Wednesday, June 26, 2013


When I was stationed at St. Teresa's Church in Albany (All-Benny), Georgia from 1980 to 1985, we had some very famous neighbors, although one was not yet famous, Paula Deen. But there was another family about 20 miles away in Plains, Georgia, who was quite famous. The Jimmy Carter family. His mother, Miss Lillian was legendary.

She was a good old Southern Baptist but very friendly with the Franciscan priests who staffed the very nearby Catholic parish in Americus, Georgia. It was there that I met Miss Lillian who would attend the annual Memorial Day Mass held at Andersonville National Cemetery. She was enamored with things Catholic and Catholic priests but staunchly Southern Baptist in a very nice ecumenical way.

Yet any southern knows that their lies deep in the souls of southerns an innate prejudice inherited from their forebears. Many try to overcome it by living exemplary lives and moving on. The Carter family would be a case in point certainly. Part of the prejudices of the white southerner apart from racial prejudice is prejudice against the Catholic Church, a no-nothing sort of prejudice. They approach the Catholic Church from their own narrow Protestant point of view that isn't very deep theologically.

Thus we have President Jimmy Carter making some very prejudicial statements about the Catholic Church but he doesn't realize it just like Paula Deen doesn't realize her own innate racial prejudice that she knows is wrong but is so innate within her she can't shake it when push comes to shove.

So, not knowing or understanding that that Catholic dogma of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church will never permit women to be ordain priests since the priest during the sacraments "acts" in the Person of Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, this is what Jimmy Carter's innate prejudice towards Catholics which is based in ignorance leads him to say:

"Well, religion can be, and I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God. What has been the case for many centuries is that the great religions, the major religions, have discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion and set an example for the rest of society to treat women as secondary citizens. In a marriage or in the workplace or wherever, they are discriminated against. And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God.

This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. This is wrong, I think."

"To repeat myself in a way, I think that what the major religious leaders say is used by others who discriminate against women as justification for their human rights abuse. For instance if an employer, who might be otherwise enlightened, if he is a religious person and he sees that, he might be a Catholic, and a Catholic does not let women be priests, then why should he pay his women employees an equal pay [as men]?"

Shades of Paula Deen anyone?


Pater Ignotus said...

No, there are no shades of Paula Deen in Carter's comments.

When an organization or an individual member of that organization, such as yourself, Good Father, become overly self-referential, that organization or individual tends to see any criticism from outside (or inside, for that matter) as a threat or an attack. Your characterization of President Carter's remarks as based on prejudice against the Catholic Church is an example of this kind of self-referential fueled overreaction.

And it is silly, too.

Many who have no prejudice against the Church share Carter's views. They are not exhibiting behavior based on prejudice, but a sincere disagreement with the Church's policy as it now stands.

Now, if the Catholic who responds is overwhelmed with self-reference, as you seem to be, he/she will hit all the alarm buttons and shriek "PREJUDICE AGAINST CATHOLICS" as if he/she were some latter-day Paul Revere warning the Faithful that the Devil is coming.

A side note: As a Southerner I completely reject your assertion that "any southern (sic) knows that their (sic) lies deep in the souls of southerns (sic) an innate prejudice inherited from their forebears."

Maybe your Italian and Canadian forebears passed prejudice on to you. My Southern forebears did not pass prejudice on to me and my four siblings.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Your defensiveness in terms of your heritage sounds awfully self-referential and what you accuse me of which of course is preposterous except in your case.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - I am not defending anything. I am correcting your erroneous belief - itself a prejudice - that those of us blessed to be Southerners by birth are raised with prejudice. That is simply not the case across the board.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Oh PI, please tell us of the maids you had growing up. My parents were shocked at this southern custom and the poor wages and the way they were treated by some.

Gene said...

Carter was an embarrassment to the South and to the nation. The only weaker President than Carter is Obama, who makes Carter look like Reagan.

Yankees are just as prejudiced against blacks as southerners, and blacks are just as racist as any redneck out of Bugeye, Alabama.

