Francis on a plane


Pope Francis is opening a new symbolic universe for disenchanted Catholics whose hopes were deep sixed by the Woytyla-Ratzinger papacy.This long winter was basically a reaction to the fresh Spirit wind of Vatican ll which set a hierarchical, patriarchal church on a new path. It was too much for many and the forces of reaction set in, driving so many creative priests out of ordained ministry. It was Newton writ large—action, reaction.

Now a new pope  in his talk, his dress, his comfort in his own skin, his dialogical approach  is reflecting a Vatican ll modus vivendi—but he can’t yet go all the way. He has done much in four months but he just cannot get over the hump of the gender injustice which still deforms the church.

In his long 80 minute rap with reporters on the plane where he basically  accpeted gays in the sacerdotal ministry, but he stopped short  on the female ordination question. This is understandable. Still  a fresh wind is blowing and it is deeply troubling to the archconsevative factiob in the church.

Here’s how the Women’s Ordination Conference saw this moment.

In an interview given to reporters on July 28 en route to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis made it very clear that this papacy sees women as separate, but not equal to men, and will keep the door to women’s ordination closed, citing Pope John Paul II as his reasoning.

 Pope Francis’ cop-out rationale illustrates a very selective theology: to blame a previous pope for his stance on women priests, and then in the very same interview contradict his predecessors by acknowledging an open understanding for gay priests.  

Instead of looking to Pope John Paul II for the answer, Pope Francis could have looked to a variety of sources. He could have quoted the Vatican’s own the Pontifical Biblical Commission that concluded in 1976 that there is no valid scriptural or theological reason for denying ordination to women. Pope Francis could have cited history that documents women’s leadership in the early church, or acknowledge the great works Roman Catholic Womenpriests are doing today. He could have looked to Jesus who welcomed women as his equal.

 Pope Francis stated that the “church has spoken and said no.” The church was not Pope John II in 1994 when he forbade women’s ordination nor is it Pope Francis today. The church is made up of the people of God and Pope Francis could have looked to the majority of Catholics who support the ordination of women, recognize that women are created in God’s image, and strongly believe with God a door is always open.”  


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    wmgrace Says:

    The recent admiration for and optimism around Francis is not without some skepticism, especially from the Groucho Marxists – both women and the LGTB community. They really want to believe what they are told in the feel-good journalism (mostly male heterosexual?) surrounding his on-the-plane commentary, but the evidence they see, does not warrant investing a lot of hope in the likelihood of progressive change with respect to their very real grievances. Jamie Manson of the National Catholic Reporter, writes:

    “Francis is changing the tone in the hope that the church will be perceived in a better light, but there is little evidence to suggest he will or wants to make doctrinal changes on women’s equality, same-sex relationships or contraception, and his response to the issue of clergy sex abuse has been underwhelming at best.”

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