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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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Jesuit Priest Says the Damnedest Things!

It amazes me that Pavone can be laicized for his pragmatic lack of tact and impertinence toward lawful authority while Martin not only gets away unscathed but is praised by the highest authorities despite outright dissent regarding homosexuality and our teaching on marriage. Bill Donohue and the laity of the Catholic League battle to defend marriage and Father James Martin literally cuts of their legs by arguing that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is truly “married” to his boyfriend. But the League is right, such a same-sex union is only a marriage in legal fiction. The wayward priest can quantify matters all he wants; the fact that the state and a particular “Episcopal” church consider it marriage has no standing with either natural or divine positive law.

Father Philip Bochanski of COURAGE is correct that Father Martin’s published stance is “irresponsible” as it might water down moral teaching and lead those struggling into grievous sin.  Father Martin should remember that his first obligation is not to pamper those in irregular unions but to teach the truth and save souls. Referencing Amoris Laetitia, Father Bochanski quoted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “. . . as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” This was the whole point with the Marriage Matters campaign that was orchestrated by the Maryland Catholic Conference. The notion that same-sex unions might be regarded as marriages damages our understanding of matrimony and the family, a cornerstone to a healthy society. These unions and their children are the cells that keep the body of our society healthy and growing. No fault divorce and multiple marriages, cohabitation and fornication, contraception and abortion, and now same-sex promiscuity and bonds serve as a kind of cancer destroying the cells or basic building blocks to our civilization.    

Lauretta Brown reports in her article for the NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER that Father Philip Bochanski also cited the 2003 document, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons,” that “in those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.” Father Martin has clearly failed in his priestly duty on this matter.  I say this with the deepest sadness as his recent book on prayer and Christian spirituality is a real gem.

What is right and wrong is not determined by the media, public opinion or by dictate of law and politics. God forbid that a shepherd of the Church should through obfuscation lead God’s people to doubt the teachings of faith or to reduce them to one opinion among many.  Such an action only fuels the relativism of our age.   

Living a chaste and holy life should be promoted and witnessed as a fulfilled and joyful discipleship. Just as men and women in holy marriages give witness of Christ in the world, so too do those who have embraced a life of virginal love and service. Given that those who are sexually disordered will remain so, then they can take confidence that their vocation is one of celibacy, prayer and service.  One does not need a sexual partner to be complete.  One can still have God’s friendship and the spiritual family of many loving brothers and sisters.  This is the message that Father Martin should put forward as a priest who is himself pledged to celibacy.    

Is there struggle in such a life?  Let us be honest, married or single or consecrated religious or priest, every life has its ups and downs. There are challenges and difficulties.  The believer faces it all with hope in the Lord. 

How are we to deal with people who disagree with us and the Church? First, we must not compromise the message? Second, we must respond to anti-Catholic bigotry and anger over the issue with compassion and reason. Third, we must make it abundantly clear that ours is not hate-speech but that we really love them and want them to be happy and in right relationship with God. We do not look down them as defective persons but as God’s precious and beloved children.  We want them in the Church and as companions on the journey. Fourth, any rejection of same-sex unions and promiscuity must be accompanied with the true Christian alternative— loving relationships of brothers and sisters albeit without sexual misbehavior.  It must be clear that while the Church opposes sexual activity outside the union of man and woman in marriage, she urges a real and sacrificial love as witnessed by Jesus in his ministry and on the Cross.

Toward the end of the article, mention is made of Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1986 letter, “On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” that admonished bishops against “any programs which may seek to pressure the Church to change her teaching, even while claiming not to do so.” This is something that Father Martin’s superiors should consider, as well as a host of German bishops in their mad dash to an out-of-control synodality.   

The Confusion of Colors in the Rainbow

When it comes to gender dysphoria and the alphabet soup that describes various degrees and types of same-sex attraction, there is an ever-increasing complexity or dare I say fragmentation. The current nomenclature is summarized with this designation: LGBTQIA+. Please do not ask me to decipher it! Instead of challenging those with mental illness and disorientation, we are authorizing and enabling them to identify themselves by the fiction they have embraced. Every effort to check this movement has either failed or given them fodder to ridicule their critics as mean and prejudiced.  It has been joked that if we cannot beat them, then maybe we should join them? I have always wanted to be a green Martian and have decided to claim such and treat as bigots any who would deny me my non-terrestrial self-designation. I reject your reality and have decided to impose my own. I breathe carbon dioxide and eat glass.  Who are you to object and tell me what I can do with my body? My intent is not to ridicule but to expose absurdity. I suspect that many who are fearfully silent concur that this whole business is rather silly.            