All this Paula Deen crap and liberals wailing "racism" every five minutes is nothing but a Leftist war against individualism, regionalism, and the Western Judaeo-Christian heritage, which is primarily Caucasian. Too're white, you created the the richest cultural, literary, artistic, and industrial civilization in history and your forebears fought and died to protect it. Get over it and quit feeling guilty about it and trying to give it away to people who can't understand or appreciate it and who do not know how to manage it. That is insane and, if you are in that camp, remember that when you give it all away they are going to destroy it and probably kill you in the bargain. Get a brain, please...

Hammer of Fascists said...

Gene: Obama isn't a weak president. That's one of the major problems. His heavy-handed use of executive authority is the culmination (so far) of the long trend towards the imperial presidency.

Pater: If one defines "prejudice" as "an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics," I agree with you to an extent. But if one defines it as "preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience," then Carter's remarks show him to be both prejudiced and ignorant of some of the basic points of Catholic theology, if not Christian theology in general. I often hear these arguments from professing Christians who have been conditioned from birth by the Whig view of history, i.e., that we as a society are "progressing" towards something better and that (in effect) God has to change in order to keep up with the progress or else we'll make him change or dethrone him (a very simplistic statement, but then, the thinking of these people is often simplistic). Obama's attack on Catholic schools a week or two ago is another manifestation of this phenomenon. I've no doubt that if these people had free rein they'd have no problem at all with putting these prejudices into effect by legally forcing the Church to "ordain" women. The type of prejudice they have is quite sufficient for that.

Fr. McD: I second Gene's statement. Historically, the vast majority of northern whites have always been just as racist as southern whites, but often they've been more hypocritical about it.
The Abolitionists were a very small minority; the rest of the North (along with some hypocritical abolitionists) was happy to grow rich off of Southern cotton culture, which pretty much drove the national economy until 1860. Northern shipping interests ran the slave import trade, which was the most despicable part of the whole system of slavery in America. Legal segregation began in the North. "Separate but Equal" first appears in Massachusetts law. Northerners also ostracized blacks when they arrived in numbers during WWI, forcing them into segregated communities where whites wouldn't have to have any dealings with them (e.g., Harlem). Nearly every major race riot took place outside the South. KKK activity in Ohio and Indiana eclipsed that of many southern states. And if you want to talk about discrimination against Catholics, the Irish, and Central Europeans, look no further than the big northern port cities. But you don't often see these things emphasized in basic history texts because most of them are written by leftist northern whites.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - Does having African-Americans in your employ make you a racist? What a silly, silly notion.

We did not have "maids," we had one maid, Ms. Ethel Simmons. She worked as our maid (and nanny to me) for 24 years. You have NO idea what she was paid or how she was treated. Your assumption that she was paid poorly or treated badly is based on nothing more than your own ignorance. And that is ignorance of 1) the facts and 2) the people you are disparaging.

Carter is free to criticize the pope, the Patriarch of Constantinople, or the grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa. Your error is to ascribe his (or anyone else's) criticism to prejudice. And this is a result of your being over self-referential.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

A-5 right on and the context you describe is exactly as I meant it. He doesn't know his prejudice because of ignorance of Catholic dogma.

Gene said...

Ignotus, Yo' Mammy ain't whupped you 'nuff when you wuz little, no suh!

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - " Gene said...
Ignotus, Yo' Mammy ain't whupped you 'nuff when you wuz little, no suh! June 26, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Predictable and true to character.

John Nolan said...

Traditionally, anti-Catholic prejudice was based on Protestant assumptions, viz:
1. Catholicism was irrational and superstitious, and taught errors that could not be justified by Scripture or the traditions of the early Church.
2. Catholicism was cruel and repressive, persecuting the people of God (ie Protestants) for such things as owning an English bible.
3. Catholics could not be trusted since their primary allegiance was to a foreign potentate, and their confessors taught them the Jesuit practice of equivocation.

What is interesting about Carter's criticism of the Catholic Church, however ignorant and illogical it may be, is that it is now less likely to be heard from Protestants, but is the general currency of some who actually regard themselves as Catholics, and not a few of them are professed religious (LCWR, anyone?)

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - First, I don't agree that President Obama "attacked" Catholic schools in Ireland. He was speaking against religious segregation, not Catholic schools per se.

Obama said. “If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”

Catholic schools, in this country at least, are not religiously segregated. And our religiously integrated schools have done much to help overcome the fear and resentment that the President referred to and warned against.

