07/22/17

Mary Magdalene: The Single Best Argument for Women Priests

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By Kerry Walters

On 22 July each year, the Christian community venerates a saint who is the single best argument for why women should be priests: Mary of Magdala, more commonly called Mary Magdalene and traditionally known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”

Given what we know about her, it’s a scandal that some Christian communities—most notably the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention—still consider women unworthy of ordination.

The Roman Church’s refusal to ordain women is succinctly stated in its official Catechism:

The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry…For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. #1577

The Southern Baptist Convention bases its refusal on several passages in the Pauline letters to Titus and Timothy that seem to disallow women from serving as pastors. (Never mind that biblical scholars agree that the letters were almost certainly not written by Paul himself.) Predictably, perhaps, the Convention adds that pastoral ministry would interfere with women’s single-minded dedication to their God-appointed “family roles.”

Such objections to the ordination of women strike rational people, including millions of Christians, as absurd. But Dominican priest Wojciech Giertych, who served as theologian of the papal household for Pope Benedict XVI, adds risibility to absurdity when he argues that women simply don’t have the mechanical know-how of men, and so would be helpless when it comes to guy-stuff like church repairs.

I don’t know how handy she was with a hammer or screwdriver, but the scriptural accounts of Mary Magdalene certainly confound these arguments against women priests and pastors. Her prominence in the New Testament is indisputable.

She’s presented as one of the earliest disciples of Jesus, joining his band of followers after being cleansed of “seven demons” (Mark and Luke). Although she actually isn’t the New Testament “sinner” who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears or anointed them with precious oil she’s often thought to be—this is an identification invented by Gregory the Great in the 6th century—she’s still mentioned more often in the Gospels, no fewer than 12 times, than nearly all the male apostles.

The gospels of Mark, Matthew, and John recognize her as one of the women who followed Jesus to Golgotha, when all the male apostles except John had fled in terror. All four gospels also announce that she was either the very first person (Mark and John) or one of the first (Matthew and Luke), her companions also being women, to whom the Risen Christ appeared, and that she was the messenger who carried the good news to the male apostles.

Luke tells us that the other disciples didn’t believe her, either because she was a woman or because the tale was so fantastical, and ran to see the empty tomb for themselves. In the apocryphal Gospel of Mary, dating from sometime in the 2nd century, the disbelief of the male apostles, especially the brothers Andrew and Peter, is clearly rancorous. “Did he then speak secretly with a woman, in preference to us, and not openly? Are we to turn back and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?” In the later Gospel of Philip, another apocryphal text, the anger directed against Mary by the male apostles is even more intense.

These texts suggest that even at this early stage in the Church’s history, animosity toward women in leadership positions was present. But the more important point here is that both canonical and non-canonical texts affirm Mary as the witness-bearer for the risen Christ. There simply is no debate in the ancient texts about her centrality.

We have nothing but legend to fall back on for the rest of Mary’s life. She isn’t mentioned in either the Acts of the Apostles or any of the New Testament epistles. Some stories say she retired to Ephesus with Mary, Jesus’ mother, after the Resurrection. Others say that she undertook missionary work, even appearing before the Roman emperor Tiberias and astounding him with a miracle.

But these legends, charming as they are, aren’t necessary for establishing her bona fides. Scripture does that. Mary Magdalene, like so many women, was one of Jesus’ earliest followers; she remained loyal to him, at great risk to herself, when the male apostles fled in doubt and terror; the Risen Christ appeared first to her; and she carried the good news to the male apostles, who refused to believe her testimony. Even John Paul II, who declared the topic of women’s ordination settled and done (a position unfortunately affirmed by Pope Francis), acknowledged that this rightly made her the Apostle to the Apostles.

So if men are qualified to ordained ministry because of the male apostles, wouldn’t Mary’s primacy over them qualify women?

The answer’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

Complete Article HERE!

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12/12/16

Pope Francis needs his gay Priests

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By Irene Monroe

To the shock of many of us LGBT people of faith is the Vatican’s recent decision in the document “The Gift of Priestly Vocation,” to ban gays to the priesthood; thus, reaffirming its 2005 stance.

Those of us who have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or who “support the so-called ‘gay culture’” are categorically denied to serve one of the church’s most revered and respected posts. And to know that Pope Francis, our LGBT pope- friendly pontiff, approved the document have many of us in disbelief.

