God Bless Norma Jean Coon: A Prodigal Daughter

Examples of humility and legitimate public repentance do present themselves often enough. Partly because our culture of the sensual-erotic and sensationalistic wishes us to look at Lady Gaga more than Mother Theresa. Partly also by definition: it cuts against what it means to be humble to promote one’s own self-humbling.

Women Priests Play Act the Mass

Are those vessels glass and clay?! Good thing it's just bread and wine and not really Jesus.

But with the example of Abby Johnson still fresh and current, I was pleased to see another example pop up on Zenit: Norma Jean Coon.

In 2007, Coon attempted ordination to the diaconate at the hands of a German “bishop” of the international organization known as Roman Catholic Women Priests.

Earlier this month she officially repudiated all association with that organization, and just yesterday posted her full message of renunciation of Orders, public confession, and repentance for the scandal caused.

She says, in part:

I withdrew from the program within two weeks of the ceremony because I realized that I had made a mistake in studying for the priesthood. I confess to the truth of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. I confess the authority of the Holy Father on these issues of ordination and recognize that Christ founded the ordination only for men.

Formally, I relinquish all connection to the program of Roman Catholic Women Priests and I disclaim the alleged ordination publicly with apologies to those whose lives I have offended or scandalized by my actions. I ask God’s blessings upon each of these folks and their families.

The specific mention of her recognition of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is significant because it is perhaps one of the most misunderstood papal writings of recent memory (though far outpaced by Humanae Vitae). In OS Pope John Paul II discussed the nature of the priesthood, noted that some thought the male-only priesthood was a matter of discipline rather than doctrine, and ended with:

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

Supporters of women’s ordination read that and, rather than seeing a “definitive” declaration, saw a lack of ex cathedra definition of the matter. They would cite a later statement by JPII that in OS he did not intend to make a dogmatic definition, and conclude that, despite the fairly clear language of OS, the matter was still open to debate.

Norma Jean Coon got it right, through the grace of God and the prayers of many people.

Coon ended her statement with a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving, praying for unity, forgiveness, wisdom, and continued growth.

Hopefully her example of courage and humility, and her prayers for greater unity and openness to the Spirit, will help others who persist in public dissent from Church teaching to see the error of their ways and return home to the Father in humility.

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49 thoughts on “God Bless Norma Jean Coon: A Prodigal Daughter

  1. joe says:

    Let’s just give this time. Think Anne Rice.

  2. AV from NYC says:

    Christ is the High Priest, the RC priests acting in persona cristi make present for us here on Earth Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. Jesus Christ incarnated with a male gender. The priesthood must also be of the male gender. The female gender cannot act “in persona cristi.” God set it up that way, and the RC Church rightly declares that it cannot arbitrarily change that based on some misguided notions of “equality” or “justice”. If you’ve got a problem with it, then you’ll just have to ask God to tell the Church that it can ordain women.

    Furthermore we should understand the Catholic ministerial priesthood as the fulfillment of the old testament type, the levitical priesthood, which was all male.

    The early church did have some female deacons appointed (not ordained into holy orders) to assist with baptisms of females, which in the early days were usually done with a full immersion and naked. It was a practical matter, which no longer applies today. But again, they were not ordained into the deaconate with the laying on of hands by a bishop.

    And what is this fixation with women priests? Do we want to give people who accuse the RC Church of paganism more ammunition? Is not the Blessed Virgin Mary enough of a role model for women? Does She not help countless souls to meet her Son? Has the Church not done enough to exalt and honor Mary, a woman, as the greatest of all christians? I sense for these women who demand to be ordained it is more a matter of pride than anything else. They don’t see the exalted role Christ has for them in his Church as introducers and instructors of the Faith to all of Her children.

    But the priesthood…the offerers of the one Sacrifice above and beyond anything else…must be male.

