It's time to start studying women deacons.

“What prevents the church from including women among the permanent deacons, just as happened in the early church? Why not set up an official commission to study the question?” Good question. It was asked by a woman religious to Pope Francis on May 12, in a conversation with the superiors of 800 women’s religious orders at the Vatican. Pope Francis’ comments caused quite a few people to take notice.

“I would like to set up an official commission to study the issue. I think that it will be good for the church to clarify this point.” The pope’s remarks were, in a few quarters, taken to mean that he had approved of women deacons. He had not. But in other quarters they were interpreted to mean he had no real intention to study the matter further. Let us take the pope at his word. He plans to convene a commission to clarify the matter, particularly the questions he posed about the women deacons in the New Testament, like Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2): “But what are these deaconesses? Were they ordained or not?”

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We support such a papal commission and hope it helps us further understand the possibility of the female diaconate. The church could be greatly enriched if women could preside at weddings, funerals and homilies, as well as break open the word in those liturgical settings. But this is far from the only kind of leadership that women could exercise. Even without being deacons, women can and should be included in positions of real leadership and influence in a more, to quote Francis again, “incisive” way. Promoting women within the church should not have to wait on a clerical designation.

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Leonard Villa
1 year 4 months ago
But a Commission had already been set up, the International Theological Commission 2002. Here are some of their observations: The deaconesses were named before the sub-deacon who, in his turn, received a cheirotonia like the deacon (CA 8, 21), while the virgins and widows could not be “ordained” (8, 24-25). The Constitutiones insist that the deaconesses should have no liturgical function (3, 9, 1-2), but should devote themselves to their function in the community which was “service to the women” (CA 3, 16, 1) and as intermediaries between women and the bishop. It is still stated that they represent the Holy Spirit, but they “do nothing without the deacon” (CA 2, 26, 6). They should stand at the women’s entrances in the assemblies (2, 57, 10). Their functions are summed up as follows: “The deaconess does not bless, and she does not fulfil any of the things that priests and deacons do, but she looks after the doors and attends the priests during the baptism of women, for the sake of decency” (CA 8, 28, 6).
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
I hope this is not just "another commission." I also hope that historical precedent due to cultural limitations will not prevent the Church with doing something new with our *new creation*, which we already have in full but has yet to be fully incarnated in the sacramental life of the Church.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
I certainly support women deacons, and would support women priests and women bishops as well. In fact, I believe in my heart that we need women who can act in persona Christi, i.e., in the person of Christ as a divine personal subject, not just a human being with a male body.
Henry George
1 year 4 months ago
Come, Come now America. You know and I know that as soon as Women Deacons are approved, and that is what you want the Commission on Women Deacons to do, you will want Women Priests, then Bishops and then Cardinals and Popes. Before we take any step along those lines we should ask the Greek/Russian Orthodox whether they would approve and all the other rites in the Catholic Church. No need to go through the near fiasco the Anglican Communion has and is going through.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
The Anglican Communion is to be admired for their willingness to go through the agony of resolving issues of human sexuality that we are still afraid to face. Indeed, I do hope and pray for a Catholic "Mome" some day. Incidentally, a council of Orthodox Churches is scheduled to happen in the near future, and the papal decision to reconsider women deacons may not be unrelated to this event, since it is well known that the issue is also being reconsidered in several Orthodox jurisdictions. America may not be at liberty to say this, but I am: we need women deacons, women priests, and women bishops, and sooner rather than later. It boils down to whether or not all men and women share one and the same human nature, the same embodied human nature that the Word assumed at the incarnation. When a priest acts in persona Christi, he or she is acting in the person of Christ as a divine personal subject, not just a human being with a male body. Now, 1565 years after the Council of Chalcedon, the exclusively male priesthood is becoming a moral scandal of such magnitude that the pedophilia coverup scandal pales by comparison; and this not because women are being excluded, but because the entire body of Christ is being denied their service.
