Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Woman Catholic Priests & Married Men Being Ordained Deacon & Priest

I'm tired of these two phenomena being equated. Whether if you want both, one or the other or neither, they are not the same thing. And when official Roman-rite dioceses' websites and documents cease to equate them, then I will stop beating this very, very dead horse.

“Presently the Church does not allow for the ordination of women or married men. This matter cannot be resolved at the local level. For the spiritual well being of our faithful people we cannot allow this to prevent us from aggressively seeking new priesthood candidates for our diocese.” from the generally beneficial Albany "Called by Name" program- this post was inspired by Fr Z's post about laity being forced to give priest a blessing during the Mass.
a celibate (of course) monk, a married priest and two of his children
sometimes he gets a half-day off
A married priest has an impossible task juggling all his responsibilities- it helps when the family is on board and willing to help his ministry and also tolerate time sometimes in snippets. Grace is needed as well.
In the old days, Byzantine Catholic seminarians got married in their clerical collars. I've never seen it done today. The man gets one day to wear a tuxedo, then it is on to collars- no ties- for the rest of his life.

Do these photos upset you? Or are they just strange, something you have never seen?

I know that photos of women members of the Roman Catholic Woman Priests organization upset me. It saddens me when women feel that they need to impersonate Christ because they cannot be in persona Christi. I wonder why they feel they must be ordained to be an important member of the Church. Others have defended this very unpopular (for the majority of the Christian world) theology of a male priesthood in the Catholic Church better than I. For more information on why the Catholic priesthood is reserved to men, read here at Catholic.org, a basic article is here at about.com, and  an interesting and educational article from Catholic Answers is here.

Women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church, but married men can even if that is not a current tradition in the Roman-rite and the Eastern rites that have it as a tradition are shying away from it for practical reasons. So please, let's agree to at least separate the issues.

33 comments:

  1. It seems that as long as the Church is composed of humans, there will be someone with these ideas. The only end to these controversies seems to be the Second Coming.
    Maranatha

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    1. I have to smile at this- the Second Coming is a comfort! All will be well! Thanks for the reminder

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  2. I have no problem with Eastern Rite men being ordained; and I say this as a Latin Rite Catholic who one day hopes to become a Priest; as someone who also belongs to a Latin Rite Diocese where roughly one fifth of the clergy are married (former anglicans) I have met not a few Priests who have to deal with the pressures of family life (I also went to a Ukranian Rite Divine Liturgy out of curiosity and found it most edifying).

    I agree with Contra Mundum; equating married priests with the impossibility of wyman priests is an idotic thing to do and is disrespectful to our Eastern Rite Brethren.

    I think I will conlcude with an annecdote of an acquaintence of mine and a question (unrelated) of my own; a gentlemant I once knew had been involved in some capacity at a mixed rite seminary in Hungery and he thought it amusing that on a Friday Night the Latin Rite Seminarians would be in the chapel praying the Rosary whilst the Eastern Rite Seminarians were getting ready to go out and find a future wife :).

    Now the Question; Is it true that until recently (read 60's & 70's) that it would be common to find predominantly Latin Rite devotions e.g. the Rosary, Devotion to Our Lady of Fatima perhaps even some Statues in Eastern Rite Churches and that they were forcebly removed after the 2nd Vatican Council?


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    1. It is very complicated- and sort of the opposite- we were 'encouraged' to use latin-rite devotions and many people forgot what past generations did (first and foremost- we were forced in the States to abandon our tradition of married priest- google Bishop John Ireland for the sad history)

      BUT for example, the Romanian Byzantines might have certain 'Latin' devotions because they are a Latin people- not because of forced latinizations

      because of our smallness- I think some people are embarrassed by Eastern devotions- like we don't show up in the blue 'Pieta' prayer book- does this mean that we have no plenary indulgences? No- but we don't really focus on that quantification of prayers and many many of our devotions are for the church with a priest or 'at least' a deacon- a rosary is done alone, an akathist is in church with a priest --the blog 'Eastern catholic Spiritual renewal' has some good posts on our spirituality

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  3. I have no problem with Eastern Rite churches having married Priests, that is their tradition.
    but where women think they have the rite of priesthood is beyond me.

