Monday, September 27, 2010

Women's Ordination -- Pride or Prejudice

Bridget Mary Meehan professes herself to be a bishop in the apostolic line of succession of the Roman Catholic Church. She was recently interviewed in the Washington Examiner in their religion section, Credo. This particular section highlights a different person of faith each week, asking specific questions about their beliefs and personal spiritual journey.

Before the interview questions even begin, the staff writer, Leah Fabel, offers a brief biography of Meehan. Fabel reports that Meehan came to the conclusion "as her faith matured," that she was called to reject her vows as a religious sister, and instead, become a priest. (I am assuming according to this limited biographical sketch, that in spite of this illicit trajectory in her faith journey, she remains an unmarried, celibate women .)

One must rest here on this point before continuing to read Meehan's answers to the questions that follow, and ponder this: What does it mean to mature in faith?

As faith matures, one develops a deeper relationship with God. The Church teaches that the Father holds man in existence and created all that he is and experiences in his surroundings; she teaches that the Son is the Word of God and the Church is His Body; she teaches that the Holy Spirit is the love that proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who was sent by Them to inspire us to know, love and serve God. This is a great mystery of our faith known as the Blessed Trinity.

As such, these are fundamental truths that are known and accepted about God through divine revelation and natural reason. A maturity in faith would mean, then, that the virtues would continue to grow through the grace of God as one develops a deeper Sacramental relationship with Him in the Church. And, because these virtues stem directly from God's grace in the Sacraments of His Church, one can only conclude that fidelity to the teachings of His Church would increase as faith matured.

However, that is not what Fabel relates with regard to Meehan's "mature faith" at all. Meehan considers disobedience to the teachings of the Church to be a maturation of faith based on her own personal revelations which fall out of sync with Church law. This is an incongruous notion -- one cannot become more virtuous by committing sin.

St. Paul reminds the Ephesians of this very fact:

So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess. That is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph 4: 17-24)
Here it can be seen that a mature faith casts off a spirit of independent operation. It requires relationship with Christ in His Church, through His Sacraments and in "righteousness and holiness of truth". Paul does not tell us to cast off truth, but impurity and excess which can also be found in the development of spiritual pride -- the desire to think that one knows better than another what was intended by Christ. Safeguarding the deposit of faith has been the work of the Magisterium of the Church for the last two millenia. This cannot be glossed over or ignored because of personal whim.

How can one even consider that contradicting Church law leaves them in good standing with God?

How can one think that they know better than the Church -- who throughout time recognizes the fact that there will always be a Judas in her midst until Christ comes again -- with regard to what Christ established and she has maintained all these centuries?

The crux of this issue lies in the rationale used by Meehan and many others, and to the great disgrace of whatever rogue "male bishop" invalidly ordained these women, that the Church is misogynistic. Recently, I wrote a piece at Catholic News Agency that addressed this very issue of misogyny. Of course the Church does not hate women. Rather, one might wonder whether Meehan hates men.

It comes right down to this: Is Jesus the Messiah? If He wasn't, then He was a madman or a liar, neither of which is compatible with the attributes of God. Therefore,  if it is believed that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, what valid reason would one have to take exception with teachings He implemented from the inception of the Church? The Church, the Sacraments, the Deposit of Faith, etc. have all required defense against outrageous claims throughout the centuries and throughout, the Church has always shown great love and respect for women. Catherine of Siena, for instance, influenced the return of the papacy to Rome from Avignon, France. She was a simple but holy woman, not even a professed religious but a lay woman with courage and conviction. The Church made her a Doctor of the Faith. Nonetheless, the Church must defend the immutable doctrines handed on by Christ to the apostles and women must come to terms with this fact -- women are no less women because God has chosen another path for them, one that doesn't include priesthood.

Women, are you really listening to God?

What is He truly calling you to do in His Church, in accord with His Truth and in obedience to His Will?

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