NCR editorial rocks Catholic world



The call to the priesthood is a gift from God. It is rooted in baptism and is called forth and affirmed by the community because it is authentic and evident in the person as a charism. Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand.

 So begins the  National Catholic Reporter (NCR) editorial for December 3, 2012.

What seems like common sense to the faithful, most of whom live in the real world of men and women is apparently anathema to the increasingly isolated clerics in the Vatican. And it might be added to their carefully vetted Yes men in too many dioceses. The Roman Catholic Church is paying a steep price for the John Paul ll/Benedict XVl advancement of a very narrow band of brothers who in the words of Notre Dame theologian Richard McBrien “listen to a constituency of one-Rome.”

The NCR editorial was prompted by the growing number of Catholics who have been abandoning the institutional church in record numbers all over the educated world. These questioners can no longer stomach the adamantine intransigence of an all male hierarchy which still can not admit the obvious: the failure to allow women to every sacrament in the church is pure discrimination and is totally out of synch with the call for inclusion in God’s reign of justice which Jesus proclaimed.

Vatican ll was a “signs of the times” Council where the Roman church pointed to new Spirit signs which had lain dormant for far too long and which called for attention and attention. Deeper truths were on the immediate horizon.The church must heed the “signs’. Pope John XXlll in the middle of the Council (1963) flagged the growing and insistent reality of the voice of women:

 Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons.   Pacem in Terris #41

The  clamor has grown louder despite Rome’s bizarre attempts to silence it forever and regress to the status quo ante. It got so bad that the present pope  had to rein in John Paul ll from making this an article of faith.As Pope John XXlll said: This discipline could be changed with a snap of the fingers.

The  voices kept multiplying as women took their place at every level of secular society yet  the church which proclaims justice, did little to advance this obvious move to inclusion. Rome fought this at every level of church life. It continuously advanced the prejudices of another age as the mind of God today. The culture bound prejudice, an intellectual fossil of a misogynist age, masquerading as serious rationale for female sacerdotal exclusion  was absolutely inadequate and embarrassing for a historic church which had given the world universities and which prized reason and critical thinking. To this narrow end, Rome promoted men so desirous of “the first place at the banquet” that they agreed to episcopal advancement  promising they would loyally and blindly carry out Rome’s short sighted dicta: No women at the altar. Six not seven sacraments for you. These men had little sensitivity to the feelings of half the human race as women watched the “men’s show” unfold before their eyes. Male clerical leadership did not realize the deep hurt that this exclusion caused in the hearts of those who had been the centuries’ old nourishers of the next generation of Catholics. Rome carried on as if “feminism” was an attack on the Body of Christ rather than the gift that it is. Both Catholic men and women became tired of justifying something so unjust. Millions left in disgust.More writhed in embarrassment.

Even a Roman Commission said NO!

In 1976 the Papal Biblical Commission which included the brilliant Canadian Jesuit David Stanley voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ’s original intentions. Not only that but the Church should ordain women. Stanley lost his job in Rome for his candor and honesty. As we now know this was but a temporary setback for the cause of female ordination. The question  simply would not go away and could not be shut down by papal fiats.

Now we are at a new moment in a Church which proclaims that it is “semper eccelesia reformanda’, always in the process of renewal.

The expulsion from the priesthood of such a stalwart priest as Roy Bourgeois for his demand for gender justice  is simply another shot across the bow, another failure to heed the cry of the Spirit, a refusal to listen deeply to the magisterial voice of the sensus fidelium.

The  NCR  has bravely lanced the boil and stated , “We must speak up in every forum available to us: in parish council meetings, faith-sharing groups, diocesan convocations and academic seminars. We should write letters to our bishops, to the editors of our local papers and television news channels.”

Fifty years after  the opening of Vatican ll Catholics are discovering their magisterial voice, a voice which the bishops  have a duty to hear, a voice  which admits them to a central place in every and all decisions which affect the church. The game has just begun.


1 Comment »

  1. 1

    Wonderful news!

    May there be more advancement in the struggle. Change is possible. Hope is alive. Allan

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