Mominus Vobiscum
May 26, 2013 6:03 PM   Subscribe

The Los Angeles Times' Women becoming priests without Vatican's blessing The world's oldest corporation has a problem. The same one it's always had. Well, at least since the founder died. If you've been to mass recently, I'd bet the female attendees outnumbered the men...in the pews. There's a ways to go, but...

"The more than 120 women worldwide who have been ordained as Roman Catholic priests and deacons say their faith gives them comfort and hope. But that same faith also is bound by Canon Law 1024. Short and blunt, the church edict states that "a baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly."

"The first female priests were ordained in 2002 on a boat on the Danube by a bishop who previously had broken ranks with the Vatican. A year later, bishops who asked to remain anonymous until after their death for fear of reprisal ordained the first female bishops so that they, in turn, could ordain other women.

"According to Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA Inc., more women are expected to be ordained as priests and deacons in 2013 than in any previous year.

"To Eitz, the threat of excommunication is meaningless. It has happened to her once already, when she became a deacon in 2012. She ignored it then and ignores it now, she said, because "if you are baptized, you cannot be unbaptized. If you are called to the table that God calls people to, you cannot be excluded.""

You go, Eitz. I don't know what her formal title is, but I'd guess it's not "Father."
posted by issue #1 (92 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
We call these people "Protestants." Nothing new.
posted by michaelh at 6:10 PM on May 26, 2013 [30 favorites]


A voice from the circle chimed in: "Didn't Jesus say we are all priests?"

The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers is a Christian doctrine believed by various Protestant denominations to be derived from several passages of the New Testament.

On preview, what michaelh said.
posted by thumpasor at 6:13 PM on May 26, 2013


Pau is explicit about women being deacons and so is the Didascalia. How does the Church reconcile this with excluding women from ministry?
posted by koavf at 6:22 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Direct from the Vatican!
posted by Justinian at 6:23 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


tl;dr - Jesus called only men to be his Apostles.
posted by Justinian at 6:26 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe that 1 Corinthians 14:34 is the answer to your question, koavf. Or similar verses from the Epistles.
posted by themanwho at 6:32 PM on May 26, 2013


You can read Inter Insigniores for more on the textual justifications. 1 Corinthians 14:34 is one of the referents, but only one of a great many.
posted by Justinian at 6:39 PM on May 26, 2013


We call these people "Protestants." Nothing new.

I heard an interview with a nun yesterday (On The Media). She was having some other set of issues with the church hierarchy and was asked by the interviewer why she didn't leave the church. Her reply was "It's my church. They should leave."

I wonder how these woman would react to being told that they are Protestants.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:43 PM on May 26, 2013 [38 favorites]


benito.strauss, protestants always say that when they're splitting with the catholic church. It's nothing new.
posted by michaelh at 6:46 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


She was having some other set of issues with the church hierarchy and was asked by the interviewer why she didn't leave the church. Her reply was "It's my church. They should leave."

Given the small-c conservative nature of the Roman Catholic church, the odds are that the policy she takes issue with predates her membership by a long while. It's no more "her" church than anyone else's.

(And as michaelh points out, no one in history has ever split into a false church.)
posted by Etrigan at 6:52 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm more tired than I thought. I just spent a few moments having the following train of thoughts:

--Why are so many women at The Los Angeles Times becoming priests? And how is it related to the Catholic Church?

--I had no idea The Los Angeles Times was that old. I'd assumed some European company would've been the oldest corporation in the world.

--Was there some cigar-chomping boss of The Los Angeles Times who was somehow preventing these women from becoming priests while he was in charge? How on Earth was he interfering with their private lives like that?

--There's a lot more to this story than I'm gathering from the title and intro.

--Oh. I think the story I was ready to read was going to change my perception of the world a lot more than the actual article.
posted by Ickster at 6:55 PM on May 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


I feel the same way about Catholics as I do about the Boy Scouts. They don't want you? Then leave. This makes it much easier for the rest of us to know where the bigots are.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:01 PM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's no more "her" church than anyone else's.

And no less, either.
posted by gerstle at 7:03 PM on May 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


I feel the same way about Catholics as I do about the Boy Scouts. They don't want you? Then leave. This makes it much easier for the rest of us to know where the bigots are.

I think the psychology of the church is more similar to an abusive relationship than to the Boy Scouts.
posted by Ickster at 7:03 PM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Suppose I throw a rock into the air, with the intention of causing it to rise forever. Am I violating the law of gravity? No. I am defying it, perhaps, but if you look at my action objectively, you realize that it is pointless, even pathetic. The law of gravity will not be broken. My rock will come back down to earth. And Roman Catholic Womenpriests will not be Roman Catholic priests.
Even if you disagree with him, this guy is usually pretty deft with the snerk.
posted by resurrexit at 7:15 PM on May 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Somewhere in Ohio, at about the same time that Beverly Bingle claimed ordination, a little boy swung an imaginary bat, watched an imaginary ball disappear into the distance, and trotted around imaginary bases, announcing to no one in particular that he had hit the winning home run for the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series. WNWO didn’t carry a news story about that little boy, because even if they had known about him, the reporters would have realized that he was fantasizing.
Another.
posted by resurrexit at 7:17 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Possibly relevant: How religions change their mind
posted by triggerfinger at 7:19 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


protestants always say that when they're splitting with the catholic church.

You're logicking wrong. That statement doesn't disprove mine. You would need to argue the converse statement, that anyone who says that always ends up leaving the church/going protestant. Is that true? (I'm not very up on catholic history, especially by MeFi standards.)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:21 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Good for them.

I hope the church catches up with them, at which point it will pretend it agreed with them all along, or disagreed with their disobedience, or some other technicality, and not with their female priesthood.

That's the way things usually go when the belief currently considered "heretical" and "anti-Catholic" is eventually embraced by the church. "Oh, we really believed that all along!"

Y'all who are dissing them for claiming to be still Catholics when Rome doesn't approve of them: shame on you. That shit is how things change.

As for the explicit teachings against it: are they Ex Cathedra? No? I didn't think so. Then they're negotiable.
posted by edheil at 7:24 PM on May 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


I just declared myself a US Congressman. I start franking postage on Tuesday.

Next up, Chief Wizard of Hogwarts.
posted by codswallop at 7:24 PM on May 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Same goes for that shitbag Lawler and his sneers. Fuck him.
posted by edheil at 7:25 PM on May 26, 2013


cjorgensen: "I feel the same way about Catholics as I do about the Boy Scouts. They don't want you? Then leave. This makes it much easier for the rest of us to know where the bigots are."

Frankly, this only makes sense if you aren't religious. If you're Catholic, part of the point is that it's the 'right' church, which is actually distinct from the teachings of the Church being correct. That's why people stay. If they could up and be Protestants, they would have already left, almost by definition. (And ditto for the non-Protestant options.)

I left. Sometime between the ages of 12 and 16, depending on how you want to define having left. As it stands, I don't think the Church is interested in my participation, despite the occasional posturing, which means I don't need to address this whole existence of God issue. But if I woke up one morning damn sure I believed in God, it'd either be back to Catholicism or holding out for the Church to change. But if you never left, I don't begrudge you staying. I think you shouldn't stay and keep your mouth shut, but it's not exactly hard to see how you'd conclude staying is the correct choice theologically. This thread is turning into lol Christians meets like 150 years of American anti-Catholicism, honestly.
posted by hoyland at 7:28 PM on May 26, 2013 [19 favorites]


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.--literally the last words of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Doesn't sound exactly open to discussion to me.
posted by resurrexit at 7:30 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


In response to this precise act of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, explicitly addressed to the entire Catholic Church, all members of the faithful are required to give their assent to the teaching stated therein. To this end, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of the Holy Father, has given an official Reply on the nature. of this assent: it is a matter of full definitive assent, that is to say, irrevocable, to a doctrine taught infallibly by the Church. In fact, as the Reply explains, the definitive nature of this assent derives from the truth of the doctrine itself, since, founded on the written Word of God, and constantly held and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary universal Magisterium.
---1995 response of the CDF (headed by Ratzinger) to a clarification published on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ("Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.").

I mean, you can claim they're just a bunch of crazies, making stuff up, but don't pretend the matter's not settled according to their rules.
posted by resurrexit at 7:36 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: lol Christians meets like 150 years of American anti-Catholicism
posted by resurrexit at 7:37 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: lol Christians meets like 150 years of American anti-Catholicism

Can we have a discussion about the Catholic Church doing gross things that doesn't involve criticism of the church being equated with the KKK and the Know-Nothing Party?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:39 PM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


eponysterical.
posted by Justinian at 7:41 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can we have a discussion about the Catholic Church doing gross things that doesn't involve criticism of the church being equated with the KKK and the Know-Nothing Party?

I think so, yes, so long as we take a religion or church on its own terms in discussing it. Think of anthropologists' vaunted cultural relativism--since we know we can't be objective beyond a certain limited extent, let's at least take our subjects on their own terms.
posted by resurrexit at 7:44 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think, like Morpheus, the Church (at least in North America and Europe) needs to change or die. I also believe they'll make the same choice.

I do agree that many of the people criticizing the Church's stance here don't actually believe in God, and so why not ordain women? It's not like there's a reason not to do so.
posted by Justinian at 7:50 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


resurrexit: "I mean, you can claim they're just a bunch of crazies, making stuff up, but don't pretend the matter's not settled according to their rules."

The best sign something in Catholicism is open for discussion is Church officials making infallible statements that it's totally closed for discussion. It's the last retrenchment before a statement that says, "AS THE CHURCH HAS ALWAYS TAUGHT, we're about to go in a totally different direction." If it's not being widely discussed and the Church's position isn't being persuasively argued against (within its own theological frame of reference), there's no reason to issue statements that dissent isn't allowed. If the dissent is weak or illogical, they just argue against it and trust in the arguing.

The key phrase when Catholicism completely changes its mind is "As the Church has always taught ..." so keep an eye out for that one!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:10 PM on May 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


Edheil - I don't think they can call themselves Catholics because isn't someone's Catholicism defined by subscription to a shared set of beliefs? If you can pick and choose which beliefs you share with the church then by definition, doesn't that make such people non-Catholic?

Otherwise it would be possible for me to say e.g. "I am a Christian, except I disagree with other Christians about the existence of God".
posted by joz at 8:11 PM on May 26, 2013


joz: "I don't think they can call themselves Catholics because isn't someone's Catholicism defined by subscription to a shared set of beliefs?"

That shared set of beliefs is constantly in a living discussion among all billion members of Catholicism (and, to a lesser degree, with Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant Christians). It's more helpful to think of Catholicism's core beliefs as being like the Constitution -- beloved by its "citizens," but those citizens also have strong feelings and varying interpretations. Some people's interpretations carry more weight (Supreme Court/bishops), but interpretations frequently bubble up from regular people to become the dominant ideology. And there's never really a single clear and settled set of rules. It's always a living discussion, because it's a pilgrim faith.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:20 PM on May 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


And I think most Catholics consider their membership in the church as being something they are born into, baptized into, and cemented by receiving the sacraments--not so much what they think about issues like the ordination of women or birth control.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:26 PM on May 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


The point I really decided I was never going back to the Catholic Church was the birth of my daughter.

This is denying some people a sacrament because of their gender and it's just as wrong as having a 'whites only' drinking fountain. I don't see any difference.
posted by newdaddy at 8:27 PM on May 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


But that's because you don't believe the Church's teachings come from God, I assume. Correct?
posted by Justinian at 8:28 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


How can I answer this question? I can't reconcile my belief in a fair and all-loving God with what seems to be very clearly a rule founded in injustice. While God is perfect, His Church is built of human beings and therefore cannot be perfect on this Earth. That's the best I can understand it.
posted by newdaddy at 9:20 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


God could also be a tricky dude who told a bunch of different people each that they were receiving the unique truth and were special snowflakes. And now he is sitting back and watching what we do about that.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:35 PM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pau is explicit about women being deacons and so is the Didascalia. How does the Church reconcile this with excluding women from ministry?

I do not think there is anything inherent to Catholicism that prevents women from being ordained as deacons, any more than there is anything preventing the western rite from ordaining married men as priests. The church simply chooses not to at this time and, inertia being what it is, will not change anytime soon.
posted by deanc at 9:36 PM on May 26, 2013


You're logicking wrong. That statement doesn't disprove mine. You would need to argue the converse statement, that anyone who says that always ends up leaving the church/going protestant. Is that true? (I'm not very up on catholic history, especially by MeFi standards.)

It's not true, but only because some people change their minds/reconcile with the Catholic Church and so the split need not happen.
posted by michaelh at 9:40 PM on May 26, 2013


It's not true, but only because some people change their minds/reconcile with the Catholic Church

You re claiming that the Catholic Church has never changed its opinion about anything, ever? That there have never been people who were considered heretical or disobedient by the Church at a given point of history whose beliefs were later accepted?

Because if that is your position you might be in for a bit of a shock.
posted by yoink at 9:44 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yoink, the answer to your first question is obviously no. The second question is a bit mixed up. I'm not up for untangling it as it'd be a fair amount of words. That I think it needs untangling should tell you roughly what would be my answer. Bottom line: no shock.
posted by michaelh at 10:12 PM on May 26, 2013


So you are saying that you were saying something you know to be false: viz. that the only two possible outcomes for someone who is in opposition to the current doctrines of the Catholic Church are either to leave the church or to reconcile themselves to those doctrines. This does not seem to me to be a complex or difficult question.
posted by yoink at 10:23 PM on May 26, 2013


God could also be a tricky dude who told a bunch of different people each that they were receiving the unique truth and were special snowflakes. And now he is sitting back and watching what we do about that.

It's amazing how many efforts to reconcile ideas about God with apparent reality come down to "God is actually a huge dick to people but I'm okay with it."
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:23 PM on May 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


You re claiming that the Catholic Church has never changed its opinion about anything, ever?

It must be recognized that some of the Church's opinions are stronger than others. Some so strong the Church doesn't call them opinions.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:04 PM on May 26, 2013


It's amazing how many efforts to reconcile ideas about God with apparent reality come down to "God is actually a huge dick to people but I'm okay with it."

God is manifestly a huge dick. That's what the entire so-called "problem of evil" is about.
posted by Justinian at 11:49 PM on May 26, 2013 [52 favorites]


Grammatically, I was looking for women of the LA Times becoming priests. No? Who cares then?
posted by telstar at 2:33 AM on May 27, 2013


michaelh: "We call these people 'Protestants.' Nothing new."