    Thanks for all you do to enlighten the rest of us in your Faith traditions, all education goes a long way to helping all of us "get along" with each other. the more we understand the differences, the more we find that is the same.

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  4. Thanks ladytats. It is important for all of to remember that no one is guaranteed the ordained priesthood but we all join in the priesthood of christ in a mystical way through our baptisms

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  6. Yes! If I may add a rant to your rant, there is another false equation that people tend to make
    Ordaining married men = Priests getting married
    The first is permitted according to church tradition, the second is not.

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    1. Yes, it is wrong for them to put them together. I can also agree with you that what those women have done is an error. It is also a shame that instead of fostering the desire for these women to serve God in ministry we push them out of the church. There is nothing theologically wrong with women in ministry. Where it is wrong is in the spirituality of the Altar. At the Altar the priest is the life giving father. In the Byzantine tradition he is the icon of the bishops life giving fatherhood. In addition, the priest in not understood in the same way as in the Latin tradition(in persona Christi) for in Byzantine theology the priest is (in persona ecclesia). The priest participates in the work of Christ at the altar by the virtue of his ordination. As a life giving father our spirituality does not allow for a woman to be priest. On the other hand, a deacon participates differently in the work of Christ. A deacon is not tied uniquely to the altar like the priest as the life giving father. The deacon is the icon of the bishops service(ministry). He is not a stepping stone to becoming a priest but represents the variety of ways that Christ came to serve. This can be expressed in a variety of ways from helping the poor, catechesis, and even handling a church's finances. Unlike, the priest the deacon is not narrowly defined by how they serve at the altar, which is to say that they are not restricted by a pastoral liturgical role. The first deacons themselves were ordained for specific needs in the church as we can read in the scripture and some of them were women. We find that women as deacons had assisted their bishops in special ways in the early church in a ministry to other women. Even today in the Greek Orthodox church there are women that are deacons. I remember even reading once that when the Byzantine tradition came to Japan the metropolitan there ordained mostly women as deacons to help him. Maybe the Latin tradition could benefit from how our tradition has expressed this ministry that women can do and maybe it could help these women in their desire to serve.

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    2. Ric, I think that there may be a misunderstanding here - are you sure that these women are deacons and not deaconesses?

      Bear

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    3. Bear, your are right that is the proper word and i should have used it. I was focuing on the fact they were ordianed. Check this out for more information: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Deaconess

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    4. The tradition of deaconesses (used to help women adults converts) cannot be the same as ordination to the diaconate- it is not the sacrament of holy orders in the same way as deacon-priest-bishop

      While the East looks at things differently (in persona ecclesia, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father), the way the West focuses on theology(in persona Christi, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son)must be correct as well- or one of the ways Theology is explained is wrong- I can't accept that even when I might focus on the Eastern way of looking at things

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    5. Holy Orders and how it was received is not a dogma. The diverse traditions that we have in our various historical churches witness to this . I was addressing a pastoral problem, one in which our byzantine tradition might have the answer for. When I first heard about women being ordained to the deaconate I was also very uncomfortable. But, it is in our Byzantine tradition and it simple fell into disuse for various reasons, it was never showed to be wrong or an error by any council.Also, as i pointed out it has sometimes been restored by bishops who need it. We never ordained women to become presbyters but we did to the deacons. You will find that even in the Constantinopolitan Euchologion that the rite for ordination of female deacons is almost identical to the male rite. They were treated as higher clergy and not the lower as in the case of sub deacon, readers,ext..The history is there and it is something that could beneficial if renewed in the church. I think when we learn to see the deaconate for what it is instead of a stepping stone to become a priest we could be more open to our tradition.

