Sunday, November 04, 2007

Theological Gymnastics from the Post Dispatch

Post Dispatch Columnist, Sylvester Brown, Jr., writes:

Would Jesus exclude women? I don't think so
So much for his first attempt (in this column) at proposing and answering a vague and ambiguous theological question...

Jesus came to mind as I read a press release about two Roman Catholic women, Rose Marie Dunn Hudson of Festus and Elsie Hainz McGrath of St. Louis, who will be ordained as priests on Nov. 11 at Central Reform Congregation, a synagogue in St. Louis.

A Catholic ordination at a Jewish congregation. Wow!

He continues, like many others, to venture off ill-prepared into areas about which he lacks any understanding. First, the women will not be ordained as Roman Catholic priests - for this is a theological impossibility - and second, if Jesus did come to his mind as he claims, one can only wonder which "Jesus" that was?

Into the darkness he continues:
Let's put that tidbit aside for a moment and deal with the issue of female priests. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. But, then again, I'm not Catholic.

Prepare for the enlightenment...

Of course, the church hierarchy frowns on the practice...

An understatement if there ever was one...

Any chance the Catholic Church might soften its stand on women priests?

Any journalist doing the most rudimentary forms of research would know this answer - and, Brown does seem to attempt to find out:

Absolutely not, said Lawrence J. Welch, a professor of theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary: "The church's position is that it does not ordain women — it's impossible. Now, some have been ordained, but in the eyes of the church, nothing happened. It's not recognized."

It's Jesus' way, Welch added.

"The church's practice for centuries has been based on Christ's actions," Welch said. "An ordained man represents Christ as the bridegroom to the church. This was also Jesus' relationship with the church."

Seems simple enough and quite clear - there is no ambiguity in what Prof. Welch stated. But Brown then insists on donning his "theology" cap and engaging the professor:

But there was no "church" when Christ was alive, I pointed out. I asked Welch how the Vatican could be so sure that Jesus would oppose women priests.

Given Brown's apparent weakness in the area of theology, one can only wonder what his next vocation might be, medicine, astronomy, business? Be that as it may, one need not be a biblical scholar to understand that God has chosen only men to be His priests.

But what about Brown's statement that there was no "Church" when Jesus was alive? One might wonder what our Lord meant then, when he said, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) Surely, there was a Church, but it was not yet "born" until Christ's death on the cross, when blood and water issued forth from Christ's side...

And Christ, in speaking to his Apostles at the Last Supper after making them priests like himself, reminded them of this truth: "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and have appointed that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain." (John 15:16)

Second, God chose men exclusively to be his priests, both in the Old Testament as Aaron, and in the New Testament as Christ.

Third, men, and men alone, are to exercise the ministerial priesthood, representing all mankind before God in things pertaining to God.

"During the Last Supper, Christ chose men as his disciples. They were given the authority to speak in Jesus' name," Welch said. "In that sense, he created priests."

Not to take issue with the good professor, but I seem to remember a pretty inclusive definition of Christ's flock written by one of his "priests" in Galatians 3:28:

"There is neither Jew nor Greek … neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

While claiming the contrary, Brown is intent on taking issue with Professor Welch and the Church, and again he demonstrates his ignorance of Scripture as well as his ability to parrot the irrational rantings of dissidents.

And regarding Brown's proof text, it must be understood that this text is connected with baptism and not with holy orders. St. Paul precedes this passage with the words: "For all you who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ." But why let the context of the passage get in the way, right? Some are not looking for facts, but for ways to sow division and rebellion, and Brown assists those whose aim is to further heresy and schism. And Brown enlists the support of others claiming to be "teachers" in theological matters - none of whom would likely receive a mandatum to teach in an authentically Catholic institution.

"Yes! There is your proof of what Jesus wanted," said Ronald Modras, professor of theological studies at St. Louis University. The ordination of women, he said, is simply an extension of the "sea changes" within the Roman Catholic Church that started in the 1960s to address a modern world: "What you have now is a retrieval of Jesus' affirmation and appreciation of women. The 12 disciples were men, but Jesus also had women in leadership positions and female disciples."

