Swiss Catholic Bishop speaks out for women’s ordination

These Easter Sunday words of a Swiss Catholic bishop suggest that the topic of women’s ordination won’t be going away anytime soon.

Markus Büchel calls for far-reaching reforms in the Catholic Church. The bishop of the diocese of St. Gallen [St. Gall] spoke out openly for women’s ordination. “We must search for steps that lead there,” he said. “I could imagine that women’s diaconate could be such a step.”

One has not been permitted to discuss women’s ordination for a good while. “We can’t afford this anymore.” Regarding priesthood for women, Büchel said, “We can pray that the Holy Spirit enables us to read the signs of the times.”

He made this explosive statement in the St. Galler Pfarreiblatt [St. Gall Parish Paper]. Sabine Rüthemann, media spokesperson for the diocese, confirmed: “The interview is authorized. What Bishop Büchel said is what he means.”

These are very far-reaching statements for a bishop. They signal a Catholic breaking of taboos. In canon law every ordained ministry is limited to men.

Source: Der Sonntag.

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157 comments

  1. Is this bishop’s comment any more significant than the same positions taken by such as Bp. Gumbleton? There is always some dissent floating about.

    1. I’m not aware that there has always been some (what you call) “dissent” floating around among bishops on this issue, certainly not for the last couple hundred years. That’s why I think this is newsworthy.

      Bishop Gumbleton was an auxiliary, now retired. The Swiss bishop is the ordinary, still in office.

      awr

      1. Ordinatio sacerdotalis was pretty clear about the Church’s doctrine on this issue. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger said that the content of the teaching was infallible.

        If the bishop is going against Ordinatio sacerdotalis, how can one not call it dissent?

      2. Dissent is a word beloved of Stalin — let’s be careful about tossing it around. The CDF document stating that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is infallible is not itself infallible so we are back to the question-begging logic that dogs discussion of infallibility. Most theologians rejected the Ratzinger claim and indeed regarded it as ridiculous. Dissent from is not even dissent from an authentic teaching of the magisterium, unless we are supposed to regard every squeak from the CDF as belonging to that august category. And while authentic teachings deserve a religious obeequium they often meet with a non-reception from the faithful and from theologians, as happened in the case of HV, leaving us with an open question rather than a closed case.

      3. Joe O’Leary, putting aside whether or not Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was infallible, it is still magisterial. To openly reject a teaching of a magisterial document can rightfully be called dissent. If you or Fr. Anthony don’t thing dissent is the right word for it, then you’re fooling yourselves.

      4. I know that Charles Curran uses the phrase “faithful dissent” but I dislike the facile use of that word, since it has a sinister stalinistic history. Of course we lionized dissenters in the USSR, in contradiction to our “short way with dissenters” within the Church. I wonder if Catholic University, Washington DC, has ever recovered from their disgraceful dismissal of Curran.

      5. If this is not dissent, nothing is. As for those who believe otherwise, they are mistaken and need prayer.

  2. Dissent is not the appropriate term. Doctrine develops. When intimations of belief in an afterlife were being made by individual psalmists, expressed first of all in terms of hope that death would not be the end, I am sure there were many from the religious establishment of the day who labelled them dissent, or some other equivalent derisory term.

  3. Markus Büchel was elected bishop of St. Gallen by the cathedral chapter and the election was subsequently confirmed by the Vatican.

    It is time that this system of electing bishops was restored to the universal church.

    1. You might not like what you get if bishops were elected by the lay faithful. In my experience, many practicing Catholic laity are far more conservative than Church professionals, senior clergy, and many older religious. You might end up with a bishop whose perspective is closer to (the late) Jerry Falwell or T. D. Jakes than to K. J.-Schori or J.S. Spong. Remember the size & diversity of the RC Church when compared to all the progressive Protestant denominations in the US and recall too that the S. Baptists elect their leadership. One thing I am certain of is that no progressive would want to see universal RC suffrage for episcopal elections. I for one would not want to see a revival of some kind of contemporary form of lay investiture masked through highly maneuvered electoral processes whereby different groups in the Church (minorities, women, male religious, female religious, clergy, laity, men) send representatives to electoral bodies to vote on a predetermined slate of candidates as is done in too many places today. In this scenario the important process is not the election but the power-struggle that determines who goes to the convention and who it is who chooses the predetermined slate of candidates. If we think there is division in the Church today just wait for this fictional scenario … libera nos a malo.

      1. “One thing I am certain of is that no progressive would want to see universal RC suffrage for episcopal elections.” D.McK.

        I am one.

  4. I am delighted to hear that election of bishops is still practiced somewhere. I thought John Paul II had wiped out these traditions, enforcing his ultramontanist agenda.

    The Anglicans are rejoicing at the departure of the no-sayers on women’s ordination (see thinkinganglicans.org) — but how disappointing for those emigres if they find the same nameless horror on the Roman side!

    1. He tried to, in the diocese of Chur with disastrous consequences.

      In addition to Switzerland, some dioceses in Germany elect bishops from a terna submitted by the Vatican, in keeping with concordats signed with various Bundesänder. This means it would be difficult for the Vatican not to confirm the nomination of the person elected by the cathedral chapter.

      In relation to the rest of the church, ‘election’ is a misnomer, as is ‘bishop-elect N.’ ‘Appointment’ and ‘bishop-designate N’ are more accurate.

    1. “Bishop Buchel is only 61. How much you wanna bet this guy resigns before his 75th birthday?”

      Sounds like a comment from the AGM of a KKK chapter or Politburo meeting, mutatis mutandis.

      1. Really?!? Now you’re going to compare me to the KKK?!?

        I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

    2. The question is not when His Excellency retires but whether or not the other bishops in his conference support his point-of-view by agreeing with him publicly. Have not heard that they have.

  5. Maybe I’m mistaken but I had thought he was punished for his actions by being excommunicated in 2008. This recent punishment, being laicized, was, I thought, for refusing to recant his belief that women can be ordained.

    1. You’re probably correct about that.

      Let me rephrase: Fr. Bourgeois would not have been punished for his views, if he hadn’t acted upon them.

      1. Gerard, Joe O’Leary and others have said on this blog that they are in favor of womens’ ordination and that they still believe it would be wrong to participate in such an “ordination.” Are you saying that they lack integrity?

    1. As I understand them, Joe O’Leary’s views are more nuanced than that. He is in favour of women’s ordination and at the same time, he is opposed to ordinations’ taking place without the removal of the canonical impediment which is currently in place. In other words, if and when the impediment is removed, he will not have a difficulty with participation in such ordinations. And he acts accordingly.

      There is no contradiction in his holding both of these views. So, there is no question of his integrity being impugned.

  6. I believe there is a connection between the status of women in the Church, as defined by the hierarchy, and the mistreatment of both women and children in all other areas of human activity.

    1. The connection starts with (Power + Hubris), which inevitably leads to abuse in all forms. It’s THE sin of the institutional Church down the ages and provides the soil from which grows so much of the rotten fruit that poisons us today.

  7. Joe O’Leary :
    Click to Edit

    The interviewer: Preparing htis interview I was besieged with people urging me to get from you for a statement on female ordination. For a time it was said that we shouldn’t discuss it.
    The bishop: Yes the pressure is enormous. But it is easier to talk about priests marrying than about a tradition that never existed in the Roman Catholic Church. But we must seek steps that lead there. I could imagine that the female diaconate would be such a step. We must be understanding if this question is not solved overnight. Perhaps we need a perseverence like that of WIborada about questions that cannot be quickly resolved.But we cannot avoid the question.But that’s very difficult in today’s society. We can’t force ourselves to do that anymore.
    Im Vorfeld dieses Interviews wurde ich geradezu…

  8. Is one a “dissenter” if one is in accord with the majority of Catholics? Can one say that the majority of Catholics are “dissenters” from church teaching on contraception? What about Augustine, securus iudicat orbis terrarum, and the infallibility of the people of God as taught by Vatican II?

    Contraception is a clear case — female priests and gay marriage may become so too.

    The language of “dissent” tends to muddy the issue, deliberately suggesting that the problem is with rebellious individuals who are thus marginalized.

  9. The interviewer: Preparing htis interview I was besieged with people urging me to get from you for a statement on female ordination. For a time it was said that we shouldn’t discuss it.

    The bishop: Yes the pressure is enormous. But it is easier to talk about priests marrying than about a tradition that never existed in the Roman Catholic Church. But we must seek steps that lead there. I could imagine that the female diaconate would be such a step. We must be understanding if this question is not solved overnight. Perhaps we need a perseverence like that of WIborada about questions that cannot be quickly resolved.But we cannot avoid the question.But that’s very difficult in today’s society. We can’t force ourselves to do that anymore.

  10. Of course Micheal Barnett may be using “dissenter” in a non-judgmental way, but I think he rather has reached for it as a pejorative word. In short it is an exercise in name-calling.

    1. Like when you called me an ultramontanist in another thread and didn’t proceed to give an explanation. You were just content to call me a name and leave it there.

      And by the way, Joe, my first comment with regard to the use of the term “dissent” had nothing to do with a reach “for it as a pejorative word.” It was a response to the way that Fr. Anthony used it in his response to an earlier post.

  11. Michael Barnett, this is the second time you have referred back to my alleged namecalling — and it is quite likely that I used the word “ultramontanist” just as you use “dissenter” — I am not a saint. You will admit, however, that ultramontanism is just as rife in the Church today as dissent, and that if you find the latter category luminous other may use the former.

    1. I do not admit that there is rife ultramontanism in the Church today.

      I think that people like yourself just use the term any time that they don’t like someone agreeing with the pope or speaking of his proper authority.

  12. Call me an ignorant undergrad, but I recall reading somewhere or other in the Gospels that Jesus dissented from the religious and civil authorities every now and again. I think the examples given were conversing with women and Samaritans, eating with prostitutes and tax collectors–sinful things like that. Again as an ignorant undergrad, but it sounds like Jesus was going against–dissenting, disagreeing, protesting, so on–the supposedly infallible teachings of the civil and religious leaders of his day.

    I’m proud to follow in the tradition of such a great dissenter.

    1. Dear Cody

      I would like to join you in your “dissension” and if that means we dissent from Michael Barnett’s stance, all the better…

    1. Dear Chris,

      I’ll be happy to refrain from running commentary when Joe O’Leary and Bill deHaas and Gerard Flynn do the same. I suspect that the only reason you call me out and complain about my running commentary is because you don’t happen to agree with me.

    1. Most who dissent privately or publicly from the refusal to consider ordaining women would not wish to be involved with illegal ordinations and might even consider such actions to put the cause of women’s ordination back by 50 years.

  13. If a bishop speaks of gigantic pressure, there must indeed be a strong push for the ordination of women in Switzerland. The ban on discussion of the issue, as the bishops rightly notes, comes from another age — it makes no sense in ours — just makes the Church look ridiculous. That is not how the apostles proceeded at the Council of Jerusalem — they did not try to silence the dissident Paul but submitted the matter to the judgment of the whole Church.

  14. From another retired bishop and prior head of Australian Church’s Child Safety Program:

    http://www.dailyindia.com/show/436478.php

    Highlight:

    – “Geoffrey Robinson, the former auxiliary bishop of Sydney, blames the absence of women from church life as a catalyst for the sexual abuse crisis enveloping the faith.”

    1. This ftom a Vox Clara member.
      Archbishop Neary in his Lenten Pastoral Letter to Catholics wrote: “If lay people, and particularly women, had been involved, as they now are, in addressing this issue the response would have been different. Poor past management of sexual abuse cases has contributed to the suffering experienced by victims.”
      Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary said yesterday that the lesson was drawn when Ireland’s 24 bishops met Pope Benedict and heads of the Vatican at last week’s Rome summit.

      This absence of married couples and a feminine presence in church administration arose during a discussion of the causes which contributed to the abuse of children, he said.

      and

      he archbishop of Tuam has said that he is holding off on the establishment of a lay deaconate because the response of the laity to the lack of clergy has been so positive and he said he has been heartened by this.

      In a homily at Masses in his cathedral, Dr Michael Neary set out some stark statistics about the collapse in the number of working clergy but said that the functions that lay deacons might fulfil are already being taken up satisfactorily by lay pastoral councils in parishes.

      In the circumstances, the archbishop said he would be “guarding against the clericalism of ordained deacons at this stage.”

      “Lay people have acknowledged and responded to the situation very well – in fact their response has given me great hope for the future,” he said.

  15. I don’t know whether women can be priests, but it’s not something I would be bothered by should it ever happen. However, I don’t see any major reason why they couldn’t be deacons (or subdeacons, for that matter). After all, baptism is valid no matter who performs it and marriage is conferred by the couple rather than by the priest or deacon officiating. Even if one didn’t think a woman could confect the Eucharist or grant absolution, there’s no reason to believe a baptism or marriage could be invalid if a woman performs it (provided, of course, she uses the correct matter and form).

  16. One of the chief activities of deacons is preaching — and I suspect that the Pauline dictum, ‘let a woman be silent in Church’ still echoes in peoples’ minds. And of course the diaconate is only one slippery step away from the priesthood — and before you know it you have female bishops!

  17. Wonderful!

    All said in pretty much exactly the same terms by which his inglorious predecessors burnt people at the stake for disagreeing about the flatness of the earth.

  18. Where is the benefit, one could ask the good bishop, in carrying on as if the question has another valid answer?

    I do that constantly in my work. We know something is true but spend lifetimes trying to understand why and how. Even when we think we have a good understanding of it, we spend years teaching students, not simply that it is true because we said so, but for some other reasons that they adhere to.

    Students must develop a critical mind. They must challenge what I teach, call out my errors, and not be satisfied with a statement merely because I make it. They must develop their own grasp of the truth. Something is not true because I say it, but because of some reasons that are completely independent of what I may say. I am only there to help them find those reasons and develop their own understanding. That’s what being a teacher is about. Arguments of authority have no place.

    Sometimes I tell them: “Trust me, this is a good way to go about understanding the concept”, and over time they learn by experience that my advice is often worth following, saving them lots of time in errors. But they need to make some of those errors themselves.

    One of the most disturbing things I do in class is, after taking suggestions, to follow students’ suggestions for a while, exploring one possible way of thinking, before showing that it does not work. Along the way, they do not know whether or not it is a good idea, not until we are done discussing that line of thought. The students who struggle to follow hate it: it’s destabilizing. They do not know whether or not to take notes. The advanced students love it: they are free to explore. All of them learn from listening to one another. They see how others think and experience how ideas are developed.

    Discussion, debate, dialogue: that’s how we learn. Pope and bishops, as teachers, need to let us make the mistakes from which we’ll learn. They need to trust that the truth will emerge.

    1. Claire, what a fine model you have given for teachers and students.

      Currently I am taking a course on the Book of Ruth from a Rabbi.

      I like his model of how scripture and the experience of the community interpret each other, both during the formation of the Canon(s) and presently. He is very much aware that Ruth occupies a different place and therefore can be interpreted differently in the Christian than in the Jewish Canon. It is also interpreted in the Jewish Canon because of its liturgical reading at our Pentecost, which they celebrate as the giving of the Law.

      Since most of the Biblical values present in Ruth are there implicitly, he argues for a close attention to the hearing of the text. While many commentators might condemn Naomi’s family for leaving Israel for Moab, the text does not explicitly do this. Is the text taking a different view from than other parts of the OT? Is it implicitly questioning the complete condemnation of the Moabites found elsewhere?

      The Rabbi argues from the implicit presence of so many important Biblical themes that The Book of Ruth is the ripest fruit of the Bible, an astonishing claim of importance for such a small book. However, it engages everyone not only with the Book of Ruth but the Jewish Canon.

      Clearly the Rabbi is a teacher concerned with students and their experience as well as content. He is developing our skills and exploring alternative ways of thinking rather than just giving answers, or even just letting us express ourselves. We need good models of teachers who are as concerned with processes and with students as with the content of their teaching.

    2. Neurologically and emotionally, human beings learn by making errors (btw, this does build in the idea that there are such thing as errors). A pathological fear of making an error stunts human learning. Modern neurology has lots to comment in this regard.

