Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stop Engines: Full Speed Astern

This engine room telegraph is exactly like the one on the Titanic.  In that case, after striking the iceberg,  the Captain asked for full speed astern only on the port engines.  That would be the left side engines.  Hmmmm.

We all knew this would have to happen, and I couldn't wait to see how Cardinal Policarpo of Portugal was going to wiggle out of his admission there was no theological reason women could not be ordained.  After all he did sort of forget JPII said something totally different.  I admit JPII's reasoning wasn't based in real theology but in personal belief babble, but he was pope,  when he said the Church did not have the authority to ordain women he meant just that.
Taken from Vatican Insider, what follows is the Cardinal's response.

The reverse trend of Cardinal Policarpo: "the ordination of women is impossible"

vatican insider staff Rome He had talked recently about women and the priesthood. Now Cardinal José Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon, goes back on his statements to the Portuguese magazine "Ordem dos Advogados" and explains his position.  In a letter re-launched by Zenit news agency, the spiritual guide of Lisbon clarifies with regards to the ordination of women priests he is "in communion with the Pope."
During the interview, when consulted on the issue, the cardinal said that in his opinion there is no fundamental theological obstacle to the ordination of women, even though he stressed that no Pope has powers in this regard. This would lead to tensions, and it will happen only if God wills it to happen and if it is in His plans”. (Which means what?  God has to appear in person and ordain the pope to ordain women?)
In his explanation, Cardinal Policarpo acknowledges that he had never "consistently treated the question: The reactions to this interview have forced me to consider the issue more carefully, and I found that, especially for not having taken into due consideration the latest declarations of the Magisterium on this subject, I gave rise to these reactions”. For this reason, Policarpo felt compelled to clarify his position with the faithful:  It would be painful for me that my words could cause confusion in our adherence to the Church and the words of the Holy Father. I believe I have shown that communion with the Holy Father is absolute in the exercise of my ministry ”. (So where does your communion with Jesus fit in?)
The Patriarch also stressed the "complementarity of men and women in the history of salvation," that "reaches its fullness in the revelation of Christ and Mary”. Rooted in the New Testament, the Christian priesthood, from the beginning, was bestowed only to men.
The fact that there are no women among these cooperators and successors does not mean a minimization of women, but the search for the complementarity between males and females, fully realized in the relationship of Christ with Mary”. (Is he saying the real complementarity between males and females is not between man and wife, but son and mother?)
In the early days of the Church, the cardinal stated, "it is known that there was harmony between the apostolic priesthood granted to men, and the importance and dignity of women in the Church”.
For the
Cardinal one of the causes for women’s claim to ordination is the loss of awareness by all members of the Church of the dignity of the priesthood, thereby reducing the priestly expression to ordained priesthood”. (This is a situation fully endorsed by the Holy See who is terrified of the diminishing of ordained priesthood at the hands of educated laity.)
Another cause is understanding the ministerial priesthood as a right and power, without perceiving that no man or woman can claim this right, by accepting the Church's call to this service, which includes the gift of one’s life”.
At first, when this issue came to light, "it was not excluded that it was an open question, or the attention that must be paid to the actions of the Holy Spirit, in the search for the mystery of the Church in the new reality”.
However, the most recent Papal Magisterium interprets this uninterrupted tradition of ordaining only men not only as a practical way to proceed, which can change the rhythm of the Holy Spirit, but as an expression of the mystery of the Church, which we must accept in faith ”. (I guess the Holy Spirit will get thrown out of kilter if forced to work with women--or maybe I just don't get what the Cardinal is trying to say as this is a confusing translation.)
“We are therefore asked to observe the teachings of the Holy Father, in the humility of our faith, to continue to deepen the relationship of the ministerial priesthood with the priestly quality of all the People of God and discover a female way of building the church, in the critical mission of our sisters, the women”, Policarpo concluded. (The traditional 'allowed' female way of building up the Church is to pop out babies by the dozen, which by the by, is something Mary never did---or so we're told.)


The Vatican must be in quite the mood, because not only has Cardinal Policarpo reversed course, but in the upcoming Vatican synod on clergy abuse, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is conspicuous by his not having been  invited.  Also according to Vatican Insider: 

"Too radical in the methods used to combat sexual abuse of clergy. The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, Diarmuid Martin was not invited to the meeting on pedophile priests that is due to take place in February at the Vatican. Monsignor Martin is a bishop who is not loved by all departments of the Roman Curia due to his intransigency and excessive public visibility in sex scandals."

