The cardinal prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, Luis Ladaria , has recently made two statements with which I disagree and which have raised an immediate polemic.
In the first, in an article in L'Osservatore Romano , he again closed the door to the priesthood for women : "The Church always recognized herself as linked to Christ's decision to confer this sacrament on men," he wrote. In the second - in a letter as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - he affirms that intercommunion , or communion between Catholics and Protestants, "is not ripe" to become the norm of the universal Church, particularly in the case of the communion of non-Catholic spouses, in mixed marriages. In both cases , your words are like putting doors to the wind, because you can not go against the story . But in addition, there are powerful reasons against it.
1. Beginning with the second of the statements made, the intercommunion, another colleague at the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Marx, archbishop of Munich and president of the German Episcopate, declared himself "surprised" after the publication of the letter; recalling in a conversation held in Rome last May, "the participating bishops were told that they should find, as far as possible, a unanimous result, in the spirit of ecclesial communion," and that this was surprising before they had found that consensus. .. And, what is more serious, the German cardinal pointed out that the question has an effect on the ecumenical relations with the other churches and ecclesial communities "that are not to be underestimated".
The controversy now came the pastoral document of the last Plenary Session of the German Bishops ' Conference "Walking with Christ's footsteps unit intermarriage and common participation in the Eucharist." (February 2018); more than three-quarters of the members of the Episcopal Conference agreed, but the half dozen bishops who were not claiming it to Rome.
In fact, intercommunion refers to much more than communion between Catholics and Protestants in mixed marriages; it is the participation of Catholics in a Eucharist celebrated in a Christian community of confession different from their own , or in a Catholic Eucharist with the participation of non-Catholics. The question is old and for years, both on the evangelical and on the Catholic side, the voices that cry out for a "Eucharistic hospitality" have increased. It is about praying, speaking, serving and being able to celebrate together all those who confess to us Christians, despite our differences.
But in this much more progress has been made in the field of praxis and theology , than in the field of ecclesiastical norms.
The intercommunion has been going on for decades, but in the theoretical doctrinal field there is still a long way to go. When you have participated in Eucharistic celebrations with brothers of a different confession, you see that there is no problem. I remember the Masses in Taizé more than 30 years ago , in which I participated with other Catholic priests and Protestant pastors. And more recently the participation in the Eucharist in Skära Cathedral and in some small rural church with brothers of the Swedish Lutheran Church; Their celebrations of the Eucharist are very similar to ours, including consecration and communion ( http://www.alandar.org/hemeroteca/cantar-en-tierra-extrana/una-semana-ecumenica-en-suecia/). We understood that the sacramentalized Jesus was as "present" in these eucharisties as in what a Catholic priest would do. This can no longer be prevented; It is already a beautiful ecumenical reality.
The priesthood of women, again at the center of the debate
2. With regard to the theme of the priesthood for women -better than "feminine priesthood", as something aside-, Ladaria affirmed that she considers "definitive" the "no" to the priesthood of the woman: "Christ wanted to confer this sacrament on the twelve apostles, all men, "he writes," who, in turn, communicated it to other men.The Church recognized herself always linked to this decision of the Lord to confer this sacrament on men, which excludes that the ministerial priesthood can be validly conferred on women. " And the cardinal "serious concern to see emerge in some countries voices that question the finality of this doctrine," that "it is a truth belonging to the heritage of the faith."
But what causes us "serious concern" to many other theologians and non-theologians, priests, religious and lay Catholics is this stubbornness of the Church to prevent women from accessing as the varoneIt is this responsibility in the communities and to be able to exercise in them as ordained presbyters. It is not true what the cardinal prefect says that "the difference of functions between men and women does not imply any subordination", because the possibility of accessing positions of more responsibility in the service of the Church - as it is organized Today, an organization that is more than debatable, and that does not come from Jesus of Nazareth, necessarily goes through the sacrament of order: if women can not access it, they can not be parish priests, or bishops, or why not? . Many small grassroots communities have already solved the problem by their own; although sometimes at the expense of the value of the sacrament of order in the presidency of the Eucharist, especially in the consecration, which is questionable.
The theologian Jesus Martinez Gordo recently recalled in Digital Religion that the position of the most recent teaching with respect to the (im) possibility that women can access the ordained ministry is found in three documents "of unequal value": the Inter Insigniores Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1976), the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis of John Paul II (1994) and the Responsum on the authority of said Apostolic Letter signed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the following year (1995) .
The first is a document in which infallibility or unreformability is not committed; therefore, it does not belong to the deposit of faith. The Responsum on the authority of the Apostolic Letter is a text of the Congregation, its responsibility is the responsibility of the Congregation and the Pope is limited to authorizing its publication. In short, the Apostolic Letter of John Paul II aims to "dispel doubts" about it and manifest a position against the female priesthood, but it does not have dogmatic authority either. This theologian affirms something evident: "The degree of authority is lower in the text of John Paul II than in those of Pius XII or of Pius IX on the Assumption of Mary and the Immaculate Conception"; to conclude with all the reason in the world. "
Jesus and the women
The truth is that in the New Testament we have no clear statement against the priesthood of women -in fact, Jesus did not ordain priests to men or women; and, rather, we find evidence - corroborated by other extra-biblical writings of the early Christian churches and frescoes in the catacombs - that women also preside over the Eucharist.
And the truth is that women have been and have returned to be priests in the Church. Not only in non-Catholic Christian confessions, where even the bishops abound - despite the rejection of some sectors that came to "pass" to the Catholic Church for it, as was the case of Anglican priests - but also in the Church itself Catholic This is the case of the ARCWP-RCWP ( Association of Catholic Roman Presbyters ), which already has about 300 priests and about a dozen bishops; that they attend joyfully to numerous communities, especially in North America, but also in South America and in European countries. It is not that they want to "be able" like men, but to do what they have felt called to.
Christian communities are demanding this feminine service as soon as they hear about it. And the vocations of many women, responding to a well-discerned interior appeal - at least equal to that of men, and in some cases rather better - manifest that the priesthood of women is a reality in the Catholic Church, and that it is not more than a matter of time that is accepted by the hierarchy.
It is true that news like this, which comes from a man named by Pope Francisco, bewilders many women and men and questions the renewal of the Church that is announcing. Above all, they still have to mourn in silence this discrimination in their Church; others already begin not to be silent and shout out loud and in a prophetic voice what they consider legitimate and evangelical. " If they are silent they will shout the stones, " said the Master.