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May 30, 2008

Comments

defensor

The femmi nazis just don't get it.

Dan Hunter

So the ones who attempted or were involved in fake ordinations get away scott free, as far as "bell, book and candle go?

Their souls are a different story.

Maybe as a just medicine they should be excommunicated as well.

SDG

Kudos to B-16 and Cardinal Levada!

So the ones who attempted or were involved in fake ordinations get away scott free, as far as "bell, book and candle go?
Their souls are a different story.
Maybe as a just medicine they should be excommunicated as well.

I'm not sure what to make of this response. Surely the Church's disciplinary step here is a positive and encouraging one. I don't understand this negative, critical reaction, with its apparent sense of scandal ("scott free").

Presumably it's those who attempted fake ordinations in the past that you're concerned about, Dan? The going-forward excommunication isn't enough, you feel retroactive excommunication also are essential? Or did you mean something else?

Well, maybe that would be a just medicine that would help them repent. And maybe it wouldn't. Maybe finding themselves excommunicated for something that they did in the past when it wasn't an excommunicable offense would only increase their sense of injustice and alienation from the Church and diminish their impetus to repent.

I don't know. It seems at least an open question. I'm not sure why we wouldn't want to give the Church the benefit of the doubt and certainly be encouraged by a positive disciplinary action, rather than finding fault with the Church over not punishing past malefactors.

Grace and peace, Dan.

Art

as well as the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders

How far does one have to go to constitute "may have attempted to receive Holy Orders"?

Inocencio

Dan Hunter,

I suggest reading Ed Peters commentary on the subject.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

SDG

How far does one have to go to constitute "may have attempted to receive Holy Orders"?

I have no competence in this area at all, but is there any reason to think it means anything other than receiving imposition of hands for the purpose of ordination (or, in sufficiently revisionist play-acting, going through with whatever action is deemed or claimed to confer Holy Orders)?

I mean, suppose a woman gets up in the morning, gets dressed, catches a taxi to some secret location, gets vested, participates in opening prayers, but then before the imposition of hands her doubts and misgivings get the better of her and she backs down and walks away. I don't know what the lawyers would say, but my uninformed knee-jerk reaction would be that she hasn't actually attempted to receive Holy Orders, and thus I would suppose she isn't excommunicated.

If we assume that's more or less correct (and it might not be), it would seem to follow that one also wouldn't get excommunicated for other actions aimed at attempting to secure (attempted) ordination, such as harassing your bishop or making inquiries after dissenting groups or clergy with the intention of ultimately attempting ordination.

Cj

Finally! I hope this gets some publicity in the Church. While it will upset those in favor of women's ordination, it will give many a wake-up call.

Several religious education teachers I know have taught youth (somewhat informally) that women's ordination is possible in the case of a future papal pronouncement. How can so many people believe that papal pronouncement is easily reversible? What happened to "when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth." (John 16:13) I'm especially wondering where this scripture went wrong with people with the recent popes. Would these two last(JPII&B16) really holy, thoroughly educated, and Spirit-filled men pronounce with such firmness something that is 100% opposed to the will of God? Of course not!

I wish people knew this subject better so that they could teach the next generation better. Women, although equal in value to men, have not been chosen by God to be part of the sacrament that is the priesthood- just as two men or two women have not been chosen by God (nor created by God) to be part of the sacrament that is marriage. I pray a better understanding of the Catholic Church's doctrine comes to many.

Art

is there any reason to think it means anything other than receiving imposition of hands for the purpose of ordination (or, in sufficiently revisionist play-acting, going through with whatever action is deemed or claimed to confer Holy Orders)?

Yes, if, for example, "may have attempted" and "actually did attempt" are not the same.

If "may" indicates possibility rather than actuality, then my wife "may have attempted" to obtain Holy Orders.

If "may" indicates permission and she did not have permission to obtain Holy Orders, then even if my wife actually attempted to obtain Holy Orders, it's not true that she "may" have attempted to do so. On the other hand, if my wife actually had permission to attempt to obtain Holy Orders, then she "may" have attempted it, but then why should she be excommunicated?

suppose a woman gets up in the morning... but then... she backs down and walks away... my uninformed knee-jerk reaction would be that she hasn't actually attempted to receive Holy Orders, and thus I would suppose she isn't excommunicated.

Suppose she hired a hit man to kill the Pope but then called it off. Is it not still "attempted" murder? Likewise, you ask what if she "backs down", but how can she back down unless she'd already proceeded up and forward? And if that's not an attempt, what is?

Checking a dictionary, it says that to "attempt" means to make an effort (to do, accomplish, solve, or effect). But unless choice itself is effortless, then by that standard, simply making a choice to do something would alone constitute an attempt, would it not? For example, I recently received a call from a woman who works at a Catholic church. She told me she wants to be a priest and asked for my support. Is it possible (i.e. "may have") that she attempted (by such choice and/or by calling me to seek my support) to receive Holy Orders?

it would seem to follow that one also wouldn't get excommunicated for other actions aimed at attempting to secure (attempted) ordination, such as harassing your bishop or making inquiries after dissenting groups or clergy with the intention of ultimately attempting ordination.

When a woman calls to flat out say she wants to be a priest, is her aim merely to "attempt to secure (attempted) ordination"? Or is her aim and her struggle as she understands it to secure (real) ordination. Does a person struggle with piano lessons for years with the mere aim to "attempt" to play the piano? Or is such a person's aim and struggle to actually play the piano. Indeed, she may say, "I want to take lessons," but the fuller expression is, "I want to takes lessons with the aim of actually playing the piano."

Art

is there any reason to think it means anything other than receiving imposition of hands for the purpose of ordination (or, in sufficiently revisionist play-acting, going through with whatever action is deemed or claimed to confer Holy Orders)?

Yes, if, for example, "may have attempted" and "actually did attempt" are not the same.

If "may" indicates possibility rather than actuality, then my wife "may have attempted" to obtain Holy Orders.

If "may" indicates permission and she did not have permission to obtain Holy Orders, then even if my wife actually attempted to obtain Holy Orders, it's not true that she "may" have attempted to do so. On the other hand, if my wife actually had permission to attempt to obtain Holy Orders, then she "may" have attempted it, but then why should she be excommunicated?

suppose a woman gets up in the morning... but then... she backs down and walks away... my uninformed knee-jerk reaction would be that she hasn't actually attempted to receive Holy Orders, and thus I would suppose she isn't excommunicated.

Suppose she hired a hit man to kill the Pope but then called it off. Is it not still "attempted" murder? Likewise, you ask what if she "backs down", but how can she back down unless she'd already proceeded up and forward? And if that's not an attempt, what is?

Checking a dictionary, it says that to "attempt" means to make an effort (to do, accomplish, solve, or effect). But unless choice itself is effortless, then by that standard, simply making a choice to do something would alone constitute an attempt, would it not? For example, I recently received a call from a woman who works at a Catholic church. She told me she wants to be a priest and asked for my support. Is it possible (i.e. "may have") that she attempted (by such choice and/or by calling me to seek my support) to receive Holy Orders?

it would seem to follow that one also wouldn't get excommunicated for other actions aimed at attempting to secure (attempted) ordination, such as harassing your bishop or making inquiries after dissenting groups or clergy with the intention of ultimately attempting ordination.

When a woman calls to flat out say she wants to be a priest, is her aim merely to "attempt to secure (attempted) ordination"? Or is her aim and her struggle as she understands it to secure (real) ordination. Does a person struggle with piano lessons for years with the mere aim to "attempt" to play the piano? Or is such a person's aim and struggle to actually play the piano. Indeed, she may say, "I want to take lessons," but the fuller expression is, "I want to takes lessons with the aim of actually playing the piano."

Art

In accordance with what is disposed by Can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, ... the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders, incurs in a latae sententiae excommunication

Also, perhaps Ed Peters can explain how it's "in accordance with what is disposed by Canon 1378", when there's nothing in Canon 1378 about a woman attempting to receive Holy Orders? As Ed Peters calls it, it's an addition. So why doesn't it say instead, "in addition to what is disposed by Can 1378"?

sky

Well yes it's an addition that is in accordance with that Canon... What's the issue here?

SDG

Yes, if, for example, "may have attempted" and "actually did attempt" are not the same.

It seems to me that "may have attempted" could be intended to allow for scenarios in which an actual would-be ordaining agent (presumed to be a man) is understood to have actually attempted to ordain an actual woman, but it is not assumed that the woman in question has necessarily attempted to receive ordination.

In other words, suppose a man in episcopal regalia abruptly accosts a woman at random, lays hands on her, and says "Hixie pixie, you're a priest!" Or suppose that she believes she is only going to be confirmed, or to receive a blessing. The provision clearly indicates that the would-be ordaining agent's actions are sufficient to excommunicate him without assuming the woman's complicity.

Presumably, the provision also intends that the woman in such cases is not excommunicated. That might be a slightly awkward reading of the English, but it has the great virtue of making sense, which neither of the readings you proposed do, for the reasons you ably set out yourself.

Anyway, after The Chicken schooling me in the marriage thread on how in Latin "extrinsically indissoluble" can amount to "absolutely indissoluble" while "intrinsically indissoluble" can amount to "potentially dissoluble," which is pretty much the exact opposite of the natural reading in English, I'm not prepared to make any definite sweeping statements about Latin texts based on English translations. I'm going to go with what seems to make sense until I have reason to go with something else.

Incidentally, not explicitly envisioned in this provision, apparently, are scenarios involving a woman who attempts to receive ordination from another woman, as well as a woman who attempts to receive ordination from a male agent who does not intend to bestow it on her. (To give a very silly example, suppose a woman were to try to leap between a bishop and a candidate for ordination and receive the imposition of his hands. Somewhat less absurdly, suppose a woman were to dress as a man and pass herself off as a candidate for ordination. In this case, the woman attempts to receive Holy Orders, but the bishop does not "attempt to confer holy orders on a woman" in a reasonable construal of that phrase.)

I thus find my original supposition that "attempting to receive ordination" may very well mean nothing other than receiving imposition of hands for the purpose of ordination to be a reasonable one, though again I'm open to better informed opinion or instruction.

Leo

If the claims of the original group of female ordinands are to be believed, they found a Catholic bishop somewhere who was willing to perform the initial ordinations. That man's identity has not been revealed.

This fact alone ought to ring alarm bells in the media and the mind of anyone (male or female) who sincerely wanted to become a catholic priest via this line of succession.

Anyone (male or female) can claim to have been secretly ordained priest or consecrated bishop. In the absence of any reliable corroborating evidence, even the "ordination" of a qualified male via this alleged apostolic succession raises the suspicion of simulating a sacrament - regardless of whether one thinks women are capable of being ordained.

Art

it's an addition that is in accordance with that Canon.i>

Actually, it's an addition that's presumably in accordance with every Canon.

What's the issue here?

Is there an issue? "What is disposed by Canon 1368" is "a priest who acts against the prescript of Canon 977", "a person who attempts the liturgical action of the Eucharistic sacrifice", and "a person who, though unable to give sacramental absolution validly, attempts to impart it or who hears sacramental confession." As these all incur a penalty of latae sententiae, there is accordance on that basis. In that the instance of a women who "may have attempted" to receive Holy Orders was "added," was its accordance added as well?

Art

The issue may be italics!