What I found interesting in the article on Martin is that while Martin is a favorite of the Pope for taking a hard line on clergy abuse, Martin is not liked at all by the Vatican Curia.  As the article points out, this should not be too surprising since the Curia contains the likes of Cardinals Bernard Law and Angelo Sodano, two men who were coddled not by Benedict, but by his predecessor JPII.  It seems Pope Benedict's Curia is not always on the same page with Pope Benedict.  Snubbing Martin is pretty egregious considering he's one of the few in Catholic leadership anyone trusts on the abuse crisis.

But back to Cardinal Policarpo, the line that set me into gales of laughter was the line about Jesus and Mary representing the ideal of Catholic notions of gender complementarity.  What ever happened to JPII's notion of gender complementarity being expressed by husband and wife in a sacramental marriage?  I hate to think of myself as gender deficient because I never had a son, because according the Cardinal having had a daughter just won't do.  Realistically, since the whole male gender thing with the ordained priesthood is taken literally, how am I not supposed to take this little gem literally.  Please, somebody help me, is it sacramental marriage between a man and a woman, or is it the parental relationship between a mother a son, which fully expresses my womanhood?  Oh well, never mind, I strike out no matter which way.  I guess I'll just have to live with the fact God wanted me deficient as fully female. Or what ever.

Is it just me or is this Catholic craziness getting all too predictable?  I might have to stop reading Vatican Insider because I might not be crazy enough to really be a Vatican insider.  That's OK, because I'm in some good company.  Archbishop Martin isn't crazy enough either.


  1. Policarpo probably didn't want to be unceremoniously removed from office, like Australian bishop William Morris. I hope Catholica is able to dig up more on that travesty.

  2. Cardinal Policarp is probably hoping the Vatican has as much trouble understanding the translation of what he said as you. Like you, I have no idea what Policarp is trying to say in his clarification other than: "I'm with the pope, I want to keep my job." That, I think, is what Policarp hopes the Vatican will understand.

    I read what he said at the Union of Catholic Asian News Ltd.

    It's clear he is strongly stating that there is no theological reason for not ordaining women as priests.

    Policarp must not have received JPII's letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis which was JPII's way of trying to make the non ordination of women some kind of infallible teaching. Well, Policarp did receive the letter. He just disagreed with it. “I think – said Cardinal Polycarp – that the matter cannot be resolved like this."

  3. That's pretty much what I got out of it as well. I want to keep my job so I love the Pope and Jesus and Mary are pretty swell too.

  4. "...the search for the complementarity between males and females, fully realized in the relationship of Christ with Mary."

    Sometimes people's theobabble gets away from them, and I suspect that's what happened here.

    There's a thin line between language that is only superficially meaningful and language that is utterly meaningless both in appearance and substance.

  5. I have to admit I feel extremely discouraged.

    On the one hand, the new English translation of the Mass appears to be unnecessarily sexist. Why not use google translate if you want a word for word translation without nuance and respect for the culture(s) of the people? Instead it is a cultural war.

    Here's the plea of 10% of all Irish priests: Delay this implementation and review the work for context.

    But what is more astounding is the disgusting absolutism of the self appointed inquisitors, or Cathoic mutaween as I like to call them. Just read the comments that follow the story. Shut up and obey or get out!

    I can't stand the casually cruel racism, sexism and antisemitism of of those who claim to to "orthodox" catholics, but who are at heart the authoritarian inheritors of the Pharisee tradition. Yes those who were strongly criticized by Jesus for valuing outward appearances over the affairs of the heart.

    So? So, we all know there's no theological reason to deny women.

    Mother of God have mercy on us all.


    Word: saltion
    That's only two letters away from salvation. "VA" could be Vicar Apostolic for those traditionalists. Or it could be "va" from the French and romance languages: "go". So what's between salt and salvation, a question to either recognize authority or to go?

    On the other hand maybe I'm looking for something that isn't really there. Salt ion. That's the scientific answer.

    Or maybe it is just random...

    It is a beautiful summer day here. I'm going to see if there's any veritas in vino.

  6. Prickliest, when I first read that line I wondered if it was Freudian or something. I wondered if the good Cardinal wasn't all that enamored with any of JPII's thoughts about women. If a person really spends any time with JPII's writings, women do come off as very secondary--after one gets past all the theobabble. Except of course for Mary, who is every priest's mother.

