Saturday, May 28, 2011

An infallible teaching on women's ordination? Article in U.S. Catholic

Friday, May 13, 2011
Bryan Cones
US Catholic

"Though I hesitate to comment on the removal of Toowoomba Bishop William Morris, Megan won't let me get away with it. The newest Catholic News Service story on the drama notes that the Vatican has been trying to get Morris to resign for years. But it's still hard to figure out exactly what Morris was removed for. He didn't ordain a woman, marry a same-sex couple, desecrate the Eucharist or anything else that might have resulted in an immediate action. Most commentators have focused on Morris' 2006 pastoral letter in which Morris proposed some possibilities to the shortage of priests in his diocese, including expressing openness to the ordination of women "if Rome would permit it." The pope's own correspondence with Morris suggests that it was this questioning of what the pope refers to as an infallible teaching as the trigger for Morris' removal.
And there's the rub: When John Paul II ruled out the ordination of women in
Ordinatio sacerdotalis, he used the expression "definitive," but did not use the formula that would signal an infallible teaching; in fact the word "infallible" doesn't appear anywhere in the document. (These documents are carefully crafted. "Infallible is missing for a reason.) Cardinal Ratzinger, as prefect for the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith, argued in a response to a question about Ordinatio sacerdotalis that the teaching was part of the "deposit of faith" and therefore an infallible teaching of the "ordinary and universal magisterium"--although he knows full well that's not how infalliblility works; something can't be declared infallible by a Vatican office. Canonists and theologians the world over argued that the teaching was not infallible for a variety of reasons. Still, Ratzinger, now as pope, is pushing this kind of back-door infallibility on the question, as John Allen at NCR pointed out in a recent piece on the controversy surrounding what many call "creeping infallibility."

Friday, May 27, 2011

German Catholics Call for Reform, Many Leaving

May 25, 1:20 PM EDT
German Catholics call for reform, many leaving
By MELISSA EDDY Associated Press
German theologians and others have aired their discontent in a series of petitions to church leaders calling for changes including more transparency, an end to celibacy, and women's ordination.
The Vatican has not responded to the petitions, but the German Bishops Conference sought to address the issue in March by announcing a series of platforms for dialogue "aimed at giving our church in Germany a theological profile and sense of cohesion in this new century."
"The church is no longer speaks to the people. I don't feel that it speaks to me, I don't feel comfortable with these traditions that date back centuries," said an administrator who works in the Augsburg dioceses, but refused to give his name for fear that he would be fired for criticizing the church.

Bridget Mary's Blog
Perhaps, the German Bishops Conference will start a "dialogue" that will lead the Vatican to finally "get it" about how out of touch they are with the needs of God's people today. Of course, empty pews are sending a message. Let's hope that Pope Benedict tunes in. Notice that women's ordination is on the German agenda. The first 7 women priests were ordained in 2002 on the Danube.
Bridget Mary Meehan RCWP

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why Not Ordain Women? --Continuing the Conversation between Sara Butler and Robert J.Egan
(I recommend reading the entire essay on this link above)

July 18, 2008
Continuing the Conversation
Women & the Priesthood
Sara Butler Robert J. Egan

