category errors

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 29, 2007

You've got to sympathize with a reporter who's assigned to write a straight report about an absurd event. Nevertheless this CBC report is remarkably awkward:

Calling it a defiance of an unbreakable Catholic "sacrament," the Vatican is distancing itself from a Toronto ceremony in which five women and a married man were ordained as priests and deacons.

Notice that the only word in scare-quotes is "sacrament." Now ordination is a sacrament, but these folks were not "ordained." That's where the scare-quotes belong. The presiding "bishop" was a woman. She claims to have been ordained herself by Catholic bishops in good standing. But if they did ordain her-- and it's curious that she won't produce their names-- those bishops are no longer in good standing, since they would incur excommunication for participating in a sham sacrament.

Returning to the priceless opening of that CBC story, you'll see that the reporter describes the sacrament of ordination as "unbreakable." That's a term theologians don't use, and it's not easy to imagine what it means in this context.

Nor is it right to say that the Vatican "is distancing itself" from the ceremony-- any more than Queen Elizabeth distanced herself from the backyard ceremony in which, last night, I dubbed myself the Duke of Northumberland. Insofar as the Vatican noticed this ceremony, the Vatican thought it was absurd. In that respect the Vatican grasped the essentials, in a way the CBC story did not.

Still there are a couple of good points in the CBC report:

  1. The story begins by noting that the ceremony was staged in "defiance" of a sacrament. The language isn't quite right. How would you "defy" a sacrament? But a defiant attitude could certainly cause misguided people to mock a sacrament. That's called blasphemy, which is what happened here.
  2. The headline reads: "Fringe Catholics defy 'sacrament' by ordaining women." Skip over that confusion over "sacrament" and "ordain," and check out the very first word: "fringe." Often it's associated with another word, an adjective, which would work well here. For an accurate treatment, why not begin like this:

Lunatic-fringe Catholics mock sacrament by "ordaining" women

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  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 9:35 AM ET USA

    I am accustomed to being addressed as "Your Worship." s/ Otto

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 5:41 AM ET USA

    Another less verbose headline might be "Freakshow in Toronto."

  • Posted by: - May. 30, 2007 12:28 AM ET USA

    Patriot6908, I do not know why you are talking in code form. We know that the church is not a democracy. My point is that this is serious, because of the loss of Souls, that belong to the Catholic Family. They are so confused "blind" , promoting "falsehoods" and distorting the Truth. 50% is a large number, in same family to be so clueless. This is a direct reflection on what the Bishops and Priests have and have not been teaching. Very, Very, Very Serious..

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 10:30 PM ET USA

    The Lunatic Fringe are the product of the Seamless Garment.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 8:52 PM ET USA

    Hey! Imperial Highness is my title! Well.....I'll settle for "His Exaltedness"

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 5:40 PM ET USA

    Well your Imperial Highness, I am not so sure if it is in your authority as emperor to declare someone anathema. I guess you Ottos never had trouble to get the church to do what you want though.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 3:41 PM ET USA

    In anticipation of this story, on May 21, 2007 the Sudbury Star conducted an informal poll of its readers, and 59 percent of respondents "agreed with the ordination of women as Catholic priests." Since two-thirds of the Sudbury population are Catholic, we can infer that at least two-thirds of Catholics in that diocese cannot understand that a male priesthood is necessary to maintain the nuptial symbolism of the Mass, or understand that women cannot be fathers.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 1:50 PM ET USA

    Since Fresen is Catholic to her toenails, have them trimmed. Then her complete person will be separated from the church.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 11:22 AM ET USA

    YOU are not the Duke of Northumberland! I claimed that post two weeks ago.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 10:30 AM ET USA

    Fresen says she's Catholic to her toenails. She's as Catholic as the clippings from the nails. Trouble is that she isn't the only one kidding herself that she's Catholic when, in fact, she has excommunicated herself. Which leads me to wonder why statisticians bother to count the number of Catholics and rely merely on their assertion that they are Catholic.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 10:30 AM ET USA

    Perhaps 50% of US Catholics would support female ordinations, but with the same deep thought and seriousness that they give to many pressing problems, e.g., the lack of female NFL middle linebackers. If the Church is a democracy, a term now meaning more power to the articulate mob, then we should all be Arians. However dim our state of religious education (or secular for that matter) and however timid and furtive our bishops, we exist only through and because of Christ, not the mob or media.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 10:01 AM ET USA

    This is no laughing matter, it is very serious. I bet if you were to ask the Catholics, or those claiming to be Catholic in the USA,should we allow women priests, probably 50% would say yes. The reason, is they really do not have a clue why they are Catholic. Just look at the political landscape, it is obvious that Bishops and priests are even quilty of "advancing the attitude" that we do not need God in America.They have "no clue" or care why Priests must be Real Men to be In Persona Christi.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 9:43 AM ET USA

    Congratulatons Duke of Northumberland! You have a better chance to be a duke since you are at least capable of receiving the title. These pagan witches don't seem to grasp the fact that they are incapable, and always will be, of receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

  • Posted by: - May. 29, 2007 9:22 AM ET USA

    As the recently-anointed Holy Roman Emperor, Otto XV, I declare the bishopette and all her minions anathema.