Subject: Priestesses?
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 16:05:52 EDT
From: Paulistpic

Dear Father Bloom:

Thanks for your cyberministry! Great stuff! This former media relations coordinator for Franciscan University of Steubenville is currently working in Hollywood as a screenwriter/development executive. (Before my reversion to the Catholic faith, I studied at one of Canada's top feminist institutions -- the formerly Catholic Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, N.S. I was weaned on a steady diet of Mary Daly (yes, she actually lectured us), Richard McBrien, Richard McCormick, SJ, Charles Curran, Matthew Fox, Rosemary Ruether- Radford, Hans Kung, Josef Fuchs, SJ, Bernard Haring, Elizabeth Schussler- Fiorenza. You know the crowd. How I came back from those four years is another story!)

You frequently cite fellow Canadian Bernard Lonergan, SJ, in your website. I studied under one of Father Longergan's chief proteges, Dr. Phil McShane (himself a former Jesuit). We hungry undergrads dived headlong -- for what seemed an eternity -- into Insight, Method in Theology, and countless obscure articles written by Lonergan. Father Lonergan used to lecture in the summers at St. Mary's University in Halifax in the 1970s, though I was a bit young to see him in the flesh. As brilliant and influential as Lonergan continues to be, it seems most of his interpreters are more in the heterodox Catholic camp (present addressee excepted). Go figure.

But I digress. The real reason I'm writring is to ask if you know of any good resources on the women's priesthood question. I have read Manfred Hauke's book Women in the Priesthood?; a Peter Kreeft article Why Only Boys Can Be Daddies (published by Franciscan University Press along with an essay by Alice von Hildebrand, Why the Mystery of Femininity Excudes the Priesthood, and many Catholic Answer-type tracts on the subject.

Having been a high school religion teacher (in inner-city Toronto) for four years, I know the question is not going to go away tomorrow, no matter how many ex cathedras are pronounced. One significant thing I have noticed when talking with people, Father, is that many people (Gen Xers in particular) work from the unquestioned presupposition that gender itself is peripheral, secondary -- arbitrary even. I am doing some online apologetics with folks, and I run into this over and over again. The very idea that the human person is a body-soul composite, and not a genderless spirit trapped in a biologically determined body is viewed with great suspicion. To them gender is not foundational, but strictly biological; that is to say, purely on the level of the body.

You can explain that the priest acts in persona Christi, and not merely in the name of Christ; you can explain that the risen Lord Jesus is still and will always be male and that the priestly ministry is directly derived from His sacred humanity; that a female priestesshood would radically disrupt the natural iconography of the divinely inspired Bride-Bridegroom paradigm; and that we are all feminine before the presence of God, etc. -- you can go through all that, and then the listener will invariably stare blankly back at you and say, "Yeah, but women should be priests."

It's a sticky wicket with so many people, and I don't believe we'll put a dent in the resolve of the of the ignorant (not to mention the dissenters) until we address the philosophical assumptions that people bring to the discussion.

This is all a long-winded way of asking if you know of any article, book, or other resource that goes to the philosophical marrow of the issue. In this age of androgyny, sex changes, homosexual confusion, and radical feminism, the question of the mystery of gender is one the Church will have to contend with as we enter the new millennium.

Any help you could hand along would be most appreciated.

Sincerely in Christ,

Patrick Coffin

P.S. The sad thing is, syrupy agitprop stuff like TV's Nothing Sacred runs the risk of turning off the networks to the idea of airing a series featuring the exploits of a more heroic priest (which, compared to a Father Ray would be a more or less normal one). Here in Hollywood, what Jesus says about harvesters and laborers is supremely true.


Posted with permission. Would appreciate hearing from anyone who could recommend books or articles on this topic.

Fr. Phil Bloom