  19. Is anyone feeling the need for a lighter perspective than Matthew’s on the issue? You might visit the über-conservative Catholic news site for German language countries (a service now located in California). There you will find an article featuring a photo with the following caption: “Die Anglikaner und Protestanten zeigen es: Wenn Frauen ordiniert werden, bernehmen sie die Mehrheit”–> The Anglicans and Protestants show it: If women are ordained, they become the majority. From “Macht nichts: Bischof agitiert gegen die Lehre des konzilsseligen Papstes,” http://www.kreuz.net/article.13044.html .
    Claire, there’s something else I am sure you do well: you are a role model for women’s involvement.

  20. Here’s a point that hasn’t been mentioned in this thread. It might be revelevant to the greater debate over women’s ordination in Catholicism.

    It’s important to remember that clergy and laity in other Christian communities display a broad variety of liturgical convictions. Anyone who reads PT on a regular basis knows the same is quite true for the Catholic clergy and laity. Admittedly, I only know Anglican clergy on a professional basis. Still, I suspect that this applies across Christianity.

    The Roman Catholic Womenpriest (RCWP) liturgies found on YouTube almost always display a very progressive liturgical style. By contrast, the women Anglican clergy I know are diverse in liturgical opinion. The online videos might not represent the views of every person in the RCWP movement. Still, I wonder if the RCWP inadvertently typecasts themselves as a “very liberal” liturgical group. This might not be the best strategy if the RCWP seeks to garner support from Catholics in general.

    I suspect that most Catholics of a “high” liturgical persuasion resolutely oppose women’s ordination. Still, the apparent RCWP liturgical uniformity does not reflect the diversity of opinion within the Christian communities that ordain men and women.

    1. Jordan, surely you don’t expect a female priest to want to celebrate the Tridentine Mass?

      After all, as any reader of blogs like NLM or WDTPRS can readily attest, maniples, birettas, cappa magnas and lace (and anything in general worn by the likes of Cardinal Burke) are such masculine things . . .

      1. The Anglican priest I know best ministers as a deacon at the High Mass of her parish almost every Sunday. She wears Tridentine vestments. Why should she or any clergyperson be constrained by the expectation of others? Among other qualities, she is a brilliant preacher who has found her ministry in Anglo-Catholicism.

        In my opinion, Cardinal Burke’s Solemn Masses are reactionary to a Lady Gaga level of absurdity. Paul VI was right to reform prelates’ vestments. The current infatuation with vestments and Solemn Mass in certain segements of the traditional community also bothers me. I’ve always been a Low Mass sort of Catholic anyway, but Solemn Mass can be celebrated without the theatrical excess. In my view, EF high liturgy today is merely an excuse to perform. I sometimes doubt if these Masses truly embody the epitome of the Mass, which is the adoration of the Sacrifice and the grace that the Eucharist confers to souls.

        Even though I don’t care for the “cappa magna and lace” Masses, I wouldn’t mock the participants with jabs at “masculinity”. Sexual orientation and liturgical preference are independent variables. Let’s disagree with the faux-Baroque Masses, but not smear the participants.

      2. I wouldn’t mock the participants with jabs at “masculinity”.

        You’d just choose to mock them in other ways Jordan?

        “reactionary to a Lady Gaga level of absurdity.”

        “theatrical excess”

        “merely an excuse to perform”

        Perhaps you’re not aware of how your comments read.

      3. Sam: You’d just choose to mock them in other ways Jordan?
        […] Perhaps you’re not aware of how your comments read.

        Yes, I am truly sorry. I am not tolerant.

        I have no reason to make such comments and broad accusation. My vitriol in part stems from the attitude of a number of traditional Catholics who have mocked my preference for austere pietism. Other traditional Catholics have told me that Low Mass, and especially Sunday Low Mass, “is an abuse” and that it is an “imperfect form of Mass”. I have also been denounced for saying the rosary quietly at Low Mass (a devotion that is very dear to me). Perhaps this is why I am strongly prejudiced towards who prefer the solemn ritual.

        Thank you for pointing out my prejudices.

      4. Jordan, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging one’s genuine attraction to a more interior and recollected form of worship, whether o-form or x-form. Perhaps this is more tolerable in one of more mature liturgical awareness. But Solemn Mass remains the norm precisely because it is more public, more ecclesial, more noble and “significant” in its externals.

        So yes: Low Mass on Sundays is to be discouraged, as it is really only a private Mass to which the faithful have been admitted. Personally I would not recommend reciting the rosary at Mass – and perhaps this marks me as one whose traditionalist sympathies achieved maturity well after the Council. While I am old enough to recall others praying the rosary at Mass in the early 60s, what I’ve noticed at x-form celebrations across the US and in various European settings, is that the faithful opt to pray the Mass together with the celebrant. Those who know what hunger is are more disposed to enjoy a fine banquet.

      5. So yes: Low Mass on Sundays is to be discouraged, as it is really only a private Mass to which the faithful have been admitted.

        That is true but hard for me to understand. When I am in the United States I receive at an EF Low Mass early Sunday morning and then attend EF Solemn Mass at another church nearby. I would be content with the Low Mass. I also attend the Solemn Mass because of the reasons you mention. I admire the aesthetic beauty, but I find it a bit emotionally and mentally exhausting.

        the faithful opt to pray the Mass together with the celebrant. Those who know what hunger is are more disposed to enjoy a fine banquet.

        To rack other snot-nosed remarks: I understand Latin to a very proficient level. I can whisper the prayers at the foot of the altar along with the server by following their gestures. I understand the spoken and sung lections.

        I have the Offertory and Canon memorized. I prefer to meditate on a word or phrase from a part of the Mass while that part is said. For example: during the Canon I’ll pick a verb such as rogamus and meditate on its occurrences in the Mass. I like to do this while reciting the rosary, as the rosary helps me keep focused on the meditation. I find this method of hearing Mass much more fruitful than using a hand-missal.

        To tie this in with the PT debate: I cannot understand the endless debates over the nuances of the new translation. After a while, the Mass in any language eventually converges on an asymptotic value where discrete words are not as important as the presence and sacramental action. I am focused on moving through what is said, rather than obsessing on its immediate value.

    2. RCWP is a small fragment of supporters of ordaining women, a bit like Lefebvrist’s are a small fragment of supporters of the Tridentine rite. In the ’70s I talked to a sister who said that when their congregation first discussed women’s ordination, most were opposed, but that a couple of the older ones said they believed they had a vocation to the priesthood that they could not pursue in their day. They did not protest, but lived quiet obedient lives with few ever knowing about this aspect of their vocation.

      While I am sure RCWP would like more supporters, the supporters of women’s ordination are already plentiful.

      1. Thanks for the clarification. Since women’s ordination is a highly controversial topic in Catholicism, it’s understandable that supporters might want to keep a low profile.

        It’s important that you’ve mentioned the SSPX. For many, the Lefebvrists are the face of the Tridentine revival. The EF movement incorporates more tolerant members. (Well, I like to think of myself as a tolerant, “progressive traditional” Catholic, but PT regulars might disagree or even doubt that this category exists.)

        It’s important that women’s ordination supporters not let RCWP dictate the agenda. I suspect that this is already happening, if it hasn’t happened already.

  21. Perhaps you can more carefully examine the distinction Pope Benedict XVI made between bishops and priests on the one hand and deacons on the other, which changed C. 1008 and C. 1009 to reflect the reality: only priest/bishop act in persona Christi capitis. The deacon acts as Christ servant. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and Inter Insigniores each leave women deacons aside. There is no doctrinal objection to women deacons.

  22. Gerard Flynn :
    There is a word for acting on one’s views: integrity.

    There you go again, Gerard: introducing foreign concepts to these blog nasties just will not work.

  23. Robert B. Ramirez :
    So yes: Low Mass on Sundays is to be discouraged.

    But the reality is that Low Mass on Sundays (and indeed all days) became, well and truly and indisputably, the norm of the pre-Vatican II Church. For everything you say about Solemn Mass, few people experienced it regularly, and even fewer AT ALL!

    1. Chris, Low Mass in the o-form is only the de facto norm in the post-Conciliar Church — which is one reason for the disordered understanding people have of what liturgy ought to be. In the common understanding, Low Mass is the default, while Solemn Mass is simply Low Mass with a full serving of sides: chant, incense, torches, and all the rest. As you surely know, this is to stand the Church’s real understanding of liturgy on its head. In every diocese the bishop is the chief liturgist, and full-throttle pontifical Mass is the genuine norm, from which everything else descends. Americans appear to be culturally allergic to this truth.

      As for the pre-conciliar rareness of Solemn Mass: those days are over. It’s pointless to mention past decadence as relevant in any sense to the present restoration informed by a keen interest in rediscovering the Church’s liturgical charism in its fullness. The first years after Sacrosanctum concilium were just another act in a liturgical movement that began 100+ years ago. All along, the intent has been to re-discover and revive our liturgical life. The Benedictine papacy (and its proleptic inbreaking in the latter years of his predecessor) are the next act. None of this would have come to be if not for the liturgical turmoil of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. God writes straight in crooked lines.

    2. Chris, my pastor has fond memories of solemn Masses on a regular basis. I don’t think that his experience was the norm for most American Catholics, but low Mass wasn’t the norm in all places.

  24. “So yes: Low Mass on Sundays is to be discouraged, as it is really only a private Mass to which the faithful have been admitted.” R.B.Ramirez

    This is a travesty of eucharistic theology. There is no such thing as a private mass. The liturgy is the public worship of the people of God.

    1. While you are at it – do we really continue to use designations such as “low”; “high”, etc.\

      As one of you humorously stated – we can begin to advertise again – 7AM LOW Mass in latin; 8AM HIGH Mass in english; 9AM High Mass in Latin; 10:30AM Bilingual Low Mass with spanish songs; etc.

      It reminds me of the earlier discussion around mortal and venial sins….would have sworn that went by the wayside once we decided the Baltimore Catechism (oh yes, copied from a French original and translated in english to meet a deadline). Mortal/venial may have its place when teaching children – but do we have children on this blog? It really does a very poor job of supporting an adult moral theology or moral/development of conscience.
      Do hear the good bishops talk about “serious” sin but the rest???

    1. Observation often precedes participation. Do infants emerge from the womb ready for dissertation defense? Apocryphal infancy narratives aside, native language is learned holistically and through experience. Why should Mass not be similar? The difference resides in the fact that no person has ever and will ever fully understand the mystery of the sacraments, and especially the sacrament of the altar.

      Who participates at Mass more fruitfully? The person who recites phrases he or she does not understand, or the person who listens day after day, year after year, and grows incrementally in knowledge and piety?

      The folly of liturgical progressivism is the notion that the knowledge of sacraments can be distilled into an applied science. Mass is our salvation realized in the mortal world. No metric can quantify such a profound event.

      1. Mass is not our salvation. The pascal mystery of Jesus Christ is our salvation. It is the mystery that we remember in the eucharistic prayer and say Amen to when we eat and drink his body and blood. While a one time event the paschal mystery is inexhaustible. It does not require us to have knowledge and piety, the gift is given freely. Sacraments are liturgical celebrations of the Church, people celebrate sacraments, the Church celebrates sacraments. I don’t know many people who recite phrases he or she does not understand. Did you have someone in mind?

      2. Thank you for pointing out my error, Mike. The ritual of Mass is not our salvation. Nevertheless, the Mass is not only the Paschal Mystery, but also the unbloody re-presentation of the Son’s sacrifice to the Father. The Savior of Golgotha is substantially present in the Eucharist. From one perspective we are united with Him whom died for our salvation when we receive the true body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. Why are progressive Catholics so very scared of the dogma of the Mass enshrined at Trent? This dogma is not only succinctly beautiful, but great in strength and assurance.

        The debates here over the use of consubstantial in the Creed betray the catechetical poverty of many Catholics. It is true that Mass is an objective event independent of human understanding and affection. If that is the case, why do progressive Catholics endlessly dissect the “readability” of words and texts? Would most Catholics be able to dissect the Creed line by line and provide succinct theological commentary? If not, then they are mouthing words at Mass that they do not understand. Progressivism has set up an irreconcilable conflict between didacticism and ineffable mystery.

        I am also uneducated. I do not know much about the syntactic and semantic aspects of the Mass text. I know not much of their theological and mystical meaning. Why, then, should I recite prayers aloud at Mass for the sake of “active participation” if I have yet to listen and learn from them? Will mere aspiration deepen a knowledge forged in piety and introspection? Again, progressive liturgical ideology demands superficial participation at the expense of a maturing contemplation.

  25. Mike – like you I feel like we are talking past each other and we have allowed some to hijack and bring us back to 1960 – sorry, don’t really want to participate in a blog that allows some to constantly repeat outdated, inaccurate, and down right wrong statements.

  26. #58 Jordan
    Cardinal Burke is quite the picture of ecclesiastical fashion. It costs about $30,000 for all his liturgical regalia.

    1. The woman of Bethany who anointed the head of Jesus (Mk. 14:3) spilt a jar of nard that cost at least 365 denarii, or £1 10s 5d. 1st century prices, of course, and before the Mandate and decimalization. 🙂

      I am more concerned about the anachronism and possible scandal of Cdl. Burke’s vestments than the price. After all, Jesus’ opponents were superficially concerned about the poor. Look where that got them.

      1. Jordan,
        Well the price is a bit scandalous. I too am concerned about the image it portrays. So many Catholic Schools struggling to stay open!
        My best!

  27. Bill deHaas :

    The difference – my statements are factual and documented – they are not outdated, inaccurate, or wrong..

    I’m still waiting for the documentation that supports your claim in another thread that Cardinal Burke was made by Cardinal Law.

    Your understanding of the homily was wrong or incomplete and you could do nothing to justify your position except say that I was too narrow and that I didn’t have an adult faith.

    1. My understanding of the homily was completing correct – that is the issue. Even when a USCCB document is posted and clearly shows evidence and exact words I used (versus your myths), you say my understanding was wrong or incomplete. It is difficult or impossible to dialogue or exchange comments when you have a closed mind and operate in your own alternative universe.

      Neither you nor Tom Poelker know a thing about what a homily is – it started with your initial comment in which you used the word – SERMON. That says everything.

      Please – go watch EWTN and save the rest of us from your biases.

      1. I don’t know what a homily is? I’ve given quite a few! In fact, I’m known in my area for being a good homilist.

        By the way, I’m not the one who used the word sermon. Go check the earlier posts.

      2. Hey, lets not generalize.

        All I said was that he had the right GIRM text.
        I have not questioned anything else you said, not been involved in the continuing discussion.

        Please do not attribute things to me said by others or infer that I agree with all one says when I have shown agreement on a single point.

        This is part of that “we versus them” problem which I have mentioned previously. A participant decides someone is on the “other” side and assigns all the positions and prejudices to that person and ceases to notice nuances, omissions, exception, individuality.

    2. “another thrread that Cardinal Burke was made by Cardinal Law” – can you reference that please? I never said anything of the sort….don’t waste my time on irrelevant folks such as Law/Burke.

      Again, an instance of your alternative universe.

      Try to at least be accurate when misquoting folks.

      1. Go check the comments under “Cheap but worthy” where you said: “Burke was made by Cardinal Law – he is part of his coterie.”

      2. MB – sorry, that is not me…it is a link I may have referenced but I did not say that….I would not use a word such as “coterie” – i’m from Texas.

      3. Tom – he took a paragrpah from GIRM which actually supported what I said (he doesn’t get the distinction between education or catechesis and what I was trying to say). You then played the “gotcha” card (good example of what you have now posted in #84 – we versus them problem) and stated that “he has you here” following his statement that I was “dead wrong”….then, you never clarified. Am constantly asked to provide documentation – M. Burns gave a very clear document from the USCCB that directly spoke about homilies and directly defined “education”; catechesis, and use of scripture.

        From Mr. Burns: “The USCCB document Fullfilled In Your Hearing: The Homily In The Sunday Assembly might shed some light.
        1. The very meaning and function of the homily is determined by its relation to the liturgical action of which it is a part. It flows from the Scriptures which are read at that liturgical celebration (p.22)
        2. The liturgical gathering is not primarily an educational assembly. Rather the homily is preached in order that a community of believers who have gathered to celebrate the liturgy may do so more deeply and more fully-more faithfully -and thus be formed for christian witness in the world. (p.18)
        3. The goal of the liturgical preacher is not to intepret a text of the Bible as much as to draw on the texts of the Bible as they are presented in the lectionary to interpret people’s lives. (p.18)

        So, I don’t think what you said was dead wrong at all.”