Lisa Weber
1 year 4 months ago
We need women deacons to help priests create the same spiritual space that Jesus created for women - a space where adult rules prevail and women are allowed to be adults. Women need to be able to preach so that a feminine view of the Gospels is heard. Women should not be priests though, because it would unnecessarily fracture the priesthood. Women also need leadership that the women elect so that the leaders are accountable for representing women in the church. Currently we have no women leaders and the church suffers for that lack. Women could organize and elect their own leaders without waiting for the men to approve of it. No one has said that women cannot organize themselves.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
Women deacons would be a good first step, better late than never; but I am utterly unable to understand why women priests would "fracture the priesthood" and the episcopate. On the contrary, the Church hierarchy would become fully human (and more fully an image of the Trinity's unity in diversity) with women priests and women bishops. Human bodies are male or female or intersex, but humanity is male and female, is gender diverse, and there is no such thing as a human being who is exclusively male or exclusively female. The body is a sacrament of the entire person but is not the entire personal subject. When a priest consecrates the bread and wine, he or she is acting in the person of Christ as a *divine personal subject,* not just as a human being with a male body. No dogmatic change is implied here, simply extending St John Paul II's Theology of the Body to all the sacraments, including Holy Orders. The dogmatic definition on the institution of the sacramental priesthood (Trent, 1563) does *not* mention a masculinity requirement for apostolic succession. Traditionalists may have tantrums, but our Catholic faith will not change one iota when we hear, for the first time, Habemus Mamam! :-)
Lisa Weber
1 year 4 months ago
Women and men are different, with different cultures. Women have two cultures, neither of which is the culture of men. An all-male priesthood has a single culture and it functions quite well. Introducing a second culture would introduce a division where none now exists. The essential problem for developing the role of women in the church is that the church uses a family model for its leadership. This is not what Jesus indicated. Jesus clearly indicates that the church is a community. Families and communities have different cultural rules, with the community rules being much more egalitarian. Women usually do not know the cultural rules for a community and they have to learn them from men. Keeping the priesthood all men preserves the cultural rules for a community because the rules within the priesthood do not shift to that of mixed company.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
If the Church uses a family model for leadership, then it is time for a change, because many families are already evolving from sole male (father) headship to joint male-female (father-mother) headship. But no culture should dictate how the Church mediates vocatiobns. This is what the Church must discern going forward, rather than assuming that we simply should continue doing what the culture of patriarchal Israel dictated long ago.
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 4 months ago
I am as liberal as one can get on Catholic issues and I definitely want to see a woman on the altar, but I still have one question that I have yet to see addressed: What is going to keep women from falling into the same trap of clericalism that men do? From what I see in Catholic parishes, it is still "Father this, and father that". The men who serve as priests are given an extraordinary deference just because they are the priests. A special place at the table. Will the clergy change just because women are in the roles? Or will it be more "Mother this, mother that" and before you know it they will be infected?
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
Women can fall into the same trap but, after 2000 years of patriarchal clericalism, perhaps some matriarchal clericalism would be more tolerable. In any case, male-female clericalism would be an improvement over male-only clericalism. Many families are already evolving from sole male (father) headship to joint male-female (mother-father) headship. If this is a sign of the times, and a good development for the domestic church, it should be a good development for the universal church as well. Regardless, what matters is to seek Christ's will for the Church of the 21st century. In my view, clericalism is a minor issue in comparison with patriarchalism.
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 4 months ago
I hear you, Luis. Perhaps clericalism and patriarchalism are complexly related. I see Francis leading us toward a new understanding of what it is to be "priest" - one who serves, rather than a role with special privilege and clout. Women have, for millennia, served. Very recently, it was expected that women would make the coffee at the office, no matter what their job was. I wonder if men will be less attracted to the priesthood if it really does become more maternal and involve washing feet, making coffee, getting up in the middle of the night to attend to the sick. I wonder if women will. Or if it will be a radically different vocation.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
It will be the same vocation to sacramental miistry, enriched by allowing the Lord to call both men and women.
Lisa Weber
1 year 4 months ago
Matriarchal clericalism would be far less tolerable than patriarchal clericalism. Matriarchy is what keeps patriarchy in business.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
"Matriarchal clericalism would be far lass tolerable than patriarchal clericalim." WHY? "Matriarchy is what keeps patriarchy in business." HOW?
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Since Commissions have already addressed this issue several times since VCII, and the historical situation has been examined each time and further study is unlikely to reveal anything substantially new, it seems to me these commissions are mostly busy work distracting the Christian community from the Good News. Men and women are being martyred at greater numbers than at any time in history, and the secular nations are moving further and further away from Christ, the natural law and the family. Surely, there are more important things to consider than another Commission that will no doubt (just like the last 2 synods and Amoris Laetitia) just reaffirm the faith? And if clericalism is as much of a temptation as the Holy Father seems to think it is, surely expanding the role of faithful lay men and women in the administration of the Church is a much better use of his/our time and study?
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
Patriarchalism is the most critical issue facing the Church, not clericalism or anything else happening in the world. To keep insisting that patriarchal gender theory is "natural law" and is essential for our faith is not to reaffirm the faith; it is an exercise in futility, and increasingly harmful to the entire body of Christ. It is bad for the domestic church at a time when many families are already evolving from sole male (father) headship to joint male-female (father-mother) headship. It is bad for the hierarchical church at a time when many unresolved issues of human sexuality are driving people away from the Church. Lay people are doing fine in lay ministries. To say that we don't need women in the hierarchy because we already have women in the pews is just another pretext to avoid facing the unavoidable issue; and this issue will not go away, no matter how many commissions are appointed and how many edicts are given. A patriarchal priesthood just doesn't make sense anymore in a post-patriarchal world.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Luis - I do not understand why you are so fixated on this "patriarchism" and the idea that it is "the most critical issue facing the Church...in the world." I think it is the only thing you write about on this America blog. It seems to me that one's salvation has no relationship to patriarchism, no more than to democracy or monarchy. The Episcopalian and several other Protestant denominations have done as much as possible to exorcise the patriarchal phantom, and there is no evidence they are healthier or happier. By almost every measure, they are sicker, and smaller. They are dying and their last gasp seems to be to ape every sexual or gender dysfunction of the secular world. Do you really think that a female pope would fix anything truly important to salvation? Or, is salvation not the important thing?
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
Salvation is the important thing, but female priests can be helpful, just as male priests are helpful. Yes, my impression is that patriarchalism is the most critical issue facing the Church in the 21st century. This entire issue is about whether or not all men and women share one and the same human nature assumed by the eternal Word at the incarnation, even though human bodies are male or female or intersex. The eternally begotten Word was not a male before the incarnation. Therefore, for the redemption and the sacramental economy, the bodily masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes. The body is a sacrament of the entire person but is not the entire personal subject. When a priest consecrates the bread and wine, he or she is acting in the person of Christ as a *divine personal subject,* not just as a human being with a male body. So if the time has come to enhance the hierarchical Church with women, why not? It believe in my heart that such development would be in perfect continuity with apostolic tradition (the church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not necessarily patriarchal) and would be for the greater glory of God and the greater good of souls.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Luis - the ease with which you depart from Scriptural language suggests to me you lean on some other authority when it comes to understanding what the inspired texts reveal about human nature, whether it is your own conscience, feminist ideology, or the latest conception from some gender studies professor. For example, Jesus says in Mt 19:4 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female." Yet you now add a third sex to human nature, that of "intersex." The Arian heresy hinged on the false addition of an iota (as in Homoiousian vs. Homoousian), depriving the divine consubstantiality of the Son of God from His nature, yet you add a whole new sex to human nature! But, you go even further. You pronounce that the "bodily masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes." But, how do you know that? On what authority? Jesus never gave the importance to eye color or any such incidental to His mission. Yet, he says "male and female He created them." The Creator's decisions to make humans into two sexes, to have sexual reproduction as the way to form new humans, and for the Son to incarnate as a male inside a woman, with the Holy Spirit providing the male partner of the generation - none of this is incidental. It is of huge significance. Similarly, the formation of the Jewish people, with their patriarchal structure, was not accidental, but was designed by God to prepare a fitting culture for His Son. The use of male gender terms by Jesus for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the selection of men for the priesthood is likewise not incidental. The place of Our Lady as (per Wordsworth) "tainted nature's solitary boast," as Theotokos, and as now Queen of Heaven - in the highest place in heaven of any created being, even above the angels! All of this has profound meaning and relevance for true doctrine and for our salvation. So, the implications of your departure would lead to far more distortion of God and Man than you imagine. Furthermore, your language "my impression" and "can be helpful" and "if the time has come..why not" is not the type that would convince anyone to countenance a reversal of infallibility.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
