Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Troublesome Church Teachings

There are Catholics who unquestionably want to change Church teaching. There also are Catholics who boldly defend Church teaching. Nothing noteworthy so far. But then there is this strange breed of Catholics somewhere in the middle, who in some capacity accepts the teaching of the Church but at the same time is embarrassed by it.

A recent post by John Allen is a good example of the kind of maneuvering that is symptomatic of this condition. He labors through painful, convoluted “logic” and contorted mental gymnastics to “conclude” that the “gay lobby” in the Vatican is not (only) about homosexuals.

Reading between the lines: It’s not about the gays. We are not singling them out. Really, I promise! Even when we say “gay” we don’t mean actual gays. 

It is no surprise that among the Church teachings most likely to produce this effect are her teachings on sexual morality: indissolubility of marriage, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. Arguably though – even more than these very hot-button issues – the most troubling Church teaching for this crowd is the all-male, hierarchical priesthood. Cringe.

Their inner turmoil is tragic and often is compounded by an addiction to media acceptance.

The poster child for this schizophrenic reaction to the all-male, hierarchical priesthood is a prince of the Church, Se├ín Cardinal O’Malley.

In a November 2014 interview, CBS correspondent Norah O’Donnell asked Cardinal O’Malley about the “exclusion of women” from the priesthood. His reply is agonizing. After a brief and weak defense of Church teaching, he confesses: “If I were founding a church, I’d love to have women priests.” Read that one again.

Then in an apparent damage-control follow up a few days later, the cardinal cites St. Therese of the Child Jesus as an example of women though out history who have wanted to be priests. This egregious misrepresentation of St. Therese, associating her with a modern feminist entitlement mentality, underscores just how far these troubled Catholics will go in an attempt to appease the media and the world while also trying to remain within Church tradition.

Cardinal O’Malley then bends over backwards even further with a gross generalization that “women often are holier, smarter, more hard-working then men.”

Reading between the lines: It’s not that women are incapable of being priests. They are capable. In fact women are more capable than men. Really. I mean it! Please don’t hate me. It’s not my fault.

Over the past 45 years we have seen a stream of consolation prizes.
-       Girl altar servers in the sanctuary
-       Women lectors in the sanctuary
-       Women cantors in the sanctuary
-       Women Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (sometimes in robes)
-       Women “pastoral associates” (a nifty chiasmus of associate pastor)
-       Most recently, a papal directive that women can be included among the 12 representatives of the Apostles (the original priests) who have feet washed on Holy Thursday. (And if women can be included, then they must be included – otherwise the priest is reactionary and sexist.)

In the end, this accomplishes nothing to appease the world and media; instead it emboldens them while also fueling a growing frustration as they bang their heads on what they see as a glass ceiling. From their perspective, it is merely patronizing because…

The world will not be satisfied until we have women deacons.
Then the world will not be satisfied until we have women priests.
Then the world will not be satisfied until we have women bishops.
Then the world will not be satisfied until we have women cardinals.
Then the world will not be satisfied until we have a woman pope.

And I don’t think they would stop there…


  1. It looks to me as if you are reading too much into Allen's article. It is meant to be explicatory about what Italians and Vatican insiders say when they mean "gay lobby" inside the Vatican. It seems pretty reasonable to me. He is not denying that there is influence by gay clergy, he is not saying anything about the "lavender mafia" in the U.S. Unless you have evidence that he is misrepresenting or hiding facts, or has shown some kind of pattern of denying reality, I think you need to take the article on its face. It may or may not be accurate, but I don't see it as driving some agenda.

    1. Half Heathen- Thanks for taking time to reply. However, I stand by the point being made. Quoted below. Phrases like "the theory goes" are odd when electing to attempt an explanation of something like this. And if as Allen says "emphasis is not on sex but secrecy," wouldn't it be called a "secret lobby" or something like that. If it a difficult challenge to explain how using a word does not mean what the word usually means.

      From Allen's Post:
      It’s called “gay” because, the theory goes, a Vatican official’s homosexuality can be a very powerful secret, especially if he’s sexually active, and threatening to expose him can be an effective way of keeping him in line. It’s hardly the only such possibility, however, and, in any event, the emphasis is not on sex but secrecy, as well as the related impression of people getting promoted or decisions being made on the basis of personal quid pro quos

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