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Women priests? The debate continues…

posted by David Gibson

Even as many Catholics watch with concern–and perhaps not a little schadenfreude–as the Anglican Communion at Lambeth splits up over homosexuality, back home in Rome and elsewhere the One True Church is still debating the issue of women and holy orders.
Back in April I wrote here about the issue of women’s role in the church as the great unaddressed question of the pope’s U.S. visit. In that post I referred to a strong recent essay on women’s ordination by Robert J. Egan, SJ, in Commonweal magazine. (Behind a firewall, but again, consider forking over just $25 for an on-line subscription–it is worth the price of admission.) The basis of Egan’s essay was a review of the writings of Sara Butler, a nun who once supported women’s ordination but now believes it is against Catholic teaching and tradition.
Now Butler and Egan square off in an extended reprise, available on-line here. In light of surveys showing Catholics generally disagree with the Vatican’s ban on ordaining women, and the increasing number of conflicts over the topic, such as the Louise Lears episode in St Louis (here and here), this Point/Counterpoint is a must-read.



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Kevin D.

posted July 21, 2008 at 6:53 pm


Yes, polls indicate that a majority of Catholics would be fine with women’s ordination, but how many lapse or C&E (Christmas & Easter) Catholics does this include? I’m pretty confident that a poll of practicing Catholics (i.e., those who attend, with few exceptions, mass on a weekly basis, observe the sacrament of reconciliation upon mortal sin, observe holy days of obligation, etc.) would reveal a great majority who agree with JPII/B16 that the Church cannot ordain women. The same goes for teens and young adults who practice their faith — afterall, witnessing to a chaste life is much, much harder than the sort of liberal hang-ups that their parents’ generation is still concerned with, but of course the number of Catholic teens and twenty-somethings who know and practice their faith is a minority.



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Anonymous

posted July 21, 2008 at 7:35 pm


This article is misleading ;
Pope JP2 said a definitive No in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. He was saying : this is an infallible decision.
Other than that, there isn’t really any debate, except maybe in your imagination.



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Little Bear

posted July 21, 2008 at 10:55 pm


There is absolutely no evidence that Jesus ever ordained his Apostles.
He told them to baptize, to wash the feet (serve) their brothers and sisters. Well, if you visited today’s parishes and checked the punch-in clocks of the staff (who are mostly women—a few men) and the priests (who are all men), who do you think puts in the most time ‘pastoring’ the people of the parish? Who do you think actually does what Jesus asked today?
The priests are out on the golf course, riding their motorbikes, going on vacation trips, and the pastoral associates and other women from the parish are visiting the hospitals,visiting the shut-ins, visiting the residents in nursing homes, conducting vigils and comforting grieving family members at funeral homes, and conducting bereavement sessions in the months and years following the death of a loved one.
And it’s the DRE’s who are supervising or actually educating the catechists, the parents, the teens, the children, the expectant parents, the young couples who are planning to be married. For the most part, the priests leave that part to the women on the staff—and this is pastoral work.
In so many placesin our country, the priests are only sacramental studs—they come in over the week-end once every six weeks and celebrate the liturgy, consecrate hosts, and leave. It’s the women who conduct communion prayer services over the week-ends and during the week days the rest of the time.
Women train the lectors, the eucharistic ministers, the altar servers, supervise the food banks, direct the St. Vincent de Paul Centers, run the Parish Nurses (Congregational Nursing), direct and run the vacation bible schools, act as spiritual directors, etc. Oh, yes, women also do all the paper work, keep the financial records, type the bulletins, and do most of the correspondance in the parish, and record the vital information in the parish records.
This is not done by the priests!
Women shouldn’t be ordained? Yeah, right!



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Jim

posted July 22, 2008 at 8:37 am


The Ordination of women is simply NOT a part of our tradition and never has been.
And I take issue with Little Bear’s nasty and sarcastic comments about priests. Christ was also slandared and cruely misjudged by Pharisees of His day. The Lord warned His own would experience the same. Charity should be prayed for and acted upon, graciously.



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Bob Nunz

posted July 22, 2008 at 11:44 am


I’d note that Kevin’s post above has no substantiation for what Catholis beleive. There is clearly great division.
The issue is how time bound the selecttion of men was.
For many years until recently, we took the Bible literally and treated it basically as a history book.
We now see clearly that the customs and usages of the times color revelation.
So this debate will go on despite what is offically laid down.Respectful discussion on all sides migh thelp.



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jjkans

posted July 22, 2008 at 1:06 pm


“The priests are out on the golf course, riding their motorbikes, going on vacation trips, and the pastoral associates and other women from the parish are visiting the hospitals,visiting the shut-ins, visiting the residents in nursing homes…” -Little Bear.
Okay, where are all these priests you’re talking about? I’m thinkin’ they’re the ones you just made up in your head. The parishes I’ve attended through out my life have had priests who not only look over their own parishoners with great care, but are also caring for 3-4 other parishes in nearby towns, AT THE SAME TIME! Of course, they couldn’t do all this with out the help of great women (and men)in their churches. But, they by no means sat in ivory towers all day. There are priests out there who do their jobs poorly, like in any profession, point taken. And guess what…they’re HUMAN. But, that hardly justifies a change in Church doctrine. Sorry, you’re arguement for womens’ ordination is pretty weak.



