Skip to comments.Why Does the Catholic Church Ordain Only Men to the Priesthood? Part Three[Cath/Orth/Angl Caucus]
Posted on 03/07/2007 9:17:44 AM PST by Salvation
Other Articles by Fr. Kyle Schnippel
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|Why Does the Catholic Church Ordain Only Men to the Priesthood? Part Three|
Marital Imagery of the Priesthood
Michael Novak, writing in the Journal First Things, comments on the meeting between Pope John Paul II and Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in May 1992. In the interim period between Inter Insigniores and this meeting, the Anglican Communion had progressed on its movement towards the acceptance of women into the sacramental priesthood. In response, he noted an unnamed Vatican official as saying that "the Catholic Church, for fundamental theological reasons, does not believe it has a right to authorize such ordination." Novak continues:
For fundamental theological reasons. One wonders what these reasons are. Apart from a splendid essay ("Priestesses in the Church?") by C. S. Lewis, one scarcely ever encounters a theological argument against the proposition that women should be ordained priests. One hears about "tradition," and about the "example" of Jesus Christ these are solid reasons, but not wholly persuasive. The inquiring mind is restless until it comes to understand the theological reasons why Jesus did as He did, and why the tradition is as it is.
Until the Church is able to articulate a consistent, deep and prayerful theological approach to this question, it will continue to be debated by those who wish, against the wisdom of the ages, for the teaching to change.
Novak formulates the answer to this challenge in three parts: first, the Catholic priest has not only a ministerial duty, but also a representative, liturgical role; second, the maleness of the priesthood is consistent with the metaphors of gender through which, predominantly, God has chosen to reveal Himself; and finally, in the Incarnation, God did not chose to come as a gender-neutral 'person,' he chose to come in male flesh, as a Son. While none of these arguments is persuasive, when taken as a whole, they begin to have a weight of persuasion.
Unfortunately, in the time since Novak's article was published in April of 1993, this question has lain mostly dormant. Advances in theological understanding, specifically with respect to John Paul's groundbreaking approach in The Theology of the Body have yet to be adequately applied to the priesthood. It may seem strange to apply a teaching on love and marriage to the priesthood, but when one considers the spousal nature of the priest as wedded to the Church, and hence also to the community that the priest has been chosen to lead, this becomes a necessary aspect of any theology of the priesthood.
As I preach on Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life, one of the topics I mention is celibacy, or those who "renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 19:12). This call to the celibate life is a counsel, not a command, and is therefore a choice that is proper to a rather exceptional vocation, and not a call that is universal and ordinary for all the faithful. There is a supernatural dimension to this choice as well, for it is done "for the sake of the Kingdom," and not for the glory of the one chosen.
In response to this, the priest becomes, in a spiritual sense, wedded to the Church. He is called to give his life completely for the life of his people, so that he gives life not just to one specific nuclear family, but to the family of the Church. In this, he is to the lead the People of God closer to their home in heaven. The priest is not just a functionary, but is a representative of Christ himself, leading the people closer to Himself. Back to Pope Paul VI:
The Christian priesthood is therefore of a sacramental nature: the priest is a sign, the supernatural effectiveness of which comes from the ordination received, but a sign that must be perceptible and which the faithful must be able to recognize with ease. The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols imprinted upon the human psychology: "Sacramental signs," says Saint Thomas, "represent what they signify by natural resemblance". The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ's role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this "natural resemblance" which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man. (Inter Insigniores 5)
There must be a resonance between what we say and do, a natural convergence between our beliefs and our practices. Because Christ is inescapably a man, in order to more fully act in persona Christi, the priesthood also is appropriately reserved to men.
In the Economy of Salvation, the process of how our salvation was won by Christ's saving death on the Cross, Jesus is the author of the Covenant, the Bridegroom and Head of the Church, and his saving death is made most real to us today in the Sacrificial Banquet of the Eucharist. Therefore, as Christ continues to lead and guide His Church, that role of leadership is properly filled by a man. It is important to note, however, that this role of leadership does not signify a personal superiority over others, but that the priest has a unique role to play in the way the Salvation won by Christ is meted out to the world today.
Finally, it is important to reiterate the point made at the beginning of this article: no one has a right to the priesthood. The authentic call to the Vocation is a call that is based in service to God and His Church, it is a desire to lay down one's life for something that is greater than the individual, for he gives himself completely to Christ. In this, the priest becomes a sign and symbol of Christ himself, wedded to the Church, and giving life to the faithful.
I forgot this on the title. Could you please add it.
Michael Novak, writing in the Journal First Things, comments on the meeting between Pope John Paul II and Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in May 1992. In the interim period between Inter Insigniores and this meeting, the Anglican Communion had progressed on its movement towards the acceptance of women into the sacramental priesthood. In response, he noted an unnamed Vatican official as saying that "the Catholic Church, for fundamental theological reasons, does not believe it has a right to authorize such ordination."Right up front, the article makes IMO significant comments re the Anglican church, yet they've been excluded from the discussion by virtue of the thread being a Catholic/Orthodox caucus. Why is that?
Are you Anglican, Alex Murphy?
Anglicans can weigh in -- no problem with me. Three way thread would be fine.
Not I am not - and nor was this question raised the last time Salvation posted a Catholic/Anglican article and caucus-ed the Anglicans out of it. Whether I'm Anglican or not does nothing to address this caucus thread violating the caucus rules themselves. This thread should either include the Anglicans, or be made an open thread.
But if it's an Anglican you want, let's get the head of the Anglican ping list in on this thread, have him ping the rest of the Anglicans, and see what they think. Huber, would you do me the honor of pinging your list?
Thank you for adding that.
But it is so applicable -- living a chaste and holy life as a priest, just as couples are expected to live a holy and dedicated life.
For your information:
Books, tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc.
From book by the same name by Pope John Paul II.
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.
FReepmail Huber if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by Huber.
Resource for Traditional Anglicans: http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com
Humor: The Anglican Blue
Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
[The article mentions the 1992 meeting between ABC Carey and Pope JPII and Anglican vs Catholic divergence on ordination of women. The folks on the thread have asked if we might be kind enough to provide an Anglican perspective on this. --Huber]
The ordination of women was the first big issue to split the American Episcopal Church (revision of the prayer book and refusal to convict a couple of bishops of heresy were the other main ones). It has also created problems in England.
The traditional/orthodox view in the Anglican church is identical to the Catholic view, and for the same reasons. The Anglican church traditionally has held itself to be in the Apostolic Succession and part of the Catholic Church. Although Catholics disagreed (see Apostolicae Curae, this remains the orthodox position.
Commentary on the ACC by The Most Reverend M. Dean Stephens, Archbishop Ordinary of the Diocese of New Orleans and Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church. This article is reprinted from the February, 1998 edition of The Trinitarian, the newspaper of the Anglican Catholic Church.
Let me review briefly with you what the Anglican Catholic Church believes.
We believe in the One, Holy, Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved, and that most holy name is Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth. We believe that only through Him is the full revelation of God given to man and that we have the awesome responsibility to preach the Good News of salvation to all nations and tongues.
We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the authentic record of God's revelation to man and is a revelation valid for all men and all time. In the Bible we have God's revelation of Himself, His saving activity, and moral demands. We believe that all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works [II Tim. 3:16].
We believe the Catholic Faith as set forth in the three recognized Creeds of Christendom, namely the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and that known as the Creed of St. Athanasius. We receive and believe them in the sense they have had always in the Catholic Church.
We believe in the holy Tradition of the Church as set forth by the ancient catholic bishops and doctors, and especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church.
We hold dear the seven Sacraments of Grace, namely, the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance, and Unction of the Sick. We believe them to be objective signs of Christ's continued presence and saving activity among us. We believe in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and that the body and blood of Christ is truly and really present in the Holy Eucharist.
We believe in God's gift of the apostolic ministry to His Church, asserting the necessity of a bishop in apostolic succession (or a priest ordained by such) as the celebrant of the Eucharist.
Furthermore, we hold that the Holy Orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons consist exclusively of men in accordance with Christ's Will and institution.
We believe in the sanctity of human life, that life begins at the moment of conception and that the willful taking of that life in the womb by abortion to be a grave sin [Title XV, Canon I, 1.01 of the Canons of the Anglican Catholic Church].
We believe in the family, in the God-given sacramental bond in marriage between one man and one woman. We profess that sexual activity is to be practiced only within the bonds of Holy Matrimony.
We believe that man is very far gone from original righteousness, is in rebellion against God's authority and is liable to His righteous judgment. We believe that all people, individually and collectively, are responsible to their Creator for their acts, motives, thoughts and words, since we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
We believe it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world.
Lastly, the Anglican Catholic Church acknowledges that rule of faith laid down by St. Vincent of Lerins: Let us hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all, for that is truly and properly Catholic.
The Bishops of this Church are committed to seeing that the Faith of Christ is kept entire as it was given to this Church. Any assertion to the contrary has no basis in fact. We call upon all the communicants of this church to believe without reservation that deposit of Faith that has been given to the Anglican Catholic Church and to Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints [Jude 3]
A tad off topic, but I notice that women can do pretty much the same thing in the RC that they can in nonRC.
The only exception I can think of is give a lecture/study on Sunday during main services. Other than that there's nothing I can think of that women can do in other Churches that they can't in RC.
Women cannot be deacons.
Women cannot perform the Sacraments, including the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which includes the Holy Eucharist.
Women cannot be bishops.
Nor can I go to a woman to receive the Sacrment of Reconciliation, Baptism, Confirmation, Annointing of the Sick, Holy Orders or Matrimony.
And you are right Catholic women are not allowed to give a homily -- only the ordained deacon or priest.
Yes, but... :)
If a church does not have sacraments nor apostolic succession, then what on your list can they do in this church that they cannot in the RC? For example, they can't present the consecrated Host in either.
Other than titles, little remains on the list.
I'm a Presbyterian-becoming-an-Anglican, so I hope you don't mind if I pipe in.
I wholly agree with the article--and other than C. S. Lewis's (old) essay "Preistesses in the Church"(which really is superb) it's an aspect of the "women's issue" I've never seen addressed by conservative Protestants. Even in classical Protestant circles (though of course more in more liturgical churches) the mediator-function of a minister is acknowleged, if sometimes begrudgingly (from a priesthood-of -all-believers perspective). Ancient Israel was referred to as a "kingdom of priests" and yet they had formal priests, too, so I see no reason why--while affirming no two classes of people (those with a calling and those without...ALL have a calling, to do what God wants you to do)--the go-between nature of clergy cannot be recognized--and why a woman should not be in such a position over the whole Church (in St. Paul's words "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man" (I Tim. 2:12))
Naturally, coming from the Presbyterian/evangelical Anglican perspective, I'll put scripture first, over reason (found in this article) and tradition, though, being more Anglican, I'll not neglect as 2nd and 3rd, reasonable and traditional arguments as well.
You'd be surprised by the number of thoughtful conservative evangelical Reformed theological types (I'm a seminarian in a conservative Presbyterian school) who firmly believe in male leadership in the Church. I'd say among the under 35 crowd, it is largely not even a major issue--so deep is the conviction on it. Funny how solid reason, true tradition, and scriptural exegesis can end in the same place, isn't it my Roman Catholic brethren?
A church without sacraments by definition is not a church...
Now if you mean by "sacraments" exactly what Rome defines them as...well, that's narrowed down the parameters quite a bit, eh?
Very interesting. I know very little about Anglo-Catholicism...but as an evangelical I find little (though I do find some...) I can disagree with.
At one point during our search for a church home after leaving (what used to be called) ECUSA we spent some time with a superb PCA church. The church included several faculty members and recent graduates of the Reformed Theological Seminary, and was wholly committed to a high caliber of instruction. With this instruction came absolute clarity on the separate roles of men and women in the church. While we eventually realized that we could never in good faith adopt reformed theology, we have always been grateful for the excellent instruction we received while there.
Not surprisingly, the ACC attracts a lot of conservatives... ;-)