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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Talk About Missing the Target!

Over at US Catholic (pardon for not linking to it, I just can't) Phyillis Zagano has written a piece on the Ordination of women to the diaconate.  Now, we all know that this is not possible for the Church to do, based upon Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.  Holy Orders are closed to women, it isn't something we can change, nor is it something we should dwell on.  The ministerial priesthood is only one part of the Church, and it should not impede a woman from taking an active role in the life of the Church because one aspect of hundreds is closed to her.  I find it to be very short sighted if a woman does dwell on this, because I see the inherent importance of a woman's role in the life of the Church.  That role, in my honest opinion, is so much more important than that of a ministerial priest, but there are those who disagree.  They don't disagree because of religious reasons, but rather they disagree based upon a secular notion of women's suffrage.  The Church is not an outreach of secular politicking, yet there are those women (and men) who feel that women are somehow being shortchanged.  How narrow that view is.

In my eyes, the role of a woman in the Church is so vitally important that it cannot properly be expressed.  I will try though.  Without the woman, the Church would simply cease to exist.  It is the woman and man who bring the Church to fruition.  However, it is through the mother that the person sees the Church as a place of solace and a place of comfort.  Wasn't it Mary, at Cana, who said, "Do whatever He asks of you."  It is that attitude which should be the model for women in the Church.  The woman should be the one who says to the priests and the other faithful, "Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye." (John 2:5)

Even though Mary had no interest in being an Apostle, there is no doubt that the respect given to her was greater than any Apostle and any disciple.  For while Mary followed her Son, it was her Son who listened to her.  That is the legacy of women in the Church.  Not being a minister or a priest.

Understanding the importance of women, actually frees a woman to do what she is called to do.  To limit her to the ministerial action is to put her in a place where she does not fulfill her most important role.  Mary's fiat is the model by which women should live in the Church, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38)

Yet women (and men) like Ms. Zagano miss the point.  They see it as an affront.  They see it as injustice.  They see it in a very narrow and irregular light.  If they would see the role of the woman in the light of Christ, as opposed to the light of man, then perhaps they would see the importance of the woman with regard to Holy Mother Church.

Ms. Zagano says in the comboxes of her own article:

...the resotration of the Tradition of women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church, mirioring the ongoing Tradition in its close cousins in Orthodoxy. There seems a persistent error of fact, however: "The Church has definitively taught that ordination is not open to women." appears in one of the many posts. As it happens, the Church teaches that ordination to priesthood is not open to women--there are arguments as to the level of this teaching--but has left the matter of restoring women to the Order of Deacon up to the discernment of the whole Church. Because of this fact, John Cardinal O'Connor asked me many years ago to do the research that eventually was published as "Holy Saturday", and my subsequent research (mainly in refereed academic journals) supports my conclusions and recommendations. It is good for the Church to respectfully discuss the topic.

I responded to her thusly:

 You are predicating your idea on the notion that the topic of women's ordination is still open, based upon a request given to you by Card. O'Connor, before Ordinatio Sacertodalis.  It simply is not.  The Church, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis closed that discussion.  I know that you don't like to hear that, but it is a fact in the life of the Church.  If the priesthood is closed to women, then the deaconate is as well.

I also think that you operate under the assumption that the permanent and transitional diaconate are somehow different.  They are not.  They are the exact same thing.  If a woman lacks the character to be a transitional deacon, then she lacks the character to be a permanent deacon and vice versa.  The assumption may be that the permanent deacon will not go on to seek higher Orders, but that is not legally or sacramentally the case.  He may.

If you have some insight into sacramental differences between the permanent and transitional diaconate, I would be interested to know them.

If the diaconate were opened to women, then it would necessarily follow that the priesthood would be open as well.  And that is where you're really going with this isn't it, Ms. Zagano?  Really, you're trying to do an end around with regard to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

As it is, if the priesthood is closed to women, not on man's authority, but on the Church's, then the diaconate is closed as well, because the diaconate is necessary in the ordination of a priest.

Bottom line, regardless of your conversations with Cardinal O'Connor, the fact remains that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ended that conversation.  And what's more, according to your own words, didn't Cardinal O'Connor ask you to leave this "aside?"

 But this really isn't about anything other than trying to open the door to women's ordination to the priesthood.  And that is selling women short!  Please don't fall into that trap.  Women have so much more to offer the Church than the ministerial priesthood.

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