I want more women

You will have read recently that Pope Francis has not supported the Amazon Synod’s recommendation to allow married priests in the Amazon. We are talking about a country where some 85 per cent of the villages cannot rely on having Sunday Mass because of the shortage of priests. Since the contributors on this site have recently shown a mixed verdict on Pope Francis, a good discussion here would be valuable.

We know that some priests are married. These are primarily the ex-Anglican priests who have converted. As far as I know, it has worked well. It tells us that current teaching is a rule rather than a doctrine. But it is based on the idea that a priest must commit himself completely rather than adding the responsibility of a wife and probably children.

So that you know my instinctive view. It goes like this: I believe that a good marriage for many parish priests would be a positive improvement. I don’t know how we could establish this, but I know that a long and loving marriage has enabled me to be more mature and a more balanced person. I tended to think intellectually where my wife tended to think emotionally – so we helped each other to grow.

Now I am going to take a big jump – and many of you will not like it. I believe that women should potentially be ordained as priests. The prohibition here is not just a rule but a firm teaching. I do not read it as infallible. Why on earth (or in Heaven) should we exclude women from representing Christ as a priest? We can understand why in earlier times a female representative would have been socially impossible, but do we think, in 2020, that this is still so?

Good, overall info at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-51474009

About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Advocatus Diaboli, Pope Francis, Quentin queries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

110 Responses to I want more women

  1. Barrie Machin says:

    It has been a long time arriving but the C of E already has female Bishops and there has been discussion aplenty along the road.
    I wonder when the powers that be would go further than Quentin’s wish. When will the church have the vision or courage or whatever it takes to appoint a female Bishop to York or Canterbury?!!

  2. Olive Duddy says:

    Arrogance, Bigotry, Ignorance and Pomposity are only four of the barriers to more women in the Church.

    • galerimo says:

      Well said Olive, thank you. And if you are including these reasons as barriers to women serving as Catholic priests, I can tell you it is so embarrassing having to still argue this case in the church of the 21st century.

      This anti-Christian strand is a deeply ingrained feature of our church community for 2000 years plus. Wouldn’t it be great if we were the generation to receive forgiveness from God for this sin, by ordaining women as priests? The church needs them.

  3. John Candido says:

    I don’t understand why women cannot be priests.

    Women have communicated that they feel a calling to the priesthood much the same as men describe.

    The exclusion of women from the priesthood can be boiled-down to what is customary or socially normative, and a man’s desire to occupy leadership roles in prominent human activity.

    If both men and women have a theological equality through the sacrament of baptism, then centuries of papal teaching that espouse the priesthood exclusively for men because Jesus Christ was not only God, but a male, is an error influenced by socio-cultural norms in any historical era.

    • galerimo says:

      Well said John, thank you.

      I don’t understand either.

      And in addition to the point you make about sacramental equality it is also true that as creatures made in the image and likeness of God, the same grounds for equality exist.

  4. David Smith says:

    I hope that a preponderance of the hierarchy have learned from the disastrous fallout after Vatican II that true reform cannot not come through embracing wholesale the beliefs and behavior of the secular establishment.

    • Alasdair says:

      David said
      “true reform cannot not come through embracing wholesale the beliefs and behavior of the secular establishment”
      I agree

    • milliganp says:

      This in an incredibly simplistic view of a much more complex situation. Starting in 1968 and continuing for over a decade there was widespread student action. Initially the protests were against the Vietnam war but also took up civil rights and anti-nuclear themes. In Britain ‘satire’ shows like TW3, the Frost Report and Monty Python ridiculed ‘the establishment’. The swinging 60’s and the contraceptive pill started to erode sexual mores. The net result of this was an erosion and eventual rejection of ‘tradition’ in relation to government and civic society. For most of this the church was a bystander or a defender of tradition and privilege.
      Throughout this period the church remained largely traditional and continued to promote marriage and family values. In 1980’s Ireland Catholic control of government ensured that contraceptives were illegal.
      It is utterly naive and simplistic to blame Vatican II, I would tend to suggest that, had the church moved more quickly it might have kept in contact with a laity that largely drifted away due to neglect.

      • ignatius says:

        Yes,all that may be true but Alisdair is fundamentally right, we dance to a different drum or to none at all. This applies regardless of Vatican 2, blaming which, I agree, is a pointless exercise.

    • FZM says:

      There are some even more startling examples of the dangers of importing ideas from secular politics into the Church from the period before Vatican II and the 1960s; up until 1945 racial and ultra-nationalist ideas had strong currency in secular politics in many Catholic European countries and the Popes were always struggling (with varying success) to contain their influence in the Church.

      This is the period when Christ was being made relevant by being portrayed as a kind of proto-Fascist or, even more strangely, as an anti-Jewish Aryan resistance fighter.

  5. FZM says:

    Marriage nowadays is pot luck, that it will work out in the longer term and not produce more problems than benefits it brings is more uncertain than ever. Celibacy is undervalued in Western society.

    Catholic married priests, even more so than Orthodox, would end up having a lot of children dependent on them. This is one reason Orthodox priests are usually supported or paid by the state. Also I don’t see among Orthodox clergy (who are nearly all married men) any intrinsic benefit to it that sets them apart in quality from Catholic clergy and they have different challenges and issues. There is some issue in the Orthodox church with monks, nuns and hieromonks being assumed to be of higher spiritual status than simple priests (in Russian the common word for priest is ‘pop’, close to the colloquial word for butt or ass).

    On women priests, there must have been other reasons they do not feature in the tradition apart from social convention. Slaves and other low status males were made apostles, priests, bishops, this may have seemed pretty scandalous in Classical society, on the other, pagans had female goddesses and female priestesses, and this wasn’t seen as being in conflict with a highly patriarchal social and political order.

    Also, married female priests being a mother to numerous children while running a parish would probably be a change too far in many Catholic countries.

    • David Smith says:

      Yes, I’m afraid that in these hyper-impatient times, when there’s likely to be very little distance between wanting and doing, rebels and reformers simply brush aside any considerations of bothersome complications and unintended consequences. It’s right, damnit, so do it! Now!

      Additionally, we’re absolutely obsessed with sexual pleasure. Bad priests bugger boys, so the solution must be to remove all possibility of sexual repression by letting them marry. Right.

      Finally, we – well, the reigning establishment and their friends in the academy and the mass media – are laser focused on the “rights” of the female sex. Thus, women have a “right” to be anything that men have a “right” to. Period. And a right means an obligation, and an obligation means forcing change. Right now!

      Stopping and thinking, carefully, thoroughly, with no prior restraints, openly, for a long time, is in order.

    • milliganp says:

      Dealing with some of your points, it saddens me that you consider a lasting marriage as some sort of pot luck. I have a wide circle of Catholic friends who have been with their partners for life, it’s challenging but far from impossible.
      Secondly, the current proposal in the church for married priests is for the ordination of viri probati, typically men 40-60 with grown up families.
      However, the fact that married clergy might mean that a parish has to support a family is hardly earth shatteringly difficult. Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists seem to be able to support their clergy.

      • FZM says:

        I think currently around 50% of first marriages end in divorce, for practicing Catholics the rate may be lower. I’m not sure by how much as there were a fair number of divorced and divorced/remarried people in the parish I used to be part of.

        Now, in the future there may be more practicing Catholics who stay together for life because the number of them is so small and they constitute a special group of highly religious people within a wider society with very different values. An important variable could be which age group you belong to; general social attitudes to sex and relationships and marriage seem to have shifted significantly over time and what was more likely to be true for, say baby boomers born post WW2 may no longer apply to millennials and generation X.