  3. Vincent says:

    I’m very frustrated by the “for reasons unknown to us Jesus set this precedent and we can’t change it” line of argumentation. First of all, it doesn’t hold much water (see below*), and second of all, it is a total cop out. Stop hiding behind the “Jesus did it” excuse and have the courage to say what it is about women that makes them unfit for priestly ministry. What qualities do women possess (or lack) that make them incapable of performing the functions of a priest? Is it that “the feminine genius” really isn’t so genius when it comes to preaching? Is it that women are incapable of leading prayers? What is it? The only answer I have ever gotten to this question is that the priest acts in persona christi, and therefore must image the groom since the Church is the bride. This is laughable. I, as a layman, image the bride every week. Why can’t a woman image the groom? Are our imaginations that limited? Aren’t we called to see Christ in other people, both men and women, every day? So what is it about women that makes them incapable of being priests?
    —————————————–
    *The Church’s justification for reserving priesthood to men is paper thin and full of holes. It is predicated on the following assumptions, several of which are highly dubious:
    (1) Jesus chose only men to be part of the twelve (no question there)
    (2) The ministerial priesthood derives only from the twelve (hmmm… What about Paul? He became an apostle apart from the twelve, conducted substantial ministry before he ever met the twelve, and set up presbyters in churches that he founded. Also, what about all those other “apostles” who are mentioned in the New Testament? Remember that this group included at least one woman, Junia, whom Paul describes in Romans 16:7 as being “great” or “prominent” among the apostles. The Twelve may have been all male, but clearly Jesus chose women to be among his first apostles. While the Twelve clearly have a place of importance in the early Church, there is nothing in scripture to suggest that these other apostles were anything less than full apostles. So we could easily ordain women based on Jesus’ precedent of having chosen women as apostles.)
    (3) The Church cannot deviate from Christ’s choice not to include women among the Twelve. (Jesus’ choice of Twelve men almost certainly had much more to do with a symbolic reconstituting of Israel with its twelve tribes and their patriarchs than with establishing a normative role regarding the role of the sexes in leadership positions in His Church. After all, in choosing twelve Jews, Jesus wasn’t establishing a rule that only Jews could serve as priests. If it wasn’t true for ethnicity or religious practice, why then do we assume that about gender?)

    1. Richard A says:

      It is reasonable to assume that in the fourteen years that elapsed after Paul’s conversion and before beginning his missionary journey, that he received the necessary commissioning from the apostles or others with authority to provide it. Since we know that is how it worked for all those whose stories we know, what reason (except for promoting a contrary agenda) would one have for supposing otherwise where the Scriptures are silent. The gospels never discuss the apostles’ baptism; do we presume then that is it optional? Why not?

      St. John Chrysostom himself wondered at the respect Junia inspired in St. Paul. Oddly, though, this didn’t provide an example for him to follow, did it? She was not an “apostle” in the same sense that Peter, Paul and Timothy were. Our Church herself in her prayers refers to Mary Magdalen as the “apostle to the apostles.” This does not mean that she thinks Mary was an apostle in the same sense that the apostles were.

      1. Vincent says:

        But scripture is not silent. If you read Paul’s letter to the Galatians he is at great pains to explain that his apostleship does not derive from the Twelve. He chronicles his ministry and explains carefully whom he met and when. He is quite clear that his authority as an apostle was eventually (after a long while) confirmed by the Twelve, but does not derive from them.

    2. Regine says:

      ‘I’m very frustrated by the “for reasons unknown to us Jesus set this precedent and we can’t change it” line of argumentation.’ Sorry, Vincent, but if I were to re-state what I have said on this matter, I would borrow a phrase from a Catholic philosopher, “Because Jesus said it (and did it – mine), and that settles it.” I choose to be in communion with Mother Church. The Analogy of Faith, which serves as a guardian of the integrity of the Christian faith, has helped me a lot in reading and understanding Scripture, as used by the early Church Fathers in reading and teaching Scripture. Peace be to you.

      1. Vincent says:

        I would simply point out that no one has bothered so far to address the central question that I asked. What qualities do women possess (or lack) that make them unfit for priesthood? People either default back to arguing from authority (which is to dodge the question of WHY authority has taught this) or return to the question of imagery (and I have shown that the Church routinely asks us to see Christ in women, so why not here?).

        1. Tom Crowe says:

          Vincent, have you been reading my comments regarding the differences between male and female with regard to Christ’s relationship with the Church and the priest’s configuration to Christ? Are you intentionally ignoring what I said regarding that while we are all called to be receptive in our personal relationship with God, the priest is configured to be alter Christus through his ordination and thus performs with the Church a function that brings new life to our spirits? Yes, we are called to “see” Christ in everyone, male and female, but “seeing” Christ in a woman is a far cry from that woman being configured to Christ in her essence through Holy Orders. Do you really not see the difference?