        You never responded…you let your “he has you here” statement stand.

        You statement and his confusion were wrong – as Palin says, Man UP!

  28. The process of the appointing bishops is shrouded in secrecy. Forty or so men, none of whom is under 60 years of age, make a decision behind closed doors, based on documents that are compiled as part of an arcane process involving confidential questionnaires (Anyone who has been asked to complete one is sworn to secrecy.) and reports submitted by nunciatures gleaned from clerical assistants thralling through national and international publications to see whether a candidate ever made a statement in favour of women’s ordination, or of making clerical celibacy optional, or whether he habitually wears clerical dress.

    It is naive to expect that there would be a paper-trail under such circumstances.

    Secondly, in seeking to describe the genre of homily, Bill made a valid and useful differentiation between the imparting of knowledge and the enlivening or inspiring of a congregation.

    Of course these are not mutually exclusive activities, so it is a matter of emphasis. A glance at the parables of Jesus will show that the latter activity resembles them more closely, that they are more concerned with the empirical than with the theoretical, in other words, that they are existential in character.

  29. The Diocese of Regensburg, in seeking to justify their treatment of Drewermann, quoted in full a prophetic homily of his that warned, in 1991, against a repetition of the Iraq invasion of that year. They claimed that it was an improper homily because it was not a commentary on the Gospel of the day. (If I remember correctly, the Gospel of the day was the story of Emmaus and the theme of the sermon was that we are far from Emmaus.)

  30. The distinction between high and low Mass was made obsolete in the reform of the Mass. Of course, with the reintroduction of the 1962 rites, it is back in the Extraordinary Form but it is not appropriate to assign these categories to liturgy in the Ordinary Form.

    A point of information: When the Mass was reformed, high Mass was the model, not low Mass. This is one of the reasons why there was consternation at Pope Paul VI’s personal decision to include a verbal text with the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass — it derived from the low Mass.

    1. P.S. None of this discussion of high and low Mass has anything to do with the subject of the post as far as I can tell. Think it’s time for another “open thread” anyone?

      Back to the original post — I, for one, applaud the gumption of the Swiss bishop who made this statement. More power to him!

      1. I, for one, applaud the gumption of the Swiss bishop

        Thank you for making yourself quite clear on this point. May I ask what significance, if any, you attach to the sacramentality of Holy Orders? Is the celebrant at Mass merely a presider or teacher — a functional role that might be performed by anyone? Or does he signify? Could Mass be celebrated by, say, an intelligent space alien or a highly advanced robot? If not, why not?

      2. Is your point that ‘real sacramentality’ means only a male can do it, but allowing a female or a robot or whatever is tied in every case to a non-sacramental or defectively sacramental view? If so, you should know that lots of theologians hold to a fully sacramental view of ordination, and think this would allow for male or female ordinands – but not robots or aliens! I think it’s important to reject the terms of your argument at the outset.
        awr

      3. Robert, you seem to be suggesting that if women were allowed to be celebrants at Mass, then one might as well allow highly advanced robots to do it. If I understand you correctly, the differences between men and women are smaller than the differences between women and robots. Or at least, if one wants to allow women to do something that men do, then one needs an argument to explain why robots would not be allowed to do it as well.

        If it is easier for you to see the differences between men and women than between women and robots, then, I don’t know what to tell you.

      4. I think it’s important to reject the terms of your argument

        I’m sure you do.

        I don’t understand what you mean by “fully sacramental”. If you hold that robots and aliens are inadmissible, will you or Rita kindly explain why?

      5. I think the point is that “gumption” isn’t really a relevant criteria for judging the quality of theological arguments, which should rather focus on the question of the sacramentality of orders and how sex and gender are or are not related to it. Certainly it would require gumption to posit that we should ordain robots, but it would not fly theologically.

        But I could be wrong, but that’s my charitable (interprative charity) reading of Robert’s comment.

      6. Claire, you speak of “being allowed” as if this were a discussion of rights. It is not to me, nor is it to the Church.

        From those sympathetic to the ordination of women, I am asking them to clarify their understanding of what a priest is and does. I am asking for clarity about what we mean when we speak of a sacrament.

        Let’s take a step back, and consider the wider question of matter in the sacraments. Can the Eucharist be confected from a bowl of oatmeal? Can Baptism be conferred with it? Can confirmands be annointed with it? Does matter matter — and if it does, why? How do we know that a sacrament is present? How do we distinguish between reality and what we would wish to be real, between truth and sentiment? Above all, how do we do this as the Church?

      7. I have a recommendation for all those who oppose women’s ordination through abstract arguments.

        Get to know a woman priest or minister. Attend one of her Masses, Eucharists, services, etc. Hear her preach. Get her perspective on ministry.

        I am a loyal son of the Church and convinced of the Roman Catholic faith. I am also a human being who has been privileged to know some women clergy. While I only know clergy of other Christian traditions on a professional basis, I respect their scholarship and erudition. This respect is certainly not incompatible with my Catholic convictions.

        I suspect that some Catholics fear meeting and working with women Christian clergy. Inevitably, the abstraction and objectification of women clergy will break down when Catholics of good will get to know clergy from other Christian traditions.

        Now I am somewhat conflicted about the possibility of Catholic women’s ordination. I confess the teaching of the Church because I believe in Catholic dogma and the primacy of the Holy See. However, I also recognize that some women have the gift of homiletic and ministry. Part of maturity is living life through irreconcilable contradictions.

      8. Does matter matter — and if it does, why? How do we know that a sacrament is present?

        These seem to me to be the right questions. If we have the proper form, matter and intent, what difference does gender make? Is the sacrament somehow less a sacrament for being conferred on a woman? How do you know if a sacrament is present, if form, matter and intent are not the criteria for discernment?

        On robots and aliens, don’t you need to define your terms a little more clearly? The Council at Jerusalem laid down the criteria for baptism, allowing not just Jews but also “aliens” to receive. If they can be baptized, they probably should be eligible for ordination. As for robots, it depends on what you mean. If a robot is soulless, it cannot be ordained. But if it can be saved by baptism, I see no reason why it cannot be ordained.

      9. You’re right Robert, I have inadvertently revealed my opinions by using the phrase “be allowed to” instead of “can”. Beyond religion and sacraments, I have great difficulty comprehending any statement of the form “[x] is, by its very nature, reserved exclusively to those human beings who have a penis”, almost regardless of what [x] is (with the possible exception of those activities that directly involve said penis). I can understand statistical correlation, but not outright bans.

        [x] can be: having a job, voting, singing tenor, being a mountain guide, holding acting roles in the theater, waging war, being baptized, driving, having a soul, going out of the house unaccompanied, etc. I am confident that, one day, when the time is ripe, when mentalities have changed enough throughout the world, the priesthood will be open to women as a matter of course. But I am in no rush to push for it before people are ready.

      10. I have great difficulty comprehending any statement of the form “[x] is, by its very nature, reserved exclusively to those human beings who have a penis”,

        Claire, Penises are important enough to God that he insisted every paschal lamb have one. We are not at liberty to ignore this.

        Perhaps your understanding of priesthood is practical: the priest offers the sacrifice; the priest preaches; the priest presides, etc. If priesthood were only a skill set, there’s no reason it couldn’t be opened to women. (I’ve been neither flippant nor disrespectful in asking why it couldn’t be extended also to aliens and robots; it’s a serious question.) But if priesthood is essentially sacramental, function is subordinate to the person, because it’s the person – the matter of the sacrament – that signifies. The Packers don’t play football in a hockey rink with basketballs; it’s the wrong matter. If they attempt it all the same, what they’re doing is no longer football. The fans will reject it as inauthentic. Similarly, the fans of Green Bay have seen thousands of youngsters playing football while wearing jerseys and helmets bearing the Packer colors and insignia: no one accepts these as the real Packers.

        Ordination does not effect a change in a person’s ability to hear confessions with wisdom and discernment; it doesn’t improve the ability to preach or to celebrate in an attitude of noble simplicity. Some priests have these gifts; many do not. The effect of ordination is ontological, not practical. I am sorry to be a bore by repeating what everyone already knows, but the sacrament whose institution we celebrated just one week ago was not instituted by us. Every encounter with God is a struggle, because God never changes, and we do. Let’s not be afraid to accept the sacraments with joy and enter into their mystery.

      11. Wherefore, after invoking the divine light, We of Our Apostolic Authority and from certain knowledge declare, and as far as may be necessary decree and provide: that the matter, and the only matter, of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hands; and that the form, and the only form, is the words which determine the application of this matter, which univocally signify the sacramental effects – namely the power of Order and the grace of the Holy Spirit – and which are accepted and used by the Church in that sense.
        Pius XII Sacramentum Ordinis 4

        Before you rewrite the theology of Orders, I thought you should know that the person is NOT the matter of the sacrament. But it is, as I said, a good question. If a bishop lays his hands on a woman, and uses the proper form with the intent to ordain her as a priest, why would it have no effect? Are we denying the intrinsic efficacy of the sacrament?

      12. Thank you, Jim; I stand corrected on this point. It does not affect my larger argument, I believe, that we are not free to redefine Holy Orders as it may please us.

        As for the question of what happens if a bishop were to lay hands on a woman using the proper form, we have the CIC’s assurance that the act would be invalid. As SO says, a sacrament must signify. I return to the homely example proposed above: can sacramental use be made of a bowl of oatmeal? Is anyone here willing to argue for it?

      13. Robert Ramirez: I return to the homely example proposed above: can sacramental use be made of a bowl of oatmeal? Is anyone here willing to argue for it?

        Robert, the question of women’s ordination is certainly a theological question. Your explanation of the Church’s teachings on Holy Orders is well-argued from a historical and theological standpoint.

        Nevertheless, in an earlier post you wrote: If priesthood were only a skill set, there’s no reason it couldn’t be opened to women. (I’ve been neither flippant nor disrespectful in asking why it couldn’t be extended also to aliens and robots; it’s a serious question.)

        Let me be more blunt here than I was in a previous post. I above all should be mindful of the following points. A Catholic has the right (and sometimes, obligation) to defend the Church’s teaching on Orders. This defense must also admit charity. Comparing the ordination of a woman to the ordination of an alien, robot, or bowl of oatmeal is disrespectful to women clergy of other Christian traditions. Indeed, any clergyperson outside of Rome’s definition of apostolic priesthood deserves not only the respect afforded to any person, but also respect for his or her profession. The objectification of women clergy and women in general as extraterrestrial beings or material items demeans not only human dignity but a person’s accomplishments.

        In my opinion, all prejudice begins with objectification. Likewise, prejudice ceases with the refusal to objectify others.

      14. The objectification of women clergy and women in general as extraterrestrial beings or material items

        No one is objectifying anybody. My questions are framed as they are to probe readers’ beliefs about the priesthood and the essentials for sacramental validity. Accusations of disrespect are a common tactic for those looking for a way to shut down an opponent through intimidation. I hope you have only misunderstood me.

      15. I don’t mean to “shut you down”. I only ask that you frame your defense of the Church’s teaching on Holy Orders in a way which does not compare people to hypothetical beings or inanimate objects.

        Sometimes discussion of women’s ordination in Catholic circles begins with the question of sex. An apology for Orders based on anatomy sometimes descends into either misogyny or at best the diminution of the achievements and dignity of women. I would not accuse you, or anyone here, of being a misogynist. Sadly, a number of people have tried to defend the teachings of the Church by this route. That is not a defense but rather an affront to charity and dignity. Let’s not go there.

        In my view, a discussion of women’s ordination, and ordination in general, begins with the “other six” sacraments. For Rome to permit the ordination of women, a great number of dogmatic and doctrinal teachings would have to be reevaluated and modified. This is where the great issues lie. This is where an apology for (or criticism of) the Church’s teachings on Orders should begin.

      16. For Rome to permit the ordination of women, a great number of dogmatic and doctrinal teachings would have to be reevaluated and modified.

        I would be grateful if you could expand on this, perhaps give an example or two.

      17. #110 by Jim McKay on April 29, 2011 – 11:38 am

        Jim: I would be grateful if you could expand on this, perhaps give an example or two.

        I’m not a theologian. Perhaps I’ll leave it to the pros to delve deeper into the issue. Here is one idea.

        The Mass is both paschal mystery and propitiatory sacrifice. To my knowledge, the doctrine of Mass as paschal mystery does not include the notion of in persona Christi. Robert Ramirez’s many references to the sex of paschal lambs offers one apology for the Church’s teaching on Orders. I would be interested to read or hear a theologian’s refutation of an intrinsic link between the Scriptural paschal lamb’s sex and the Eucharistic paschal mystery.

        The Aquinan-Tridentine dogma of the Mass, and especially its emphasis on in persona Christi, is perhaps the greatest barrier to women’s ordination in Roman Catholicism. Robert Ramirez’s mention of the Ο Νυμφίος/”The Bridegroom” icon highlights the intricate gendered imagery that courses through the dogma of propitiatory sacrifice. These images condition the priest’s role in the sacrificial aspect of the Mass. The recent theological and liturgical move away from the Tridentine dogma of the Mass does not obviate its dogmatic force. A shift from “celebrant” to “presider” (of either sex) might require a jettisoning of propitiatory sacrifice altogether.

        As I have stated here before, I have a strong devotion to the propitiatory sacrifice. I certainly do not doubt the capability of women to be pastors or teachers. I am concerned that the dogma of the Holy Sacrifice would need to be jettisoned or significantly modified to accommodate women’s ordination. This is where my personal struggle with the issue lies.

      18. a discussion of women’s ordination, and ordination in general, begins with the “other six” sacraments.

        Thus my questions about sacramental oatmeal (an image introduced explicitly out of deference to the sensibilities of those suspecting me of disrespect to women).

        Maybe everyone should take a break and re-read the Apocalype of St. John, where a fine convergence of liturgical, eucharistic, paschal, and nuptial images is to be found.

    2. The distinction between high and low Mass was made obsolete in the reform of the Mass. Of course, with the reintroduction of the 1962 rites, it is back in the Extraordinary Form but it is not appropriate to assign these categories to liturgy in the Ordinary Form.

      Sure it is. The legal/rubrical distinction was abolished in the revision, but the functional distinction wasn’t. Some Masses are sung and some are not. Music and the additional of additional ministers add solemnity to the Mass. (As is acknowledged by the liturgical books with e.g. the Stational Mass of the Bishop with its additional ministers [which is also, come to think of it, a preservation of High/Low type terminology in the revised liturgy]) People need to know when they go to Mass if it’s going to be 20 minutes or an hour long. Some people want to go to a Mass with music and others don’t, and others don’t care and that’s O.K. The additional information is helpful.

      1. As I said above, the distinction was abolished and the terms are obsolete. There is no need to resurrect an obsolete vocabulary simply to describe the length of Mass and whether or not it has music.

      2. As I said above, the distinction was abolished and the terms are obsolete.

        Actually, I seem to have been wrong in agreeing that the rubrical distinction was abolished*.

        Musicam Sacram (1967, but still in force) says specifically: “28. The distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained, according to the traditional liturgical laws at present in force.”

        Can you point to something later that abolishes it?

        *Though its importance was surely lessened by the provision later in the same document that:

        “36. There is no reason why some of the Proper or Ordinary should not be sung in said Masses. Moreover, some other song can also, on occasions, be sung at the beginning, at the Offertory, at the Communion and at the end of Mass. It is not sufficient, however, that these songs be merely “Eucharistic” — they must be in keeping with the parts of the Mass, with the feast, or with the liturgical season.”

      3. “Can you point to something later that abolishes it?”

        Yes, the whole corpus of liturgical texts which followed the reform. None uses this distinction.

        Sadly, I doubt that this answer will be satisfying for you. It seems to me futile to take time to go and find a reference that explicitly says something which has already been rendered explict by fifty years of experience and evidence. Maybe someone else would like to.

      4. Yes, the whole corpus of liturgical texts which followed the reform.

        Musicam Sacram is the reform. It is referenced in the GIRM (at e.g. number 40 and in many other places).