We all recall Pope Francis’s remarks when flying home after a weeklong visit to Brazil in 2013 (which set off global shock waves) where the pontiff was queried about the much talked about “gay lobby” in the Vatican.

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?”

This public statement is the most LGBT affirmative remarks the world has ever heard from the Catholic Church. In 2013 “The Advocate,” a nationally renowned and respected LGBT ‘zine, named Pope Francis their “Person of the Year.”

Pope Frances’ more liberal-leaning pronouncements, however, don’t match his actions. But, in looking at gay priests within the historical context of the Catholic Church the Pontiff knows that gay priests have always been in the Vatican.

As a matter-of-fact, the homosocial and homosexual milieu of gay priests have always been part and parcel of the life and operations of the Vatican as well as the Catholic Church for centuries. Their strength to come-out now as a formidable force within the hallowed walls of the Vatican is laudable on the one hand, and a liability on the other hand—especially in terms of casting a gay suspicion on all priests as well as the potential to expose those priests who want to remain in the closet.

The Catholic Church needs its gay priests

The Rev. Donald B. Cozens, author of “The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” wrote that with more than half the priests and seminarians being gay, the priesthood is becoming a gay profession. Many who know the interior of the Catholic Church would argue that the priesthood has for centuries been a gay profession, and not to ordain gay priests or to defrock them would drastically alter the spiritual life and daily livelihood of the church.

“If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do damage to the church’s operation,” says A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has been studying the sexuality of priests for decades. Sipe also points out that to do away with gay priests “would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it’s very much against the tradition of the church; many saints have gay orientation and many popes had gay orientations.”

The reality here is that as quietly as the Church has tried to keep it, the Catholic Church is a gay institution. And that is not a bad thing!

The problem in the Catholic Church is not its gay priests, and its solution to the problem is not the removal of them. The problem in the Catholic Church is its transgressions against them. And I ask: Who will remove the church from itself?

Years of homophobic church doctrine have made the church unsafe for us all- young and old, straight and LGBT, adult and child.

Eugene Kennedy, a specialist on sexuality and the priesthood and a former priest, wrote in his book, “The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality, that the Catholic Church ” . . .had always had gay priests, and they have often been models of what priests should be. To say that these men should be kept from the priesthood is in itself a challenge to the grace of God and an insult to them and the people they serve.”

Supporters and activists of the “gay lobby” in the Curia emphatically state that this brave and visible group is essential to the running of the Vatican as well as protecting themselves from the church’s hypocrisy in scapegoating them for many of the social ills of the church.

Pope Francis knows this which is one of the reasons he has commented disapprovingly about the political and activist clout the powerful “gay lobby” has in the Curia, the Vatican’s secretive administration.

“The problem is not having this orientation. The problem is lobbying by this orientation…Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Pope Frances saying a press conference during his trip to Brazil in July.

Right now, the Catholic Church stands in the need of prayer and the Pontiff knows it. Francis aptly stated in his a December 2013 interview with 16 Jesuit magazines that “the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards” should the Catholic Church, in this 21st Century, continue on it anti-modernity trek like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Sadly, this pope is like the previous one when it comes to upholding church doctrine, but with a more friendlier and pastoral facade.

Shame on the church’s continued opposition to gay priests in light of its history, reality, and of the gifts they have given and continue to give to the Catholic Church.

Complete Article HERE!

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12/7/16

Vatican reiterates that homosexuals shouldn’t be priests

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File Under:  The Cow Has Already Left The Barn!

 

A Church that refuses to accept women as priests will also negate gay priests. Misogyny is a sin.

 
By Inés San Martín

Priests wait for the start of a mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the occasion of the homeless jubilee in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.

In a new document on the priesthood, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has reiterated that men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” shouldn’t be admitted to Catholic seminaries and, therefore, shouldn’t become Catholic priests. Much more is also found in the new document.

 
ROME- In a new document on the priesthood, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has reiterated that men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” shouldn’t be admitted into Catholic seminaries and, therefore, shouldn’t become Catholic priests.

That position was initially stated by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005, but it was re-stated in a document released on Wednesday.

