Sunday, May 15, 2016

Take this message to my brother...

It’s snowing today although it’s Spring so people are talking excitedly.  But in a few days, the typical warmth of Spring will return and people will forget about it.  This kind of reminds me of last week’s brief flurry around Pope Francis’ desire to form a commission to study women deacons in the early church.  However, instead of blowing snow on a Spring day, it seemed to be a chinook wind bringing warmth in the deep of winter.  It seemed a remarkably rapid thaw after about 1,200 years of winter.  But, within days, the Vatican weather vane twisted again and the climate resumed its typical frigidity..."no, no, that's not what we mean..."

I hope people are not too disappointed or disheartened.  The pope’s statement contained weasel wording a la a marketing pitch.  He merely said he wanted to study women deacons in the early church.  He didn’t say he wanted to ordain women.  People jumped to that conclusion, because it’s justified and logical…but justice and logic are not strong suits amongst many churchmen. 

My guess was Francis suggested the study either to relegate women to some non-ordained sub-deacon status (oh, we already have that….), declare women were never ordained (though neither were any men originally…) and so we must continue marginalizing women and ignoring the Spirit, or offer women deacons as a small, picked over bone to women in hopes people will stop talking about women priests. 

If the commission happens, rest assured, it likely wouldn’t contain any women with a vote anyway.  And after recently discussing female biology with a soon-to-be-ordained seminarian who thought all birth control pills aborted conceived children rather than prevented conception via preventing ovulation (as in there is no egg to fertilize), I don’t hold a lot of hope for a commission of ordained men coming to any reasonable conclusions about women in the church.  So, I’m not sure I care if they hold this commission or not and I’m quite sure I care even less about their conclusions. 

You see, my dear ordained brethren, "You don't know me but I'm your brother," as in your sibling, your equal.  Yes, I am your sibling yet, "you don't know my kind in your world." (Doobie Brothers, "Takin' it to the Streets"). Opting to operate in a world that isolates you from women makes you far from experts about women.  It makes you one of the most ignorant groups of humans on the topic, in fact.  And when the topic of spirit inspired female leadership arises, the collective lot slinks into the vestment closet, fondling your silky robes like children with their security blankets, sucking your thumbs and crying, "Go away! You can't come in my imaginary fort! You have cooties!"

It’s Pentecost but the clergy’s fancy robes seem to shield them from being touched by the Spirit.  Mary announced the gospel’s first good news proclaiming the resurrected Christ to the brothers but women cannot even read the gospel at Mass. “Apostle” means “one who was sent” and Mary definitely was sent by Jesus.  But John Paul II who even admitted she was seen as “an apostle to the apostles” started the adamant, increasingly angry and uncharitable derision and excommunication of women following the Spirit’s call to ordination.  It’s Pentecost but the hierarchy is afraid of the Spirit.

No worries, people are not waiting for the Vatican to acknowledge the Spirit they see in women.  At an accelerating pace, Catholic women are being ordained in defiance of feebly constructed bans against it.  They are simply "takin’ it to the streets" because they are tired of ordained men tellin’ them the things they’re gonna do for them (a)…that don’t connect with history or reality.  They ain’t blind and they don’t like what they think they see so they are sending a message to their brothers (a).

Let the Spirit blow where it may.  Walk without fear, and don't wear such heavy robes that the Spirit cannot touch you.

As a side note, I have no desire to be ordained.  However, the prohibition against ordaining women drilled into the core of my being as a youth because it opened my eyes to marginalization of women, in the church and in society.  It is degrading, demeaning and discriminatory, but most of all ill-founded.


  1. You go, Ewe!!
    Your words resonate with thinking spiritual people.

  2. This just makes me sad. I saw it the same way, the weasel wording. Acting like, oh, yes, let's consider this when it's set up for the answer to be, "well, no, you can't be deacons either, but you can't complain because we really looked at it again." Typical.

    I appreciate your willingness to call the church out on their patriarchal attitudes and misogyny.

  3. You spoke to a seminarian who was clueless? I recently had a conversation with a priest, now retired, who had taught biology. Very decent guy, but I got the idea he had no idea how babies are conceived. Didn't understand that when a woman says NO,good Catholic boys don't always respect that. He never considered the possibility or existence of Spousal Rape. And these guys are making the rules for people in the real world?

  4. One of the reasons people think that the birth control pill causes abortions is because that's one of the "selling points" they try to use sometimes: and if it doesn't prevent a pregnancy there's a small chance of disallowing implantation.

    Same goes for Plan B/Morning After--everyone seems to equate these with the abortion pill (RU486). But they really only have the same theoretical chance of impairing implantation that regular birth control pills do--after all they are in fact just birth control pills in a higher dose hoping to shut down an egg within the pregnancy window.

  5. You are correct. I'm a man, but I know God accepts everyone and calls all of us to a variety of vocations. god does not discriminate on the basis of sex. I belong to a small RCWP parish in Iowa. It is the best Catholic Church I've ever attended--filled with love, acceptance, joy and inclusion.

  6. Wonderful post and it is an issue I began studying a few years ago, and then wrote a book about it, here is my favorite paragraph from the preface.

    The Church stands in the world as a sign of contradiction and as the world since time immemorial excluded women from full personhood; the Church must now ensure that within her embrace, woman’s full personhood is deeply rooted and complete; which can only be accomplished by priestly ordination and full equality with men in the leadership of the Church on earth as that equality is certainly so in Heaven.

  7. And you'll notice that the Commission is going to study THE ANCIENT PRACTICES OF FEMALE DEACONS!! Do they study the practices of male clergy from the patristic era of the RCC (2-5th century CE) as a norm for the ongoing priest