A Catholic Renewal

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måndag, juni 09, 2008
Ett brott att viga kvinnor? Eller ett brott att inte göra det?
Ja, den frågan ställs på sin spets i Phyllis Zagano's kommentar nedan till exkommuniceringsskrivelsen.


A crime to ordain women? Or a crime not to?

The Vatican is still trying to convince Catholics that women cannot be ordained. This time it may have convinced the world that they should be.

Recently, Cardinal William Levada , prefect of the Vatican 's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, decreed that anyone participating in the "delict" (crime) of woman's ordination including the ordaining bishops faces automatic excommunication.

His sights were set on two converging phenomena: increasing realization among bishops of their own powers, and a growing public acceptance of women's ordination.

The most direct challenge to Vatican rules comes from a renegade group called "Roman Catholic Womenpriests." The first seven women ordained (they say by legitimate bishops) were formally excommunicated. Since then, their movement has ordained 40 or 50 women deacons, priests or bishops.

The Vatican is having none of it, but its decree raises some questions that are unanswered by its 200 words on "attempting sacred ordination of a woman." The canon law that Levada cites is not about ordination; rather, it says that only priests (and bishops) can say Mass and give sacramental absolution.

So, who can ordain? And, who can be ordained? The law says bishops can only ordain baptized males. But scholars emphasize baptism over maleness.

In the 1970s, as the international tide of the women's rights movement lapped on Catholicism's shores, the Vatican office that Levada now heads issued its negative opinion on women priests. Nearly simultaneously,
the Pontifical Biblical Commission, in a document now conveniently missing from the Vatican Web site, said Scripture did not rule out women's ordination.

Then, in 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote that the church, bound by Jesus ' choice of male apostles, did not have the authority to ordain women as priests. Levada's office (then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger , now Pope Benedict XVI ) quickly issued another opinion. This time it opined that banning women priests was part of the church's magisterial or official and infallible teachings.

Since then, scholarly conversation has percolated around the word "infallible." Nothing is infallible unless it is clearly defined as such, and canon law says that's from an ecumenical council or by a papal declaration.

So why not ordain women? It boils down to the hierarchy saying it does not have permission to make women priests (or deacons, it would seem). Yet ordaining women is not new, and what the church has done the church can do again. Church history (East and West ) includes some women priests and bishops, and many women deacons. While Catholicism has not continued the strong tradition of women deacons, most bishops know they could validly ordain a woman deacon if they chose.

When will Rome unshroud its history of ordained women? Vatican restrictions depend on Jesus ' choice of male
apostles. Mary Magdalene, the "apostle to the apostles," apparently does not count. There is also the lingering belief in some church circles that only men can represent Christ. Some seminary teachers said (and may still say) you can no more ordain a woman than you can a cat.

So, is it a question of authority or misogyny? Women were surely ordained as deacons, and the first deacons were chosen not by Jesus , but by the church. Every other document leaves the question of ordained women deacons aside for further study.

This new and unilateral statement from the Vatican 's doctrinal office says it's illegal to attempt to "confer a sacred order on a woman" bishop, priest or deacon and calls the act a "crime" that separates the actors from the church.

That seems to say that something happens, that those illegal ordinations are real.

So score one for the women's ordination folks.

The men in Rome say it is a crime to ordain women. The rest of the world is starting to think it's a crime not to.

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postat av Charlotte Therese Björnström @ 10:06  
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