Many have swallowed the notion that human respect demands total and complete acceptance even if such would contradict our most fundamental values and basic reasoning.  Gone is any wiggle space that would permit debate or even silent toleration. As politicians, progressive advocates, the media and educators seek to transform the consensus of the public forum, those with traditional views on morality and relationships are coming under the brunt of “payback” discrimination.  Christians who focus on the Bible as the Word of God are finding themselves marginalized and the proclamation of the Gospel is condemned by extremists as hate-speech.  Contemporary secular values are supplanting those of traditional faith and the Decalogue. 

The gender designations leave us scratching our heads: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and intersexual.  Really, what does this all mean?

  • Indoctrination without debate or questioning is demanded.
  • Blatant advocates are deemed as level headed and right thinking.
  • Sitting on the fence is interpreted as either cowardice or latent bigotry.
  • A failure to render support or promotion for the cause is judged as injustice.

There is a not so subtle threat connected to all of this— accept a plurality of subjective genders and an ever expensive field of sexual expression— or else!  Give in or you will be sued. You will be stripped of your livelihood. A baker lost his home and business because he refused to bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex union. Win or lose, the court costs are astronomical. The ridiculous has become serious and real. Indeed, even liberals and feminists who fail to toe the line are being vilified.   The author of the popular Harry Potter books, J. K. Rowling, has been mocked and black-listed because she wants to make a case for the rights of women who were “born with vaginas.”

What becomes of the voice of the Church for justice and peace when she is increasing regarded (albeit falsely) as an organization that promotes injustice and discrimination? Many would undermine the efforts of Christians for ethnic and civil rights because they are unwilling to include sexual orientation along with demands for racial equality. We have already seen the women’s rights movement hijacked by greedy abortion providers and now by LGBTQIA+ proponents. They argue that you cannot have one without the other.  What is the real status of feminism and women’s rights when men as transgendered females can compete with ordinary women in swimming, track-and-field and kick boxing? Women’s records are falling right and left, and biological women are being shut out. Notice that there is no “S” in the alphabet soup for straight men and women. That which was once regarded as normal merits no celebration but is reckoned as the enemy or as a prospect for conversion. 

The targeting of children is real in this confrontation over gender. The idiocy would have teachers planting the seeds for confusion in curriculums that target youth as young as five years of age. If the proponents cannot effect change with their parents then they will focus on the upcoming generations. There is no more celebration of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day because it is hurtful to those with a missing parent or same-sex parents. Valentine cards are forbidden because no one can be excluded. Condoms are given away by school nurses because it is expected that teens cannot control themselves and even many of the teachers have failed to wait until marriage.  We have eroticized childhood. Notice the direction taken with children’s television programming. Kids are breaking into romantic couples even prior to puberty. Further, today there is always the gay or lesbian in the mix, too.  

Those who oppose the stance of orthodox churchmen on the sexuality and gender questions are quick to charge them with unwarranted bias, ignorance and insensitivity. However, the last thing that any good shepherd wants to do is to inflict pain upon others.  They desperately want reconciliation and communion with all of God’s people. But tough love mandates that there are some concessions that can never be made.  A number of gay advocates, but not all, contend that monogamy and fidelity should count for something, even if bonds are judged as disordered.  However, just as with heterosexual sin and cohabitation, evils are not necessarily all violent or rude— there can be tremendous tenderness and intimate sharing in fornication and/or even adultery.  Same-sex unions may include real affection and love— but such elements cannot justify what is wrong. Indeed, such adds an insidious catalyst to the misbehavior, excusing harm caused to the beloved under a deceptive veil of caring and romantic love.  While sexual expression, both natural and unnatural, outside the covenant of heterosexual marriage may be consensual, it damages the soul and psyche as abusive behavior.    

We hear from gays, lesbians and others that the stance of the Church makes them feel unwanted and unloved. Indeed, some turn this anger against God for making them disordered or broken. This I can well understand as I often had tense prayers as a youth before God because of a struggle with asthma and breathing. I was always sick and often could not run and play with other children. Like Pinocchio, I prayed that I might be a real boy. Returning to the crisis at hand, those suffering gender dysphoria and disordered attraction would sometimes turn matters around and assert that their sexuality was okay and a gift to be celebrated, not scorned. The Church would affirm persons but that is all.  The Church could not pretend that a sexual disorder was normative. Certainly the shepherds of faith would never bless sinful acts as this would constitute blasphemy. 

A refusal to acknowledge the many subjective designations of gender and deviant sexual acts signifies no disrespect to personhood and our common humanity.  The Holy Father would have us accompany these souls in their faith journey. We can lament and cry with them. We can hear them out as our brothers and sisters.  But any dialogue will always find itself directed and restrained by the values and truths extracted from the sources of Christian doctrine. Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners and yet he also called them to repentance and conversion. We must do the same.

