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Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition

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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/01/26 22:07:39 (permalink)
Saint Augustine?
 
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was a philosopher and theologian.  He was bishop of the North African city of Hippo Regius for the last third of his life. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity, and is considered to be one of the church fathers. He framed the concepts of original sin and just war.


Saint Augustine

He is revered as a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and  patron of the Augustinian religious order. Many Prostestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation teaching on salvation and grace. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is a saint, though a minority are of the opinion that he is a heretic, primarily because of his statements concerning what became known as the filioque clause.

Born in present day Algeria, Augustine was of  Berber descent. The eldest son of Saint Monica, he was educated in North Africa and baptized in Milan. His works—including The Confessions, which is often called the first Western autobiography—are still read around the world.

At age seventeen, he went to Carthage to pursue an education in rhetoric. Although raised as a Catholic, Augustine left the Church to follow the controversial Manichaean religion, much to the despair of his mother. As a young man, he lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time and, in Carthage, he developed a relationship with a young woman who would be his concubine for more than fifteen years. Their son, Adeodatus, was born as a result of the relationship.

Augustine moved to Milan to teach.  In the summer of 386, after having read an account of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert which greatly inspired him, Augustine underwent a profound personal crisis and decided to convert to Christianity, abandon his career in rhetoric, quit his teaching position in Milan, give up any ideas of marriage, and devote himself entirely to serving God and the practices of priesthood, which included celibacy.

One of the most prolific Latin authors (the list of his works consists of more than a hundred separate titles), Augustine remains a central figure both within Christianity and in the history of Western thought.
 
What about his attitudes toward women? Did the cultural biases against women of his time influence Augustine?  From his writings it is clear:  Augustine shared the ideas and prejudices of his contemporaries regarding women. 
 
Though Augustine deserves much credit as a seeker, a theologian and a writer, honesty demands acknowledging another side in his character.


This Augustine who had made love to women and perhaps to men, who could not control his own sexual problems, who was constantly torn between lust and frustration, who could in all sincerity pray: ‘Give me chastity . . . . , but not yet!’ (Confessions 8,7), who only became devout after he had ravished whores to his heart's content, when his weakness for women, as so often happens to older men in later life, turned into the opposite . . . , this Augustine created the classic patristic doctrine on sin, a morality in which especially sexual desire was condemned. Augustine has influenced Christian morality decisively, as well as the sexual frustrations of millions of Europeans unto our own day. (K. Deschner, De Kerk en haar Kruis, Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam 1974, pp. 326-327).

For Augustine it was an indisputable social and religious truth that women were subject to men.

For Augustine, though marriage is a divine institution, and therefore good in itself, the carnal desire that accompanies intercourse is a remnant of sin. In fact, it is the sign and carrier of original sin. Also in lawful marriages sexual intercourse should be avoided asa venial fault.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers. For a complete electronic copy, visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, the New Advent Library.
 
Italics in the text by John Wijngaards.
 
http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/august.asp
post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/26 22:08:05
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/01/26 22:19:45 (permalink)
Saint Isidore of Seville?

 
Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560-636) was Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades.  He has the reputation of being one of the great scholars of the early Middle Ages. All later medieval history-writing of Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugual) were based on his histories.
 
At a time of disintegration of classical culture, and aristocratic violence and illiteracy, he was involved in the conversion of the royal Visigothic Arians to Catholicism, both assisting his brother Leander and continuing after his brother's death. Like Leander, he took a most prominent part in the Councils of Toledo and Seville.
 

Saint Isidore of Seville

What about his attitudes toward women? Was Isidore influenced by Did the cultural biases against women of his time? His writing speaks for itself:


Only a woman is an animal that menstruates. Through touching her blood fruits will fail to get ripe. Mustard degenerates, grass dries up and trees lose their fruit before time. Iron gets rusted and the air becomes dark. When dogs eat it, they acquire rabies”.
Etymologiarum libri XI, 1; in Patres Latini 82, c. 414.

Isidore took the idea from J. Solinus’ third century Collectanea rerum memorabilium (recogn. Mommsen, Berlin, 1864), p. 17, which is in large measure dependent on Plinius’ Natural History.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers. For a complete electronic copy, visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, the New Advent Library.
 