SDG

Also, perhaps Ed Peters can explain how it's "in accordance with what is disposed by Canon 1378", when there's nothing in Canon 1378 about a woman attempting to receive Holy Orders? As Ed Peters calls it, it's an addition. So why doesn't it say instead, "in addition to what is disposed by Can 1378"?
...
Actually, it's an addition that's presumably in accordance with every Canon.

Having read Ed's comments, it seems to me that "in accordance with" might reasonably be understood to mean neither "reiterating" (which would be untrue) nor "not contradicting" (which would be trivial), but perhaps something like "reinforcing," "in furtherance of the principle behind," "as a logical or organic extension of," etc.

Art

It seems to me that "may have attempted" could be intended to allow for scenarios in which an actual would-be ordaining agent (presumed to be a man) is understood to have actually attempted to ordain an actual woman, but it is not assumed that the woman in question has actually attempted to receive ordination... Presumably, the provision also intends that the woman in such cases is not excommunicated.

Yet the English translation clearly states that the woman is excommunicated if she "may have attempted to receive Holy Orders."

Incidentally, not explicitly envisioned in this provision, apparently, are scenarios involving a woman who attempts to receive ordination from another woman, as well as a woman who attempts to receive ordination from a male agent who does not intend to bestow it on her.

Also not explicitly envisioned in the English translation is the obvious scenario of a woman who attempts to receive ordination from a man who intends to do so. Rather, the text speaks of "the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders" without any explicitly necessary connection as to whom was offering it. Such a connection may be inferred at one's option.

Also not explicitly addressed is the issue of a woman who attempts to receive Holy Orders by herself. What if she stood on a mountain top and attempted a do-it-herself self-ordainment? Is she excommunicated?

I thus find my original supposition that "attempting to receive ordination" may very well mean nothing other than receiving imposition of hands for the purpose of ordination to be a reasonable one, though again I'm open to better informed opinion or instruction.

You've equated "attempting to receive ordination" with "receiving imposition of hands." That's one possibility. How well does it fit with your own examples?

You said, "suppose a woman were to try to leap between a bishop and a candidate for ordination." Did she attempt to be ordained? Is she excommunicated, or not? By your standard, if she didn't receive imposition of the hands, she didn't attempt to be ordained and thus is not excommunicated despite her elaborate ploy.

Or, "suppose a woman were to dress as a man and pass herself off as a candidate for ordination. In this case, the woman attempts to receive Holy Orders." You mentioned nothing about hands, yet you admit she attempts to receive Holy Orders. Is she excommunicated? If not, at what exact time would she be excommunicated? Again by your standard, until she received imposition of the hands, she didn't attempt to be ordained and thus is not excommunicated despite her elaborate ploy.

What if she had no understanding of any issue of hands at all? What if the man (or whomever) had instructed her that it involved putting on a dress. Can she be excommunicated if she had a misunderstanding? If not, then what woman can be excommunicated for attempting to receive Holy Orders?

Having read Ed's comments, it seems to me that "in accordance with" might reasonably be understood to mean...

In harmony with.

Art

it seems to me that "in accordance with" might reasonably be understood to mean neither "reiterating" (which would be untrue) nor "not contradicting" (which would be trivial

When translated as "without prejudice to" or "notwithstanding", it often connects to a not so trivial consideration.

Shane

A video which goes over the issue of why women are not ordained from what is probably a perspective many have not heard: http://www.gloria.tv/?video=gbolihx0rz09odbojdex

Hopefully it helps folks understand why this is not a sexist thing at all and what a terrible degradation of women it is to suggest they ought to be ordained.

SDG

Yet the English translation clearly states that the woman is excommunicated if she "may have attempted to receive Holy Orders."

Discussed and dealt with in my previous comments.

Also not explicitly envisioned in the English translation is the obvious scenario of a woman who attempts to receive ordination from a man who intends to do so. Rather, the text speaks of "the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders" without any explicitly necessary connection as to whom was offering it. Such a connection may be inferred at one's option.

This seems unconvincing to me. While as I said earlier I am unwilling to build any definite arguments based on nuances of an English translation from a Latin text, in English the twice-repeated switch from indefinite article (in the clause referring to the man and "a woman") to definite article (in the clause referring to "the woman") would seem to give the latter the force of "the woman just referred to." Thus both sentences seem to pick out a single state of affairs involving a particular man attempting to ordain a particular woman (with or without her consent).

Also not explicitly addressed is the issue of a woman who attempts to receive Holy Orders by herself. What if she stood on a mountain top and attempted a do-it-herself self-ordainment? Is she excommunicated?

You are correct, attempted self-ordination is not explicitly dealt with.

You've equated "attempting to receive ordination" with "receiving imposition of hands." That's one possibility. How well does it fit with your own examples?

With respect to the examples that I mentioned as satisfying the provisions of the decree, I think it fits quite well. It does not necessarily fit those scenarios I mentioned as possibly not falling under the provision of the decree.

You said, "suppose a woman were to try to leap between a bishop and a candidate for ordination." Did she attempt to be ordained? … Or, "suppose a woman were to dress as a man and pass herself off as a candidate for ordination. In this case, the woman attempts to receive Holy Orders." You mentioned nothing about hands, yet you admit she attempts to receive Holy Orders.

Yes, those would be the scenarios I said may not necessarily fall under the provision of the decree as worded, first of all because the decree seems to take for granted in any such incident the active intent of the would-be ordaining agent to confer Holy Orders.

In such a case, it seems to me that it would certainly be in accordance with the spirit of the decree that a woman who is prevented in her (impossible) attempt to receive Holy Orders only by discovery, or by the bishop's reflexes, should be liable to excommunication, and if she were not it would only be by a technicality or two. But that's only my construal. What the experts would say, I don't know.

Happily, the decree and the normal situation involving attempted ordination of a woman are both sufficiently clear-cut that in actual practice there would seldom if ever be any real doubt as to whether the decree applies to a particular situation. This is as it should be; "hard cases make bad law," and all that.

What if she had no understanding of any issue of hands at all? What if the man (or whomever) had instructed her that it involved putting on a dress. Can she be excommunicated if she had a misunderstanding? If not, then what woman can be excommunicated for attempting to receive Holy Orders?

Here I think I may be on somewhat firmer ground.

With (again) all necessary disclaimers about being outside my expertise, I believe it is clear from the general principles governing latae sententiae excommunication that the person must understand at the time of the excommunicable action that it is in fact an excommunicable offense.

From this it would follow, firstly, that a woman who actually attempts to receive Holy Orders, even through the imposition of an actual bishop's hands, if she does not know that the Church forbids her action under penalty of excommunication, would not be excommunicated. (In theory, even the bishop could be ignorant enough to escape the penalty, although this is hopefully very unlikely.)

In such an extreme scenario as you describe, where a woman has been persuaded that receiving Holy Orders involves some action other than the imposition of hands (e.g., putting on a dress), it seems very likely that the woman in question will not adequately understand the censure attached to the action.

That said, whatever misunderstandings about the nature of the sacrament a woman may have (and as you imply any woman seeking Holy Orders obviously has misunderstandings on some level), if she clearly understands that for a woman to attempt to receive Holy Orders carries a penalty of excommunication, and if she actually does attempt to receive Holy Orders in defiance of Church teaching and discipline (whether by the imposition of hands, the putting on a dress, or any other action), in principle it would seem to me that she would be liable to excommunication.

Obviously, there are further rabbit trails we might explore regarding what constitutes sufficient understanding of what it means to be excommunicated, etc. For example, having posited a poor deluded woman who believes that she can be "ordained" by putting on a dress, you might go on to posit that her puppet masters have further told her that when she does so she will be "excommunicated," which is a Latin word meaning that the Church will take her out for ice cream. It is not much less far-fetched.

I'm far from competent to chase down all possible rabbits. However, as previously noted, the principles are clear enough that few people will be in any real doubt as to the applicability in the majority of cases; for the rare extreme case, we can defer to the experts.

Art

the decree and the normal situation involving attempted ordination of a woman are both sufficiently clear-cut

I’ve not discussed ordination "of" a woman so much as only what is required to qualify as an attempt "by" a woman to receive Holy Orders for the purposes of excommunication, and that is not without question from the text alone. Whether it's "sufficiently" clear, it's what's been presented.

In such an extreme scenario as you describe, where a woman has been persuaded that receiving Holy Orders involves some action other than the imposition of hands (e.g., putting on a dress), it seems very likely that the woman in question will not adequately understand the censure attached to the action.

The woman who called me did not seem to adequately understand many things about the ordination of women (and other Catholic matters), but I'd be hard pressed to say that it's "very likely" she didn't adequately understand the prohibition. She knew it was prohibited. If she didn't, why would she have called me for my support? So a person can be quite ignorant of many things in regard to ordination, even to think that it involves putting on a dress, but that doesn’t make it "very likely" that she's oblivious to the prohibition.

if she clearly understands that for a woman to attempt to receive Holy Orders carries a penalty of excommunication, and if she actually does attempt to receive Holy Orders in defiance of Church teaching and discipline (whether by the imposition of hands, the putting on a dress, or any other action), in principle it would seem to me that she would be liable to excommunication.

That seems reasonable, if yet still vague ("any other action").

"excommunicated," which is a Latin word meaning that the Church will take her out for ice cream. It is not much less far-fetched

It's not far-fetched that many people seemingly flock to the far-fetched. If someone can see Jesus in a pancake, why not go for ice cream?

SDG

I'd be hard pressed to say that it's "very likely" she didn't adequately understand the prohibition.

As previously noted, understanding the prohibition is not enough. By "the censure attached to the action," I meant not simply the prohibition, but the penalty of excommunication.

That seems reasonable, if yet still vague ("any other action").

Concrete language is limited; sweeping language is vague. We cannot talk with equal clarity about everything at once.

If someone can see Jesus in a pancake, why not go for ice cream?

From what has been said it seems to me the question of liability to excommunication of a woman who thinks excommunication means ice cream seems sufficiently clear.

Art

understanding the prohibition is not enough. By "the censure attached to the action," I meant not simply the prohibition, but the penalty of excommunication.

Quite so, understanding the prohibition is not enough. But when asked if she understands the penalty, she says, "Maybe I do, maybe I don't. What I understand is that God calls me and many women to be priests and a prohibition against that is invalid. Why should there be a penalty for doing what I in my conscience believe is right? Our parish priest came to our home for dinner and we talked about the role of women in the Church, and he's supportive. I study, I go to classes on women in the priesthood. I don't claim to know everything, and if I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but if my understanding is wrong on ordination of women, would you think my understanding of a penalty would be any better?"

We cannot talk with equal clarity about everything at once.

I didn't ask that we try that.

From what has been said it seems to me the question of liability to excommunication of a woman who thinks excommunication means ice cream seems sufficiently clear.

She can be liable even if she thinks the word "liable" means ice cream, and she can be liable to excommunication even if she believes the word "excommunication" means ice cream -- if vocabulary ignorance and ignorance of the punishment are not identical. But maybe you've switched from vocabulary ignorance as you spoke of in your pior post to ignorance of the punishment regardless of her vocabulary skills. Then yes, if she's eating ice cream and blissfully ignorant of the punishment, there's little question.

SDG

But when asked if she understands the penalty, she says, "Maybe I do, maybe I don't... if my understanding is wrong on ordination of women, would you think my understanding of a penalty would be any better?"

Non sequitur. There are plenty of dissenters with sufficient understanding of the Church's teaching and discipline, including penal discipline, who nevertheless obstinately refuse to accept the teaching and are even willing to defy the discipline and the attached punishment.