I am not trying to convince anyone, just sharing my impressions and expressing my concerns. I know that this is a visceral issue that cannot be resolved by reasoning alone. My understanding is informed by my personal study of the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and St John Paul II's Theology of the Body (TOB). If you think I am distorting these sources, you may be right; I don't presume to be infallible... :-) About "reversal of infallibility," not sure what you mean. The dogmatic definition on the institution of the sacramental priesthood (Trent, 1563) does *not* mention a masculinity requirement for apostolic succession. The "definitive" letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994) is entirely written in past and present tense, and says *nothing" about what the Church can or cannot do in the future, so it cannot possibly be "definitive" (let alone infallible) about something it doesn't say. Basically, my understanding is that there is one, and only one, embodied human nature that all men and women share, and is the same embodied human nature that the Word assumed at the incarnation. The TOB explains very clearly that it is not a matter of two human natures, one male and one female; this is the meaning of "one flesh," one human nature. Since the eternally begotten Word was not a male before the incarnation, it seems to me that the embodied masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his skin, the color of his eyes, and any other limitation of embodied humanity, including sex and gender. Patriarchal gender theory is pervasive, and is reflected in the limitations of human language. The TOB mentions the term "analogy" 132 times, and repeatedly warns against the error of understanding analogies literally. Is "God the Father" exclusively male? Of course not. If we sexualize divine persons, we end up with absurdities like thinking that the Trinity is 2/3 male (Father, Son) and 1/3 sexless (Holy Spirit). Equally absurd would be to suggest that the human nature of the Incarnate Word is different from the human nature of the Virging Mary, just because Mary is female and Jesus is male. We are made in the image of God, not the other way around (CCC 239, 370, 2779). According to the TOB and the CCC, analogies such as the "bridegroom-bride" image of the Christ-Church mystery (Ephesians 5:21-33) are not to be interpreted literally without taking into account the patriarchal culture of NT times. For this reason, the TOB and the CCC are carefully written to distinguish doctrines from dogmas. For instance, consider CCC 1598. It effectively says that the male-only priesthood is a choice (first sentence) and who can make the choice (second sentence). It says *nothing* about the male-only priesthood being a natural law, or a divine law, or a revealed truth that we should believe with certainty of faith. But again, I understand the futility of reasoning these issues linearly; as long as we start with different presuppositions about patriarchy being "natural law," we end up going in circles. Let's try to keep doing some homework, reread the sources lovingly, and pray for understanding.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Luis – You cannot be serious that you are “not trying to convince anyone” – all your posts are arguments for a radically unorthodox interpretation (against East and West, all Church History) regarding the priesthood, human sexuality and the complimentarity of male and female. Furthermore, all the sources you say you rely on (the Bible, the Catechism and the TOB) are used by the Church to infallibly teach exactly the opposite of what you argue for. You especially, frequently and incredibly, use the TOB, written by St. Pope John Paul II, to contradict his own interpretation, as if the TOB can have a meaning of its own opposite that of its author. Your misinterpretation extends to what I just wrote above. I never say there are two human natures. There is one human nature (I never make it plural) but it is formed/made/created by God in only one of two complimentary sexes, no more and no less, at the level of our chromosomes and genes, in every cell of the body). You bring the same magical thinking to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, using the tense of the text to contradict its obviously intended meaning. You don’t disagree with it, just say that it only pertains to the present and the past, as if any infallible statement was time bound. It uses the word “definitive” and you say it is obviously not so. The phrase “has no authority whatsoever” is a logical statement, not one of tense. The phrase "is to be definitively held" is talking about the future, from the time of the declaration. Pope Francis and Benedict XVI have confirmed the definitive and infallible nature of the teaching. See here for Pope Benedict XVI's formal confirmation that " it has been set forth infallibly." https://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfrespo.htm https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19940522_ordinatio-sacerdotalis.html. Here again is the wording from OS: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.” I support your final prayer "Let's try to keep doing some homework, reread the sources lovingly, and pray for understanding." All we need is an open mind and welcoming heart to hear what the Lord, through the Church (Christ's mystical body, and protected from error by the Holy Spirit) is teaching.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