        I thought that Anglicans have some kind of special investment fund to support their clergy derived from all of the land and other assets the established church used to hold to provide for itself. They also seem to have ‘part time’ vicars who have another job to support themselves. Do Baptists, Methodists and Anglicans accept the use of artificial contraception? How many full time pastors compared to number of lay people do they support?

        Another point here could relate to the kind of life married clergy are supposed to live, because the Orthodox have a fairly ascetical standard (with all the fasts and days in which sex is not allowed, I think close to 6 months a year).

    • galerimo says:

      Interesting, as always FZM, thank you.

      I agree there will be risks of a married clergy but I have to wonder if there are not great risks also in the mandated celibacy for Catholic priests.

      I think a close analysis of the behaviour of celibate priests against standards of successful marriages including its role as a fulfilling way to engage in human living might also show figures not too different from the 50% you mention for divorce before even starting to look at levels of mental and emotional health and general well being.

      • FZM says:

        Galerimo,

        It is hard to say, in Western countries marriage itself is in a state of flux, the number of people getting married is much smaller than in the past and their age/class profile is changing (older and more from the middle and upper class). I think more young people are affected and influenced by parental divorce, especially things like ‘grey divorce’ which can be difficult. In former USSR countries it still seems the expectation that everyone should marry if they can, and at a relatively young age by Western standards, but the divorce rate is even higher and because of the harder living conditions and drinking you can observe a lot of variation in the quality of married life.

        Nowadays priests do have a problem of being fewer in number and more dispersed, some younger American priests have been suggesting reviving the tradition of priestly fraternities to mitigate these problems, as an alternative to married Roman rite clergy.

        I find it relatively difficult to imagine what being a married Roman Catholic priest would be like, because priests are not the same as C of E vicars and seem more like Orthodox clergy, but Orthodox and Eastern rite have a long tradition of married clergy and customs around what the role of a priest’s wife is, and from what I see they are considered quite detached from the wider non-clerical population (my wife has little contact with serious Orthodox believers but thinks being a priest’s wife is almost a hereditary thing within certain families).

  6. milliganp says:

    For clarity it is important to note that when head of the CDF, the then Cardinal Ratzinger – later Pope Benedict declared that Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis stating that the church did not have the power to ordain women to the priesthood was a definitive act of the church’s magisterium and was thus infallible. Some experts disagreed with his argument for infallibility. However all ordained men take an oath at ordination to treat doctrines defined in this way as infallible.

  7. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // Why on earth (or in Heaven) should we exclude women from representing Christ as a priest? We can understand why in earlier times a female representative would have been socially impossible, but do we think, in 2020, that this is still so?

    Good, overall info at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-51474009 //

    The Big Brother Corporation got it wrong in their headline – “Pope Francis rules against ordaining married men in Amazon” – probably deliberately. Francis, unfortunately, as is his wont, skirted the issue, neither backing up previous firm papal teaching nor breaking with it. Secular media are not trustworthy on church matters.

    Here’s something germane from a Catholic cleric in a Catholic publication:

    https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/05/24/avery-dulles-women-and-priesthood-1996

    • David Smith says:

      Oops, apologies. I conflated two issues.

      The BBC has probably had plenty to say on why the Church would be backward not to ordain women, but at Quentin’s link, they were talking about the issue of ordaining married men.

      The Dulles article is a backgrounder on the issue of women priests. Good reading, I think.

    • milliganp says:

      David, you accuse Francis of skirting the issue. You may be right but I thought that he might have actually been clever to do so. He realises that any “dispensation” granted in the Amazon would immediately lead to requests for the same rules in Germany (and elsewhere) so it may be more appropriate to produce a document which applies to the whole church from the outset.

  8. Geordie says:

    Why do people assume that sexual relations is the only benefit from being married? A Priest would greatly benefit from having a confidante in whom he can trust implicitly with his worries and concerns. He would have a companion and companionship is one of the greatest benefits derived from marriage. Celibacy is a separate vocation altogether.
    Why do the clergy and hierarchy think that their vocation is the only one that can serve God fully and the laity have only a partial commitment to God? A Christian Marriage is a total commitment to the Will of God.
    As for the ordination of women, we have a problem. Our Lord did not ordain women. Why not? Saint Therese of Lisieux longed to be a priest but instead God wanted her to be one of the greatest saints the Church has. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit on this subject and lots of prayers.

    • galerimo says:

      Excellent point Geordie, thank you. Given that about 20% of serving catholic priests are married (priests of the Eastern Catholic Church in Hungary, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia), the Ukraine the Lebanon) – it is good to remember that these come under the jurisdiction of the Pope and are married with his blessing, and that since their beginnings in early church history.

      One major objection to married catholic priests is the problem of inheritance.

      However since it was Lateran II council of 1139 that gave compulsory celibacy general force of law in the Catholic Church, that means the period of time in our history when celibacy was not mandated for the clergy is longer than our compulsory celibacy. (I divided 2020 by 2).

      Hard to believe it all especially when you read in Vatican II’s “Decree on Ministry of Priests “Indeed, it (celibacy) is not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood, as is apparent from the practice of the early Church”[35]

      As well as the beautiful blessing “It (the council) permanently exhorts all those who have received the priesthood in marriage to persevere in their holy vocation so that they may fully and generously continue to expend themselves for the sake of the flock commended to them.”[36]

      How right you are when you say “We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit on this subject and lots of prayers”.

      • FZM says:

        Excellent point Geordie, thank you. Given that about 20% of serving catholic priests are married (priests of the Eastern Catholic Church in Hungary, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia), the Ukraine the Lebanon) – it is good to remember that these come under the jurisdiction of the Pope and are married with his blessing, and that since their beginnings in early church history.

        20% of Catholic priests would be about 80,000 priests (given that there are around 400,000 Catholic priests at the moment) but the Greek Catholic churches in Hungary, Slovakia and Czechia are small, as far as I know by far the biggest of them is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. I had a look at how many clergy it has and the number is about 9,000. The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church which is present in Slovakia, Hungary and the US has about 600 clergy but the small Belarusian Greek Catholic Church has only 30. I see that total membership of all of the Eastern rite churches is 18 million, 2% of the Church as a whole (because many are small).

        There is another question about whether the discipline of the Byzantine or Oriental rite priests would serve as the model for any potential married Roman rite clergy, I’ve never seen it discussed.

  9. John Nolan says:

    Sooner rather than later the Church of England will appoint a woman to Canterbury or York. They did so in the case of the Bishop of London. That this meant passing over men who had spent their entire careers as ministers of the church was less important than sending out the ‘right’ signals.

    ‘I do not read it as infallible.’ (Quentin on the established doctrine, reiterated in unambiguous terms only 25 years ago, that the Church has ‘no authority whatsoever’ to ordain women as priests.) It is infallible in that is part of the ordinary and unversal magisterium. It is somewhat presumptuous for individuals to decide for themselves what belongs to the deposit of faith and what does not.

    • Quentin says:

      John, throughout two thousand years — and right back to Onan — the Church has forbidden artificial contraception and the like. Even when that teaching was studied in the greatest detail it formally confirmed the existing doctrine. Yet many of the bishops were prepared to remind us that personal conscience was the final judge.

      Since the acceptance of women as priests will be after our time, I’ll bet you three days of Purgatory that one day the Church will embrace it. Purgatory (and perhaps Hell) will be full of women. I am told that, before HV, 30% of Catholic women in the US used artificial contraception. Afterwards it rose to 70 per cent.

    • milliganp says:

      John Nolan, for your comment on ice skating in hell. If I get to join you, It will be a miracle as I have never managed to do it on earth.

  10. John Nolan says:

    In the Soviet era ‘Kremlinologists’ would trawl through speeches and official documents, looking for coded messages which might give a clue as to what the Politburo was actually thinking. Trying to interpret Pope Francis is very much akin to this.

    Last November the Pontiff took a swipe at permanent deacons who were ‘wannabe priests’. He also told deacons to keep away from the altar, since they were ‘custodians of service’ and not ‘first class altar boys or second-class priests’.

    One of the recommendations of the Amazon synod was that permanent married deacons in the region be considered for sacerdotal ordination. Was Francis already shooting this down? On the other hand, either through ignorance or by design, he seemed to be downplaying the cultic and liturgical role inherent in the diaconal office. (For example in the Exsultet the deacon sings that almighty God has numbered him, though unworthy, among the Levites. In other words his service is primarily to the high priest, the bishop.)

    To relegate the deacon’s role to merely service to the community would appear to give encouragement to those who suggested that women might be deacons. In 2016 he had appointed a commission to look into the role of female deacons or deaconesses in the early Church. This was headlined as Pope Francis ‘paving the way’ towards the diaconal ordination of women. The more cynical amongst us suspected that he was kicking the issue into the long grass. We were proved right.

    In fact, Francis believes you don’t empower the laity (including women) by clericalizing them. He is now 83, five years older than Benedict was when he assumed the papacy. Traditionalists are not disappointed with him – they didn’t expect a lot in the first place. But liberals must be getting increasingly desperate.

    • milliganp says:

      Another point worth noting is that, after the abolition of the permanent diaconate role in the 4th (approx) century it became a ministry included in the priesthood; thus all priests spend some time as a deacon before ordination to the priesthood and there is little doubt that this ministry is almost entirely tied to the altar. In the early church Priest and Deacon were distinctive roles each acting on behalf of the Bishop. Perhaps the church could try to restore this distinction.

  11. ignatius says:

    “Last November the Pontiff took a swipe at permanent deacons who were ‘wannabe priests’. He also told deacons to keep away from the altar, since they were ‘custodians of service’ and not ‘first class altar boys or second-class priests’.”
    Thats interesting. In a funny sort of way I agree with him. Not in relation to the cultic or liturgical role (when I sing the exultet I mean it!) But there is a sense in which deacons who position their identity ‘too close to the altar’ seem to fall between two stools. I think this is why Prison and Hospital chaplaincy suits us so well because service is given a high place and ordination not devalued. Its a funny old business being a permanent deacon. I don’t know if I am a traditionalist or a liberal (neither I expect) but I have greatly enjoyed Pope Francis being among us, I never expected much to happen so I’m not disappointed at all.

    • milliganp says:

      I had to look up the quote and it was a single sentence in a speech to the Dicastery for the Laity and Family Life with a context of not wanting to clericalize the laity. As a deacon, I never wanted to be a glorified altar-boy or a mini-priest but I wanted to serve the church most especially in the service of the laity. Sadly, many of the deacons I know have been prevented from having a meaningful ministry because some priests just want the deacon to be their MC and many priests have no experience or capacity for delegating those part of their role which could be performed by or assisted by deacons.
      As I understand it, the consecrated widows (whether or not they were deaconesses) in the early church were commissioned to perform those roles we today call chaplaincy to women in places where the presence of men would be considered immodest. If one of the major roles of deacons were to be in chaplaincy there would, therefore, be a very good case for having women perform the same roles.
      If we go back to the Acts of the Apostles, the diaconate was instituted so that there was a group of men to minister the charitable activities of the church so that the Apostles could concentrate on prayer and preaching. However, the two Deacons who get a mention are both involved in proclaiming the Gospel and Stephen becomes the first martyr.
      I sometimes think that the church has locked Jesus up in the Tabernacle and tied the Holy Spirit up in the curia. Perhaps Francis’ chaos is actually a creative chaos allowing the spirit to be experienced in the raw state.

      • David Smith says:

        milliganp writes:

        // Perhaps Francis’ chaos is actually a creative chaos allowing the spirit to be experienced in the raw state. //

        Perhaps, but I hope for intelligence, openness, and clear speaking from people in authority, not obfuscation and dissembling. Perhaps that’s naive.

        I’m afraid that the Church, infected as much of it inevitably is with whatever the wider world is thinking and feeling, will simply spin out of anyone’s control if the Holy Father decides to drop the reins and let the horses go wherever the spirit takes them. Is a horse wreck what you have in mind by “the raw state”?

  12. David Smith says:

    Ignatius writes:

    // I don’t know if I am a traditionalist or a liberal (neither I expect) but I have greatly enjoyed Pope Francis being among us, I never expected much to happen so I’m not disappointed at all. //

    I’m disappointed with him on aesthetic grounds. He seems to be deliberately muddled, unable to think or write clearly but comfortable and confident nonetheless. By “deliberately muddled” I mean that I suspect he glories in his intellectual inadequacies. He seems mentally lazy, and a troublemaker, content with letting smarter and more articulate people make trouble while he watches the results as an amused spectator.

  13. John Nolan says:

    David Smith

    A prime example of what you attribute to Pope Francis occurred in 2018. The German Bishops’ Conference under the chairmanship of Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising approved by a large majority a ‘pastoral provision’ which would allow non-Catholic spouses to receive Communion. Those who opposed it included the Archbishops of Cologne and Bamberg and most of the Bavarian bishops.

    Francis, instead of making a decision on the matter, in effect told the bishops to go away and come back when they had achieved unanimity. For this he was roundly and publicly criticized by the Primate of the Netherlands, Cardinal Willem Eijk. Francis then referred the matter to the CDF which listened to the arguments before rejecting the proposal. A letter was sent to Cardinal Marx to this effect, signed by the CDF prefect, Archbishop Ladaria. The Pope approved its contents, but ordered it to be kept secret. However, it was leaked almost before the ink had dried.

    At a press conference on a return flight from Switzerland, a correspondent raised the matter with Francis who gave a long, rambling reply which left his hearers none the wiser.

  14. ignatius says:

    MilliganP writes:

    “In the early church Priest and Deacon were distinctive roles each acting on behalf of the Bishop. Perhaps the church could try to restore this distinction…”

    Yes. I’m pretty clear on this by now; I am a co worker to the priest but the bishop is my boss. On the odd occasion I get disagreements in ministry I usually recommend that we ask the bishop for his thoughts on the matter..its amazing how quickly that shuts people up.

    I find that once a mutual respect between priest and deacon is clearly established then things work very well. For my part that is because I also have fairly clearly in my mind that I am a servant not a master and so taking care of the priests well being is also my responsibility. In the parish I actually tend to preach and teach quite a lot with my actual service being carried out in my chaplaincy role. Fortunately our priest likes a break from preaching and is too busy to help set up prayer groups, run lent courses etc so I get to do the things I like while he carries the weight of our two parishes on his shoulders. Sometimes I think the best service I give to my PP is when I drag him out for a coffee and tell him a joke or two..
    We clerics need to remember that though we have different titles and frocks etc we are fundamentally just a bunch of blokes trying to follow our Master as best we can while acknowledging our utter dependence on his spirit.. having this thought in my mind makes me think that we can do Pope Francis the most good by cutting him a bit of slack and praying for him daily, after all, who among us could do his job any better?

  15. galerimo says:

    Quentin, you amaze me. I was growing depressed with Pope Francis’ comments about ordaining women priests, recalling how he said, in 2016 on his flight back to Rome from Sweden “St Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this (referring to the 1994 document) and it stands, it stands”.

    But your final paragraph transported me once again on the wings of hope. If you can reach such a position after a lifetime devoted to the Church – then truly the Holy Spirit is still with us.

    In “Inter Insignores” the Vatican at least moved on from the age old argument of women being inferior to men and took a more reasonable approach (!) to the question of equality of women before God.

    The arguments then were given as (1) the example of Jesus who ordained only twelve men. (2) the unbroken tradition of the church and (3) the priest has to look like the male Jesus in order for the sacrament of the Eucharist to have its full symbolic value.

    All of which was so unconvincing both historically and theologically for scholars over a twenty year period that the Vatican had to issue another statement saying that women cannot be ordained, end of the road – and that is the causa finita est!

    And no more about it, thank you very much.

    This is a sad old church in so many ways. A redemptive community called to follow Jesus in serving the coming of the kingdom of God. We are the ones to whom Jesus sends his spirit and so often, as church we are collaborators in domination and oppression.

    But for the first time in our history women are no longer silent or invisible and I hope they will deliver us a church that truly manifests the body of Jesus in even greater beauty.

    Me too. I want more women. We need them.

  16. John Nolan says:

    To imply, as one commentator does, that celibacy was not required of Latin-rite clergy before 1139 is incorrect. The Second Lateran Council referred back to the First Lateran Council (1123) which in turn referred back to the Council of Nicaea (325). Celibacy was being mandated from the very beginning of the fourth century, and its canonical definition may well have been to confirm an even earlier practice. It is a common fallacy, based on wishful thinking, to assume that because a practice is reprobated, it must have previously been permitted. The great reforming popes of the eleventh century saw clerical marriage or concubinage as an abuse to be eradicated, as did St Leo the Great six centuries earlier.

    It has been suggested that in the early Church married priests and deacons were required to be sexually continent, and that some failed to live up to this – as a result the Church in the west tightened the discipline while in the east it was relaxed. Be that as it may, the established tradition, both eastern and western, is that priests or deacons may not marry after ordination, and that only celibate men can become bishops.

    As for women’s ordination, to argue that that the apostolic Churches have been wrong, anti-Christian and sinful for 2000 years is just plain silly. Presumably the Holy Ghost has now decided to inspire only the General Synod of the Church of England. In which case, why don’t those who are desperate to see women pretending to confect the Eucharist or wearing mitres simply transfer their allegiance to that denomination? Lambeth Palace could ease their passage with a decree entitled ‘Romanorum Coetibus’.

    It would be good for us Catholics – we’ll have the Arabins, and they can have the Slopes. A fair exchange, methinks.

  17. David Smith says:

    There’s an almost invisible elephant in the room here that needs, I think, to be owned up to. Briefly put, it’s that the reason we’re discussing having women priests in the Roman Catholic Church has absolutely nothing to do with religion. It is, rather, because the secular society has in the past half century become increasingly obsessed with fairness to women.

    When the organs of mass communication and, consequently, the masses of chattering people become obsessed with something – as, humans being intensely gregarious and helplessly parroting creatures, they frequently do – all common sense and sense of perspective are thrown out the window. Logic, which is simply a tool like any other, is used almost exclusively to justify conviction, which springs almost entirely from emotion.

    Something similar is behind the sudden popularity of the notion that Catholic priests ought to be allowed to marry. The principal reason here is, frankly, sex. Chastity and celibacy have been deplored by right thinkers since at least Sigmund Freud, but the dominance of sexual pleasure among the burning concerns of Westerners is more recent, notably bursting into flame in the nineteen sixties, coincidently in roughly the same period as feminism.

    Just wanted to put that on the table.

    • milliganp says:

      David, I thoroughly agree. In Europe and America the movement for women priests is entirely a branch of women’s liberation and most of its proponents also support gay marriage, trans rights and the alphabet soup of gender fluidity.
      However, for the Amazon synod the call for married priests and female deacons the motivation was entirely pastoral need. There are cultures where celibacy is entirely contrary to the culture and where caring roles are expected to be the work of women. I would suggest these are ‘natural’ whereas the whole LGBTQ+ agenda is contrary to nature. The church therefore needs to consider if it would be better to work with nature than against it.

    • ignatius says:

      “Just wanted to put that on the table”

      Yes, certainly there is that. But my hunch is that perceived loneliness is more of an issue. No one I can think of in my parishes has said to me..” Pity he’s celibate and having to miss out on all that hot sex”
      Plenty have said..
      “All that responsibility and no one to share it with..must get lonely poor chap”

      Perhaps that might be because most of our parishioners are over 55 and have realised that sex, though a strong driver, is not the most important thing in life whereas companionship and intimacy are.
      Partly the frank bafflement that many have regarding celibacy is simply a function of an inability to recognise that perfectly healthy human relationships can exist without a directly sexual element. If we take the several ages of human life it is probably the case that sex is powerful only for a couple of those ages and that the various other forms of attraction..solidarity, love, compassion, intimacy etc are equally powerful in the long run.

      I also think that the current fall off in vocations and the subsequent pragmatic difficulties for the church also put the argument on the current cultural table in a pretty demanding manner. Though I have to also say that the fall off in vocations is, in my view, not a bad thing.

      • milliganp says:

        John, you seem to have missed the point that the role of the Deacon was established in Acts specifically to provide for the care of widows and orphans and so that the Apostles could concentrate on prayer and preaching. It is not that priests don’t care, it’s just an acknowledgement of their priorities.
        Deacon’s are not ordained to a sacerdotal role but a ministry of word and charity, despite the Levite reference in the Exsultet. Their ordained state and service at the altar links the gifts brought to the altar by the laity with the charitable work of the church. The caring role of the church is entirely amenable to being carried out by lay people but one of the reasons for reintroducing the permanent diaconate to the Roman church was to make the link between altar and acts of charity more visible (source and summit).

  18. John Nolan says:

    ‘There are cultures where celibacy is entirely contrary to the culture and where caring roles are expected to be the work of women’.

    Since when does taking a ‘caring role’ necessitate the conferring of Holy Orders? Christians have always been required to care for each other. In fact the ‘pastoral’ as opposed to the ‘cultic’ role is one of the prerogatives of the laity. Do the existing married permanent deacons, whose sacerdotal ordination was being recommended, opt out of caring for the community at large because they are male?

    Regarding celibacy, Our Lord, as a Rabbi, was expected to be married according to the prevailing cultural norms. This is an argument put forward by the Dan Brown school of conspiracy theorists who claim that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalen.

    In the western world the Church, confronted with feminism, LGBT ‘rights’ and other postmodern fads, is increasingly required to be counter-cultural. Evangelization has always involved a certain amount of adaptation to local customs, but usually the Church has had to be counter-cultural, for example when confronted with polygamy, cannibalism, infanticide and similar quaint folk customs.

    • Martha says:

      Perhaps missionaries have sometimes been rather unnecessarily insensitive to local culture. The church is certainly frequently condemned and vilified for this now, and often the enormous good they have done is overlooked and forgotten. The most recent example I have come across was in a repeat of Michael Portillo’s Great American Journeys on BBC4 television last Saturday, in British Columbia, Canada, where a centre was shown replacing a school run by the Catholic Church, where allegedly, the children had been
      separated from their roots and culture. I am afraid I cannot remember exactly how it was described.

      • John Nolan says:

        Martha, I watched this too. No mention was made of the fact that the Indians were treated far better in British North America than they were in the United States. The reason why the RCMP wear red coats is that Indians who crossed the border to escape US oppression would not mistake them for US soldiers.

        Sadly, Canada is the most ‘politically correct’ nation on earth and Canadians are busy re-writing their history to reflect this. No wonder Meghan, Duchess of Woke, wanted to settle there.

  19. Hock says:

    It is all in the blood. Women menstruate , men do not. The only blood that should be on the sanctuary is that brought about by transubstantiation and not by natural female processes.
    Therefore much as we might welcome women priests for practical reasons it is a contradiction of priesthood.
    The same could be said for women readers.