I cannot speak to the Irish practice.

President Carter may be ignorant of the basis for the Church's policy of not ordaining women. Or, he may be well aware of it and simply does not accept it as definitive or even sensible.

But to JUMP to the conclusion, as Good Father McDonald has done, that Carter is acting on a prejudice against Catholics that is ingrained in him because he hails from South Georgia is, as I said, just silly.

It is as silly as his suggestion that all Southerners were raised with religious and racial prejudices. That is simply not true no matter what his sainted parents thought of white families with maids.

Jumping to conclusions like this is, I believe, a product of being overly self-referential, leading a person to see an "attack" in or "prejudice" behind any criticism, no matter how sincerely held.

HIram Walker said...





For heaven's sake, do you have ANY idea how backward that sounds? Talk about a term loaded with prejudice! What's next? Accusations of "outsiders with bad hygiene"?

I'm sure you already know this, but if you visit most European countries and they find out you are an American, they won't care if you are from Minnesota or Mississippi, they'll still call you the same name: Yankee.

Can we please get over all this civil war--oh, I'm sorry--I mean "war between the states" stuff?

Hiram Walker said...


One more thing: You're right about non-southerners and prejudice against black people. I would venture to say that in many places outside the south, anti-black prejudice is much more intense. It just wears a different face.

rcg said...

There is nothing wrong with being a Yankee as long it is someone other than me. People succumb to the attacks of the bigot to then deny what they are: Southerner, Black, Yankee, etc. Each is a gift from God. So is a sense of humour. You can only be offended if you are ashamed of what you are.

Carter is probably ignorant of Catholicism because he is from South Georgia, to the same extent he is ignorant about driving on snow. The only harm is that he is so foolish to assume to instruct on it. Protestants teach mistakes about Catholicism on purpose. It is part of their doctrine. Again, no big deal until they know better.

Sit in a small town Georgia coffee shop and you will meet wonderful kind people. Engage them in a conversation about blacks or Catholicism and many, probably most, will have loads of incorrect ideas. It is just true. And they are not bad people for it. Do the same in Brooklyn, NY and the same will happen. People are people, we just think we are different.

Hammer of Fascists said...


Obama's stance towards the Catholic Church is well-known. His administration, running-mate, and appointees have shown a hostility to Catholic identity and free exercise that is unprecedented for an American chief executive. Protestantism--divided, and shot through with modernism, ancd co-opted by the spirit of the age--poses no threat to him, so his mention of Protestants was merely to give the impression of impartiality. If you really think that his statement does not reflect, at least in part, a hostility to Catholicism, well, you're entitled to your opinion.

Additionally, what Obama knows about Catholic/Protestant relations and their history in Northern Ireland would likely fit into a thimble--he had no business making such pontifications anyway, but he undoubtedly knew that they'd be reported on in the US--just like when he was campaigning for president in Germany in 2008.

Our "religiously integrated schools" have also gone far towards diluting Catholic identity and socializing Catholics with American values that are hostile to Catholicism. The idea is to evangelize the world, not be co-opted by it. Are we Americans who happen to be Catholic (bad) or Catholics who happen to be American (good, or at least better)? All non-Catholic American education is likely biased towards the former, and it shows.

I've jumped to no conclusions at all. I've taken Carter's statements at face value. Based on his words, either he's aware of the teaching, thinks it's wrong, and is irrationally hostile to it ("irrationally" because it's an inherently rational doctrine according to the natural law), in which case he's prejudiced in one sense, or he's making ignorant statements about the Church, in which case he's prejudiced in another sense. Based on my own experiences teaching hundreds of Southern Baptists, as well as my education at Baptist schools and the Baptist theology I've read, my educated guess is that Carter doesn't know jack rabbit about Catholic theology and its underpinnings, cares less about them, and is thus prejudiced in the latter sense.

Gene said...

Ignotus said, "Predictable and true to character."

Predictable and true to character. LOL!

Jgr said...