          1. Vincent says:

            No, I really don’t see a difference. What does it mean to be “configured” to Christ? To my ear, that sounds like a fancy phrase that is used to obscure a lack of a specific meaning. In what meaningful way can a man be configured to Christ that a woman cannot? I ask sincerely. Clearly from your answer it is not the physical differences between men and women that are significant here (since you admit that women can image Christ in an ordinary sense). So please name the specific attribute that women have (or lack) that makes it impossible for them to be configured to Christ. — In an effort to consolidate our conversation I’ll respond here to a couple of your points from above: yes, I admit that my problem is with the Church, and not specifically with you (although I believe that your insistence that Jesus’ maleness was a necessary and not just an incidental attribute of God’s incarnation goes beyond what has ever been officially taught by the magisterium… but I’m open to correction on that point if you can cite an encyclical or ecumenical council). — The Church claims that it believes in the essential equality of the sexes. This equality is rooted in the sexes being complementary, not in them being identical. But if men and women are not identical, isn’t it all the more important that we hear women’s voices as well as men’s preaching from the pulpit. Isn’t it all the more important then that we have women confessors as well as men? Isn’t it all the more important that we have both sexes in the highest decision-making positions in the Church so that we get both sides of that complementarity in our discernment of the will of the Holy Spirit? Ask yourself, how many positions are there in the Church that women can hold for which there is no male equivalent? Answer: none. And then ask yourself, how many positions are there in the Church that men can hold for which there is no female equivalent? Answer: lots. That seems to indicate inequality, not just complementarity. And I’ve been to enough Protestant churches with women presiders and preachers to know that we are missing out when forbid women from exercising these gifts in our Church ministries. —- We are marked deeply by sin, and history has shown repeatedly that the Church is not immune to the insidious effects of the libido dominandi in her own institutional structures. This ought to make us deeply suspicious of any arrangement that systematically excludes one entire category of humanity from the most important decision making positions.

          2. Tom Crowe says:

            Vincent– God does nothing by chance. Everything has a very deep, fundamental purpose. That God came into humanity as man and then only ordained men cannot be cast aside as mere chance. Read about the sacrament of Holy Orders and the indelible mark it leaves on the soul of the ordained. Read about how it radically configures a man to Christ. If you are Catholic then you have an obligation to do so since you are asking the questions. I am not going to lay it all out in these comment threads because that is not the intention of these comments, and others have done it elsewhere far beyond my poor abilities. But your inquisitiveness pretty much requires you to seek out the Church’s answer since you are basing a position not in line with the Church’s on your undeveloped thinking. You now have vincible ignorance, and vincible ignorance morally requires one to seek the Truth. ———- Your thinking re: the equality-but-complementarity of the sexes seems sound from a contemporary democratic point of view in which we recognize no differences between the sexes in roles and functions within our human institutions, but it is not the tradition, nor mind of the Church, nor of her female saints. The role in the Church that men can never have? That of mother. That’s no small thing. The greatest human ever (who wasn’t also God) was the Blessed Mother. Only she is a type of the whole Church. Only she was privileged to have God humbly request permission to use her very body to give Him a body. And yet her Son did not ordain her and she did not grasp at the priesthood. Saint Catherine of Siena affected great change in the Church by her force of will. To say that women have no voice is simply to be ignorant of history, the Church’s great female saints, and the nature of the Church. Do some reading on the Theology of the Body, the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and the meaning of “male and female He created them.” ——– I’m suspicious of humans, always. Of God’s protection and guarantee that His Church shall never fall to the gates of hades? No, I have no suspicion. That He chose to organize His hierarchy on the backs of sinful men and not women does not change that.