    I wish some of these clerical guys would get together and come up with some kind of coherency when it comes to how they use bridal and family metaphors. It's all getting silly.

  7. I found that entry both hilarious and maddening. Hilarious because of the way in which the Cardinal was reversing himself at high speed, and maddening because of the snubbing of Archbishop Martin.

    As for this little gem:

    "...the search for the complementarity between males and females, fully realized in the relationship of Christ with Mary"

    - is he implying they were *married* ? If they could be complementary, and not be sacramentally married, then two gays can be complementary, and not be sacramentally married: which means that his remark either

    1. allows gay marriage, or,

    2. blows the insistence on the defining nature of complementarity between sacramentally-married spouses out of the water, as complementary can, according to his remark, be found outside marriage.

    Unless, that is, he is using the notion of complementarity in a way that has nothing to do with marriage; but it seems to be used only in that context. So his meaning is far from clear.

    When a cardinal, no less, cannot get his message right the first time, or tries to explain away his words rather than explaining them, what message does that send ? Either way, he ends up looking a numpty. Archbishop Lefebvre was better than this: he was unambiguous, and he refused to knuckle under when he did not and could not agree with Rome. If only the Cardinals had that sort of courage.

    As for the snubbing of Archbishop Martin - is it not just possible that the Vatican needs to listen to someone like him, *precisely because* it does not want to ? Those who massage our egos & tell us how wonderful we are often do us great harm, whereas those who criticise us often say just what we need to hear. If this is true for individuals, how is not true for the Church ?

    ISTM that the two incidents are united by the theme of Churchly unwillingness to hear inconvenient words.

  8. “The fact that there are no women among these cooperators and successors does not mean a minimization of women, but the search for the complementarity between males and females, fully realized in the relationship of Christ with Mary”.

    Let's see:

    Some males - not many, only a few hundred thousand in each generation, out of hundreds of millions - are able to be ordained.

    No females at all, in any generation, are able even to be considered for ordination, whether they should be or not.

    So if complementarity can work in a way that allows this rather striking imbalance among men and women, how is it complementary ? How are women *not*, in fact, being minimised ? ISTM the analogy raises the very questions it is intended to explain.

    BTW, that quotation treats Christ and Mary as though they were co-equal; it certainly does not discourage the idea. Sorry, but that sort of co-ordination of them is totally baseless. IT's untrue, so it cannot bear good fruit for a theolgy that calls itself Christian. The Mother of God is very important, but she is only a Saint; not the Incarnate Word.

  9. I caught that too rat, the seeming equivalence of Mary with Jesus. But then JPII was seriously considering an ex cathedra statement in which Mary's new title would be co redemptrix.

    Cardinal Ratzinger somehow effectively killed that idea. It's funny how Ratzinger could be forceful with bad dogma, but not pedophile priests.

  10. The reversal by the dear Cardinal is, sadly, too predictable. Still, for an organization (i.e., the Roman Curia) used to a "Control and Command" structure, it must've been unnerving to hear a "Prince of the Church" utter such "heresy."

    I find snubbing the Archbishop of Dublin more disturbing. The Vatican keeps saying, "It gets it. It gets it." when it comes to the abuse scandal. But they don't. I wonder how basely bishops will have to be treated before they say, "Enough!"

  11. Perhaps the next assembly of cardinals could start with an urgent short course on anthropology, genders, and related Church metaphors. Recently, Cardinal George told how consecrated virgins are "called to represent not Christ but his body, the church." He then described the church as "understanding of herself as virgin and mother, the bride of Christ". That meta-metaphor manages to capture in a few words about half the human race, although inexplicably, even after allowing for the one Catholic exception to the usual rule on virgin-mothers.
    More curious than the spoken words is what is going on in hierarchical heads before the mouth opens. What thoughts do you suppose lurk there?

  12. Jack I seriously can not make heads or tail of all these gender sex metaphors any more. They make utterly no sense to me.

    I'm much more into notions like: "the church as the body of Christ is a quantum matrix of human and trans human consciousness operating in multiple dimensions and across all time. It is Love in action in the multi universe." OK I'll grant it's not nearly so poetic, but is more accurate given our current knowledge base. :)

  13. The whole thing sounds a bit Oedipal.