Seriously, I an not trying to convince anyone, because those who assume that patriarchal gender theory *is natural law* cannot be convinced, and those who assume that patriarchal gender theory *is not natural law* do not need to be convinced. However, I am open to dialogue, as long as mutual listening is not reduced to a zero sum debate. Patriarchal gender theory (PGT) sees people as sexual objects. The TOB sees people as personal subjects. According to the TOB, the body is male *or* female, but being a body-person is what makes the human being a personal subject, a body-soul, male *and* female. In the TOB, from beginning to end, the *or* is used about bodies and the *and* is used about persons. Check it out. In PGT, sex=body=gender=person. In the more adequate theological anthropology of the TOB, bodiliness and sex are not simpy identical. Check it out, TOB 8:1. There are two different incarnations, male or female, to enable humans to share the gift of love and the gift of life, but all men and women are homogeneous (of the same flesh, of the same nature) "in their whole being." Check it out, TOB 8:4. The complementarity of man and woman is a complementarity in full unity; not uniformity, but full unity in one and the same human nature. Check it out, TOB 9ff. You have to read the book, paying attention to what it says and what it does not say. Summarized as simple Venn diagrams, this is my understanding of the difference between PGT and TOB: http://pelicanweb.org/TOB.VENN.BINARY.jpg Amories Laetitia is fully based on the TOB, and you can see TOB insights emerging throughout. For instance, # 56 mentions that fact the gender and sex cannot be separated but can be distinguished. This is clearly consistent with the TOB and radically different from PGT, in which the person is reduced to be a sexual object (in other words, sex=gender=body-person). In # 154, Pope Francis mentions the excesses of patriarchal cultures. You may want to read Amories Laetitia first, then go back read the TOB and the CCC and the New Testament, e.g, Matthew 19:1-12. Not sure what else to say. You keep repeating that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is definitive, timeless, infallible, etc. But the fact is that the Pope is infallible only when he says he is, and signs his name; and the CDF is never infallible, so it is not infallible when saying that a Pope was infallible when he didn't say he was, Frankly, I think that the 1994 letter was simply an edict (subsequently over inflated by the CDF in response to widespread negative reception) to stop official discussion of the issue by bishops, surely with the best intention to buy time for the Church to come up with something better than CCC 1577, which is a ludicrous provisional doctrine that few people take seriously anymore. CCC 1577 is a crude doctrinal rationalization of Canon 1024 that was formulated by the CDF in 1976 in response to the ordination of women in some provinces of the Anglican Communion. It doesn't make sense, because it takes a decision made by Jesus during his public ministry to the people of patriarchal Israel and makes it normative after the resurrection and until the Lord returns. This is so absurd that it is not even mentioned in CCC 1598. Would Jesus, in today's world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel? Again, I am not trying to convince anyone that I am right or wrong. I readily admit that I am telling you more than I know. However, I am trying to encourage people to study the TOB, and to open their minds and hearts to the natural *unity in complementarity* of man and woman, as it was in the beginning and, even more so, as it is now that we are, after the redemption, a new creation.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Luis - is PGT a thing, in any official Catholic writings? I do not think so. When I google it, I just get your comments (thousands) on Catholic websites, always about patriarchialism. So, I think PGT is a straw man. I know of no Catholic theory that "sees people as sexual objects." The TOB, of course, and all Catholic teaching, sees people as personal subjects and of two sexes and one human nature. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis has the words " is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful" in it, and it was Pope JP II's CDF that confirmed it was infallible. So, the idea that the CDF went rogue and JPII forgot to correct it for the next 10 years is preposterous. You said earlier your theory relies on the Catechism but here you say CCC 1577 is ludicrous. Then you say "I readily admit that I am telling you more than I know." I can agree with that. If you are open to honest dialogue, you should begin first with an acceptance that JPII was consistent when he wrote/approved the OS, the CCC and his TOB.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