The new document, however, is hardly restricted to the question of gay priests. It deals with much more, from the value of indigenous and immigrant vocations to the importance of inoculating future priests against infection by “clericalism.”

The new text, titled The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, was dated Thursday, December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, and a public holiday in Italy. The full text can be found here.

The section regarding accepting men who experience same-sex attraction draws most of its content from an Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders, released by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005 shortly after the election of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

“If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination,” the document released this week says, in a direct quote from the text of eleven years ago.

Just like the previous document was approved by Benedict XVI, the one released this week was approved by Pope Francis. However, in neither case were the documents signed by the pontiff, but by the heads of the Vatican department behind it.

In this case, that means Italian Cardinal Benamino Stella, prefect of the congregation, Archbishop Joel Mercier, Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, and Monsignor Antonio Neri.

The document says when it comes to gay men who want to enter the seminary, or discover they have “homosexual tendencies” during the formation years, the Church, “while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

It also says that the Church can’t overlook the “negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

The document, again, taking much of its content from the one issued in 2005, makes an exception for the cases in which the “homosexual tendencies” are only “the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded.”

In any case, however, the norms indicate that such tendencies have to be overcome at least three years before the ordination to the diaconate.

Since the 2005 document stipulating that men with ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ are ineligible for the priesthood, many seminaries and programs of formation in religious orders have interpreted its language to exclude only candidates incapable of celibacy or deeply committed to gay-rights activism, as opposed to a blanket ban on all gay candidates.

It remains to be seen how the recently issued guidelines will be applied.

According to the text’s introduction, the more than 90-page document was prompted by several facts, including the teachings of the last three popes- Francis and his immediate predecessors- who have written extensively on seminarians and priestly formation.

The first draft of the document was written in the spring of 2014, and since then modified with the feedback received from several bishops conferences around the world, that read and reviewed it, along with that of Vatican departments such as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic life, and so on.

Although there are a handful of exceptions, the new guidelines have a global scope, meaning, they’re to be implemented not only by bishops’ conferences but also by religious orders and personal prelatures. However, each country is also expected to produce their own national guidelines grounded in The Gift of the Priestly Vocation.

Here are some of the other highlights from the Dec. 8 document.

First, the text stresses the importance of nurturing indigenous vocations to the priesthood, meaning priests who come from the various local cultures where the Church is present.

“The very presence of such vocations is an important element of the inculturation of the Gospel in these regions,” it says, “and the richness of their culture must be adequately respected.”

“Vocational assistance can be provided in the native language whenever necessary, placing this in the context of the local culture,” the document says.

Second, the document emphasizes the value of vocations arising from within immigrant communities.

“Vocations to the priesthood can arise from within these families,” it says, referring to migrant families, “which must be accompanied, keeping in mind the need for a gradual cultural integration.”

It adds that formation of migrant priests must be done “without underestimating the challenge of cultural differences, which can, at times, make vocational discernment rather complex.”

Third, the document emphasizes that the ultimate aim of any program of priestly formation must be configuration of the candidate to the example of Jesus Christ.

“Priestly ordination requires, in the one who receives it, a complete giving of himself for the service of the People of God, as an image of Christ the spouse,” it says. “The priest therefore is called to form himself so that his heart and life are conformed to the Lord Jesus.”

Fourth, the document calls for a “propadeutic stage” of formation, meaning an introduction to the calling to the priesthood, in part a reflection of the fact that many cultures no longer automatically transmit a sense of the meaning and role of a priest, suggesting that this introductory phase should be at least one or two years.

It specifies that this introductory period should include the sacramental life, learning the Liturgy of the Hours, familiarity with Scripture, mental prayer, spiritual reading, and also study of Church teaching through the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fifth, on the other end of the spectrum, the document also calls for more attention to ongoing formation, meaning the formation of priests after ordination.

“One must constantly feed the fire that gives light and warmth to the exercise of ministry,” it says, “remembering that the ‘heart and form of the priest’s ongoing formation is pastoral charity,’” quoting St. Pope John Paul II’s 1992 document Pastores Vobis.

Sixth, the document calls on local bishops to play a direct role in both soliciting and shaping vocations to the priesthood.

“The bishop should know how to establish a trustful dialogue with seminarians, so as to enable them to be sincere and open,” it says, recalling that “it is the bishop who is primarily responsible for admission to the seminary and formation to the priesthood.”