I said earlier that any woman seeking Holy Orders has misunderstandings "on some level." However, there are misunderstandings and misunderstandings; not all ignorance is invincible, nor is integral theological mastery a prerequisite for defiance and sin.

If my ten-year-old deliberately disobeys his parents' rules without just cause, somewhere he is misunderstanding something. But Catholic thought is different from Platonism, which found ignorance at the root of all evil; the ten-year-old can still justly incur the punishment he understands for the offense he understands in spite of the element of confusion involved in the offense.

She can be liable even if she thinks the word "liable" means ice cream, and she can be liable to excommunication even if she believes the word "excommunication" means ice cream -- if vocabulary ignorance and ignorance of the punishment are not identical.

That's cute, but since you track down your own rabbit I have no objection to the additional trail.

Mary

Quite so, understanding the prohibition is not enough. But when asked if she understands the penalty, she says, "Maybe I do, maybe I don't. What I understand is that God calls me and many women to be priests and a prohibition against that is invalid.Why should there be a penalty for doing what I in my conscience believe is right? Our parish priest came to our home for dinner and we talked about the role of women in the Church, and he's supportive. I study, I go to classes on women in the priesthood. I don't claim to know everything, and if I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but if my understanding is wrong on ordination of women, would you think my understanding of a penalty would be any better?"

Or, in plain English -- yes, she understands. She knows that the penalty's there and she will incure it. Reminds me of an American lawyer talking of the clients who don't understand that mens rea requires not that they intend to break the law but that they intend to do all the actions which constitute a given crime.

Tim J.

"What I understand is that God calls me and many women to be priests and a prohibition against that is invalid.Why should there be a penalty for doing what I in my conscience believe is right?"

In short, she knows better than the Church what God wants - it is she and not the Pope and the Bishops through whom God speaks to his people. Call that what you like, but don't call it Catholic.

Art

If my ten-year-old deliberately disobeys his parents' rules without just cause, somewhere he is misunderstanding something... the ten-year-old can still justly incur the punishment he understands for the offense he understands in spite of the element of confusion involved in the offense.

If you thought this woman were your child, she'd look you in the face and tell you she doesn't believe you. And even if you could convince her that you are her parent, she'd say you must be a fallible parent because your prohibition and punishment are as unjust as forbidding her to breathe. Like I said, she says she's called by God to be a priest, and anything that stands between is wrong.

but since you track down your own rabbit I have no objection to the additional trail.

In Christian charity, that rabbit is no more mine than it's yours. It was released with your reference to vocabulary and rounded up in my post.

Or, in plain English -- yes, she understands. She knows that the penalty's there and she will incure it.

She knows someone wearing a uniform claiming to have authority has delivered a message. She knows it says she'll incur a penalty. She tells me her conscience tells her this one is a fake. If she's misreading her conscience or her conscience is malformed, does that mean she knows she'll incur a penalty?

In short, she knows better than the Church what God wants - it is she and not the Pope and the Bishops through whom God speaks to his people. Call that what you like, but don't call it Catholic.

If she's of some other religion, can she be excommunicated? Or is she already.

Elijah

I hate myself for having read this 'discussion'.

Tim J.

And why's that, Elijah? Enlighten us.

Kineticriticality

Just out of curiousity, why is it that basically every protestant denomination does ordain women? And where is the biblical justification for the idea that women can't be priests, or otheriwse hold authority in the hierarchies of the church?

Grew up Catholic, currently attending Episcopalian services... this is a strong sticking point for my returning to what I still consider my (and "the") Church. Seems to me that like much of what is considered "infallible doctrine" is actually 1500-years-ago-ish rewriting of traditions that weren't biblical then and aren't biblical now.

Tim J.

"Grew up Catholic, currently attending Episcopalian services... this is a strong sticking point for my returning to what I still consider my (and "the") Church."

That's interesting. I consider it "the" Church, as well, and for that reason, wild horses couldn't drag me out of it.

Others can address better than I can the reasons why women have never - in 2000 years of Church history - received the sacrament of ordination, and why only men *can* be ordained. I do know that the pattern for each sacrament was set by Christ, and that we have no authority to monkey with that because it might make some of us feel better.

If you are truly waiting for the Church to ordain women before returning, plan for a long life as an Episcopalian.

SDG

Elijah: I hate myself for having read this 'discussion'.
And why's that, Elijah? Enlighten us.

Go easy on Elijah, Tim J. I have a feeling the smell of gnostic troll makes Elijah queasy, that's all. Some of us have stronger stomachs than others. And even I have felt a bit queasy the last few go-rounds.

Art: Like I said, she says she's called by God to be a priest, and anything that stands between is wrong.

Not in the Catholic Church, she isn't. The teaching and discipline of the Catholic Church are not in doubt. If she believes that God and the Catholic Church have views so deeply opposed, her only viable recourse is to go call herself a priest in some other tradition.

She knows someone wearing a uniform claiming to have authority has delivered a message. She knows it says she'll incur a penalty. She tells me her conscience tells her this one is a fake. If she's misreading her conscience or her conscience is malformed, does that mean she knows she'll incur a penalty?

It's unclear to me how "fake" is to be understood in this context. The Church's authority does not rest in uniforms or private claims. Someone is recognized as the bishop of Rome. If he says, or authorizes the saying, that action X causes you to be excommunicated, and you know that he says or authorizes this saying, and you have a working understanding of what is meant by all this, then it seems clear to me that you have sufficient knowledge to excommunicate yourself by committing the offense in question.

If she's of some other religion, can she be excommunicated? Or is she already.

Non sequitur. Your starting supposition is not warranted by Tim J's observation.

Elijah

Sorry for not being clear, Tim. SDG is correct about the feeling behind my post.

The Traditional teaching regarding the ordination of women is clear, as is the new document. Pretending otherwise is silly. Pretending otherwise for pages and pages? Pfff.

I know, I don't have to read the combox. But, as a convert from a very anti-Catholic background, I credit Jimmy's posts as well as the many fruitful discussions that have followed with easing my transition into the Church and helping to equip me to deal with my family. I always check back in hopes of learning something useful and I often do. Other times I just end up wasting time reading smart-alecky nonsense from folks who aren't here for a real conversation.

Art

If she believes that God and the Catholic Church have views so deeply opposed, her only viable recourse is to go call herself a priest in some other tradition.

Do you really believe such action to be a viable recourse? Instead, why not give up those beliefs?

It's unclear to me how "fake" is to be understood in this context. The Church's authority does not rest in uniforms or private claims. Someone is recognized as the bishop of Rome.

If it helps, I don't recall saying she recognizes the bishop of Rome on this matter or that she recognizes a decree from the CDF as authoritative, final and binding. Like I described before, she seems to consider (her) conscience to be the 'aboriginal Vicar of Christ'.

Non sequitur. Your starting supposition is not warranted by Tim J's observation.

Actually, it precedes Tim J's post. Tim J's post on what is and what isn't Catholic touches on it. As I noted much earlier, there are other Catholic matters on which she might be questioned. From what I can tell, her stance on the ordination of women is just one of many.

Elijah

See?

The Masked Chicken

Dear Kineticriticality,

Are you still reading this combox and do you really want to engage in constuctive discussion about why the Catholic Church cannot ordain women?

The Chicken

Tim J.

I hear you, Elijah.

Jimmy's blog seems to me to draw a larger than average number of trolls.

It's like there is always someone out there ready to derail a discussion by the vapid manipulation of language. It's a kind of shell game, where the frame of reference constantly shifts and words have no fixed meanings.

Entertaining, I guess, for people who have no life.

SDG

Jimmy's blog seems to me to draw a larger than average number of trolls.

No, I don't think so. Mostly, it's just one really persistent troll. Other trolls do come and go, burn out in a day or two, get banned, whatever. Our friend B'Art, like a chronic toothache, just sticks around. His name is Legion, for he is many, but they're all that one guy.

Scott W.

Inevitably, someone throws out the "I'm called by God" card. It's true that there is an interior call. But there is also an exterior call determined by the Church. There are plenty of men who had the interior call, but not the exterior.

SDG

Do you really believe such action to be a viable recourse? Instead, why not give up those beliefs?

First ask your friend to answer question 2, and then I will answer question 1.

If it helps, I don't recall saying she recognizes the bishop of Rome on this matter or that she recognizes a decree from the CDF as authoritative, final and binding.

I'm not sure what it would mean for someone to recognize (or not) the bishop of Rome "on this [or any other] matter." What I said was: Someone is recognized as the bishop of Rome.

Actually, it precedes Tim J's post.

In that case, the answer to your question depends on the sense and context of your phrase "of some other religion."

Mary

If she's of some other religion, can she be excommunicated? Or is she already.

It means putting someone out of communion. If she belonged to a different religion, or even a different sect of Christianity not in communion with the Pope, she can't be put out. She's not in to be put out.

Mary

Like I said, she says she's called by God to be a priest, and anything that stands between is wrong.

If she said she was called by God to be Pope, I have no doubt she would expect anything that stood in her way to be wrong, too. Like the inconvenience of a living Pope who won't resign in her favor and the College of Cardinals.

Mary

Just out of curiousity, why is it that basically every protestant denomination does ordain women?

Spirit of the age.

After all, it's not as if, during the Reformation, they all instantly saw the Church was wrong and decided to ordain women.

I note the Orthodox still agree with the Catholics on this point.

Mary

She knows someone wearing a uniform claiming to have authority has delivered a message. She knows it says she'll incur a penalty. She tells me her conscience tells her this one is a fake.

Fake? It can't tell her the penalty is fake. It could only tell her that the penalty is wrong.

It's like the legend of St. Valentine that says he was executed for performing marriage ceremonies for legionnaries whom the Emperor had ordered to remain single. He defied the penalty because the law was wrong, not because the penalty was unreal.

Mary

If she believes that God and the Catholic Church have views so deeply opposed, her only viable recourse is to go call herself a priest in some other tradition.

Do you really believe such action to be a viable recourse? Instead, why not give up those beliefs?

It is not only viable, it is the only sane recourse.

"Giving up those beliefs" is entering some other tradition.

Just as if someone didn't want to believe that Jesus Christ is God and man, his only viable and sane recourse is to leave Christianity. He can't "give up those beliefs."

Scott W.

If she said she was called by God to be Pope, I have no doubt she would expect anything that stood in her way to be wrong, too.

Oo! I want to play! Let's see...

I am called by God to be President, so you Secret Service guys can just lower your weapons.

I am called by God to be Napoleon, you elderberry-smelly Brits are wrong in your attempts to prevent me from retaking my emperor's crown.

I am called by God to be a cat. Meow.

Art

Inevitably, someone throws out the "I'm called by God" card. It's true that there is an interior call. But there is also an exterior call determined by the Church.

That may be followed by "The game isn't over" card or the "Check the deck" card.

First ask your friend to answer question 2, and then I will answer question 1.

Q2: "Why not give up those beliefs?"
A2: "I should not ignore my conscience."

I'm not sure what it would mean for someone to recognize (or not) the bishop of Rome "on this [or any other] matter." What I said was: Someone is recognized as the bishop of Rome.

I take it to mean she believes the bishop of Rome has not spoken in absolute finality on the matter of woman's ordination and until she understands otherwise reserves the final decision to her conscience on such matter.

In that case, the answer to your question depends on the sense and context of your phrase "of some other religion."

The sense and context of "Call that what you like, but don't call it Catholic."

