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Roman Guidelines Equate Clerical Pedophilia with Women’s Ordination: How Many Mistakes Can You Spot in This Picture?

I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all,” James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson.

The Vatican has just released its much-touted new norms for dealing with clerics found to be sexually abusing minors.  And what is attracting international media attention in the new norms issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which reserves to itself the right to handle clerical abuse cases worldwide, is not their guidelines for handling abuse cases.  It is, instead, the norms’ equation of the “attempt” to ordain a woman with pedophilia.

Or with heresy and schism, as John Hooper notes in the Guardian.

An English translation of the norms is available at the website of the Vatican Information Service.  The norms dealing with the “attempted ordination” of women are found in article 5, which notes that the attempt to ordain a woman is a “more grave delict” “reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”  The article notes that both those who “attempt” to ordain a woman and she who “attempts” to receive ordination incur automatic excommunication—automatic because they have attempted what is ipso facto impossible on theological grounds, one understands, though those grounds are not spelled out in this document.

The logic of the document is, rather, What is, is.  And when what is has been declared to be what it is, one who questions what has been declared to be automatically places him- or herself beyond the church’s pale.  By the very fact that she or he is challenging the definition of “is.”  Which is established and handed down from the top of the church—from the pope—to the rest of us.

The discussion of article 5 and the “attempt” to ordain women is preceded in article 1 by a laying of the ground rules—by an assertion of who has the right to define whom.  This article notes that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly headed by the current pope, Benedict) has the right to judge delicts (i.e., crimes) against the faith, including the graver delicts committed against morals and in celebration of the sacraments.  The “attempt” to ordain women appears to fall into the latter category, though, again, precisely how it does so is not spelled out in this document.  Article 2 notes that delicts against the faith include heresy, apostasy, and schism—with which the “attempt” to ordain a woman is now being equated, along with priestly pedophilia.

And what to make of this foolishness, which sounds curiously like the mad Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland shouting, “Sentence first—verdict afterwards”?  Rachel Donadio, in the New York Times, notes many Catholics’ astonishment not precisely at the Vatican’s attempt once again to squelch movements to ordain women, but at the clumsy, ill-advised decision to include this ante-upped prohibition against women’s ordination in a document whose ostensible purpose is to lay down guidelines for handling priests abusing minors:

Donadio writes,

But what astonished many Catholics was the inclusion of the attempt to ordain women in a list of the “more grave delicts,” or offenses, which included pedophilia, as well as heresy, apostasy and schism. The issue, some critics said, was less the ordination of women, which is not discussed seriously inside the church hierarchy, but the Vatican’s suggestion that pedophilia is a comparable crime in a document billed a response to the sexual abuse crisis.

Writing at Religion Dispatches, Catholic theologian Mary Hunt notes that these guidelines reaffirm the CDF’s declaration of 2008, noting that women who imagine they are being ordained are only “simulating” ordination.  Hunt thinks that whatever wager the Vatican imagines itself to be making by equating the “attempted” or “simulated” ordination of women with pedophilia (and heresy and schism) is a bet that the Vatican will most likely  lose:

Stay tuned, but I think they [i.e., Vatican officials] miss their guess. There is simply no comparison between a theological argument over who is “fit matter” to be ordained and the destruction of a child’s life; not to mention the thousands of people who have been abused by clergy. The public simply won’t buy it, and the end result is that the institutional Roman Catholic Church will look even more out of touch with reality than ever.

“Sentence first—verdict afterwards” has a nice, authoritative ring to it, when one wishes to assert absolute authority over others.  But as a rational, convincing argument in a world that expects religion and reason somehow to connect, it falls somewhat short.  When authority asserts itself in ever more strident terms, in the absence of dialogue and convincing rational argument, one begins to suspect that the loud volume of the assertion is directly related to the lack of real authority in the authority figures shouting that they have the right to declare what is, is.

In what follows, I’d like to reflect briefly about what I think may be going on in this Vatican move to increase the ecclesial penalties for “simulating” women’s ordination, and in the decision to equate the “attempted” ordination of a woman with priestly pedophilia.  I am certainly interested in what the document has to say about its ostensible primary purpose—about how abuse cases are now to be handled.

