Women’s ordination, Moot question, Reason or Sentiment?

james kottor, Editor, Church Citizens' Voice
This is an editorial note on NCR article on whether the Women’s ordination issue is shut or open. The moot question here is: What is the core of women’s ordination issue? Is it theological, philosophical, sacramental, hierarchical or just administrative? To many it seems to be none of these, but just sentimental attachment to an age-old male domination of the female in Church and society. Why? No one seems to have given a rational basis for their objections to equal treatment. All preach equality and practice inequality between men and women in the Catholic Church.
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Theologically and scripturally who is better equipped to project Jesus, the living good news, to the whole world? Ab esse ad posse valet illasio, (the fact something has already been done, is the unassailable proof that it can be done again) is the Latin saying and compelling reasoning.
Jesus was brought into the world first through the family path (you may dispute virginal conception ad nauseam, but none dispute he was born of a woman) by a woman, Mary. His resurrection, the birth-taking, perplexing, dazzling unbelievable good news, central to Catholic belief, was announced for the first time also by a lady, Mary of Magdela. In doing that she, a lady, became the first to evangelize those who today claim themselves to be the evangelizers par-excellence, headed by Peter (Pope) of course, that is, today’s hierarchical class.
Added to all these there are various other considerations: Many research scholars today deny that Jesus instituted a priesthood at all; the author of the future of the church, in an interview recently said: “Even St. Augustine never believed in transubstantiation”; scripture speaks of elders, not priests nor of any imposing of hand to create them. Francis himself is clear when he quotes previous Popes, as though to please his predecessors, “the door is shut” but not equally clear when he waxes eloquent, without mincing words, in condemning inequality in the Church as the worst sin.

Paul fought against Peter to put an end to inequality practiced between Jews and gentiles. Is a similar fight in the making to burry all objections to women’s ordination and establish their inbuilt equality and competence to every ministry in the Church? In spite of all this, think of the fact that not a single woman in this Synod is allowed to vote. If so what is all the great talk of empowering them? How are they going to be better than “Cheer girls” in an Indian Kricket match?
In spite of all the great admiration this scribe has for the present unparalleled Pope in history, one thing that always got stuck in his throat from the very beginning of his pontificate is his vacillation on the question of women’s ordination, even his hesitation to allow open discussion in public. Is there anything under the sun, which cannot be discussed in public in the Catholic Church?
How can that be reconciled with his counter to the Atheist Editor, that person’s conscience and conviction is the voice of (the unknown) God speaking to him, that the world would have been far better if everybody acted according to his/her conscience, that there were great men of excellence among unbelievers, that the name of his God is not 'Catholic' etc.
Or is Francis waiting for a long drawn study and development of a theology of the role of women in the Church to give his final view on Priesthood for Women? He has been speaking often about developing such a theology. We may have to wait till this synod is concluded, to see how this question is going to be settled to everybody’s or nobody’s satisfaction.

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2 Responses

  1. 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 couragean inspiration to throw off board this devilish bondage to an ugly tradition. Zacharias Nedunkanal, asso. editor, CCV.

  2. (This important comment had been sent by Fr. Joseph Mattam. He is a CBCI approved theologian, often invited to give lectures to them. ZN, asso. ed.)

    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.

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