          3. Vincent says:

            [Please note: in what follows I have used ALL CAPS at some points to indicate emphasis. I mean it like italics, not like a raised tone of voice.] If I may summarize how this part of our conversation has gone >> ME: What specific thing makes women unfit to be priests? TOM: They are unfit because they can’t be configured to Christ. ME: That doesn’t really say anything. Why can’t they be configured to Christ? What does that specifically mean? TOM: I’m not going to tell you; go read about it yourself. — Would it be wrong of me to conclude that you don’t have a specific answer to the question? The reason I am trying to pin you down on this is not because I am unfamiliar with the theology of ordination or the theology of the body. I have a deep background in theology and have spent quite a bit of time reading about both. But what I have always found in that reading is a frustrating avoidance of any specific articulation of what qualities the female soul has (or lacks) that prevent it from entering into priestly ministry. The language of being “configured to Christ” comes up a lot, but is never defined in terms of the specific qualities this configuration requires or confers. The closest thing to an answer that comes up is that women cannot be configured to the role of the bridegroom. My question is why? The answer would be obvious if we were talking about an actual marriage and an actual sexual union. But the Church IS NOT FEMALE. Marriage is a sign of Christ’s union with the Church. But Christ is not actually married to the Church in the same sense that a man marries a woman. Marriage reveals AND EMBODIES certain aspects of Christ’s relationship with the Church (hence, it is a sacrament and not just a symbol), but it is not identical with it. The “receptivity” of the woman’s womb to the seed of the man may indeed be a sign of the Church’s receptivity to Christ’s grace; but it doesn’t follow from that that the person who acts in persona Christi in the sacraments must have male genitalia any more than it follows that the rest of those who make up the Church must have actual wombs. Thus, the physical differences between men and women don’t affect the woman’s ability to act in persona Christi. This must mean that there is some mental or spiritual trait that women possess (or lack) that is decisive. I am asking you to name that trait. If you cannot, your case does not hold water. —— On the question of roles: I would hold that “mother” has its analogue in “father”, so there is an equivalent (though not identical) role. Thus I maintain my assertion that there is a fundamental imbalance in roles that represents not just complementarity, but actual inequality. It would be one thing if the Church were saying that women can’t be bishops or priests, while also maintaining that men couldn’t be lectors or cantors or deacons. That would indicate some understanding of complementary roles. But there are no roles in the Church that women possess for which there is no male analogue (e.g. nun:brother, mother superior:abbott, mother:father, etc). On the other side though > Pope:? Bishop:? Priest:? Deacon:? And isn’t it convenient that some of those positions are the ones in which all the highest levels of authority in the Church reside?

          4. Tom Crowe says:

            Vincent– Apologies, but I haven’t read your latest as I’ve said all I’m going to say in this comment thread. It is yours to seek the Church’s rationale elsewhere and submit your intellect to it as instruction, or submit your will to it in humility and obedience if you are unable to accept it intellectually.

          5. Vincent says:

            I respect the fact that you can only spend so many hours debating with me, so I’ll let you go. I am disappointed though that you never did answer my question about naming a specific characteristic.

    3. Ted Seeber says:

      Just from looking at my own little liberal parish- where women take over, men check out. Entirely. The number of men willing to volunteer in my parish is vanishingly small. For instance, I’m trying to organize a council of Knights of Columbus in a parish where 75% of the volunteers are women, and our pastor is the only man in the office from day to day.

      I need 30 for a council. Out of 1000 families, I’ve got 12.

      If it wasn’t for the male priesthood, men wouldn’t be Catholic. At all. We’d just check out and let our wives take care of religion.

  4. Irishtroubadour says:

    Just like men can’t have babies, women cannot become priest (not even in the weirdest of flawed circumstances as that Hermaphrodite guy). The Church does not have the power to change that. So I’m glad that lady stepped up to the plate and showed some seriouse courage!

  5. Regine says:

    Norma Jean Coon has shown courage in admitting her erroneous choice, and thus, exemplifying for us what true humility is by her public confession. She conveys to me that God matters first in her life by submitting to the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. Whether we like it or not, God manifested himself as a man in the person of Jesus Christ, and Jesus taught us to call God Father or ABBA. We cannot change the fact that Jesus chose men, the 12 Apostles, to carry on with what he taught and established, and they, in turn, did the same when they chose their successors. The Church binds herself to Jesus’ choice.
    I have been taught that a sacrament is a sign of grace that produces the desired effect (i.e. the sign for baptism is water that washes away the original sin), thus, men are the sign for the Holy Order. Why did Jesus do it that way is beyond man’s understanding, but who can really know the mind of God?
    It is so sad that we get into licentiousness to do some “quick fix” for what we perceive to be some problems now or in the future. It is good to remember that it is Christ who is acting in the sacrament, and the unworthiness of his ministers does not prevent him from effecting salvation.
    Thank you, Norma Jean Coon, for such a precious example of courage and humlity.

