I am just popping in for a moment. I only now saw your post. I'd like to reflect on it and come back to discuss more. In the meantime I wanted to share a post I put up from awhile ago. I've modified it a bit based on what I've been reading here.
In more recent times, Rome has begun to teach that 'theologically' women are made in the image of God. But there is a difference between words and actions. Actions speak more loudly than words.
What comes out theologically is not what's coming out in praxis. Despite the fact that some in Rome and multitudes in the Church community now acknowledge that women are to their core made in the image of God, the actions of Rome continue to betray that Rome is having problems digesting this new spin. A bit of vertigo perhaps?
For instance, when Pope Pius XII was preaching to newlyweds on September 10, 1941, he spoke of man and woman entering marriage on a 'perfectly equal footing' because of their equal creation in God.' All sounds good so far. But then he goes on to explain the position of the husband as the head of this new visible
society called the family. The Pope stresses that the need for such a male head is because of the sin of Eve. The Holy Father continues:
In holiness, by means of grace, both spouses are equally and immediately united to Christ. In fact, St. Paul said that as many as have been baptised in Christ and who have put on Christ are all sons [sic] of God; there is neither male nor female, because all are one in Christ Jesus. Not so, however in the church and in the family which are visible societies...."*
From the perspective of a twenty first century observer, his distinction between that which is in Christ (the invisible) and that which is in society (visible community, the world, the Church, the family, etc.) is shocking. When he says 'society' he means all the naked eye can see. Though he talks the talk of equality between men and women in the eyes of God, he cancels out the magnificance of this new teaching by pulling out the great big Vatican eraser and saying, 'In the visible world, this need not be so.'
The first time in history that women's status made the public radar screen was during the second half of the twentieth century. Before then, virtually zero attention was given to the question that women might not be in their rightful place in society or in the Church. It was simply assumed that they were in their rightful place. Everyone operated on assumptions that were never or rarely questioned. During some stretches of time, some who ventured out to ask questions about those assumptions were whisked off to the burning stake. Until the twentieth century, no era ever consistently asked the questions:
- should women have the vote?
- is it proper for women to work outside the home?
- if women work outside the home, should they receive equal pay for work that is done equally by men?
- should women have the right to own property? Prior to the twentieth century, let's just say that the global perspective on this issue was: 'Who cares?'
- until the 1960's in my home province of Saskatchewan, women could not go into bars. I acknowledge that this is not a great big deal insofar as it pertains to our discussion here. But think about this. Until the 1960's, no one questioned this prohibition against women. In the 1960's, someone made some room for someone to ask intelligent conscientious questions and presto! Wives can now join their husbands in licenced establishments. Wow! Women can even go into bars all on their own. Imagine!
- are men and women equal in the eyes of God?
Is our Church any different except that it trails behind in progress? Pope Pius's sermon illustrates perfectly Rome's assertion that although God may see women as equal, and equally capable, we, the leaders of the Church do not.
What may be good for heaven, down here on earth is not.
As in civil society, our Church's experience is that only since the latter part of the twentieth century have women and men together collectively begun to start asking a multitude of questions about this. The questions bear a common theme: Please! Help us understand because currently this makes no sense.
In recent times, we are beginning to witness more attention being paid to women's rightful place in the Church. On the scale of progress, we can say with confidence that we are now on Rome's radar screen. We've moved up the ladder of concern. We may still be a few rungs down from relations with Orthodox Churches but we are now officially a table topic of serious discussion -- or at least a cause of serious discomfort in circles where it matters and where the inner circles don't yet have the green light to publicly discuss. Suffice to say: They are discussing. Study things quite carefully and you will see: people at the top are showing signs of feeling threatened by the subject. Sidebar: Standing ovation to all co-conspiritors who've gone before us and cleared the path so far! Job well done!!!
It is quite frankly impossible for any theologically semi-literate thinking person to say with conviction that the prohibition against women priests has been the constant, conscious
teaching of the Church. Yes. It may have been constant. But conscious? The fact is this. Until now, no one has been asking serious questions about women priests. Because the teaching has never been put to the test, it cannot therefore be said to have been a conscious
teaching. A conscious teaching is one that's faced investigation, scrutiny and dialogue about it. On the matter of women priests, this phase is only now
just beginning to happen! The prohibition against women's ordination is a teaching whose history and practice unconsciously rests on an unconscious assumption: it's the status quo. Ergo it must be right. Never mind that no questions have been asked. What kind of Truth are we upholding if in defence of it, someone says, "You are prohibited from discussing this subject. Case closed" which quite frankly is exactly what JPII did do. As Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged recently, we still have yet to learn what is the Truth about women in our Church.
Old song = Status quo: Because 'society' was a 'man's world,' so was Rome.
