Women’s Equality is Essential for our Church – ACP
WOMEN AND THE CHURCH – EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY?
WOMEN’S EQUALITY IS AN ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT FOR OUR CHURCH – ACP
Tuesday, 01 October, 2019
The Association of Catholic Priests was set up as a voice for priests, and to promote the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
Now, nine years later, the leadership of the ACP are convinced that the issue of women’s equality is an essential requirement for our Church to be a credible instrument in promoting the message of Jesus Christ.
The ACP has organised a public event – Women and the Church – Equality of Opportunity? on Saturday 05 October in Room E218, St Patrick’s Campus, DCU, Drumcondra Road Upper, Dublin 9 at 2.00pm.
Roy Donovan (ACP Leadership Team), will give the opening address, followed by Sharon Tighe-Mooney(Author of ‘What About Me? Women and the Catholic Church’).
The former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese (Author of ‘Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law’) will then take part in a public interview with Gerry O’Connor CSsR, to be followed by an open forum.
All are welcome
Aligned with Pope Francis’ example and encouragement, the ACP welcomes people of different perspectives on the issue of Women and the Church, to participate in the meeting, and to contribute and listen, enhancing discernment, while recognising differences.
John Paul II declared in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 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.”
John, I’m sure you know what Mary McAleese had to say about that and many people completely agree with her.
And, what exactly does ” definitely held” mean –is it an infallible statement?
Quite right, Paddy. “To be definitely held” means just “be silent!”
“Infallible” statements are formally accompanied by anathemas. The Creed of Nicea in 325 ends with anathemas. The Marian “definitions” of 1854 (Ineffabilis Deus) and 1950 (Munificentissumus Deus) are likewise followed by anathemas.
Those who want to make the non-ordainability of women an infallible teaching appeal to the ordinary and universal magisterium of the world’s bishops throughout the ages. This notion of the infallible ordinary magisterium came from Roman schools of theology and attained conciliar status in Vatican I and II.
But it cannot be made to cover anything and everything. It cannot be used to generate arguments from silence and to ban something merely because the ordinary magisterium never thought of it.
Vatican statements seeking to bolster the status of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis are not convincing:
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.
Richard Gaillardetz comments: https://www.futurechurch.org/justice-in-church/million-voices/resource/infallibility-and-ordination-of-women-by-richard-r
One point he makes is that the ordinary and universal magisterium is more a “concentrated sensus fidelium” than a fund of definitive and infallible statements.
For me now the sacramental or ‘ordained’ priesthood is secondary to the priesthood of action, of real service. Why is it that while young men mostly no longer can see the point of ordination, the ordination of women has become a ’cause’ and a point of tension?
Simply because it is out of reach, an unattainable object of mimetic desire! What evidence is there that the complete lack of enthusiasm currently shown for Mass by ordained men would not be shared by ordained women – if the word ‘priest’ itself has lost its meaning?
And so it has if we do not realise that the essence of Christian priesthood is simply self-giving, and that this is the primary priesthood because it is the call of baptism to ALL, not the entitlement of a FEW.
There will be no recovery of the ordained ministry until the ordained can realise the greater importance of the non-ordained in the transformation of society, and preach that passionately. The greater prestige given to symbolic priesthood is essentially a superstition.
Careful there, Paddy@2 – maybe just a lapsus styli, but even in lower, higher and supreme courts’ decisions on Boris’s Brexit, what is ‘definite’ does not have the authoritativeness and conclusiveness of what is ‘definitive’. At least, even the unanimous definitive decision of a Supreme Court makes no claims of infallibility, or of being declared infallible after the decision.
Thanks Joe for Richard Gaillardetz’s paper. I hadn’t read that before.
As for women’s equality being essential for the Church, if priesthood as we know it were shorn of all the accoutrements, aggrandisements, accretions and accessorised barnacles of clericalism and pretend power, maybe men and women in the Church could get on with the business of being equal in a myriad other ways. Eucharist would still happen. For the life of me, I can’t see why any self-respecting Christian woman or even a woman with a decent self-image would want to join the existing set-up in the name of “equality”.
You have a vocation to be a priest? OK, exercise it or exorcise it, but don’t wait around for permission or blessing from the centre.
