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« Cardinal Schönborn to present his new book at Berkeley | Main | After a couple of weeks of deliberating, I've decided to vote for... »

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Comments

Jackson

The Jesuits are done. They've served their purpose, gloriously. Now they're cancerous and must be rooted out.

Ryan Browning

Excellent post Carl!!

Joe

Still, you have to wonder why Rome will not issue an ex cathedra statement on this one, simply to put it to rest. I read somewhere that the very act of defining infallibility in one way created a situation where almost anything not so defined will then be considered an open question. The ongoing insistence on the women issue rather underscores this idea. I heard a prof who is quite 'conservative' on almost every score say to my Q on this ordination fight, "Rome has not said 'No way,' but simply the question is closed for now.' I was flumoxed.

MMajor Fan

Carl, I totally agree with you. Your thoughts are so well written, solid and heart felt.

I do not believe the Holy Father should issue an ex cathedra on this subject. To do so would imply there is a doubtful matter that has been determined in one direction and now once and for all put to rest, which would be incorrect. There are no two positions to decide between and issue an ex cathedra statement regarding. Jesus Christ. not the first Apostles or disciples, was the first "Catholic priest" and hence Jesus has always been the unquestionable model for the priesthood. It is from modeling themselves on Jesus that the early Church evolved their understanding and definitions of the requirements of the priesthood, not from "whoever was available during the early Church." Thus there is no point to the Holy Father effectively saying "We have determined that priests must be male, celibate, etc just like Jesus Christ who was the first priest" like this is a news flash or a point where an opposing view can exist at all.

This has also been a hidden agenda of the lunacy of trying to fictionalize a Jesus love life. As ludicrous as it sounds, and seems to be just for drama, there are some within the Church "faithful" who egg this type of thing on since they recognize FULL WELL that priests are celibate men because Jesus set the example of being celibate men. So priestette lovers try to egg on "what if" scenarios of Jesus having a love life, Jesus being gay etc. so they can slurry him as the priest role model and they reason (in their inflated and crazy way) that doubt about Jesus' virginity or "gender preference" then "opens the door" to any and all to be "priests." While they try to argue it's because of women's value and role in the early Church blah blah blah they know full well that it is Jesus as the model of the celibate male priest that they are gunning for. This is why the Vatican continues to rightfully ignore them.

Carl Olson

Still, you have to wonder why Rome will not issue an ex cathedra statement on this one, simply to put it to rest.

Pope John Paul II, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (May 22, 1994), stated:

"4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

"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."

In other words: "Closed then, closed now, and closed forever. Good night."

This 1999 article from Homiletic & Pastoral Review argues that John Paul II made an infallible, ex cathedra statement. I agree.

MMajor Fan

p.s. You wrote "And, yet, when I read columns such as the one penned by Fr. Schroth, I find myself becoming more than a little angry."

Yeah, me too. However I maintain my spirit of equanimity by being glad that people who hold these beliefs are self identifying. God has always known who the fifth column is, so everyone else might as well find out too through their own public statements.

MMajor Fan

Carl, yes, I remember when our beloved JPII made that declaration. Ha ha, I still remember how shocked many were, since they continued to interpret his warm openness toward all as a weakness where they could wedge their social agendas. I remember that year quite well and how many were quite shocked, who should not have been, had they been paying attention to his total faithfulness in matters of the faith. Fifth column Catholics thought his questionable administration attentiveness and his sociability were reflective of weaknesses in faith leadership in general, and boy oh boy were they wrong.

Nick Milne

The Jesuits are done. They've served their purpose, gloriously. Now they're cancerous and must be rooted out.

I've been hearing this a lot, lately.

If - hypothetically - the Society were indeed to be disbanded or suppressed, where would that leave gentlemen like Fr. Schall and Fr. Fessio?

Spirit of Vatican II

As a recent convert, should you not have some qualms about questioning the authentic Catholicism of the priest you caricature? As a Catholic of nearly 60 years standing I find his article perfectly in the line of authentic Catholic reflection. Noth that if the Brazilian bishops indeed say that women priests would be a good idea, then you have disqualified them as well, not to mention the vast numbers of active Catholic laywomen and sisters who think so too.

The CDF has pronounced the veto on women priests infallible, in virtu of the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium. This is one of the diciest appeals to the idea of the latter infallibility, a thesis of Bellarmine smuggled into Vatican II without discussion.

Carl Olson

As a recent convert, should you not have some qualms about questioning the authentic Catholicism of the priest you caricature?