And I may comment on that aspect of this Vatican document later.  Meanwhile, I’ll note that I am persuaded by the response of groups like the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) to this Vatican document.  As SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Dorris notes,

There needs to be massive overhaul, not mere tweaking, of how the church deals with abuse and cover up . . . .We don’t need minor changes to church policy but massive changes to church practice and culture. History has shown that in this secretive, ancient, rigid all-male monarchy, abuse policies are widely ignored.

While this document tweaks, and continues to make verbal promises that may or may not be honored by action, the ceiling of the organization doing the tweaking is caving in—and far more than tweaking is demanded.

Here, I’m interested in the underlying logic of the Vatican argument that those who “attempt” to ordain a woman are merely “simulating” ordination—just as a dog walking on its hind legs is simulating walking, or a woman preaching is merely attempting to preach.  What is at stake in the logic of the Roman document declaring the “attempt” to ordain a woman a grave canonical crime is the bald assertion of the right of church officials to define everyone else in the church.

At the heart of the logic governing this document’s statements about women’s ordination is the unsubstantiated assertion (unsubstantiated because entertaining dialogue and theological discussion is viewed by the authorities making this assertion as an admission of weakness) that the rulers of the church have the right to define.  And the ruled do not have that right.

If they claim that right, they are claiming what cannot be, what is therefore bogus and imitative—simulated and attempted, rather than real and effected.  This document’s assertion of the right to declare any and all ordinations of women mere “attempts” at ordination that incur a grave ecclesiastical penalty is, quite simply, assertion and nothing more, nothing backed by logic or cogent argument: it is an assertion, in the face of all critics, including those who point to the cover-up of abuse cases (which the CDF asserts it alone has the ultimate right to handle) as a serious moral failing on the part of Catholic pastoral leaders, of those leaders’ right to continue defining what is.

Where does this thinking, so deeply rooted and seemingly intractable in the Catholic hierarchy at present, come from?  In my view, it is a continuation of the Roman legal concept of patria potestas (or potestas patris), a concept that framed many Roman juridical notions, above all those governing family law.  This concept entered the theological thought of the Roman church at an early period, was subsumed into canon law, and has never been repudiated by those governing the church, though the documents of Vatican II (not to mention the scriptures themselves) implicitly critique many of its most fundamental assertions.

What, precisely, is the Roman legal notion of patria potestas?  It’s the belief—the assertion—that the father of a family has the absolute right to dispose of all of his property, and of all family members under his authority, as he wishes.  Without restraint.

This presupposition governed Roman legal understandings of family, marriage, and the relation of men to women (and of a husband to his wife and a father to his children).  Since the Romans practiced slavery and slaves fell under patria potestas as members of a family who also happened to be held as chattel by the father of the family, the concept of patria potestas also extended to the right of a father of a family to make absolute, life-or-death decisions regarding the slaves who belonged to him.

As John Austin, Robert Campbell, and Sarah Austin note in their classic study of legal philosophy entitled Lectures on Jurisprudence: Or the Philosophy of Positive Law (London: J. Murray, 1885), in formulations of Roman law protecting the absolute right of a slaveholder over his slave property, we see exposed the inner logic, the heart of the assumptions, of the Roman concept of patria potestas: it is a legal concept that turns everyone but the father into a thing, a concept that reserves to the father the right to consider all those under his authority as objects defined and used by him as he wishes:

In styling the slave a thing, they considered him from a certain aspect: namely, as being the subject of a right residing in another person, and availing against third persons. And (as I have proved to satiety) the analogy which led these lawyers to rank the slave with things, would justify the extension of the term thing to any person who is the subject of any right (vol. 1, p. 399).

As Bruce W. Frier and Thomas A.J. McGinn note in their study entitled Casebook on Roman Family Law (NY: Oxford UP, 2004),

. . . [P]atres familias, as the wielders of patria potestas, could decide whether those in their power lived or died, whether and whom they could marry and for how long, whether they could treat any property as their own (even though the pater always remained the true owner), and so on (p. 189).

As I’ve said, this logic continues to lie buried deep within the thinking of the hierarchy in the Roman church about the rights, privileges, and role of the church’s pastoral leaders.  As theologian John Wijngaards notes in an essay about the role of women leaders in the Catholic church, it does so because, as the Roman church amalgamated with the Roman Empire following Constantine’s conversion to Christianity and his choice to make that religion the official religion of the Empire, the church assimilated into its canonical codes of discipline much of Roman law, including the legal philosophy undergirding that law.

