TIME is at it again, this time with the help of Tim Padgett.
Keeping in mind that some of Padgett’s assertions are by now cliché, use this as a workshop for clarifying your own future discussions and have a patient look with my emphases and comments:
The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone
By Tim Padgett
What a rich coincidence we Roman Catholics got to experience at Mass on Sunday, July 18. The scheduled Gospel passage was Luke’s story about Jesus visiting the sisters Martha and Mary of Bethany (who Catholic tradition says was Mary Magdalene). Many biblical scholars believe the narrative shows Jesus encouraging Mary to assume the role of a disciple, [That's okay. She is sitting at the Lord's feet in the manner of a disciple.] like Peter and the guys. [Nooo... he goes to the zoo on that. But move along.] That notion lent some cable-news significance to the reading — coming as it did just days after the Vatican issued an avowal, as obtuse as it was malicious, [Could be a self-description.] that ordaining women into the priesthood was a sin on par with pedophilia. [Again, anyone who actually read and understood what the Holy See did by issuing the new norms, and who is honest about them, knows that that is not what happened.]
Rome’s misogynous declaration, tossed into its new guidelines on reporting clerical sexual abuse, did more than just highlight the church’s hoary horror at the idea of female priests — or its penchant of late for sticking its papal slippers in its mouth every chance it gets. [Blah blah blah... keep reading...] It also pointed up an increasingly spiteful rhetoric of bigotry. [Look in the mirror, Padgett... but keep reading...] When Argentina in mid-July legalized gay marriage, the country’s Catholic bishops weren’t content to simply denounce the legislation; they used the occasion to argue for the subhumanity of homosexual men and lesbians, the way many white Southern preachers weren’t ashamed to degrade African Americans during the civil rights movement. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio not only called the new law "a scheme to destroy God’s plan"; he termed it "a real and dire anthropological throwback," as if homosexuality were evolutionarily inferior to heterosexuality. [I don't think many people would consider it a dire anthropological throwback to say that homosexuality is actually evolutionarily inferior to normal sexuality. Think about it.]
U.S. bishops haven’t been much kinder on this issue, [Here he is starting to reveal the deeper flaws. We know every verse of the tired mantra by now: Homophobia! Blah Blah... Misogyny! Blah Blah.... Here the writer starts showing a more fundamental problem with his views.] which is all t he more regrettable since they were among the civil rights movement’s champions. But that was a half-century ago, when the church’s tone was influenced by humane thinkers like the Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray. Bergoglio and many American prelates today are simply parroting their new Pope, Benedict XVI, who in 2008 said saving humanity from homosexuality was as crucial as rescuing rain forests from lumberjacks. [?] And did we mention this papacy’s disastrous p.r. with Jews and Muslims? [NB: "P.R." There is another hint at his fundamental error.]
How did it come to this? The answer lies in why the Vatican felt compelled to throw its antifemale jab into the sexual-abuse directives. [Remember: On this point he is working from a flawed premise. The new norms are not in fact what he says they are. He is simply wrong.] When any institution is as convinced of its own moral infallibility as the Catholic Church is, it tends to lash out at criticism — especially charges as serious as the priestly rape of children — with Dostoyevskian paranoia. [Doesn't that sound a bit hysterical to you?] And the church then fortifies its less popular stances, like an all-male priesthood or the condemnation of gays, [The Church doesn't condemn
homosexuals. The Church condemns sin. Again, the writer is either poorly informed or mendacious. But this is all very tiresome. We still have to get to the real flaw.] in the process becoming even more uncompromising. [And HERE WE GO! Read more carefully now... ] Most Catholics, according to polls in the U.S. and abroad, support women’s ordination, but the church peevishly views that trend as an insidious subagenda of its sexual-abuse accusers. Hence last week’s astonishing aside from Rome that both the ordination of female priests and pedophilia are graviora delicta, or grave crimes. [Padgett does not understand what it is to be Catholic. He thinks that the Church, like a political party with a platform, is to be guided by polls or votes or the majority view, etc. Leave aside the other stupidity is what he is saying, which is just factually wrong. Padgett doesn't get what it means to be Catholic.]
The real offense is the church’s theological sophistry. Its argument for keeping women out of the priesthood — Jesus had no female apostles — is as shamefully bogus as it is unjust. [And Padgett thinks this.... why? Is is just so because he says it is?] The hierarchy, threatened by claims of Mary Magdalene’s ministerial status, [ROFL! Okay... he has staggered into the DaVinci Code crowd here... but don't lose sight of his more fundamental error. This is all a sideshow to his real problem.] has long tried to identify her with the unnamed "woman caught in adultery" in the Gospel of St. John. When that woman was dragged before Jesus for judgment — death by stoning, the men demanded — Christ famously said, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone." The church wants us to embrace that compassionate teaching when it comes to pedophile priests, and yet it is deaf enough to cast stones at the "crime" of female priests. [See how this is all just wasted effort? Keep going and be patient.]