    1. Tom Crowe says:

      Actually, Regine, there is an essential reason why the Son came as a male and not a female, and it wasn’t just a 50-50 “choice.” It has to do with the entirety of creation and what it is to be male and female in the process of life: female is the recipient of the gift and male is the provider of the gift. God is spoken of with masculine terms because He gave creation its existence and implanted into creation all that it has. With regard to life, even in vegetable life there is a “male” producer of pollen and a “female” recipient of the pollen. Obviously this is also the case in human procreation. This transfers into the sacramental life of the Church when one realizes that in celebrating the Mass, which is the primary and essential reason for the priesthood, God, through the priest, who has has been radically conformed to Christ by Holy Orders, performs a function with the Church that produces new spiritual life in us. God impregnates nature through the priest with new life for our spirits through the Sacraments, primarily the Eucharist. This also is why the Church is considered feminine and called “Holy Mother Church.” ——– For more on the nature of humanity as male and especially female, I highly, highly recommend John Paul II’s magnificent encyclical “On the Dignity of Women,” Mulieris Dignitatem. It is a beautiful and mind-opening examination of what it means to be male and female. Any book with a title like “The Feminine Mystique” that does not quote heavily from this encyclical is doomed to miss its target.

      1. Regine says:

        Thank you for your recommendation. I am not too sure about your point, but I have read the full text of JPII’s Mulieres Dignitatem. Anyway, I have read Peter Kreeft’s book, Catholic Catholicism, and I find it a valuable aid to understanding the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially on the Sacraments.

      2. Vincent says:

        a few things worth noting:

        (1) The above argument on why Christ had to be male is a theology based on an incorrect understanding of biology. For most of western history people believed wrongly that male semen included the entirety of a new life that was merely planted in the “soil” of the woman. We know now of course that the sperm contains only 50% of the DNA, and in recent years we’ve learned that the mother’s RNA plays a crucial role in fetal genetic development; so if anything the mother plays a greater role than the father in the creation of a new life.

        (2) God is not referred to only as father in scripture. There are multiple feminine references to God (e.g. Hosea 11:3-4, Hosea 13:8, Isaiah 42:14, Isaiah 66:13, Psalm 123:2-3, Matthew 23:37, Luke 15:8-10) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that it is appropriate to call God mother as well as father (see 239, 370).

        1. Richard A says:

          The theology has little to do with a flawed biological understanding, and a lot to do with a correct understanding of fatherhood and motherhood. The essence of fatherhood is generation apart from oneself; motherhood has to do with receptivity and generation within oneself. The biology reflects this, which is probably why God made it that way. If you’d read the paragraphs in the catechism you referenced a bit more carefully, you’d see this. You’d also notice that they do not say “that it is appropriate to call God mother as well as father”.

          1. Vincent says:

            As for the catechism, 239 states, “God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood”.

            As for the theology, Tom said, “female is the recipient of the gift and male is the provider of the gift. God is spoken of with masculine terms because He gave creation its existence and implanted into creation all that it has.” This is not true on the biological level because the male is not the provider in any more meaningful sense than the female. In human procreation the male does not implant in the female all she has when it comes to the child. Another problem is that it seems to rely on an outmoded stereotype of men as active and women as passive in the sexual relationship.

          2. Tom Crowe says:

            Vincent, re-read what you quoted. “God’s *parental tenderness* can also be expressed *by the image* of motherhood.” That is not the same as “God can also rightly be called ‘Mother,’ ‘Daughter,’ ‘Sister,’ etc.” In His parental tenderness there is an aspect of motherhood, but even human fathers can express the tenderness characteristic of mothers, though we would never call them ‘mother.’ ——— I somewhat misspoke on the latter point, but the theology is sound: God created the seedbed, i.e., the cosmos, then implanted in the seedbed what it required to bring forth new life. In all but the very first action (creation of the seedbed) God’s relation is masculine. With regard to everything that came after the initial creation there is masculine and feminine: one being the seedbed ready and waiting for the seed and the other is the provider of the seed, and both together bringing forth new life. In parallel, God’s relation to us in our spiritual life is one in which He gives anything and everything we could potentially have spiritually, we are prepared and ought to be ready to receive His gift and through our cooperation with that gift bring forth new spiritual life. This is true of our individual relation to God, and especially true of God’s relation to Holy Mother Church. Priests are configured to Christ and are to stand in His place and perform His role with regard to the Church, which indicates a masculine. The Second Person of the Trinity referred to Himself as “Son,” came among us as male, and ordained only men for a reason.