Sara Butler

"Why not ordain women? In the April 11 issue of Commonweal, Robert J. Egan, SJ,
invites readers to look again at this question. Egan doubts that “the tradition of excluding women from the diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopate” has “really been faithful to the teaching and practice of Jesus.” In his opinion, the tradition probably rests instead on “a mostly unexamined and partially unconscious bias for subjecting women to men’s authority and power.” Until the church honestly faces “the whole truth about our history,” he writes, Catholic women will continue to suffer a grave injustice...
..."Egan develops his argument in response to my effort to set out the logic of the church’s teaching in The Catholic Priesthood and Women (2007). He acknowledges the force of a distinction the magisterium draws between the “fundamental reasons” for the tradition of reserving priestly ordination to men and the theological arguments advanced, by way of the analogy of faith, to explain why it is “fitting...."
"What are these fundamental reasons? According to Inter insigniores (1976), the church relies on the constant and universal tradition of reserving priestly ordination to men, a tradition it traces to Jesus’ example of choosing only men to belong to the Twelve, finds confirmed in the practice of the Apostles, and has always recognized as normative for the ministerial priesthood. In Ordinatio sacerdotalis (1994), Pope John Paul II likewise traces the tradition to the will of Christ, known by way of his choice of twelve men. He elaborates this point by underlining Jesus’ freedom from convention in relating to women—a freedom Egan does not think Jesus really had—and by describing more fully the biblical testimony regarding his call and commission of the Apostles. John Paul asserts, for example, that Jesus appointed these twelve men to represent him, and that the ministry committed to them was not entrusted to all of the baptized.
The idea that Christ’s will for the ministerial priesthood can be known by way of his choice of men and not women to belong to the Twelve is not new. It has often been included, along with appeals to the teaching of St. Paul, among the reasons advanced by theologians for reserving the priesthood to men. Its chief patristic warrant comes from the late fourth-century bishop St. Epiphanius of Salamis, who found evidence of the Lord’s will in the fact that he called no woman to belong to the Twelve, and that no woman was appointed to succeed the apostles as bishop or presbyter. Epiphanius is confident that if Jesus did not entrust sacerdotal functions to women, it was not for lack of worthy candidates, since he had his own mother and many holy women in his company. And yet he did not call women to this office. As the author of human nature, he knew best how to assign responsibilities in his community. The “Marian” version of this reasoning, long influential in the East, was reformulated in the West by Pope Innocent III in 1210 and passed along in the canonical tradition on which Scholastic theologians relied: “Although the Blessed Virgin Mary was of higher dignity and excellence than all the Apostles, it was to them, not her, that the Lord entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”
"...Egan faults me for not fully facing up to the objections he raises, but his objections extend far beyond my brief in The Catholic Priesthood and Women. My objective was to explain why the Catholic Church reserves priestly ordination to men, not to defend the existence of the ministerial priesthood. This I take for granted. In fact, I regard it as required by Catholic faith that Jesus’ intention for this apostolic ministry is known by way of the mission he gave the Twelve, and that this office is passed on in apostolic succession by means of the sacrament of Holy Orders. This doctrine was reaffirmed and enriched at the Second Vatican Council (see
Lumen gentium 18-28) and in the teaching of the postconciliar magisterium. Ordinatio sacerdotalis requires Catholics to hold that the church has no authority “to confer priestly ordination on women”—that is, to ordain women as presbyters or bishops, the two degrees of the sacrament of Holy Orders that comprise the “ministerial priesthood.” (In my book, I consistently refer to “the priesthood” rather than to “Holy Orders” or “ordained ministry,” because I intend to bracket the question of the diaconate.) ...

Robert J. Egan

"My article also ended with a question: “Has the tradition of excluding women from the diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopacy really been faithful to the teaching and practice of Jesus? Or has it been part of a mostly unexamined and partially unconscious bias for subjecting women to men’s authority and power?” This was not a conclusion, but a question: “a very important question,” one that “urgently needs and deserves an open, prayerful, learned, patient, and discerning conversation among Catholics today.” ...
"... I reported that the inferiority of women to men and their subjection to the authority of men (taken for granted throughout most of the church’s history) was the explanation often given for their exclusion from ordained ministry no one denies. Whether or not it was the main factor that dictated this exclusion is a question I suggested deserves prayerful discussion among us.
.."We know there were different forms of governance and types of ministry in the early Christian communities. There was no single structure, the same in every place. It isn’t my opinion but our common faith that the church’s life unfolds under the influence of the Spirit. It seems apparent that different kinds of assistance, leadership, and service evolved gradually, and only gradually became identified with particular offices, and subsequently with “priesthood.” But during these developments, references were, in fact, being made to several key biblical passages that became influential, including references to the commissioning of the Twelve. "
"To make all this an issue about me is misleading. None of this discussion is a personal idiosyncrasy on my part. It reflects aspects of the work—not just of Anglicans and Protestants—but of many Catholic scholars as well, including Paul Bernier, Raymond E. Brown, John J. Burkhard, John N. Collins, Bernard Cooke, Alexandre Faivre, Richard R. Gaillardetz, Daniel J. Harrington, Richard P. McBrien, John P. Meier, Nathan D. Mitchell, Thomas F. O’Meara, Kenan B. Osborne, Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Carroll Stuhlmueller, and Francis A. Sullivan, among others. In particular, important work has been done in recent years on the meaning of “the Twelve,” the distinct category of “apostles,” and the origins and development of the roles of presbyter, overseer, and deacon, much of it in the years since the promulgation of Inter insigniores (1976). It is, I believe, mainly Butler’s neglect of this literature that is at the heart of the conflict between us. "
..." As a Catholic theologian and a Jesuit, I do not dispute the sacramentality of ordination, the idea of apostolic succession, the hierarchical structure of the church, the role of tradition and the magisterium in the interpretation of Scripture, or the teaching authority of the church, although I think commanding the assent of the faithful is unlikely to produce fruitful results in our present situation.
..."The church’s understanding and teaching has developed over two millennia. On some subjects it has remained substantially the same. On others, it has changed dramatically, in ways that could not have been foreseen: on slavery, women’s inferiority, the divine right of kings, the uses of torture, the status and dignity of the Jewish people, the execution of heretics, the idea of religious liberty, the moral legitimacy of democratic governments, the indispensability of Thomism, and the structure of the universe itself. New questions arise, and new horizons open, cultures themselves are transformed, and the fund of human knowledge changes... "
Sr. Sara Butler, MSBT, teaches at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York. Her Cardinal Cooke Lecture on the subject of the ministerial priesthood is
available on her faculty page.
about the writer
Robert J. Egan, SJ, a frequent contributor to Commonweal, teaches theology and spirituality at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Complex Questions of Papal Infallibility/Teaching Prohibiting Women's Ordination Infallible?/ 3 Theologians Doubt It

