Tuesday, February 03, 2015

My last word on the matter?

Okay, so I've broken a promise to myself not to get back into the ordination of women arena. I've stated my case, and have little more to say. I do note that people have tried to suggest that the frescoes of the catacombs of Priscilla show the female celebrant of a Eucharist. Yet, there is a counter suggestion that it is a funeral feast. There is also Episcopa Theodora claimed by some to be a bishop in her own right, and yet this is also argued to be the honorary title of a particularly pious wife of a bishop! The evidence is certainly not conclusive and a case for women's ordination cannot really be built from this.

In an attempt to be more charitable, I am trying to be as attentive as I can to people who support the ordination of women with such passion. I know that I am as guilty as many other bloggers who raise their voices in debate and forget the human element and really I do need to address this. If I have made mistakes, and if this post makes mistakes, then I offer my humble apologies and hope that the reader will look upon it charitably. The question I am trying to understand is: what are proponents of the cause trying to do?

Well, clearly in the 20th century, we have had great upheavals in society and many of those upheavals have had consequences that have freed human beings from shackles of true oppression. We now have racial equality, an abhorrence of slavery and the movement for the equality of women. These have had very far-reaching consequences, great challenges, and the opportunities for people to become who God intends them to be.

It's not hard to see that in this context, the ordination of women appears intrinsically linked with women's liberation. Liberation from what? Well, this is where there has been a fundamental link between all three of those issues: racial equality, sexual equality and slavery.

It is true to say that women and those of African heritage have suffered the indignity of being owned by the white man. They have been the possessions of another, and such possession is a diminution of one's humanity. We see spiritual possession when some demonic force takes control of the body of an unfortunate from the inside, likewise we have possession of an unfortunate from the outside.

It is quite clear that the Church should indeed oppose slavery even if it has not been clear on this point in its history. That so many people are so passionate to stop all forms of slavery and to fight for the rights of each human being to live a life free from being owned by another is to be encouraged. It is easy to see why racial and sexual inequality are so interlinked.

It does stand to reason why the matter of the ordination of women has arisen. It is right and fair that race is not an obstacle to the vocation to be a priest. We have here the equality of ethnicity. No longer should anyone of African descent be barred from sharing the priesthood of Christ just because they are indeed of Afican descent. People with African heritage are as equally human as those of Norse, Celt, Angle, Frankish, Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew, Asian, et c. heritage. One's genealogy is not a bar!

Of course, with this, the women's rights movement has grown. Praise God that no longer can a wife be legally raped by her husband: she has the right to say, "No!" even to the one she has married. No longer is she chattel. She can lead a country, she can lead a company, she can do anything that she puts her mind to! Women can now become the people under God whom He created them to be.

Thus, it is clear how, when seeing the priest of African descent, that a woman sees this as another barrier between her equality with man. It doesn't matter what the argument is, this great passion, this weight of historical oppression is bigger. Any government worth its weight will throw that weight behind projects which maximise the freedom of its subjects. Thus, any established church with its government tied intrinsically with the state must also be under that pressure to break down that final barrier. It stands to reason that there is no way that a state church can deny its priesthood to women. The CofE has to have women priests and bishops: that is the only logical consequence of its existence. It's one reason why perhaps now is the time for the Catholic and Continuing Anglican Churches to let the issue lie.

For us Continuing Anglicans, the issue is also clear. Two wrongs cannot make a right. We cannot change rules about respecting one's intrinsic being in order to undo centuries of oppression. A woman can be anything she wants to be, except she cannot be a man. Even after surgical augmentation she is still genetically a woman and God intended her to be such. The Catholic Faith is quite clear that to be a priest, one must be male in order to be an ikon of Christ the Bridegroom of the Church, and to continue the priesthood that God set up ab initio.

It is my firmest wish that there should be something new in the Church to discern God's true vocation for women. One cannot change that which is established by God, but the Church has the ability to consecrate that which already exists for the purposes of preaching the Gospel. I believe that there is room for something new in the Church that works alongside that which is built on firm foundations. Choirs sprang out of the Church's Divine Office and thus the Anglican Choral tradition was once something new that worked alongside the ancient duty of the Church.

It would be a good idea for traditional Catholics (me included) to put our thinking caps on and remember that we can pull out of our resources that which is old and new. Perhaps then we can go some way to righting the wrongs done against good Christian women. May Our Father in Heaven be our guide to better and greater levels of Charity.

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