The Emasculate and Effeminate Priesthood

February 2008

In light of the recent rash of female "womanpriest ordinations" in the U.S. and the world over (see our New Oxford Note "Archbishop Burke Has Courage," Jan.), a clear and compelling defense of the male priesthood would go down real smooth right now. So we turned with interest to an article by Helen Ratner Dietz in the November 2007 Homiletic & Pastoral Review (HPR) looking for refreshment. She writes, "Christians have barely begun to counter the arguments of those women influenced by feminism who with so little theological literacy demand the Christian priesthood for themselves." Yes!

Dietz writes, "Because he is considered to be the image of Christ, who is the bridegroom of the Church, the Christian priest must, like Christ, be male and, must, like Christ, be thought of as a bridegroom." Yes again!

Drinking a little deeper, Dietz's offering -- titled "The Male Priesthood: Wearing the Jewels of the Bride" -- started to leave a sour taste in our mouths. Says she, "We are so accustomed to think of Christ solely as the bridegroom that this once well-known concept of Christ as bride has become unfamiliar to us." Huh? Christ as bride?

Dietz offers as her example the story of Abraham giving bread to the Lord at the oaks of Mamre (Gen. 18:1-6). She says, "By appropriating her role as bread-giver, Abraham in priestly fashion...substitutes himself for Sarah." Likewise, she says, Christ assumed the feminine role of bread-giver at the Last Supper. Likewise the priest at Mass.

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New Oxford Notes: February 2008

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Why did Pope John Paul II wait 16 years (1978-1994) to finally end women's nagging for priestly ordination? I think that the lag time (or nag time) may have encouraged more feminist dissent and made the problems worse. Decisive leadership would have ended the irrational quibbly and squabbly much sooner.

Posted by: gwolak
February 11, 2008 09:43 PM EST
So loved as he is, one does wonder why JPII didn't address this and the priest sex abuse scandals sooner and directly. I believe that St. Paul is telling us what Jesus taught regarding how to live our lives. Live in Marriage with respect and responsibility and life becomes much better. If society practises this, the Nation becomes more peaceful. Fems don't want to hear that but then, so what, they aren't exactly a role model or path to follow. It is not peaceful, trying to row up stream as the fems and the homosexual activists are trying to do. Posted by: wunsch
February 18, 2008 02:49 PM EST

Good post. One insight I might humbly be able to offer, for what little my opinion is worth.

I have heard it said that John Paul II was very much informed by his experiences (we all are). One of the favorite tactics of the Nazis and Communists was to discredit people they simply could not kill. Their favorite tactic was to publicly label enemies they could not conveniently do away with as homosexuals and/or pederasts.

Thus, JP II was inclined to disbelieve any reports of homosexuality and/or pederasty against his bishops and priests. His experience taught him that such charges were usually examples of attempts to smear good men. It was his experience that his enemies (Nazis and Communists) often used this tactic to smear their enemies. Such charges would have always reminded him of Communist and Nazi actions against his Church in his past.

Unfortunately, this experience may have misled him when dealing with the Church in the free world, where there was no widespread and institutional attempt to destroy the Church. If charges levied against faithful priests behind the Iron Curtain were usually false, the charges in the free world (where the Church was not under the fires of persecution) were more likely to be true.

Thus it is said by some that he had blinders on regarding this issue. He simply could not bring himself to believe that there was problem in the priesthood and the episcopate. Charges of homosexuality and pederasty simply ended up in the proverbial "circular file."

I don't know if this observation helps. However, it certainly can help us understand why he so vehemently defended Fr. Maciel of the Legion for instance.

I for one do love JP II, for his ministry and ESPECIALLY for his gift of Theology of the Body (which changed my life and brought me back into the Church). However, I too am dismayed by his lack of action against the scandal in the Church. I think though his life experience gives us the reason for his reticence. I certainly perceive no malice or lack of love for his Church in his actions.
Posted by: eakter
February 23, 2008 10:59 PM EST
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