While many churchmen have placed an emphasis upon fixing homosexuals, I suspect the better approach is in finding lawful and valid ways for them to move forward as they are. Further, if the rest of the Church is to learn anything from this, it may be not to soft-pedal heterosexual sin by comparison. Regardless of orientation, we should all focus on virtue and avoiding serious sin. Anyone who would “love” another into mortal sin is practicing a false or self-seeking love.  We should pursue grace and holiness for the beloved.  Here are a few propositions that might lead us out of the moral quandary where we find ourselves:     

  • Affirmation of chaste loving familial relationships or special friendships;
  • Dedication to celibate “brotherly” and “sisterly” bonds;
  • Encouraging a vigorous spirituality of prayer and the sacramental life;
  • Dedication to the faith in ongoing study, catechesis and evangelization; &
  • Focusing on an apostolate of charity and service.

What Did the Pope Say about Unjust Laws against Gays?

It amazes me that the news media repeatedly invents news where in truth there is none.  Pope Francis affirms that homosexual acts are regarded by the Catholic Church as sinful. When was this ever in doubt.  (It should be added that the orientation is not sinful, just disordered.)  

Now a lot is being made of his admonition that we should demonstrate tolerance in not criminalizing same-sex relationships. Has anyone heard of any popes or bishops of late demanding the execution, imprisonment or even fines of outed gay people?  No, although Putin’s Russia has outlawed the LGBT community and many Islamic states target them for death, the Church would challenge them but respect their dignity and lives as persons loved by God.

Missed in the conversation is that “a lack of charity” for one another works both ways. Many in the homosexual community are not satisfied with the Church’s concessions and rudely demand nothing less than full approbation. However, this will never happen.

While I doubt any Church shepherds are actively campaigning for unjust laws, the Holy Father has asked for a movement of “conversion” among bishops in not tolerating or remaining passive to the criminalization and violent persecution of gays and lesbians. What the Pope says is true, that we are all “children of God” and he “loves us as we are.” However, this does not nullify the call to repentance and conversion which is constitutive of the Gospel. It would also not negate the termination of positions from parish and parochial schools because of poor Christian witness.

As a further instance of distortion in the news, much is made of the Pope’s support for same-sex civil unions (not marriages), stating that “homosexual people have a right to be in a family.” It may not be the ideal family, but we recognize many variations as with those that are missing a spouse or with grandparents within family units. The Church cannot sanctify sin so her ministers cannot bless same-sex unions or witness feigned marriages. However, there is some speculation that the Church might restore an ancient rite where people pledge themselves as chaste brothers and sisters to one another. The Church insists that sexual activity must be between a man and woman in marriage. However, the Church is no enemy of love.   

What Do We Understand by the Mark of the Beast?

QUESTION

Does the Church teach anything definite about a future manifestation of the Mark of the Beast? How is the Mark unforgivable? Does this not conflict with the Church teaching that all sins are forgivable?

RESPONSE

You are referring to Revelation 13: 16-18: “It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name. Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six.”

Catholics are not fundamentalists and we would not take literally the symbolism of the Apocalypse. The beast signifies the pagan Roman emperors that persecuted early Christians, the single most being Nero. His name in Hebraic numerology is designated as 666. Many exegetes presume that the mark of the beast has to do with the coinage that bore his image. (Remember the incident when Jesus was asked about the legitimacy of taxation and he asked whose image was on a coin. When the answer came back Caesar he told his listeners to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. Of course, ultimately our loyalty and most everything belong to almighty God as the Creator.)

We belong not to the world or the Roman Empire but to Christ and his kingdom. We have a jealous God. He will not share us. We might live in the world but we must never forget that we are wayfarers and our true home is heaven. We may give human respect to the earthly community but we place our ultimate faith and find our values in the Lord.

The mark of the beast in the narrative is compelled and not voluntary. This mitigates responsibility. What is damning is that some worship the beast and thus violate the first of the commandments. Such strips one’s name from the Book of Life because we are only permitted to render worship to God. This work of true worship is perfected in the Mass. The so-called beast would urge idolatry and an abandonment of the Eucharist. We place our trust less in men and foremost in the Lord. Christ is the invisible head of the Church and the Pope is his vicar and the visible head. The beast and/or the anti-Christ would attack the Church and all who remain steadfast. As in the early Church, while there may be a reluctance to reconcile traitors to the faith, today the sacrament of penance is more liberally offered. Such has been the operation of the keys given to Peter and his successors. As long as one lives, there is the chance for repentance and absolution.

Women Priests: Destruction of the Church

OBJECTION

Anglican women now serve as both priests and bishops.  They preach well from pulpits and administer the Eucharist and other sacraments.  It is evident that the Holy Spirit enables and empowers their efforts.  Their church has been enriched, not impoverished, by their contribution.  We as Catholics should be ashamed of ourselves for dismissing the calling to ministry that women have received.