Art

If she belonged to a different religion, or even a different sect of Christianity not in communion with the Pope, she can't be put out. She's not in to be put out.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "With the foregoing exceptions, all who have been baptized are liable to excommunication, even those who have never belonged to the true Church, since by their baptism they are really her subjects, though of course rebellious ones. Moreover, the Church excommunicates not only those who abandon the true faith to embrace schism or heresy, but likewise the members of heretical and schismatic communities who have been born therein."

If she said she was called by God to be Pope

She didn't.

Fake? It can't tell her the penalty is fake. It could only tell her that the penalty is wrong.

No, "fake" as in something wrong but presented as if it were right. The words "this one" were not intended to refer to the penalty as you may have construed it but to the "claiming" / message.

"Giving up those beliefs" is entering some other tradition.

No, "those beliefs" refered to believing "that God and the Catholic Church have views so deeply opposed." It is traditional to not believe that, while believing it would be entering some other tradition.

Just as if someone didn't want to believe that Jesus Christ is God and man, his only viable and sane recourse is to leave Christianity.

Not so. A man who doesn't want to believe the truth is a man who wants to believe a lie. He has a viable and sane recourse to not believe the lie.

He can't "give up those beliefs."

Then according to your own words, he can't enter some other tradition, for you yourself said, “'Giving up those beliefs' is entering some other tradition." When you yourself have trampled your "only sane and viable recourse", how sane and viable is it? Do you have any other recourse when it was your only?

The Masked Chicken

Dear Art,

You wrote:

I take it to mean she believes the bishop of Rome has not spoken in absolute finality on the matter of woman's ordination and until she understands otherwise reserves the final decision to her conscience on such matter.

How much more absolute finality does she want? In the apostolic letter,
ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS, May 22, 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote:

4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

When the Pope says, I declare, what stronger language can he use? When he says, whatsoever and definitively held, that means that that this is the established position of the Church, forever. No future Pope can change this.

The Chicken

Tim J.

"I take it to mean she believes the bishop of Rome has not spoken in absolute finality on the matter of woman's ordination"

And she won't believe he has spoken with finality as long as he continues to disagree with her. This is how dissenters do "dialogue"... the question remains open (in their view) until they get their way.

So, no issue is ever settled on mere authority, but only by the power of personal opinion.

Art

How much more absolute finality does she want? ... When the Pope says, I declare, what stronger language can he use? When he says, whatsoever and definitively held, that means that that this is the established position of the Church, forever. No future Pope can change this.

Yet to http://www.womenpriests.org/teaching/mag_con2.asp>quote from an obvious source, "Key theologians from all over the world have rejected this claim."

And she won't believe he has spoken with finality as long as he continues to disagree with her.

"He continues to disagree with her" is one heck of a way to speak with finality.

SDG

Q2: "Why not give up those beliefs?"
A2: "I should not ignore my conscience."

Q1: "Do you really believe such action to be a viable recourse?"
A1: Since she professes to be bound in conscience and cannot rectify her beliefs, then I would say her most viable course -- I think I can use that word, not without caveats -- is to call herself a priest in some other tradition. If she seeks ordination as a Catholic, knowing the Church's stance, she will be excommunicate, cut off from the sacraments and in many ways from the life of the Church. And to attempt to carry out some mockery of ordained ministry within the Church in defiance of such a discipline of sanction would, I think, be a far graver hazard to her soul even than leaving the Church. So, yes, as far as I can see the latter is her most viable option.

I take it to mean she believes the bishop of Rome has not spoken in absolute finality on the matter of woman's ordination and until she understands otherwise reserves the final decision to her conscience on such matter.

(Aside: And if or when she is given to understand otherwise?)

In any case, that is irrelevant to the question of the disciplinary consequence of excommunication. It might transpire, God knoweth how, that one is bound in conscience to undertake a course of action that could even result in excommunication. In general this would be due to wrongly formed conscience, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that one could even be in the right. Even so, neither the authority of conscience or even the rectitude of one's cause negates the disciplinary decision of the Church. One would have to be prepared in such an extremity to say, "If the Church excommunicates me, she excommunicates me. I do as I must. God will be the final judge." But even in the event of wrongful judgment by the Church, the Church's disciplinary action continues to have normative force.

An officer who deliberately defies direct orders to save his regiment may be a hero. Yet he does so knowing that the price of his heroism may be relief of duty, arrest and court-martial. While he rightly hopes ultimately to be vindicated by due process, the justice of his actions does not entitle him afterwards to defy all due process, resist arrest, try to continue to command the regiment, break out of custody and/or defy the court that, rightly or wrongly, is tasked with judging him. If his superior officers relieve him of duty, rightly or wrongly, he is relieved. In some cases he might have recourse instead to relieve them of duty, but if that is not a viable course he must submit to military discipline.

Even a real priest, an ordained man, who finds himself excommunicate, even unjustly, is nevertheless ordinarily gravely obliged to refrain from priestly ministry. A woman who believes herself ordained but who is excommunicate has no more right to defy Church discipline.

A man is recognized as the bishop of Rome. That has inexorable consequences, not only when he speaks ex cathedra.

Yet to quote from an obvious source, "Key theologians from all over the world have rejected this claim."

Dissent-speak for "Dissenters all over the world refuse to accept Church teaching." To quote from that same source, "In 'Ordinatio Sacerdotalis' Rome claims that the exclusion of women from priestly ordination has been infallibly decided by the 'ordinary universal magisterium'." Even the dissenters admit that Rome teaches ("claims") precisely what they reject. The Holy See, not the "magisterium of theologians," is the guardian of Church teaching.

The sense and context of "Call that what you like, but don't call it Catholic."

In that sense and context, I would say she might still be a member of the Catholic Church, and thus subject to excommunication.

The Masked Chicken

Dear Art,

You wrote:

Yet to quote from an obvious source, "Key theologians from all over the world have rejected this claim."

So what. Who cares what "key" theologians think. Rome has spoken. The matter is settled. If they choose to continue to disagree, they deserve neither the title of key nor theologian. The value of pi is not a matter of opinion any more than the ordination of women is. At some point truth is truth. God speaks through the Pope in these matters. To reject the Pope when he speaks definitively (as he has, here) is to reject God. I can only conclude, then, they your "key" theologians either reject God or are ignorant of how he really speaks to the Church.

The Chicken

Kineticriticality

Yes, I am still reading this, and am really keen to get at the biblical basis for the lack of ordination for women and the absence of wives for priests. Aside those two points, which I admittedly have not researched deeply, I find myself at 30 wondering why I ever left "the" church -- especially since the Episcopalian church is about as Catholic as a church can get without a Pope, as far as I can tell, in most of the ways that matter.

I could do my own homework. Or I could ask the clearly well-informed and interested community here. Having read this blog for nearly a year, I expect the answer I get here to be illuminating. Thanks Chicken, and any other respondent.

Art

I would say her most viable course ... is to call herself a priest in some other tradition... to attempt to carry out some mockery of ordained ministry within the Church in defiance of such a discipline of sanction would, I think, be a far graver hazard to her soul even than leaving the Church. So, yes, as far as I can see the latter is her most viable option.

Do you have a suggestion how she'd "call herself a priest in some other tradition" without becoming an apostate, a heretic or a schismatic, each of which has the potential to incur automatic excommunication?

In any case, that is irrelevant to the question of the disciplinary consequence of excommunication... One would have to be prepared in such an extremity to say, "If the Church excommunicates me, she excommunicates me. I do as I must. God will be the final judge."

To whom is it a question? As you describe, the "question of the disciplinary consequence" would seem to be irrelevant in the view of such a person.

A woman who believes herself ordained but who is excommunicate has no more right to defy Church discipline.

What right will she have to follow her conscience?

Even the dissenters admit that Rome teaches ("claims") precisely what they reject.

The dissenters say it falls short of the requirements to constitute such a teaching.

Rome has spoken. The matter is settled... I can only conclude...

That's you speaking your conclusion on what you read. Others have read everything you have, some more, some less, some perhaps given it more consideration, some less, and have spoken their conclusions also. You have your reasons, and they have theirs.

SDG

Do you have a suggestion how she'd "call herself a priest in some other tradition" without becoming an apostate, a heretic or a schismatic, each of which has the potential to incur automatic excommunication?

Since that is precisely the penalty attached to calling herself a priest in the Catholic tradition, it would seem her conscience binds her to a choice of poisons. But some are worse than others, and I think she need not be excommunicate, though it seems to me the closest thing to an honest conscience we can hope for her (which, short of conversion, is the best I can see to hope for her) is defection.

She need not be an apostate -- Protestants and even sub-Christian sect members like JWs and Mormons are not that. She is already a heretic, I think, since Rome considers the doctrine she rejects to be infallibly proposed.

If she were to decide that God wants her to be a priest in the Anglican communion, I'm not sure, but I don't think that is schism, nor do I think the sanction of excommunication is attached to such defection. It's still grave matter, but it may be the closest thing to an honest conscience one could hope for her.

Needless to say, those who love her ought still to pray for her conversion and return to Catholic orthodoxy. But Catholic heresy and excommunicate false ministry is not a preferrable state of affairs to defection and Protestant clergy work.

As you describe, the "question of the disciplinary consequence" would seem to be irrelevant in the view of such a person.

I'm not sure I see that. See the case of the officer defying orders.

What right will she have to follow her conscience?

Anyone can claim that anything is dictated by conscience. Some claims are less honestly come by than others.

The dissenters say it falls short of the requirements to constitute such a teaching.

They do not, as far as I know. All I said was "taught," not "infallibly proposed." I'm not aware that anyone denies that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis teaches that men only can be ordained -- only that the teaching has been infallibly proposed. OS is unambiguously a teaching document, a document of the ordinary magisterium. It is not an exercise of the extraordinary magisterium and thus not infallible, but it is still a teaching document, and what it "claims" it teaches, certainly with respect to what is Church teaching.

Also, the teaching in this case is of a remarkable (one might even colloquially say extraordinary) sort: Without infallibly proposing, it proposes that the teaching has already been infallibly proposed. This is teaching of a particularly strong and solemn sort. Any ordinary teaching of the magisterium requires a certain docility of the intellect, but a teaching that is proposed as already infallibly defined, even if this teaching itself is not infallible, seems to demand assent in the face of all but the gravest and most intractable intellectual difficulties, difficulties so grave that they could hardly be circumvented even if the teaching were unambiguously to be infallibly proposed.

Can all who dissent from this teaching claim that their difficulties are really of this order? As I asked before, what becomes of your friend if she should come to understand that the teaching is infallibly defined?

The Masked Chicken

Dear Kineticriticality,

I will try to answer your questions from a Biblical basis, but you must understand that the Bible may be somewhat unclear on certain issues (it does not contradict Church teaching, but some matters have been more easily understood from the oral Tradition and not the written Tradition). I will start from Scripture, but then use oral tradition, as needed to explain and amplify -if this is alright with you. If not, then I will stay strictly with Scripture. My purpose here is to teach and explore the matter with you and it would be best to use those tools that can do the best job. I will let you choose.

I will also say, from the start that I and the others here are a bit humbled to have this oportunity. You are important to us.

