Reactions to Women’s Ordination

Zacharias Nedunkanal, asso. Editor, CCV.zac 1
This is my response to dr. kottoor’s article on Objections to Women’s Ordination in CCV.
The real problem facing the church, ever since the time of St. Paul, is the male domination. Though the basic document of Christian faith is the Bible and the position of women in it is very strong, the eccentric male leadership continues its hold and won’t give it up at any cost. Reason, nay, in this case even just commonsense, is simply shut down. The pontificate of Pope Francis, for all the blessed things he has uttered and accomplished so far, will go down in history as of no consequence, if he fails to gather up enough courage to declare woman as equal to man in creation as it exists today. Not so, though, in history. For history is made by men for men discarding woman altogether.

The present historical moment in the Church, however, calls for a determined and drastic change in this by recognizing women as equal partners in every level and sphere of life. In principle and according the the New Testament, priesthood is not necessary to the mission of the Church. But if there is a male priesthood to manage the institution, there can and should be female priesthood, too.

Any number of bishops’ synods is not going to rejuvenate the Church unless women are also called in and allowed to work freely, that is, not as helpers to the clergymen, but themselves as leaders. The fact is that the old generation of the present college of Cardinals and office holders in the Church are miserably bound by some sort of sentiment in which the male domination is a sine qua non for the existence of the Church.
All the evidences, however, from the life of Jesus is to the contrary. But the present male chauvinist leadership is blind to this fact. For all the innumerable qualities of the present Pope, he too, is unfortunately subject to it. Our only hope is in his gathering sufficient courage and inspiration to throw off board this devilish bondage to an ugly tradition.

As Fr. Joseph Mattam says in the following comment, The church is still holding on to the the myth that Jesus institued the priesthood. This is a lie become a myth. It is the male chauvinism in the church that cannot thow the myth away and accept the plain truth. And if priesthood in the church is not according to the wish of Jesus, then women clamouring for priesthood is meaningless. What is failing in the church is practical democracy. As long as there's no democracy in the church, the present dilemma will continue.

 

Joseph Mattam SJ writesj.mattam
Listen also to better educated and qualified doctor of theology Fr. Josep Mattam sj who has been dean the Jesuit theologate and invitee to international conferences, even to CBCI eets. He writes to james kottoor:

Dear James,
None of the arguments produced by the hierarchy is of any real value; they work under an illusion that Jesus ordained men at the Last Supper; that is an invention by the male dominated clerics; I have argued in a number of articles that Jesus could not have ordained anyone a priest, as he never used this word except in the Good Samaritan story and when telling leprosy patients to show themselves to their priests; if all his life he never spoke of this, to say that just when he was to leave his disciples he would ordain priests makes no sense.

It is obvious that Jesus had a very poor opinion of priests; the primary and almost only function of priests at the time of Jesus was to offer sacrifice; we know Jesus’ attitude to sacrifice; the God he presented to us does not call for any sacrifice; he explicitly said that God does not want sacrifice but fidelity, etc; also the cleansing of the temple and the prediction of its destruction also show that he was bringing that system of sacrifice to an end.

So the main argument on which this opposition is kept up has no foundation at all. The fact that this has been always the tradition says nothing because the tradition is kept up by men only. Women were never given a chance to speak their mind on this matter.

That Jesus was a male and only a male can represent him is also a faulty argument as it is not the maleness of Jesus that saves us but the fact that he became human. How can we reach these arguments to Pope Francis? Keep trying.
Joe

Kurien Joseph from Delhi

More people are reacting. Here is another knowledgable person and a forceful writer Kurian Joseph, who leads the campaign against the expansionism of Syromalabar Church which resulted in the Faridabad SM Diocese in Delhi:

Dear Dr James
As an educated Catholic, I find it embarrassing the way the Church treats this issue. I have not heard one argument – cogent or otherwise – to justify this man-made rule and traditions. I checked with the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia and found that all it could do was quote church leaders who said this was final.