Seventh, the document says that dioceses and religious orders must be on guard not to admit potential sexual abusers to the priesthood.

“The greatest attention must be given to the theme of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” it says, “being vigilant lest those who seek admission to a seminary or a house of formation, or who are already petitioning to receive Holy Orders, have not been involved in any way with any crime or problematic behavior in this area.

Eighth and finally, in a vintage Pope Francis touch, the document also insists that future priests be inoculated against infection by “clericalism.”

“Future priests should be educated so that they do not become prey to ‘clericalism,’ nor yield to the temptation of modeling their lives on the search for popular consensus,” it says.

“This would inevitably lead them to fall short in exercising their ministry as leaders of the community, leading them to think about the Church as a merely human institution.”

Complete Article HERE!

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08/11/16

Lesbian Nuns and gay Priests: From The Late Late Show to Maynooth

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By Páraic Kerrigan

A PhD Candidate in the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University, suggests the recent Maynooth ‘scandal’ implies that some have not kept pace with changing attitudes to sexuality in wider Irish society.

Maynooth seminary

THE recent Maynooth ‘scandals’, to use the convenient media shorthand, seems to suggest that despite the major progressions surrounding LGBT rights in Ireland some attitudes remain relatively unchanged.

In particular, this remains the case for the more conservative pockets of Irish society and especially the Catholic Church.

Ireland and the Church has been subject to many sex scandals since the early 1990s but it appears that when it comes to members of our clergy and our convents being gay, (or straight for that matter) well, then all hats, or soutanes, are off.

We only have to look to an episode of The Late Late Show from a little over thirty years ago to see the moral panic that can be generated on the acknowledgement that priests and nuns can have a sexuality too.

On the release of their book, Breaking Silence: Lesbian Nuns on Convent Sexuality, Rosemary Curb and Nancy Manahan appeared on The Late Late Show to promote its release in Ireland.

Both Manahan and Curb were ex-nuns and lesbians who had risen to notoriety following the book’s release in the US.

Controversially, the publication contained within it interviews with women who entered convent life, only to later discover that they were lesbians.

Prior to its launch in Ireland, Nell McCafferty correctly predicted the book was ‘enough to create furore and a minor furore there will no doubt be’.

Immediately upon its release, a text acknowledging that nuns also have sexual inhibitions, and gay ones at that, was considered so heinous that the Irish customs authorities seized 1,500 copies on its arrival to the island.

It wasn’t just the customs authorities that were so scandalised. Middle Ireland wanted to have their say too.

In fact, they were so infuriated by both Curb and Manahan, that they mobilised themselves into a picket and protested outside of the Buswells Hotel on Molesworth Street, where the pair had been staying.

When The Late Late Show announced in the RTÉ Guide that same week that the ex-nuns would be making an appearance on that Saturday’s edition of the show, the telephone switchboards at RTÉ lit up with protest calls.

On the night of the broadcast itself, the shocked and appalled members of conservative Catholic Ireland held a vigil outside of the Montrose studios, where they erected a statue of the Virgin Mary, while being led by a priest through decades of the rosary as he was amplified from an ice-cream van on site.

Despite the furore caused during the week, the interview with the nuns ended up being not all that scandalous.

Despite getting one of the highest audience figures for any Irish TV show during the 1980s, the interview was fairly tame by Late Late standards.

Even Sr. Maura, an Irish nun from the Daughters of Sion who was on the panel that night, made the rather progressive comment reminding the Irish audience that the clergy don’t ‘leave their sexuality at the door’ when they enter religious life.

 

“Strange goings on” and “a quarrelsome” atmosphere led to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s decision.

Perhaps it was this attitude that may have benefitted Archbishop Martin in his recent press statements on ‘the strange goings-ons’ at Maynooth.

Despite major changes to public attitudes since 1985 in wider Irish society, however, homosexuality is still clearly viewed as a problem by the church.

Looking at Late Late incident and the Maynooth story in tandem highlights that the church’s attitude to homosexuality has not changed but at least Ireland’s Catholic elite have not yet descended on St. Patrick’s seminary at Maynooth with an ice-cream van and a statue of the Blessed Virgin.

Complete Article HERE!

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