New song = Times are changing. Let's give this the scrutiny of investigation. Acid test = If the teaching is roadworthy -- ie if it's Truth -- it will hold up. So why is Rome afraid of questions? What's lurking behind the scenes?
While Vatican apparachiks are currently scouring the hallways and corridors for any kind of 'reason' that might convincingly justify a 2,000 year old tradition, the men at the top are showing sparks of comprehension that this 2,000 year old tradition might not be a part of core Truth. Hang on tight Rome! We are on to you!: To argue with conviction 'This is how it has always been done and therefore this is how it has to be done' doesn't cut it anymore. We know that
and you know that
and we know that you know that
which is why you've got von balthasar busily churning out the double back flips, cartwheels, triple lutzes and aerial sommersaults in ephesians nuptial imagery. Observation: It's entertaining at best. Completely unconvincing and shameful at its worst.
A glimmer of hope on the horizon? Official words from the Vatican point in the direction of flickering signs of willingness to acknowledge: "This 2,000 year old tradition is not a tradition that's part of Truth. Or at least, 'we admit: it's never been put to the test." What are some of those significant signs?
Although Pope John Paul II fell short of giving a ringing endorsement to women's ordination (
), the old fashioned 'woman has her place and I am the man' man that he was, in his 1995 Letter to Women,
he wittingly or unwittingly opened the door to an official acknowledgement: 'We recognise there's been wrong. We are sorry about it. This is something that we need to talk about.' Ok. Maybe some will say I am giving him too much credit. After all, he is the Pope who tried to shut the conversation down. Well: at minimum, if it can't be credited to JPII himself, then clearly the Holy Spirit used him as an instrument despite his resistance to the same. Surely in this we can acknowledge that he played a part.
Pope Benedict XVI's recent acknowledgement (August 2006 interview with German radio. Vatican endorsed transcript is available) that sexism exists in the Church and that it is an evil is, at worst an 'unwitting' hand of help in moving things along. Although he won't say what our rightful place as women is in the Church, he has candidly acknowledged that it is wrong for women to be shut out. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, he now has also acknowledged that systemic discrimination exists within the Church. He encourages us as Church to be mindful of this. He encourages us to listen. To my ear, this sounds at worst like some inkling of awareness that things need to change. And at best, it sounds like he might be diplomatically saying: Listen up my people. We've got a ways to go. Prepare for the next part of the journey because things are
going to change.
What is 'systemic discrimination?" A prerequisite to most positions of leadership in ministry is that one must be ordained, ie a priest. To be a priest, one must be a man. Therefore -- women are systemically discriminated against because by operation of the system's rules (which were made by men, for men, and with men in mind.) The rules as they stand now make no provision for things like how are God's calls to women in priesthood to be resolved. Though no one has the right to be a priest, because only men's calls from God will be considered in the system, the system discriminates against women. Although women reflect the image of Christ, may be suitably gifted by God for ordained ministr, and in fact may have a call from God -- women are denied consideration because the system sign says: We've only got rules for men.'
So while Rome may say it doesn't directly discriminate against women, indirectly it does when it adheres to the faulty rules. Pope Benedict came close to publicly admitting this in his August 2006 interview with German radio.
The prohibition of women priests is
a human rights issue. Acknowledged: no one has the right to be a priest. But were the Church free from discrimination, every person who is called by God would have their call considered. There's no defence against the refusal to consider all
potential calls from God. Everyone with a bona fide call from God should have their call considered.
Systemically speaking, discrimination exists since there are no rules to facilitate consideration of a woman's call. A man because he is a man is never
turned away from an opportunity to discern a role in ordained ministry. His vocational calling, if he so wants it to be, will be scrutinized by the Church. Though he does not have the right to be a priest, Rome will lend him an ear. As things stand today, women --only because they are women -- will never have have the ear of Rome inclined this way. There are no rules in the system that will permit consideration of women's calls. Like a man, a women does not have the right to be priest. But unlike men, a woman does not have the right that her call be considered. Women face systemic discrimination when the system makes no room for consideration of their calls simply because they are women.
a human rights issue. I agree with Rome. Nobody has the right to be a priest. In that sense, priesthood is not a human right. It is a call from God. But respectfully speaking, the human rights violation is just a step beyond that. Systemic discrimination against women when women's calls will not be considered is a human rights violation.
How can this be so? My guess includes: Adherence to a faulty tradition, and either faulty canon law or an unimaginative, uninspiring interpretation of that law and maybe, just maybe a whole whack of pride somewhere in there, too.
Surely boys we can be creative. Add up as many wrongs as you want. They still won't make it right.
I'm still thinking this through.
with my eyes fixed on Christ, oremus pro invicem,
post edited by Therese - 2007/06/19 03:56:09