Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lawrence Welch Responds to Sylvester Brown

In a previous post discussing another lame article from the Post Dispatch, writer Sylvester Brown, Jr. quoted Lawrence J. Welch, a professor of theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

It seems, however, that Brown was rather selective in what he chose to use from his conversation with Prof. Welch:

Sylvester Brown called me to discuss the Catholic Church's stand on the ordination of women for his column "Would Jesus exclude women? I don't think so" (Nov. 4). Several points were left out.

The church defends the equal dignity of women and men yet recognizes their different roles within the Church. The priesthood is founded on the discipleship of 12 apostles. The Church believes Christ intentionally chose only men for apostolic ministry. Thus, it has been the constant and universal practice of the Church to ordain only men to the priesthood. That does not mean women don't have a prominent role in the Church. Their role is indispensable and necessary for the life of the Church, but it is not the priesthood.

Catholics believe Christ gives sacraments to the Church. The ordained priesthood is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles will be exercised until the end of time. It is Catholic doctrine that the priest represents Christ in a very specific way to the Church. The Church does not have the authority to change certain things about the sacraments. Recent teaching has reiterated that sexual symbolism is a necessary part of the sacrament of ordination and the sacrament of marriage. This symbolism cannot be altered without changing those sacraments into something that they are not. To learn more, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church or visit the website of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Lawrence J. Welch | Shrewsbury
Professor of Theology, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

I'm surprised that the Post printed this. It can be viewed here.

Following this unexpected inclusion of facts in the Post, we read yet another justification by the Central Reform Congregation for permitting two women (and hundreds of supporters) to thumbs their noses at the Church and the Catholic faithful of St Louis. This "explanation" comes from Steve Friedman, Board President, Central Reform Congregation:

Responding to Rose Marie Dunn Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath's request to hold their ordination ceremony at Central Reform Congregation was a difficult task for our board of directors. We had several extensive, thoughtful and soul-searching discussions, ultimately relying on CRC's traditions and core values to guide our decision.

After 16 years of gracious hospitality from a church, CRC built our "Sukkat Shalom" (Shelter of Peace) in 2000. We have worked to model its use on the words of the prophet Isaiah, who said, "My house shall be a house of prayer for all people." For us, providing a safe and holy space for Elsie and Rose Marie was consistent with those words.

CRC long has been a leader in interfaith dialogue in St. Louis. We respect the need of all people of faith to act according to their values and beliefs, even when that path is not easy. We regret any pain or misunderstanding our decision has caused among our friends in the Jewish and Catholic communities.

We look forward to continuing to partner with the interfaith community to advance our many shared goals, such as decreasing poverty and increasing access to health care. There is much that we can accomplish by working together.

It's easy to express regrets after deeds are done - it's quite another to deliberately partner with those who foster division in another's faith community. Note that there is no apology - it's business as usual.

Something not discussed in any detail are the reasons why Hudson and McGrath chose this place to engage in their act of rebellion and schism...Others, it appear, wanted no part in damaging relations with the Catholic Church. CRC, it seems, cares little for responsible ecumenical dialogue.

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