Western patristic thinkers took the concept of patria potestas for granted, and applied it to the paternal authority of members of the hierarchy.  Because it was taken for granted by one patristic authority after another in the West, the concept made its way into the monumental, foundational compilation of canon law entitled Corpus Iuris Canonici.

And there it remains, hidden within and running through the Roman church’s system of canon law and the assumptions of the Roman church’s pastoral leaders about their rights and privileges, and their relationship to the laity.  Following Roman law and the concept of patria potestas, that relationship is framed in terms of the rights enjoyed by the hierarchy, and the lack of rights on the part of the laity.

In the matter of women and what they are permitted to “attempt” and “simulate,” the thinking of the pastoral leaders of the Roman church is highly colored by the Roman legal concept that men own women, and that a father/husband has the absolute right to dispose of his daughter/wife as he chooses.  The right to declare what is, for those who are under his authority.

The right to declare that, if a woman claims to have been ordained, she is merely “simulating” and “attempting” what no woman has any right to do or possibility of doing.  Because, by definition, that right is reserved to men only.

This is the logic we see once again asserting itself in this latest Roman document.  It is the kind of logic that always asserts itself when authority figures feel embattled, and have no resort—no real resort, one based in rational arguments developed in respectful dialogue—left to bolster their waning moral authority, other than a bald, loudly asserted right to define what is.

Whether Catholics as a whole will continue to permit their hierarchical leaders to abdicate their gospel-mandated role to be servant leaders and not little lords of all remains anyone’s guess.  If this document doesn’t convince Catholics at large that something is seriously awry with the thinking of the current leaders of the church, and their failed response to the crisis of sexual abuse by priests, then I can’t imagine what will.

The graphic is an illustration by New York artist Matt Dorfman for Julie Irwin Zimmerman’s commentary in Cincinnati Magazine re: the punishment received by Sr. Akers received in 2009 from church authorities because she refuses to renounce her support for women’s ordination.

Cross-posted from Bilgrimage, 16 July 2010.


17 Responses

  1. It’s never lost on me that “attempt” is the verb always used by the Roman Catholic church before “to ordain”. As though the Holy Spirit would never dare descend on a woman, as if Jesus is powerless to change a woman into something useful, as if God only works when you say the magic words. So much talk about the greatness of God, and so many actions to contradict.

    • Thanks, Elle. Extremely well-stated. And you’re absolutely right: that coupling of “ordination of a woman” and “attempt” or “simulate” is predictable. It’s a linguistic assertion of who claims absolute paternal right to determine the meaning of these matters, and who has absolutely no rights at all, vis-a-vis this issue.

      And it’s theologically and morally troubling for the precisely the reason you note, among others: no one can validly claim to control the work of the Spirit, who blows where and when She will.

      • I just can’t believe it is so allowable to set up parameters on how and when God works. What in our history makes us think that God only works in predictable manners? It’s something near and dear to my heart, so I wrote a little about this on my blog – but be warned I’m on pain meds… might not be the best argument I’ve ever put together.

        • Elle, do you have the link to your blog posting? I’d love to read it.

          And you’re right: one of the key issues in this discussion is the claim of some groups within the church to have the “right” to control how, where, when the Spirit moves. When the scriptures are consistently clear about the freedom of the Spirit to blow where the Spirit wishes.

          That’s inherent in the very etymology of the word–pneuma in Greek, ruah in Hebrew, spiritus in Latin. All refer to wind and breath . . . .

          • Sure – http://eighthsacrament.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/three-questions/

            The roots of the original references are part of why I like the wind metaphor for talking about how I didn’t actually see the Holy Spirit descend upon our female priests and deacons (or for that matter, the bread or wine they consecrate), but how I can see the effects of the Holy Spirit in their ministry.

          • Elle, thanks so much for the link. I’ll read with great interest.

            I like the wind metaphor for the same reasons. Wind stirs and unsettles and enlivens. It blows where it will and when it will. And it’s free. Even if we harness the wind to turn our windmills, we can’t ever tame or harness the wind altogether.

