...The Bad...


Written on 10:58 PM by Jack B.

Sometimes you find an article and you feel the need to post on it and then decide on reflection that somethings need little or no commentary at all. So it is, in my opinion, this "opinion" piece written as a theoretical letter to Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of the those women claiming to have been ordained Catholic priests (they may have been ordained something but it wasn't with any Church connected to one Benedict heads - that's for sure). I'll try to keep my thoughts to a minimum.

BONNIE ERBE: In support of the St. Lawrence Nine - The Sacramento Bee

Excerpt (my comments in red):

An open letter to Pope Benedict XVI:
Your Holiness: It goes without saying you will excommunicate the St. Lawrence Nine: the nine women who defied church doctrine last week in Canada by accepting ordination as priests and deacons. After all, you yourself in 2003, in a previous position, tossed out as so much religious detritus the Danube Seven - the seven women ordained on the Danube River in 2002. Included in that group were the two female priests who defied the Vatican once more and performed last week's ordination.

I loved the phrase "defied" as if the woman had any recognized authority to begin with and as if Rome is really scared. They could probably care less.

As a non-Catholic, I recognize I have no standing to make this suggestion. But as an avid follower of church history, it strikes this observer as counterproductive to be excommunicating the very believers whose devotion binds them to Peter's rock with the stickiness of gorilla glue, even more so at a time when church attendance and membership are dwindling in the United States and Europe.

As a "non-Catholic", the theology of the Roman Catholic Church and who it ordains and who it doesn't is none of your beezwax. You admit you have "no standing to make this suggestion" but then do so anyway. You should take your own advice.


The numbers speak volumes. Even those who reside in the Vatican's back yard are losing faith. The Boston Globe quotes figures from the Catholic weekly magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, showing 97 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic but only 30 percent attend Mass. "In large cities such as Milan, the figure is no more than 15 percent ... In France, where 76 percent of the population considers itself Catholic, only 12 percent say they go to church on Sunday."

Closer to home, USA Today reports that in the United States, "Today there are fewer parishes and fewer priests than in 1990 and fewer of the nation's 65 million Catholics in those pews. And there's no sign of return." And so on.

So let me get this straight. Since attendence is down (in the Western world, not in other places) the Church should just let people who don't actually believe what the Church teaches, who have no respect for the Bishop of Rome, who have no respect for the history of the Church or why it teaches what it does. Who only seem to care about themselves and the power (not the vocation to the priesthood persay) they want, the Church should hand over authority people like that? Who in their right mind would do so? And better yet, why do you as a "non-Catholic" care how many Catholics are attending Mass? Do you have a running bet on the over/under on the numbers or something?

The St. Lawrence Nine (eight of whom were American, by the way) and the Danube Seven love the church despite the fact they know church hierarchy reviles them. You could not fathom more devoted Catholic parishioners s if you tried. And yet, you reject them. Your explanation for denying women leadership roles in the church follows standard church doctrine: Jesus Christ was a man and therefore church leaders can only be men. But there is huge and legitimate controversy among theologians and scholars over whether Jesus himself thought only men had a place "at the table."

There is no "debate" from the people who actually make the decisions in the Catholic Church. Want to be a priestess? Join the Episcopalians. At least then it would be more honest.

Early renditions of the Last Supper portray Mary Magdalene as a disciple. I just saw one myself in Prague in April, a carved version of the Last Supper taken from a 15th-century Czech church, then on exhibit in a Prague museum.

The 15th Century is hardly "early" in the 2000 year old history of the Church. Surely as a follower of "church history" you know that. Right?

And church historians point to the catacombs in Rome for further proof that, until at least the ninth century A.D., the church gave thousands of women the full sacramental ordination of the deaconate. A fourth-century fresco in St. Priscilla's catacomb shows a bishop ordaining a woman.

And yet, when beseeched by loyal female followers to give them equal rights, your response reads like pabulum. You call it great error "to think priests are first among Christians and everyone else is second-class." You go on: "If we must speak of status, it is determined by holiness, and the great majority of the saints are lay people. Moreover, in the New Testament you can see that for the Lord priestly service entails being in the last place, not the first. This is the opposite of power and privilege."

Do those words ring true when spoken by someone who has devoted his life and calling to accessing the highest rank of power within the church hierarchy?

Please surprise us. Don't condone the St. Lawrence Nine. But don't condemn or excommunicate them, either. You might surprise yourself in turn. You might see a flood of new priests, filling the gaping shortage in the United States and Europe today. You might see empty parishes flooded with worshipers. You might show the world that Peter's rock is one on which all God's children stand on equally hallowed ground.

Who is "us"? Don't "condone" them, but don't "condemn" them? Then what should he do? Let these pretend "priests" call themselves that, let the media call them that, let some people think they are exactly that and since the Church hasn't said anything that it condones it? In other words, the Pope should just forfeit his own teaching office and let him be the figurehead figure some (non-Catholics) would prefer him as.
And once again, why exactly do you care about Catholic worshippers or "Peter's rock" when you as a non-Catholic probably see Joseph Ratzinger as nothing more than an old German guy in a funny hat? You certainly don't see him as "Peter" or "the Vicar of Christ". Shouldn't you let these arguments be made by people who do?

Of course it helps to know that Ms. Erbe has been accused of Anti-Catholicism in the past...and not totally without reason. Which puts another spin on this article as well.

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