I'm at once surprised and not-surprised by what Mr Carter said.
Coming from a less knowledgable and educated man one could chalk it up to ignorance. Some of this kind of talk comes from false teaching about Catholicism which infuses some
strains of Protestantism although it is not as prevalent today (I would think) as when Mr.
Carter was growing up in South Georgia. There are a lot of good books out there on Catholicism. Certainly he could pick a couple up and read them?
As far as Catholic schools, for years now they have been educating large numbers of Protestant children
because of their reputation for not putting up with nonsense and giving
a good quality education as opposed to what passes for instruction in the Government schools. So are they segregated? No. Divisive? If by that you mean that they stand against the generally prevailing social, moral and educational current. Yes.

Gene said...

Anonymous 5, The fact that Obama is heavy handed is indicative of his weakness. Several political commentators have mentioned that Obama does not know how to, go to Congress and negotiate, nor does he have confidence in his ability to be persuasive with seasoned politicians. All he can do is use executive orders and ham-fisted methods. This is not even mentioning that foreign governments consider him a laughing stock. Obama has no foreign policy other than bowing and scraping before other national leaders. It really is reminiscent of the old shuck and jive acts. Why China has not made its play for Taiwan or North Korea made their's for South Korea is beyond me. This would be the time because Obama would be helpless to deal with it. Maybe they are afraid of Russia or something.

Saul Alinsky said...

It looks like Pater Ignotus is still on the Obama bandwagon....which makes me think he probably voted for him and his henchmen in 2012.

Saul Alinsky said...

It looks like Pater Ignotus is still on the Obama bandwagon....which makes me think he probably voted for him and his henchmen in 2012.

Marc said...

I just want to be sure no one missed this I sight into Fr. Kavanaugh's thought process vis-a-vis the de file dogma of the male only priesthood:

"They are not exhibiting behavior based on prejudice, but a sincere disagreement with the Church's policy as it now stands."

Marc said...

And lest you think Fr. Kavanaugh just had a slip of the tongue, in his later comment he reiterates his heterodox view on the de fide dogma on the all male priesthood:

"President Carter may be ignorant of the basis for the Church's policy of not ordaining women."

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - Yes it is our policy - "a proposed or adopted course or principle of action" - not to ordain women.

Lest you think it is not our policy...

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, is the all male ordained priesthood a de fide doctrine of the Church - yes or no?

Anonymous 2 said...

Rcg said: “Sit in a small town Georgia coffee shop and you will meet wonderful kind people. Engage them in a conversation about blacks or Catholicism and many, probably most, will have loads of incorrect ideas. It is just true. And they are not bad people for it.”

Anon 5 said: “Based on my own experiences teaching hundreds of Southern Baptists, as well as my education at Baptist schools and the Baptist theology I've read, my educated guess is that Carter doesn't know jack rabbit about Catholic theology and its underpinnings, cares less about them, and is thus prejudiced in the latter sense.”

Both make the same good point that argably highlights (a) one of the benefits of ecumenical dialogue, both official and unofficial, which, pace Jgr, is often a much more effective way to communicate than reading books, and (b) the value of less formal pronouncements about settled issues by a Pope who has general appeal and whose words are widely reported, pace Gene in the next thread.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - Is not ordaining women the policy, as defined at 8:06 PM on 26June, of the Catholic Church? Yes or no.

Marc said...

Father - given your definition of policy, I would say that it's decidedly not a policy since Christ did not "propose" this doctrine for us and we did not "adopt it" since it was lowered to us in the deposit of Faith. It is also not a principle of action because it is simply handed on to us from the Apostolic Tradition.

The celibate priesthood is a policy; the all male priesthood is not. Is the infallibility of the Pope a policy? Is the teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion a policy? How about the hypostatic union of the Divine Personhood of our Lord? The Holy Trinity? The Real Presence? Are these policies?

So, I answer your question clearly and definitively - no. And I ask you to answer mine - is the all male ordained priesthood a de fide doctrine of the Church?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

While policy could be used in the canonical or juridical sense of the word as it applies to canon law, it is not the same kind of "policy" as the ordination of only celibate men, which is a policy but one that can juridically be altered or changed. Not so with women's ordination. The prohibition is not only canonical, but dogmatic and of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church where no pope, since a pope is not a monarch, can change, the pope powers are definitely curtailed--let me repeat, he is not a monarch.

Pater Ignotus said...

marc - So you are suggesting that not ordaining women is not a "course of principle or action" that the Church follows?

