Culturally speaking, the struggle for women's equality has no turning back. It is unstoppable, democratic and just.
( Gregorio Delgado del Río ) .- In the Opening Speech of the last Plenary Assembly of the EEC , Cardinal Blázquez has finally recognized what was an open secret: "... we have suffered a serious shortage of vocations for the presbyteral ministry ". He added: "If several decades ago the abundance was extraordinary, currently the scarcity is also extraordinary."
The fact is undoubted. "The consequences - he continued emphasizing - of this long and hard famine are in sight: decrease of the number of priests and average of age increasingly high". The problem is there. It is also there - if it is not addressed in an integral way - "the temptation to cover the lack of vocations with improvised solutions and risky shortcuts".
1. Realities sometimes ignored
The fact of the current shortage of priests is undoubted. It can be done, even, extensive to other parts of the Church in the world. Moreover, such a vocational shortage will soon be a full reality in the whole Church. What to do? How to respond to the challenge it poses?
The integral response also involves addressing without fear all those closely related issues: obligatory celibacy , rehabilitation in the ministry of married priests who request it, ending once and for all the unpresentable existing clericalism , proceeding to the recognition and evaluation of the woman in the Church (to put an end to so much discrimination), including her admission to sacramental ordination, to seriously promote the ecumenical movement, valorization of sexuality.
Culturally speaking, the struggle for women's equality has no turning back , it is unstoppable, it is democratic and just. Each day will be more intense and extensively carried out. The Church can turn a deaf ear to this reality (it has already done so against all odds) but, in sin, it will lead to penance. You will not be able to justify or obtain any receptivity before so much discrimination in your environment. It will lose credibility to jets. If he continues to persist in his idea, he will continue to provoke the abandonment (at least) of half of humanity. Moreover, he will commit the grave sin of ignoring current culture and civilization. Where, then, is the option in favor of the inculturation of the faith? (EG, 68-70).
As a sign of one of his most heartfelt concerns, John XXIII left us the Pacem in terris (11.04.1965). In it he already preached equality among all humans: "Today, on the contrary, the conviction that all men are, by natural dignity, equal to each other has spread and consolidated everywhere. Therefore, racial discrimination no longer finds any justification, at least in terms of reason and doctrine. This has an extraordinary importance to achieve a human coexistence informed by the principles that we have remembered "(n.44). Why did the Council not fully endorse this criterion? Why, in the Council, was it prohibited to speak of celibacy and the female priesthood?
It is not strange, therefore, that very significant voices were raised to draw attention to a reality that was then undeniable. It was enough with a minimum of sensitivity for the interpretation of the signs of the times. In full discussion of the scheme on the charisms in the Church, Cardinal Suenens, Primate of Belgium and one of the four moderators of the Council, sent this accusing cry to the council fathers: "Where is half of humanity here?". The situation of women in the Church already seemed, ecclesially and culturally, unsustainable for longer. The priesthood of the woman was, however, a taboo subject. The same as the subject of celibacy. The Council ended and everything went on in the same terms. Was not a revaluation of women in the Church possible in the future? Was not the priesthood of the woman viable?
2. The impulse of the University of Tübingen
In view of the restorative orientation that drove the reform of canon law, the direction of the "Tübinger Theologische Quartalschrift" edits, under the direction of the exegete Herbert Haag and Walter Kasper (today cardinal), a special issue dedicated to women in the Church and in society. The center of this position is constituted by an article by the canonist Heumann and the famous sixteen theses by Hans Küng, which the "New York Times Magazine" (23.05.1976) entitled: 'Feminism, a new Reformation' .
