Dr. Fr. Phil:

I've been reading your exchange with Luis concerning women being ordained as priests in the Catholic church and, without trying to throw a monkey wrench into the discussion, I think something is being overlooked here.

God does not explain everything to us in the Scriptures. Sometimes He tells us the reason why because it pleases Him to do so, but He isn't required to do so. Sometimes He doesn't explain, not because He's an old stick in the mud, but because the answer would not draw us closer to Him or serve any greater purpose. But you know this....

Maybe because I'm not a Catholic all this seems obvious to me, but from the vantage point of one on the outside looking in, a priest is, in a holy sense, a Mystery. He carries something with him that before his ordination he did not have. That whatever does not make him a better person or a more beloved-of-God person or even a more valued person-- but it makes him different. For His reasons, God did not extend that unction to women in the same way. That doesn't in any way negate what women are allowed to do-- and I admit I don't know the extent of what women are now allowed to do in the Catholic church, but I know it's a lot more than in pre-Vatican II days-- but I have to believe that God knew what He was talking about when He said that He did not suffer a woman to exercise (spiritual) authority over a man. A woman priest would not and does not carry that Mystery. She can go to all the classes and have all the hands laid on her and go through all the rituals-- but there is a difference. Something is missing.It's a gut level perception. The Mystery and the authority aren't there.

This is probably one of those discussions that won't be resolved in our lifetimes, and one could ask why would I care since I'm not even of the Cathlolic faith. People are always watching what you do, even if they aren't in the same "flock". In many way, the Catholic Church is the yardstick by which all sorts of ideas are measured. If women were ordained, if priests were married-- so many of the questions would no longer be asked, because you'd be ...just like us.

--Ruth

P.S. Where is "He who hears you, hears me?" (Always the mark of a protestant, wanting to know where the quote came from. Thanks for reading this!)

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Dear Ruth,

Thank you for your thoughtful e-mail. With your permission I would like to post it on my home page with perhaps a comment or two. Let me know.

Fr Phil Bloom

P.S. The Scripture quote is Lk 10:16.

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Dear Fr. Phil:

Thanks for your answer. I hope your time in Peru was constructive and profitable. Feel free to post however much of my letter you like.

After I sent my post to you, I got to noodling around with the difference between a Charism and a Mystery-- and maybe this figures into the discussion as well. Taking into consideration the theological paradigm out of which I come (evangelical protestantism), it seems to me that a Charism carries an anointing that a Mystery in and of itself may or may not have. (Mystery "is"; Charism "does") So I guess one could say that there are three "essences" (for lack of a better term) that the male priest carries that would not be present in a woman priest-- Charism, Authority and Mystery. That's not to say that women cannot partake of any of those three separately or in conjunction with one another in some other venue; only in the sacrament of ordination to the priesthood would they be lacking.

Does that make sense to you or am I just whistlin' Dixie? --Ruth

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Dear Ruth,

It makes a lot of sense to me. I know that some see this question in terms of justice and practicality, but so much more is at stake. Id like to hear what others have to say about your reflection, particularly the point of view of other women.

God bless,

Fr. Phil

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Also by Ruth: "Catholicism is a tricky faith".

Your comments or questions are welcome.

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