Quote 1: Most Rev. J. Francis Stafford, Archbishop of Denver (November 17, 1995) Catholic teaching on the priesthood . The substance of that teaching was affirmed nearly 20 years ago by Pope Paul VI in a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insignores. Simply put, the Church cannot ordain women as priests. She does not have the authority or capacity to do so.

In issuing his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II employed the full authority of his office as teacher and universal pastor. The teaching is definitive and has been set forth infallibly by formal declaration. It will not and cannot change. Therefore, for those who see with the eyes of faith, the matter is resolved.
Do you see why I call it embarrassing? The Church says this is final and right because it “is rooted in the Word of God and unbroken sacred Tradition”. Is that an explanation? Where does “the Word of God” say this? And, as for “unbroken sacred tradition”, let us face the fact that, until Galileo, it was “unbroken sacred Tradition” that the sun went round the earth!

The good Archbishop quotes the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. That document in turn starts like this: “PRIESTLY ORDINATION, which hands on the office entrusted by Christ to his Apostles of teaching, sanctifying, and governing the faithful, has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone. This tradition has also been faithfully maintained by the Oriental Churches.”

Who made this “reservation”? So back to the basic argument: “It’s always been like that – and our friends in the ‘orient’ do the same thing.”

The Church has never even claimed any argument other than “that’s the way it’s always been”, which is not an argument. And in matters of reason or logic, the hierarchy’s perceptions are in no way higher or more authoritative than those of reasonably educated people.
Whether Pope Francis himself will be able to do anything about this, however, is another issue: after all, he has to fight the most winnable battles, before attacking the citadel of the male hierarchy.
Kurien, New Delhi

John Wijngaards, Oct. 6/2015hans
Dr. Wijngaards with his Institute for Catholic Research and promotion of Women’s ordination in UK writes:
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION is also suppressed in the Church by blocking financial support. Vatican II laid down: “All the faithful, both clerical and lay, should be accorded a lawful freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought and freedom of expression.” (Gaudium et Spes, no 62; Canon Law no 212 § 3.) In spite of that, many official Catholic resources refuse to help fund our work. That is why we rely so much on donations by individuals who think critically.
Today we received a letter from a Religious Congregation that illustrates the point. Though they personally agree with our points of view, they say that they may not support us.I am printing the letter here, deleting the details of the Congregation in question to avoid breaching confidentiality.
“Dear Council of the Wijngaards Institute: Thank you for your letter asking our Congregation to give a grant towards your work.
Your Institute promotes some causes with strong argumentation, such as the admission of women to the ordained ministries and a new way of exercising authority within the Catholic Church. Although we have sympathy for your points of view, which you base on powerful evidence, we still feel that we do not have the freedom to allocate our funds to objectives which, while ignoring obedience a virtue so highly valued by our founder, so clearly contradict the explicit wishes of a series of Popes.
By our Constitution we simply cannot go against the express wish of a Pope. One of the wishes of the deceased Pope John Paul II was precisely that the admission of women to the priesthood should not be discussed. In private many of our members will treat this papal request with prudence. But it is different where our funds are concerned. We simply may not release them for this or other discussions that criticise authority.
So I have to inform you that we cannot honour your request.With all best wishes for your work”, etc. If this letter saddens you, as it does us, please consider giving us your own financial support. Believe me, we need it!”

Isaac Gomes from KolkottaIssac gomes
Isaac Gomes, isaacgomes@hotmail.com, Oct.6 /15

Dear Dr Kottoor,
The last part of my observation to your article WHAT IS THE HURDLE: REASON OR SENTIMENT?
It has been years since Fr Joris passed away. St Xavier's College is now filled with girl students who are rubbing shoulders with boys. And Park Street Police Station has not been converted into a Maternity Home as perceived by Fr Joris. It still remains as it was – a Police Station as before.
So this proves that the notion (or shall I say the wrong notion) on women about their inability to be on par with men, is mostly in the mind, as was the case with Fr Joris, one of the most famous educationists Calcutta has ever seen.
It is time we gave our women equal rights and gladly welcome them into our fold (read the Church Hierarchy).