Do you have some knowledge or information that has not been shared with the rest of us?
It seems to me that not ordaining women is, indeed, our policy.

And I think "policy" describes very accurately our course of action.

Marc said...

Can you not answer a simple yes or no question?

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I am not subject to your inquisitorial posturing or your judgment.

As experience here has shown (I refer here to your significant misunderstanding of Quo Primum and your ignorance of the symbolism of the lily in Catholic iconography, among other examples), you are not exactly the arbiter of orthodoxy that you think you are.

I am quite comfortable saying that it is not the policy of the Catholic Church to ordain women. If you wish to state in another way, have at it!

Marc said...

I readily admit that I am not an arbiter of orthodoxy. As I have proven time and again in my discussion with you and others on this blog, when I am shown that I am wrong, I will freely admit it, just as I did in the two examples you cited about Quo Primum and the symbolism of the lily.

And I further recognize that you aren't subject to my questions. However, that is the way discussions work - through mutual quesitons and answers. I hope as the diocesan director of inter religious dialogue, you have learned how to converse with those of different religions.

You seem to have a problem, though, dialoguing with your fellow Catholics. While that, coupled with your pretentiousness, cause me to pause, I can't say I'm overly concerned because (1) you likewise have no authority over me, and (2) your faults will only affect your diocese, which is not my own.

As to the question at hand, you stated that it is policy of the Church not to ordain women at this time. This is an odd thing for a Catholic priest to say because it is simply not true. It is the revealed, de fide doctrine of the Catholic Church never to ordain women at any time, ever. Perhaps you wish to state this equivocally because it helps with your interreligious and ecumenical dialogue... If that is your position, what harm is there in saying so?

Instead, you always see others as out to get you or put you to the test. Your heterodoxy does bother me: I won't hide that fact. But, if you're going to be heterodox, at least be man enough to stand by your position or to clarify the point. Equivocation is a disservice to dialogue, as you should know. As is evidenced here, instead of discussing the actual point, we have to discuss your inability to have a conversation or to be clear in your thoughts.

At any rate, I am not one for interreligious dialogue, so I'll stop dialoguing with you now. If you see fit to propound your position on this matter vis-a-vis the doctine of the Church, I'll be waiting to discuss that issue. Something tells me you lack the courage of your convictions, though, and are prevented from speaking clearly. And that speaks volumes in this instance, as it demonstrates that this Catholic priest, that is you, Fr. Kavanaugh, doesn't believe the doctrine of the Church on this point and anticipates in the future the Church will reverse the doctine and ordain women to the priesthood.

Anonymous 2 said...

How did a remark by Father Kavanaugh about the ignorance of our fellow Christians in the South regarding the Catholic Church turn into yet another witch hunt of him? Is he related to Paula Deen by any chance?

May I suggest a simple resolution of this semantic dispute?:

Dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church -- Only men can be ordained priests because etc, etc.[Ordinatio Sacerdotalis].

Resulting policy, i.e., resulting “adopted course or principle of action” of the Catholic Church – The Catholic Church only ordains men to the priesthood.

Is everybody happy now?

Anonymous 2 said...

Marc: Your latest post only appeared after I had enabled mine to the Blog. So, I now see your additional concern. As to that, obviously Pater Ignotus is quite capable of speaking for himself, and I do not claim to have privileged insight into his thinking, but it may be worth observing that describing “the Church’s policy” by the phrase “as it now stands” could be construed to mean “as it stands after definitive clarification by Pope John Paul II” and not necessarily “until it is changed.”

That said, however, I would also note the following passage in the Wikipedia discussion of the issue (sorry for the quick source):

“Whatever argument is used in favor of the priestly ordination of women, there is the problem of reconciling this position with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has stated that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, while not ex cathedra, authoritatively and bindingly teaches that: (1) the Church cannot ordain women as priests due to divine law; and that (2) this doctrine has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium. According to section 25 of the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, the "ordinary and universal magisterium" is exercised by "the Pope in union with the bishops". In other words, according to the Congregation, it is an instance of the Pope "publicising" what he and the other bishops, as the ordinary and universal magisterium' have already consistently taught through the ages.

