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Sunday, November 02, 2008


Nick Milne

This is all kinds of lame, but it is worth noting that NBC actually includes the Church's position on the issue and a link to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis for confirmation. They don't interview anyone for an orthodox counterpoint, obviously (too much work, and so boring), but it's still slightly above par as such things go.

Some of the comments on the story, however, are among the best I've ever seen:

No wonder so many former Catholics are flocking to New Thought churches like the Chicago Center for Spiritual Living.

No wonder!

I am a mystic through grace and my conversion experience to go forward to the priesthood was equivalent to a St. Paul's experience.

How will we get along without her?

Seems that we have not moved much further than the believe in the the Flat Earth attitude? Why don't we dress in skins, or naked, and act like cavemen - dragging inferior women off by the hair?

It's like being set on fire!

Rules are made to be changed.

Words as a substitute for thought!

Also, Carl, you write:

In the second case, it seems absolutely nonsensical to be working to be ordained and given offiical recognition by the very men who represent and defend the very thing you detest and oppose.

Shockingly, there may be an explanation. Not a great one, but an explanation nevertheless.

This approach seems suspiciously similar to that projected onto conquered peoples (I do not say employed by conquered peoples) by post-colonial theorists. The general idea is that the colonized strike back at the colonizers through their own tropes, whether in art or politics, by suborning the colonizers' expression and statecraft to the still-kicking native culture that was being so cruelly squelched. This typically means the production of anti-colonial poetry and novels drenched in magic realism, but I suppose it could take other forms. It is certainly the case that there are precedents for anti-colonial religious appropriation, particularly when it comes to Catholic priests. See Haiti, for example, back in the day.

I wouldn't be surprised if Ms. Zeman has a background in the liberal arts or humanities. I don't insist upon it, of course, and it would be weird to level that as an "accusation" anyway. It wouldn't surprise me, though.


You're right Carl, it is a fascinating issue, and there is one component of it that I must confess that, as a convert, I don't fully understand. That component is the "Catholic culture" component. When someone who fundamentally disagrees with the Church claims to be Catholic, I always do a double-take and ask, why? Why would they say that? Is it just the fact of their baptism? You would think that if they were thinking of something as critically important to salvation as baptism, and hence thinking of salvation itself, some of the apologetic issues would have come up, including Church authority. But it seems that this is instead something non-rational in origin. Is it a deep ingrained sense of the one true Church? Is it the prodding of the Holy Spirit and the recognition of the Real Presence, even if they don't realize it? It seems that some Protestants are even influenced in this way, spending inordinate amounts of time trying desperately to prove that the Catholic Church is wrong, or evil, or whatever their line of attack.
Perhaps for myself, having been raised with the acceptance of and perhaps the expectation of theological fragmentation, it is easier to accept the very concept of going where I believe the truth is being taught. Hey, in the Protestant Evangelical world, "church shopping" is an accepted, even recommended practice.
Clearly, the priestette objective is not rational. You give the following logical possibilities;

"1) the Church is a man-made institution that must change with the times, or 2) the Church is an institution founded by Christ but under the control of men who hold beliefs contrary to those of Christ. In the first case, the most logical thing to do, as a radical feminist-type, is to simply attack and destroy the Catholic Church. And, of course, there are many feminists and their supporters who do just that; they, I think, are far more logical than women such as Zeman, who seem to operate in a fuzzy, confused world of nostalgia intermingled with feminist politics."

In the first case, yes, logic might dictate destroying the Church, but only if irrationally motivated. There is a subset of feminists who attack any group of more than two males assembled together for any purpose, without the express written consent of the feminists. And if they claim some kind of authority their crime is more egregious. But the other logical possibility is there as well, which is to leave and start a parallel church. If the Church is man-made, then claims of apostolic succession are meaningless, and the Real Presence is not real, and a feminist church would have anything and everything the Catholic Church has, and as to excommunication the answer would be, so what?

In the second case, if there truly is a belief that the Catholic Church has twisted the teaching of Jesus Christ, (the Protestant position for the most part) a case could be made to stay and try to reform it, but then logic should dictate facing the reality of the integral doctrinal, as well as institutional entrenchment of the male hierarchy, and that to change it rips such a hole in the entire doctrinal fabric of the Church that it quite literally would not be what is supposed to be reformed. So in effect it would be destroyed anyway, and the only other rational thing to do is find a church that hasn't twisted the teachings of Christ or create one.

No, I think somewhere in their minds and/or hearts there is a recognition, admitted or not, that the Catholic Church is the true Church, and the irrationality of their position is in trying to fundamentally change it while simultaneously keeping it what it is.

Gail F

I too am fascinated by the priestette phenomenon. Remember the last big one that took place in a synagogue? I wrote to the female rabbi and asked it it would be okay with her if I held my Jewish ordination in my Catholic church, because I'm sure that I'm called to be a rabbi and it's not fair that my Catholicism should get in the way, so I found someone to ordain me secretly. She never wrote back. I am fascinated by these supposed "true" Catholics who get "ordained" in places that are not Catholic churches, and then (some of them) actually lead churches that are not Catholic churches. And of course there is the fact that if you want to be a female priest and wear the same garments and preside in the same sort of churches and use almost the same liturgy -- well, as it's been said before, The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.

I think they don't become Episcopal priests because that is not good enough for them. They want to be RIGHT. The Episcopal church already says they're right, but the Episcopal church is small and the Archbishop of Canterbury is nobody (in their estimation). They want the WORLD to admit that they're right, and especially the bishops and the pope. Anyone less isn't good enough. I think they are sadly confused and deluded. They are after power, which they think they have been unjustly denied. But being a priest is about service, not about power.


Carl you give them too much credit. I would add
3) The Catholic Church is an internationally recognized institution holding control of an immense amount of material wealth and political power which is under the control of a bunch of old celibate men and I want my piece of the action just like Katharine Jefferts Schori.

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