RESPONSE

How can you suggest that the experience of the Anglican “communion” has made this concern mute? Their church is dying, the priesthood and Mass are dubious, and heresy is rampant. The Episcopalian Australians have even pushed for an eradication of the priesthood altogether in allowing laity to preside at the Eucharist. The matter of women priests is tearing what ecclesial reality they possess to pieces. Their dire situation provides further evidence that the Catholic view is true. Their orders are null-and-void. Now many of their most devout and intelligent thinkers are agreeing with us. Indeed, their inrush into the Catholic Church raises fears about the possible restoration of the old anti-Catholic laws in England.

You wrongly claim that the heretics did the right thing in ordaining women. But their reasoning was false. Their appeal was more to a contemporary assessment of social justice than to revelation. Many of those seeking to justify the change in discipline appealed to Gnostic writings and a heretical interpretation of Galatians. They negated the value of the incarnation of Christ and disavowed his masculinity as having any role in his saving actions. They would also make unsubstantiated jumps in reasoning based upon frivolous arguments and suspect data, i.e. assuming that women referenced in apostolic communities were themselves apostles. 

The Anglicans reduce the faith to well-performed ritual and the recitation of the creed.  But when it comes to women priests, they reject the long-standing tradition and the wisdom of such saints as Augustine, John Damascene, and John Chrysostom against women priests. The legacy of the saints is given voice in the new catechism. Once you reject one tenant, the foundation for holding the rest is shattered. Such a faith becomes arbitrary and open to whim. Where is your burden of proof? Many of the Anglicans admitted that they did not have any. They were pressured and they gave in.

Galatians 3:28 is the verse that the Anglican Communion cites for the ordination of women. But the heretical Montanists did the same to rationalize their inclusion of women as priests and bishops. The truly catholic and orthodox churches saw through this deception. What applied to the baptismal priesthood of all believers could not be sustained for the ordained priesthood given the witness of Christ and that of the apostles, including St. Paul. 

My doubts made the priestly ministry increasingly burdensome and problematic. As a heterosexual, Bible-believing, Anglican Traditionalist, I found no affirmation in the Episcopal Church as it moved toward a radical revision of the Gospel, setting aside the Apostolic Tradition for its social justice agenda. Evidence of Anglican departure from the tradition is self-evident. Until 1976, even though a negative verdict had been rendered about the overall status of apostolic succession in Anglican orders due to Cranmer’s defective ordination rite in the Ordinal of 1550, only men were ordained to holy orders. The negative verdict of Apostolicae Curae (1896) had been mitigated or put into question because of the later participation of orthodox and Old Catholic bishops at certain Anglican ordinations. The Ordinal had also been corrected. Nevertheless, a second break arguably occurs in the modern era at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church when a vote is made to ordain women against the constant teaching of the Fathers and the Bible. Despite Ecumenical gestures by Roman Catholicism, everything was spurned so that women might be made clergy. Forcing this question upon the Catholic Church, Pope St. John Paul II closed the door to women priests with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994). The Church does not have the authority to change the tradition handed down from Christ.

Error builds upon error and the first woman ordained to the Anglican priesthood in the U.S. was a professed lesbian.  Later the floodgates would open the priesthood to active homosexuals. Indeed, the chief bishop for the U.S. was at one point a man who left his wife for his homosexual lover.  Anglicans had reduced what was a gift of God to one of many supposed rights in a social justice agenda.

Turning to Catholicism, we see something of this association between women’s ordination and lesbianism with the likes of the ex-nun and pseudo Catholic priestess Victoria Rue who tags herself as a “lesbian-feminist.” While she regards herself as Catholic, she is only invited to celebrate liturgies in Episcopal churches. All these so-called “Catholic” women-priests are in truth now Protestants. It is also my understanding that they are excommunicated, as is any legitimate Roman Catholic priest (male) that is involved with their fictional ordinations or consecrations as clergy. The ordination was attempted by former nun Christine Mayr–Lumetsberger, former nun Patricia Fresen, and Gisela Forster (a matronly wife and mother). They themselves claimed their spurious orders from the renegade Catholic Argentine Bishop Rómulo Antonio Braschi who joined a made-up church called the Catholic Apostolic Charismatic Church of Jesus the King.

Renewed demands for the ordination of women as priests in Catholicism echoes the developments in the Episcopalian churches.  Indeed, I am particularly worried that the new rallying cry for a synodal Church might hijack Pope Francis’ overture so as to transform a hierarchical body and make it democratic. However, such runs against the grain of the Church’s institution by our Lord. The truths of God are passed down from God and do not emerge from a consensus of people (weighted toward dissenters) who desire to vote their whims.   