    • milliganp says:

      Most women stop menstruation in their 50’s, I look forward for the movement for the ordiination of feminae probatae.

  20. Martha says:

    I can see no reason for women to be ordained priests. I do not think it was only the prevailing culture which led Our Lord to choose men. He was counter cultural in other respects. His mother had great influence at the start of his church as many women have done since and still can, and she is above us all, without being a priest.
    Different roles have nothing to do with equality, and any woman’s talents can be used in the service of God and His Church.

  21. ignatius says:

    “His mother had great influence at the start of his church as many women have done since and still can, and she is above us all, without being a priest. Different roles have nothing to do with equality, and any woman’s talents can be used in the service of God and His Church.”
    Yes, I think I agree with this too. It’s usually women, not priests, doing the work Of God at parish level.

    • milliganp says:

      Thankfully we don’t appear to have any priests posting on this blog as I’m sure they would be upset to hear that their lifetime dedication to the Lord represents such an insignificant contribution to the work of the church.

  22. David Smith says:

    Recommended reading:

  23. David Smith says:

    Ok, I’ll try again. WordPress needs to be coddled.

    //

    //

    • milliganp says:

      although I would defer to the Pope Emeritus on matters theological, I believe his social analysis of the sexual revolution and the underlying causes of priestly sexual abuse are deeply flawed. any argument for not admitting married men to the priesthood fails on the simple premise that the practice is allowed and has been allowed.
      This does not derogate from a belief that the charism of celibacy, allowing a person to dedicate their life entirely to service in the church, is a wonderful gift to the church.
      For me the argument against introducing married priests at this time would be that it would inevitably be linked to an attack on the virtue of celibacy.

      • galerimo says:

        What has always puzzled me is how can you mandate a charism?

        And what is the level of “healthy” celibacy among current clergy over a life time
        compared to the levels of health that occur in marriage over a life time.

        Given the existence of “Coping International”, the organisation for the children of Catholic Priests, I wonder too how well our clergy are doing with this virtue of celibacy anyway.

      • milliganp says:

        The charism isn’t mandated, it’s entirely freely chosen. A nun who feels called to marriage leaves the consecrated state and a priest can choose to do the same (the process is not simple but can be done). The nun and the priest have both willingly chosen a vocation in the same way as a man and woman who chose to marry. Under Christian moral law I am not free to leave my wife but I don’t consider it a prison. An awful lot of woolly logic is applied to celibacy.

      • galerimo says:

        I think you must choose celibacy in some geographical locations under the jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff if you want to become a priest.

        Probably the reason for the existence of an organisation for the children of catholic priests is because some men people do not feel gifted with celibacy but still choose priesthood even though it has been made compulsory in their tradition.

        My puzzle remains – how can a person be asked to compel God to give them a gift?

      • milliganp says:

        I suspect this discussion is turning into serial contradiction. The charism is not mandatory but is a condition for acceptance for ordination. I am a Deacon and before I was ordained I made a vow that, should my wife die before me, I would remain celibate for the rest of my life. We have several unmarried Deacons in our Diocese who, like priests, are not free to marry.
        I have several friends, former priests, who have left the priesthood to marry. They had to apply to be laicized, which often takes several years and so had civil weddings which were convalidated once hey had the ability to do so.

      • galerimo says:

        I agree. Contradictions are irritating. But looks like we are closer to agreement on this one.

        When you say Celibacy is not mandated for Catholic priesthood but rather is a condition placed on it we have a point of agreement.

        And my puzzlement about why such a condition should be made where people do not feel called to a life of celibacy but still see service in priesthood as there calling.

        If we see the institution of priesthood in the context of Jesus’ celebration of the Passover
        with all those present at the last supper, it may look less like of a contradiction to call for the removal of such a condition to priesthood since there were obviously a lot of married people “ordained” by Jesus.

  24. milliganp says:

    Earlier in these comments David mentioned the ‘elephant in the room’ of the secular rather than religious roots of the debate about women priests. The secular obsession with sexual liberation is also antagonistic to celibacy or indeed any form of sexual continence.
    However there is another elephant, a massive decline in priestly vocations. This has been the case for at least 20 years in Britain. The process is, I believe, cumulative as no young person going to church sees a priest under 60 whose life they might be attracted to imitate.
    When I went to the junior seminary in 1962 many parishes had 2-3 priests (in Ireland 5 was not uncommon) and one of those priests would have been in his 20s. Nuns taught in our infant schools and priests and brothers provided much of secondary education. We were surrounded by celibates and it did not appear to be a difficult life choice.

    • FZM says:

      However there is another elephant, a massive decline in priestly vocations. This has been the case for at least 20 years in Britain. The process is, I believe, cumulative as no young person going to church sees a priest under 60 whose life they might be attracted to imitate.

      In the British parish I was last familiar with only about a third of people were below 65, including children that parents brought. If that is in anyway typical in the next couple of decades there could be sudden decline in the number of laity as well as the number of priests.

      I was also wondering if there is also an issue about how significantly married priests would contribute to reviving the number of vocations. Say in the past celibacy might be consider unnatural or unhealthy, what was considered natural or healthy was more or less chastity until marriage, then the ideal would be monogamy for life.

      But nowadays chastity or only having one or two other partners before marriage, and then monogamy for life will often be considered unnatural or unhealthy. The norm would be more like having several long term relationships before later marriage, many partners, of both sexes if you are a woman, then some infidelity or swinging and divorce in your 50s. And the secular norms keep shifting further in this kind of direction.

      So if the regime of discipline of married clerics is strict or anything like, it will also seem far out of line with secular norms in wider society. That could be good or bad for vocations.

  25. galerimo says:

    Dont you get a feeling of deja vu when you listen to all the arguments about not having women priests because we’ve got men priests?

    They are all the same squawks that have always been trotted out in the past when people caused consternation by suggesting things like voting rights – why on earth should that happen. Haven’t we enough men to take care of that sort of thing. Anyway I can tell you, because I am a man – they just don’t want it.

    A woman can always rely on her husband to do that important stuff, and. excuse me, aren’t they already amazing in doing the housework. Let them remain the ‘backbone’ of the Church as auxiliaries or something really frilly and important like that.

    Allowing women into sport, or into golf clubs – it’s downright unseemly, a lady should never be asked to dress in shorts and run onto a playing field. Imagine seeing skirts on the altar.

    No man would ever consider dropping his trousers in front of a woman doctor – pick yourself up off the floor, Your Grace, that will never happen. Standards of public decency would never permit it. Going to a woman into confession. Heaven knows what gossip would be going around the next day.

    And believe me, I know, I am a man, I can tell you with absolute certainty, there will never ever ever be a woman prime minister. It makes me laugh to think of it – making a speech on the floor of the United Nations with your baby in tow, Monsignor Ardern? – i m p o s s i b l e even to contemplate.

    Anyway they should be happy- we are all equal before God in a spiritual way – and we are all part of his – note I say advisedly His – assembly of saints. That’s the really really big church where it counts. We are only on this earth for a short time.

    God has made men holier than women for good reason.

    A simple head count will show you that roughly 75% of persons on the current roster of canonized saints are men, as are three quarters of the saints honoured on the liturgical calender.

    Least represented among all the saints are married women – you know the ones that didnt become nuns – and a married woman, especially a sexually active one, obviously could not possibly constitute any reflection of the divine – admittedly there are a few exceptions in our litany but they were royal queens.

    So put that in your thurible and smoke it.

    Yes its all still there. The same old nonsense getting louder and louder as it quivers and shakes on its last legs, – except there is a bit more bunkum in the shape of manipulative piety and humbug.