As someone who reads English, shouldn't you have some qualms about using the word "caricature" when you actually meant "accurately portrayed by virtue of linking to his article and quoting him"? Please don't resort to the ol' "I'm older than you and you're a convert, so you don't know what you're talking about" gambit. It's weak, overplayed, and doesn't matter in light of the simple, clear facts.

As a Catholic of nearly 60 years standing I find his article perfectly in the line of authentic Catholic reflection.

As a Catholic who takes seriously the teachings of the Catholic Church, as stated and defined by the Magisterium, I prefer to go with Popes Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. And, at the risk of being redundant and boring those who actually pay attention to what has been said already, allow me to repeat part of what I posted above:

Pope John Paul II, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (May 22, 1994), stated:

"4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

"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."

In other words: "Closed then, closed now, and closed forever. Good night."

Karen

Having just heard the Holy Father on the subject twice in one week, and having just renewed the order's vow of obedience to him, I'm sure the new Superior General will be all this like a crow on a June bug.

Be sure to provide links for us when that happens.

Karen

Having just heard the Holy Father on the subject twice in one week, and having just renewed the order's vow of obedience to him, I'm sure the new Superior General will be all this like a crow on a June bug.

Be sure to provide links for us when that happens.

Spirit of Vatican II

As a Catholic of near six decades standing, and a reader of much material from the history of Catholicism, Carl Olson, I could quote for you many, many papal or papally signed statements much more definitive sounding than what you quote from our late Pontiff -- on the licitness of torture and slavery, the power of the Pope to depose monarchs, and much, much else. So the argument from authority falls rather flat on the ears of one long versed in these things.

Ed Peters

Jackson: shame on you, bro. Read the parable of the sower again.
MMajor Fan: where does it say that infallible pronoucenments (of the extraordinary kind, etc) cannot be issued regarding topics that are already part of the ordinary magisterium. In fact, what might it mean to say that extraordinary pronoucements cocnern topics that have not been part of the ordinary mix for some time?
SVII: I wish you knew a fraction of what you think you know, and that you could find some way to express occasional truths besides via mean-spirited sarcasm.

Jon

I'm by no means an expert, but how would quoting papal documents regarding torture and slavery have anything to do with whether women can be priests? I mean other than changing the subject to something one can argue better.

Brian Schuettler

"Yeah, me too. However I maintain my spirit of equanimity by being glad that people who hold these beliefs are self identifying. God has always known who the fifth column is, so everyone else might as well find out too through their own public statements."


The unfortunate consequence of this "fifth column's" existence is that they needlessly cloud the true teaching of the Church. The past two generations of Catholics have had an ambiguous catechesis presented to them by people like Father Schroth who presume to represent the Church in espousing false teaching that undermines the authenticity of the Magisterium. I would have more respect for a priest, Jesuit or otherwise, who steps outside the Church and publicly admits he is a protestant who rejects the full teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and then proceeds to earn a living and pay his own rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, etc. like the rest of us. Such an approach would be so much more honest than to live off the Church as a parasite, forever consuming his host even as he depends upon it's existence for survival.

Ed Peters

Jon: right on.
Carl: I'm older than you, and not a convert, and I'm telling you, right on.

sky

What I find interesting is how people like Spirit of Vatican II claim that statements like JPII's statement on female priesthood aren't infallibly proclaimed when compared to other past pronouncements by Popes (the latter apparently being more "forceful and definitive"). Yet if tomorrow Benedict did declare and define the priesthood as being male only in a strong and unequivocal way those people would still refuse to submit!

Luke 16:27-31 comes to mind...

Beefalo

Fantastic post, Carl. Well said. Gee, you do okay for a convert neophyte!

During a sermon a couple Sundays ago, a local priest was reviewing the various candidates for the presidency and noted that we have the first viable African-America candidate in our history, the oldest candidate in our history, and the "first viable candidate for female...PRIEST." He snickered and corrected his (apparent) slip of the tongue, then added "...er, I mean PRESIDENT." After laughter arose in the congregation, the priest added, "well...SOMEDAY [we will have female priests]...I hope," which elicited applause from some of those present.

During the same mass, nearly every male reference to God was changed. "Almighty Father" was replaced with "almighty being." All male pronouns and possessive pronouns were scrubbed from the Eucharistic prayer and the lyrics in all of the hymns were gender neutered (I prefer that term to "neutral").

I sent the pastor the same quotes you cited, which make it crystal clear that the question is closed and declare that the Church herself has NO AUTHORITY to ordain women.