            One of the grand ironies of the attempt to exclude women from ordination, at a symbolic level, is that, when the wind blew through the cenacle at Pentecost and the tongues of fire descended there, the Virgin Mary was right at the center of the action. And icons and religious paintings throughout history have constantly employed that theme.

  2. Even more shocking, in American law copyright infringement and murder are both felonies, the gravest level of infraction. Yes, Americans obviously equate bootlegging a copy of “Star Wars” with murdering innocent by-standers! What’s wrong with these depraved people?

  3. “What, precisely, is the Roman legal notion of patria potestas? It’s the belief—the assertion—that the father of a family has the absolute right to dispose of all of his property, and of all family members under his authority, as he wishes. Without restraint”

    The problem with these assertions, of course, is that the power of life and death of the Roman father was in fact abolished by, get ready for it, Constantine.

    Interestingly, there is one, and only one, area of American law in which a parent has been held to have the absolute right to kill a child. I’ll leave it to you to figure out where this Roman throwback occurs.

    • Thanks for your response, Rick. It appears you may not understand the gist of the argument here. It’s not an argument about what happened to patria potestas in the juridical norms of the Roman Empire following Constantine’s conversion. It’s an argument about how the assumptions and even language of patria potestas made their way into patristic and medieval theology in the Roman church, and into its canon law.

      I gather you disagree with Winjgaards’s well-documented claim that the Roman church assimilated patria potestas into its theology and canon law. I’d like very much to see the information you have to refute Winjgaards on this point.

      I also recommend that you do some research in this area. The sources are extensive and uniform, as they note precisely what Winjgaards notes: that the theology and canon law of the Western church assimilated patria potestas, retaining this legal concept in canon law after the decline of the Empire. You may wish to start with Charles J. Reid, Power Over the Body, Equality in the Family: Rights and Domestic Relations in Medieval Canon Law (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004).

      As Reid notes,

      Medieval theology and law conferred on the father broad authority over his household. His wife, his children, and other members of the household were entrusted as a matter of law, in the first instance, to the good judgment of the father, who enjoyed what the canon and Roman lawyers came to call ‘the right of paternal power’ . . . . A study of rights and the medieval family must properly consider both the powers accorded the father under the rubric of this right of paternal power (ius patria potestatis), and the limitations placed on the scope of this right.

      The canonists and civilians of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries did not create their law of domestic relations on a blank slate. They were instead the inheritors of a substantial body of law and teaching from late antiquity which sometimes even made use of rights language to describe domestic relationships, although these usages were never worked through systematically (pp. 69-70).

      And then Reid launches into a lengthy discussion of patria potestas . . . . I’m recommending you start your study (and I’m delighted by your interest in this important topic, and willingness to do research) with Reid for the following reasons: 1) he’s a distinguished legal scholar and student of canon law, 2) this book is recent and accessible, and 3) it’s online, and readily available as a result. You may want to focus in particular on chapter two, “The Right of Paternal Power (Ius Patria Potestatis)” (pp. 68-97). It’s extremely well-researched and well-documented, and reaches precisely the same conclusion that Winjgaards, to whom my posting links, reaches.

      You may then want to move on to Michael Lobban, A Treatise of Legal Philosophy and General Jurisprudence, vol. 6: A History of the Philosophy of Law from the Ancient Greeks to the Scholastics (Springer, 2005). Lobban notes, “According to canon law, the father was the ‘head’ of his wife and enjoyed the right to govern his household, an authority called ‘the right of paternal power’ (ius patris potestatis)” (p. 263). I suggest that you focus on Lobban’s tenth chapter, entitled “Roman Law and Canon Law,” which exhaustively documents the links between Roman law, including patria potestas, and Catholic canon law.

      Once you’ve read these two sources, I will gladly recommend others from my years of study of this topic. But you may also wish to do your own digging. I suggest going to Google books, and then googling, in quotation marks, the terms “patria potestas” and “canon law,” and then working your way through the 31 pages of hits you’ll see when you do that. I’m happy to struggle with the Latin along with you. Mine grows rusty, though it does tend to come back when I begin reading a text for an hour or so.

      (No one claims, by the way, that either Constantine or some of the theological and canonical applications of patria potestas did not alter or mute aspects of that law–e.g., the “right” to expose one’s child, if one decided not to raise it. That’s not what this argument is about at all. It’s about whether or not the Western church incorporated into its canon law fundamental presuppositions about the “right” of a father to possess and control his wife, children, and members of his household. The latter conclusion is not disputed by any well-regarded scholar of whom I have any knowledge.)

