Saturday, October 19, 2013

How is the female church apostolic?

Pope Francis’ Wednesday October 16, 2013 papal address was about the apostolic church.  As I read his comments from that address so soon after reading his comments about women made last weekend, a thought struck me that is so obvious I wonder why it hadn’t occurred to me earlier. 

Last weekend the pope emphasized that the church is female and this past Wednesday he said this about the female church:

In the Creed, we profess in faith that the Church is “apostolic.” We can understand this in three ways. First, the Church is apostolic because Jesus founded her upon the Apostles whom he chose and sent forth to continue his work; thus Saint Paul compares the Church to a temple which has the Apostles as its foundation and Christ as its cornerstone (Eph 2:19-20).

The Church is also apostolic because she preserves and hands down the fullness of Christ’s teaching and the means of salvation which he instituted.

Finally the Church is apostolic because she accomplishes in history the mission which Christ entrusted to the Apostles: making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them his commands (cf. Mt 28:19-20).

Here are some common definitions of “apostolic”:

  • Of or relating to an apostle
  • Of, relating to, or contemporary with the 12 Apostles
  • Of, relating to, or derived from the teaching or practice of the 12 Apostles
  • Of or relating to a succession of spiritual authority from the 12 Apostles, regarded to have been perpetuated by successive ordinations of bishops and to be requisite for valid orders and administration of sacraments

For example, the roles of priest, bishop and pope are considered “apostolic.”   People are ordained into those apostolic roles by others who were ordained to those apostolic roles and eventually are tied to a succession all the way back to the 12 Apostles. 

Females are barred from all those apostolic roles because church leaders in those apostolic roles believe Jesus only appointed male apostles and they must preserve this for all eternity by barring females from ever having an apostolic role.  So, how is it then that the church is both female and apostolic? 

Francis clearly describes the church as fulfilling the role and mission of an apostle.  Thus, he describes the church as equivalent to an apostle.  He also emphatically expresses that this church fulfilling the apostles' role and mission is female. 

How can the female church carry on the mission of the Apostles as Pope Francis described during his Wednesday address since he and his ordained colleagues emphatically believe females are incapable of being apostles?  It would seem either they are wrong that the church is female or they are wrong that it is apostolic or they are wrong that females cannot be apostles.  Which is it - because all three assertions cannot stand together.

1 comment:

  1. Ewe, best get back in the flock. All three propositions are absolutely true because the Big Shepherd says so. Next thing you know you could be writing "Questions from the stewe pot.