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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Contraception, Gender Roles & Priestesses

Do you know that there is no single cell in the human body (with the exception of gametes for reproduction) which is not sexually imprinted as either male or female? I will not go into an elementary lecture on the structural differences between the sexes or the differing roles in the marital act. Although a few contest it, there are differences in the characteristics of mind and spirit, too. While we must be careful of stereotypes, women seem to have a heightened receptivity and religious sense. Their powers of intuition and emotion also seem more pronounced over the male’s analytical approach to life and ideas. We cannot dismiss the wonderful gifts of women. These kinds of distinctions must be considered in any debate regarding women ministers, and even more so, about the possibility of women priests or priestesses. The differences between the sexes and any talk about the subordination of women do not imply inferiority and is ultimately the will of the Creator. Any degradation of womanhood would be a false interpretation of Scripture and impugn the work of God with creation and human nature.

The question of women in the priesthood arose after the so-called sexual revolution. The legalization and endorsement of artificial contraception tended to escalate the separation of womanhood from motherhood and the home. The role of women went through a drastic reappraisal. Sexual expression was also increasingly severed from marriage and the desire for a family. After the Anglican decision to tolerate contraception, at least for married couples, in 1930, the Catholic Church felt compelled to respond with a clear repudiation of such a stance. I am among the school of thought holding that Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on the ends of marriage, Casti Connubii, fulfills the requirements for infallibility within the universal ordinary Magisterium. All the world bishops were consulted and it was received everywhere, by the shepherds and laity alike. Dr. William May and Dr. Germain Grisez are also of one mind about this. The encyclical condemned artificial contraception. But, what is more, it corrected the modern view about the “equality of rights” of the spouses. The Holy Father wrote, “. . . there must be a certain inequality . . . which is demanded by the good of the family and the right ordering and unity and stability of home life” (paragraph 77). This “hierarchical” ordering of marriage implied not denigration of women, “for if the man is the head, the woman is the heart” of the family (paragraph 27f). Similarly, Pius XII emphasized that the particular qualities of the sexes had to be given recognition, especially the social leadership of men and the maternal traits of women. The voice of the true Vatican II, not the nebulous and often contradictory “spirit of Vatican II,” signifies that the differences between the sexes be acknowledged and nurtured. In the Declaration on Christian Education, we read, “. . . pay due regard in every educational activity to sexual differences and to the special role which divine Providence allots to each sex in family life and in society” (#8).

I digress into all this to stress that the sexes are not the same. Further, the Church and her tradition puts much weight on the marriage analogy in understanding the priesthood and ecclesial identity as expressed in the Mass. Seen in this light, many observers would argue that it appears the ordination of women is counter to female human nature as it arises from the creative providence of God.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: “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” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis).