse […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
    • 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 )
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • プロミスの返済は残高スライド元利定額返済方式 September 11, 2014
      返済に影響するものは金利だけ、そう考えているのであれば今一度利用している消費者金融のホームページを確認してみましょう。実は返済方式も返済に大きく影響するものなのです。例えばプロミスで見てみましょう。返済方式として残高スライド元利定額返済方式が採用されています。これがどういったものなのか、金融専門書を確認しても出てくるものではありません。そもそも、本来であれば管理均等返済方式や元金均等返済方式というのが返済方式の中でも一般的なものですが、残高スライド元利定額返済方式とは新たにできた造語だからです。今では多くの消費者金融がこの返済方式を採用しています。プロミスではこれによって月々の返済の最低金額が決められています。例えば借り入れが2万7000円までであれば1000円の最低返済額、5万5000円までであれば2000円 […]
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Bishop Blase Cupich September 22, 2014
      There's been much in the Catholic press about the appointment of Cardinal George's replacement in Chicago, Bishop Blase Cupich. Appointed by Pope Francis, this is seen as an indication by some of the Pope's wish to have a more moderate leadership in the US ... Pope Francis names Spokane bishop to Chicago, dashing conservative hopesI would argu […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

The Catholic Spring: Ferment in Switzerland

One of the disadvantages of English as a home language, is that too often it leaves us weak in other tongues, and as a result all too ignorant of developments in the wider world (outside, that is, the UK, the USA, and the British Commonwealth). A case in point is the matter of Catholic discussion around matters of ordination to the priesthood, which the Vatican insists must be restricted to celibate males. In the English – speaking world, the National Catholic Reporter caused a stir last week with an editorial proclaiming that contrary to directives from Rome, Catholics have not only a right but a duty to discuss women’s ordination, but in other regions, discussions have gone much further.  Fortunately for us linguistically challenged English speakers, Rebel Girl does a sterling job of bringing to our attention useful information from foreign language press, in English translation. From Brazil, for example, she reported recently how Archbishop Dom Jacinto Furtado de Brito Sobrinho of Teresina

told reporters last week that, regardless of any opinions Pope Benedict XVI may have expressed on the importance of celibacy, the pontiff’s words on this question are not infallible. He reiterated the Church teaching that the Pope is only considered infallible on matters of faith and morals and mandatory celibacy doesn’t fit in those categories. The bishop added that “the fact that to be a priest you also have to be celibate is a discipline that the Church can change.”

-Rebel Girl, at Rentapriest

But it’s in Switzerland that things are getting really interesting. In a fascinating pamphlet, a Swiss abbot, Martin Werlen, has gone way, way beyond simply urging us to discuss ordaining women priests – he has suggested among other notable innovations, that it is time for the Church to appoint women cardinals!

Continue reading

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.

 

Robert McClory on Danger of Turning Metaphor Into Law

I’ve long contended that one of the most pernicious confusions that religious believers with a fundamentalist bent introduce into public discourse about religious issues is this: they take what is metaphorical, and they try to freeze the metaphor.  To absolutize it.  To make the analogical into a litmus test of absolute truth rather than a metaphor pointing in imperfect, halting human language to what transcends language. Continue reading

Benedict’s Thoughts on Priesthood: Confused, Contradictory.

As I reflect on Pope Benedict’s observations on the priesthood as recounted to Peter Seewald in “Light of the World”, what strikes me most is the range of models that he refers to as determining the essential requirements of the job – and how these shift, depending on the context. But if we take precisely the same models he does, and move them to different contexts, they flatly contradict the established rules for admission, and even undermine the standard approach to dealing with “homosexuals” in the Church, but not in the priesthood.

Continue reading

Irish Theologian Mary Condren Comments on Recent Vatican Document Coupling Clerical Pedophilia and Women’s Ordination: Last Straw for Women

Dr. Mary Condren

At the beginning of this week, Irish theologian Mary Condren published an outstanding commentary on the recent Vatican document coupling clerical pedophilia and women’s ordination.  Condren’s analysis appeared in the Irish Times.  (Once again, one of the encouraging developments of this tipping-point moment in the history of the Catholic church is the willingness of the secular media to provide forums for serious, open discussion of theological and moral issues, when the church itself and its institutions have not provided those forums in recent years.) Continue reading

Vatican Diverts Attention from the ‘Hide-the Pedophile’ Scandals by Attacking Women’s Ordination

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

The New York Times recently reported that the Vatican, while revising its laws on disciplining pedophile priests, simultaneously pronounced “…that ordaining women as priests was as grave an offense as pedophilia.”

