Monday, December 3, 2012

NCR Endorses Women's Ordination. Excommunications To Follow

England's progressive Catholics have announced their solidarity with the women's ordination movement with advertising on a bus.  How appropriate.

The National Catholic Reporter editorial board has just published an editorial standing with Roy Bourgeios on the issue of women's ordination.  The following is the full editorial.  This is a very gutsy move by the NCR and given the current Catholic identity hysteria, it wouldn't surprise me if the whole editorial board was excommunicated.  Can we get more juvenile?  We will soon find out.


Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice

Editorial Staff - National Catholic Reporter - 12/3/2012
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.

The most egregious statement in the Nov. 19 press release announcing Roy Bourgeois' "excommunication, dismissal and laicization" is the assertion that Bourgeois' "disobedience" and "campaign against the teachings of the Catholic church" was "ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful." Nothing could be further from the truth. Bourgeois, attuned by a lifetime of listening to the marginalized, has heard the voice of the faithful and he has responded to that voice.

Bourgeois brings this issue to the real heart of the matter. He has said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and to say that anatomy is somehow a barrier to God's ability to call one of God's own children forward places absurd limits on God's power. The majority of the faithful believe this.

Let's review the history of Rome's response to the call of the faithful to ordain women:

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate." In further deliberation, the commission 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.

In Inter Insigniores (dated Oct. 15, 1976, but released the following January), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said: "The Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." That declaration, published with the approval of Pope Paul VI, was a relatively modest "does not consider herself authorized."

Pope John Paul II upped the ante considerably in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (May 22, 1994): "We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." John Paul had wanted to describe the ban as "irreformable," a much stronger stance than "definitively held." This met substantial resistance from high-ranking bishops who gathered at a special Vatican meeting in March 1995 to discuss the document, NCR reported at the time. Even then, bishops attuned to the pastoral needs of the church had won a concession to the possibility of changing the teaching.

But that tiny victory was fleeting.

In October 1995, the doctrinal congregation acted further, releasing a responsum ad propositum dubium concerning the nature of the teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: "This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium." The ban on women's ordination belongs "to the deposit of the faith," the responsum said.

The aim of the responsum was to stop all discussion.

In a cover letter to the responsum, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the congregation, asked presidents of bishops' conferences to "do everything possible to ensure its distribution and favorable reception, taking particular care that, above all on the part of theologians, pastors of souls and religious, ambiguous and contrary positions will not again be proposed."

Despite the certainty with which Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the responsum were issued they did not answer all the questions on the issue.

Many have pointed out that to say that the teaching is "founded on the written Word of God" completely ignored the 1976 findings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Others have noted that the doctrinal congregation did not make a claim of papal infallibility -- it said what the pope taught in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was that which "has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium." This too, however, has been called into question because at the time there were many bishops around the world who had serious reservations about the teaching, though few voiced them in public.

Writing in The Tablet in December 1995, Jesuit Fr. Francis A. Sullivan, a theological authority on the magisterium, cited Canon 749, that no doctrine is understood to have been defined infallibly unless this fact is clearly established. "The question that remains in my mind is whether it is a clearly established fact that the bishops of the Catholic Church are as convinced by [the teaching] as Pope John Paul evidently is," Sullivan wrote.

The responsum caught nearly all bishops off-guard. Though dated October, it was not made public until Nov. 18. Archbishop William Keeler of Baltimore, then the outgoing president of the U.S. bishops' conference, received the document with no warning three hours after the bishops had adjourned their annual fall meeting. One bishop told NCR that he learned about the document from reading The New York Times. He said many bishops were deeply troubled by the statement. He, like other bishops, spoke anonymously.

The Vatican had already begun to stack the deck against questioning. As Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese reported in his 1989 book, Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church, under John Paul a potential episcopal candidate's view on the teaching against women's ordination had become a litmus test for whether a priest could be promoted to bishop.

Less than a year after Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was issued, Mercy Sr. Carmel McEnroy was removed from her tenured position teaching theology at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana for her public dissent from church teaching; she had signed an open letter to the pope calling for women's ordination. McEnroy very likely was the first victim of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, but there have been many more, most recently Roy Bourgeois.