I am about to start class, so I can only start the ball rolling. The easier topic is priests having a wife. There are two passages of Scripture that deal with this most directly:

Mat 19:10 The disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry."
Mat 19:11 But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
Mat 19:12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."

and

1Cr 7: 24 So, brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God.
1Cr 7:25 Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.
1Cr 7:26 I think that in view of the present distress it is well for a person to remain as he is.
1Cr 7:27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage.
1Cr 7:28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.
1Cr 7:29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none,
1Cr 7:30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods,
1Cr 7:31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
1Cr 7:32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord;
1Cr 7:33 but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife,
1Cr 7:34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband.
1Cr 7:35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
1Cr 7:36 If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry--it is no sin.
1Cr 7:37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well.
1Cr 7:38 So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.


We can discuss these later, today. I must get to class.

The Chicken


Art

I think she need not be excommunicate... Catholic heresy and excommunicate false ministry is not a preferrable state of affairs to defection and Protestant clergy work.

You already said she's a heretic (you think), and if she withdraws or has withdrawn her submission to the Supreme Pontiff she's also a schismatic. Canon lawyers please feel free to comment, but Canon 1364 says "an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication." How would defection and Protestant clergy work eliminate that?

I'm not sure I see that. See the case of the officer defying orders.

Your story of the officer does not indicate the officer had any "question of the disciplinary consequence." Rather, he did what he must do, and left such a question, if there was a question, for the court.

Anyone can claim that anything is dictated by conscience. Some claims are less honestly come by than others.

As it's been said... Catholicism is not a moral supermarket in which one can pick the stances that seem best to any individual. Rather, it is a religion that has the promise of divine guidance for its magisterium in moral matters, and that, after all, is a better guarantee than the rest of us can claim as individuals. But even when we are committed to be in total agreement with Church teaching, we still face the need to work out a solution to new problems that come along on which the Church has not yet definitively spoken... and at times, the question of fact as to what is Church teaching and whether the Church has definitively spoken.

They do not, as far as I know.

If "as far as you know" were extended to the links I already posted, you could find such dissenting gems as, "Of course, the doctrine might still be true - I don’t know. [But] I see no reason in orthodox Catholic theology that requires me to believe that it has been infallibly taught and thus commands the assent of faith." And, "But what about the claim that the teaching is infallible according to the rules of the ordinary, universal magisterium? Have the four conditions for the legitimate exercise of this authority been met? The answer is no. Regarding the first requirement, it must be bishops who exercise this kind of infallibility. Except for the bishops that might be members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, no bishops that we know of were ever consulted on what they are teaching or believe about the ordination of women. Even if the opinions of some bishops were sought, it is clear that the second requirement is not met, namely that the bishops are teaching this way while in union with each other and the pope. The issue simply has not been raised when the bishops are together in solemn assembly where such matters are brought to the body. Third, there is room for serious doubt that the teaching on ordination should be considered to be a matter of faith or of morals. Many reputable theologians, including those assembled by the Vatican itself to study whether there was any basis in scripture for the ban against ordaining women, simply do not find in the gospels a basis for this teaching. Fourth and finally, we would be hard pressed to show that the bishops agree on one view that must be held by the faithful on this issue. Enough bishops in this country alone have made their opinions known so as to assure us at the very least of differences of opinion in this matter. Not even one of the four conditions necessary for an exercise of this kind of infallibility has been met."

Scott W.

This reminds me of John Calvin dismantled the usual objections to perpetual virginity and then noted: "No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation."

Scott W.

Responsum ad Dubium
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
October 28, 1995

Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

Responsum: In the affirmative.

This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the Feast of the Apostles SS. Simon and Jude, October 28, 1995.

+ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Prefect

+ Tarcisio Bertone
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
Secretary

SDG

You already said she's a heretic (you think), and if she withdraws or has withdrawn her submission to the Supreme Pontiff she's also a schismatic. Canon lawyers please feel free to comment, but Canon 1364 says "an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication." How would defection and Protestant clergy work eliminate that?

First, as regards heresy. A latae sententiae excommunication only applies if the individual does what they know the Church has pronounced to be an excommunicable offense. The difference between (what I believe is) her de facto heresy against infallibly proposed teaching and her seeking Holy Orders is that she does not knowingly commit the offense of heresy which she knows to be contrary to Canon 1364, whereas she does knowingly seek Holy Orders which she knows to be contrary to the recent decree. Thus, though in fact a heretic, she does not incur the automatic excommunication of Canon 1364, but by attempting to receive Holy Orders she would incur the automatic excommunication of the decree.

However, you are right on schism. At that point, as I say, it is a choice of poisons, and some are worse than others. Compared to faux ordained ministry in the Church as an excommunicate, schism seems to me the less bad option.

Your story of the officer does not indicate the officer had any "question of the disciplinary consequence." Rather, he did what he must do, and left such a question, if there was a question, for the court.

If your friend is aware of the recent decree, neither is there any question of the disciplinary consequence in her case. Since the verdict is already pronounced, if she considers seeking Holy Orders to be "what she must do," she must accept her status as excommunicate and behave accordingly, as even a real priest would be obliged to do.

But even when we are committed to be in total agreement with Church teaching, we still face the need to work out a solution to new problems that come along on which the Church has not yet definitively spoken... and at times, the question of fact as to what is Church teaching and whether the Church has definitively spoken.

What does that have to do with carrying out faux ordained ministry as an excommunicate?

If "as far as you know" were extended to the links I already posted, you could find such dissenting gems as, "Of course, the doctrine might still be true - I don’t know. [But] I see no reason in orthodox Catholic theology that requires me to believe that it has been infallibly taught and thus commands the assent of faith."

I'm not sure you're reading me carefully enough. Please try again.

David B.

SDG,

I hope someone can delete the crude and vile message on the post "uk embryo horror." Thanks.

The Masked Chicken

Dear Kineticriticality,

The two scripture passages above indicate that it is easier to serve the Lord in the single state, which, in itself, is a gift reserved for some. If a priest is to be exclusively from the male sex (we will discuss this later), then the best advantage for the ministry may be obtained in the single state. The Church, recognizing that priesthood requires full and undivided attention to God, has mandated the celibate, unmarried state for those men who are to become priests in the Latin rite. This is a discipline imposed by the Church in the Latin rite for the good of the ministry. It is not a doctrine. St. Paul said:

So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

This leaves the door open for the possibility of some to marry, but they will have difficulties in the world and St. Paul (and the Church) would spare them of this. The Church has, for prudential reasons (usually, historical), allowed for a married clergy in certain of her rites (do you understand what a rite is? The Church although one, has different expressions of her ministry throughout the world. The Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, for instance, have a slightly different, but valid liturgy, form of chant, etc.). Different rites have different disciplines, all of which have been approved by the Vatican. In some of the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, married men are allowed to become priests.

Priests who have never been married or are widowed, are not allowed to get married. One reason for this is that the ordination process leaves a mark on the soul that reserves the soul exclusively for priesthood if their are no other attachments. Before the mark is imposed, one could, conceivably be married. The mark of Holy Orders does not dissolve the marriage, but once the marriage ends (through death of the spouse), a new marriage cannot be attempted because now, there is an impediment. The theology is somewhat more complicated than this, but this is one way to think about it.

Thus, in answer to the question about married clergy, the Church has constantly taught, since the fourth century, that it is better for priests to never marry - it is a type of witness and a reference to Christ, who never married, but was, rather married to the Church. In early ascetical theology, virginity was called a "white martyrdom" because it was a bloodless giving of one's life to Christ as a witness. Now, priests do not have to be virgins (St. Augustine, for example), but the voluntary giving up of one's reproductive life for the sake of Christ and his Church was a powerful witness and priestly celibacy tends towards the same ends.

Any questions? Does anyone else have any questions, comments or corrections?

Now, given that priestly celibacy is desirable for the reasons mentioned, the next question is, why can only men be priests (your first question). Before we get to that? Let's see if we can answer any questions, so far.

The Chicken

p.s., Other regular posters, feel free to get involved in this discussion. It underlies the topic of the post and might help Kineticriticality to better understand.

The Masked Chicken

Lest I get yelled at, I did not mean to implied that priests cannot get married by virtue of the mark of ordination. There have been some priests who have left the priesthood (rather, have been deactivated, since the mark cannot be removed), who have gotten married. This is extremely painful to the Church, since the sacrament of Holy Orders then cannot be of service to the Church except in extremis (a priest who has left the priesthood and gotten married can, in an emergency when death is immanent, hear a confession and absolve). Nevertheless, going back to the time of St. Paul, bishops, in either the Western or Orthodox churches could not get married once ordained.

The Chicken

Art

A latae sententiae excommunication only applies if the individual does what they know the Church has pronounced to be an excommunicable offense.

Yes, not those who'd think it comes in a cup or cone with sprinkles on top.

What does that have to do with carrying out faux ordained ministry as an excommunicate?

It relates to the question of whether and what the Church has definitively spoken on the ordination of women.

Compared to faux ordained ministry in the Church as an excommunicate, schism seems to me the less bad option.

From her perspective, that God is calling her to be a Catholic priest, she doesn't see it as faux, or that she has a choice of poisons as she has no question of disciplinary consequences. In that sense, she sees no viable/other option, and indeed, given her situation, does she have another option?

If the clouds in her head cleared and she could read her conscience clearly, she'd return directly to Rome without visiting Schism, Heresy or other lands of Naught. That would be her most viable recourse. Does Catholic teaching not say such an option is always available? It's also possible her cloud pattern would change, presenting a "less bad" option which she might then choose in her continued confusion.

I'm not sure you're reading me carefully enough. Please try again.

If you're speaking to how strongly worded and solemn OS is, even the so-called dissenters clearly note that. I haven't seen anyone claim otherwise. But in reference to the CDF response posted above which says, "This teaching requires definitive assent," I've seen it said that no Catholic is obliged to accept it as definitive, and with caution that there's error in excessive affirmation as well as in denial. I don't see any of that as opposed to your statement that it "seems to demand assent in the face of all but the gravest and most intractable intellectual difficulties." But then, small holes might look bigger tomorrow and other holes might get patched up, if there are any holes.

SDG

It relates to the question of whether and what the Church has definitively spoken on the ordination of women.

But that is only one of a number of key questions, and whatever doubts your friend may contrive to have about it don't affect the clear answers to the others.

Q1: Is Rome correct to assert that the teaching that men only are validly ordained is infallibly defined? (Actually, even that is a secondary question, the primary question being: Does it belong to the deposit of faith that men only are validly ordained? But let that pass.)

Q2: What is the current status of Church discipline regarding the ordination of women?

Q3: What is the canonical situation of a woman who attempts to receive Holy Orders with adequate knowledge of the current state of Church teaching and discipline?

Let us assume that your friend is honestly and in good conscience doubtful of the affirmative answer to Q1. That doesn't change the obvious answers to Q2 and Q3.

The Roman Catholic Church does not permit women to be ordained to the priesthood. In this Church, from the perspective of an advocate of women's ordination, with respect to the priesthood women are, practically speaking, in a situation not unlike married men: able (so they believe) validly to receive Holy Orders, but prevented from doing so by Church practice. If I am a married man who believes the Church should change her disciplinary stance on married men, even if I personally feel called to the priesthood, my dissident point of view doesn't justify defying Church discipline and seeking to become a Roman Catholic priest anyway.

Also, whatever the sacramental status of a woman who attempts to receive Holy Orders, if she does so with adequate knowledge of the current state of Church teaching and discipline, her canonical status is clear: she is excommunicate. The rightness or wrongness of her cause and case is irrelevant. Just as a priest who is wrongfully excommunicated is still bound to accept the condition of his status, so is an "ordained" woman who attempts Holy Orders knowing the canonical penalty attached to her action. She is thus barred from attempting to celebrate the sacraments, even if she were sacramentally able to do so, which she isn't.