The Rome Synod without any voting rights to women participants would be meaningless, especially when it is on the Family.
Regards and all the best. Isaac, Kolkotta

An afterthought from Isaac Gomes

Dear Dr Kottoor,
It is an established fact that the Church has always created and maintained a deliberate dichotomy on the place of woman in the community. While it extols Mother Mary to the sky for all her immaculate virtues, it treats women as second class citizens and makes no qualms about it. It's hypocrisy gets thoroughly exposed when it has to deal with issues like equality of women in all spheres of the church hierarchy including their right to be ordained.
From the theological point of view nowhere is it written that the Church will be run by priests and that it would be an all-male bastion. Even if there be some mention on the specific role of women, it has to be taken with a grain of salt as after all even Theology is written by men!
Regarding Jesus having instituted priesthood, this cannot be true for it was the Priestly class that put Jesus on the Cross. At the most Jesus might have meant a "collegial" group of leaders, both men and women, considering he was very fond of his mother Mary and also Mary Magdalene. He could not have destined a second-class role for women.
One possible reason according to me for the Catholic Church Hierarchy not allowing women to come too close to them on equal footing is that this will entail regular interaction with them putting their vows of celibacy to serious test.
I remember the famous quote of Fr Joris, late Belgian Principal of B.Com. Department St Xavier's College Calcutta. On being questioned by a reporter why he was opposed to St Xavier's College being fully Co-educational (B.Com. at that time was all-boys department), Fr Joris replied, if this were allowed, then Park Street Police Station (opposite the college) would soon become a maternity home!
Regards, Isaac

The question is whether this ongoing discussion will be guided by reason, sentiment or pious faith in the Papal pronouncements.

pamplany

 

 

Shree Vargese Pamplanil wrote: Dear Zach,

Greetings. I follow your posts in Almayasabdam on the Family Synod. What a waste the  Synod is all about! The Church’s obsession with human sexuality seems never to end.  “Sexuality is not mere instinctuality; it s indisputably a creative power that is not only the  basic cause of our individual lives, but a very serious factor in our psychic life as well( Carl  Jung). “telling us all the sins we are capable of performing with our sexual organs does not  enlighten us about our sexuality. Those who reduce a mystery to a problem  are guilty of ‘intellectual perversion’. (Matthew Fox).

I have almost finished an article on ‘ The Myths’. I will submit it only after the Synod is over.  Mob. +919447252533/ 949552533/7558845645( Idea – with internet) 

kottorDear Friend Karimadam,

14 Indian Sister theologians wrote a letter (see it in my book "Woman why are you weeping?" on women's ordination) to John Paul II, pleadiig for equal treatment includig admission to priesthood. In the concludig para they, being knowledgable theologians admitted that the whole noice about priestly ordnation was basically for equality between men and women in all ministries and not becuse they believe Jesus instituted a priesthood or it has any basis for it in the Bible.

To make the long story short all those 14 sisters holding various important portfolios in the church were kicked out of their respective offices. That was the tangible answer they got from Saint John Paul II. One of them visited me at my home in Eernakuilam. james kottoor, Editor – CCV

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2 Responses

  1. james kottoor says:

    Dear Friend Karimadam,

    14 Indian Sister theologians wrote a letter (see it in my book "Woman why are you weeping? on women's ordination) to John Paul II, pleadiig for equal treatment includig admission to priesthood. In the concludig para they, being knowledgable theologians admitted that the whole noice about priestly ordnation was basically for equality between men and women in all ministries and not becuse they believe Jesus instituted a priesthood or it has any basis for it in the Bible.