          3. Vincent says:

            Tom wrote: “even human fathers can express the tenderness characteristic of mothers, though we would never call them ‘mother.’” This is true, but the reason we would not call them ‘mother’ is because they are male. As the Catechism says repeatedly, God is neither male nor female. So, when we call God father, it is not because God is male, but because the image of fatherhood conveys to us something about God. The Church is telling us that the image of motherhood does the same thing also. We must recognize that at the end of the day, the language we use for God is analogical. No one image captures the fullness of God. That is why scripture uses many different images for God, both male and female.

          4. Tom Crowe says:

            Vincent: Your problem no longer is with me, but with the Church. The most common and basic prayer of the Church disproves your thesis: we never sign ourselves “in the name of the Mother, the Daughter, and the Holy Spirit.” That really does mean something, and it’s not just a convention or a sign of a male chauvinist Church. God, in His trinitarian existence, is not male or female in the way human beings are male and female, but you cannot just set aside that when the second Person of the Trinity became flesh it was as a male, and that was not by happenstance: it was intentional. We don’t just use the masculine pronouns and titles analogically: they actually mean something vis-a-vis God’s real relation to us and to all creation. Your cherry picking Bible verses and resting upon interesting interpretations of a few paragraphs of the Catechism notwithstanding, the totality of the teaching of the Church supports my thesis and disproves yours.

          5. Tom Crowe says:

            And the “passive” comment is a complete non-sequitur. Familiarize yourself with the Theology of the Body if you’d like to understand more where I’m coming from. In marital relations the woman is receptive, but not at all passive.

  6. Greg Smith says:

    Tom – I’m one of those who believe that God, in his infinite wisdom may one day decide that the Church wll ordain women. Until then, I’ll go along with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The RCWP (They all seem like nice ladies) have simply formed another religion which is not Roman Catholicism. Lots of folks have done that starting, I think, with a guy named Luther. I become concerned however when minority groups within the Chruch push to limit the legitimate roles of half our faithful. A friend of mine once had to walk through a picket line in front of his own parish protesting girls as alter servers (His daughter was one of the servers)Some still have a problem with women on the altar in ANY capacity. Would women adminstrators with real power over priestly personell matters have done a better job with the sex abuse scandal than many of our Bishops? I suspect so. Finally, the day may come when we just don’t have enough priests to provide the sacramants to a huge proportion of the faithful (The big cities will be ok but those in rural areas may see a priest once a month or less.)When this time comes, women will be needed to lead communion services and maybe (dare I say) serve as Deacons (Er..um REAL Deacons not RCWP ordinands). The question is, will the Church accept them?

    1. Tom Crowe says:

      Interesting theory, Greg Smith. Of course, it assumes a) that priesthood is a “legitimate role” that is, or could be, open to women; and b) that God will cease providing for the Church in the manner in which He has provided since her inception with regard to men willing to be priests. I do hope you realize that you simply have a false conception of the nature of Church and the nature of the priesthood if you sincerely hold that at any point in the future the Church will reverse course on this matter. That is not my “minority opinion,” but the established (i.e., unchanging and unchangeable) position of the Church. ——— Female altar servers and women on the altar as readers or extraordinary ministers of holy communion are an all together different matter since Holy Orders is not involved. Those are, in fact, matters of custom and discipline; Holy Orders, by its very founding by Christ as an all-male priesthood (and, by extension, diaconate), is not a matter of custom or discipline.