Blessed John Henry Newman said that there are three magisteria in the church: the bishops, the theologians and the people. On the issue of women's ordination, two of the three voices have been silenced, which is why the third voice must now make itself heard. 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.

Our message is that we believe the sensus fidelium is that the exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale; therefore, women should be ordained. We have heard the faithful assent to this in countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings. It has been studied and prayed over individually and in groups. The brave witness of the Women's Ordination Conference, as one example, gives us assurance that the faithful have come to this conclusion after prayerful consideration and study -- yes, even study of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

NCR joins its voice with Roy Bourgeois and calls for the Catholic church to correct this unjust teaching.


Kudos to the National Catholic Reporter.  They have taken a stand, raised their voices, and begun to take the lead in what may be the formation of something entirely different in American Catholicism.  I hope all Catholics who truly care about the future of this Church in the west, join in this particular New Evangelization.  I'm also pretty sure the letter from their bishop is on it's way asking them to take the name 'Catholic' off their mast head.   What ever will John Allen and Michael Sean Winters do?  Decisions of conscience will be the name of the game.  This really is a huge gamble for the NCR, but one they made with a great deal of integrity.

Yesterday I was going to post an article entitle "Do you know where you are going? God."  When I'm taking clients to the main center we have to pass this billboard every day and usually know one knows where they are going.  Yesterday I realized that included me.  I was so frustrated with Benedict's latest motu proprio about Catholic identity and Catholic organizations.  I couldn't' really write anything so I played 125 consecutive games of Free Cell trying to find some inspiration.  I guess I had to wait for today.  In reality I have been waiting a very long time for one of our so called leading progressive publications to take a meaningful stand on the spiraling downward direction of the Church in the West and especially in the US. Finally the NCR has.

I hope though, that it doesn't just stop with women's ordination, because the issues facing the Church are much more than that.  The Vatican is desperately hanging onto an out dated mode of clerical priesthood that can not meet the demands of the laity, and this is going to get even worse in the developing world.  There are hundreds of millions of Catholics globally who can not access the Eucharist or the other sacraments because there are no priests. The Vatican's idea of establishing lay apostolates and a trumped up diaconate for women does not solve this problem.  The only thing that does solve the problem is to change the disciplines surrounding the priesthood and revamp our entire understanding of what the expectations are for our sacramental leadership. Calling for women priests is a start, but it isn't the finish.  It is the direction I think God is calling us to go.  So, do I know where I am going?  Yes, I'm going to stay and continue to advocate for meaningful change.  Catholicism without sacramental and Eucharistic access is just another form of protestantism.



  1. Just a question: What is the letter from the bishop to take 'Catholic' off the masthead is rec'd by NCR and the request is refused? What authority does the bishop have to enforce his request? I can't see the US civil courts for example taking up the matter. How would the bishops up the ante here?

    1. I'm not sure a bishop could ever be successful in such an attempt. In reality the term Catholic, as used by the NCR, is a descriptor for what they report on and cover. I bet Bishop Finn would love to try, but the man is pretty compromised. Such a move would probably have to come from St Louis.

    2. It's been tried before, according to Wikipedia.

      "In 1968, NCR's ordinary, Bishop Charles Herman Helmsing "issue[d] a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church's teachings," condemning its "poisonous character" and "disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith." Helmsing warned that NCR's writers were likely guilty of heresy, had likely incurred latae sententiae excommunications, and because the publication "does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching," he "ask[ed] the editors in all honesty to drop the term 'Catholic' from their masthead," because "[b]y retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings."

      NCR refused to comply with its ordinary, and 66 Catholic journalists signed a statement disagreeing with the condemnation based on its "underlying definition of the legitimate boundaries of religious journalism in service to the church." The Catholic Press Association reported that the dispute arose from a difference of opinion regarding the function of the press." "

      Don't rate their chances as any better this time... :)

    3. That's a very interesting piece of history. Along these lines I thought it very interesting that Dennis Coday posted a piece about Commonweal going after Bully Bill Donahue. Actually there were two pieced. I hope we are seeing some solidarity amongst lay publications.