Nothing I write is officially Catholic. On the other hand, I feel free to write in my own words, rather than simply and uncritically repeating the same words used in Vatican documents. PGT is my way of abbreviating the patriarchal culture of male domination and female subordination that resulted from original sin (Genesis 3:16) and the supporting sex/gender binary. It is also referred to as MCP ("male chauvinist pig"), the "idolatrous male," the "phallocentric mindset," etc. In terms of current terminology about sex/gender theories, I find it useful for comparative analysis with radical feminism and other ancient or more recent gender theories. I respectfully disagree that all Catholic teachings see people as personal subjects. In theory, perhaps, but not in practice. For instance, Canon 1024, and supporting teachings such as CCC 1577, effectively see people as sex objects, male or female. It is noteworthy that the equal dignity of man and woman was formally acknowledged in a papal document for the first time as recently as 1988 (Mulieres Dignitatem). The 1917 Code of Canon Law still prescribed men and women to be seated in opposite sides of the Church. St. Ignatius Loyola wrote (rule 12 of the discernment of spirits) that the devil behaves like a woman. St Thomas Aquinas was, at best, ambivalent about women being "defective males." Tertulian thought that women are "the gates of hell." Need more examples? Indeed, CCC 1577 is ludicrous, it makes our Lord's common sense there and then into a norm here and now. About the apparent lack of "consistency" between the TOB and OS, would this be the first time in history that a Pope speaks with bouth sides of his mouth, for the good of the Church? I don't know much about internal Vatican politics and actions take for public relations. I do know, however, that after he became Pope, Benedict XVI did *not* publish, *under his signature as Pope,* any other document reiterating the OS edict, let alone raising it to an authentically infallible dogma. I am not afraid to admit that I am telling you more than I know. Perhaps you should not be afraid to admit that all you know is what the Vatican says, uncritically repeated for political correctness. About OS in context with other recent developments, this is my personal assessment of where we are: The dogmatic definition on the institution of the ministerial priesthood (Trent, 1563) does not mention a masculinity requirement for ordination. The declaration Inter Insegnores (CDF, 1976) was a doctrinal disgrace, published in response to the Church of England's discernment process pursuant to the ordination of women to the priesthood. The apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (St. John Paul II, 1994) was an edict published in response to the Church of England's decision to start ordaining women to the priesthood, and is an authoritative decision to stop discussion of the issue in the Roman Catholic Church for the time being, but is not an infallible definition of the patriarchal (male-only) priesthood as a divinely revealed dogma. It is addressed to the bishops, not the entire Church. It is entirely written in past and present tense, and says nothing about what the Church can or cannot do in the future. The letter is another "definitive" confirmation of the hierarchical constitution of the Church to safeguard apostolic succession, but does not preclude the hierarchy from ever ceasing to be a patriarchy. The church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not essentially patriarchal. My understanding is that OS upholds the *apostolic* mark of the Church, not the patriarchal limitation of the hierarchy. It shows who is boss, regardless of gender. This papal edict was a tragedy that subsequently became a travesty when the CDF started pushing it as an infallible teaching, and many people are still being intimidated into thinking that it was an infallible definition of a divinely revealed dogma. Undoubtedly published with the best intention to buy time for the good of the Church until a better answer is articulated and absorbed by the faithful, it upholds the simplistic patriarchal rationalization of the pre-Easter choice of the 12 male apostles at the expense of the post-Easter sacramental economy, and will not stand the test of time. Thankfully, the same mistake has not been repeated in response to the Church of England's recent decision to start ordaining women to the episcopate. CCC 1598 plainly states that ordaining only males is a choice (first sentence) and who can make the choice (second sentence). In matters related to apostolic succession, it is time to test everything, keep what is good, and let go of what is no longer good for people (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21). Am I telling you more than I know? Sure, but this is my sincere and honest assessment of where we are. You know better? Please instruct me, but judging my honesty is not helpful. Could you kindly allow God to be my judge? I you really want to help me, please visit my website of meditations about the conflation of PGT and revealed truth in our sacramental theology, and let me know if you find any dogmatic error: Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature http://pelicanweb.org/CCC.TOB.html
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Luis - thanks for clarifying that you invented this PGT idea and are now imputing it on the Church retrospectively. So, you concede no orthodox teacher of recent times has actually described women as objects and denied they were subjects, but you think they really meant that. you also think St. Pope JP II purposely contradicted his TOB in OS because he liked the ambiguity. And Pope Benedict XVI similarly did the same by not repeating his CDF statement when he became pope. All of this seems ridiculous to me and I think your unwillingness to take these writers honestly undermines your new theory. Your website is very revealing, but hardly orthodox Catholicism. While I am sure you believe in your theory, I do think it would be more compelling if you didn't distort what orthodox Catholic teachers meant when they said it. Above you said "We are made in the image of God, not the other way around (CCC 239, 370, 2779)." I agree. God the Father was completely free to mold the Jewish patriarchy as he wanted it, not what 20th century man wants. And Jesus was also completely free to mold the Church with a male priesthood, as He wanted it, not what 20th century ideology wants. I will end my comment with the CCC 1577 paragraph you judge a contradiction to Catholicism and "ludicrous". "1577 "Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination." The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible."