Complex questions of papal infallibility
Analysis comes after ouster of Australian Bishop William Morris

May. 23, 2011
By Jerry Filteau

...“The pope can remove Morris even if it [the papal teaching on women’s ordination to the priesthood] is not infallible -- there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
He said he would “go along” with Sullivan’s reservations about the infallible status of the papal declaration in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
When NCR asked Sullivan whether he regards the teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis as manifestly infallible, he said, “No. I don’t think so.”
But he also said, “It’s infallibly taught -- at least the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has declared -- and I don’t want to contradict it.”
Fr. Charles E. Curran, a moral theologian at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, also cited the canon that nothing is to be regarded as infallible doctrine unless it is manifestly so.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Ratzinger wants to say it’s infallible, and that he has said that” in his 1995 response, as then head of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, to a question of whether the teaching against ordaining women priests was infallible, Curran said.
The congregation said at that time that the teaching spelled out in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis “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.”

Bridget Mary's Reflection:

The pope cannot proclaim a teaching that does not reflect the sense of the faithful. Pope John Paul did not follow the process of worldwide consultation with thelogians and bishops before he declared this teaching to be definitive.
Now Pope Benedict stands on the precipice. ( and discourages even discussion of the topic, making women's ordination a " serious crime",firing Bishop Morris of Australia etc)
It appears that Roman Catholic Women Priests are one of the Vatican's worst nightmares. When prominent theologians question the infallible status given to this teaching by our present pope, rest assured that their intellectual prod is an unwelcome challenge. However, if Benedict declares this doctrine infallible, the loss will be greatest for the magisterium . If Benedict declares women's ordination infallible from the chair of Peter, he would do serious damage to the magisterium's teaching authority.
I believe Pope Benedict, the theologian, knows that is too high a risk no matter how opposed he is to women priests and our supporters! However, I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in this "dance", and all shall be well!

Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Video on "No Sovereign Immunity"/Court Decision Rules in Favor of Victim/John V. Doe vs the Holy See/Vatican Must Make Info. Public/Time for the Truth

YouTube - ?mnsnap's Channel??

After 9 years - survivor John V. Doe - receives favorable US District Court decision vs. the Holy See. The "No Sovereign Immunity" press conference explaining the court decision. --- Now the Vatican knows it's time for truth, honesty and openness, not "wiggling."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
A landmark case! Finally, a U.S. Court stands up to the Vatican! It is about time.
Let's hope that the Vatican stops the foot-dragging, releases the information, and institutes the major reforms that are necessary for structural change in response to the sexual abuse global crisis.
It is sad that the courts are the only institution that seems to be effective in holding the Catholic Church accountable in response to the global sexual abuse crisis. The people of God have challenged the hierarchy, but the Vatican has held on to its power and placed accountability on the lap of the local bishop despite years of coverup by many bishops across the world. One wonders what have we learned if the fox is still in charge of the hen house! So much for national review boards and diocesan review boards, if the bishops do not report allegations to them, how effective can they be? Are they only window-dressing? What other church or denomination would get away with this kind of behavior?
Will the Vatican respond to the Court? What happens if they don't?
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Why Not?" Scripture, History and Women's Ordination by Robert J. Egan S.J/ Response to Sara Butler's Book- The Catholic Priesthood and Women.

