Ordination of Women Priests is Stirring Controversy

14 Dec

Did anyone else see the opinion piece in the Star Tribune in response to Female priests push Catholic boundaries? Katherine Thomas expressed her thoughts very clearly and if you look at the responses in the comment section you can see she’s stirring up quite a bit of conversation. What are your thoughts?

Here was our Response to her:

Katherine, thank you so much for this article! It caught my eye right away when I checked the news this morning and I’ve been thinking of it ever since. Our small and humble group, theheartofthematterblog.wordpress.com, is a group of strong, recovering, recent, and questioning Catholics that are somehow trying to rediscover our Catholic faith. What was it to our parents and grandparents generation, and what is it to us? What should it mean in our lives, day to day, and how can we preserve and strengthen it for the next generation to come? We have many varying opinions but one that mostly runs across the whole group is that the Church in many ways is thriving and growing.  It is exciting to see the seminaries bursting at the seams, to see Catholic thought really turning global, and to somehow (my opinion) seeing the Church turning back to its roots.  Our group, and the Church are really trying to find and harness the Truth.  What is our role? What do our shepard’s want form us? How can we honor and adore Jesus through our obedience, service, prayer, every day work and interactions, and good will. I don’t think we’ll ever stop discovering but I hope we will never stop searching. Thank you for your thoughts on this matter of the priesthood and the roles to be played by the faithful. You’ve given us much more think about on this matter!

Catholic Church cannot ordain women priests

As a 20-something Catholic woman with a master’s degree in theology, I found the article “Female priests push Catholic boundaries” (Dec. 11) relevant and provocative.

Having shown a religious interest at a young age, I often was asked whether I would want to be a priest when I grew up. It seemed to me a possibility at the time.

Worshipers line up to receive Holy Communion from Pope Benedict XVI during outside Madrid Sunday Aug. 21, 2011.

Worshipers line up to receive Holy Communion from Pope Benedict XVI during outside Madrid Sunday Aug. 21, 2011.

When the question of the ordination of women first became especially prominent in the 1970s, Pope Paul VI called for a team to research and explain the church’s teaching on the subject.

Looking into such fields as history, sociology and psychology, in addition to theology, some questions raised were: What is the priesthood? Have women been ordained before?

Did Christ allow for it? Is it in the Scriptures? What did the Apostles do?

What has the teaching of the church been over the centuries? How does the church acknowledge and affirm the participatory role of women in the church and in contemporary society?

After thorough consultation, it was determined that it is not in the church’s power to ordain women — not just that it won’t, but that itcan’t. There is nothing the church can do to “make” the ordination of women valid.

This is because the Catholic Church does not manufacture what is true, but looks at the way things are, the way God has given them to us.

And that is one of the main reasons I am still a practicing Catholic. I want to know what is true, not just what I want to be true.

Over recent decades, a number of intelligent but sensitive Vatican documents have further explained the church’s teaching on ordination, as well as on the essential and irreplaceable role of women and the laity. (These articles are readily available in print form and online.)

Over time, the question “So, do you want to be a priest?” has become, to me, offensive. It implies that the ordained ministry is the only way to be “in” the church, and that my current roles as a lay Catholic woman are somehow inadequate.

All Catholics have an essential part to play in the church, and not just inside the church building. There are unique things that a single woman or a religious sister or a mother can do that a priest cannot.

Similarly, there are family fathers, single men, and nonordained, consecrated men (brothers, monks, etc), who each have their own important contribution to make.

We all have to work together, in our various roles, to be one body of Christians.

The news article also made numerous references to the declining number of male Catholic priests as one of the reasons to ordain women.

This runs contrary to accessible, easily verifiable evidence that the enrollment of young men in U.S. Catholic seminaries has actually increased in recent years. Many seminaries have more men enrolled this year than they have had in decades; some are even full.

Being of the same generation, I am especially proud of these men, who have grown up hearing nothing but ridicule of their church in the public arena, yet have found a love for their Catholic faith and have answered a call to give their lives in service of others.

It is what we are all called to do in our various states of life. As a woman, I look forward to working alongside these priests in the future — without being one.

* * *

Katherine Thomas is a Twin Cities bookseller and religious educator.

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2 Responses to “Ordination of Women Priests is Stirring Controversy”

  1. Mwangi December 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    I found this blog after reading Katherine Thomas’ peice in the Star Tribune and I must say, I’m impressed.

    That said, this was my comment:

    “As a fellow twenty-something Catholic, I say: Bravo for speaking the Truth. This article made my day.

    What people have to understand is that the Church believes the priesthood has a specific ontology. It is not merely a social construction or a label (firefighter, police officer , congressperson, etc.) one attaches to someone performing specific duties. The Church can no more make woman priests by ordaining them than it can make men mothers or fathers wives.”

    • The Heart of the Matter Blog December 14, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      Thank you Mwangi! We are having a great time meeting our peers, and fellow Catholics who are also trying to rediscover their faith or at least that we an learn from.

      Thank you for your response too. It’s tough for me (us) to formulate the words sometimes of what we think. You did a great job!

      May God Bless you in your faith. Hey keep coming back here ever now and again. We come up with four new articles a month and a few extras every now and then. We’d love your feedback as we continue to grow and learn.

      -Joseph, Terence, and Shea

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