Undoubtedly, the most controversial was the fifteenth thesis:
" There are no serious theological reasons against the presbyterate of women . The exclusively male constitution of the college of the Twelve must be understood in light of the sociocultural situation of that time. The reasons that tradition adduces for the exclusion of women (sin entered the world through women, women were created in the second place, women have not been created in the image of God, women are not members of full right of the Church, the taboo of menstruation) can not refer to Jesus and are testimony to a basic theological defamation of women. In view of the leading roles of women in the primitive Church (Phoebe, Prisca) and in view of the totally transformed place that women occupy in economy, science, culture, the State and society, it should not take longer the admission of the woman to the presbyterate. Jesus and the first Church were ahead of their time in what pertained to the valuation of women; On the contrary, in this matter, the current Catholic Church is far behind its time, as well as with other Christian Churches ".
Although this impulse of the prestigious German magazine would be short-circuited, it was there and lies, to a great extent, the central point of all subsequent reflection to this day. Here lies the solution and the way out of the quagmire in which the Church herself would get immediately. And he would do it (how, no!), As in other cases, through a maximalist interpretation of the ordinary magisterium of the Pope (Henry Tincq). This is, authoritatively and giving the inopportune slamming .
3. The veto to the female priesthood
As usual in other cases, the official Church reacted negatively through a Declaration (October 15, 1976), of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, commissioned by Paul VI: "... the Church, by fidelity to example of her Lord, she does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination ".
Nobody can wonder that the English Cardinal Basil Hume, in the framework of the Synod on the laity in 1987, participated in the Synodal Aula, the next dream, told us Henri Tincq, journalist of 'Le Monde'. The illustrious cardinal called the Nunciature in London and heard in response: "The Nuncia is not. He has gone to read the homily at Mass . " Faced with this, the cardinal reflects: "I learned that in my Church the two highest functions - the representation of the pope and the commentary on the Gospel - were carried out by a woman". A dream, twenty years after the Council, full of disappointment in the face of reality: Nothing had changed or seemed to change.
Later, John Paul II (22.05.1994), through the Charter Sacerdotalis ordinatio , declared that "the Church does not have in any way the faculty of conferring the priestly ordination on women, and that this opinion must be considered as definitive by all. the faithful of the Church. " Asked Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, if the previous doctrine of John Paul II "is to be understood as pertaining to the deposit of faith," he answered (28.10.1995) affirmatively.
And it clarifies: "This doctrine demands a definitive assent , since, based on the Word of God written and constantly conserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church from the beginning, it has been infallibly proposed by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (see Lumen gentium , 25.2). Therefore, in the present circumstances, the Supreme Pontiff, in exercising his ministry of confirming his brothers in the faith (cf Lk 22,32), has proposed the same doctrine with a formal declaration, explicitly affirming what always, in all parties and all the faithful must be maintained, insofar as it pertains to the deposit of faith ". We have the end of the conflict!
4. The impulse of Pope Francis
Pope Francis has already shown a very different orientation . At the same time, it has been very prudent. He has created a Commission to study the role of deaconesses in the first centuries. He has promoted significant appointments. For example, the last one: three women consultants from the CDF . He has whipped up the pernicious clericalism. But none of this means - at least for now - the admission of the woman to the priesthood.
I believe that the change will not happen without serious resistance, conflicts and problems. The risk of division will become clear. They will have to act very broad doses of patience . The woman will not conform and will tend to see the diaconate as a step forward but insufficient. The socio-cultural argument will have more weight every day. And, in the end, it will be necessary to confront openly the infallible character attributed to the current doctrine.
Thus, in a rarefied ecclesial environment, the Cardinal of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, particularly close to Francisco, in recent Declarations, has clearly indicated that "... there is room to maneuver, also a necessary potential to change" . And he makes a coherent proposal: "The one of ordination [of women] is an issue that can clearly only be clarified by a Council. A single Pope can not decide on her. It is too big a question to decide on from the desk of a Pope. " Proposal that, in March of this same year, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, derived to a universal Synod .
I find it hard to believe that these last two impulses were given without prior knowledge of Pope Francis. A new confrontation between different positions (deposit of the faith) is in sight. However, it is necessary to take a step forward and in a positive way. There is no room for discrimination in the Church. Will the trap be broken?