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    6. I'd like more information on this- because I find it very curios that deaconesses were 'ordained' liked deacons because now (and for a very long time) women are not at the altar. Are you saying that, traditionally, deaconesses could do everything that present-day deacons do? I was under the impression that ancient deaconesses concerned themselves with ministry to other women and not at the altar

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    7. There is nothing that states in their ordination that they must have a liturgical role. The deacon instead of being stepping stone to becoming a priest is rather a stepping stone to various forms of( services)ministry , which often includes priesthood. A priest/presbyter becomes a deacon first not because it is a stepping stone to priesthood but rather it’s a steppingstone of their greater (service). As I said the deacon is the icon of Christ as servant as relates to the bishop as the priest is to Christ high priesthood as in relation to the bishop. A restored women's deaconate can be realized without ever having to make them glorified altar girls. As they did in the past they can continue to help serve the bishop in specific ministries.

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    8. I'm a Roman Catholic here, I have been following this discussion and wonder, if the women's deaconate you are talking about isn't what orders of nuns are supposed to do... assist the Bishops in various service ministries? if you read founding documents for the various orders, they list services such as prayer, teachers, nurses, orphans, helping the poor....

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    9. Ladytats,No, monastic life in the Byzantine tradition is unique, as it is in Roman church, from holy orders. In the roman church you have male friars and monks that do the same things you mentioned without being ordained. For Byzantines monasticism represents the fullness of the Christian life and is open to all of what you mentioned without ordination. A deaconess or a deacon like a male priest are the extensions of the bishops sacramental power in the Church. One thing to consider is that Byzantine tradition developed differently in this matter. You even have in the Roman tradition an order of the deaconess that were not ordained unlike what is found in the Byzantine tradition. There needs to be a renewal of the understanding of the meaning of deacon. It's not the same as a presbyter and not restricted in our tradition to notion of spiritual fatherhood. A deacon is part of the priestly hierarchy but it’s a priesthood of (service) not altar sacrifice. At the Altar we find life giving spiritual fatherhood in our tradition so we have men but those who serve, the deacons, there is no distinction, for it is service. A service that is not restricted by the altar. Unlike the priest/presbyter a deacons ministry is more prophetic and open to all kinds service and need not be liturgical in the way that many of our male deacons now function.

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    11. so, do you have women religious? similar or the same as our nuns? I am confused a bit by your answer.
      also, do your deacons serve at the altar? We have 2 types of deacons those who are on the path to priesthood and those who are not, the 2nd type are usually older, often married who become deacons after much study and thought. They assist the Priests in their ministry both at the Altar during Mass and in the community in evangelisation and other outreach. During Mass their role is somewhere between the Altar Server and the Priest. They read the Gospel and often do some of the setup on the way to Consecration. we don't have one in our parish, and only a few in the diocese, they are usually in the larger parishes, so I don't see them as much to really understand exactly all they do.

      I have been trying to learn more about the different traditions of the Catholic church, western, eastern, orthodox, coptic... and the only way is to compare them to what I know.

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    12. Yes we do. Traditionally we refer to them as only monastic and we have women monasteries (not nuns and we don’t have convents). However, there can be found groups similar to what can be found in Roman Catholicism in some of the Byzantine Catholic churches. The male deaconate is something that has been being renewed even in many of the Eastern Churches. As of now must of what a male deacon does is in relation to the Liturgy. In the case of a renewed women's deaconate its does not need to be structured in the same way that we presently have our male deacons. A woman obliviously brings a different charism to the ministry, which is one that can compliment a males rule in liturgy rather than challenge it. As I emphasis being a deacon, male and female, is not restricted to the Liturgy in the same way a priests ministry is.

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    13. Ladytats- yes we have women religious (look at a list on my other blog inunionwithrome.blogspot.com)

      Our deacons (whether stopping at deacon or going on to the priesthood) are similar in that they declare the gospel and can preach. The deacon will chant the litanies (if he is there) during the Liturgy (click on Divine Liturgy Mondays to the right to see my series on the Divine Liturgy) When we do confirmation with baptism, the deacon doesn't do this- The deacon is the only one who can celebrate our very rare 'Eucharist distribution service without a priest'

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    14. Ric,

      deaconesses were never considered to be women deacons. Because they bear the feminine title does mean that in the past people considered them to be the same thing. For example, the Latin of a man who works or earns is "meretor", and the feminine of this is "meretrix", which means prostitute. Similarly in English, we have "workers" and "working girls", and they mean rather different things. Thus, one should not make assumptions about these things because of a linguistic connexion.