“Since the encyclical Humani Generis, it is well known that the Roman Pontiff can, by his own authority, settle a theological question via a fallible papal teaching that is nonetheless sufficiently authoritative to end all debate on the matter. This is what has occurred with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in regard to point (1), according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Thus, theological debate on whether women can be ordained as priests is no longer seen by the Church as permitted for Catholics, and the arguments in favor of ordaining women to the priesthood in this section are termed a "dissenting position" and qualifies, under the Catechism's definition, as heresy.

“Some theologians have questioned how this debate-ending authority can apply to point (2), which they contend is a matter not of faith or morals, but a factual matter relative to teachings promulgated by all the bishops of the Catholic Church over its two thousand year history. These theologians argue that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis does not provide historical facts sufficient to ensure infallibility by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, nor any indication of how those historical facts were verified. Because of these issues it is argued that, if it is indeed possible for the Church to ordain women to the priesthood, this would not contradict the Church's dogma regarding infallible teachings.”

Interestingly, the type of argument made in the third paragraph seems, broadly speaking at least, to be the type of argument made against certain documents of Vatican II, i.e., they are questioned in light of the historical record within the Church. However, even if theoretically the position of the Church could change in the future because of this underlying “constitutional” issue, for now it seems clear that we must accept the position in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

BTW I do not know how accurate the above account actually is nor do I know what Father Kavanaugh or Father McDonald would think about it and I certainly do not expect them to respond unless they wish to do so. I am not seeking to provoke an argument about the ordination of women but simply to draw your attention to an interesting argument FWIIW, especially as one lawyer to another, since it seems to be a peculiarly legal type argument.

Marc said...

Anonymous 2, I am glad your latest post got posted before what I had typed, which lacked charity. Since you've responded to me with charity, I shall offer you the same.

There is no legitimate question that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is an exercise of the Pope's ex cathedra authority. All the conditions for the exercise of that authority are met. Those who argue to the contrary are the same who doubt whether Humanae Vitae is ex cathedra.

This is different than the documents of Vatican II and the questioning of their level of authority, but I understand how one might come to the erroneous conclusion that they are analogous.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I do not agree that it is wrong to say that ordaining women is not the policy of the Catholic Church. Not ordaining women is our "course of action." There is no equivocation in that statement.

I am not heterodox and, again, you are not competent to make such a judgment. And if you really believe that, you have an obligation to report my "heterodoxy" to the bishop of this diocese, regardless of where you reside at the moment. Be "man enough" to send a copy of your complaint to me, if you please.

You may conclude whatever you want to conclude from my refusal to allow you be the judge of my orthodoxy.

Marc said...

As our Lord said, "I am the proposed or adopted course, the policy, and the principle of action. No one comes to the Father except through Me. This is the policy for now."

John Nolan said...

'Policy' is probably not the right word to use; it has political connotations, and we all know that a change of administration usually results in policy changes. It would be better to say "It is not the practice of the Catholic Church to ordain women" which avoids controversy.

Twenty years ago, when the Church of England voted to ordain women as priests, those who opposed it did so, ceteris paribus, because they believed that the Anglican Church did not have the authority to do so. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis reiterated the Church's position that she had no authority whatsoever to confer ordination on women, a position shared by the Orthodox and other apostolic Churches. Even if the Church were to accept that there were no intrinsic reasons why women shouldn't be priests (and this is unlikely) she would still have to be sure, without a scintilla of doubt, that she possessed the requisite authority to ordain them. Even a 99.9% certainty would not suffice.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Pater: If I may, and, hopefully, dodging the heat that has developed between you and Marc, why did you choose to use the term "policy" as opposed to "doctrine?" And why did you qualify it with the phrase "as it now stands?" Do you see "policy" and "doctrine" in this context as synonyms? Or do you believe that the all-male priesthood is in fact something that can change, as your comment on its face suggests? I'm genuinely interested in hearing your answer. I'd also be interested in your view of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

Without commenting on the other content of Marc's posts, I will say that I'm in agreement with his sentiment that nobody here ought to obfuscate about a matter under discussion. Heaven knows I myself don't, at least not intentionally. I've constantly appealed on this blog for reasoned debate, but that's hard to achieve without people being open about stuff. If all we want to do is take potshots at each other and play out the stereotypical responses found any number of places on the net, then obfuscation is fine. I think that all of the regular contributors here can pretty much predict exactly what the others will say in any given situation, and in the end we all end up uncharitably mad at each other. But if we want to have an open and honest debate, let's be . . . open and honest.

