Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Do You Trust the Church?: A Conversation on Women's Ordination and the role of the Magisterium (part 1)

Monday morning I opened up my Archdioce of Dubuque email account and found a message with the subject "Solidarity, Sustainability, and Non-Violence." This was a free e-newsletter that was sent to me (how they got me address, I am not sure). I am trying to learn more about the Church's social doctrines and so I curiously followed the link. The journal addressed issues such as the U.N. Millenium goals, a review of UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2007, etc. However, I also stumbled upon an article reflecting on the 40th anniverary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae (on regulation of birth) and an article asking "Will Women Ever Govern the Roman Catholic Church." Uh oh... this will either be really good or really bad. I checked out the journal of this organization named "Solidarity, Sustainability, and Non-Violence" and read the journal a little further.
(the recent journal issue:
(their organization's website: )

Here is the article by John Wijngaards on women's ordination:

I have not read Mr. Wijngaards' long article, but, by a quick browse it seems to have the same arguments I have seen before elsewhere. At the conclusion of his article he predicts that there may soon by women deaconness, priestess, bishops, and even a female pope. This change will come about through the action of the Holy Spirit (whom the author insists on referring to as "she")... who was apparently inactive for 2,000 years while the Catholic bishops and Popes have been busy suppressing women. Oh brother.

The article on Humane Vitae's anniverary (which appears in a side column on the journal web page) is by no means a celebration of that infamous Papal document. The article details the critiques of a lay married couple (Pat and Patty Crowley) who participated in the Papal Birth Control Commission that was convened in 1964 to give guidance to the Holy See as they prepared to issue a statement regarding the use of birth control. After detailing the Crowley's disappointment at Pope Paul VI rejecting the commission's advice (how dare he!), the article states:

"It is not a matter of dismissing the encyclical's teaching about the intrinsic value of life. It is not the essential content of the document that was massively rejected by Roman Catholics. The real issue is anyone's power to play god with people's lives. Rather than a discourse on the beautiful truths contained in the gospels about the gift of human sexuality, the encyclical was an authoritarian (and futile) exercise in telling married couples when to use (and when not to use) the "pill" and other methods of artificial birth control. It thereby invaded the sacred space of personal conscience for single and married people alike. "

So, I guess what people rejected was the authority of the Church and the Church's audacity to actually exercise that authority and TEACH the faithful! Does the Church seek to "play god with people's lives." Uh, ... no... but the Church has not only the right but also the obligation to teach the truth about something so important as the meaning of human sexuality and its role in Holy Matrimony! That is part of the Gospel! Did the Church "invade the sacred space of personal conscience for single and married people alike." People's consciences are supposed to be informed by the teaching of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church includes among its list of those things which can lead to errors of judgment in moral conduct: "assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience" and "rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching" (CCC 1792). The mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience means that I can decide for myself what is wrong or right. That is NOT the authentic understanding of human conscience. My conscience must be informed by the truth and the Church gives me the truth.

Anyways, I shot off a quick email to Luis T. Gutierrez, the editor of the journal who sent me the email. Perhaps it was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, but I just wanted to state that I was in disagreement with these two positions advocated in his journal (not to mention that their "Person of the Month" was Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (pro-abort). Mr. Gutierrez kindly took the time to reply. The posts (above) that follow detail the charitable conversation that followed.

UPDATE 12/4/07: Months later I stumbled upon an old series of 6 discources from a priest who defends the Church's teaching on ordination reserved to men. I browsed through some of it, and most of the exact same issues that Luis and I cover in our conversation are also covered in his articles (only his are laid out in a far more organized manner) [note, is this the same Luis I corresponded with?... Is Luis female? (the address says "Miss")]:

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