        When we plan music for Mass, this is one of the current legislative documents to which we should be referring.

      5. As is acknowledged by the liturgical books with e.g. the Stational Mass of the Bishop with its additional ministers

        Samuel has pointed out that the reformed Ceremonial of Bishops — an official liturgical text — prescribes the stational mass as the norm. Peter Eliot’s Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite is not in this same category, but it’s nevertheless noteworthy that this respected and widely followed liturgical expert preserves the term “Solemn Mass” and devotes a full chapter to its discussion. It seems pointless to insist that the reformed liturgy has only one “form”.

    3. When the Mass was reformed, high Mass was the model, not low Mass. This is one of the reasons why there was consternation at Pope Paul VI’s personal decision to include a verbal text with the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass — it derived from the low Mass.

      There’s a verbal text with the sign of the cross in the Solemn Mass as well, the Introit. (And from the pre- and post-Vatican II divine office, among other places, we can see that a verbal text accompanying the sign of the cross doesn’t have to be “In Nomine, etc.”) The desireability of beginning the liturgy of the Mass with the (public, communal) sign of the cross is not in dispute I think… the consternation being over the verbal text, not the sign itself if I read you correctly. But since the 20th century reforms (pre-Vatican II changes to the rubrics in the Graudale) restored the introit as a processional chant, once you (post-Vatican II) removed the duplication of the priest saying the introit which was sung by the choir, you were left with no text. There are very few places in the liturgy where signs are made with no words, I think… so it makes sense to add something and voila… “In Nomine” it is.

      This could also be seen as a reflection of what appears to be Byzantine influence on the entrance rites (at least an intermediary source for “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.”), as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom begins with the sign of the cross with a Trinitarian text: “Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.”

      And there are several other elements of the Low Mass included right at the beginning: the greeting before the penitential rite, the penitential rite itself, and in a way, the option for the celebrant to remark briefly on the nature of the celebration (which is after all what “Introibo ad altare, etc.” does.) Also taken from Low Mass practices are the options to sing alternate texts other than those in the Gradual. I suspect there might be other things taken from the Low Mass, if I think about it a bit more.

  31. Anthony Ruff, OSB :
    I think it’s important to reject the terms of your argument at the outset.awr

    Anthony while ever you allow these nasties to continue commenting on the blog with their mumbo-jumbo attitude to religion, who have far too much time on their hands and get off on arcane rubrics and selective quotings (and misquotings), and love looking over their chip-bearing shoulders into the future, and idolise a pope who resurrects an abrogated and reformed rite, all of them quite obviously in as much denial about what the Church has been doing for the last 50 years as they are about certain aspects of their own private existences, you’ll always be fighting this kind of meaningless brain-dead rear-guard action.

  32. “Claire, Penises are important enough to God that he insisted every paschal lamb have one. We are not at liberty to ignore this.” R.B. Ramirez

    Such an interpretation displays no awareness of the advances of biblical scholarship since 1943. The bible is the word of God but not the words of God. The words are the words of human beings who, while they may be acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless writing and editing in their capacity as human beings. As such, they display ingenuity, artistry, skill, bias, stylistic patterns and preferences.

    To extrapolate from the detail of the gender of the paschal lamb that such a detail is important to God is infantile. Furthermore, to argue that priesthood in the roman catholic church ought to be limited to males because the paschal lamb had to be male would be humourous if it were not so ludicrous.

    According to that logic we ought not to ordain anyone with fewer than four legs.

    1. Furthermore, to argue that priesthood in the roman catholic church ought to be limited to males because the paschal lamb had to be male would be humourous if it were not so ludicrous.

      What a relief, then, to know that I haven’t argued that.

      The male sex (not “gender”) of the paschal lamb points to Jesus. The ordained priesthood points to and participates in the priesthood of Jesus, who presents his relationship with his Church (as does the Lord in the OT accounts) as spousal. By the way: Jesus, to whom every ordained priest is conformed, is a man — notwithstanding the skill, artistry, style, or bias of the sacred authors involved.

      Psst…we also are not at liberty to ignore the fact that Jesus suffered on the Cross in a state of nakedness. Do you know what name the Greeks have given to the icon of the Lord after his scourging, holding a reed and crowned with thorns? “Ο Νυμφίος.” “The Bridegroom.”

      1. “The male sex of the paschal lamb points to Jesus.”

        The authors and editors of the Torah had no such intention.

      2. The authors and editors of the Torah had no such intention.

        Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (John 11:49ff)

        Not having the intention to prophesy about Jesus didn’t stop the high priest from doing so.

        It is thy will that works of thy wisdom should not be without effect; therefore men trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood, and passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land. For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft, and guided by thy hand left to the world the seed of a new generation. For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes. (Wisdom 14:5ff)

        The author of the above had wood from the past (Noah’s ark) in mind, but he ended up prophesying about wood in the future (Christ’s cross).

        Have you heard of the sensus plenior, the “fuller sense” of Scripture that God intended, although the human author was unaware of it? I dare say a good number of the O.T. texts which point to Christ were written without complete human understanding of their significance.

        The author of Exodus 12-13 may not have had Christ in mind when writing, but so many of the Passover prescriptions point to Him: the (male) lamb without blemish, the saving effects of its blood, that not a bone shall of it shall be broken, that its flesh is to be consumed (but not by outsiders), etc.

      3. Robert, such arguments as yours could also be used to argue that the priesthood is ontologically reserved to people of the white race. (Lambs are white, and note the insistence on their being “without blemish”, Jesus was white and naked on the cross, etc.)

        You say: arguments in favor of women’s ordination are weak if they can be used as well in favor of robots’ ordination. I answer: arguments against women’s ordination are weak if they can be used as well against black men’s ordination.

      4. It is of course an interesting item of religious curiousity to know that the Greeks refer to Jesus as the bridegroom. And the term has symbolic significance in the book of Revelation.

        However it is in the metaphorical sense which Jesus is a brideroom. To argue for the reputed essential maleness of roman catholic priesthood on this basis is fallacious.

        In matters theological and interpretive, you may not believe yourself to be at liberty. It would be helpful and more accurate not to ascribe that state of hermeneutical thralldom to others.

      5. How do we know that Jesus is the bridegroom only in the metaphorical sense? What if it is earthly marriage that is the metaphor?

        Is the first Person of the Trinity only “Father” in a metaphorical sense?

      6. “By the way: Jesus, to whom every ordained priest
        is conformed, is a man ” R.R.

        God to whom every human being is conformed is neither female nor male.

    2. The bible is the word of God but not the words of God. The words are the words of human beings who, while they may be acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless writing and editing in their capacity as human beings.

      “[T]he books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose people and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.” (Dei Verbum 11)

      Can we infer from DV 11 that, if Exodus records that God ordered the Israelites to choose only male lambs, it is because God indeed wanted the human author of Exodus to record such a thing? Or has God’s actual message, through Moses and Aaron, to His people about the Passover lambs been corrupted by the ingenuity, artistry, skill, bias, stylistic patterns, and preferences of the human author of Exodus?

      Whatever qualities (good or bad) were possessed by the human authors of Scripture, the written word of God can be likened to the Incarnate Word of God: like its human counterpart in all things, but without blemish.

  33. “Not having the intention to prophesy about Jesus didn’t stop the high priest from doing so.” J.P.

    The intention to prophesy about Jesus was that of the author of the gospel according to John. The author gave expression to his intention by having a character in his literary work prophesy, post eventum, about Jesus.

    The author of the book of Wisdom did not have crucifixion in mind, when alluding to the wood of a raft. This is not a prediction of Calvary. Neither is it prophecy.

    To connect them is to perform an exercise of literary imagination, that is, to identify a common motif in two otherwise unrelated locations.

    1. I wouldn’t say they’re unrelated sections, since God is the primary author of Scripture, and the human authors wrote that which He wanted them to write, and there’s such a thing as the “fuller sense” of Scripture, and the whole of the written word of God points to the Eternal Word of God.

  34. I have heard one person claim that the originally published version of the Code of Canon Law in 1917 used the word “homo” where it later had “vir” as carried forward into the present Code. If this is correct, then I wonder what word(s) were used in the source(s) selected by the compilers of the 1917 CIC.