If your statement really is evidence that you believe Ordinatio Sacerdotalis isn't ex cathedra, or at least reflective of the de fide nature of the subject it discusses, then by all means let's discuss why. If by your statement you mean something else, then please tell us.

I may speak bluntly about things and I may tell people when I think they're wrong, but I have always tried to have civil and mutually enlightening discussions, and I hope you'll take this as my invitation to another one and not some attempt to "get" you. It's not my intention to get evidence with which to report you to the bishop, and even if I did report you, I doubt that anything would come of it.

Marc said...

I think something I intended to include in one of my comments didn't quite make it through my revisions, and perhaps, that is why Fr. Kavanaugh and I fell into this semantics dispute...

I equate the usage "policy" with "discipline" in Church parlance. And here I owe a sincere debt to Fr. Kavanaugh (and I am being serious) for bringing to my attention the difference between discipline and doctrine. His explanation of that difference in our discussions has been quite helpful to me.

So, when he is using the word "policy," I read that as "discipline" and therefore, changeable. That is why I earlier used the example of priestly celibacy, something unquestionably a discipline that is changeable. Perhaps he doesn't necessarily make that same semantic correlation. And perhaps by "policy," he means something closer to or synonymous with "doctrine."

If he wishes to explain what he meant, that is his prerogative.

I admit, there is a lot of suspicion of each other on this blog. And I do not help by my comments. I hope you'll forgive me, a sinner -- and understand that my defensiveness comes from a place of love for the Faith, but that doesn't excuse the part I play in fostering animosity.

Hammer of Fascists said...


I meant no chastisement of you. Well, no particular chastisement: I think that all of the regulars here, and certainly the trolls, have at one time or another been uncharitable, and sometimes considerably so. A couple of weeks ago I resolved to quit reading this blog when I decided it had become a near occasion of sin for me (this after a heated exchange with an Anonymous), yet here I am, since things calmed down a bit.

You point out something important and in line with all of my appeals to quit using the terms "left" and "right" in this context. "Policy" sounded very odd to my ears as well. I think that it shows the degree of crisis that the Church is in when we have to worry over the usage of a single word, or when the substitution of one word for another generates so much heat. Homoousia, filioque, and theotokos all had bishops throwing furniture at each other in their day. The difference, of course, was that when they were brawling, the doctrines being brawled over hadn't yet been defined. When we--er, discuss--words like subsistence or the VII use of ecumenism, its because those words at the very least have the appearance of running contrary to defined doctrine.

A word like "policy," used in the current context instead of something more conventional like "doctrine" or "discipline," legitimately sounds an alarm for two reasons: 1) it comes across as an attempt to equivocate as to a doctrine of the Faith, or worse, and 2) it drags in a lot of secular political connotations, suggesting that the writer may in fact view theology/doctrine as being like secular concepts. I thus think your concern over the use is valid, and I'm surprised I didn't pick up on it--my only excuse was that I was reading quickly at the time.

I suppose I could fault you for being too judgmental and quick on the trigger regarding Pater, based on y'all's past disagreements. As I've reminded everyone in the past, Pater is a priest and deserves respect (and in recent months you've been doing much better with that). But, on the other hand, Pater could--if he wished--defuse the situation immediately by explaining briefly how his use of the term relates to more standard theological/canonical terms and concepts (de fide, doctrine, discipline, etc.), or instead simply stipulating to the substitution of "doctrine" for "policy,"but so far he hasn't been interested in doing that. Instead, he's dug in his heels regarding a suspect term, choosing to turn it into a semantical Stalingrad rather then to have a serious discussion on the deeper issue. Thus, he's just as much at fault as you. If he's trying to have a mutually enlightening discussion, he's going about it the wrong way; if he's just trying to push your buttons (and he knows very well what they are and how to push them by now), then he's being uncharitable.

