Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On the Question of Women Priests

by Tim Rohr, 11/07/2005

(In response to a debate between Fr. Francis Walsh of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and Professor James Giles of the University of Guam)

Unlike Fr. Walsh or Mr. Giles I have no letters before or after my name and probably have no business wandering into their crossfire. But though I am neither priest nor professor, I am hoping that our local newspaper, in which the debate has been ensuing between these two esteemed intellects, might allow a simple voice from the pew to weigh in on the matter minus any theological or philosophical references. Also, as a married layman I have a certain related interest in the matter since I cannot attain to ordination in the Catholic Church either.

That said, I understand that as a Catholic I have no inherent right to a “satisfactory” explanation on the matter. I emphasize “satisfactory” because in fact there is an explanation, but the Church has no obligation to assuage my personal need for one that I would deem “satisfactory”.

I signed up for the Catholic Church. They said, “Great. If you want to be on the team here’s the rules”. I am a Catholic out of no compulsion other than an inner one that tells me this is true. I choose to follow the rules because I want to be on the team. Lots of other places you can go, you know.

Now, I have no idea if this is theologically correct or not, but besides the fact that my Church owes me no explanation, the fact that Jesus chose twelve guys and no gals is enough for me. Let me tell you why.

The common argument to this is that women would not have been respected or listened to in Jesus’ day. I realize that this is like TOO simple, but you know, Jesus was God, and like, if had wanted women on the first string, he could have and would have done it.

I mean the guy wasn’t afraid to be counter-cultural and politically incorrect. They killed him for that, you know. And being male didn’t seem to help the apostles out much either in the respect and credibility categories. They killed them too. (Okay, one killed himself and another was left to die on an island.)

So, bottom line is, Jesus chose guys only and then those guys chose other guys and then those guys… So, yah. It’s a guy thing, okay. People start new churches every day when they disagree with something in the church they are in.

Also, why pick on the Catholic Church alone. Do an internet search and check out all the other churches that do not allow the ordination of women.

Okay, one last thing. Fr. Walsh tried to make the point of what a priest actually is. The title “priest” designates a very specific function in a very limited sphere. There is nothing that keeps any woman (or married man for that matter) from being a teacher or a leader in our Church. In fact, three of the greatest and most beloved Doctors of the Church, a title of the highest honor that has only been given to 33 people in the 2000 year history of the Church, are St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Theresa of Lisieux. In Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) we have an example of a woman (in the Avignon episode) actually telling a Pope what to do (go back to Rome). He beat it back to Rome and never left.

I can already here critics on both sides: “Guys like this are what’s wrong with the world.” “Another ignorant-whatever-the-Pope-says Catholic!”, etc. Well, guilty as charged. I make no defense. For those who oppose my opinion within my Church, well that’s family business and we’ll take care of it. But for those outside our Church, when would be a good time for me to come over and tell you how to arrange your living room furniture?

Meanwhile, to my Catholic family members; shall we remember that the real deal is not be a this or a that, but to ultimately be with Him. For as Chesterton says: “The only real tragedy is not to be a saint.”

Tim Rohr
Husband & Father
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