    Has anyone already seen this claim supported or disproved?

    I am looking for citations regarding a change of the 1917 code, not opinions regarding such a change.

    Codex Iuris Canonici (1917)
    http://www.intratext.com/IXT/LAT0813/_P35.HTM II.
    De subiecto sacrae ordinationis. Can. 968. § 1.
    Sacram ordinationem valide recipit solus vir baptizatus;
    Sacred Ordination validly is received only by a baptized male.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/latin/documents/cic_liberIV_lt.html#TITULUS_VI
    CAPUT II DE ORDINANDIS Can. 1024
    Sacram ordinationem valide recipit solus vir baptizatus.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3P.HTM
    CHAPTER II. THOSE TO BE ORDAINED Can.  1024
    A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.

  35. Michael Barnett :

    I do not admit that there is rife ultramontanism in the Church today.

    Would you agree that there is an effort by many to strengthen and further centralize Catholic authority in the pope and the curia?

    Whether you would agree with this or not, what would you consider to be an inoffensive single word to describe that postulated trend?

  36. I am concerned about how Scriptural images are being used in this discussion.

    Things which “can be seen” as foreshadowings of the Messiah are being cited as if they “must be seen” as prophecies of Jesus and of ordained ministry.

    It seems to me that this is saying
    – that human interpretations of Scripture are
    to be given the same weight as the words of Scripture themselves,
    – that there is only one possible meaning and
    – only one possible line of deduction and
    – that the text and interpretation are reliably relevant to the specific issue of the sex of those who may be ordained.

    In light of the fact that a Pontifical Biblical Commission reached the conclusion that there was no specific reason in Scripture [without speaking to the separate matter of tradition] not to ordain women, I think that proponents of the relevancy of references to male lambs or bridegrooms need to be able to demonstrate
    – that they are not quoting Scripture out of context and
    – that they are not selecting a single interpretation to a text which has multiple possible interpretations in regard to its exact meaning.

    The fact that a passage has often been used in a particular way does not mean that particular usage is a correct usage nor even that it has not been incorrectly cited by venerable persons. This the kind of mistaken citation and interpretation which the Church has admitted in regard to the movement of the earth.

    1. I think that proponents of the relevancy of references to male lambs or bridegrooms need to be able to demonstrate
      that they are not …

      Can’t prove a negative, Tom.

      May I suggest you do a word search for “lamb” in St. John’s Apocalypse? A lot of things seem to come together there.

      1. Nice use of cliche, RBR.
        Now, since you are citing single word, phrases, and verses, I claim that you are citing them out of context. What context do you claim to be relevant to your use of the lamb and bridegroom images as related to sex of ordination candidates.

        Are you claiming that your interpretation is the only possible interpretation and that it is impossible that the images you use were only meant to refer to the surrounding content? Seems pretty grandiose as a personal claim.

        Can you cite any Church teaching that says that any passage has only one possible meaning?

        Stop ducking and make your claims.

      2. Seems pretty grandiose as a personal claim.

        Gosh, you’re right, Tom.

        OK, here are the Church’s claims (from the CCC, with footnotes):

        757 “The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother’, is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes.'”[149]

        149 LG 6; Cf. Gal 4:26; Rev 12:17; 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17; Eph 5:25-26, 29.

        1602 Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of “the wedding-feast of the Lamb.”[85] Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its “mystery,” its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal “in the Lord” in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church.[86]

        85 Rev 19:7, 9; cf. Gen 1:26-27.
        86 1 Cor 7:39; cf. Eph 5:31-32.

        1612 The nuptial covenant between God and his people Israel had prepared the way for the new and everlasting covenant in which the Son of God, by becoming incarnate and giving his life, has united to himself in a certain way all mankind saved by him, thus preparing for “the wedding-feast of the Lamb.”[104]

        104 Rev 19:7, 9; cf. GS 22.

      3. “Can’t prove a negative, Tom. ”

        Is it not possible to prove that it is not raining?

  37. Robert B. Ramirez :

    Maybe everyone should take a break and re-read the Apocalype of St. John, where a fine convergence of liturgical, eucharistic, paschal, and nuptial images is to be found.

    Indeed, they are images, merely images, human attempts to express the ineffably divine. They are not definitive statements but images. One does not do theology on the basis of inadequate images. They are indicative not definitive. They are inspirational images. One can not draw theological conclusions from the use of one image rather than another.

    1. There is a methodological issue when referring to the CCC. As a compendium it is a mixed bag. It lacks an awareness of the hierarchy or truths. The result is that an undifferentiated collection of material assumes, in the minds of certain readers, an equlity of status and significance.

      An item in the CCC is only as authoritative as the authoritativeness of its sources.

  38. “OK, here are the Church’s claims (from the CCC, with footnotes):” RBR

    That was a nice collection of images, but you have not done any theology by merely citing images.

    In order to make a theological point rather than just be pointing to images as if they were self explanatory as regards ordaining women or not, please show your logic regarding

    – how the texts and interpretations are reliably relevant to the specific issue of the sex of those who may be ordained.

    – that there is only one possible meaning for these texts and it is the one regarding ordination

    – only one possible line of deduction for these texts and it is that regarding ordination.

    Otherwise, you are applying one possible insight regarding multivalent texts which may have nothing to do with the sex of who may be ordained. You can not prove that the texts mean what you claim they mean without showing both your axioms and you line of deduction. Citing images which you think are relevant does not make any point other than they are nice images. Citing the catechism does not make any point other than the images have been interpreted to mean what the catechism describes. That does not prove any relevancy to any theological point.

    Mistaken citation and interpretation leads to the type of error which the Church has admitted in regard to the movement of the earth.

  39. “Thank you, Jim; I stand corrected on this point. It does not affect my larger argument, I believe, that we are not free to redefine Holy Orders as it may please us.” R.R.

    It debunks it.

    1. Not likely.

      Swiss bishops and some German bishops are not appointed by the Vatican. They are elected by the cathedral chapter from three names submitted by the Vatican and the choice is subsequently confirmed by Rome.

      1. Ah yes, but they can still be removed by the pope. The chapter need not worry itself.

      2. The last time the Vatican tried to sidestep the Swiss process and to interfere – in the diocese of Chur – the fallout lasted for years. They got their fingers burnt and would be most unlikely to tempt a repetition.

      3. And, now we have even more recent evidence that, when a Pope really wants a bishop gone, he can be made to get gone, so the hand-wringing over bishops who engage in cover-up of abuse becomes even less credible. Authority and accountability are highly correlated.

  40. Gerard Flynn wrote in comment #24 on this thread, “There is a word for acting on one’s views: integrity.”

    Adolf Hitler believed that the Jews, Slavic races, gypsies etc. were subhuman and he acted and directed others to act on those beliefs.

    Based on Gerard’s definition, Hitler acted with integrity toward these people.

    1. Integrity, like many other nouns, has both a denotation (descriptive component of meaning: whole, unimpaired, sound, complete) and a connotation (the moral sense of uprightness, chastity in the Latin etymology, or honesty, accordance with truth). Hitler’s vision of racial supremacy may have been whole, like the skin of an organism (integere/integument), but it lacked the evaluative sense of integrity. What the skin held together was wholly rotten, unsound, and untrue. And did he wholly believe in racial superiority, or did he use the notion as a rhetorical instrument of motivation and control?

      I think that one might satisfy the requirements of Integrity, in the sense of “acting on one’s views” about non-traditional ordination, by candidly speaking one’s mind on this issue. Just doing that might require courage of some who risk career advancement in a conservative environment.

  41. “The last time the Vatican tried to sidestep the Swiss process and to interfere – in the diocese of Chur – the fallout lasted for years. They got their fingers burnt and would be most unlikely to tempt a repetition.”
    As I remember the story, the priests of Chur made a fuss about Vatican attempts to name a highly conservative bishop, and Vatican then, attempting to save face, took the conservative and moved him from Chur to the brand-new diocese of Liechtenstein, formed in order to give him a place to go. Lucky little Liechtenstein!
    Switzerland is the only country in which I have heard a woman give the homily at Sunday Mass (and very thoughtful it was, too, given my limited command of German).
    Can you imagine one — just one — of our many, many US bishops having the courage to speak out as Bishop Büchel has done?

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