Italics in the text by John Wijngaards.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/isidore.asp
post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/27 07:03:53
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/01/26 22:30:47 (permalink)
To recap:
 
Tradition, if it is valid, is based on a correct understanding of the inspired meaning of scriptural texts.  It also must be informed. For this to be so, the carriers of the Tradition must have correctly understood the question the Tradition relates to and the issues at stake.

It is clear that the early Church Fathers were influenced by the cultural prejudices biases against women.  The evidence is contained in their writings.  They did not completely understand the nature of women nor did they regard women as equals to men. 

This being so, can it be said that they carefully assessed the question of including women in all seven sacraments (Holy Orders included)?  Without understanding the influence and effects of prevailing cultural and social prejudices against women on their thinking, can it be said that the Early Church Fathers completely understood the issues at stake?  Considering their writings, the answer clearly is 'No.'

In fact, the Fathers of the Church rarely spoke about the ordination of women. If they did, the evidence clear their writings proves they were influenced by the cultural prejudices of their times.

This being so, it cannot be said that they fairly considered the question.
post edited by Sophie - 2008/01/27 07:07:51
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/01/27 22:41:30 (permalink)
This makes me think of the Church's early teachings on an earth centered universe.
 
The teaching was not based on Truth and therefore could not be considered a valid part of Tradition.  Once science made things clear, the old notions which were mistaken, had to be set aside.
 
It is the same way about women.  The old teaching is based on wrong information about women. Those old notions are just plain and simple wrong. Dogs get rabies from rusted iron that menstrual women have touched?  Good grief.
 
Just like the earth centered universe notion had to be set aside, so too must the notion that women cannot be priests be set aside.
 
By virtue of the tests for a valid Tradition, it is not scriptural, it is not informed (can we say the formulators were 'misinformed'? ) and the forumulators of the supposed 'Tradition' did not fully understand the question at stake.  Furthermore, they really didn't spend much time even discussing it.  Their position is therefore unreliable.
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/07/08 16:07:33 (permalink)
Dear friends,
 
The question of the ordination of women as bishops for the Anglican Church in England recently decided by a positive vote for inclusion of women. The one key question is what the Church of England will do for the section of the Church that does not want to accept women as bishops. 
 
In March 2006, our website founder, Dr. John Wijngaards (who now serves as Academic Advisor to womenpriests.org) was invited to give a talk about women bishops to an Anglican theologians symposium about women and the episcopate.  The copyrighted text has been published in Women as Bishops, ed. James Rigney and Mark D. Chapman, Continuum 2008, pp. 31-42. I have a copy of it here for you.


Dr. John Wijngaards
 
Firmly believing that the future is bright for women and Holy Orders, Dr. Wijngaards outlines the reasons that point in a favourable direction.  In a nutshell, his conclusion is that:


The Vatican attempt to make the living image of Christ in priests and bishops a male preserve, is doomed to fail. Catholic consciousness will not tolerate it. Doctrinal pronouncements will be overturned by faith in the heart.

A copy of his contribution is here:  RE: Ordination of women 
 
with love and blessings,
 
~Sophie~
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/07/12 02:42:08 (permalink)
I have read that Augustine was homosexual and wrote  about his lust for illicit sex.  Augustine rejected female prostitutes and refused to marry.  He then was allowed to go into the priesthood.  He still carried on homosexual activity and confessed to this hedonism.  His writings show great distaste and disdain for man-woman  sex and married sex.  This likely is because he personally had no use for women sexually and preferred men and youths as sexual partners.
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/07/12 16:46:13 (permalink)
Dear friend,

I am not an expert on Saint Augustine. When I searched for information about your question, here is a bit of what was found:


St. Augustine

Celibacy, he wrote, was the most blessed state. Although married people could reach heaven, it was in spite of succumbing to their degraded animal natures. Sex for procreation was to be tolerated--barely--but any sexual activity that could not result in conception, such as oral sex, sodomy, and homosexuality, was strictly forbidden.

Augustine's Confessions  is the first intimate autobiography in Western literature. It is a long, often harrowing look into the mind of a man struggling with his deeply felt passions. In book 4, chapters 4 and 6, there occurs an account of a relationship in Augustine's youth with another young man. It is a love story which ends with the untimely death of the young man.

"I felt that his soul and mine," he wrote, "were ëone soul in two bodies' and therefore life to me was horrible, because I hated to live as half of a life. . . ." He felt the loss so keenly that he contemplated suicide, but decided to go on living because he felt that, because they had been so close, something of the youth lived on in him. "I feared to die, lest he should wholly die whom I had loved so greatly."

