Kinda. Sorta. If this can be construed as an argument, as proffered by Ray Schroth, aka, Father Raymond A. Schroth, S.J. (ht: The Cafeteria Is Closed):
1. It's not good that women are ordaining each other. They're too talented to be doing such a thing. Besides, its essentially Protestant to carry on in such a way. The Catholic Church is forcing these women to be Protestant!
2. The Church needs priestettes. Why? Because Jesus was friends with women, that's why.
3. "The Biblical Commission declared over 30 years ago that Scripture raised no obstacles to women's ordination."
4. Opposition to ordaining women is a Rome thing. Let's vote on it!
To which can be said in reply, at the very least:
1. It's not good that any Catholic knowingly and willingly rejects the teachings of the Catholic Church. And when they do, it should be clear that they are the one's doing the rejecting.
2. The Church does not need priestettes. The Church desires holy, humble disciples of Jesus Christ—male and female—whose examples of self-sacrificial living will, in ways direct and not so obvious, result in qualified men discerning their vocation to the priesthood.
3. As Sister Sara Butler, MSBT, notes in her recent book, The Catholic Priesthood and Women (Hillenbrand Books, 2007), the statements made by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1976 "sustained in many the belief that the question was still open for Catholics." As Paul VI and Pope John II have stated without any sort of ambivalence, the question is not open for Catholics. Sr. Butler's book is an excellent place to go for a clear and helpful introduction to the matter.
4. Here is the crux of the matter, and one filled with strange ironies, if that's the right word. It is all about authority. For Fr. Schroth and Co., the final authority for deciding who can be ordained—and really, about nearly any and every issue—should reside in the hands of the people, the scholars, the individual bishops, not the Magisterium.
Which puts Fr. Schroth and Co. in the situation of complaining that the Catholic Church is somehow forcing these priestettes to be "Protestant" while insisting that the solution lies in embracing an approach to authority and ecclesiology that is strikingly...Protestant.
Yet, regarding this last point, I think it is rather unfair, in the long run, to simply label the approach of Fr. Schroth as Protestant because, first, that word is both too ambiguous and loaded to be of much help here, and, secondly, it obscures the fact that the problem is not with them, but with Catholics who define themselves primarily by their disagreement with the Church. Fr. Schroth's bio states that he "has taught or served as dean at five Jesuit colleges and universities." However, reading just a few of his columns indicates that he disagrees—strongly—with basic tenets of Catholic doctrine, all the while displaying a disconcerting lack of appreciation and respect for the Church's teachings and her leaders (see this previous post for an example).
A few years ago, in talking to a class about the aging '60s generation, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., encouraged those of us in his class to react to the sort of nonsense spouted by Fr. Schroth with charity and by taking the high road. Frankly, it's very hard to do (and many of you know exactly what I mean). Sometimes, it is nearly impossible.
Back in the mid-1990s, my wife and I—both of us Evangelical Protestants who had attended Bible colleges—spent about three years grappling with Catholic dogma, history, and practice. Issue by issue, topic by topic, we read all that we could, prayed, read some more, sometimes thinking we were nuts, but eventually realizing we were finally becoming sane. Not because we were so smart or holy, but because we realized that Christ had, in fact, established the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, and that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church was not something to fear, or to hate, or to rebel against, but to appreciate as a God-given instrument. In the words of the Catechism (quoting Dei Verbum), "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant" (par 86).
I don't think, in becoming Catholic, that I was under too many illusions about the messiness and craziness that we would find within the Church. Yes, I was undoubtedly naive about many of the particular goings on, but I had seen enough of human nature that I wouldn't put too much by anyone; by nature I tend to expect people to fail. If there is one great truth I learned as a Fundamentalist, it was that people (myself included, of course) are sinful, fallen, and self-absorbed. Not too long after becoming Catholic, my wife and I spoke with a cradle Catholic who expressed astonishment that we would become Catholic in light of the many problems in the Catholic Church. I told him that I took solace in reading Paul's letters to the Corinthians. "What do you mean?" he asked. "Well," I replied, "if the church in Corinth could be that messed up despite being founded by Paul within a a couple of decades of Christ's Ascension, then I hardly expect it to be much different today."
And, yet, when I read columns such as the one penned by Fr. Schroth, I find myself becoming more than a little angry. Why? Part of it, without a doubt, is that I think he is wrong. But, just as important, is the lack of gratitude and humility displayed in his remarks, the assertive arrogance that speaks of joyless ideology, not transforming theology. Theology should be transforming; it is not just the study of God, it is the knowing of God, of being with God and recognizing, in the light of Trinity, who we are. But—and here is the essential point—we only know God because He reveals Himself to us. 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.
In October 15, 1976, the CDF issued Inter Insigniores, the "Declaration On The Question Of Admission Of Women To The Ministerial Priesthood," which was approved and confirmed by Pope Paul VI. It stated, in part:
In the final analysis it is the Church through the voice of the Magisterium, that, in these various domains, decides what can change and what must remain immutable. When she judges she cannot accept certain changes, it is because she knows she is bound by Christ's manner of acting. Her attitude, despite appearances, is therefore not one of archaism but of fidelity: it can be truly understood only in this light. The Church makes pronouncements in virtue of the Lord's promise and the presence of the Holy Spirit, in order to proclaim better the mystery of Christ and to safeguard and manifest the whole of its rich content.
The practice of the Church therefore has a normative character: in the fact of conferring priestly ordination only on men, it is a question of unbroken tradition throughout the history of the Church, universal in the East and in the West, and alert to repress abuses immediately. This norm, based on Christ's example, has been and is still observed because it is considered to conform to God's plan for his Church.
When we allow ourselves to be conformed to God's plan for the Church, we begin to understand how darkened our vision really is and how badly we need our eyes to be opened. But when we try to conform God to our plans for the Church, we end up (in Fr. Schroth's words) "cutting [ourselves] off from the institution." But, actually, this still misses the real horror of it, because this isn't simply about being members of an institution, but being joined in living union with the Body of Christ. Which is more important: God's plan for us, or our plans for God?
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles and Excerpts:
• Women and the Priesthood: A Theological Reflection | Jean Galot, S.J.
• The Real Reason for the Vocation Crisis | Rev. Michael P. Orsi
• Pray the Harvest Master Sends Laborors | Rev. Anthony Zimmerman
• Priestly Vocations in America: A Look At the Numbers | Jeff Ziegler
• Clerical Celibacy: Concept and Method | Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler | From The Case for Clerical Celibacy
• The Religion of Jesus | Blessed Columba Marmion | From Christ, The Ideal of the Priest
• The Priest as Man, Husband, and Father | Fr. John Cihak