If the clouds in her head cleared and she could read her conscience clearly, she'd return directly to Rome without visiting Schism, Heresy or other lands of Naught. That would be her most viable recourse. Does Catholic teaching not say such an option is always available? It's also possible her cloud pattern would change, presenting a "less bad" option which she might then choose in her continued confusion.

What's your point? I've repeatedly noted that conversion and acceptance of Catholic orthodoxy would be the best outcome. By "most viable recourse" I mean the best option among those she can currently countenance; it goes without saying (except that I did say it) that something else entirely would be better still, and we can and should hope and pray for that.

There are not two or three but a wide array of possible outcomes, a selection of which are arranged here in what seems to me descending order of preferability:

1. Unreservedly embracing Catholic orthodoxy with the assent of faith and docility of the intellect.
2. Accepting Catholic orthodoxy with intellectual submission but not assent of faith.
3. Accepting Catholic orthodoxy with reservations, hoping that the teaching turns out to be reformable after all.
4. Not accepting Catholic teaching while remaining open to the possibility that it could be true, and willing to accept it if solemnly defined.
5. Rejecting Catholic teaching unequivocally, even if it were to be solemnly defined, but doing so quietly, without public rebellion.
6. Rejecting Catholic teaching unequivocally while publicly questioning (though not outright denouncing) it.
7. Publicly denouncing and opposing Catholic teaching, but remaining otherwise within the bounds of Church discipline; not attempting or advocating circumvention of Church discipline through covert illegal ordinations.
8. Publicly denouncing Catholic teaching and deciding to seek ordination, but not within the bounds of the Catholic Church where it is not permitted.
9. Publicly denouncing Catholic teaching and seeking ordination within the bounds of the Catholic Church in defiance of Church teaching and discipline, but only as a matter of principle, without intending in any way to act as a priest.
10. Publicly denouncing Catholic teaching and seeking ordination within the bounds of the Catholic Church, and going on to play priest by celebrating faux liturgies and administering (mostly) faux sacraments.

I cited 8 as preferable to 9 or 10 because I understood that your friend's conscience wouldn't allow her to accept any of the less undesirable options. That doesn't mean 6 or 7 wouldn't be preferable to 8, or 5 or 6 wouldn't be preferable to 6 or 7. Of course 1 or even 2 would be best of all, and we could always hope and pray for that.

If you're speaking to how strongly worded and solemn OS is, even the so-called dissenters clearly note that. I haven't seen anyone claim otherwise.

Actually, I was speaking to the fact that it is a teaching, not something else. How solemn or infallible is another question. Of course, as noted above, there are also the disciplinary and canonical issues to reckon with.

Kineticriticality

Chicken, since we're ranging a little far-afield from the topic meant to be addressed in the chatterbox, can you email me at my handle at yahoo.com? Lest we be trod upon. Or chastised. Or even vaguely dissatisfied.

The Masked Chicken

Dear Kineticriticality,

Actually, explaining why priests cannot be women is the pre-cursor to this topic and might clear up some of the contention in the combox. I will try to e-mail you, but my e-mail account is from campus and it contains my real identity. I cannot change that without hacking into the system (a really bad idea).

Let me try something. If you do not receive an e-mail by Thursday, check this combox.

The Chicken

SDG

Chicken: I vote in favor of continuing here.

Inocencio

I second the motion to continue the discussion here...

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Kineticriticality

Well, then, the motion is 3rd'd, the discussion continued here, with the fervent hope of an illuminating outcome. The more I'm gone, the more I miss what I grew up with; My kids are 6, 3, 2, and .5, so it's not like a switch would be gut-wrenching for them at this point.

"there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it"

This doesn't seem to be a prohibition against marriage for the priest caste, rather a preference - the strength of which might not be apparent in translation. These are the questions that drive my inquiry - the rule dates to the 4th/5th century, yet the church dates to the early 1st century - leaving a 300+ year period in which what might have been meant changed into "infallible doctrine," implying that even my questioning somehow amounts to heresy.

A practical aside, pointing to something seemingly immaterial which I have found quite relevant in terms of why it might not be such a good idea to ordain women: Our local Episcopalian church employs an associate rector of outstanding, even stunning beauty. She is perhaps one of the best looking women I have ever seen -- to the point where she distracts even the married parishioners, my husband included. Sadly, the same culture that admits Victoria's Secret catalogs to everday view seems to imply that it's okay he's (and certainly, not just him!) ogling her instead of attending to her sermon.

That aside, how much of current church doctrine is based on reference to biblical texts, and how much the accumulation of 2000 years of tradition?

Art

But that is only one of a number of key questions, and whatever doubts your friend may contrive to have about it don't affect the clear answers to the others.

Answers to other questions they may be, but those other questions are not hers, and their answers are not a consideration in her present choice. God is not calling her to choose between poisons but to be fully obedient. Those other questions hinge on speculation one step removed from that, namely speculation on her disobedience.

I was speaking to the fact that it is a teaching, not something else. How solemn or infallible is another question.

It's asserted to be fact that it's the teaching. She questions that assertion.

The Masked Chicken

Dear Kineticriticality,

You wrote:

"there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it"

This doesn't seem to be a prohibition against marriage for the priest caste, rather a preference - the strength of which might not be apparent in translation. These are the questions that drive my inquiry - the rule dates to the 4th/5th century, yet the church dates to the early 1st century - leaving a 300+ year period in which what might have been meant changed into "infallible doctrine," implying that even my questioning somehow amounts to heresy.

First questions, first. In the quote above, you left out the first part:

Mat 19:10 The disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry."
Mat 19:11 But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.

If something is given, it cannot be a choice - the choice is only whether or not to receive what is given and act upon it. Thus, if God gives the gift of virginity or celibacy, then it is God who gives the gift. The person must, then, decide to accept it.

God has given you the gift of marriage- he has prepared you with the talents and disposition to take care of little ones (not everyone can do this!). Thus, the married and the single state are both consecrations to God, by different means, of oneself -it is a returning to God the "interest" on his deposit.

As I said above, priests could, theoretically, be married before ordination. The Church has found it expedient (see the quote above) to have priests remain unmarried. It is simply easier and the accumulated wisdom of the Church has been proven. Yes, there have been depraved clergy throughout history (let's not deny it), but if some of them had been married, the results would have been even more catastrophic.

So, you are right, there is a choice to be made by the person, but this is after God first makes his choice. Some people say no to the offer of priesthood. Some people become priests who should not have (the same applies to marriage). In the end, there is no evidence that having a married clergy is superior to not having one.

Also, Jesus explicitly used the word eunuch, not virgin. Only men could, properly speaking, be eunuchs in the common reference of the period (let's not get into the perversion of the idea in some areas of the world, today). Jesus is explicitly referring to male celibacy, here.

Your second point:

the rule dates to the 4th/5th century, yet the church dates to the early 1st century - leaving a 300+ year period in which what might have been meant changed into "infallible doctrine," implying that even my questioning somehow amounts to heresy.

No honest inquiry can be heresy. Heresy is the reaching of a definite conclusion. The unmarried male priesthood is not an infallable pronouncement. It is a prudential discipline. Infallable pronouncements have to be stated as such (or at least apparent to everyone). The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say:

891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith." This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

Of particular importance to this post is:

"The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful -- who confirms his brethren in the faith -- he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals" (Catechism of the Catholic Church (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications), 1994, p.235).

Having priests remain unmarried is a discipline. The Church could decide, if it wanted to, to open the floodgates to married men to become priests, but it won't. It has too much sad wisdom to draw upon.

Some rites in the Church do allow married priests. Some Protestant clergy (such as Anglicans) who convert to Catholicism have been allowed to become priests, even though they are married. In the vast majority of case, prudentially, this has not been found to be wise. The Church can make exceptions and this is the clearest indication that this is not an infallible doctrine, but a prudential discipline - infallible doctrines do not have exceptions.

I hope this starts to answer your questions.

Oh, and that beautiful woman priest - that goes to the other topic about why priests can only be male, but let's get through the matter of the married priesthood, first.

More questions? More comments? Other people, feel free to jump in.

The Chicken


Tim J.

"This doesn't seem to be a prohibition against marriage for the priest caste, rather a preference - the strength of which might not be apparent in translation"

Also, keep in mind that the celibacy rule is a matter of discipline and not of doctrine. There is no hard and fast prohibition on married priests, as there are married Catholic priests even now. In other words, under different social conditions, or what have you, it is a policy that could (theoretically) be changed at some point.

It is a matter of policy - of discipline - that the Church ordinarily requires her priests to remain celibate. This discipline is supported - though not commanded - in the scriptures. There is also the living tradition and wisdom of the Church - millennia of lived experience - that is brought to bear, in addition to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The question then becomes whether one believes the Church has the authority to impose this discipline on her own priests, which she clearly does. Any private organization (even one not claiming the guidance of the Holy Spirit) has the authority to place restrictions on it's own members or officers.

It comes down to whether one believes that the Catholic Church is the church Christ founded and the guardian of His teaching on earth, or not. I do believe this (though I didn't always).

Male priesthood is different, as it *is* a matter of doctrine - touching on the essence of the sacrament - and cannot change.

SDG

Those other questions hinge on speculation one step removed from that, namely speculation on her disobedience.

This sophistry might allow her to pretend to dodge Q3, but not Q2.

No one in the world -- woman or man, married, single or sworn celibate, however holy and pastoral and whatever else they may be, and with whatever sense of personal calling -- has a right to the priesthood. If I feel that God has called me to the Roman Catholic priesthood but the Church of Rome says otherwise (since I am married), that discrepancy is between God and the Church of Rome; my part is to accept the Church's judgment in this matter even if I disagree with it. I cannot steal the priesthood in defiance of the Church. Obedience or disobedience to the Church in matters of binding discipline and practice as well as dogma and teaching is obedience or disobedience to God.

It's asserted to be fact that it's the teaching. She questions that assertion.

You still aren't reading carefully enough, unless your switch to the definite article is deliberate subterfuge (likely enough, you being a smart guy with a love of fog-breathing). It is the teaching of OS, the teaching of the Church of Rome. No one questions that, as far as I can see.

Instead they say the teaching is (or may be) wrong, that it has not been infallibly proposed, that it does not belong to the deposit of faith, etc. They do not deny that it is a teaching. They say things like "Rome still teaches that women may not be ordained," with the implication that what Rome teaches today she might not teach tomorrow. But whatever Rome teaches today, even if we believe it may be changed tomorrow, is still a teaching today, if (we believe) a reformable one. No one seriously says "Rome does not teach that women may not be ordained," or even "Rome does not teach that the teaching has been infallibly proposed," for OS is incontrovertibly a teaching document and does teach this very thing -- non-infallibly, let us agree, but still non-infallibly teaching. They may claim that Rome erroneously teaches this, but that Rome teaches it seems beyond controversy.

(Footnote: Actually, to say that OS teaches "non-infallibly" is a bit of an oversimplification. It would be more accurate to say that it asserts the truth of its teaching without solemnly defining it as an act of the extraordinary magisterium. However, the ordinary magisterium can also participate in the charism of infallibility, and in fact OS does teach infallible truth.)