April 11, 2008
"Why Not?"
Scripture, History & Women's Ordination
Robert J. Egan

(Robert J. Egan, SJ, a frequent contributor to Commonweal, teaches theology and spirituality at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. )

In response to Sara Butler's arguments for excluding women from the priesthood, Robert Egan, SJ made the following case in Commonweal Magazine:
Sara Butler's book titled The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church (Hillenbrand Books, $23, 132 pp.). Butler is a professor of dogmatic theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York.

..."The fourth problem is that to frame this discussion in terms of excluding women from “the priesthood” confuses the matter considerably. There is no talk about a Christian “priesthood” in the New Testament. ..Early Christianity had no priests. It can even be said, on the basis of these New Testament texts, that early Christianity did not understand itself to be the kind of religion that has or needs a priesthood. It was only in the second century that bishops, in reference to their role (by then) as chief presiders at the communities’ Eucharistic liturgies, began to be likened to priests. Later, during the third century, presbyters too, as delegates of a bishop for presiding at liturgies, also began to be likened to priests.
Building a theology of the presbyterate and episcopate on the basis of “priesthood” tempts us to read back into New Testament times attitudes and ideas that developed only centuries later. ..

There is no evidence in the New Testament that Jesus made any connection between the Twelve and any established offices or continuing roles of leadership in the local communities like elders or overseers. There is, for that matter, no evidence that Jesus himself explicitly intended or foresaw elders or overseers in the new communities. And there is certainly nothing in Jesus’ way of acting or his teaching that suggests that he intended any of his followers to become priests... None of these words or roles has any particular connection with cult or sacrifice, but in the second century, as the episcopus became the ordinary presider at the community’s Eucharistic liturgy, he began to be likened to a sacerdos. Later, in the third century, as the presbyter became the delegate of the episcopus to preside at some Eucharistic liturgies, he too began to be likened to a sacerdos. Eventually the terms presbyter and sacerdos came to be used interchangeably to refer to an ordained Christian minister of a rank above deacon but below bishop. Ironically, the word “priest,” which is the only word we have to translate sacerdos or hiereus, is derived historically from presbyter. " —R.J.E.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Arrogant Clericalism’ Never Assessed in John Jay report" by Tom Doyle/ Advocate for Sexual Abuse Survivors in the Catholic Church/NCR Online
"Arrogant clericalism’ never assessed in John Jay report"
May 21, 2011
By Tom Doyle

..."The report gave short shrift to mandatory celibacy and the all-male environment of the clerical world. This will feed right into the defenses of those who try to claim that the problems are all from outside influences. Yet the influence of mandatory celibacy and the sub-culture of which it is an integral part play a major role in the socialization and maturation processes of the men who will eventually violate minors. The clerical culture should have been the subject of the 1.8 million dollar venture because if looked at closely and honestly it would have yielded information that not only provided believable reasons for the abuse nightmare but valuable though radical steps to take to avoid similar travesties in the future. That would have been much too dangerous for the hierarchical establishment though, because without doubt, it would point to needed fundamental changes..."
"What is important is not why the thousands of clerics went off the tracks and raped and violated tens of thousands of innocent children.
What is important is what the institutional Church has done, or to be more precise, not done, to help heal the thousands of victims who still live in isolation and pain. More than anything else these men and women have had their very souls violated and in the words of some, murdered. Rather than go to such great lengths to try to exonerate themselves the bishops could have done what they should have done.....try, at least, to begin to understand the profound depth of the spiritual wounds inflicted on these many men and women, once innocent and trusting boys and girls. .."

Tom Doyle is a priest, canon lawyer, addictions therapist and long-time supporter of justice and compassion for clergy sex abuse victims. He is a co-author of the first report ever issued to the U.S. bishops on clergy sex abuse, in 1986.

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
What a waste of money the John Jay Report on Sexual Abuse is. As Tom Doyle points out, it doesn't deal with the elephant in the church's own living room, clericalism. Until we have an open transparent, accountable church that is less a pyramid and more a circular model, and until we have married priests, women priests and an empowered people of God, genuine reform and renewal will not take place. As Fr. Doyle points out, the bishops have not dealt with the pain of the survivors in a significant way either, mandating certain prayers or penances for the people of God- such as declaring a fast from meat on Friday- is not going to heal this wound that is gaping and growing with no end in sight.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Religion and Sex Quiz/ from new book "Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire" by Dr. Knust

Religion and Sex Quiz

Published: May 21, 2011

This quiz, and the answers below, draw from a new book, “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire.” It’s by Jennifer Wright Knust, a Bible scholar at Boston University who is also an ordained American Baptist pastor.

