Pope Joan for reals!

I have long suspected E.J. Dionne Jr. of comedic abilities. This time he surpasses himself.

In giving up the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI was brave and bold. He did the unexpected for the good of the Catholic Church. And when it selects a new pope next month, the College of Cardinals should be equally brave and bold. It is time to elect a nun as the next pontiff.

Now, I know this hope of mine is the longest of long shots. I have great faith in the Holy Spirit to move papal conclaves, but I would concede that I may be running ahead of the Spirit on this one. Women, after all, are not yet able to become priests, and it is unlikely that traditionalists in the church will suddenly upend the all-male, celibate priesthood, let alone name a woman as the bishop of Rome. (source)

Well during the interregnum we will have none for pope, but not nun after it.

Well either comedic abilities or just typical progressive Catholic disconnection from reality and the true nature of the Church. Although wouldn’t it be a hoot if a nun was named such as Mother Angelica? That could be a great Conclave practical joke before they announced the real Pope. It would be hilarious to see the faces of those so wanting a women pope. As much as dissident Catholics love to proclaim their love of religious sisters, it is only love of religious sister of a certain stripe. They moan on and on about the treatment of “American nuns” and yet would treat religious women faithful to the magisterium as persona non grata.

During the time period when we all become Sede Vacantists it is a time of such dreamy hope and optimism for dissident Catholics. As if finally after over two millenniums the Church will finally go right. That all their pet sins will finally become virtues. The possibilities that come to their mind predict a Catholic Church that is finally in step with the world. Forgetting that as things become in step with the world they also fall out of step with it as all fads fade. The eternal temptation that instead of preparing ourselves for Heaven we make Earth our Heaven and bring it down to our level. After all when so many sins are excused, we make more excuses not to repent.

Dionne’s article goes on to basically conflate the Catholic Church as a social service whose only purpose concerns the poor and downtrodden. Salvation and sanctity are not part of his apparent vision of the Church. Once again a problem of not seeing the Church large enough and to try to make her mission a single bullet point. Our love for the poor is not a single dimension, but a necessary facet of our love of God and neighbor.

A sister as pope could also resolve what might seem a contradiction in Catholic theology. More than Protestants, Catholics are profoundly devoted to the Virgin Mary — and few were as devoted as the late Pope John Paul II, who declared that Mary “sustains the spiritual life of us all, and encourages us, even in suffering, to have faith and hope.” A church for which the Blessed Mother plays such an important role should certainly be comfortable with female leadership.

And yet Jesus did not make his mother an Apostle or priest. As Wordsworth wrote Mary was “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast” and Dione just doesn’t understand how the priesthood is nourished not only by Mary, but so many other saintly women. That so many women saints had a devotion to praying for priests as we saw for example considering St. Therese and Blessed Mother Teresa. That like the men who held up Moses’s hands, the same is true of so many women either consecrated or not.

He then goes on to pull the sex abuse scandal card as if it was a problem of an “all-male hierarchy” and not a sinful deletion of duty. Funny also how it is often notice that and “all-male hierarchy” was involved and not that fact that the victims were mostly males. Still last I checked in other institutions from public schools to other religious denominations without an “all-male hierarchy” have the same problem at a magnified level.

Now just when I thought Mr. Dionne couldn’t get any funnier he writes:

If the college were inspired to elect a woman, it could arrange for her consecration and leave the broader question of whether women should become priests — a change that I both hope and expect will happen someday — open for debate during her pontificate.

Typical liberal thinking, “Let’s go ahead and do it and think about the underlying parts later on.” Thus totally missing the connection between the papacy and the priesthood. He might as well say that anybody can be elected Pope. Why stop at nuns by this understanding? Maybe part of the typical dissident tension of demanding women priests while at the same time wiping out distinctions between the priesthood and the laity.

Still lets pretend for a second that the ordination of women was not as then-Cardinal Ratzinger responded “This teaching requires definitive assent …”. Pretend that this this was something that people could have differing opinions on. Let us look at the practical aspects of the College of Cardinals electing a women religious. Just on a practical level it would be a violation of Canon Law at the minimum Can. 1024. An election that violated Canon Law would be null. Mr. Dionne even mentioned this requirement, but not the outcome of it. Still when you see the Church as a human institution and not a Divine one it is easy to make many mistakes. A human instituted “church” can contradict itself and reverse itself over time. Only a human instituted church can do what Mr. Dionne and others want. They want a club more than a Church.

I do wonder if a thousand years from now what people will make of the Catholic Church? After all that time, and in fact to the end of the world, she is indefectible and will not change dogmas with the times. It is mostly within the last century that we have more fully seen the shattering of Christendom as Protestantism continues to fragment in so many directions. For now the Catholic Church just looks a bit out-of-place in the world and this lack of compromise with the false teachings of the world can just be put down to motives other than what is the real vitality of the Church. As time goes on it might become more of a wonder as her teachings remain the same while constantly adopting to how best to preach the good news of the Gospels. Jesus guaranteed that the gates of Hell will never prevail over the Church, not that she would be a Church growing larger over the course of time. A thousand years from now, if Jesus has not yet come, the Church might be small or large but the only aspect of her teachings that might have changed is that they will have come to a deeper understanding of them. No doubt future E.J. Dionne Jr’s will still be annoyed that there are no women priests or popes.


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Jeffrey Miller (765 Posts)

Readers Comments (1)

  1. So many curious assumptions,but I’ll stick to a few.True,Jesus didn’t call Mary an apostle,but ,if made a priest, she would would have been a Jewish one.In the Early Church,Eastern and Western,bishops were called popes.It wasn’t until 1073 when Gregory VII,in a council in Rome,formally prohibited its use by any other than the Bishop of Rome.The East,understandably,never accepted this.The very origin of the word is Greek.The whole history of the papacy has been one of increasing power and authority,even taking on the mantle of Imperial Rome(“Pontifex Maximus”)It is disingenuous to suggest that dogma has never changed.See Newman’s “Development of Doctrine”.Much has been quietly discarded since Vatican II,and,of course,more will change as time goes on.

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