Smoky Mountain

Not to produce a tangent, but it's very interesting to me to read Mr. Chicken's comments regarding "discipline" vs. "doctrine". While this isn't exactly new to me, I still internally tend to assign a single category to Catholic "rules", as I think many outsiders do. That probably explains why some people have difficulty in accepting changes in the Church (such as the Novus Ordo) or accepting that certain things won't ever change (such as the male priesthood).

Having said all of that, is there a hierarchy of Catholic "rules"? Clearly, discipline < doctrine. Are there other levels and categories?

Keep it simple, please... :)

Cheers,
Matt

The Masked Chicken

One more thing about eunuchs - there is a fundamental difference in terminology between men and women with regards to the question of dedication of one's reproductive powers. If a woman choses not to get married and she has not had sex, she is considered a virgin. Men, although they might not have had sex, are not usually referred to in this manner because of the need of a distinction: female virginity involves a distinctive physical trait attached to the sexual organ, which men do not have.

In any case, all people are born virginal. Few are born as eunuch. Both involve not having sex, but while both virgins and eunuchs can be made by nature, virgins cannot be made by man, while eunuchs can, nor can one choose to be a virgin - one may choose to remain a virgin, but that is a slightly different thing - while a man can choose to become a eunuch. A woman cannot choose to become a virgin - she either is or is not. This points to a fundamental difference in what each gender can offer in this area. Women can offer something that already exists; men must make a different kind of choice.

Men need instrumentality to create; women do not. Women have an innate capacity to create; men do not. A celibate male priesthood puts all of the man's capacities at the service of the Church. This is another reason why the Church has asked priests to not marry - so as to focus all of their abilities at one thing.

Christ gave himself totally to his bride, the Church. Men who stay unmarried still have a "mistress," so to speak. The Church is, from God's point of view, female.

The Chicken

The Masked Chicken

Dear Smokey,

There most certainly is, at least with regards to doctrines and disciplines. At the higher end is what is known as doctrines which have the status of De Fides (of the Faith), which belongs to infallible doctrines; at the other end is something called Sensus Commune (sorry for the misspelling I don't have my references handy). This refers to a common theological opinion which may be disagreed with. I don't have time tonight, but if you want, I can look up the complete classification scheme. Ludwig Ott has a listing of the pre-Vatican II scheme and Fr. William Most has a listing of the post-Vatican scheme (not that the doctrines have changed, but the new Code and the documents of Vatican II have simplified them).

The Chicken

Smoky Mountain

Mr. Chicken,

Please don't spend time on my question -- I was just looking for a simple, off-the-top-of-someone's-head list.

Matt

Tim J.

For the record, I was putting my "discipline / doctrine" post together at the same time Chicken was, apparently. It looks like I just regurgitated everything he already said, or ignored it, but I didn't have a chance to read it before I posted a couple of minutes later.

Had I read his post, I wouldn't have bothered posting my pale contribution! :-)

Art

SDG,

This sophistry might allow her to pretend to dodge Q3, but not Q2.

She isn't attempting or pretending to dodge Q2 or Q3. It's simply not her issue. She's focused on Q1.

If I feel that God has called me to the Roman Catholic priesthood but the Church of Rome says otherwise (since I am married), that discrepancy is between God and the Church of Rome

That discrepancy would be between "I feel" and the Church of Rome saying otherwise.

You still aren't reading carefully enough, unless your switch to the definite article is deliberate subterfuge

No, I'm simply recognizing her struggle, not your agenda. She's focused on Q1.

Instead they say the teaching is (or may be) wrong, that it has not been infallibly proposed, that it does not belong to the deposit of faith, etc. They do not deny that it is a teaching... No one questions that, as far as I can see.

She questions whether it's wrong, AND if so, how a wrong teaching could truly be a teaching of the Church.

joanne

So, if a bishop secretly goes through the motions of ordaining a woman, he's excommunicated? If he then keeps his excommunication secret, are his acts as bishop after that point invalid? Yikes! The part about the woman was easier to handle--we should know that a woman can't be a priest. But the idea of bishops that may not be bishops is disconcerting.

Inocencio

Smokey Mountain,

The simple order is Dogma, Doctrine, Discipline. The definitions below are from the Pocket Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

DOGMA.

Doctrine taught by the Church to be believed by all the faithful as part of divine revelation. All dogmas, therefore, are formally revealed truths and promulgated as such by the Church. They are revealed either in Scripture or tradition, either explicitly (as the Incarnation) or implicitly (as the Assumption). Moreover, their acceptance by the faithful must be proposed as necessary for salvation. They may be taught by the Church in a solemn manner, as with the definition of the Immaculate Conception, or in an ordinary way, as with the constant teaching on the malice of taking innocent human life. (Etym. Latin dogma; from Greek dogma, declaration, decree.)


DOCTRINE.

Any truth taught by the Church as necessary for acceptance by the faithful. The truth may be either formally revealed (as the Real Presence), or a theological conclusion (as the canonization of a saint), or part of the natural law (as the sinfulness of contraception). In any case, what makes it doctrine is that the Church authority teaches that it is to be believed. This teaching may be done either solemnly in ex cathedra pronouncements or ordinarily in the perennial exercise of the Church's magisterium or teaching authority. Dogmas are those doctrines which the Church proposes for belief as formally revealed by God. (Etym. Latin doctrina, teaching.)

DISCIPLINE.

Systematic mental, moral, or physical training under someone in authority. The term also applies to the order maintained by persons under control, whether self-determined or imposed by others. It is likewise a private means of penance, in use among ascetics since the early Church, e.g., a whip or scourge. It is the exercise by the Church of her right to administer spiritual penalty, and it may finally refer to any of the laws and directions set down by Church authority for the guidance of the faithful. (Etym. Latin disciplina, instruction, knowledge.)

The Masked Chicken

A few more comments on the celibate priesthood.

There are many practical reasons why a celibate priesthood is preferred:

1. Imagine what might happen if a weak married priest discussed matters of the confessional with his wife.

2. Imagine what might happen to missionary priests who must make the decision to die for Christ while they have a wife and children waiting for them at home.

3. Imagine the ease with which a celibate priest can stay up long hours or fast for his parishioners.

4. Imagine the objectivity of a priest on counseling married couples. A married priest may bring experience, but if his marriage is not good, will also bring baggage.

5. Imagine trying to write a homily while little children are playing.

6. Imagine trying to concentrate on a sick parishioner when one has a sick child at home.

7. Imagine trying to do anything at all if a loved one is facing a terminal illness.

8. Imagine trying to have a contemplative life (saying the office, etc.) while trying to get the kids ready for school, etc.

9. Imagine trying to love 100 kids at a Catholic elementary school without preference if one's own children are enrolled.

10. Imagine the confusion it causes in the modern, sex-crazed world, to see men who have the strength of character to stay committed to an ideal.

Dear Kineticriticality,

You get the idea. Do you have any questions to this point?

If you want a short overview of the history of priestly celibacy, the best online article I can recommend is from the Catholic Encyclopedia, ">http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03481a.htm"> here .

I will wait for you to digest all of this information.

The Chicken

Kineticriticality

I believe the Anglican response to the points in your last post reads something like, "How can it hurt the priest's ability or desire to minister to families, having a family oneself? How can a priest offer counsel to married couples, when the modern model of marriage (back-and-forth, give-and-take, dually purposed, yet driven towards unified goals) contrasts so much to the idea of the "Bride of Christ," and "infallibility"?

For each of your practical anecdotal examples, besides example #2, marriage or not-marriage are not the relevant drivers of behaviors.

1. Imagine what might happen if a weak priest were to discuss matters of the confessional with anyone?

3. Imagine the ease with which those raising or who have raised 4 children already stay up long hours? (I stay up several hours after the children are in bed, in order to have time to reflect, read, etc.)

4. Imagine the natural skepticism of receiving counsel from someone who does not have personal experience with the matter? (Well, marriage counseling, specifically - I don't suppose I'd necessarily want my defense counsel to also have faced the same criminal charges hypothetically committed!)

5. Imagine how much insight into humanity, life's lessons offered up by children playing? Even by their fighting? By their punishment and reward, their growth, which we attempt to direct and in no way truly govern? Imagine writing academic literature with 4 children -- and posit that as no hypothetical!

6. Imagine empathizing deeply, as those who are not parents must only themselves imagine the depth felt, the pain and loss something which must be faced down and overcome

7. Imagine anyone at all doing anything at all in the face of a loved one's terminal illness. This isn't even an argument one way or the other, much less a practical reason for the prohibition of priestly marriage.

10. Imagine how much the Protestant community seems in this "modern, sex-crazed world, to see men who have the strength of character to stay committed to an ideal," when that ideal is Christian marriage, which even the most committed Catholic must agree is by far the more common life pattern?


I am stuck, it seems, on where the boundaries are between the kinds of bible verses that obviously aren't meant to be taken literally -- strike out an eye, sever a hand -- and "better to be a eunuch, if you can deal with it."

Then too, Honorable Herr Doktor Mister Sir Chicken, what's the basis against women being priests? And is there a resource anyone can point me to showing the differences between Anglicans and Catholics? There's a pope, there's a whole body of canon law, there's divorce. Well, no divorce, preferably, unless you're a King willing to sever 1500 years history Gordian-knot style, I suppose.

Sorry if I'm a little punchy, everyone in the house is throwing up and I'm on my 3rd shower and 4th coffee. Thanks for your help! So glad I found ya'll.

The Masked Chicken

Can't comment long. The idea that:

when that ideal is Christian marriage, which even the most committed Catholic must agree is by far the more common life pattern?

is an argument ad populum - an appeal to numbers. Celibacy is significant because it isn't the most common pattern. It is the least common that often communicates the most information. Sherlock homes once said (if he really said anything :)) :

The more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commplace face is the most difficult to identify. (REDH)

It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery. The most commonplace crime is often the most mysterious, because it presents no new or special features from which deductions may be drawn. (STUD)

Must run. Will answer, later. Hope the kids get well, soon (and mom gets a break).

The Chicken

The Masked Chicken

ahem...Sherlock Holmes

The Chicken

Mary

No honest inquiry can be heresy. Heresy is the reaching of a definite conclusion.

"This matter is open to question" is a definite conclusion. The exact nature of the matter will determine whether it is a heretic one.

Mary

She isn't attempting or pretending to dodge Q2 or Q3. It's simply not her issue. She's focused on Q1.

For what reason does her focus confer importance on issues and unimportance on those she does not focus on?

Especially since your third sentence does not support your first one. You can attempt or pretend to dode an issue precisely by focusing on separate one.

Mary

So, if a bishop secretly goes through the motions of ordaining a woman, he's excommunicated? If he then keeps his excommunication secret, are his acts as bishop after that point invalid?

No. But some sacraments are invalid, such as matrimony, or confession. Others are valid but illicit, such as saying Mass, or Last Rites.

The Masked Chicken

Dear Kineticriticality,

It occurs to me that you are KC and I am KFC (I hope you are American or the joke won't work...)

Some comments to your comments:

First of all, since we are discussing a matter of prudence, you may have a different opinion on the matter of the unmarried priesthood and still be a Catholic as long as you also acknowledge the very mild idea that the Church has the right to set some boundaries on its members and how they act within the Church, as long as these disciplines are not immoral, per se, even if they are, possibly, debatable (much as a parent might set a debatable curfew for a member of the family).

The matter of the unmarried priesthood is at least as defensible from Biblical principles as a married priesthood, given St. Paul's admonition and Jesus'(see post above from June 3, 6:33 am), Jesus would not say that celibacy may only be received by those to whom it had been given unless he, in fact, meant to say that it would be given to some.