Not only does ignorance infect the intellects of some journalists, but also of some so-called Catholic theological professors.

Although the Vatican opposes the practice, Modras said several factions inside the Roman Catholic Church are in favor of the ordination of women to priesthood. Students, he added, who attended "good theological schools" are well aware of Jesus' "liberating attitude."

Modras fails to mention that such factions are heretical, if not in practice, then in belief. And his idea of "good theological schools" is most likely at odds with fundamental Catholic ideals.

One of the women to be ordained, Elsie Hainz McGrath, received her master's degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. She believes her ordination meets Christ's approval.

It's obvious that what McGrath claims to believe and what Christ would approve are at odds with each other. It may also be indicative of problems with Aquinas Institute if, after receiving a "Masters" degree that one could be so opposed to the Church.

"Jesus never ordained anyone. He also never organized a hierarchal system," McGrath said. "His mission was to establish a community of caring people who administered to those in need."

Tell me again, what kind of theology degree did McGrath receive? A masters of heresy?

But it should not be surprising that the Church still has to deal with the same heresies with which she dealt in the past.

Welch said he has heard nothing from the Vatican or Archbishop Raymond Burke about excommunicating the women should they go through with the ordination. But on a "spiritual level," he said, this affair has "harmed the unity" inside and outside the church.

Indeed, the actions of these women and those who provide them support rupture the unity of the Church and cause grave scandal among the faithful. Surely, something will be done to address this scandal.

The Rev. Vincent Heier, director of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs with the Archdiocese, spoke more bluntly: "This issue has been resolved among Roman Catholics. I know Susan Talve (rabbi of Central Reform Congregation). She's done many courageous and good things. But for her to aid and abet this … well, it simply shows no respect. We would never get involved with the affairs of the Jewish community."

It must be a "woman" thing....

What's the rationale?

Actually, said Rabbi Talve, her board's decision to host the ordination was all about respect. "We were approached by two wonderful women who asked to use our space. 'Hospitality' is our core value," she said. "The board seriously considered the matter. It has never been our intent to interfere in church affairs. It hurts me that we may cause pain for the archdiocese but, in this case, our core values guided us."

The "core values" guided them in the wrong direction - to assist those who wish to cause pain and scandal in the archdiocese...

Talve [said]...: "It would be presumptuous for me, as a rabbi, to go there. I only hope those who take his [Jesus] message out into the world have compassion for women who want to serve in this way."

Again, I'm not Catholic, but that answer sounds like something Jesus might say.

Who fails to listen to what Jesus said: "He who hears you, hears me; and he that despises you, despises me; and he that despises me, despises him that sent me." (Luke 10:16)

Some fail to understand that being equal in dignity is not the same as being equal in function or calling.

Despite its divinization of men and women through baptism which confers the common priest?hood on all the faithful, the New Testament never grants women the graces of the ministry of the Holy Sacrifice, of the preaching of the word or of the discipline in the Church.

These graces are reserved exclusively for men. Never is a woman chosen to be in public an authorized representative of Christ or his Church. To no woman does Christ ever make the promise to ratify in heaven what she has bound or loosed on earth. No woman is given the power of the keys. No woman is commissioned to perform the ministry of public preaching. Christ does not entrust the administration of the sacraments to women; neither does he commit the care of his flock to them. (*)

Yet some would claim that they now know what Christ failed to know, understand, or teach when He walked the earth and established His Church...Fortunately He grants His followers the grace necessary to avoid these false teachers, infected as they are with error and dissent.

There is still time for these two confused woman to recant and refrain from further separation from the Church and from Christ. We should pray for them and for those, like Brown and others, so that their minds might be illumined with the light of truth and their hearts might be converted...

The Post article is here.

For more on this subject, I might suggest this post Woman and the Priesthood, Excerpts

HT to Paul for the link!

[*] Excerpt from Women Priests & Other Fantasies, by Fr. Vincent P. Miceli, S.J. (© 1985)

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