Most scholars and psychologists who have considered the question seem to agree that Augustine is describing what must have been a strong emotional, physical, and sexual attachment. There are no explicit sexual details given, but considering the general tone of the book and the literary conventions of the time, this is not surprising. Before his apparently total conversion to celibacy in late life, it is reasonable to assume that any strong attachment would have had its sexual side.

However, we do know that Augustine had countless sexual contacts with women. He was involved with one woman, with whom he had a son, for 15 years, whereas there is evidence for only the one male relationship.

The answer to the question Was Augustine gay? must be a resounding Yes and No. Yes, if we accept the occurrence of a single, strongly passionate relationship with another man as evidence of homosexuality. No, if we consider his apparent preference for women and the fact that, as far as we know, he had only one homosexual relationship. Most likely, as Dr. W. H. Kayy in The Gay Geniuses puts it, ". . .like many a bisexual youth then and today, he passed through a homosexual phase."

© 1975 - 1981 by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace
From "The People's Almanac" series of books.


On the other hand, in a separate translation,  The Confessions of St. Augustine (Signet Classics) translators/commentators Rex Warner and Martin E. Marty write at page 350:


[Augustine] uses the death of his close friend to begin the musing of Book IV.

So touching is his description of loss that some contemporary commentators, on extremely limited evidence, think there must be a homosexual tinge to the relationship.  No matter.

Does this help?  When I find more, I will be sure to share!

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
post edited by Sophie - 2008/07/12 16:52:12
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/07/12 17:00:41 (permalink)
ORIGINAL: Guest

I have read that Augustine was homosexual and wrote  about his lust for illicit sex.  Augustine rejected female prostitutes and refused to marry.  He then was allowed to go into the priesthood.  He still carried on homosexual activity and confessed to this hedonism.  His writings show great distaste and disdain for man-woman  sex and married sex.  This likely is because he personally had no use for women sexually and preferred men and youths as sexual partners.



Dear friend,

By way of 'ps' --   Another aspect found in discussions about St. Augustine is the question of misogyny.

Our library includes documentation about his viewpoints.  Following is some information with links included.  This comes from our library section on the Early Church Fathers.  This particular document, in its complete form, found here: http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/august.asp.

In the meantime, here is an overview which provides highlights on his views of women -- 'Pleasure in marriage is a disease.'; 'Sexual intercourse in marriage not for begetting children is a venial fault; 'It is according to natural order that women serve their husbands.'  Read on !

Augustine
354 - 430 AD
Born in North Africa; bishop of Hippo from 396 to his death.
 
Note. Augustine deserves much credit as a seeker, a theologian and a writer. But honesty demands that we also acknowledge another side to him. “This Augustine who had made love to women and perhaps to men, who could not control his own sexual problems, who was constantly torn between lust and frustration, who could in all sincerity pray: ‘Give me chastity . . . . , but not yet!’ (Confessions 8,7), who only became devout after he had ravished whores to his heart's content, when his weakness for women, as so often happens to older men in later life, turned into the opposite . . . , this Augustine created the classic patristic doctrine on sin, a morality in which especially sexual desire was condemned. Augustine has influenced Christian morality decisively, as well as the sexual frustrations of millions of Europeans unto our own day.” (K. Deschner, De Kerk en haar Kruis, Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam 1974, pp. 326-327).


Translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers. For a complete electronic copy, visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, the New Advent Library. Italics in the text by John Wijngaards.

For Augustine it was an indisputable social and religious truth that women were subject to men.

Though marriage is a divine institution, and therefore good in itself, the carnal desire that accompanies intercourse is a remnant of sin. In fact, it is the sign and carrier of original sin. Also in lawful marriages sexual intercourse should be avoided asa venial fault.

Any questions, let me know.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
post edited by Sophie - 2008/07/12 17:03:40
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/08/07 04:10:25 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
The traditions of the Church ground us, but we cannot become slaves to tradition if they have caused us to limit the scope of the reach of Christ in our day. Such has been the unfortunate history of the Church whenever it has found itself on the wrong side of scientific revelations, and on the wrong side of using biblical and theological interpretations that have resulted in the subjugation of people who cry out for justice. Have we not been here before when the Church used Holy Scripture to justify human slavery? Of keeping women in their place? Of persecuting left-handed people? (I’m not kidding here…this was very common.) How many times must our children’s children have to apologize for the mistakes and oppressions their leaders in the faith have committed in the name of Christ?