  2. First step:

    The bishop of Rome has been selected by all sorts of means over the years, including public acclamation. It is strictly up to the pope to decide how his successor is to be selected. It is completely outside of sacramentality and theology. The pope just has to decide to do it. One piece of paper, one signature.

    I think the changed discussion in the conclave would be good for the universal church and eventually the church will change.

    1. I don't see this happening under Benedict, but it might under his successor. The lack of male unmarried priests is a global problem which is much more pressing in the developing world than in the West and goes right to the heart of Catholic identity. What good does it do to call a parish Catholic if it rarely has any access to the Sacraments?

    2. Sclerosis: ...pathological hardening of tissue especially from overgrowth of fibrous tissue...(Merriam Webster)

      "... for us men and our salvation... " Not inclusive, not the correct translation. No, the Vatican is indeed sexist.

      For the last 10 years or so I always make a count, or estimate the proportion of women to men at Mass. Not once have I witnessed more men than women in attendance.

      This is inexcusable willful blindness of elderly men raised more than a half century ago. They have not examined their own consciences. They have not reflected on the most important global change in society, the extension of civil rights to women. It is sinful.

      Mary Magdalene was by Jesus to be the first witness to the resurrection. She was the Apostle to the apostles. (For those who have haven't taken a logic course, um, that makes her an apostle.) Phoebe, Deacon of the church of Chencrea was recommended by St. Paul. These are sufficient historical examples to support the case for ordination of women ministers.

      I refuse to proclaim the new google-translation of the liturgy, primarily on the basis of its sexism.

      Incidentally, actuarial tables show that on average a person person 85 years old, like B16, has a life expectancy of another 6.7 years.


    3. Oh no! Mistakes in my earlier post:
      1. Jesus chose Mary Magdalene...
      2. Just one: person 85 years...
      3. Most often two thirds of the congregation is women.
      4. I liken the church to a body with disease, a hardening of attitudes that is often associated with aging.
      5. Over at NCR one commenter is attempting to single-handedly excommunicate every single "heretic" who agrees with the editorial.
      6. And finally... There is a male organ that hardens at the prospect of mating and perhaps creating new life. That's a different sort of body phenomenon. (Although that one has caused the church an enormous amount of time, money, and almost all of its good reputation.)


    4. You're quite right that there is no reason women could not be electors of the pope, but even in the extremely unlikely event they allowed this, what kind of women would they choose? Not the ones in favour of ordaining women to the priesthood, that's for sure. Ultimately it wouldn't change anything--it would just weaken (very slightly) the charge that the hierarchy is sexist.

  3. My authority for the ordination of women is Father Raymond Brown, renowned scripture scholar. He argues there is nothing in scripture that would deny the ordination of women. Then, however, there are the popes who put themselves above the Bible. I will wait for Benedict to tweet on this.

    1. If it can't even be discussed, then surely it can't be tweeted about.

    2. Prickliest, you are right. One can always hope. If it can't be discussed, what happens to a dream deferred?

    3. That was funny prickliest. I suppose that means it also can't be facebooked or.....friended.

  4. "Trumped up diaconate"?
    If Jesus was anything, he was not a bishop or a priest. He was a deacon. I don't get the disparaging "trumped up" part. How about a piece on the diaconate? (non trumped up, please);-)

    1. I should have explained that further. I was referencing a new diaconate which is in something of an unofficial official discussion for women. It would not fall in the Holy Orders line of ordination, but be entirely different and 'service oriented'. Sort of a lay version of an apostolic women's religious order.

  5. There are many, many, many, many injustices in the RCC that need to be corrected both in the short and long term scheme of the evolution of the human race toward the fulfillment of the ideals and goals set forth by JC.

  6. What I particularly liked in this superb editorial was the conclusion that not only is women's ordination possible, not only may we discuss it - but that as laity, uninhibited by abusive Vatican control over our careers and livelihoods, we have an absolute obligation to raise it - anywhere and everywhere, as far as we are able.