      • I never know what to do with these suggestions in a blog post that I should read a few thousand pages and spend a few years in research. I am neither a cleric nor an academic, but I did formally study Roman Law many years ago, and can say quite confidently that the old Roman notion that the universality of civil personality vests only in the oldest male ascendant was in serious decline by the early Principate. That the idea may have continued to influence legal thinking is impossible to refute; it was a manifest historical fact, to which homage was paid for centuries.

        But one really needn’t look to Roman civil law to figure out where the idea of a father heading the family came from. It’s a rather widespead notion, and I’m sure you’re familiar enough with the Pauline epistles to understand the most obvious source for the Christian theology of the family. Granted, the ideas set out there, of headship, of love, of obedience, of patience, of forebearance, of lifelong fidelity, are abhorrent to many. I just don’t think it’s accurate to blame those elements so unpopular with our contemporaries on those dour old pagan Romans.

        • Thanks for your reply, Rick. If you do want to delve further into scholarly discussions of these issues (I gathered you must want to do that from your first comment, which implicitly refuted Winjgaards’ scholarship), I’ll be happy to assist with sources.

          Two points:

          1) You say, “But one really needn’t look to Roman civil law to figure out where the idea of a father heading the family came from.”

          And, of course, that’s not the point of the discussion. This discussion is not at all about where the idea of a father heading the family came from. It’s about a highly influential concept that has run from Roman law through all of Western culture throughout much of our history, which–as the sources to which I pointed you today note–is unique in many respects.

          Other cultures around the world have not historically had the idea that the father of a family has the “right” to control each member of his family, along with the slaves. At least, not in the codified and influential way that Western cultures have had.

          And not all cultures have been patriarchal, by any means. There’s considerable evidence that Celtic cultures were, before their incorporation into Roman versions of Christianity, matriarchal. And the laws of those cultures reflect the matriarchal presupositions of the cultures.

          2) You say, “It’s a rather widespead [sic] notion, and I’m sure you’re familiar enough with the Pauline epistles to understand the most obvious source for the Christian theology of the family.”

          But surely you don’t imagine that Paul wrote in a cultural vacuum, and that he did not quite frequently borrow ideas from his cultural context. Many of his paraenetic passages are borrowed almost verbatim from Green and Roman sources.

          The point of the scholarly discussions to which I’ve directed you is not to “blame” the “dour” old Romans. It’s to understand our own cultural, legal, and theological traditions, which are deeply rooted in Greek and Roman thought (and law and culture). As Emil Reich notes in “The Constitutional Factor of Legal Development,” in Formative Influences of Legal Development, vol. 3: Evolution of Law, ed. Albert Kocourek and John Henry Wigmore (NY: Little, Brown, 1918),

          . . .Roman slave-law has a value entirely independent of the historical and as it were accidental institution of Roman slavery. American slavery is a thoroughly historical institution, and the works of Cobb, Hurd, Wilson, and others on American slave-law are totally ignored by the present lawyers of Louisiana, Alabama, or Mississippi. Not so Roman treatises on slave-law.

          It is the same case with the peculiarly Roman institution of “patria potestas“, which, although long obsolete as such, is still of practical value to all countries where Roman law has been adopted . . .

          I take Reich to be saying that, even when the precise stipulations of Roman laws such as ius patria potestatis are no longer incorporated into our legal and canonical codes, the viewpoint underlying these stipulations remains highly influential in our culture–right to the present. It was, after all, only a few years ago that Mississippi removed from its state code of civil law a law that exonerated a father of murder or manslaughter if he happened to kill his child or his slave when he was beating the child of slave for misbehavior, and accidentally happened to kill the child/slave.

          Where did the presupposition that a father had the “right” to beat his child or slave to the point of near-death or even accidental death come from? It didn’t drop down from the skies. It didn’t come to us from Japan, Ethiopia, or the native Americans. It came to us, quite specifically, from Roman culture, which has been mediated to us also by the Western churches, the Roman one in particular.

          We don’t know ourselves if we don’t study our history.