    Just do it. For Christ’s sake.

    • milliganp says:

      If you look at the saints, married men are even more rare than married women (other than martyrs). As a child we still had the old Roman Calendar used by the current Traditional Latin Mass movement. I used to go to mass every day and almost every day was the feast day of a saint. Only the major saints had a specific form of mass, most used a ‘common’. The most thumbed page in my missal were (in order) ‘common of bishops’, ‘common of virgins’ and ‘common of widows’. I have no memory of ever having a feast for a man who not a bishop or martyr. Even virgin men rarely made it into the calendar.

      • FZM says:

        Embracing the evangelical counsels (poverty and chastity certainly) in a serious way seems to have been considered very important even when saints were made by popular acclaim and reputation, before the process was formalised. I wonder if it is because people become saints because they live in this life more like they are already in the next world, they have experienced the uncreated divine light already and this desire to know God directly is more important than everything else. In this way they anticipate what most people will hopefully get to know and experience after death.

    • ignatius says:

      “Just do it. For Christ’s sake”
      Pretty good as a rap on general prejudice.. this and venting heroic frustrations I’m sure.. but it conflates too many issues into a general entanglement. Also, dare I say it, a little dated by now- in the UK I mean.

  26. Quentin says:

    Galerimo
    I try to make comments as rarely as possible — but here is an exception.
    You will know that the comments on this Blog are of a high standard — both in the argument and in the presentation.
    But yours today is superb.
    (I do not say whether I agree or not.)

  27. John Nolan says:

    Thanks for the rant, Galerimo. Now that you have got that off your chest, perhaps you can tell us who would have the authority to permit women priests and thereby overturn a doctrine which is based on both Scripture and Tradition, which goes back to apostolic times, which is upheld by the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, and which therefore requires assent as a matter of faith.

    The Pope couldn’t ‘just do it’ even if he wanted to. Nor could a General Council. Vatican I made it clear that pope could not propose any new doctrine. What about an Oecumenical Council involving all the bishops of both east and west, something that has not happened in well over a millennium? The same rationale would apply.

    If you think it’s ‘bunkum’, ‘nonsense’ and ‘humbug’, then that’s your prerogative. After all, most people would use these epithets to describe not just the Catholic Church, but the whole Christian belief system.

  28. ignatius says:

    FZM writes:
    “Embracing the evangelical counsels (poverty and chastity certainly) in a serious way seems to have been considered very important even when saints were made by popular acclaim and reputation, before the process was formalised…”

    YES! This is more like it. As is most often the case on this blog everyone gets to bang on happily about their own particular hobby horse, which is great but often misses the point. The call to holiness is a very very serious business demanding complete and utter commitment while promising very few rewards in this life..For St Paul it was akin to soldiering. Mostly when we on here talk about making the priesthood more attractive to applicants we speak as if we are in the advertising business. I’m not yet an expert on priests but I do have to work quite closely with a handful of them, close enough to tell that marriage probably is off the agenda and would likely end in misery if attempted. Interestingly enough i saw in the papers recently that both the Police Force and the armed services were bewailing the quality of their applicants in this softened world we live in today… Priesthood is a sometimes lonely and difficult trek into the heart of a great and burning love..not for the faint hearted or those burdened with too many family concerns.

    • Martha says:

      Our current pp is an ex Anglican minister who became Catholic and was ordained before the ordinarily emperor arrangements were made. He has a wife and three children, school age when he arrived. I don’t know how much of a personal strain it is for him. but he is very fervent, offers Mass very devoutly, and encourages the sacrament of Reconciliation, devotion to the Divine Mercy, the rededication of England as Our Lady’s Dowry, Justice and Peace issues, the SVP etc., etc..
      There are some changes from previous parish practices of course, but not too major.

    • Martha says:

      Our current pp is an ex Anglican minister who became Catholic and was ordained before the ordinarily emperor arrangements were made. He has a wife and three children, school age when he arrived. I don’t know how much of a personal strain it is for him. but he is very fervent, offers Mass very devoutly, and encourages the sacrament of Reconciliation, devotion to the Divine Mercy, the rededication of England as Our Lady’s Dowry, Justice and Peace issues, the SVP etc., etc..
      There are some changes from previous parish practices of course, but not too major.

      • Martha says:

        Apologies for double posting, and for “emperor arrangements” which of course should read “Ordinariate arrangements”

      • milliganp says:

        Thank you, Martha. I suspect the ‘ordinate’=’ordinarily emperor’ is down to the 21st century phenomena of ‘auto-fill’. I regularly use infrequent terms and find them substituted by words or phrases with entirely different meaning.
        While I was in training to become a deacon, a former Anglican was appointed to be responsible for our academic formation. At one of our coffee breaks we walked in to see him with his 5-6 year old daughter in his arms. I remember thinking ” there’s hope for the church”.

  29. milliganp says:

    In the middle ages there were Mitered Abbesses who had the same temporal powers of Bishops in the same era. However, despite their status and power, they could not dispense the sacraments.
    This link might be a useful starting point for anyone interested in the subject:
    https://bit.ly/37PizOi

  30. John Nolan says:

    The medieval Church was less patriarchal and misogynist than many with an obvious axe to grind would have us believe. Studies by social historians such as Katherine French have highlighted the role women performed in the parish life of late medieval England.

    This contrasts with the protestant churches of the Reformation in which patriarchy was endemic. Think of John Knox and his ‘First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women’.

    The cult of saints (done away with by the 16th century ‘reformers’ ) gave examples of holy women who refused to submit to the patriarchal authority of late antiquity and suffered martyrdom as a result. Seven are invoked in the Canon of the Mass. The most popular cult, that of the Virgin Mary, was generally disparaged by protestants (though not, it should be noted, by Martin Luther).

  31. Iona says:

    Christianity at its inception was recognised as being a “sign of contradiction” (sorry, can’t give chapter and verse off-hand though could probably track them down). Still more so now, with its insistence on chastity within marriage and celibacy for priests (and monks, nuns, religious sisters, consecrated virgins etc.). Nothing wrong with contradicting the values promoted by, and apparently lived by, the major part of today’s society.
    Although vocations are dwindling in western Europe and north America, I understand there are plenty in other parts of the world. Thinking of the church I attend and the neighbouring ones, we have two elderly white priests and three young, enthusiastic and energetic priests from Africa and the Indian sub-continent.

    • David Smith says:

      Iona writes:

      // Thinking of the church I attend and the neighbouring ones, we have two elderly white priests and three young, enthusiastic and energetic priests from Africa and the Indian sub-continent. //

      How do they fit in culturally, Iona? Who adapts more to whom?

  32. Hock says:

    milliganp says:
    February 19, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Most women stop menstruation in their 50’s, I look forward for the movement for the ordiination of feminae probatae.

    So we recruit women to the priesthood on the proviso that they are older then 50! That should attract lots of applicants.
    The plain fact of the matter is that the Ordination of women to be Priests has always been a non-starter and not even a matter of negotiation. The nearest we have come to it was a suggestion for women to be ordained as Deacons but that too got short shrift.
    The Church magisterium keeps quiet on the matter, and has done through all the years, because it is not possible. In this age of sex equality it would be suicidal to admit to the reason for non-ordination of women so it is just not spoken about or considered.
    It is all in the blood.

    • ignatius says:

      Hock says:
      ” The Church magisterium keeps quiet on the matter, and has done through all the years, because it is not possible. In this age of sex equality it would be suicidal to admit to the reason for non-ordination of women so it is just not spoken about or considered.
      It is all in the blood.”

      Search google though I may I cannot find any articles relating to this deemed prohibition…anybody ever seen anything written on the subject?