As someone who has a deep interest in Catholicism and who will in fact probably be baptized into the church within the next year, I want to say: this seems incorrect to me, both in general and in specific technical terms. The belief that women can be priests is not a violation of any central article of faith; it's against general church doctrine, but I don't see anyone splitting the church over it. I think there's a paranoia some Catholics seem to have that any deviation in any detail from official doctrine is schismatic, but ironically I don't think this paranoia itself actually conforms to official doctrine. We are not told by the Church that anyone who disagrees on this or any other general point is a schismatic or a nonbeliever. The articles of faith are clear and well-defined, and this is not one of them. Why can't we accept that some people who are Catholics have points of disagreement on general church doctrine (as opposed to the actual articles of faith)? And if we can't accept that, in what sense is our Church actually Catholic?
posted by koeselitz at 2:34 AM on May 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


(Also, michaelh: I have some difficulty with your notion that it's okay to say that certain person is not a Catholic if they say or believe certain things. That is not for you or I to say, unless you hold some certain position of authority I'm not aware of, and even then it would be much more complicated than you're making it. The Church has chosen not to excommunicate people for much greater deviations from doctrine than this. In fact, this practice of labeling people who disagree as schismatics or Protestants seems to me to be the very root of many of the problems in the Church over the last few centuries. St Thomas Aquinas, I am confident, would not have engaged in such silly politicized pettiness. The Church is not an exclusivist club, it is a community that is the repository of the mystery of faith; we are supposed to be engaged in higher things than protecting the integrity of a club.)
posted by koeselitz at 2:42 AM on May 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


resurrexit: "has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith."

But the whole "deposit of faith" thing is a moving target, much like the U.S. constitution; open to interpretation (and translation), with the prevailing perception prone to changing (very slowly, mind you). It's a far stretch to say the deposit of faith explicitly denies women priesthood, and it certainly says nothing about celibacy.
posted by Red Loop at 3:16 AM on May 27, 2013


No kidding: the passion, erudition, and weighty struggling with serious matters that we see in this thread is why I like Catholics.

If you're going to have faith, it should be demanding and paradoxical and sometimes unethical, or else what's the point? Otherwise you're just a rationalist with a posse. But unlike most Christians, Catholics also have a vibrant intellectual tradition to draw on that keeps the paradoxes and ethical lapses front and center, and those keep Catholics struggling and arguing and wrangling with the gap between reason and faith.

/Kierkegaard
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:50 AM on May 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Otherwise it would be possible for me to say e.g. "I am a Christian, except I disagree with other Christians about the existence of God".

I like that idea. Sounds almost like some radical Jesuit theology.
posted by ovvl at 4:53 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Otherwise it would be possible for me to say e.g. "I am a Christian, except I disagree with other Christians about the existence of God".

I have actually known (catholic) priests in the past who have become convinced about the lack of existence of God, but still remained in the church due to their continuing belief in the societal and otherwise good in the structure of both the bible and the catholic dogma.

There is a reason, after all, that priests will often ask each other "How's your faith these days?". As was pointed out upthread by Eyebrows McGee, the catholic church's shared dogma is a living entity, much more like a country than a belief system. The catholic church is very much something which many are culturally born into - kind like the more understood distinction of a cultural/ethnic Judaism vs religious Judaism.

Over a long enough timeline, in a large enough group, all dogma is up for debate.
posted by jaymzjulian at 5:03 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "Suppose I throw a rock into the air, with the intention of causing it to rise forever ... My rock will come back down to earth."

Depends on just how hard you are throwing that rock, doesn't it?
posted by kyrademon at 5:08 AM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


No kidding: the passion, erudition, and weighty struggling with serious matters that we see in this thread is why I like Catholics.

If you're going to have faith, it should be demanding and paradoxical and sometimes unethical, or else what's the point? Otherwise you're just a rationalist with a posse. But unlike most Christians, Catholics also have a vibrant intellectual tradition to draw on that keeps the paradoxes and ethical lapses front and center, and those keep Catholics struggling and arguing and wrangling with the gap between reason and faith.


Learning about the intellectual history of the Reformed movement is going to blow your mind. Believe it or not, there is a vibrant Protestant intellectual tradition that continues today in for example the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. Martin Luther and John Calvin were pretty smart guys who debated and speechified and wrote really long books, and their intellectual descendents have continued to do so in their model, in addition to reading older Catholic and Orthodox writings. In my opinion, not having one guy who gets to tell everybody else what to believe actually enhances the vibrant intellectual tradition of Protestantism.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:38 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you are saying that you were saying something you know to be false: viz. that the only two possible outcomes for someone who is in opposition to the current doctrines of the Catholic Church are either to leave the church or to reconcile themselves to those doctrines. This does not seem to me to be a complex or difficult question.

No. Sorry, that's what I get for assuming you knew what I would have laid out.

Koeslitz, excellent comments. At the same time, the people in the article are not even trying to reconcile their beliefs with the belief of the Catholic Church, and they are even going outside the church to do these things. At some point it's simpler to explain it as not catholic.
posted by michaelh at 5:45 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sooner that whole edifice of moralizing, bigoted, exclusive, nonsensical shit collapses the better. I can't believe it has been tolerated as long as it has. Of all the crap I hope evolution eventually eliminates, the religious impulse is top of my list. Above cancer, even.
posted by umberto at 5:45 AM on May 27, 2013


Learning about the intellectual history of the Reformed movement is going to blow your mind.

Hahahahahaha.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:07 AM on May 27, 2013


"I don't think they can call themselves Catholics because isn't someone's Catholicism defined by subscription to a shared set of beliefs?"

Not exactly - but there are certain things that put you outside the pale, is the best way I can explain it.

For example: I jokingly refer to myself as a "bad Catholic." I'm Catholic, but I believe in birth control. I don't think premarital sex is necessarily terrible, though I actually understand why the Church prefers it not to exist. And I went ahead and got married without the Church's permission without annulling my last marriage, which means I can never take communion as I am technically in a state of perpetual unconfessed sin. (To confess a sin requires that you heartily repent your error and attempt to do it no more, which, ain't gonna happen on that one.)

But the Church happily still considers me a Catholic, lets me enroll my kids in Catholic school if I want to, lets me attend church, sends me parish envelopes and invitations to all their events, and definitely takes my money. Because these things are not excommunicable offenses and they are not what the Church would call direct defiance. I do these things because I believe otherwise, not to thumb my nose at the Church and say "Nyah, nyah."

Female ordination is not like those things. Female ordination is deliberately taking a thing which is known to be doctrine - something which does get you excommunicated - and making a choice to go against it. These excommunications, as of 2008, are "automatic and universal", which means that they don't have to be individually decreed. If you ordained a woman after 2008, or are a woman who was ordained after 2008, you are excommunicated, even if you're pretending not to be or hiding it. You are no longer a part of the body of the Catholic Church. Thus, by definition, you are a Protestant.
posted by corb at 6:11 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, so believing in birth control is okay, but not being a misogynist isn't? That's pure cafeteria Catholicism right there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:27 AM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


You are no longer a part of the body of the Catholic Church. Thus, by definition, you are a Protestant.

This is not true. If you are excommunicated, you are still Catholic.

Even if it didn't, that doesn't make you Protestant; that would be like if getting fired from your job automatically made you a hot dog vendor.
posted by selfnoise at 6:55 AM on May 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Of all the crap I hope evolution eventually eliminates..."

Yeah, thanks for the lolChristianhate. In case you didn't notice, this is a pretty good, inside baseball discussion that actually addresses the - wait for it - evolution of religious doctrine. Your turd of a comment might find a better home in one of dozens of appropriate subredits.
posted by klarck at 7:19 AM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The problem with arguing over who is and isn't Catholic anymore depends on sense of the term (without confusing it by substituting or adding the modifiers heresy, schism, apostasy, excommunication, etc.--to Catholics, those are all terms of art that mean very specific things).

"Catholic" is actually explained pretty well in the Introduction and First Title of Book II of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (Intro to Part I of Book II, Title I of Book II). See also 1983 CIC 751 ("Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.").

This Womenpriests bunch is largely comprised of Catholics, meaning it's comprised of those who were baptized Catholics. Based on can. 751, they are probably heretics (in light of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) and possibly schismatics insofar as they place themselves outside of their bishop's authority; for simulating the sacrament of Holy Orders, they're probably also latae sententiae excommunicated (see cc. 1378-79). But they're still Catholic insofar as that's an indelible mark of baptism.

Protestants started out like this in the 16th century. Many leaders were Catholic clergy who fell into heresy and undertook schismatic acts in the course of carrying out what they felt to be a reformation of the Catholic Church.

So these women's beliefs might align with those of Protestants, but they aren't Protestant--they are probably heretical and probably schismatic Catholics, and probably excommunicated. But all that means is that they're still Catholic, just irregularly so. The next step for them is to go to confession and work out the legal issues of their excommunications.

tl;dr: they're bad Catholics, not Protestants.
posted by resurrexit at 7:42 AM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The best sign something in Catholicism is open for discussion is Church officials making infallible statements that it's totally closed for discussion. It's the last retrenchment before a statement that says, "AS THE CHURCH HAS ALWAYS TAUGHT, we're about to go in a totally different direction."

I have no idea what you think you're referring to here. What historical reversal of church teaching are you claiming went through that process?
posted by straight at 7:53 AM on May 27, 2013


edheil : Y'all who are dissing them for claiming to be still Catholics when Rome doesn't approve of them: shame on you. That shit is how things change.

You've missed the point. "Religion" does not equal "church".

The former, no one can take away from you without your cooperation. The latter describes an incorporated (sovereign, even) organization with its own set of silly rules for its members. Don't follow the rules, and you can't belong to the club.


resurrexit : tl;dr: they're bad Catholics, not Protestants.

No. The church hase a formal process for kicking people out of the club, which they did to Eitz and others. I'll agree that doesn't make them Protestants (with a capitol "P"), but it does absolutely make them non-Catholics.

We may not think it fair, but cjorgensen nailed it early in the thread - People need to quit trying to force hate groups to let them join. Keep an eye on them from afar, and just wait for the implosion.

In this case, honestly, it surprises me the Vatican hasn't gone after these women priests for some sort of trademark dilution. If they didn't have so many other scandals going on around the world, I suspect this would have gotten a whole lot messier (hey, if they think they can get away with lead the mob to stone gays, why wouldn't they try it with other heretics?).
posted by pla at 8:04 AM on May 27, 2013


In case you didn't notice, this is a pretty good, inside baseball discussion that actually addresses the - wait for it - evolution of religious doctrine.

In which multiple people are trying to pretend that said evolution doesn't actually happen.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:11 AM on May 27, 2013


pla: "I'll agree that doesn't make them Protestants (with a capitol "P"), but it does absolutely make them non-Catholics."

