There are certain things that are almost certain to get my ire up. One of them is putting a picture up of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux as a header in an article on women’s ordination. The scandalous lie that Saint Thérèse advocated women priests is bandied about in progressive quarters as if it is the truth instead of calumny against a great Doctor of the Church.
“If only I were a priest! How lovingly I would bear You in my hands, my Jesus, when my voice had brought You down from Heaven. How lovingly I would give. You to souls!” “Yet while wanting to be a priest, I admire St. Francis of Assisi and envy his humility, longing to imitate him in refusing this sublime dignity.”
I myself have often thought of being a priest and what it must be like to hold Jesus in your hands during the consecration. So I guess I must be advocating that married men who have never had a vocation to the priesthood be priests. And what about those single men without a priestly vocation? I guess they are also not equal and it is just not fair until the “institutional Church” allows everyone to be a priest regardless of a simple thing like a vocation. In fact maybe I should start a “Single and Married Men Without a Priestly Vocation Ordination Conference.” How long must men without priestly vocations have to await for equality. We are not truly free until we can live peacefully in a vocation-blind society.
Now back to the article in question. I doubt if it will surprise my readers that it was in the America Magazine blog, those that aren’t surprised will at least be disappointed. Admirer of all things Jesuit (except dissent) Karen Hall is not much pleased either. In this post Francis X. Clooney, S.J. laments about the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith recent decree on those who attempt to confer or women who receive ordination are automatically excommunicated.
We all know that there are Catholic women with a very deep conviction that God is calling them to priestly service in the Church. Many of these women, during long years of service to the Church, have discerned the matter over and over again, tested it in community — and still affirm, “God is calling me to ordained ministry, to the priesthood.” Some of these women have suffered very patiently and quietly in a Church that says it cannot ordain them; some have left, often sadly, and welcomed ordination in another Christian community; and some, reports tell us, have been ordained by bishops — and for this, they are to be counted as excommunicated.
What advocates of women’s ordination never mention is that it is not the deep conviction of the person that is primary in discerning a vocation. Not all men who enter seminary go on to be ordained since they either discern that they have no priestly vocation or that their bishop or seminary discerns this. The discernment process is mediated by the Church and it is not the individual alone who determines their calling. This is such a weak argument in so many ways. What about the various people such as Kansan David Bawden (Michael I) who consider that they are the current Pope. Surely they have “very deep convictions” that God is calling them to papal service in the Church. The sad truth is that there are many people who have deluded themselves into believing something that is simply not true. They need to be charitably corrected and objectively it is not charitable to go along with or support them in their mistake.
This blog is not the place to debate the merits of positions on women’s ordination. But it seems obvious that very many of us feel strongly on this issue — including, surely, many who are ordained 3 or 13 or 30 or 50 years — and we are not likely to change our minds now. This issue — does God call women as well as men to ordination? — seems likely to remain one of the great divides in the Church of the 21st century, and we all, men as well as women, are, or should be, suffering through the experience. That the Vatican has definitively ended the discussion does not make it less likely that many will continue to have hearts rent by the issue. I am sure God hears many a prayer, many a day, on the topic.
Wow I guess the apostolic tradition and magisterial teaching on this subject must be all wrong since many people feel strongly on this subject. I guess the fact that those such a myself who support Church teaching and feel strongly on the subject don’t count. In this case suffering is being caused by a lack of obedience and pride that assumes they know better than the Church. Pope Michael 1 is not the only one who thinks they are Pope.
Then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in a dubium that “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. But even if you don’t accept the dubium, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis requires “Religious submission of intellect and will” as taught by the Second Vatican Council. Blog posts like this one at America Magazine show a total disobedience even to Vatican II which they seem to always talk about, but never read. The question of women’s ordination is settled, please move on to the vast areas of theology that are not settled or can be more deeply reflected on and more light shed upon.
For those who want to look at the reasons why the Church does not have the authority to change this teaching I would highly recommend Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide To The Teaching Of The Church by Sr. Sara Butler, MSBT which I reviewed here.