"Faith is a huge force in American life, and it’s common to hear the Bible cited to bolster political and moral positions, especially against same-sex marriage and abortion. So here’s my 2011 religion quiz. Choose the best responses (some questions may have more than one correct answer):

1. The Bible’s position on abortion is:
a. Never mentioned.
b. To forbid it along with all forms of artificial birth control.
c. Condemnatory, except to save the life of the mother.

2. The Bible suggests “marriage” is:
a. The lifelong union of one man and one woman.
b. The union of one man and up to 700 wives.
c. Often undesirable, because it distracts from service to the Lord.

3. The Bible says of homosexuality:
a. Leviticus describes male sexual pairing as an abomination.
b. A lesbian should be stoned at her father’s doorstep.
c. There’s plenty of ambiguity and no indication of physical intimacy, but some readers point to Ruth and Naomi’s love as suspiciously close, or to King David declaring to Jonathan: “Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (II Samuel 1:23-26)"
Click on link to take whole quiz.....

Bridget Mary's Reflection:

Way to go to get people talking about sex and the bible, Dr. Jenniver Wright Knust! I bet your book will be a best seller.Thanks for sharing this quiz with your readers, Nicolas Kristof.

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Church has Authority to Ordain Women, Past, Present, and Future/God Is Not Impotent!

1.This is a rather convuluted admission that the Armenian Apostolic Church, (which is in union with Rome) has women deacons!
Quoted from above article in Catholic Voice
"With regard to the question of a “revival” in the Armenian Apostolic Church of ordaining women deacons, a consultation was held with Tiran Petrosyan, Armenian-Apostolic priest and scholar of Armenian sacramental theology and liturgical studies, and former vice-rector of the St. Gevorkian Theological Seminary/Academy in Etchmiadzin, Armenia. According to Petrosyan, for several decades following the Armenian genocide in Turkey, the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul allowed the ordination of women to the diaconate for practical reasons, as was deemed necessary for continuing the teaching of the faith during a time of persecution, especially when priests were being killed. These women did fulfill the role of deacon, but mostly within a convent environment only. However, this practice was limited to the territory of Istanbul and Turkey; the Armenian Catholicoi of Etchmiadzin and Antélias/Lebanon and the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem never allowed it, nor did it take place anywhere in the diaspora. Moreover, it lasted for only a brief period of time (the last such ordination took place approximately 50 years ago), and only professed nuns were ordained, not lay women. Petrosyan called “rumor” the assertion that the Armenian Apostolic Church has revived a practice of ordaining women deacons."

2. History testifies to women's ordination in the Roman Catholic Church.
As scholars have concluded including Kevin Madigan, Carolyn Osiek, Gary Macy, Dorothy Irvin,
the Catholic Church's history includes women's ordination, there were thousands of deacons in the east, and the preponderance of evidence for women priests is in the west. (See In the Hidden History of Women's Ordination, Gary Macy who states that " The history of Christianity is replete with references to the ordination of women. There are rites for the ordination of women, there are canonical requirements for the ordination of women, there are particular women depicted as ordained... In the tenth century,Atto, Bishop of Vercelli, described the ordination of women deacons in the early church. "...for the aid of men, devout women were ordained leaders of worship in the holy Church." (p. 4, )

This argument that the church, who professes spiritual authority over all kinds of things such as sacramental rites, church observances, and even the blessing of sacramentals like holy water, (there is a very thick book of cannon laws that define the church's jurisdiction) has no authority to ordain women ---is a ridiculous excuse for a policy that excludes half the human race from Holy Orders. It insinuates that God, who is all powerful, who can do all things , cannnot call women to priestly ministry. Does the church believe that God is suddenly impotent before women?! This "blaming God argument" indicates that the hierarchy has run out of theological and historical arguments. The Catholic community should not let them off the hook for their mysogny in prohibiting women's ordination and denying women equality in our church. All are called to follow Christ. The Risen Christ chose Mary of Magdala, not Peter, to share the most important news of Christianity with the disciples. It is time for the church to follow the example Jesus gave of Gospel equality!
The good news is that Roman Catholic Women Priests, an international movement, brings the gift of a renewed priestly ministry in a people-empowered to the Church! While this may be ground shaking to the hierarchy, many Catholics are joining our grassroots communities around the world. So there is hope that God is revitalizing our beloved faith tradition in the 21st century with the gifts of women in ordained ministries in egalitarian communities. Certainly, our God is not impotent, as the Vatican claims in its ban on women's ordination! Women priests reminds us that women are equal images of God and should be treated as such by all, including their church!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests