The editorial board of the National Catholic Reporter this week endorsed the ordination of women. Basing its position on a 1976 vote by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, on “countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings,” and on the supposed support of myriad unnamed bishops, the Reporter calls “for the Catholic church to correct this unjust teaching.”
It offers a brief history of “Rome’s response to the call of the faithful to ordain women” that reads rather sourly—all intimidation, bad-faith and litmus tests. The overbearing men of Rome, most particularly Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, are depicted as keeping the good people down and—in this case—suppressing the will of the Holy Spirit.
The Reporter does not explicitly make that last charge. In fact, the editorial does not mention the Holy Spirit, or “God’s will” at all, but if we accept that God is All-Justice, then in arguing that Church teaching on this issue is “unjust” the paper is making an implicit suggestion that the Church has been working against the will of God.
To suppress the will of the Holy Spirit—to suppress the will of God—is a wicked thing. To charge the Church with doing so is to make a serious accusation of wickedness—one bound to have repercussions lasting beyond the heat of a moment. It is to label the Church as antichrist.
So the Reporter does not do it. Instead, the editorial board rests the crux of its argument on the wisdom of Roy Bourgeois, the recently laicized Maryknoll priest:
Bourgeois brings this issue to the real heart of the matter. He has said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and to say that anatomy is somehow a barrier to God’s ability to call one of God’s own children forward places absurd limits on God’s power. The majority of the faithful believe this.
If “no one can say” who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, then why do we have interview, testing, and discernment processes? Why can’t we all just be priests, any time we want? If corporeal anatomy is completely unconnected to a human being’s essential nature (and this is an argument put forth by feminists and the gender-fixated, who will often pronounce it in one breath only to promote the “sacred feminine” in the next) then why did God design differences at all? By doing so, he created boundaries and barriers, which are clearly unwanted things. Why didn’t God fashion just one human type, without limits to what that type can do, in order to free humanity from the constraints of form and function which impact “God’s [own] ability to call one of God’s own children forward . . .” to do the things they really want to do, whether the Church thinks they ought to, or not?
Golly, I think the Reporter is arguing that God should stop making rocks so heavy that He can’t lift them. Or something.
The editorial board makes an oddly Protestant (dare I say it, Evangelical) argument; it rejects the authority of tradition (and the philosophical ponderings of Holy Men and Women who—we say we believe—were imbued with wisdom by the Holy Spirit) in favor of trending thought. Then it goes sola scriptura, arguing a negative by quoting the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s assessment that “Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women,” all of which leads to the pronounced conclusion: “unjust.” The reasoning the Reporter puts forth here, by the way, is identical to the reasoning offered by many on the issue of same-sex marriage: tradition is not authority and the New Testament does not explicitly forbid it. Secondary points are usually social: the sentiment of the times demands it; the expedience of utility demands it, and therefore the teaching of the Church is discriminatory and unjust.
And there we find that implicit charge, again, that the Church is working against the God of All Justice.
Perhaps it is time for the people making these arguments to come right out and say they think the Church is opposing God; let us then have a truly open dialogue about narrow gates and the sufficiency of grace; about what God asks of us, and what God promises in return for obedience. Do we dare have that terrifying, inconvenient conversation?
The Dictatorship of Relativism loves to argue that there is no truth, except the truth it likes; that nothing means anything except as one’s own conscience assigns meaning, and that authority, therefore, is an illusion that must be questioned continually, until the proper answer is attained. The proper answer, of course, is the one asserted and promoted by the relativists and once it has been achieved—and a new authority is in place—then all questioning of authority must cease. Because that authority—their authority—will have become the truly all-just, the truly all-good and all-merciful. And woe to those who do not recognize it.
Elizabeth Scalia is the Managing Editor of the Catholic Portal at Patheos and blogs as The Anchoress. Her previous articles for “On the Square” can be found here.
National Catholic Reporter
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