Some people here have apparently developed a rather low view of me as a mean-spirited, arrogant ignoramus. (I don't think of myself as such, and while I have people who don't like me in person, I don't think any of them would describe me with those particular pejoratives.) Nevertheless, my occasional appeals on this thread to the better angels of our nature are genuine. I'm a teacher, and I firmly (if naively) believe in the power of reason to discover truth. But we all have to contribute to the process in order for it to work. Unfortunately, we all have at one time or another--and sometimes frequently--acted like children on this thread. The simple cure for that is for us to stop acting like children, but each of us has to commit to cleaning up his act in order for that to work. Yes, you may be a sinner, but all here have sinned.

Gene said...

Kavanaugh is not capable of giving simple, honest answers to anyone. He has dodged, prevaricated, and waffled in every theological discussion in which I have attempted to engage him, just as he is prevaricating with Marc and Anon 5. Pitifully and predictably, Anon 2 rushes to his defense, but that is another problem. Certainly Kavanaugh is screams at you from the history of his comments on this blog. I doubt seriously if he believes the articles of the Creed. He would never admit it, though, because what would he do if he were not a Priest? He has a cushy life, sheltered, social status, and is probably surrounded by sycophants in his own parish. He isn't about to give all that up by being forthcoming with anyone on this blog. What would he do? They aren't hiring down at Wal Mart, and I hear the tire store is laying people off.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anonymous 5 - Fretting over the use of one word is not, I think, a sign that the Church is in "crisis." You rightly recall that the fretting, a few centuries ago, was over not one WORD but one LETTER - the IOTA - as the Church was figuring out the relationship between the Father and the Son. So I do not agree that fretting over words is a sign of crisis.

It is a sign, however, that we, with our limited understanding, have always struggled and will always struggle to understand God's revelation to us. Some want utter clarity in everything, so they bemoan what they perceive to be a lack of clarity in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. (I do not share that perception, as you will have gathered.) Some are less concerned with the clarity of written texts and emphasize, instead, the action of the Church in caring for "the widow, the orphan, and the stranger."

Recall Matthew 25 in which we are told that we will be judged worthy (or not) to enter heaven based on the clarity of our texts. Well, not quite...

Some want the Church to be more authoritative, smashing people over the head with excommunications, anathemas, "Canon 915," and an occasional faldstool. Some are more comfortable with a Church that is less into trying to force people into accepting the gift of salvation and more inclined to invite and encourage them to accept the gift. (You will not be surprised to find that I fall into the latter category.)

Now, to the question at hand. I believe that the Church could, if guided to do so by the Holy Spirit, ordain women to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Am I lobbying for such a change? No. Do I preach about the woes of wrongly excluded women in the Church? No. Do I think any of us might live to see such a development in our Church's policy? Highly unlikely. But, to quote Captain Corcoran, "The prospect is Elysian.".

Pin/Gene - I take being called "heterodox" by someone who skips mass when he wants to, calls African-Americans a "Feral Minority," and denigrates the dignity of women with derogatory "jokes" a high compliment. Thank you.

Gene said...

Ignotus, none of things you cite regarding my comments represent heterodoxy. Not only that, I mentioned that I skipped Mass once because of the deplorable manner in which it is celebrated in that parish, then later confessed my sin. You, a Priest (sort of), will not acknowledge my confession and penance, but continue to re-visit a sin for which I have received absolution. Odd behavior for a Priest, I would think.

On the other hand, many of your statements and comments indicate heterodoxy, not the least of which being your refusal to answer a direct question: Do you believe in the Real presence and in the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. I have zero respect nor any use for a priest who will not simply answer that question with a yes or no. You are a deceiver, dishonest to the very core, and a pretender. God uses you in persona Christi, but only He knows why...

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - It should be obvious that I do not give a tinker's darn about whether or not your respect me. Nor does what you find odd behavior in a priest concern me.

That I will not give a yes or no answer is no indication of my orthodoxy or lack thereof. It is only an indication that I will not answer you with a yes or a no.

Gene said...

Ignotus, It was not me who asked the question. It was another blogger. Pay attention. I already know you are apostate.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/gene - No, you know only that I will not answer your question. Nothing more. Anything beyond that is your own personal fantasy. Enjoy!

Gene said...

Ignotus, You are about as sharp as four pounds of wet leather. I never asked you a question. Nope, never did. You are pulling my leg, right? You aren't really that unintelligent...yeah, that's're joshing me.