      1. Greg Smith says:

        Dear Tom: I don’t hold that at any time in the futire the Church *will* reverse couirse on this matter. That decision, if it ever came to pass would as I understand it it made by God Himself. He has said no to women priests. As his children continue to evolve might he decide it’s time for all kinds of changs. We of course don’t and can’t know. One priest sugusted to me that for the Church to ordain women, God would have to change His mind. It struck me that there was perhaps one instance where He did, that being the wedding feast at Cana, at the urging of His Mother. ~~~ BTW is your comment that the ban on women priests extends to the diaconate based on the content of a specific Church document or the logical extrapolation from one? Best regards, Greg

        1. Tom Crowe says:

          Greg– The nature of the diaconate as an extension of the bishop’s sacramental service in the diocese precludes the inclusion of women. ——— You’re suggesting that God can change. Introducing change into God over time is usually called “Process theology” and it is a heresy.

          1. Vincent says:

            Not only CAN the Church ordain women to the diaconate, it HAS. Scripture tells us that Phoebe was a deacon and we have numerous records form the early Church of other women who served as deacons. We also have the texts of the rites that were used to ordain women at several points in Church history.

          2. Richard A says:

            The women referred to as ‘deaconesses’ in Scripture and early Church history did not perform the same ministry as male deacons, and they were not sacramentally ordained.

          3. Vincent says:

            I see. So when scripture says Phoebe was a “deacon” it doesn’t really mean deacon. And when scripture says Junia was an “apostle” (in fact “great among the apostles”), it doesn’t really mean apostle. And when the Church’s own rites ordaining women as deaconesses refer to the woman to be “ordained” and insists that God “dost not reject women consecrating themselves to fitting service in thy holy temples, but admittest them into the order of thy ministers” (Codex Barberini, 8th century)… the Church didn’t really mean that. These strike me more as wishful thinking rather than as serious arguments. On almost any other issue with so much clear language from scripture and tradition, the Church would insist on following that language. Indeed, many Catholic doctrines are based on much thinner scriptural testimony than this.

          4. Tom Crowe says:

            Vincent– Nope. But it seems you believe either a) you are a more authoritative interpreter of Scripture than the Church; or b) believe the Church apostatized somewhere along the line on something so fundamental. If either of those is the case I do hope you’ve realized that your faith is not that of the Catholic Church and live accordingly.

          5. John Church says:

            Pheobe is sort of like a boy named Sue. Her’s was merely an honorary title. Sort of like an Abbess who holds a bishops mitre though does not merit the authority of a bishop.

          6. Vincent says:

            For all of you hitting “dislike” on my above comment: You can dislike history all you want; it’s still true.

          7. Tom Crowe says:

            For the record, I didn’t hit “dislike” on any of your comments. I find your interpretation of history and the Church’s teaching and Tradition to be lacking, but it’s not a matter of liking or disliking.

        2. Richard A says:

          “It struck me that there was perhaps one instance where He did (ie., change His mind), that being the wedding feast at Cana, at the urging of His Mother.”

          Please read the gospels more carefully. Our Lord did nothing to indicate that He did would not take care of the situation.

          I suggest that you view Mary in this interchange as a type of the Church. It is not Christ’s intention that He would provide a comprehensive and specific listing of His will in every situation. Our separated brethren significantly misunderstand the Scriptures, and the Church, because they take the Scriptures to be exactly that. Our Lord left us the Church, which like Mary at Cana, is able to declare Christ’s will, because she knows Christ’s will. It seems to me that Christ wants His bride to take the initiative in many cases in declaring His will, because “he who hears you hears Me.” Note: it (whatever ‘it’ is) does not become His will because the Church declares it, but the Church is able to declare it with the authority of Christ Himself, because she perfectly knows His will.

          Knowing this, and knowing the God does not change His mind, we know that male-only orders is God’s will until the second coming of Christ in glory.

    2. Ted Seeber says:

      Here’s something that should calm fears of running out of priests. I grew up within 12 miles of a seminary. When I was in high school in the 1980s, that seminary was graduating classes of 2 a year. This year, as a Knight of Columbus on the Degree Teams- we’ve got 6 seminarians that belong to our council going to that seminary graduating this year, and I’ll be going down there April 2nd because Knights of Columbus has become a part of their 3rd year formation. When I went last year, 35 young men from 3rd year seminary became Knights.

      Not all of those will become priests- but when they do so, they’ll know they have the support of the Knights of Columbus- because we’ve taught them that in the degrees and proved it to them with scholarships while they’re in seminary.

      The number of conservative, right minded young men entering seminary has gone up significantly. It will take a while to work through the priest shortage, but the future is bright.

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