    To make the long story short all those 14 sisters holding various important portfolios in the church were kicked out of their respective offices. That was the tangible answer they got from Saint John Paul II. One of them visited me at my home in Ernakuilam. james kottoor

  2. Joseph Valiamangalam JESUS AND PRIESTHOOD Dr. J. Valiamangalam, Prapoyil, Kerala, India-670511. Mob.9496423443 Jesus, a Priest? An important first observation has to be that Jesus was or is not a priest, as the term is commonly and popularly understood. The Letter or Epistle to The Hebrews is the only New Testament Book in the Bible that clearly calls Jesus a priest and describes his priestly action, consisting of his death on the cross, as sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Thus, Jesus’ priestly action on earth, if understood strictly in the Jewish sense of sacrifice, was very short. But, in fact, the Epistle views Jesus as the Eternal Priest, enthroned at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, on behalf of the people he saved through his once for all sacrificial death on the cross (Heb 8, 1ff.). This, among many other points in the Epistle, such as Jesus’ Divine Sonhood, state in nutshell, the uniqueness of the Person of Jesus, as well as of his priesthood (Heb 1, 1-5). However, it ought to be emphasized that the priesthood attributed to Jesus by the author of The Hebrews is very different from that of the Jews, the community into which Jesus was born and grew up. For, the author specifically states that Jesus was not born into the traditional Jewish priestly Levite Tribe, and the Epistle even points to a non-Jew, Melchizedek as the model of Jesus, in order to give further emphasis on the non-Jewness of his priesthood, that especially, in support of its eternal character (Heb chapters 5ff.). Jesus’ death, sacrifice for the sins of humanity? It is the common belief of Christians, down from the Apostles, that Jesus died on the cross as sacrificial offering to God the Father in atonement for the sins of humanity. But, might this not tarnish the image of God as the Most High, All-perfect God, and most-loving Father, to require sacrifice, especially, a sacrifice of blood, and that too, of His most beloved and loving son Jesus? Thus, it can only be understood as an interpretation by the first disciples of Jesus, who, as Jews, have been used to the rite of sacrifice of lambs and bulls, and the pouring or sprinkling of their blood for forgiveness of sins! Moreover, it is quite clear that Jesus’ crucifixion happened due to his firm stand for truth, justice, love, mercy…., as well as because of his vigorous loud protests against injustices and unkindness of the Jewish priestly authorities towards their believers, and against the separation, discrimination and even enmity of the Jews towards the Samaritans. He not only did openly question these, but even publicly broke unnecessarily imposed burdens on the common people by the priestly class and their supporters. It is the inspiration people can and should draw from this, and from his consequent matchless wholehearted acceptance of suffering unto death on the cross as the will of God the loving Father, what makes his relevance everlasting, even when dispensing with the theory of salvation through atonement for sins by blood, as unworthy of a good God as said above. Emulation of the mutually sharing and supporting brotherly life of the Early Christians is also important, and would certainly speak of the lasting relevance of Jesus’ person and mission. It is important also to call attention here to the fact that, due to the twist or shift of emphasis on the true causes of the death of Jesus as resistance to untruths and injustices, it happened and happens that, just a routine participation in the religious practices, in the case of Catholics for instance, attendance at the Sunday Mass, help look religious and good in the society and neglect duties and obligations otherwise expected of them. For example, in countries such as ours, many a Government employee have no scruple to neglect duties towards a common man or woman, and ask to come on another day, even if it is possible or even necessary to do it on the spot or within a short time, and even demand or accept bribe! Jesus’ Last Supper and its continued commemoration also need special mention here. First of all, the teaching that bread and wine then turned and also today turn into actual body and blood of Jesus, needs to be reviewed. It is evident that at the actual Last Supper personally presided over by Jesus, at which Jesus first established the rite of the Eucharist, a priestly doing too, to speak in the liturgical parlance, as he pronounced the words, ‘this is my body and blood’, raising bread or wine, no part of his actual body or blood was drawn out. If it is argued that Jesus had divine power to turn bread and wine into flesh and blood, that couldn’t be his actual body or blood, so as to say, ‘my’ body/blood. That means the rite was only symbolic. Then, with more reason it can be maintained that, in the continued commemoration