If you must have the option of being a Catholic and having a married clergy, you could simply revert and ask to transfer to one of the Eastern Rites. You would still be a Catholic in every sense of the word and you would have a married clergy (in at least some of the rites). Some of those rites that exist in the Uniter States include (not all allow a married clergy):

Maronite Church
Syriac Catholic Church
Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Armenian Catholic Church
Chaldean Catholic Church
Syro-Malabar Church
Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Romanian Church United with Rome
Ruthenian Catholic Church
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

So, you can see that there are so many options that the matter of a married priesthood standing in the way of reverting is very minor. In fact, even some married former Anglican priests are now priests in good standing in the Church.

So. is it alright to agree that this matter is a minor obstacle, since, in fact, there are some married priests in the Catholic Church, but it is decided on a case-by-case basis for prudential reasons. There are valid points on both sides of the issue, but someone has to set the standards and a generally unmarried clergy has seemed best in the eyes of the Church.

If a hypothetical plague were to wipe out all unmarried men, the Church would not lose too much sleep in ordaining married men, for a time, in order to raise up a new generation. If only married men could escape the plague, the Church would adapt. The Church does what it deems most prudent for the sake of the Ministry. I hope you can respect that, even if you cannot agree with a celibate clergy. At least you cannot say that it never works (neither would an all married clergy).

Comments on the list (your comments, then mine):

1. Imagine what might happen if a weak priest were to discuss matters of the confessional with anyone?

I reply: this rarely happens as the penalties are so severe. Many priests have died rather than reveal someone's sins. I suspect married priests would also respect the seal of the confessional, but living so closely to someone, indications might slip, by accident. That can happen to unmarried priests, as well. I would say that this matter is a draw between unmarried and married priests.

3. Imagine the ease with which those raising or who have raised 4 children already stay up long hours? (I stay up several hours after the children are in bed, in order to have time to reflect, read, etc.)

I reply: There are many married people who live heroic lives and spend long hours reading and praying after the family has gone to bed. It is simply easier to do so if there is no one around. Also, it is really hard not to eat popcorn on a day you have set aside to fast if the family unexpectedly goes to a movie. Self-denial is a really good witness, as every Catholic who follows the meatless Fridays will attest, but still, it is a harder life for those who must live with others.

4. Imagine the natural skepticism of receiving counsel from someone who does not have personal experience with the matter? (Well, marriage counseling, specifically - I don't suppose I'd necessarily want my defense counsel to also have faced the same criminal charges hypothetically committed!)

I reply: so, there should be no male gynecologists? Just because one has never been married does not mean that one cannot be a keen observer of the married state. I have a friend who is a military historian who has never been in the military, himself, but teaches tactics at an important military college (I won't say which one, but it is the most important for this sort of thing).

On the other hand, somethings do have to be experienced in order to form an informed opinion: imagine a chef who only ever ate oatmeal!

5. Imagine how much insight into humanity, life's lessons offered up by children playing? Even by their fighting? By their punishment and reward, their growth, which we attempt to direct and in no way truly govern? Imagine writing academic literature with 4 children -- and posit that as not hypothetical!

I reply: in my dim past I taught 7/8 grade math. I have a pretty good idea of how children fight and play and grow. I won't say if I have any of my own, but teachers also develop a kind of instinct with regards to children - college professors, not so much because thy don't have time, they see so many, usually in large classrooms, and by the time they get them, they are already grown.

What I do agree with is that one should not trust any married academics trying to counsel parents who have not raised strong families, themselves. Even with the case of unmarried priests, their lifves must reflect their ministry.

6. Imagine empathizing deeply, as those who are not parents must only themselves imagine the depth felt, the pain and loss something which must be faced down and overcome

I reply: the death of a child is a pain like no other, but Christ did not have to be married to appreciate the pain of Jairus or the widow of Nain. Although unmarried priests do not have Christ's gift of omniscience, they can still understand at least something - this comes from being a part of a common humanity (and having mirror neurons , although other higher primates do, as well).

7. Imagine anyone at all doing anything at all in the face of a loved one's terminal illness. This isn't even an argument one way or the other, much less a practical reason for the prohibition of priestly marriage.

I reply: it depends on the situation. Married and unmarried would both be concerned for the friend, but the unmarried would not also have to be concerned about fixing dinner or other things for the family. On the other hand, the married would be able to derive support from having family.

10. Imagine how much the Protestant community seems in this "modern, sex-crazed world, to see men who have the strength of character to stay committed to an ideal," when that ideal is Christian marriage, which even the most committed Catholic must agree is by far the more common life pattern?

I reply: both vocations are witnesses, but in different ways. A society with nothing but married people could not appreciate purity in the same way unless there were some unmarried people in their midst. If marriage is the total consecration of one's flesh to another person but if marriage does not survive into the next life (as Jesus says), then does not society also need the witness of a group of people who have consecrated their flesh to the Church?

In any case, as I mentioned at the start, this is not such a large issue that it should put an obstacle to returning to the Church.

There are two that I suspect that are more important to you: women priests and Biblical authority. I will take those up in my next series of posts (if I am permitted to keep posting - I have been a bit long-winded)

The Chicken

The Masked Chicken

Dear Mary,

You wrote:

No honest inquiry can be heresy. Heresy is the reaching of a definite conclusion.

"This matter is open to question" is a definite conclusion. The exact nature of the matter will determine whether it is a heretic one.

Actually, your statement, "This matter is open to question," is a meta-statement about the matter, not a conclusion about the matter, itself, thus inquiry cannot be heretical, only conclusions about the topic of the inquiry, itself, as you say.

The Chicken

Art

Mary,

For what reason does her focus confer importance on issues and unimportance on those she does not focus on?

Ask yourself. She's focused on Q1. If you confer something from that, that's you doing the conferring, not her.

Especially since your third sentence does not support your first one. You can attempt or pretend to dode an issue precisely by focusing on separate one.

You, because you're not focused on Q1, may interpret it as such, but again, that's you, not her. She's focused on Q1. The target is her universe. In that, nothing else exists to be dodged or attempted, nor has there ever been or will there ever be.

SDG

No Catholic contemplating a course of action contrary to what the Church allows gets to pretend that the question of submission or defiance to the Church is "not something I'm focused on right now," any more than a child contemplating breaking his parents' rules gets to pretend that the question of submission or defiance is "not something I'm focused on right now."

Besides, if she's contemplating attempting to receive Holy Orders, it is manifestly untrue that "She's focused on Q1" (i.e., "Is Rome correct to assert that the teaching that men only are validly ordained is infallibly defined?"). From no answer to that question does it follow that any particular person ought to seek Holy Orders -- or even that it is possible for women to be ordained.

Art

No Catholic contemplating a course of action contrary to what the Church allows gets to pretend that the question of submission or defiance to the Church is "not something I'm focused on right now,"

She's focused on Q1, not on a question of whether Rome's handing out ice cream or spankings. Focused on Q1, she has no need to pretend that what's not in her focus is not in her focus, nor does she.

if she's contemplating attempting to receive Holy Orders, it is manifestly untrue that "She's focused on Q1" (i.e., "Is Rome correct to assert that the teaching that men only are validly ordained is infallibly defined?").

"Contemplating attempting to receive Holy Orders" are your words. She's focused on Q1.

SDG

She's focused on Q1, not on a question of whether Rome's handing out ice cream or spankings.

You seem to be confusing the question of obedience or disobedience with the quite distinct question of reward or punishment (Q2 vs. Q3).

She's focused on Q1.

"For example, I recently received a call from a woman who works at a Catholic church. She told me she wants to be a priest and asked for my support," you wrote, a desire apparently quite outside the scope of what you now say is her focus. Yet as noted above, from no answer to Q1 does it follow that it is even possible, let alone feasible or desirable, for her to be a priest.

Art

You seem to be confusing the question of obedience or disobedience with the quite distinct question of reward or punishment (Q2 vs. Q3).

Why should she (or you) be questioning her obedience or disobedience on the ordination of women? She's not contemplating an attempt to be ordained, much less actually attempting it. She's focused on Q1.

"For example, I recently received a call from a woman who works at a Catholic church. She told me she wants to be a priest and asked for my support," you wrote, a desire apparently quite outside the scope of what you now say is her focus.

Where did she say she's contemplating an attempt to be ordained? She wasn't seeking my support to do that. Much as she may feel called to be a priest, she called me because she's questioning if Rome is correct (or transversely phrased, she's questioning what she considers to be a real possibility that she's wrong) and seeking my support in her pursuit of the truth. She's not claiming to know better than Rome, and I do not presume in the least that she's mulling over some unauthorized attempt to be ordained. She's seeking to reconcile her understanding with what Rome has said. Again, she's seeking to reconcile with Rome, not to oppose her.

from no answer to Q1 does it follow that it is even possible, let alone feasible or desirable, for her to be a priest.

I'm not aware of anyone instructing her that any answer to Q1 would make it possible, feasible or desirable for her to be a priest. She's focused on Q1 because it's the only question she has.

SDG

"When a woman calls to flat out say she wants to be a priest, is her aim merely to 'attempt to secure (attempted) ordination'? Or is her aim and her struggle as she understands it to secure (real) ordination. Does a person struggle with piano lessons for years with the mere aim to 'attempt' to play the piano? Or is such a person's aim and struggle to actually play the piano. Indeed, she may say, 'I want to take lessons,' but the fuller expression is, 'I want to takes lessons with the aim of actually playing the piano."

"'What I understand is that God calls me and many women to be priests and a prohibition against that is invalid. Why should there be a penalty for doing what I in my conscience believe is right?'"

"she'd say you must be a fallible parent because your prohibition and punishment are as unjust as forbidding her to breathe. Like I said, she says she's called by God to be a priest, and anything that stands between is wrong."

"From her perspective, that God is calling her to be a Catholic priest"

"She's focused on Q1. The target is her universe. In that, nothing else exists to be dodged or attempted, nor has there ever been or will there ever be."

"Where did she say she's contemplating an attempt to be ordained? She wasn't seeking my support to do that. Much as she may feel called to be a priest, she called me because she's questioning if Rome is correct (or transversely phrased, she's questioning what she considers to be a real possibility that she's wrong) and seeking my support in her pursuit of the truth. She's not claiming to know better than Rome, and I do not presume in the least that she's mulling over some unauthorized attempt to be ordained. She's seeking to reconcile her understanding with what Rome has said. Again, she's seeking to reconcile with Rome, not to oppose her."

"She's focused on Q1 because it's the only question she has."

Mary

For what reason does her focus confer importance on issues and unimportance on those she does not focus on?

Ask yourself. She's focused on Q1. If you confer something from that, that's you doing the conferring, not her.

Balderdash. It is you who are doing any conferring that is being done. You brought it up. You get to explain the reason why it is significiant.

Especially since your third sentence does not support your first one. You can attempt or pretend to dode an issue precisely by focusing on separate one.

You, because you're not focused on Q1, may interpret it as such, but again, that's you, not her.

Balderdash, again. That is a statement of fact. People can try to dodge an issue by focussing on a separate issue. Indeed, it has a name: ignoratio elenchi.

She's focused on Q1. The target is her universe. In that, nothing else exists to be dodged or attempted, nor has there ever been or will there ever be.

Leaving aside your claim that she has her own private universe, prove that the woman in question is indeed so insane that she is focused on something so exclusively that she can not be aware that it is subject to the penalty of excommunication.

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