Wrong. Wikipedia: "Excommunicated Catholics are still Catholics and remain bound by obligations such as attending Mass, even though they are barred from receiving the Eucharist and from taking an active part in the liturgy (reading, bringing the offerings, etc.). However, their communion with the Church is considered gravely impaired. In spite of that, they are urged to retain a relationship with the Church, as the goal is to encourage them to repent and return to active participation in its life."

So they're not Protestants and they're still Catholics, just "bad" ones.
posted by resurrexit at 8:49 AM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


However, to get more technical about it, because the decree declaring the excommunication is latae sententiae, thus any individuals not known by name are under occult and not public excommunication. I'm not sure on any specific sentences of those affected by name, if they are vitandi or tolerati, (basically if Catholics need to avoid those people or not.) These degrees of detail of the decrees are rarely reported in the press.

(However to get MORE technical, excommunicated persons are allowed to engage in valid sacraments only in cases of dire necessity, which makes me wonder if the ordination actually holds for such things and, say, an excommunicated female priest can administer valid Last Rites, for example.)

Wait, so believing in birth control is okay, but not being a misogynist isn't? That's pure cafeteria Catholicism right there.

Only if you're not familiar with canon law. Birth control is not one of the articles of faith, and using it does not get you excommunicated. Thus, the worst you can say about believing in/using birth control while Catholic is that it makes you a sinny sinner what sins. (Actually, even believing in female ordination

Wikipedia: "Excommunicated Catholics are still Catholics and remain bound by obligations such as attending Mass,

Wikipedia is good for many things, but intricate questions of Catholic doctrine is not one of them.
posted by corb at 8:53 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You are no longer a part of the body of the Catholic Church. Thus, by definition, you are a Protestant.

This isn't actually what Protestant means, coincidentally.
posted by hoyland at 9:02 AM on May 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Pope Guilty: Newman explained the Catholic understanding of the development of doctrine. Here's the Wiki summary--i.e., there's a correct way to view doctrinal development, like if Jesus said A=B, and B=C, and didn't explicitly state that A=C, we can still apply our reason to the deposit of faith left by Christ and know definitively that A=C.

The Modernist heresy--reflected in some comments in this thread--is that the Church can simply decree what it wishes and change what it wishes to suit the expediencies of the day, and that the Church should change to suit certain realities of modern life. So because there are too many people on the planet today, we should approve of contraception; or because now women are fulfilling many roles traditionally fulfilled by men, women should be priests, etc.

corb, you're mistaken if you're suggesting that excommunicates aren't Catholic; they remain Catholic.
posted by resurrexit at 9:05 AM on May 27, 2013


Resurrexit, the church can, has, and still does change what it wishes to suit the expediencies of the day. It's not heresy, it's reality of the church. Celibacy came in originally because of ascetcist influences on the early church, much as women deacons became passe.
posted by Red Loop at 10:29 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb: (However to get MORE technical, excommunicated persons are allowed to engage in valid sacraments only in cases of dire necessity, which makes me wonder if the ordination actually holds for such things and, say, an excommunicated female priest can administer valid Last Rites, for example.)

An excommunicated female pretend-priest would not be able to administer Last Rites regardless of her excommunication or the direness of a situation since she never received Holy Orders in the first place, but simply underwent a simulation of the ritual.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:36 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clerical celibacy's a derail here, but Matthew 19:12: Jesus: "Some ... have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

So that didn't just "come in" later--it's been established as the ideal since the beginning. But yes, the disciplines surrounding whether a married man may or may not receive ordination have varied over time and place and variations from this discipline happen even today.

Discipline changes. But teachings (Catholics believe Catholic teachings are received from Jesus and his apostles and passed down over time, and not just made up later on unless it's a legitimate development reasoning from those original teachings) don't change.

Who can be ordained is a teaching received from God. That can't change. But whether that person can be married or get married, etc., were not commanded by God and, as disciplines, can change for the good of souls.
posted by resurrexit at 12:20 PM on May 27, 2013


I don't think they can call themselves Catholics because isn't someone's Catholicism defined by subscription to a shared set of beliefs?

Actually, "subscription to a shared set of beliefs" is precisely why they can call themselves Catholic.

People always get hung up on the "gender of priests" or "rules about celibacy" or what-not as the "Shared set of beliefs" that Catholics hold in common when we have these discussions - but they always seem to overlook that that "shared set of beliefs" can also include "the belief that God will forgive you even if you really fuck up" or "the belief that Jesus was both human and divine" or suchlike. What makes a Catholic a Catholic is about a whooooole lot more than just whether or not your religious leaders have dicks or not.

Which is why it's always so frustrating to hear people say "well, if those people don't like the way the church is they should leave" - that's like hearing someone complaining that the toilet in their house where they've lived in their whole life just broke, and telling them "well, then you should just move out if you don't like how things are."

Before anyone has a hissy fit - I am not equating the Vatican's barring of women from becoming priests to a having a minor plumbing problem. It is indeed a big change that does need to be made. But it is a big change that has to do with church politics, which is different from theological beliefs. And it is the church's theological beliefs, and their expression, which lead Catholics to call themselves thus. So just like you don't get rid of a beloved house just because one thing goes bust, people don't necessarily quit the church that speaks to that personal part of you just because something about the structure isn't sitting right. What they do is just what you do if your toilet busts in your house - they stay put, and work to fix it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


But the toilet isn't broken. It works great. But some of the tenants come along and want to shit in the bathtub, too, and the homeowner's saying, no, we're good, we've got the toilet already, and the bathtub is different, but perfect in its own way and has its own purpose.