    "Blessed John Henry Newman said that there are three magisteria in the church: the bishops, the theologians and the people. On the issue of women's ordination, two of the three voices have been silenced, which is why the third voice must now make itself heard. 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."

    Thanks for doing so. (As a good Catholic, dutifully following instructions, I'm doing the same).

    Thanks too, for the London bus pic - I'd not come across it before. I hope to see one, next time I'm up in the big city.

  7. If NCR really wants to send a message to the Roman hierarchy perhaps they need not end the year 2012 with just only this pronouncement of support for women priest. They need to really blow the minds of the old abusive fascist dictators in the RCC hierarchy on birth control, women's health, the current hierarchy's long list of abuses against women for the last few hundred years, the liturgical abuses that women everywhere have had to put up with in only seeing words in reference to God as a HE. That's just for starters though. NCR needs to broaden the perspective in their editorials to make their case against the abusive leadership of Benedict and system they use in conjunction with the Vatican Bank and secular governments.

    1. Noto bene: NCR did not publish this until --no surprise really-- a man was impacted by the Vatican's pronouncements regarding the ordination of women. We can expect NCR support on issues like birth control, women's health and the abuse of women inside and outside of liturgy only when a man is negatively impacted by such realities.

    2. Good point Molly, and one I didn't catch. Patriarchy in Roman Catholicism is such an enculturated aspect that it can still hide in plain sight.

      The Vatican has been on a major roll the last two weeks wielding their various weapons left and right on progressive clergy and organizations. Makes me wonder if Benedict doesn't have some health problem that puts the reform of the reformers on some sort of very intense time schedule.

  8. Equally important to all the comments above is the other article in NCR, " Critics Question Society as arbiter of Catholic Identity in Higher Education." Also read the comments that follow this article. The topic of the bishops interference in the University is something that I have been discussing the past 10 years. Also the interference in St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix has sent the whole Catholic Heath Care West out of control of these men. This is important because many Catholic Universities have Medical centers. It is time for creditable universities to do the same as did Catholic Heath Care West.

    Gore Vidal once wrote that fundamentalist religions only flourish in a poor society an that is how the wealthily keep control over our society. These fundamentalist bishops see it that way too. They wish to dumb down america, not listen to the educated theologians, push their own catechism and lie about their finances and what scientific discoveries show. They do not believe in the rights of women or gays, and have little concern for the poor in general. They are not Godly men, they are not Christ-like. They do not following the Gospels or The Way of Christ. These men surly must be investigated to open their finances for they are clearly pouring church money into politics. Their Church property should now be taxed for not keeping religion separate from government. Several of them also belong in jail for enabling their priest in so many rapes. We can not afford to listen to this group of men. They are not and can never be the leaders of a People of God. Let us identify with a radical Christ that was not fearful of calling hypocrites by their name. dennis

    1. Excellent summation, Dennis...thx...

    2. "Gore Vidal once wrote that fundamentalist religions only flourish in a poor society an that is how the wealthy keep control over our society."

      Mr Vidal was right, and fundamentalist religions mingle with the wealthy because fundamentalist religion is the main cog in teaching children how to 'obey' authority of all persuasions. The wealthy and powerful appreciate that and voluntarily make room for fundamentalist religion.

      I suspect very strongly that this connection is what is behind the drive to move Catholicism further to the right and also the reason the priesthood must stay exclusively male. It's not really about men being 'in persona christi'. It's about reinforcing the unquestioned right of male dominance in the minds of impressionable children.

  9. Excommunication for speaking the truth to power is a badge of true Christianity.

    Jim McCrea

    1. Followed by sainthood in about 300 years when it's deemed safe.

  10. Jesus of course was always and only a Jew. As were all of his direct disciples and associates both male and female.
    Therefore following on from the illogical logic of the patriarchal "traditionalists" all of the clergy including the Pope should be Jews.

  11. This blog is very nice and informative for student who wants to read online. And want biology homework help. And keep continue to sharing this helpful information with us.

    1. I actually don't write a lot of biology, but I guess after 5 years of posts I actually might have, and yes I will keep sharing my independent academic interest in research on this blog.

  12. I absolutely think women should
    be ordained in this day and age.