|Thanks for the thumbs up. Dispensing qualified Catholics from the lay state and granting them some priestly faculties in some situations might solve a multitude of problems associated with the ordained priesthood.|
I spent the morning reading the comments to the National Catholic Reporter articles on the editorial mistake America magazine made with Pope Francis' interview for the English language Jesuit publications. I really appreciated the fact the Dr Phyllis Zagano reported on the lines from the interview that America editors state were accidentally drop kicked into the garbage icon. Those lines clarified a part of this interview that made no sense to me. The America translation was the one I read and Francis' take on women and their place in the Church, especially with the words 'feminine machismo' made no sense to me, as they came across as an attack on women who seek other than the usual allotted roles. I found this so out of context with the rest of the paragraph and interview that I determined he must have meant 'machismo' limited women's roles. So I was glad the lines Phyllis found in Spanish and Italian translations clarified Francis' meaning as pretty much what I thought. In reality Francis is calling for a far more incisive role for women in the Church and again, for a much deeper theology of women.
But the give and take between Phyllis and some of the editors and translators of America's version in the comments section was something to behold. I think all sturm and angst point to more than just who wrote what about what, and what was really done, and why accidently doing what was done really was an accident and not a reason for impugning America's journalistic creds. I think it was the Holy Spirit that might have seen to the drop kicking of some important lines about women into that garbage icon on one of America's computer screens. Perhaps it was a case of forcing some Jesuit discernment. Perhaps it was a method of outlining just how fragile the relationship is between Holy Mother Church and her real women. It's pretty fragile, and it's a situation Pope Francis seems very much aware. He has not stated a word about how much his male relatives influenced his own relationship with the Church, but he has stated a great deal about how his grandmother, mother, and sister have effected his relationship with the Church. He knows when women walk out the doors, generations leave with them.
I have not suddenly decided Francis understands the role of women any deeper than I did in my post about mothers and sons and mothers and daughters, but I do think he knows his view is not particularly deep, and that the real situation on the ground is that the Church's very survival is wrapped up in women not walking out the doors. He seems really willing to prevent that by any means short of ordination. And so lots of people are suddenly talking about the potential for opening the deaconate to women and elevating women to the position of cardinal. These are nice, long overdue concepts for giving women a more incisive place in the Church. They would be easy to enact and not require much of a change in Canon Law. Those are the pluses. The negatives are two fold. They leave the celibate male clerical structure in place with all it's attendant problems and they still leave women (and married men) with a second class status vis a vis baptism. In other words, close but no cigars.
And yet the path to full equality has been seriously blocked by both his predecessors and Francis hasn't said one thing that indicates he will buck Ordinatio Sarcedotalis. Not even on the celibacy rule. So what does a Pope do? If he's serious about elevating women and removing narcissistic clericalism he could consider bypassing the whole question of ordination to the priesthood and invent a different path. He could give special dispensations to any qualified lay Catholics to exercise certain priestly faculties in limited or emergency situations. Lay Catholics can already do this with the Sacrament of Baptism. There is precedent. This might solve a lot of problems. Not just the issue of women's ordination, but this would also provide sacraments in priestless parishes and areas in which the priest to lay ratio means no Eucharistic celebration and no opportunity to enjoy God's mercy through confession. A pope could get really creative with these dispensations. They could be powerful signs of God's mercy and provide lots of nurses for working in God's field hospital. It could start with laicized married priests and vowed religious, but it wouldn't have to stop there. It could evolve in it's own way and eventually we might find there is no longer any need for the ordained priesthood that the Church can't ordain women into and that men have to be celibate for--viola problems solved.