Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Not Up For Discussion: Women Priests in The Catholic Church

Those are the stern words of Pope Francis:

“The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion,” the Pope said, “but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.”

That makes me feel all confused.  Christ is the spouse who gives himself?  To whom?  To women?  To male priests?  To the whole congregation?  And why would Christ's image as a spouse exclude women from the priesthood?  Or is it the male priest who acts the role of the spouse?  But then is that only to the women in the congregation or everybody?

The idea that sacramental power shouldn't be too closely identified with power in general at first looks fascinating.  But then the general power in the Catholic Church is also in the hands of those male priests, male cardinals and a male Pope.  Perhaps Pope Francis will change all that, as he hints at?  Or perhaps not.

Pope Francis does give a nod to the idea that women might have special genius!  Which I like a lot, because very, very few people actually have any kind of genius, and now he assigns it to half of humanity!  The half which is not allowed to be the head:

“The ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people, yet our great dignity derives from baptism, which is accessible to all,” Pope Francis said. “The configuration of the priest to Christ the head — namely, as the principal source of grace — does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others.”
Although the function of the priesthood is considered “hierarchical,” Pope Francis said it is ordered not towards domination, but towards serving the members of the Church. He explained further that the authority of the priesthood is rooted in service and has its origin in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

But women have specific feminine genius, they do!  They are more intuitive and sensitive and caring, partly because of motherhood!  So there.  No need to be intuitive, sensitive or caring as a priest, I guess.

I find all this logically inconsistent, and also not consistent with the Pope's recent statements about the need to focus on marginalized people, on the poor, on economic inequality and so on.  Hierarchies are just fine in some areas, not in other areas.
Added later:  Pope Francis also tells us that the Catholic Church's position on abortion will never change.  This is because:

While the Church’s defense of life is often presented as an “ideological, obscurantist and conservative” position, he said, “this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right.”
“It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.”

But the Catholic Church will not accept an abortion even for rape victims or, as far as I understand it, to save the woman's life.  Thus, what is always sacred and inviolable is not the human being who is carrying the fetus.  ---  This matters for the general understanding of Francis' views on us, the half of humanity with special genius!