      • milliganp says:

        If you search “menstruation and Catholic Church” you will get some links to follow: 1 below.
        I remember, as a child, that women were not allowed to enter the sanctuary (in the days when most churches had altar rails).

        https://www.jstor.org/stable/27505592?seq=1

      • Martha says:

        Milligan, indeed, it was a great privilege to be on the altar during Mass on my wedding day in 1963.

      • milliganp says:

        Martha, it’s a wonderful memory to treasure. Sadly we live in an era of rights rather than privileges, we need to check ourselves every so often and be grateful.

  33. ignatius says:

    MiliganP writes:
    “there’s hope for the church”.
    Our managing chaplain in the prison is a married vicar and she is inspirational. But it doesn’t seem to be the case that married clergy, male or female, seem to have stemmed the wounds of the Anglican communion even though there is a small trend towards increase of ordinands There will always be outstanding individuals, married or not, male or female, celibate or not. But I don’t think individual excellence makes a basis for doctrinal change. I don’t personally have an issue with married clergy at all but I do not necessarily think they are ‘the solution’ people seem to think they are.

  34. John Nolan says:

    In his motu proprio ‘Ministeria Quaedam’ (1972), Paul VI suppressed the subdiaconate and the minor orders, and created the lay ministries of lector and acolyte. He added a proviso: ‘In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of lector and acolyte is reserved to men.’

    It is clear that Paul did not see these ministries as transitional, although in most places they are treated as such. Theoretically, Pope Francis could amend MQ to open these instituted ministries to women; after all in many places we see women acting as readers and serving at the altar. Yet he has not done so, or showed any inclination to do so. Why is this?

    I think the answer can be found in MQ itself. Pope Paul states: ‘The functions hitherto assigned to the subdeacon are entrusted to the lector and acolyte’. He goes on to say there is no reason why the acolyte cannot be called a subdeacon, if the bishops’ conference of a particular region consents to it.

    This means that an acolyte, properly instituted, may vest as a subdeacon and act in that capacity.

    • milliganp says:

      It is my understanding that an instituted Acolyte is an ordinary minister of Holy Communion (as opposed to laity who can only be extraordinary ministers). However the ministries are typically used as precursors to ordination for those in formation for the priesthood.
      There was a major controversy in Australia a few years back when a young man left the seminary having been instituted as a lector and claimed priority over other readers at the Cathedral of his diocese.

      • John Nolan says:

        An instituted acolyte is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. However, unlike other lay EMHC he may assist the priest and deacon in purifying the sacred vessels.

        A Solemn Mass in the EF requires a subdeacon, and an instituted acolyte can perform this role, in which case he would wear the tunicle and maniple.

        Most bishops are OK with permanent deacons , but don’t want permanent acolytes as this would mean fewer ‘jobs for the girls’. However, MQ makes it clear that the new lay ministries were seen by Paul VI as being not simply transitional, in the same way as the permanent diaconate which he had authorized five years earlier.

  35. galerimo says:

    In the story about Jesus feeding the thousands (Matt 14:21), the author/redactor of Matthew’s gospel tells us how many men were fed – he says they didn’t count the women and of course that is because the women didn’t count in that cultural setting.

    Mark does not even mention the women being present – only five thousand men (Mk 6: 34-44).

    You could say that even the glory and bountiful goodness of God is diminished by the sexism in this culturally framed announcement of the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ.

    This is, after all, a retelling of the story of Moses feeding the throngs in the desert showing us Jesus as our new liberator.

    I hardly think the ladies were going to miss out on a good feed either then or in Jesus time!

    So where else are the women excluded in the telling of the Jesus’ story?

    At the last supper? But we all know women did share at table with him? I think some of them even paid for these meals as Luke indicates when he says

    “Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Lk 8:1-3)

    If today we can see the influence of patriarchy even in our sacred texts then surely our evolution as civilised human beings should urge us to take stock?

    Shouldn’t we be able to discern the deeper truths with understanding in light of our understanding of the hard earned equality between men and women?

    Any barriers to the full expression of that equality, so central to our dignity as creatures, created equally and then redeemed, all of us equally so, in the blood of Jesus, should also be set aside.

    • Martha says:

      Are you sure “men” is not translated from a word meaning “mankind,” both sexes.
      In any case. I think there is a lot to be said in favour of benign, moderate patriarchy, and a lot of truth in the saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

      • milliganp says:

        My scripture teacher, who was a Benedictine Abbot once remarked “anyone who thinks Judaism is a patriarchal religion has never met a Jewish mother”. We now live in an era where any family that is ‘traditional’ has to explain itself.

      • galerimo says:

        Well lets have a look at the text. Verse 21 says “Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children”.

        Not really open to inclusion of either women or children.

        God’s goodness is even more benign than what our tradition records in this instance.

    • milliganp says:

      Galerimo, this so called equality is a double edged sword. modern women are expected to contracept so that they are constantly available to satisfy the sexual desires of their partners, they are expected to abort any inconvenient pregnancy and they are expected to work, irrespective of personal choice. Maybe our wise creator is not as woke as you would like. Certain products of social change are to be welcomed but not all are good.

      • galerimo says:

        I think it was our creator who made us equal, and God’s own Son who redeemed us equally.

        Perhaps we are the one’s who should wake up to this fact.

    • ignatius says:

      Getting a bit strange here methinks:

      “If today we can see the influence of patriarchy even in our sacred texts then surely our evolution as civilised human beings should urge us to take stock?”

      Is there any clearly discernible shared meaning in this sentence?

      • galerimo says:

        Let me give you an example to clarify my meaning.

        The physical sciences have given us a sound basis for human evolution and biblical criticism has also provided us with a better understanding of literature in the early chapters of Genesis.

        These advances have enabled Catholics to see that it is no longer necessary to maintain man’s body was directly created by God from the earth or woman’s body from man’s.

        In times past such a direct creation of the body would have been considered as part of the doctrine of creation – today we continue to maintain the doctrine of creation without having to rule out the possibility of evolution.

        Our better understanding of scripture today also demonstrates more clearly that God’s work of creation is a work that demonstrates clearly equality between men and women.

        The evolution of our social structures towards enshrining this equality in laws and institutions is an admirable thing and, I believe, evidence of God’s work in the broader plan of humanity.

        So as we engage around this question of married and women priests we can now draw on the these rich resources of more advance biblical learning along with the discernment in how our cultures have evolved, to help move forward in building up the Body of Christ in our time. We have to be stuck with the domineering dimensions of patriarchy.

        I am not suggesting here that mandatory celibacy for some Roman clergy or male priesthood has the status of Doctrine in the Catholic Church.

        These are disciplines and in the case of Celibacy have changed in the past, as mentioned before.

        And in the case of Holy orders, in our own time when Pope Paul VI effected change too by eliminating the ordained roles of porter, lector, exorcist, acolyte, and subdeacon.

        I hope that makes it a bit less strange.

      • Martha says:

        Galerimo, to my mind, equal means having the same value, but not the same duties and responsibilities

      • David Smith says:

        galerimo, I respect your intelligence, your knowledge, and your loquacity, but no amount of verbiage can cover up the fact that you’re just stating your opinions.

  36. John Nolan says:

    Ignatius

    Very strange. The trouble with having a swarm of bees in your bonnet is that you stop thinking rationally and start talking nonsense. I expected the word ‘sexism’ to come up eventually, though I was surprised to see this well-worn epithet used in the context of St Matthew’s Gospel.

    ‘He says they didn’t count the women and of course that is because the women didn’t count.’

    The Vulgate has ‘Manducantium autem fuit numerus quinque millia virorum, exceptis mulieribus et parvulis.’ If you want an up-to-date and idiomatic translation, I would suggest ‘The number eating was five thousand men, and that’s not counting the women and children.’ Not the same thing at all.