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Little Bear

posted July 22, 2008 at 2:30 pm


Dear jjkans,
Are you an “insider”? I am! Oh, yes, there are wonderful priests who do a great deal of work (God bless them). But hour for hour, overtime for overtime, day per day—its the women of the Church who wear the “yoke of Jesus Christ” in ministry. Why Masses that are said daily would not be scheduled if it were not for the women(secretaries). And in the 3-4 parishes that the priests that you are referring to care for—-you can bet your bottom dollar that he depends heavily on women to do 96% of the work in those parishes. You just see Father at the altar, or you see Father conducting a meeting, but the background work was done by women—who have just as good a training in their theology as Father has (and in many cases, better).
The priests that I was referring to in my previous posting do exist (and they have been away from their parishes for 170 days a year)–5 days here, 10 days there, all fall, winter, spring and now into summer. And the Bishop doesn’t do a thing about it—people have written about it in spades to complain. They were told, (nicely) to mind their own business. WELL, IT IS THE PARISHIONERS’ BUSINESS!
Yes, Jesus was slandered and mocked and guess who was at the foot of the cross to see this all happen—-Women! The truth is the Church would not exist for one month if all the women who work in the parishes and cathedrals went on strike. The bishops and priests could not carry on. The good bishop wouldn’t be able to find a clean alb, purificator, or corporal to use for the Liturgy. And that is just for starters–of the problems the Church would face.
Secondly, the “Doctrine of no women priests” is not a dogma (mystery of God). The “doctrine” is a man-made ruling that can be changed. There is NOTHING in the scriptures that stated that Jesus ordained his Apostles as priests—the Church, said that he did—-but it is not in the scriptures anywhere. Search them.
But Paul (and this is the year of St. Paul), did in his Letter to the Romans 16:1-16 greet almost 30 people and their families in Rome—at least 10 of the people that he greeted were women, whom he observes are a deacon (Pheobe), a prominent apostle (Junia), Mary–who worked hard among the Romans. There was also Priscilla and Lydia who were Apostles among the people in the regions in which they lived. And there is Mary Magdalene—the Apostle to the apostles—featured as such for centuries in the Eastern Church, before the Western Church came to its senses and realized that she was never a prostitute.
The Church will probably start with permitting women to be permanent deacons first—-and then in time—-



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pagansister

posted July 22, 2008 at 7:37 pm


At one time priests could be married…and then the RCC decided that was wrong. So who’s to say that women shouldn’t be priests? The church could do a great deal of good by reinstating permission for priests to marry, AND coming to the realization that women can do just as good a job as a male priest and allow them to become priests. Bingo! the 21st century.



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priceofliberty

posted July 23, 2008 at 11:23 am


Jim wrote:
“The Ordination of women is simply NOT a part of our tradition and never has been.”
There is this illusion that we know what the churches traditions were from AD 300 to AD 1200. The truth is thanks to a lot of “lost records” we don’t know.



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Anonymous

posted July 23, 2008 at 2:52 pm


“For many years until recently, we took the Bible literally”
Pure and utter blarney.
Shurely you did not put homosexuals to death. (Well, then again, maybe the RCC did do that.) Shurely you did not put the victims of incest to death. Shurely you allow the eating of lobster and crabmeat. Shurely you do not deny communion to the disabled. Shurely you do not (still) believe the sun rotates around the earth. Shurely you do not believe snakes and donkeys can talk.
ALL of these things are in the Bible.
You took the Bible selectively, as do all thinking persons.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted July 24, 2008 at 9:47 am


“Little Bear” writes: “The priests are out on the golf course, riding their motorbikes, going on vacation trips, and the pastoral associates and other women from the parish are visiting the hospitals … the shut-ins, the nursing homes …”
Shame on you, “Little Bear,” for your insulting and sweeping characterization of priests. What parish are you talking about? Certainly not mine. In my parish, the 3 priests and the 1 pastoral associate share the work along with lay volunteers — both male and female — of visiting hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
We appreciate that you have an agenda, but your bitterness is a real turnoff. I hope that others will join me in praying for peace in your heart. As for any priests that you claim have shirked their duties … who are you to judge them? “Little Bear,” I would leave the judging to God.



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Anonymous

posted July 28, 2008 at 10:17 am


“Yes, polls indicate that a majority of Catholics would be fine with …”
Since when did the Vatican ever give a toss for what a majority of Catholics would be “fine” with. That ain’t how the machine works, hon’.
Many other polls say a majority of Catholics would be fine with gay people and their relationships, birth control, women priests, divorce and re-marrige, etc.
And similarly, a majority are not “fine” with child-molesting priests nor the bishops who shelter them.
The pope could care less. It’s good to be the pope.



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