And for any of us who crowded into factories such as Maynooth in our 500s back fifty or sixty years ago, does anyone imagine now that that strange phenomenon had much to do with “vocation” rather than learned convention or poor career guidance or lack of higher education availability? Ireland wasn’t so much priest-ridden as cleric-clogged and cluttered. How was such surfeit and saturation essential for Eucharist or spreading the Good News or even for the ‘missio ad gentes’? How could women joining even a modified version of such a circus kid themselves that “we’ve finally achieved equality”? Wimmin! look elsewhere for your rights to equality and don’t let today’s speakers waste your opportunity to explore real equality. Ah blast! my advice is too late. Your DCU event kicks off in two minutes. Oh well, one can but try!
Thanks, Eddie for pointing out “definitely/definitively”. I usually read these pieces at least twice before I post but often I later see errors –usually the complete omission of a word.
Thanks, Joe, for your excellent and comprehensive critique, as usual. Like Eddie, I hadn’t read the piece by Richard Gaillardetz and I have now saved it to my “archive”. I have read other stuff he has written. In “Power and Authority in the Church: Emerging Issues” he states that “since the eighteenth century the Catholic Church has relied on a naïve sacralisation of power and authority that has enabled significant abuse” Spot on, you’d have to say. However, I can never mention him in verbal conversation or debate as I don’t know how to pronounce his surname !!
In this week’s Tablet there is a piece by Professor Luigi Gioia, who is described as an academic scholar, spiritual director and Benedicine monk. This is the first time I have heard of him. He was professor at the Pontifical University of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. In his piece, “The Clerical Trap” he maintains that priests are caught up in a dysfunctional system that makes a healthy emotional life impossible. He further tells us that Pope Francis see “clericalism” as a mentality that identifies priesthood with power rather than service. That leads me to think also of Fr. James Alison –he who has now famously be given the keys (back) by Francis–who told us in those excellent articles in the Tablet last year that the most vitriolic homophobes to be found in the priesthood are among priests who are themselves homosexuals. Talk about dysfunctionality !!
On the broader issue of priesthood, of course I agree with you Eddie and you too Sean. I have now read Garry Wills’ remarkable book, ” Why Priests” twice from cover to cover and I am now re-reading his detailed critique of Hebrews for a third time. When I had Diarmuid Martin face to face here in Edinburgh a few years ago I made the point to him that what Tony Flannery said about the priesthood was extremely mild in comparison to what Professor Wills has said and I was not aware of anyone challenging him. Archbishop Martin agreed with me.
However, for virtually all of my thinking life I have regarded our implicit degradation of women as being intrinsically inferior as completely unacceptable and, I suppose, women’s ordination is a kind of symbol of the overthrow or rejection of that mentality. So, it is hard to let go of it. Much, much harder, I would expect if you are a woman and you felt you had a vocation, like our friend and colleague Soline.
Good night and God bless.
Paddy @6. Diarmuid Martin may have agreed with you that Tony Flannery’s views on the priesthood were mild compared with Gary Wills who was not challenged. Nevertheless Diarmuid has kept a deafening silence on the monstrous injustice inflicted on Tony. As for Sean Fagan!!! dont start me
Iggy, we were well into a very pleasant conversation, about my time in Dublin as a student, going to Westland Row on holydays and how it was always packed and then when I went back recently it was virtually empty, his mother being from Donegal and so on when I brought up the subject of Tony’s mistreatment and eventually I ventured to say that surely he, as a senior bishop could take action either of his own volition, or by prompting the bishops’ conference, to end the scandal. But it was obvious he was not up for it. I left him feeling really disappointed. I had always regarded him as one of the good guys.
I find this piece tonight in the NCP really interesting. This, in fact, really surprised me. I don’t think Garry Wills explained in “Why Priests” the change in the understanding of ordination from the 1st to the 2nd millenium. He must have known.
I am wondering if I am the only person surprised by the revelation in the NCR article above of the change that took place in the understanding of ordination from the 1st to the 2nd millennium –Joe, Seán, Padraig, Eddie, Pat ?
Nicholas Lash urged Macy’s book on me long ago. But the quote from Congar puts it gives a more startling picture than I gleaned from looking through Macy, from whom I got the impression that women were much more powerful in the church in the first millennium than later, when their technical non-ordained status become a big issue, disempowering them. But Congar suggests that the very nature of ordination changed.