The values of a secular humanist society are increasing asserting themselves against the Judeo-Christian teachings of the Church.  All this plays into the movement for women priests.  It is demanded by radical Marxist feminists who find themselves problematic bedfellows with the current gender dysphoria that is being forced upon us as normative and elective. While there is a pick-and choose style when it comes to the sources of revelation, there is an irony that St. Paul’s writings are used to promote women priests while they absolutely despise his moral exhortations and his demand for women to be silent in the churches. Scripture and Tradition are distorted and even rejected by the supporters of women’s ordination. They stamp as patriarchal and sinful the teachings of living popes and dead saints (including the Church fathers) that condemn women’s ordination as impossible. They argue that the priest shortage demands the ordination of women even though women’s vocations have been even more severely retarded and many ancient orders are disappearing. As a symptom of their clericalization of the Church, they also tend to dismiss the good and vital work that many lay women do for the faith, especially in parishes and schools. If there is not an outright hatred and distrust of men, there is nevertheless a tendency to gather like-minded women and to alienate men as co-workers in ministry or even in the pews. The Anglicans have seen vocations for men wither in the wake of women entering their priesthood. Men are forced out. This is deliberate as an effort, they claim, to make up for past imbalance and injustice.  The intrusion of a woman as a feigned priest distorts the meaning of the liturgy and invalidates both the Mass as a sacrifice and the Eucharist as the real presence of Jesus Christ.  

Jesus’ Exclusion of Women Not Culturally Determined

OBJECTION

Jesus was a Jew of his times and his selection of only men was not meant to be a perpetual exclusion of women from holy orders.  He complied with the social dictates of his times so that his apostles would be accepted and their message received.  Whenever he could he invited women into his circle of disciples and even commissioned them to service. The sisters of Lazarus were important to him as was Mary Magdalene and his Mother.  While men often emphasize the brokenness or sins of women in Scripture, the texts speak about healing and sending forth.  The sinner woman who anoints Christ’s feet and dries them with her hair is condemned by the eyes and whispers around them. However, Jesus commends her welcoming and acknowledgment of his presence; indeed, she heralds both his coming death and the kingdom. The Samaritan woman at the well is often preached upon as a bad girl who has compromised her chastity with various men.  But the Scriptures emphasize that she goes to her people as a prophetess and many come to believe in Jesus.  Her dialogue and faith profession is up there with Peter’s confession of the Christ.

RESPONSE

Jesus was not discouraged from including women among the twelve simply because it would have been too shocking. If it had been the right thing to do— the model Jesus wanted imitated— he would not have hesitated. Jesus was sensational in most things he did; why would he be inhibited here? We should not manufacture evidence for women priests where there is none. 

The only way that we could actually know that Jesus now wants to include women among his clergy would be for a new public supernatural revelation.  Given the past, there is not only insufficient evidence for such a change; the testimony weighs heavy against the inclusion of women in the priesthood of Christ. 

There are many female saints that have made important strides for the Gospel going back to apostolic times to the present. However, just because they have been exemplary in their witness, often outshining male disciples, this in itself does not mandate a change in sacramental discipline.  Church leaders struggle earnestly for ways to be more inclusive of women in decision-making positions and in ministries; but the model of priesthood is not open for debate.  We are locked in a particular pattern and the power of the keys is insufficient to make a change.  The Pope and the bishops are always servants of the Good News, not its masters.

The Holy Father has exerted his authority over that which he has personal say. The lay ministries of Lector and Acolyte have been opened to women, as has the new official ministry of Catechist. The diaconate remains off limits due to its sacramental nature and close association with the priesthood. But women have long been involved with the various works of the Church.  Indeed, they are engaged at church as readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, ushers, and musicians.  They not only cook and clean, but they work as rectory office managers and as directors of religious education. 

No Deficiency in the Holy Spirit Regarding Women Priests

OBJECTION

It takes a lot of nerve for the men in the Church to invalidate the sense of calling to the priesthood that many women maintain.  Little girls see women taking their rightful places in so many occupations today, and numerous women serve as protestant ministers and as Anglican priests.  It should not surprise us that increasing numbers of Catholic women leave the Church of Rome so that they might be faithful to God.  If their calling is demonstrative of the will of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit then the prohibition is blasphemy.

RESPONSE

No faithful shepherd of souls would deliberately want to hurt the faith of his people, especially the feminine sex that constitutes over half of the human race.  Further, one would have to be a monster to callously shatter the vocational dreams of young girls.  But the Church must abide by the example given us by Christ and the apostles.  It would “take some nerve” to invalidate 2,000 years of tradition and to do something that might compromise the priesthood, the Eucharist and the absolution of sins. Women were never ordained as priests and we do not feel we have the authority to make a change. Speaking for myself, I would very much want to affirm the stirrings of a vocational call in all our young women and men.  However, while men may know a call to priesthood, the religious call given to women is strictly to a life consecrated to the Lord as a sister or nun.  They are not summoned forward to act at the altar as grooms to the Church. Instead, they are beckoned to be brides of Christ and given the opportunity to serve in a myriad of other ways.  Women religious can work and pray in cloister like the monks.  They can function as nurses or even doctors. Many traditionally teach in the parochial schools. Some like Mother Teresa’s sisters work with the poor, the sick and the dying. Women’s vocations are rich and rewarding. Most men and women will make a difference within the laity.  The calling to be a spouse and parent should not be dismissed.  It is a high calling to witness the love of Christ in the family. 

