Reactions to Women’s Ordination
Zacharias Nedunkanal, asso. Editor, CCV.
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 writes
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:
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.
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. 6/2015
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!”
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!
The question is whether this ongoing discussion will be guided by reason, sentiment or pious faith in the Papal pronouncements.
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)
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