Monday, July 05, 2004

Women Priests

I am for them, but the Roman Catholic church is somewhat less enthusiastic. Well, considerably less enthusiastic. This is not hard to understand: if women became priests, who'd be left to do all the drudge work that is needed in running the churches? Still, I don't understand the Pope's brain on the topic of women. He appears to have but the faintest idea of what women are. Maybe this isn't so unexpected given the way the Catholic church makes sure that its priests will not live in families which would be one way of finding out about women, at least partially. Not that women are very different from men, of course, but it seems to be part of the Pope's belief systems that they are. For example, women can't be priests because they weren't among Christ's disciples (ok, I have no idea if the Pope believes this, but many in the church do, and I want to make the argument here). This hasn't stopped the church from electing a Polish pope, and I'm willing to bet my pocket money against the possibility that any of the original disciples was Polish. In any case, some scholars argue that Mary Magdalene was a disciple and that her role was erased in later rewritings of the gospels.

I think that women should be priests because I would have made a wonderful priest, if I had happened to have been born Catholic (and human). This makes me believe that we are losing countless numbers of wonderful priests because of attitudes which really should be outdated by now. I also don't like giving little girls messages about their second-class status, and being told that you can't become a priest simply because you are a girl tends to do funny things to your head. It may even serve to breed future feminists!

So the following news should be regarded as good ones by all concerned:

Six Catholic women, including two Americans, were ordained as Catholic deacons on June 26 at a service on the Danube River in Passau, Germany. The service was a continuation of a series of ordinations that began in 2002 in the same location, at which point seven women were ordained into the priesthood.
For a religious community still in the shadows of the clergy sex abuse scandals, these ordinations are seen as a positive step toward the healing of the Catholic church, according to advocates of female priests.

Ida Raming, a German theologian and one of the priests who performed the ordinations of women two years ago, argued that baptism, not gender, determines eligibility for the priesthood. At the 2002 service she said that the opinion of the current church leadership on women priests--as well as the Biblical canons that it is derived from--are "based on a grave lack of respect for the human dignity of women and their Christian existence."

Not that any of this will be accepted by the Catholic church. The most likely outcome is that all those involved in these ordinations will be excommunicated. There is something very sad about a church which must excommunicate those who most desperately want to serve it.