      Also there is very little evidence exactly what they did, but what evidence there is indicates that their role was restricted to assisting the priest to avoid them touching women in particular ceremonies such as baptism. But beyond that, there is no evidence of a liturgical or sacramental role.

      Also one has to be very careful about imposing our views onto the past, and thinking of the past as an ideal.

      Bear

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    15. Bear, in scripture and in patristic literature the Greek word diakonos can denote either a male or a female deacon. Contrary to what some might believe, in the past there is plenty of evidence to what these women did and long lists of their contributions to the Church. What we don’t know is how they continued to function liturgically. You right about imposing ones views on the past. For as it says on the link I shared "It is an anachronism to say deaconesses did not perform the same liturgical role as deacons in the early church. That is imputing back in time to deacons a role which they were given considerably later in history". As far as male deacons and the deaconate in general is concerned it's an error to reduce the ministry to a purely liturgical role. A restored women's deaconate can be done without ever having to change how our men function in the liturgy presently because the deaconate is open to many forms of service unlike the presbyter who is bond uniquely to the altar. It's ok not agree here and I don’t want to continue fill the matushkas blog up. I'm just trying to be faithful to my traditions understanding of the meaning of deacon. Something that needs to be renewed in our time. I used to be total against the women's aspect of it but the historical evidence in my tradition is clearly there.

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    16. You are right that this not necessarily the forum to discuss this. However, I will call you out on the assertion that diakonos (= servant, male) can denote either male or female. You do not provide any evidence, and it is certainly not in the secular literature of the time.

      Bear

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  8. The way I try to "teach" the issue is that a "big T tradition" one that cannot change is that No Woman priests, no abortion, etc. then the "small t tradition" that could change is married priests. In our culture it would not be a good idea to have this because so many Roman rite Catholics have left the Church because they "think" that the Church has made fish on Fridays obsolete.

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    1. one thing I love about the Church- if we want to know- the information is out there. read the Bible, the catechism and the Church Fathers...no secrets here!

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    2. Carolyn, am I right in deducing, "...In our culture it would not be a good idea to have this because so many Roman rite Catholics have left the Church..."? If this is the case, isn't this something still be fought to retain, to a degree (at least, among the Rusyn Greek Catholics); and one of the reasons - among many - Rusyn Greek Catholics left the Roman communion, to re-commune with Orthodoxy, via the Russian Orthodox Church? If I'm not mistaken, there is a passage in one of St. Paul's epistles detailing what he looked for in a bishop; and one of these criteria was he was to be married. He, thus gave his reasons why, therein.

      If I'm totally wrong, on my deduction, please forgive me.

      Lester

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  9. I agree with Ladytats. Furthermore, it would be great if more awareness should be given to those are of the Eastern rite too.
    There have been articles about why women shouldn't be ordained to the priesthood on catholicexchange.com. I'm sure not all Protestant denominations allow women to be ordained--why so little attention in that quarter?
    Happy Feast of All Saints!

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  10. The wonderful thing about being Catholic is that I don't have to have an opinion on women priests.

    Rome will not call me up and ask. They will decide on women priests, married priests, and deaconesses and they are in a far better position to do so than I could ever be. Nor do I have to make any decisions about whether or not my Church has lost its way, no matter how the issue is decided, like our Anglican friends.

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  11. yes- it is true that Rome isn't going to call us up- what is important is that we educate ourselves so that we can accept and understand why Rome 'does what it does'

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  12. PW,

    I looked through the link to the Roman Catholic Woman Priests organization and there are couple of observations. Firstly they have a lot of "bishops" relative to their numbers. And secondly, they are less like Hebe and more like Geras. It would seem that they have completed other fulfilling careers and want to continue serving into the twilight.

    Bear

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thoughtful comments are welcome to the conversation! (moderation on posts older than a week...)

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