The intellectual rigor of the Women’s Ordination Conference

While we can all have fun with the women’s ordination video “Ordain a Lady” it is really indicative of so much of this movement. The Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) really does not have serious replies regarding their advocacy.

For example if you read through their “Why Ordination” section they really fail to answer basic objections and introduce very dubious information on past women priestesses. The image of the women with the title of Theodora Episcopa in Rome is suppose to prove this when in fact she was the widowed mother of Paschal, who was Bishop of Rome at the time. There view of Jesus is also very odd. Instead of the Lion of Judah he is more like the kitten of Judah afraid to ordain women because of the culture of the time.  He could change everything else, but not that.  Every culture around Israel had women priest, yet this would be too radical to accept.  What their cultural conditioning view also forgets is that the reason women priests would have been a new thing to the Jewish people is that God previously had restricted the ministerial priesthood to male members of the Tribe of Levi.

They have really been unwilling to engage with actual arguments both theologically and concerning the nature of the Church. There super-negative view of ecclesiology, the popes, and the teachings of the Church really make you wonder why they want to belong to it at all. It reminds me of Kathy Shaidle’s reaction to 9/11 Truthers “How can you believe that your President killed 2,000 people, and in between bitching about this, just carry on buying your vente latte and so forth?” I have a similar reaction to those who believe such terrible things about the Church and believe she has been resisting the Holy Spirit for 2,000 plus years. Maybe it is the part of human nature when you are told you can’t do something that you are more attracted to doing it.

In the past I reviewed The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church by Sr. Sarah Butler (Who once was for women’s ordination) In 1978, she headed a task force of the Catholic Theological Society of America that came out in support of female priests. Later though she realized the error of the arguments made and wrote this book that rebuts them and totally supports the Church’s teaching. In this book she looks at all the arguments for women’s ordination and answers them. You just don’t see the same type of rigorous intellectual endeavor on the other side. Instead you get appeals to scripture as if they are the authentic interpreters of scripture. Who needs the magisterium when you have the WOC and the National Catholic Reporter.

Part of their lack of seriousness is that they have really not thought this through. As the video suggests the criteria for becoming a women priest is a perceived call from God. Where is the discernment? Why are there no seminaries created by WOC? When a man perceives such a calling he just doesn’t go to his bishop, get ordained, and assigned a parish. There is a rigorous screening and years of discernment both by the man and by his bishop and the bishop’s representatives in the seminary. There are plenty of men who entered the seminary only to have discerned later that they were not called to the priesthood. Remember when Sinead O’Connor was “ordained” a women priest – yes lots of discernment there.

There is also a distorted view of the priesthood as mainly a means of power. If you don’t have access to the priesthood then you don’t have access to church power. There is also an irony in their non-contextual use of St. Therese “If only I were a priest!” Yes what Therese who is a saint and a Doctor of the Church was lacking was being a priest. If only she had been a priest imagine what she could have done! Funny thing that I am much more likely to run across a parish named after a women saint then one named after a parish priest. I am much more likely to run across a statue of a women saint than a male priest. If only Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Hildegard of Bingen could also have been priests. Imagine what they could have done. Really everybody should be ordained priests, imagine what St. Francis could have done if he had been a priest.

The Women’s ordination conference doesn’t seem to have much concern regarding women saints. There site is pretty much devoid of them and there are no images of these saints. The Blessed Virgin Mary is also noticeably lacking on their site. Maybe it is because there was not a women saint in history who noticed that the Church was persecuting them and that not ordaining women was directly opposed to the Holy Spirit. I guess they were all just tools of the male hierarchy and male magisterium. Although they explain much of this as just cultural shifts of view. Well if the culture can currently be in favor of it, it also means in the future it might not be. Why do they think their view is not culturally conditioned?

Obviously when it comes to discernment we can see that the Women’s Ordination Conference which insults St. Paul and Blessed John Paul II are the ones being lead by the Holy Spirit. A group that could not discern that their video would be a laugh-riot for faithful Catholics is super smart.

On the serious side, what I pray for supporters of women’s ordination is that instead of wasting their time in this advocacy that they dedicate it to becoming saints – as we are all called to do. Nothing is more glorious for the Church than her saints – and you don’t even have to be priest.


Jeffrey Miller (790 Posts)

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