This move also appears to be designed to obfuscate just how little has been done to punish predator priests.

The great abolitionist and suffragette Sojourner Truth once remarked, “[That little man in black says] woman can’t have as much rights as man because Christ wasn’t a woman. Where did your Christ come from? . . . From God and a woman. Man has nothing to do with Him.”

Her point is clearly lost on the traditionalists of the Catholic Right and all-male Vatican hierarchy, which has revealed itself to be so threatened by female priests that they wield the threat of the excommunication most severe form of censure, over proponents of the cause.

The traditionalists’ explanation for not ordaining women is that Jesus only chose men as his Apostles. This explanation has been effectively refuted by theologian Father Charles Curran. The men Jesus chose as his first disciples, he noted, were exclusively Semitic. Therefore, a logical extension of traditionalist rationale would mean that only Semitic men may become priests. (European men need not apply. And that means you, Ratzinger.)

But the equation of women’s ordination with clergy pedophilia is also a red herring.

As the aforementioned New York Times piece reported regarding the new rules on accountability for priests:

Those measures fell short of the hopes of many advocates for victims of priestly abuse, who dismissed them as “tweaking” rather than a bold overhaul. The new rules do not, for example, hold bishops accountable for abuse by priests on their watch, nor do they require them to report sexual abuse to civil authorities — though less formal “guidelines” issued earlier this year encourage reporting if local law compels it.

This was not lost upon The Women’s Ordination Conference. In a tersely worded denunciation, Executive Director Erin Saiz Hanna observed, “”The Vatican’s decision list women’s ordination in the same category as pedophiles and rapists is appalling, offensive, and a wake-up call for all Catholics around the world.”

Saiz-Hanna further noted, “The idea that a woman seeking to spread the message of God somehow “defiles” the Eucharist reveals an antiquated, backwards Church that still views women as “unclean” and unholy.”

She also highlighted a bigger issue:

Furthermore, we are extremely disheartened that the Vatican did not appropriately use this opportunity to meaningfully address the handling of sexual predators in its ranks. While some strides were made in this revision of the 2001 sexual abuse policy, it does not go far enough. We are calling on our members to take action: express their concern and call for real accountability by demanding that the hierarchy release the names of all accused Catholic leaders; reach out to survivors and take steps to make sure children are protected now; and, discontinue all financial contributions that benefit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

In a related statement, David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), cut right to the heart of the matter:

The crisis isn’t due to inadequate church policies. It’s due to reckless, secretive and self-serving church officials, who seem to consistently value their own comfort and reputations over the safety of their flocks. Tweaking existing church policies won’t have real impact on bishops’ behavior and won’t make the changes that kids need to be safe.

“We suspect,” Clohessy continued, “that thousands of dangerous clerics are in parishes today, not because defrocking guidelines are inadequate, slow or confusing, but because bishops are timid, fearful and callous.”

Clohessy’s analysis is spot on.

The Vatican’s pronouncement is timid because it fails to compel bishops to cooperate with secular government in prosecuting predatory clergy. Instead, a culture of secrecy and avoidance is not only continued but is further enabled.

It is fearful in its misogynistic attempt to wield the anxiety of eternal damnation as a means of thwarting a more inclusive Church while simultaneously leaving vulnerable potential pedophile victims.

And it is callous in its utterly transparent attempt to use the issue of women’s ordination as a smokescreen to cover up just how little the Vatican has actually has done to address the long-festering wound of sexual abuse.

While I am sure that many Catholic prelates are sincere in their beliefs about these things, it is possible too, that their beliefs are propped up in part by scriptural interpretations of convenience. Maybe an important reason why they fear women as equal members of the clergy is because they would be less able to play the old shell game of “hide-the-pedophile.”

New York Times on Rome’s Coupling of Clerical Pedophilia and Women’s Ordination: Inept Posturing

This is a brief addendum to what I published yesterday about the document released by the Vatican this week, which couples clerical abuse of minors with women’s ordination.  I’d like to note, as a postscript to what I published yesterday, that today’s New York Times has an editorial addressing the document. The Times critique of the Vatican document runs along channels similar to my critique. Continue reading

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