truth or consequences

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 18, 2005

Yet more Catholic women are attempting to bootstrap themselves into Holy Orders. This time in the waters of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

All the women being ordained July 25 are members of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an organization of Catholic women whose goal "is to bring about the full equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church," said the group's Web site. Seven women were ordained in the organization's first ceremony in 2002. ... "We consider these ordinations to be valid but illicit," said [Prof. Victoria] Rue, who was ordained as a deacon last year and will move a step up to priest this year.

Here's a thought experiment, notionally addressed to a liberal Catholic who approves of the ordination of women or believes it may take place in the future.

Let's assume that a male Anglican bishop with valid episcopal orders performs the Catholic rite of priestly ordination upon a woman called Kate. As an orthodox Catholic, I contend Kate has not been ordained. But you, thinking it possible that women might one day be ordained, are obliged to acknowledge that some women have already been ordained -- viz., those subject like Kate to the conditions just mentioned. Prof. Rue is correct that an ordination may be illicit (i.e., contrary to ecclesiastical norms and permissions), but still valid. However, a future pope's or future council's decision could change the conditions of liceity for Holy Orders, but not the conditions of validity. Thus, if it will ever be the case that women are validly ordained, then it already is the case that women are validly ordained. I deny the if-clause, of course, but you don't, and so are obliged to accept the consequent.

Suppose Kate attempts to confect the Eucharist and you and I each come into possession of the communion wafers. You are obliged to treat them as you would treat the Blessed Sacrament validly consecrated by a validly ordained priest (Can you be sure they aren't the Real Thing? You can't). I would treat them no differently from the biscuits left behind by my kids after staging a pretend mass on a shipping crate in the basement (No Mass took place in either case. For Kate as for my kids, what was flour before remained flour afterwards). Now if I saw you trying to insert Kate's wafers into the ciborium of our parish tabernacle, I would do everything -- not excluding physical constraint -- to prevent you. And if you saw me disposing of Kate's wafers according to my belief that they are nothing more than stale bread, you'd be obliged to do everything you could to prevent me. Please note that these aren't in-yo-face demonstrations of personal bigotry. These are sober and sensible actions directed by conventional Eucharistic doctrine.

Now here's my question. Is it possible that two persons such as ourselves 1) could be in total agreement about the facts of the case (i.e., the circumstances of Kate's ordination and her eucharistic action regarding the wafers), 2) could be in total disagreement about the ontological reality of the wafers in question, such that one worships what the other discards, and 3) could both belong to one and the same Church? If 1 and 2 are true, doesn't it follow that 3 must be false? Finally, if orthodox and liberal Catholics wouldn't belong to the same Church under the conditions so specified, do they belong to the same Church now?

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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jul. 19, 2005 7:26 PM ET USA

    The contradiction is that they claim and embrace "validity" -- while utterly rejecting "licity" or lawfulness in plain English. Of course the validity cliaim is false - Romolo Braschi was never ordained a bishop and so these ordinations lack apostolic succession. They simultaenously claim and embrace Catholic identity while refusing to conform to its doctrine and discipline.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 19, 2005 3:14 PM ET USA

    I can picture the sermon now... "And that is what Jesus is talking about when he (He) refers to the seed falling on rocks. You see, he (He) was talking about those male chauvinists that think that they are better than women. And the good soil that he (He) was talking about are the people that DO listen; and they could be either male OR female," she stops to giggle, "but I've never met such a male." Then she looks down at her hand. Darn, she broke a nail!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 18, 2005 11:38 PM ET USA

    For Anne: the doctrine stated in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is that the Church doesn't have the authority to ordain women. The Church teaches that with her full authority, and Catholics must agree about it. On the other hand, the issue of why women can't become priests is a matter of theology, and Catholics are free to hold a variety of theories about it. I recommend (para. 30ff). Follow footnote 24 for more info.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jul. 18, 2005 9:17 PM ET USA

    Thanks, Diogenes. This essay is a keeper -- truly catechetical for all the disobedient, traitorous folks who advocate women's "ordination" and have the ignorance to call themselves Roman Catholic.

  • Posted by: Meg Q - Jul. 18, 2005 8:42 PM ET USA

    To the last question: Short answer - no. Long answer - heck, no. In an ontological sense, anyway. I just don't understand why the Vatican can't come out and say *why* women can't be priests. People wouldn't like it, but at least things would be clearer. Perhaps the curia think people already know basic stuff like this. Well, they don't. Hmmm, wouldn't that be a good title for an encyclical - "On the Nature of the Holy Priesthood"?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 18, 2005 5:41 PM ET USA

    I propose a new name for these ecclesial antics by the our ladies of perpetual contradiction (which is a subtle jab at their ignorance of Aristotle's Law of Non-Contradiction): Quiddich Catholics. (TM - Patent Pending. License fees to be negotiated). Hoo hah. Mr. Harry Potter, call your office.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 18, 2005 4:22 PM ET USA

    One can arrange all of the theological and intellectual dances one wants, but when a cigar is a cigar, it never becomes a true baton, no matter what music is played and just how wonderfully the person waves it. These ladies remain just that--these ladies, although it would be nice if they all didn't get their haircut by Bruno the Barber.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 18, 2005 4:07 PM ET USA

    (in persona FemiNazi): Logic? LOGIC? We don't need your stinkin' LOGIC!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 18, 2005 2:55 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, with your intellectual capacity, you should have no trouble getting a real job.