I further explained that, in 1995, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified Ordinatio Sacerdotalis by explaining that, although that document itself was not an exercise of papal infallibility, it nevertheless gave witness to the infallibility of the teaching of a doctrine already possessed by the Church.

These things aren't unrelated and they aren't random. They reflect a false understanding of the nature of God as revealed and declared by the Church and they are part of a calculated effort to undermine the Church's teaching. Those who knowingly persist in preaching or teaching the possibility of female ordination have, quite simply, erected a false god of purported gender equality (which in reality has nothing to do with anything) and they are choosing to worship that idol rather than obey the teaching authority of the Church Christ founded.

Carl Olson

I'm by no means an expert, but how would quoting papal documents regarding torture and slavery have anything to do with whether women can be priests? I mean other than changing the subject to something one can argue better.

You might not be an expert, Jon, but you know a smokescreen when you see one.

Karen

When Fr. Schroth, SJ is not busy defending the priestesses, he'll be campaigning for Partial Birth Obama.

http://blog.nj.com/njv_ray_schroth/2008/01/why_obama_now.html

joanne

It is more than possible to be an unfaithful Catholic for 60 years, or even the whole of one's life. (God forbid!)Similarly it is possible to be a faithful Catholic for 59 years and become afflicted with doubt in the sixtieth year.
Disobedience to the Church and arrogant criticism are not of the true Spirit of Vatican II. Carl's post showed no such arrogance, but pointed to the teachings of the Church with confidence and humility.
My favorite sentence of his in this post is "And when we take it upon ourselves to dismiss both His revelation and how He has given it—through Christ, to the Church, through the Magisterium—we are no longer children of the Church and disciples of Christ, but consumers of self-aggrandizing fads and peddlers of cultural conditioning." I think I'll put that in my backpack for future use (with your name attached) if you don't mind, Carl. It resolves a number of disputes in which I've been involved recently. Thank you.

joe

Somewhere I recall Ratzinger calling the CDF verdict a "fallible expression of an infallible teaching."

This does not seem clear in that what on earth would be fallible about it. Can anyone clarify?

Gail

"As someone who reads English, shouldn't you have some qualms about using the word "caricature" when you actually meant "accurately portrayed by virtue of linking to his article and quoting him""

Ha ha ha, Carl you are so funny. I needed a good laugh. Not at the priestette thing, but at that post.

Look people, ordaining people "in secret" or in synagogues or on boats is silly. A priest is supposed to be obedient, and this sort of thing is the opposite of obedience -- as well as the opposite of good taste, common sense, and many other things.

And the argument is self-defeating. If we are not supposed to obey the pope(s) who said that women can't be priests, then, if Pope Benedict would say that women COULD be ordained priests, why should anyone obey him in that?

Either the pope can legitimately make rules (of course based on apostolic teachings in the usual manner), or he can't. If he can, then you don't break the rule. And if he can't, then it doesn't matter what you do.

If you don't like it and you think it can and should be changed -- well then, there's a lot you can do, including liberal amounts of praying. But breaking the rule, especially in a public and very silly manner, should not be one of them.

Spirit of Vatican II

Of course it is very wrong for people to perform "ordinations" in defiance of Church law; we are all agreed on that.

I do not think it was mean-spirited of me to point out that Carl, as a recent convert, should think twice before declaring so many other people not to be Catholics at all.

"What I find interesting is how people like Spirit of Vatican II claim that statements like JPII's statement on female priesthood aren't infallibly proclaimed when compared to other past pronouncements by Popes (the latter apparently being more "forceful and definitive")."

Infallibility is a red herring here; it is true that the CDF, headed by Ratzinger, declared the papal teaching infallible in view of the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium. But the CDF's statement itself cannot claim infallibility!

The Holy Office declaration of 1866 that slavery is in itself perfectly compatible with natural law and divine law (1.e. the Bible), but that slaves should be justly acquired, well treated, and preserved from danger to their faith, bears the papal signature (unlike, say, the Vatican documents on homosexuality since 1975). Despite this high level of authority this view was overthrown by the next pope. So there is nothing whatever to prevent John Paul II's view on female ordination from being overthrown by another pope.

Spirit of Vatican II

"It is more than possible to be an unfaithful Catholic for 60 years, or even the whole of one's life. (God forbid!)Similarly it is possible to be a faithful Catholic for 59 years and become afflicted with doubt in the sixtieth year."

