It sounds very beautiful and appealing

More on top-down authority versus everyone else.

On obedience. Last week Sister Pat Farrell said what she thinks obedience is.

But the word obedience comes from the Latin root meaning to hear, to listen. And so as I have come to understand that vow, what it means to me is that we listen to what God is calling us to in the signs of our times.

This week the bishop said what he thinks of that.

My reaction is that it sounds very beautiful and appealing, and no one can argue that we have to be obedient to God and that we have to follow conscience. But on the other hand, it flies in the face of 2,000 years of the notion of religious life, that obedience means obedience to lawful superiors within the community, and it certainly means the obedience of faith to what the church believes and teaches.

Again, Catholicism understands Christianity to be a revealed religion, in which truths of faith, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are authentically taught. So St. Paul talks about the obedience of faith. So it’s not just about a kind of vague sense of obedience, but it really comes to a very specific obedience in some cases, particularly for religious women or religious men.

It’s what it is. It’s not what we’ve grown used to, in the non-theocratic parts of the world, which is adults thinking about ethics and problems and competing goods; it’s obedience and “truths of faith” and no questions.

Then there’s ordination. Women can be theologians, and that’s great, but priests, no. Why? Because penis.

But when it comes to the priesthood, and I don’t know that on a program like this we’re able to explore the theology of it, because it is a theological one; it’s not political. It’s not sociological. It’s theological. About what the sacraments are and what it means for a man to stand at the altar and act in the very person of Christ as a priest.

I mean, St. Paul talks about Christ being the groom and the church being his bride. That symbolism, theologically, is very much a part of our understanding of the Mass and the priesthood. And that’s, I think, also why Christians who maintain their faith in a priesthood – namely, the Catholics and the Orthodox – do not have a female priest.

Penis. A groom has to have a penis. The church is the bride, and the priest is supposed to fuck her. That doesn’t sound quite right, somehow – yet it’s what the bishop said.

The church doesn’t say that the ordination of women is not possible because somehow women are unfit to carry out the functions of the priest, but because on the level of sacramental signs, it’s not the choice that our Lord made when it comes to those who act in his very person, as the church’s bridegroom.

But the Lord didn’t choose Americans, either. Or Germans, or Brazilians, or Mexicans…But there are German and Brazilian and Catholic priests. The choice their Lord made doesn’t much resemble most priests today.

And you can say, well, that sounds like a lot of poetry or you know, how do we know that’s true? But, again, if you’re a Catholic, this is part of our sacraments and our practice for two millennia, and it’s not just an arbitrary decision of male oppression over women.

The conclusion doesn’t follow.

Is change possible? The world changes, we change, can religious rules change?

I think certainly the world in which we live today is vastly different than the ancient world or the medieval world, or even the world of a century ago. And so there’s always an evolution in society. But what are your first principles? What are your basic beliefs? What do you believe is something that’s revealed by God in scripture and tradition and taught authoritatively through the ages?

Those kind of things do not change. Their understanding can evolve. There can be aspects of it that evolve and change, but not the fundamental things.

The fundamental things that they claim to know because they’re revealed by God in scripture and tradition and taught authoritatively through the ages. Dogma. Dogma can’t change. Thank you for a pleasant conversation.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Shplane says

    Dogma can’t change, until it becomes economically advantageous for the priesthood to change it.

    Sophistimicated Theomology™

  2. Sastra says

    “But, again, if you’re a Catholic, this is part of our sacraments and our practice for two millennia, and it’s not just an arbitrary decision of male oppression over women.”

    Why, no, it’s not an arbitrary decision of male oppression over women. Quite correct. It’s a deeply entrenched, historically consistent imposition of male oppression over women which can be traced all the way back to the patriarchal, male-centric ancient agrarian societies of the Mideast, with their ill-informed, ignorant, unexamined assumptions that God was a King and women were property.

    I mean, we’re working on “the level of sacramental signs” here. You can’t argue rationally over what’s true or not on the level of sacramental signs. You can only have one side that sees — and another side that can not.

    Leave … the …. Church. You cannot reform it from within. It’s empty within. Go out into the world. Step into the light. Find people who think making ‘earthly’ sense is a feature, not a bug.

  3. haltritz says

    This whole “sacramental theology” explanation, whereby the priest has to be male, representing Jesus because the church is Jesus’ bride, falls apart when we consider that the celebration of mass in an all-male monastery would then have to be considered a homosexual orgy.

  4. says

    “…the celebration of mass in an all-male monastery would then have to be considered a homosexual orgy.”

    Ah well. That might have to be the price paid.

    And as for Sister Pat Farrell’s definition of ‘obedience’ as listening to God, without so much as a nod to any notion of obligation to obey the clerical hierarchy: that sounds like Protestantism to me.

  5. Ken Pidcock says

    But what are your first principles? What are your basic beliefs? What do you believe is something that’s revealed by God in scripture and tradition and taught authoritatively through the ages?

    Well, I would say that it’s something that sustains my power over other people. Yeah, that’s it.

