Excommunicable offence under previous popes, women priests now open for discussion
Arguments for the ordination of women are being presented in the oldest Jesuit Journal of Italy; a journal which is reviewed by the Vatican prior to publication.
Though in the recent past the “belief in” and “public support for” female ordination, as in the case of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, led to a clear reproach from the Vatican in the form of “canonical warning” and the threat of excommunication, today one of the highest ranking Catholic journals lists “arguments” for it in an article by a priest.
“Civiltà Cattolica,” which takes pride in printing with “beneplacito,” – consent – of the Holy See, has published an article by Fr. Giancarlo Pani SJ suggesting that the admission to the priesthood of women should undergo re-examination. The author lays out arguments in his article in issue 3999, as Vatican specialist Sandro Magister reports.
Pani maintains that the exclusion of women from holy orders does not take into consideration the “developments in the 21st century, the presence of woman in the family and in society.” For him these “developments” – which he leaves unqualified and unexplained – need to be increasingly reflected by the inclusion of women in clerical undertakings as a matter of “ecclesial dignity, responsibility, and participation.”
LifeSiteNews spoke with Prof. Dr. Thomas Stark, professor of philosophical anthropology at the Benedict XVI Institute of Philosophy and Theology at Heiligenkreuz, in Austria about Fr. Pani's views on February 8. “Sacraments were instituted by Christ in a very exact, concrete way and must therefore be administered in the same exact concrete way in which they were given," said Prof. Stark. "Therefore the bread in the Eucharist cannot be exchanged with meat of a lamb with the argument that this matter better symbolizes that Christ is the Lamb of God.”
“Christ chose twelve apostles. If He had wanted women to be ordained, then He would have instituted a mixed college of apostles.”
Last November statements by Pope Francis seemed to indicate that the possibility of women priests was closed. "On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last word is clear," Pope Francis said at the time. "It was given by John Paul II and this remains."
Nevertheless, in 2016 Pope Francis set up a commission to study the role of female deacons in the early church after his exchange with some 900 members of the International Union of Superiors General, a global umbrella group representing about 500,000 women religious in about 80 countries. At least one of the women on the commission was a proponent of ordination of women deacons who has spoken at conferences held by women priest advocates.
Fr. Pani argues that the common faithful do not have “belief” in the restriction as reason for its negation. Fr. Pani entertains the thought that “it remains true that a doctrine proposed by the Church needs to be understood by the believing intelligence.” In the case of woman’s ordination, he says, that is not the case. “Today there is unease among those who fail to understand how the exclusion of women from the Church’s ministry can coexist with the affirmation and appreciation of her equal dignity,” Pani adds.
According to Stark, the argument that a Church doctrine needs to be believed by those who call themselves Catholic in order to be held true does not fit. “The consensus fidelium cannot be identified with the consensus that reigns in society at any given time. The consensus fidelium in the second century was for example in no way identical with the consent of society of the believers surrounding Roman-Hellenistic society and culture.”
“Is it not true today that the reigning opinion is in essential points contrary to the consensus fidelium and threatening to the faith of many Christians? It is the consent of the faithful and not the consent of those who pay church tax or those church tax funded functionaries of the Church,” Stark added.
Stark sees Pani’s argument as rooted in something else: “For a few years now the illuminist and vulgar-Hegelian way of thinking has gained influence in the Church. According to this way of thinking, the development of culture is a constant movement upwards, to ever more illuminated heights of the spirit, along with the conviction that every later development must be correct when compared with an older one. Did anyone in the recent past ever consider that there are also cultural processes of degeneration and spiritual decline?”
“I find it relatively laughable that La Civiltà Cattolica puts the ‘great developments’ of the 21st century – which are barely 16 years old – against the rest of the history of mankind and cultures,” he said.
Is the “God of Surprises” in favor of ordaining women?
In the most recent edition of the Italian Jesuit bi-weekly magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica, the text of which is vetted by the Holy See prior to publication, an apologetic appears in favor of female ordination.Sandro Magister, the well-known Vaticanista, offers an overview of the article on his blog, L’Espresso [available in English], wherein he reminds readers of a comment made by Francis on the return flight from Sweden last November 1st:
For the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last clear word was given by Saint John Paul II, and this holds.Magister goes on to argue, however:
To read the latest issue of La Civiltà Cattolica, the question of women priests appears to be anything but closed. On the contrary, wide open.Is it reasonable to believe that the so-called question of female ordination is truly “wide open” insofar as Francis is concerned?
Magister apparently thinks so, and I must agree.
I would remind those who might feel compelled to take comfort in Francis’ in-flight reference to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis how he unceremoniously upended the teaching set forth (more properly, re-affirmed) in Familiaris Consortio, also from John Paul II, concerning Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.
In other words, we already know that, according to the mind of Francis, an immemorial practice based on Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church only “holds” until such time as he and his merry band of modernists decides otherwise.
Fr. Giancarlo Pani, S.J., writing for La Civiltà Cattolica (the editor of which is Francis’ confidant, Fr. Anthony Spadaro, S.J.) provided the rationale for re-opening debate on matters that the Church has long since established as infallibly settled:
One cannot always resort to the past, as if only in the past are there indications of the Spirit. Today as well the Spirit is guiding the Church and suggesting the courageous assumption of new perspectives.Translation: Don’t be surprised if the Holy Ghost, after nearly 2,000 years, just up and changes His mind!
Speaking of the “God of Surprises” – better known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Fr. Pani said:
Francis is the first “not to limit himself to what is already known, but wants to delve into a complex and relevant field, so that it may be the Spirit who guides the Church.”According to Fr. Pani, the Church must take into consideration “developments that the presence of woman in the family and society has undergone in the 21st century.”
We’ve seen this act before, folks:
When Francis so “delves,” we end up with such “new perspectives” as the practical abrogation of mortal sin and a God who asks us to persist in adultery.
In spite of all this, I can imagine that even some “traditionalists” (aka Catholics) will choose to believe that Francis isn’t really thinking about opening debate on female ordination, but perhaps his latest Santa Marta homily will change their mind.
Preaching on the creation of woman as described in today’s Novus Ordo first reading, Genesis 2:18-25, Francis offered such insights as:
– “When women are not there, harmony is missing. We might say: But this is a society with a strong masculine attitude, and this is the case, no? The woman is missing.”
– “It is she who brings that harmony that teaches us to caress, to love with tenderness; and who makes the world a beautiful place.”
– “The purpose of women is to make harmony, and without women there is no harmony in the world.”
– “A woman is harmony, is poetry, is beauty. Without her the world would not be so beautiful, it would not be harmonious.”Is it merely a coincidence that the aforementioned La Civiltà Cattolica article in support of female ordination appears in the current edition; published just as the Mass readings would provide Francis with a golden opportunity to declare such things?
Maybe so, but then again, maybe not…
Either way, if one reads Francis’ comments in relation to Fr. Pani’s article – the same that, as Sandro Magister writes, was evidently published “with the pope’s imprimatur” – one may well imagine a day when His Humbleness will boldly ask; rhetorically to be sure:
– Is it not the case that the priesthood has a strong masculine attitude?
– With woman missing from the priesthood, is it not the case that love is missing?
– Do we not all desire a Church that is harmonious, tender, and beautiful?Let us hope and pray that this never happens. If it does, however, we can’t claim that we were blindsided.
After all, the “God of Surprises” is nothing if not predictable.