Quite true. However, I think that 60 years of experience can give you a good idea of the parameters of legitimate Catholic discourse, and give you a good sense of where people are speaking from. I find nothing shocking to Catholic ears in the statements of the Brazilian bishops or the Jesuit mocked by Carl. He seems to regard even the least disagreement with current papal policy as matter for excommunication, and that seems to me a fundamentally uncatholic attitude.

"Disobedience to the Church and arrogant criticism are not of the true Spirit of Vatican II."

I apologize for my arrogance; it is hard to avoid this mistake in cyberspace.

" Carl's post showed no such arrogance, but pointed to the teachings of the Church with confidence and humility."

Well, perhaps it is largely in the eye of the beholder.

"My favorite sentence of his in this post is "And when we take it upon ourselves to dismiss both His revelation and how He has given it—through Christ, to the Church, through the Magisterium—we are no longer children of the Church and disciples of Christ, but consumers of self-aggrandizing fads and peddlers of cultural conditioning.""

True in general, but not in the particular application. To simply assume that the ban on women priests is His Revelation is too simplistic. By the same logic, people in the nineteenth century argued that the licitness of slavery was His Revelation. Theological manuals taught that slaves were originally unjustly acquired but that their descendents were legally owned as time has remedied the original injustice. Bishops advised the President that the church condemned the slave trade but not slavery itself. Now we think that those who thought this was His Revelation were blaspheming. But they had the Pope on their side.

Carl E. Olson

I do not think it was mean-spirited of me to point out that Carl, as a recent convert, should think twice before declaring so many other people not to be Catholics at all.

I entered the Church over eleven years ago (1997). That is recent, I suppose; it is also (still) beside the point.

Why, I wonder, should I think twice about pointing out what the Church teaches? And why, I wonder, are you so much more interested in what the Church will hopefully stop teaching than what the Church clearly is teaching?

Carl E. Olson

By the way, regarding slavery and Church teaching, folks may be interested in reading this First Things essay by Avery Cardinal Dulles (who has been a Catholic for a while now), as well as this 1996 article from The Catholic Answer.

Joe K

SVII wrote, "The Holy Office declaration of 1866 that slavery is in itself perfectly compatible with natural law and divine law (i.e. the Bible)..."

How does this have anything to do with priestesses? Seems going down the wrong road. Are you implying that the Catholic Church is wrong... or St.Paul... or Jesus, who referred to slaves in his parables?

Help me understand the connection you're making.

Spirit of Vatican II

"How does this have anything to do with priestesses?"

It is an analogy -- you understand? The Church was wrong about slavery and corrected itself. If so the Church can be wrong about other things and correct itself. The intrinsic non-ordainability could be one of those other things.

"Are you implying that the Catholic Church is wrong... or St.Paul... or Jesus, who referred to slaves in his parables? "

Exactly the objections that kept the Vatican affirming the rightness of slavery in 1866. Biblical hermeneutics offers the key to solving this objection. See http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM

Spirit of Vatican II

Carl Olson, you did not just point out what the Church teaches. You declared all those who question this teaching to be no longer Catholics -- including the Brazilian bishops. All those who questioned church acceptance of slavery before Leo XIII would not be Catholics in your book.

Cardinal Dulles tries to say that the Church still believes slavery is compatible with natural and divine law, and gives the example of penal servitude. But even if this were valid, it would not cover the case of the 1866 declaration, which deals not with penal servitude but with the ownership of slaves as in the American South. Such slavery is condemned by Leo XIII and by Vatican II. It is embarrassing to see a Jesuit and a Cardinal reduced to such pathetic argument, and embarrassing to see you embrace it, as an American.

Carl E. Olson

You declared all those who question this teaching to be no longer Catholics

I'm afraid that your method of exegesis has led to an incorrect conclusion. I suggest your pursue a different hermeneutic in interpreting my actual remarks, including a consideration of the cultural, historical, and social contexts of my statements.

And, finally, your insults of me are of little interest. But insulting Cardinal Dulles, who is a million times the thinker and theologian you are, is out of line. You are no longer welcome on this blog.

Ed Peters

Say, Fr. Ray, does Obama still think it's okay to ram a scissors into the back of baby's skull?

Carl E. Olson

In Fr. Schroth's words, "He [Obama] is what he presents himself to be. We nned that. [sic]"

Uh, no we don't.

Ed Peters

Oh wait, don't tell me, lemme guess: Obama'll say, "No one's in favor of that. I just don't think it's my place to do anything about it."

tee-hee, tee-hee.