  4. Surprise, surprise the document concerned said nothing of the sort. It simply clarifies some areas which come under the competance of the CDF (Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith). One of these is child sex absuse, another is the question of women (only Roman Catholic) who are ordained.

    Simple logic should indicate that the fact that one office deals with a number of issues does not imply any kind of parity.

    In the village where I grew up a shop sold carpentry tools and guns…

    • Thanks, Tony. I’d be happy to respond to your statement that “[s]urprise, surprise the document concerned said nothing of the sort,” but I have no idea what “nothing of the sort” means. Could you please explain what you mean here?

      Your shop sells carpentry tools and guns, and no one objects or finds it illogical to couple the two. The one in my village wants to purvey both children’s comic books and porn videotapes. And people definitely do object.

      They object because the logic underlying the coupling of these two things in a single shop seems outrageous.

      For a similar reason, many people are now incensed that a document addressing clerical pedophilia contains statements about enhanced canonical penalties for ordination of women. I’m sorry you can’t see a point that seems exceptionally clear to many of us.

  5. Rick, the power to decide life and death is about more than just death. It’s far more centered on decisions made about life, and who gets access to the best of what we define as life. In the Western tradition this meant first born sons under their fathers until the father was out of the picture. Every other child had their share of the family bounty doled out subordinate to the first born, except of course for daughters, who were bartered away to another male controller.

    This whole system is endemic to how the hierarchy operates. It can be most easily seen in the process of grooming younger priests by older clerics to replace them in the episcopal food chain.

    There are many ways to abort children other than actual abortion. The system of patria potestas can be seen as one such system that enshrined arbitrarily aborting the rights of some for the sake of others.

    Jesus actually lived the exact opposite of this notion, which he taught directly in the metaphor of the prodigal son, and vividly demonstrated in the stoning of the adulterous woman. In His way and truth and life, none of us get a free pass, none of us are given any authority over any other person unless that authority is freely given to us by the other person. In this sense authority is a gift given to another, never something one can demand they be given–or that they can steal or coerce. The notion of patria potestas both steals and coerces to maintain itself. It is essentially non Christian and very pagan.

    • I’m surprised that you think that, historically, fathers only considered their daughters objects for barter. I can only read the past through the literature it has left us, but the love of fathers for their children, male and female, seems a pretty constant theme.

      ” none of us are given any authority over any other person unless that authority is freely given to us by the other person”

      This is puzzling to me. Are you saying that parents have no authority over a baby unless the baby freely gives it to them? I’m not quite sure how the infant would do so.

      In fact, seems to me there is a great deal in the scriptures, not only confirming the authority of parents, but letting us know how that authority is rightly and wrongly exercised. Those of us with children are usually happy to see that authority transformed into a special kind of love as our children become adults and assume a life outside of our immediate care. I’m sure I would find the old Roman patria potestas an insufferable burden. But I don’t think that that negates a natural idea of parental authority.

  6. I should have clarified because I wasn’t thinking about parental authority as much as I was other situations. Situations in which a parental type of authority is used or demanded and for which there is no corresponding family relationship.

    For instance it used to frustrate me no end that in certain blue collar occupations men who had their own children would reduce themselves to ten year olds in the face of any authority figure. I found it strange to the say the least to see a forty year old father of five literally shrivel up when some snot nosed twenty something geologist went all demanding and punishingly parental. I never considered the work place a natural place for exercising parental authority.

    A parental type of authority is actually unnatural in many situations, especially those between supposed adults. Jesus for instance never acted as anyone’s father. He acted as a non coercive teacher or a mentor—unlike the current paradigm in Roman Catholicism which is too often all parent all the time.

    • ” I found it strange to the say the least to see a forty year old father of five literally shrivel up when some snot nosed twenty something geologist went all demanding and punishingly parental.”

      I agree that that’s pretty screwed up. But, again, I think that stems from a natural regard that the young ought to have for the old. Not deference in all things, for the old are as often wrong as the young, but a tact and respect proper for age and experience.

      “Jesus for instance never acted as anyone’s father. He acted as a non coercive teacher or a mentor—unlike the current paradigm in Roman Catholicism which is too often all parent all the time.”

      My recollection is that the gospels, on numerous occasions, remark that, unlike the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus spoke with authority, and referred to keeping his “commandments.”

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