/metaphors! ;)
posted by resurrexit at 1:37 PM on May 27, 2013


Is this your church?
posted by resurrexit at 1:41 PM on May 27, 2013


Resurrexit, I don't think you really understood the metaphor I was getting at. I was referring to how people tend to confuse the church STRUCTURE with the church DOGMA, and saying that they are two different things with two different types of emotional resonance for people, and that's why asking someone to sacrifice a church whose dogma they believe in strongly for the sake of the church's structure is being cruel.

If you'd rather a different metaphor - it's like someone saying that their SO is everything they are looking for emotionally - they are a supportive partner, they respect them, they love and cherish them - but they have a job you don't like. I grant you that there are some situations in which it would be understandable to break up with someone just because of their job, but - if someone is perfect for you in every way, except you don't like that they work at a boring desk job, would it make sense for you to break up with them?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:55 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


That is a very helpful metaphor, EmpressCallipygos. Thank you.
posted by salishsea at 1:58 PM on May 27, 2013


I understand what you're saying now. But ordination's not just a matter of STRUCTURE as opposed to a matter of DOGMA, to use your dichotomy. The male priesthood is a matter of near-dogma* with structural / ecclesiological implications. It is a matter of belief to be definitively held. Staying in a religion and asking that religion to change its beliefs--when its only claim to fame is that, unlike all the others, changing its beliefs is something it doesn't really do--is crazy. So while I don't agree with "just go" either, I don't agree with "but just stay and work to change it from within." In your boring-job-boyfriend metaphor, it's like staying in the relationship when the boyfriend is the only person in the world that can do that job and is contractually bound to perform it until the day he dies--how can you work to change that situation?

I hope you'll see that people like me aren't just pharisaical, patriarchal meanies who want to have our way. Not every dispute in the Catholic Church is an existential crisis, to be sure. But this one's pretty close to it.

*"The Supreme Pontiff, while not wishing to proceed to a dogmatic definition, intended to reaffirm that this doctrine is to be held definitively, since, founded on the written Word of God, constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium."
posted by resurrexit at 2:19 PM on May 27, 2013


Oh sorry, Resurrexit, I thought you were speaking as one outside the church. I was more responding to the non-Catholics in this thread who insist that people "just leave" if they don't like the way the church does some things.

And yes, even with my metaphor there are points you dislike that WOULD be a reason to leave a significant other, and as for the house one there IS house damage for which leaving the house is the only response. My point, though, was that there are plenty of situations for which it WOULD be overkill just to leave, and that many non-Catholics in this thread seem to give the "just leave the church" advice with as much frequency as "DMTFA" gets suggested in Askme questions. And in both cases, sometimes it isn't the right advice is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:44 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the toilet isn't broken. It works great.

Except that's begging the question. There are some people who think the toilet needs to be replaced with a low-flow one, or a composting one or what have you while there are others who think the old "dump ten gallons with every flush" one is just dandy. Saying "it works great, therefore you are wrong" is just asserting your adherence to one side of the question rather than another, it's not a contribution towards settling the dispute.

If the Catholic Church changed its mind about the ordination of women priests it would still continue to be the Catholic Church--just as it continued to be the Catholic Church when it ceased to use the Latin mass exclusively. No doubt, as then, there would be some who refused to accept that, and there could even be a major schism in the Church; but it is simply false to suggest that people who hold the position that the Catholic Church would be a more perfect institution if it accepted the ordination of women priests are holding an absurd, self-contradictory or deliberately mischievous position, any more than those who argued for the end of the Latin mass were holding an absurd, self-contradictory or deliberately mischievous position.
posted by yoink at 3:34 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Learning about the intellectual history of the Reformed movement is going to blow your mind.

Hahahahahaha.


If we're talking dogma, the fun really started around the first Council of Nicaea.
posted by ovvl at 4:11 PM on May 27, 2013


Why is it religious discussion on MetaFilter always ends up in the toilet?
posted by BlueHorse at 4:49 PM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Protestant denominations define membership by beliefs. Catholic denominations define membership by ritual. If you're baptized, you're one of them. You can't become not-Catholic, you can only become a bad disobedient Catholic.

Excommunication doesn't mean "you're not one of us" it means "you are behaving badly and we're going to punish you by denying you the sacraments until you stop behaving badly."

There is no way to become unCatholic.

The Apostolic Succession is similar; there is no way to un-bishop somebody. Same with the priesthood. You cannot un-priest somebody, you can only forbid them from exercising their priestly office.

Sacraments are not revocable.

What is at issue is whether or not these ordinations are valid. That's actually a matter that can be debated and on which people in good standing in the church can have differing opinions. Short of an ex cathedra statement from the Pope, it is entirely reasonable for a good Catholic to disagree with members of the hierarchy, right on up to the Pope (when he's not speaking ex cathedra, which most popes never ever do), who have claimed these are not valid ordinations.