Mark Brumley

What a muddled discussion. Spirit of Vatican II, I have to say that you have a way of generating confusion.

The discussion of slavery is a complex one and your citing it as providing justification for hoping for a change in Church teaching on women's ordination is misleading.

Yes, if, as with the definition of "slave", there is substantial ambiguity about the relevant term in the discussion--what constitutes a "woman", one might--note I say might--be able to argue that there is a certain parallel in the case of the Church's teaching regarding human dignity and slavery and the Church's teaching on women's ordination. In this scenario, when JP 2 stated that the Church has no authority to ordain "women", well, a latter generation might understand "women" differently, so the matter isn't settled.

But the parallel collapses on the assumption that the terms "slavery" and "women" are analogously ambiguous.

With respect to the reversibility of the Church's teaching on women's ordination, one must hold either that the notion of the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium is false or that the teaching regarding the male-only priesthood has not been proposed in such a way as to meet the criteria for an infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium.

Rejecting the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium is tantamount to denying the infallibility of the Church. The problems with holding that position are insurmountable for one who wishes to remain a Catholic. We don't have room here to list them, much less to discuss them.

Rejecting that the male-only priesthood teaching falls within the category of teaching by the infallible teaching of ordinary magisterium would require coming up with a plausible account of how the highest levels of Church authority have for over a millenium and a half consistently taught the male-only priesthood is a matter of divine revelation, not church discipline, and that this must be held as so, yet without this teaching being something that has been infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium. The matter has been considered before; it is not a new question. Nor are the basic elements of the terms of the discussion ambiguous or affected substantially by new information. It is true that we have a deeper appreciation of some of the implications of human equality than perhaps most of our ancestors. But there is no evidence that this deeper appreciation touches on essential elements regarding the nature of the priesthood, the nature of the Church, and the nature of women in such as way as to indicate why women can now be priests.

With respect to the issue of the status of the teaching re: the male-only priesthood, I differ somewhat with some commentators on this page. With (then) Cardinal Ratzinger, I hold that the teaching itself has been proposed infallibly from the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church. Further, that in OS JP 2 confirmed the status of that teaching as having been infallibly proposed from the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church. That act of confirmation, on this view, is not itself an act that makes the teaching now "infallibly defined" as, for example, the papal definition of the Bodily Assumption of the BVM, in 1950, did for that tenet. So the male-only priesthood cannot be said to be infallibly taught by the Church simply by virtue of the language of OS, although it can be said to have been taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church and that conclusion is one that JP 2 has declared to be true in OS.

The question of why JP 2 chose to issue a confirmative declaration of the status of the teaching re: the male-only priesthood, rather than a definition as such, is complex. Some commentators have noted that he was hesitant to act in a way on this matter that would likely be interpreted as a unilateral action on an issue affecting not only the Catholic Church but the Orthodox churches as well. Perhaps. At least it is certainly plausible that this was a concern. Other commentators have said that either JP 2 or Cardinal Ratzinger or both were concerned not to "big foot" the issue with a definition, if it could adequately be addressed in the way they chose to address it in OS. At least part of that concern, so it has been argued, is not to reinforce the idea that unless a matter is defined by the pope or a council, it is up for free debate. They want people to understand that there are various levels of church teaching and that church teaching that is proposed by the ordinary and universal magisterium as something to be held definitively by all the faithful is not optional or merely an "fyi", etc.

If those thoughts went into the decision, whether they were the most reasonable or prudent elements and whether the result has proven them to have been such, is another matter.

Bruce

Carl, "Spirit of Vatican II" reminded me of something Tomas Dubay wrote:
" To the extent that a person follows his own personal judgment he is not practicing the virtue of faith. Faith is a response to a teacher, an authoritative teacher. This is why it does not waver, whereas private views do waver from one time to another . People who accept of the Church's teaching only what they "see" and approve are not living by faith. They are doing nothing meritorious or salvific, for they are merely following themselves"

Peter Howard

Vatican I is very clear that any pope when defining a DOCTRINE on faith or morals as supreme pastor of all Christians to be held by the whole Church is declaring infallibly, and does not need the consent of the Church. (Pastor Aeternus).

Vatican II has reiterated this teaching.

Ordination Sacerdotalis is such a definitive teaching on men only priests. It is a doctrine to be believed on the faith of the Church. (Ad Tuendam Fidem, motu proprio, John Paul II, second category of infallible doctrine).{A dogma is a category one truth to be believed on divine and Catholic faith].

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