gender-bending & structural change

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 07, 2007

Responding to the clergy sex abuse crisis, Jesuit Father Raymond Schroth calls for structural change in the Roman Catholic Church and lists five "obstacles" to progress, one of which is Catholicism:

[The fourth obstacle to reform] is the church's moral authority as a teacher of sexual morality. We never recovered from the 1968 publication of "Humanae Vitae," the papal encyclical that condemned artificial contraception, soon rejected by theologians and laity alike. Priests simply stopped talking about sex. In many ways, the church's traditional teaching on marriage, fidelity and the relationship between sexuality and love has been one of its treasures; but who will listen to the message when the messenger has been compromised?

Because of celibacy and the ban on women's ordination, women, whose experience and wisdom on these matters are indispensable, have been excluded from leadership in the church. Women will probably not be ordained in this generation. But the pope, with a stroke of the pen, could change canon law and appoint 20 to 40 lay men and women to the College of Cardinals. They would advise the pope, run Vatican congregations and help elect the next pope.

See if I've got this right: the Church's traditional teaching on marriage is a treasure, but the encyclical that reaffirmed that teaching was a disaster. Celibacy excludes women from leadership in the Church. Women's experience and wisdom are indispensable, but cannot be communicated to us unless the women in question are ordained. Clear?

Schroth's glissade from the morality of contraception to the ordination of women may seem baffling, but Prof. Robert George (in a post I mentioned earlier) explains that dissent from Humanae vitae unravels an entire fabric of interconnected doctrines:

When Pope Paul VI dramatically reaffirmed [Christian teaching on contraception] in 1968, clearheaded commentators -- not only supporters of the pope such as the eminent Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, but also astute critics, such as Fr. Charles Curran -- saw that far more than the issue of contraception was at stake. The whole body of Catholic teaching on the nature of the human person, of the one-flesh communion of spouses in marriage, and of the meaning of human embodiment in relation to questions of, for example, homosexual conduct and relationships, monogamy, and marital fidelity and indissolubility was on the line.

Treating sexual endowments as arbitrary and manipulable properties brings about a natural alliance between sterility fans; I suppose we could call their common cause engendering-bending. By the same token it's hardly astonishing that a Jesuit who dissents from Humanae vitae likewise dissents from Catholic doctrine on the ordination of women -- in fact, it would be more surprising to find a man who dissented from one teaching but staunchly upheld the other. I must not have been paying attention when the Society of Jesus transferred her allegiance to the Episcopal Church (on every contested issue mentioned, Fr. Schroth comes to the defense of the Anglican position), but given the nexus of conviction spelled out by Prof. George, that change isn't so surprising either.

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  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Jan. 29, 2010 12:53 AM ET USA

    We need to turn their own glib phrases back on them. They say "Don't like abortion? Don't have one." So, we can rightly respond, "Don't like our ads? Don't watch them." Surely they know how to use a Mute button on the remote, or know how to change channels. Frankly, I'm waiting for the ACLU to go after Tebow for writing Scriptural references in the blacking under his eyes.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 27, 2010 5:51 PM ET USA

    Like get with the program, man, you're missing the point. Those players are, like all rednecks anyway, y'know? I mean, they're getting big bucks & it's only entertainment dude! So we'll be like hanging with our buds & just trying to chill & watch the game and it's like totally not nice to suddenly drop that on someone, y'know? People might be like uncomfortable & stuff. Like how do you know if some girl who's there had a problem when she was in college & now she'd be real embarrassed and stuff.