I AM A HUGE POPE FRANCIS FAN! BUT!!!!! -WE’RE NOW AT ODDS . . . AND IT’S OVER WOMEN! (I’m sure we’ll get through this disagreement and, one day, the Pope will invite me to dinner, but for now. . .)
In an article reported in The Guardian, a Swiss journalist asked the pontiff if the ban on women becoming priests would ever be lifted. His response: “Saint Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands, this stands,” referring to a 1994 document forever prohibiting women from the priesthood. I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed. I was hoping for ecclesial disruption of the Holy See’s status quo from this pope. I guess even the most radical pope in generations (centuries?) has his limits.
To be clear, although I am an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, I owe much of my vocation, and maybe my health and wholeness, to the Catholic Church, who, during my undergrad, had an on-campus ministry that reached out to me and helped me through a very difficult transition from Atheist to Christian. They helped me when I was in spiritual, emotional, and physical danger, and for that I will be forever grateful.
However, my ancestry, genetics, and my spirituality are, at their roots, Celtic, and the Celtic Church has always been more … well … practical than the Holy See. We’ve never accepted the prohibition of women in the priesthood. Women have always been as revered, venerated, and respected as men . . . especially spiritually. (For that matter, we’ve never warmed up to the celibacy of the priesthood.)
The foundational argument for keeping women out of the priesthood is that Jesus’ disciples—in particular his inner circle of those who would become his apostles—were all men. No women. Thus, there is no precedent to ordain women as priests (they forget that we had Celtic women priests once).
I’d like to point out that none of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples were from South America (as Pope Francis is), or Poland (where John Paul II came from), or Italy (where a lot of popes were from). So . . . why can a pope be a non-biblical Polish, Italian, or (name-the-nationality) man but not a non-biblical any-nationality woman?!?
It’s medieval, patriarchal, and a bit silly. . . and the Roman Catholic Church should obsolete the prohibition against female priests. It makes no sense, is not biblical, and berefts the church of a great deal of wisdom.
Pope Francis — if you do invite me to dinner, I’ll not only bring my wife but ask for a more cogent theological rationale for a male-only priesthood.