It is true that many women serve as Episcopal clergy and Protestant ministers.  This has been the case for some time now. When I was a seminarian back in the early 1980’s, I participated in consortium classes and many of my classmates were women studying for Methodist ministry. Despite the good they do, one cannot compare such ministry with the Catholic priesthood.       

Upset by the Catholic Church’s intransigence on this matter, the rhetoric of certain critics seems to fault the Holy Spirit in not being more arduous in moving the Church toward women priests. We trust the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in the teachings that come down to us from the Magisterium.  The call to ministry is not a private affair but is precisely the business of the Church and her shepherds. The Church has the right to regulate her own ministries and sacraments. One does not have a religious vocation in the Catholic Church unless that calling is ultimately verified and commended by a lawful bishop in union with the Holy See.  The Spirit of God cannot battle with itself.  There is no deficiency in God and the misdirection belongs to those who dissent on this important matter. The truths of Christ and the mystery of the Church are unfolding precisely as the Holy Spirit intends. Having disagreed with the Magisterium, are critics going to argue with God now?

No Organic Development of Doctrine for Women Priests

OBJECTION

There are many seeds that Jesus planted that must be allowed to grow and to come to fruition.  Slavery is tolerated and yet over time it becomes clear that any such institution of bondage is incompatible with our immeasurable worth as human beings. It stands in stark contradiction to our dignity as brothers and sisters for whom Christ died that we might be free.  The death penalty is tolerated for centuries and yet today popes reject it as a form of complicity with the culture of death and as an assault by revenge upon the mercy that we are commanded to share.  We may be experiencing a similar evolution or paradigm shift regarding sexuality and gender.  The Church’s fear of women imposes both priestly celibacy and outlaws women priests.  We need to allow the seeds planted to sprout!  

RESPONSE

The practice of slavery among the Jews was time-sensitive. After seven years a person in bondage was freed. There was no assertion that the person enslaved was less a person than others or that he or she did not have rights. Arguably slavery under the Roman Empire and later in Christian Europe offered many protections against the abuse of those in bondage that were later missing in the American colonies. The Portuguese slave trade financed by American landowners corrupted the sordid business further by making it a perpetual institution, destroying families and reducing human beings to commodities.  (We see something of this same evil devaluation today with abortion and human trafficking.) Given that we fought for our independence in 1776, the irony was that the English would abolish slavery in 1834. The Confederate States of America would fight a civil war over slavery and states’ rights that would last until 1865. The suppressed Jesuits and other wealthy Catholics were landowners in Maryland who utilized black slaves— a mark of shame upon our legacy of faith in this land. Dissent was tragic then and it remains so today. Saint Thomas Aquinas argued back in the thirteen century that slavery was sinful.  Slavery was often tolerated as a means to bring both the faith and the values of Western civilization to primitive peoples.  But the price could be terrible, particularly given the mortality from European diseases and mistreatment. Largely because of abuses, Pope Benedict IV in 1741 promulgated Immensa Pastorum Principis against the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and other countries. Pope Gregory XVI in In supremo apostolatus (1839) condemned slavery as contrary to human dignity. The development of doctrine on this subject was organic and emerged from the heart of the Gospel. Nothing of the kind can be said about women’s ordination. 

The issue of the death penalty is much more recent and far more problematical.  But even here there are obvious signs to its abolition in the early pacifism professed by believers in the apostolic community. It is only after three centuries of martyrdom that Christians step forward to fight with Constantine to seize what is left the Roman Empire.  Our ideas about the death penalty are closely aligned to our sentiments about war and the right to self-defense.  A people have a right to protect themselves from enemies within and without. While Pope Francis would make absolute the prohibition against capital punishment, Pope John Paul II taught that a society in the throes of a culture of death forfeited its right to take human life through judicial execution. Similarly, the Church today is often the lone voice crying out for peace among nations.  While there is early evident of Christian pacifism and an aversion to taking human life; there is no apostolic record for the ordination of women as priests.

As for what is going on with sexuality and gender, much of that is in conflict with our basic views about men, women and the family. Recent developments signify no movement or development in the Church but the digression of our society away from Christianity into a militant secular humanism. Selfish humanity and not God is made the measure of all things. Association with such a momentum would constitute betrayal to the Catholic faith.  Indeed, women’s ordination would constitute a repudiation of the revelation given us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.    

The selection of male priests in New Testament times constituted a repudiation of the surrounding religious paganism. Reserved to men, the priesthood was counter-cultural in the Gentile world. Nevertheless, there was a healthy tension between the sexes with the learning and teaching responsibilities of women in domestic life.