of the same by Jesus’ disciples and followers down the centuries too, bread and wine only symbolically represent Jesus’ body and blood. This is, in another way also more reasonable. For, the teaching is that in the receiving of the Holy Communion, Jesus comes into our hearts, but bread and wine as such or even if as turned into Jesus’ flesh and blood, go into the stomach and partly are thrown out! Moreover, the essence of the rite is thanksgiving, and thus has to be more aptly called Eucharist rather than sacrifice. Jesus said a prayer of thanks, with bread or cup of wine in the hand and raising his eyes towards Heaven/God the Father. Hence, the blessing by hand over bread and wine by the celebrant is out of place and needs to be dropped immediately, keeping only the prayer of thanksgiving after the example of Jesus. Autobiographical: A few lines by way of autobiographical experience might be in place. Originally from Kottayam Dt. in Kerala State, South India, I am an ordained Catholic priest of the diocese of Palai. As those acquainted with me know, I earnestly tried to fulfill various duties entrusted to me in various capacities for 25 years, i.e., up to Silver Jubilee as priest. I was sent to Rome shortly after my Ordination for specialization in Sacred Scripture and Dogmatic Theology; obtained L.S.S. and D.D. degrees from the Biblical Institute and Gregorian University respectively. On return, taught Bible at Vadavathoor Major Seminary for about 3 years. And then, on my own will, chose parish work for a year and then went for university studies and obtained M.A. in Philosophy, with specialization in Indian Philosophy – all this, only to make myself more fitting for the work as a seminary professor. Although I could then rejoin Vadavathoor Seminary faculty, I chose parish again, this time, especially to show that parish work for priests with higher degrees was not below dignity. However, finding that I hadn’t enough strength for celibacy, decided on my own, to quit official priesthood for truth’s sake. A few months later, I happened to get acquainted with a woman who had 4 children and had lost her husband, and contracted civil marriage with her. I purposely did not apply to Rome for dispensation, as I hold that it is high time to make celibacy optional, as it was for several centuries in the beginning of the Church. I hold at the same time that, it is better to remain single for fully dedicated priestly life, but special training for celibate life should be imparted during the Seminary life. That is, it is not enough just say that celibacy is a ‘must’ for Catholic priests. It should be added here that it is better for the good name of the Church also, to make celibacy optional again, which the present Pope hopefully would consider favourably. ———————————————- The Letter/ Epistle to the Hebrews was until recently considered to have been written by Apostle Paul. But modern researches tend to think that it was not directly from the pen of Paul, but more probably written by a disciple of his. It would naturally be argued that Jesus himself had said at the Last Supper that he was accepting death in view of forgiveness of the sins of the people (Mt 26, 28/Mk 14, 24; Lk 22, 19 – Mk and Lk do not mention ‘sins’ as such, but imply the same). However, in the light of what is said above regarding the impropriety of the idea of sacrifice, sacrifice of blood in particular, when applied to God, especially as father, it is problematic. It may also be recalled here that Jesus forgave sins before dying on the cross. It may be added here that the story of Adam as the first parent, and his sin having been transmitted to all people as Original Sin could be understood as the Jewish projection about the otherwise unknown cause of sufferings and death in the world (etiological finding)! ‘To bless’ here, does not mean ‘blessing by hand’, but saying words of thanks. The fact is that in the Hebrew language, there is no direct word for ‘thank you’ as in English etc., and instead, praise the concerned. Hence, ‘vazhththi’(blessed) in the Malayalam Mass ‘kurbana’/the equivalent in English or so also, is not to be taken to make sign of the cross over bread/wine, but say prayer of thanks as Jesus did. In fact, ‘vazhththuka’ in Malayalam has the meaning, ‘to praise’ (sthuthikkuka), and not make sign of the cross. Stopping it will also help remove the impression that it is at the sign of the cross by the priest that Jesus becomes present! (Here it may be added that the impression that, it is the blessing of the priest that effects forgiveness of sins, needs also to be removed. Sins are forgiven directly by God as a sinner repents wholeheartedly. Thus, the relevance of Confession has to be as Counseling!) 4 The above article is translation of a few points chosen from my recent 156 page book in Malayalam, in the hope of reaching a wider readership. It is especially hoped that it would draw the attention of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church, with the seriousness and urgency it requires.

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