And it is even possible for Catholics in good standing to disagree on what statements of the Pope are ex cathedra.

So it is entirely possible that in the end it will be recognized that all of these things were always valid all the time.

And it is technically possible, according to church doctrine and canon law, that everybody who is denying the validity of these sacraments is factually wrong about that.
posted by edheil at 5:24 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


A voice from the circle chimed in: "Didn't Jesus say we are all priests?"

"Exactly," said Rue, who has a doctorate in theology and teaches comparative religious studies at San Jose State University.


I wonder if Rue's theology studies ever got to the Pentateuch. The Israelites were a kingdom of priests under the old covenant but there was still a priesthood.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:26 PM on May 27, 2013


This thread is a great example of how religious faith and obligation can get people to espouse incredibly nasty beliefs without thinking any less of themselves.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:12 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Edheil - I don't think they can call themselves Catholics because isn't someone's Catholicism defined by subscription to a shared set of beliefs? If you can pick and choose which beliefs you share with the church then by definition, doesn't that make such people non-Catholic?

The claim that they are not only Catholic, but Roman Catholic is an important one to this particular group of women priests. The ordination of women priests is already noncontroversial among Independent Catholics who fully declare their independence from Rome. This group doesn't want that. They are arguing that they have a rightful place in the current Roman Catholic hierarchy because having been ordained by the authority of Roman Catholic bishops in accordance with apostolic succession, they are priests under Roman Catholic law. From the Womenpriests wikipedia page: "The group "RC Womenpriests" receives its authority from Roman Catholic bishops who stand in full Apostolic Succession. These bishops bestowed sacramentally valid ordinations on the women listed above."
posted by Wordwoman at 7:31 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb, you're mistaken if you're suggesting that excommunicates aren't Catholic; they remain Catholic.

Yeah, sorry, it's a weird situation. Because there really isn't one general rule that applies to every single excommunicate - there are excommunicates whose burial in a consecrated cemetary defiles it and there are excommunicates that priests nag to just stop whatever it is they're doing. It's a weird thing.

Personally, I feel that women claiming ordination from a Church that emphatically claims it is not possible and excommunicates them for it, is enough of a schism to make for a new church. But everyone's mileage may vary.
posted by corb at 8:07 PM on May 27, 2013


An excommunicated female pretend-priest would not be able to administer Last Rites regardless of her excommunication or the direness of a situation since she never received Holy Orders in the first place, but simply underwent a simulation of the ritual.

My (non-Catholic) understanding is that Last Rites being as important as they are, the Church's official stance is that they need to be administered by a priest, but if there's no priest to hand and you're seriously about to die then they can be administered by a lay Catholic (and if there's not even a lay Catholic around, they can be administered by anyone, as long as the Last Rites are held as valid by the receiver).
posted by shakespeherian at 7:41 AM on May 28, 2013


shakespeherian: My (non-Catholic) understanding is that Last Rites being as important as they are, the Church's official stance is that they need to be administered by a priest, but if there's no priest to hand and you're seriously about to die then they can be administered by a lay Catholic (and if there's not even a lay Catholic around, they can be administered by anyone, as long as the Last Rites are held as valid by the receiver).

That would be incorrect. Last Rites consist of Confession, Anointing (Sacrament of the Sick), and Viaticum (administration of the Eucharist). The first two can only be done by a priest/bishop. The Eucharist can be given by a lay minister if absolutely necessary. And there is the Apostolic Pardon that priests are empowered to grant to the dying remission for the temporal punishment for sins.
posted by Fukiyama at 12:40 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, thank you. That's what I was thinking of.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:42 PM on May 28, 2013


If I may throw a monkey wrench into this thread (if anyone is still up). What is the Roman Catholic Church's stance on intersexed or transgendered persons being ordained as priests? Somehow I think the word "abomination" might be part of the church's official policy, but I have no idea.

I can also see a scenario in which whoever's job it is to ordain priests (a Bishop?) is presented with potential priests whose gender identity is hidden from him (or her). He didn't know that he was ordaining a woman, and so he didn't do anything wrong, right? And, if a priest wore garments that hid their gender, what recourse would the church have? It would literally have to look up the priests skirt to make a determination. Though, I guess the RCC is well-known for getting into peoples' genital business.

(I know, I know. The point is that people should see women as priests, not that women should hide their gender. I just thought it was an interesting thought experiment.)

If it matters, my maternal grandmother raised all her children Catholic and sent them to Catholic school, and thus I am an atheist who doesn't understand what one is supposed to do when that guy in the goofy outfit says stuff at the front of the church.
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:40 PM on May 28, 2013


What is the Roman Catholic Church's stance on intersexed or transgendered persons being ordained as priests? Somehow I think the word "abomination" might be part of the church's official policy, but I have no idea.

No, that word is not part of the policy; that word would be totally at odds with church doctrine. The Roman stance is that transgendered people are not eligible for holy orders. They are also considered to be the gender of their birth regardless of whatever surgery may have taken place.

The recourse that the church has if it finds that someone should have never been ordained is that it can remove that priest from office. I have known of circumstances where this has been done, for example, where it was found out that a priest intentionally omitted something from his life confession before being ordained.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:41 AM on May 29, 2013


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