defectors in place

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 14, 2005

In an article titled "Jesuits USA in the Year 2050: Planning for Our Future", former Catholic University president Fr. William Byron, S.J., lists several "assumptions" about the changes ahead, including this one:

Women will rise in positions of responsibility and influence in the institutional Church and could perhaps find ordination open to them by the year 2050. If women are ordained, there will be no priest shortage in the USA.

In ordinary circumstances, to predict a change in policy is not to endorse it. But the Catholic doctrine on the reservation of priestly ordination to men has been affirmed by the CDF to belong to the deposit of faith -- and thus immutably definitive of what it means to be Catholic. As a simple matter of entailment, to allow the possibility that a given teaching will change is to deny that it belongs to the deposit of faith, or to deny that a deposit of faith exists at all.

It doesn't surprise me that Byron believes women may be ordained. Most priests of his generation essentially view themselves as flight attendants ("What can we do to make your trip more comfortable ... ?") and regard women as intuitively endowed with the skills they have acquired by rote. It only makes sense, in their view, that Rome will sooner or later admit the obvious and commission women to do what they do already. More telling is the fact that Byron doesn't even mention the Church teaching, doesn't see the doctrinal status as a problem worth addressing.

Hence that eerie, uneasy, all too familiar feeling that the clerical power players of Byron's generation have taken leave of the Catholic Church, albeit quietly. It's rarely displayed by overt defiance -- no theses nailed to cathedral doors -- but rather indicated by a failure to address the obvious embarrassments of apostasy. It's as if your dad phones you at your college dorm to plan for your graduation commencement and informs you, offhandedly, that the woman accompanying him will not be your mother.

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