While is argued that seeds are planted for a female priesthood, such development cannot in itself violate truths that are more firmly entrenched. So, the answer is ultimately, no. There is no such organic development in favor of women priests. Such would signify a hermeneutic of rupture. Looking back upon history, I am mindful of Irenaeus and his condemnation toward ordaining women as priests. The Church is not silent on this issue. It is taken for granted that a female priesthood is wrong and impossible.  Irenaeus condemns it alongside sorcery. He is quite right.  The sorcery of witches often deals with abortifacient potions. Many of the advocates for women priests are also proponents for abortion, as can be seen by the women who minister in the Episcopal churches.  Many of their churches will no longer officially participate in pro-life efforts.  Error builds upon error.  The ordination of women represents the beginning of a new and false religion.

Priesthood & a Devotion to the Manhood of Christ

OBJECTION

Just as there is no devotion or spirituality focused upon the masculinity of the Lord, we should not make gender demands for candidates to Holy Orders. Other than the pattern of selecting only men for priestly ministry, the Church’s focus is errantly placed upon a physical affinity to Jesus as a man. Instead, our center of attention should be upon Christ in his general humanity as redeemer and savior.  

RESPONSE

There is no devotion overtly centered on the maleness of Christ; however, neither would we dissect this element from our Lord’s identity. I am mindful of every masculine pronoun referencing the mystery of the incarnation of Christ as a male human being.  Note the prayer associated with the Sacred Heart devotion:

“I give myself and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my actions, pains and sufferings, so that I may be unwilling to make use of any part of my being other than to honor, love and glorify the Sacred Heart. This is my unchanging purpose, namely, to be all HIS, and to do all things for the love of HIM, at the same time renouncing with all my heart whatever is displeasing to HIM. I therefore take you, O Sacred Heart, to be the only object of my love, the guardian of my life, my assurance of salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the atonement for all the faults of my life and my sure refuge at the hour of death. / Be then, O Heart of goodness, my justification before God the FATHER, and turn away from me the strokes of HIS righteous anger. O Heart of love, I put all my confidence in you, for I fear everything from my own wickedness and frailty, but I hope for all things from your goodness and bounty. / Remove from me all that can displease you or resist your holy will; let your pure love imprint your image so deeply upon my heart, that I shall never be able to forget you or to be separated from you. / May I obtain from all your loving kindness the grace of having my name written in your heart, for in you I desire to place all my happiness and glory, living and dying in bondage to you” (Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque).

I bet there are very few radical feminists who have a devotion to the Sacred Heart and say this prayer! The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a male heart that beats in the chest of the God-Man. The loving heart of God is made human and vulnerable so that it might be pierced by a crown of thorns, the sins of all humanity. 

I have subscribed to the view that the problem is not that we have stressed manhood too much but rather that we have done so too little. Men must not surrender their identity in the face of aggressive women who judge all males as addicts to sex and aggression. I suspect that just as women are wrongly stereotyped as weak and needy, men also often excuse or idolize the ruffians in their brotherhood who lack sensitivity and compassion. We allow ourselves to be defined by the worst among us while we should find our model in the best.  When it comes to Christians, we can find no better exemplars in our tradition than Joseph the dutiful foster father of our Lord and Jesus, himself.  The priest, in particular, should reflect these witnesses of manhood.  

Jesus does not cower but faces head on what he sees as wrong. Too many shepherds are worried about their purses at the money tables unlike Jesus who overturns them.  When many turn their eyes away from the poor and the hurting, Jesus is hands on in reaching out to sinners and the sick.  Jesus breaks our crude stereotypes of manhood to show us the truth of what it means to be a man.  A real man is not a beast and he is not quick to violence.  He is strong and yet compassionate.  He is no one’s fool but he does not run away from a fight that must be fought.  He stands up to power and is a voice for the voiceless.  He looks upon women as co-workers in the vineyard of the kingdom. The roles are different, as he calls men alone to be his apostles and future priests. But women are among the many disciples and are also regarded as prophets of the Good News.  He defends women from the exploitation of divorce and forgives a sinner woman from the stoning of self-righteous voyeurs.  If the first Adam is a wimp, Jesus is the new Adam who stands up to the devil’s temptations, endures his passion and carries his Cross to Calvary. 

The devotion to the Divine Mercy focuses upon his humility and gentleness. Yes, he is Divine Justice as well, but it is mercy that is center stage. Like the great apostle to the Gentiles, men must imitate Christ. “Now I myself, Paul, urge you through the gentleness and clemency of Christ, I who am humble when face to face with you, but brave toward you when absent . . . .” Looking to heroes from Westerns, a true man is not necessarily a hard and distant John Wayne and neither is he a more vulgar and exploitive Clint Eastwood— Jesus is more like Gary Cooper’s lawman in High Noon.  He is a man of peace but he will not shirk from a fight even if he is abandoned.  Jesus is a man who is meek and humble or lowly of heart. 

