Friday, October 24, 2008

Can Men be Ordained? an article by Rosemary Ruether

Can men be ordained?
Catholic New Times, Jan 29, 2006 by Rosemary Ruether

A synod of bishops from the four corners of the earth and a full panoply of Mother Superiors recently converged on Holy City of Rome to consider the vexed question of the ordination of men. Holy See had received many tearful appeals from the cruder sex claiming to have a call to the priesthood directly from God Herself.

But Her Holiness had firmly replied to these appeals that the call must have been a wrong number. Our Holy Mother in heaven would never call to the ministry those so obviously disqualified by reason of gender. But the men had refused to take no for an answer.

Throwing down their picks and shovels, they had declared they would do no more maintenance work for the church until there was equality of rites.


They sent petitions to the Holy See filled with arguments for the ordination of men, both theological and practical. Although, of course, they could cite no example from Jesus Himself, the incarnation of Holy Wisdom, since he had most evidently ordained no men to the priesthood (or women either)

Finally Her Holiness decided to gather the Holy Mothers of the church together, with a number of the best qualified peritae, who had spent a lifetime studying the odd characteristics of the male gender, from a safe distance, of course. They hoped to come up with a definitive answer, once and for all, to the vexed question of the ordination of men.

After long and careful study, in which the Holy Mothers had enjoyed many a good laugh on the subject of men and their foibles, a final decree was drawn up defining the reasons why men could not be ordained. The decree was proclaimed by her Holiness and the Holy others departed for their respective seats of Wisdom, feeling very pleased with themselves. The decree Ad Hominem stated to their satisfaction, and hopefully for all time, the weighty reasons for their gut prejudice.

The first part of the decree deduced a good many reasons from men's biological and psychological natures that disqualified them from the priesthood. It was said, first of all, that men were too violent and emotional to be priests. Anyone who has watched groups of men at football matches, ice hockey or cricket games, not to mention political conventions, has seen their volatile tendencies and penchant for solving conflicts with fisticuffs. To ordain such creatures would be to risk disgraceful brawls at the altar. The male proneness to violence surely disqualifies them from representing the One who incarnates graciousness and peace.

The cruder and heavier physical frame of the male clearly marks him out for the physical tasks of society: digging ditches, mending roofs and the like. The finer, more spiritual tasks of society are intended by our Mother in Heaven for those more refined spirits and bodies: women.

This separation of roles is clearly evident in scripture where the males are said to have been created from dirt, while women were created from human flesh. Moreover, women were created last, clearly marking them out as the crown of creation. It was even suggested by one Mother Superior that Adam was a rough draft, Eve being the more refined and complete version of human nature. The Mothers had a good many laughs on that one and some decided to make it into a bumper sticker.

It was also felt that men were needed for military defense. A man's place is in the army, declared one of the peritae and all the Holy Mothers nodded in agreement. Besides, men would look silly in red dresses and lace.

The sacred garb is clearly intended for women.
Profound matters of a theological nature were also discussed. One perita has prepared a long paper proving from the symbolic order that men could not be ordained. The division of humanity into male and female is a profound mystery that symbolizes the relationship of the transcendent and the immanent, the spiritual and the material. Women represent the spiritual realm, men the material. The material must be ruled by the spiritual, just as Holy Wisdom presides over the physical cosmos as her household.

Moreover, since the church, is female, those who represent her dearly should be female as well. There should be a physical resemblance between the priest and the Church as Holy Mother. Obviously, this means that all priests should be mature women. The church is also said to be the Bride of Christ and brides are female. The priest, as representative of the church in relation to Christ, represents Christ's bride. Therefore only women can be priests.

Finally it was noted that most of the people who come to church are women. Men tend to stand outside and doors of the church, gossiping or sneak off to sports matches. To have a man at the altar might distract a woman from her prayers. It was solemnly noted that men are sexually attractive to some women. For women to have to sit listening to men preach and watch them stomping about the sanctuary might lead their thoughts to descend from the higher to the lower realms. It was hoped that with so many clear reasons, both from the theological and the practical realm, against the ordination of men, this would settle the matter. Male impertinence would be silenced and they would sink back into their proper sphere.

2 comments:

Morgaan Sinclair said...

Splendid. Absolutely splendid.

I note that the Pope, who has declared ex-communication for women ordained and those who ordain them has not ordered ex-communication for rapists, bigamists, wife-beaters, mass murderers, arms dealers, and narcotics traffickers.

Joseph Ross said...

Great Post Phil -

When I was in Divinity School back in the 80s at Notre Dame, Ruether was a commonly read theologian. Now they wouldn't dare read her. Such a sadness. She's been telling the truth for a long, long time. J. Ross