- Eugene Taylor Sutton, Episcopalian Bishop of Maryland
as cited in The Times, August 1, 2008
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article4446005.ece
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/11/21 02:47:17 (permalink)
Today, November 21 in the Eastern Rite Churches is celebrated the Entrance of Theotokos into the Temple
 


According to the tradition of the Church, the Theotokos was brought to the Temple at three years of age, where she was consecrated to God and spent her days until she was fourteen or fifteen years old; and then, as a mature maiden, by the common counsel of the priests (since her parents had reposed some three years before), she was betrothed to Joseph.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

Today is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, "Hail, fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/11/21 02:47:51 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For more about this feast day, see:
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/11/21 02:48:27 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the Latin rite, the feast is known as The Presentation of Mary.

Sophie
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/11/21 02:49:09 (permalink)
 
 
Dear friends,

Those who are new among us might not realise what the role Mary plays in the case for women priests.  Though today the Vatican maintains that she was not a priest, throughout the centuries the faithful including men in Church leadership have had cherished a devotion to her as a priest.  She has been understood as the first priest after Christ.  Through their 'Catholic sense,' the faithful have intuitively understood that she shares in Jesus’ priesthood more than any other person. Implicitly the devotion contains the strong but usually unspoken conviction that though a woman, Mary could easily have been ordained a priest -- just as much as any man. There were times throughout history that this conviction was expressed explicitly in the Church.

For more about this, I invite you to browse through:

with love and blessings,
 
~Sophie~
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2008/11/21 02:49:42 (permalink)

 
Illuminated page from Gengenbach/Baden Evangelistery (Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart), Germany, dated ca. 1150 AD.
 
The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary who is dressed in priestly vestments. In tradition, theologians often remark on the fact that Mary’s response: “Let it be done to me according to your word”, caused the Incarnation to take place, and so her words made Christ present, just as the priest’s words of consecration make Christ present in the Eucharist. See St. Antoninus of Florence OP, J. Duvergier de Hauranne and Bishop J.Nazlian.
 
http://www.womenpriests.org/mrpriest/gallery2.asp
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RE: Women Priests as Viewed from Tradition 2009/03/05 02:27:23 (permalink)
Acting Out of Abundance
by Ina Praetorius
Wattwil, Switzerland

 

Ina Praetorius

Handeln aus der Fülle:
Postpatriarchale Ethik in biblischer Tradition

Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Germany, 2005
Note: The English edition of this book is in preparation.
 
as included in:
E-Journal of Solidarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence
Vol. 5, No. 3, March 2009
Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

EDITOR'S NOTE

This month we are delighted to have an article from Dr. Ina Praetorius, a Protestant theologian from Switzerland. Actually, this is not really an article but an excerpt from her book (in German),
Handeln aus der Fülle: Postpatriarchale Ethik in biblischer Tradition (the English edition, Acting Out of Abundance: Postpatriarchal Ethics in Biblical Tradition, is in preparation). It is a book about Christian ethics, and the current economic and environmental crises witness to the importance of the theme. In particular, the issue of gender equity is addressed, and it is argued that the end of patriarchy is a mark of our present times (i.e., a "sign of the times").

The subtitle for the book is also significant. It is not a matter of abandoning the rich legacy of the Jewish-Christian tradition. It is a matter of recognizing that patriarchy is not the essence of the tradition, and the task is now to carry that tradition forward while leaving behind the patriarchal mindset. And it is not only a matter of discerning what the new postpatriarchal mindset should be. The new mindset should lead to a new way of acting for the glory of God and the good of humanity. The following statement is a jewel:



Above all I will anchor the question of "good acting" where it actually begins: in the natural, social and cultural abundance that is given to all humans before they themselves begin to act. It is an essential problem of the patriarchal symbolic order to forget that we are all born into a given wholeness. In patriarchy what comes first in reality is mostly substituted by secondary concepts such as "law" or "reason" or "money". It is a primary aim of this book to raise this problem, shake the upside down rhetoric and develop a more realistic concept of human actions.

Amen!

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Read complete article, click here: RE: Our Duty to Raise Loyal Questions
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