    In classical and medieval chronicles large numbers were estimated and usually exaggerated for effect. The evangelist here is suggesting a number more like ten thousand.

    • milliganp says:

      I got wound up in a different way and went back to the Greek. The word used is χωρὶς and this occurs in several places in the NT and is translated differently according to context. It is never used in the sense of exclusion but always inclusion. It can mean apart from (as in, as well as), without (as in ‘without him was made, nothing that was made’), sadly Galerimo seems to want to make a tenuous point by dwelling on a single word. Also we can assume 50% of the children who ‘didn’t count’ would have been male.

  37. Iona says:

    Men commonly eat more than either women or children do; perhaps that’s why they are separately referred to.

  38. Martha says:

    Iona, no one could argue with that!

  39. John Nolan says:

    Although this is becoming something of a rabbit-hole, Mark’s gospel mentions that the multitude sat on the ‘green grass’ in ordered ranks. This would imply that, as in the synagogue, the men sat separately from the women and children, a practice continued in Christianity and still practised today in non-Christian religions.

    Projecting present-day social mores onto the past is unhistorical. It is also presumptuous to assume that present-day attitudes are better than those of our forebears simply because they are modern. Human history is not a record of unalloyed progress.

    Galerimo has still not answered the question as to who would have the authority to overturn the established doctrine and practice of two millennia, in both the Greek and Latin Church.

    Those who left the CofE after its decision to ordain women were not misogynists. Some are now Catholic priests with wives, children and grandchildren. Leaving must have been a wrench (as it had been for Newman), but in the end it was a question of authority.

    Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was unnecessary, and perhaps unfortunate in that it could be put forward by certain people as JP II ‘ruling against’ women priests. He did no such thing; he didn’t have to.

  40. ignatius says:

    Galerimo writes:

    “I hope that makes it a bit less strange..”

    Yes it does. From your second offering it becomes very plain that you have become your own theologian!! Try going slowly through your post at every “We” or “Our” pause and ask yourself
    “Who is this ‘we’? , who is this ‘our’?

  41. David Smith says:

    Half-baked thought.

    The Catholic Church is two millennia old. Until the twentieth century, it pretty much held, through storm and stress. It held because precedent and tradition were held in great respect. Fifty or so years ago, the home of the Church, the Western world, began to discard all tradition and precedent. Its leading lights and power brokers, dazzled and overwhelmed by a sudden gushing out of material progress, had become convinced that the only religion appropriate for the inhabitants of their shiny new world was an unblinking belief in the empirical sciences. God had either to go or to be radically secularized. The power brokers, for the most part, plumped for the former solution and the Church hierarchs for the latter. The show goes on.

    • milliganp says:

      The thought is certainly not half baked. Tradition has not merely been abandoned, it has been presented as the root cause of all human error and suffering (Galerimo’s weird ‘ God is a male chauvinist’ post being a prime example) . However the cataclysm in the public sphere has deep roots going back to the so-called Enlightenment – the certainties of religion were replaced by the certainties of empirical science. Then we had 2 major European wars not specifically rooted in religion – so as religion had nothing to do with them we decided religion had to go.
      The exact root cause of the collapse of Catholicism is harder to define other than by infection from the pervasive culture. As a child we spoke frequently about the four last things – death, judgement, heaven and hell. I don’t think these ever enter the mind of most modern minds (even my own). Does anybody today fear dying in a state of sin? Fear should not be the basis of our belief but it certainly should help us focus on what matters, or at least avoid that which damages us.
      As a deacon I stand by the priest during the consecration and recite a prayer taught to me for my first holy communion – ‘my Lord and my God’ and I find myself musing how many of the congregation (other than the elderly) understand or appreciate what is happening. Frankly, I can see something is amiss but have little certainty of where to start fixing it.

  42. ignatius says:

    David,
    Do you actually go to Mass? If so in what manner is it to be called it a ‘show’?.. Mass only becomes a show if we deny our hearts, then alone will we see nothing but a show. It is not the shiny lights outside we need to worry about but more that we pay attention to the flickering one on the inside.

    • John Nolan says:

      Ignatius, David did not call the Mass a ‘show’. I know that after a hundred comments there is a tendency to ‘skim read’, but I have seen so many tendentious and illogical inferences on this thread that I would be wary of falling into the same trap. By the way, I have found the observations of the two permanent deacons on this blog both illuminating and insightful. I hope you and Paul carry on the good work.

      • ignatius says:

        John Nolan,
        No thats right -apologies to David if I appear to have misconstrued him:
        ” The show goes on” though carries with it for the British the notion of theatricality–“The show must go on” in other words. This tends to imply inner cynicism bedecked with outer showiness . I speak of Mass because, underlying all the shoddy externals lies the holiness and immanent transcendence of God; we need to remember that when we are in our criticsm of the church confusing the coat with its maker.
        Thanks for the compliment by the way..I’m still reaching for the smelling salts!!

    • David Smith says:

      ignatius, by “show” I meant to suggest not the image of a mass but of the factional power struggles among the clergy, the hierarchy, and the laity. It’s disheartening that the institutional Church has strayed so far from the spiritual to the secular, from the interior peace of prayer to the exterior bickering over relevance and social justice. We could all, I think, do with much less anger and blaming and agenda pushing. Much has been lost.

      As for my attending mass, I’d more likely go oftener were the ceremony reverential, quiet, and focused on God and the altar and not the clubby and self-congratulatory people-centered event I’ve found it lately. But that’s just me, and I’m an outlier. De gustibus non est disputandum.

      • ignatius says:

        “As for my attending mass, I’d more likely go oftener were the ceremony reverential, quiet, and focused on God and the altar and not the clubby and self-congratulatory people-centered event I’ve found it lately. But that’s just me, and I’m an outlier. De gustibus non est disputandum…”

        But in a way that’s precisely my point.What has our personal taste or preference got to do with the worship that is due? By what authority do we so criticize our brother or sister sitting next to us at Mass? There is a sense in which our posts on this blog are windows not into the church in any objective way but merely glimpses into the shocking poverty of our own individual hearts.

  43. galerimo says:

    Bless me Sister, (that feels good already – remembering Jesus’ admonition to “call no one father”) – for I have sinned.

    Christmas time was my last confession.

    I confess to God, and in your hearing Sister, that I have sinned

    In pride, anger, lust, envy, jealousy, laziness and abuse of the good things in life – often in my thoughts, words and in what I have done and at other times neglected to do.

    Also I have violated by conscience by remaining part of a Church of men and women who deny the justice of equality to women when they share in the mission of Jesus, into whom each one of them has been baptised.

    For these sins and those of my life, I humbly ask God for forgiveness
    And absolution from you also, my Sister in Jesus.

    O my God
    I am heartily sorry for having offended you,
    And I detest my sins about every other evil
    Because they displease you my God
    Who for your infinite goodness are so deserving of all my love,
    And I firmly resolved, with the help of your grace,
    Never more to offend you.
    And to amend my life. Amen.

    (In anticipation, one day, of absolution and your commissioning me to go in peace, Sister).

  44. John Nolan says:

    Galerimo

    In point of fact, nuns would confess to their mother superior although she could not give absolution.

    You can of course confess to whom you like – your wife, your therapist (and by God you need one), the bloke in the pub, the police – and if it makes you feel better, go ahead. I suspect your wife would sigh and the bloke in the pub would move down the bar to avoid you.

    As for your confessing that it is a sin to remain in the Catholic Church because the mystical body disagrees with you, then you can save yourself the trouble of boring the rest of us, since you are not a Catholic in any shape or form.

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