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
I am using PGT as an abbreviation for "patriarchal gender theory," like other people use MCP for "male chauvinist pig," or LGBT for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender," etc., but I am not inputing anything to anybody. Yes, CCC 1577 is so ludicrous that it necessitated the Ordinatio Sacerdotalis edict to preempt further discussion of the issue. My conjecture is they knew it would not stand up to debate, so the CDF ex post facto invented some infallibility smoke screens, and made a "heresy" out of refejecting it, in order to intimidate people. CCC 1577 is not a matter of faith. The Church, by the power of the keys (Mt 16:19, 18:18) does have the authority to ordain women to the priesthood at any that a Pope decides to do so. The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not essentially patriarchal. If you don't like my PGT abbreviation for "patriarchal gender theory," you are free not to use it. If you don't like my website, you are free not to visit it again. I requested you review it and let me know if you find any dogmatic error. You are saying that I am distorting the Catholic faith, but which dogma specifically? I am analyzing provisional (not dogmatic) Catholic doctrines on human sexualiy in a respectful and contructive manner, because I think they are contaminated by PGT and doing more harm than good. I don't presume to be offering official Cathoolic doctrine. I thought we had agreed to dialogue in which we can listen to each other rather than having a zero-sum debate. If all you want to show is that I disagree with seeing human beings as sex objects (which is what the male-only priesthood effectively does) simple read my website, where I make clear that I am sharing my own personal understanding of this issue, not official Church teaching. Please read my meditations lovingly and critically, pray for understanding, and let me know if you find any dogmatic error. Peace be with you,
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 4 months ago
There is an interesting blogpost by Marcrina Walker, discussing Thomas Merton's reflections on the writings of Fr. Alexander Schmemann. I am not familiar with Schmemann’s work, but I am fairly well versed in Merton's views. A link to the blogpost, Merton on Schmemann" is here: https://avowofconversation.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/merton-on-schmemann/ Merton asserts that Schmemann gets to the root of Catholic sacramental thought, and that the author dispels illusions about the place of religion in the modern world. The "realm of a very “mystical” and highly “spiritual” religion, the gold-encrusted cult thick with the smoke of incense and populated with a legion of gleaming icons in the sacred gloom, a “liturgy which to be properly performed requires not less than twenty-seven heavy liturgical books”" is over. So what is it that women & men who are "called" to become deacons and priests to do, exactly? Schmemann claims that we are ALL created as celebrants of the sacrament of life. -- "“Adam failed to be the priest of the world and because of this failure the world ceased to be the sacrament of divine love and presence and became ‘nature’. And in this ‘natural’ world, religion became an organized transaction with the supernatural and the priest was set apart as the transactor.” It is precisely from this state of affairs that secularism arises: “Clericalism is the father of secularism.”" So I'm wondering if the woman (and man's) calling to the "priesthood" is still not quite on the right track.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
I can't help wondering why no prominent Jesuits have brought up the subject of women being priests since Francis has become pope. I can think of a couple who have written about it in the past - William Barry and Robert Egan - but it seems that since Francis is so negative about the idea, everyone avoids the issue. I think we all know that women as ordained deacons will not happen under Francis, but even if it did it would not take the place of the desire for women to be priests, a desire that is held by a majority of lay Catholics in the US, according to the Pew Forum. The Jesuits, in documents from the 34th General Congregation, promised that they would .... "listen carefully and courageously to the experience of women" ... and ... "align themselves in solidarity with women". One way to make good on that promise would be to speak up about women's ordination. Why won't any Jesuits do that?