What’s at stake is the Catholic Church’s ability to salvage any moral authority from the sexual-abuse tragedy. The fact is, it can still do that without ordaining women. But it can’t do it while digging itself a deeper hole like a defendant hurling insults at a judge. It can’t do it by excommunicating a hospital nun, as an Arizona bishop recently did, because she signed off on an abortion that saved a mother’s life. It can’t do it by losing sight of the difference between dogged traditionalism and mean-spirited obscurantism, as it so often does these days. [How are we going to do it? Hurray! Tell us!]
[Here we go!] And it’s sounding that way to Catholics as much as it is to non-Catholics. Many if not most of us Catholics remain Catholics today not because of the church’s leadership but in spite of it. [That was a key phrase and we will return to it when we are done with this wearying slog.] In a new Gallup poll, 62% of U.S. Catholics say gay relationships are morally acceptable. [That doesn't surprise me in the least. I wouldn't be surprised if a poll said 90% say that. The response must be "So what."] Which means we’re not thrilled to have our religion represented by a bunch of homophobes wearing miters. [THERE. Another point. Leave aside the stupid cliches. He is focused on leadership. His idea of leadership has more to do with personality and popularity than anything else.] Even those of us who sharply disagree with the church on a number of doctrinal issues still want to believe it can be a helpful, contemplative guide in matters spiritual and social. [The Church is less a divinely instituted means of salvation than it is an man-guided instrument of social change.] But if it keeps up the hateful discourse, it will lose whatever modicum of attention my generation of Catholics still pays it [There it is again.] — and it can forget about my children’s generation.
My daughter happened to be serving as an altar girl at Mass on Sunday. [That was a mistake from the beginning... but go one.] She was smart enough to sense that in the gospel reading, Jesus was relating to Mary as if she were a disciple. [Surrrre she was. I'll give you odds that at the end of Mass she, like most of the people in the congregation, couldn't remember what the reading was.] And she’ll learn that the New Testament is full of other passages that indicate Jesus believed women could be alteri Christi, or "other Christs," [Theology is obviously not this guy's strong point.] as priests often call themselves. Real Catholicism encourages that kind of enlightened thinking — and it certainly doesn’t call it, as the Catholic Church does, a crime. [Women's ordination = enlightened thinking. That's what he thinks is important. But his thought is so sloppy I am not sure that he actually knows what he is doing here.]
The writer doesn’t understand what it means to be a Catholic.
Look at the claim that, "most of us Catholics remain Catholics today not because of the church’s leadership but in spite of it".
Every one of us must respond with a resounding:
You are not supposed to remain Catholic because of the Church’s leadership!
Who says the "leadership" merits anything in the end? (And note that "leadership" reflects the lens of party politics through which he interprets the Church – e.g., "Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a devout Catholic, and other members of the House leadership today asserted that…").
We are not a political party. We are not caught up in the trap of personality or popularity that "Catholics" like this have slowly fallen into.
Catholics belong to the Holy Church of Jesus. He saved us. He is the only one who merits anything. We belong to Holy Church because we are sinners and because the Church was Christ’s gift to us, and because the Church teaches the truth with Christ’s authority and dispenses the sacraments, the ordinary means of our salvation.
Through history we have had to choose to be Catholics in spite of our leadership, which is now and always has been made up of flawed sinners in need of a Savior.
Leave aside that our Catholic "leadership" is not nearly as bad as Padgett wants you to believe.
But look what this fellow has done. Look at his dependence on polling.
If polling says that 62% of Catholics think that an active homosexual lifestyle is acceptable, all that proves – even if we accept the accuracy of the poll – is that 62% of Catholics are wrong.
Catholic don’t do faith and morals by polls.
I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 62% believe that homosexuality is okay… or that abortion is okay. I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of people think women should be ordained.
Why? I believe in Original Sin. People getting important things dead wrong doesn’t surprise me at all. We are good at that all by ourselves.
This is why we have a Church founded by Christ with a hierarchy and Magisterium.
To Padgett’s point that we have lost a lot of people. Sure, we have! We have lost a lot of people. Cf. John 6:67. It’s right there in the New Testament.
Our the answer is not to become a cafeteria, as Padgett and his enlightened crowd suggest.
That has been tried, and it is called the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, etc.
Saying that homosexual actions are acceptable in anyway is not going to get the younger generation back to church. Saying that women should be ordained is not going to get young people back to church. Saying that majorities should guide doctrine is not going to fix anything.
Returning to Padgett’s problem with our "leadership", consider the shocking things you can find in the New Testament if you really look:
- Jesus ordained Judas knowing that Judas would betray Him.
- Jesus knew Peter would deny Him and ordained him anyway.
- Two traitors in one ordination!
Should Jesus resign His ministry?
Padgett’s reasoning ends in rejection the very "leadership" of Christ Jesus Himself and replaces Him with a populist figure, probably of ambiguous sexual identity, whose message is guided by weekly polling.
Holy Church is not a political party, to be guided by polls. Her members are not perfect. It is our lack of perfect that requires us to belong to the Church, which teaches the truth in spite of her membership’s and leadership’s mistakes.