Christian manhood and womanhood for that matter find its demarcation in 1 Peter 2:21-24: 

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Our priests must be men of truth and willing to pay a price for proclaiming the Gospel.  Unlike what we are seeing in politics and even in some Church circles, we should not be insulting one another but judging right from wrong and admonishing holiness instead of shouting curses.

Jesus would sometimes display righteous indignation, as before the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and outside the tomb of Lazarus at the prospect of our mortality. He urges the leaders to repent, to believe and to imitate his outreach to the outcasts and poor.  He weeps at the death of Lazarus, not only at the cost of sin which is death but because his show of power requires that he bring his friend back into this veil of tears.

Another trait of his manhood is patience, especially in regard to Peter and the apostles. Along with his sacrificial love, he would have us draw into our faith something of his courage.  The saintly affection between Christ and the apostles is a guide for men in their relations with one another— neither to be disoriented in a sinful effeminacy nor to be distorted by a distant and cruel masculinity. 

When it comes to the priest he must come across as a strong and yet kind spiritual father.  He must love the Church as Christ loves his bride.  Just as a husband is the head of a home and his wife is its heart, the priest must shepherd his flock by loving and protecting his own. Any form of sinful effeminacy in how he lives or projects himself is poison to the priesthood.  Further, if he becomes merely a cynical and angry old bachelor, he also fails in his charge as a man and as a priest. He is married to the Church.  He must have a spousal love for her.  Anything less is the start of a spiritual adultery.

The Rancor of Radical Feminists for Women Priests

OBJECTION

Men have messed up everything. They have caused scandals and have tried to hide their sins.  Women could do a better job.  We need to open up the priesthood now.  We demand it! The new woman can do anything the man can do.  That includes serving as priests!

RESPONSE

This befuddles me. There is nothing that the handful of women clamoring for priesthood can do to demonstrate that such a change in the structures instituted by Christ is warranted. Convoluted arguments that distort Scripture and Tradition are of no avail. The Magisterium has determined that it has no power to change it.

Viewing priests and bishops in terms of power, they hope to wrestle it away. Anger and hatred are forces that have long moved human history. There is no arguing with them, but that is okay. As long as they frantically deride the leadership in the Church as an oppressive patriarchy, they will not get far. Already many women normally sympathetic to their cause are themselves steering clear of these fanatics. Many of them will burn themselves out. Biologically speaking this is also true since their ranks include many avowed lesbians. Of course, it is admitted that even some of them want children. Many could not understand why there were so many lesbians and homosexuals at the NOW rally in Washington, D.C. a couple of decades ago. For the lesbians, the answer was simple. They wanted to insure that after the use of a stud service or artificial insemination, that if the child conceived was male, they could abort it and try again. What was it one woman said? Oh yes, “To have sex with any man, even your husband is rape, to give birth to a male child is to be raped a second time.”

When the bishops’ pastoral on women and sexism was being discussed, I attended workshops and encountered many of these angry women demanding the priesthood. They were insulted by my presence. Normal, happy women, stayed away. Where were holy women who desired priesthood? They were nowhere to be seen. This phenomenon was repeated throughout the nation. What kind of priests would they make? If they want to overthrow men whom they interpret as oppressors, it is only so that they can oppress us for real. These people sicken me.

Those who try to be less impassioned usually dialogue in utilitarian terms. They see the priest shortage as a danger to the Church. Little is said about the fact that encouragement has been lacking for men to consider priesthood. Families have fewer kids and then want grandchildren. Immediate self-gratification, including promiscuity, and driving ambition for the good life is a potent force in our society. These are things we are told to deny ourselves in seminary.

Priests display their discontent, and then wonder why there are so few to follow in their footsteps. The reputation of priests in general has been denigrated by the foul actions of a few and the news media hungry for gossip. Religious education has been abysmal, giving us several generations of baptized Catholics illiterate of their faith and/or taught heresy. Vocations directors turn down men for being too conservative and bishops either close seminaries or fail to sponsor candidates.

No, women priests are not the answer. We will get as many priests as we want; we just don’t want any. The West falters while the third world in places like Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa, is exploding with vocations. Some of those who pose the utilitarian need may be acting in good faith, but they fail to see the manipulation of that need. Secular considerations must not force an unwarranted alteration of the theological obstacles to women’s ordination. No natural argument suffices because the priesthood touches the supernatural. “Be on your guard; do not let your minds be captured by hollow and divisive speculations, based on traditions of man-made teaching and centered on the elemental spirits of the world and not on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). We are to follow the traditions established by Christ and the teachings of the Church, instead. Do we listen to a logic inspired by the spirit of the world or by that guarded and nurtured by the Holy Spirit?