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Just a theory, Crystal, but perhaps, the Jesuits dropped that speculation when Pope Francis confirmed the teaching of St. Pope JP II. Is it really surprising that Jesuits who are faithful Catholics (it's conceivable there might be others) will accept infallible teaching. As to "align themselves in solidarity with women," Jesuits should not abandon infallible Catholic teaching to do that. Solidarity in the truth is the only real solidarity. The rest is condescension. It would suggest women are not capable of accepting the full Catholic faith, which seems preposterous and sexist to me.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
Tim, Jesuits have written about women becoming priests since the JPII comment. Here's an article at dotCommonweal by Robert Egan SJ from 2008 - https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/why-not-0 And this past article from US Catholic has this ... "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.) ..." http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/2011/05/infallible-teaching-womens-ordination
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Crystal - Bryan Comes (in US Catholic) says Pope Benedict XVI was clearly acting on the assumption that this was infallible, yet he asks why Pope Benedict XVI didn't re-declare (now as pope) that it was infallible. But, the Pope would not need to do that if he was certain Pope JP II had already done that. it would be redundant. In any case, I suspect the reason even liberal Jesuits might have contradicted Pope Benedict XVI and not Pope Francis is because they think the latter is one of them and yet he has already accepted the infallibility of OS. This seems like the cause for the "Consecration of Russia" by some very traditionalist Catholics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consecration_of_Russia. Despite multiple consecrations, there remain some traditionalists who think the pope's each time did not use the exact form of words required for a fully authentic consecration, so they keep demanding popes re-do it. In both case, the wording seems like a magic spell, that if not used in some exact form, are invalid, even when the plain meaning of the words has already done it. This seems to me to be suffering from a very legalistic mindset.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
Tim, I think you're right about why the Jesuits won't speak up now. From my point of view, depressing.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
Precisely, ***assuming*** that something is infallible doesn't make it infallible. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was a tragic mistake. It became a travesty when the CDF subsequently started pushing it as infallible. That was 20 years ago. To keep pushing the same travesty as infallible Church teaching is now becoming an exercise in self-deception, plain and simple.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Two thousand years of Tradition, a definitive declaration, the CDF, all subsequent Popes, and most theologians confirm Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was definitive and infallible by the ordinary Magisterium - "is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." It is historical malpractice to now say it isn't infallible. But, Luis, and some liberal Catholics and everyone outside the Church say of course it isn't infallible. While many hold this belief because they listen to a different magisterium (some other faith leader, some self-appointed expert, or an individual's conscience), some hold nothing infallible, and some Catholics who want to preserve other infallible doctrines think this one can be made fallible by an especially fine legalistic parsing of words from the intent of the Magisterium. I expect a hundred popes could declare this doctrine infallible and it will still be denied in this way. But, then again, such is the case with all Church doctrine. Many, after all, hold the Real Presence or the Virgin birth or the Incarnation to be ludicrous and false and note the absence of an ex cathedra declaration. Yet, the Church and its teaching perseveres, and it will, until the end of time. "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." OS
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
What infallible teaching? Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was NOT an infallible teaching. It was simply an edict to stop discussion until the Church can clarify the absurd exegesis proposed in CCC 1577. Please stop trying to intimidate people with this nonsense; the era of "creeping infallibility" is mercifully over. This is not about solidarity with women. It is about allowing Christ to start calling women to sacramental ministry, for the glory of God and the good of souls, not for the glory of women, or men, or any human culture. Nobody can accept the full Catholic faith except by divine grace, not any personal capability. Please stop the condescending patriarchal nonsense. PGT (patriarchal gender theory) is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
DELETED (sorry, comment was misplaced, inserted in the proper place below)

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