  6. Stevarious says

    I mean, St. Paul talks about Christ being the groom and the church being his bride.

    Well, okay then. A female priest would be a gay marriage. That’s the problem.

  7. Ysanne says

    But, again, if you’re a Catholic, this is part of our sacraments and our practice for two millennia, and it’s not just an arbitrary decision of male oppression over women.

    Translation: “That’s how we always did it, so that’s what we’ll keep on doing, regardless of whether it still makes sense.”

    The whole argument bride/bridegroom is a fantastic example of Catholic “have your cake and eat it too” theology: Stuff is said to be symbolic in one moment and taken literally the next, depending on what is most convenient in the specific situation.

  8. Orlando says

    My favourite bit is his definition of dialogue:
    “Well, I think we have to give a nuance about dialogue because if by dialogue they mean that the doctrines of the church are negotiable, and that the bishops represent one position and the LCWR presents another position, and somehow we find a middle ground about basic church teaching on faith and morals, then no. That’s – I don’t think that’s the kind of dialogue that the Holy See would envision.

    But if it’s a dialogue about how to have the LCWR really educate; and help the sisters to appreciate and accept church teaching, and to implement it in their discussions, and try to heal some of the questions, or concerns, they have about these issues; then that would be the dialogue.”

    Ah, so dialogue means “we tell you what to do, and you shut up and do it”. That sorts that out, then.

  9. NC says

    Why is it okay for a building/congregation to represent the bride, but only a man can represent the bridegroom?

  10. Orlando says

    Sorry, I see you covered that yesterday. Serves me right for reading from the top.

  11. 'Tis Himself says

    Come on, Bishop, just say it. Women cannot become priests because girls are icky. Every male third grader knows this. The Catholic hierarchy hasn’t exceeded the emotional age of seven so women will never be ordained.

    The Vatican Annex.

  12. smhll says

    I think Terry Gross interviewed him on Fresh Air yesterday, for anyone who is so fascinated they can’t wait to hear him say more. (He did say the stuff quoted above with a perfectly straight face, er, voice.)

  13. Charles Sullivan says

    When I listened to him on Fresh Air I was damn near pulling my hair out.

  14. lpetrich says

    Her explanation of the meaning of “obedience” seems like the Etymological Fallacy. To illustrate it, consider that words for spirit and soul often come from words for breath and air. Thus the Holy Spirit is really the Holy Breath. Pffft!

  15. Dave says

    As if this process of realising that your interpretation of the scripture isn’t shared by the Holy Mother Church, and one of you needs to go, hasn’t been going on since, well, before there was a Holy Mother Church… Why does Sister Pat think that there are Protestants, and Quakers, and and and… If you don’t like the misogyny, don’t be Catholic.

  16. David Evans says

    “But the Lord didn’t choose Americans, either.”

    I don’t think that option was available.

    More to the point is that he didn’t choose any rich men. He made it quite clear that being rich was a disadvantage in his eyes. Makes one wonder how the Catholic Church got to where it is today.

  17. Kevin Alexander says

    The celibacy rule acts as a filter. It screens out the large hearted men and only lets poco through.

  18. Bach-us says

    “But the Lord didn’t choose Americans, either.”

    I don’t think that option was available.

    The Mayan civilization says, “Hey!”

  19. John the Drunkard says

    One of the chief duties of priesthoods is to control the tendency of believers to:

    “listen to what God is calling us to in the signs of our times”

    Mormens and fringe protestant groups tend to lack thie clear top-down control. As a result they generate a continuous stream of self-proclaimed prophets. The price of restraining potential Jim Joneses and Ervil LeBarons is an imperial bureaucracy.

    Well’s book ‘Hitler’s Pope’ is a worthwhile read, despite its lurid title. Pius X11 was willing to climb into bed with the Nazis precisely because his primary commitment was to reassert the centralized power of the papacy over the acts and conscience of local catholic institutions.

  20. smrnda says

    The whole ‘bride and bridegroom’ thing – it seems that there’s really no need to take a metaphor so far given that it’s obviously a metaphor, or else Jesus would be engaging in both polygamy and gay marriage by being the ‘bridegroom’ of the church, ‘the bride.’

  21. says

    This whole “sacramental theology” explanation, whereby the priest has to be male, representing Jesus because the church is Jesus’ bride, falls apart when we consider that the celebration of mass in an all-male monastery would then have to be considered a homosexual orgy.

    Not at all. You clearly don’t understand the sophisticated theology of Holy Mother Church. What it means is that all the other monks are really women, taking the Holy Cock of Jesus deep inside them.

    See? Much better.

  22. says

    Well, that bishop dude is probably one of the best example around why churches and patriarchal theocracies are useless and dumbifying. Why anyone would want to belong to such a backwards organisation is beyond my understanding.

  23. says

    This whole “sacramental theology” explanation, whereby the priest has to be male, representing Jesus because the church is Jesus’ bride, falls apart when we consider that the celebration of mass in an all-male monastery would then have to be considered a homosexual orgy.

    Good point. I was going to say that by his logic men should only be priests and not in the pew but your take is funnier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>