Tuesday, November 01, 2011

By its own admission, the Worcester Commission for Women has a problem with the Church's teaching authority

At its website, the Worcester Commission for Women states that, "The Commission for Women shall serve as an advisory board to the resident bishop of Worcester in regard to women’s issues. It shall function as a liaison between women in the diocese and the resident bishop, raising and promoting awareness of the evolving role of women in the church and society. The commission shall strive to bond together the women of the diocese through spiritual, educational and social programs.

In its history, the commission has examined many issues affecting women and their relationship with their church. This has been accomplished through study, meetings and conferences and through its occasional column, “Concerning Women,” published in the Catholic Free Press.

Inclusive language, the problem of women and homelessness, the possibility of women’s ordination to the Permanent Diaconate, the history of women in the church and in the bible, and women’s spirituality have been the major issues..." (See here).

Now, Rome has already rejected most inclusive language.  As this article explains, "The Holy See...rejected most inclusive language, especially where the references had philosophical and theological significance. Examples of such texts are Psalm 1, where "happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked" was translated "happy the one," or Psalm 22, where "I am worm and no man" was rendered "I am a worm and no mortal." Such uses of man have deep anthropological significance with respect to Adam (man) and messianic significance referring prophetically to Christ (the New Adam and Son of Man).

What Rome has permitted is some mild inclusive language in cases where a mixed group of individuals (as opposed to an all male group like the apostles) is meant.."

By continuing to agitate for inclusive language, the Worcester Commission for Women is signaling its rejection of the Church's teaching authority.  When a matter is settled by Rome, faithful Catholics do not continue to act as if the matter were still open to debate.

And what of the ordination of women to the Permanent Diaconate?  Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Professor of Dogmatic Theology in Munich, explains in his scholarly work entitled "Priesthood and Diaconate" (Ignatius Press) that the consecration of deaconesses in the early Church was not an ordination of women to the diaconate.  He writes:

"The institutionalization of charitable services performed by widows in the Christian community, of the assistance rendered by women during baptismal ceremonies, and of liturgical functions in a convent of consecrated virgins is apparent from the beginning of the third century in the ecclesiastical  neologism: diaconissa/diacona.  For Koine Greek, unlike Latin, could not construct the female form of 'servant' by a change of ending, but could only indicate it with the feminine article (cf. Rom 16:1).  Aside from that, we also encounter the title diaconissa (and, similarly, presbyterissa and episcopissa) as a designation for the wives of deacons - for example, in papal instructions or conciliar canons that admonish higher clerics to practice celibacy, in the sense of continence. 

Although there are records of the liturgical installation of deaconesses dating back to the fourth century, one must not overlook the fact that the selfsame authors who testify to this practice also make clear that the consecration of deaconesses was not the ordination of women to the diaconal ministry; on the contrary, it was a question of a different ecclesiastical office.

To the early Church it was clear that, without prejudice to the various degrees of bishop, presbyter, and deacon, which assumed a definitive form in the transition to the postapostolic age, these ministries owe their existence to the historical initiative of the apostles and to the special presence of the Holy Spirit in the foundational phase of the Church; whereas the latter, so-called nonsacramental consecrations were introduced by ecclesiastical authorities and thus are not matters of divine law but only of Church law." (pp. 48-49).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches clearly that: "Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ('character') which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the 'deacon' or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity." (CCC, 1570).  And again: "Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate 'as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy,' while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church's mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should 'be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate.'" (CCC, 1571).

Women cannot receive Holy Orders.  Period.  End of story.  The Sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred in the degrees of Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon (See Lumen Gentium Nos. 18-29).  Tradition in its entirety has always firmly held that all degrees of ordination are essentially rooted in one sacrament, as being a repraesentatio Christi capitis [a representation of Christ the Head].  That the Worcester Commission for Women continues to agitate for women to be ordained to the Permanent Diaconate says it all.  This Commission is not committed to the Church's teaching or her teaching authority.

Dei Verbum of the Second Vatican Council teaches authoritatively that, "the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls."

I guess members of the Commission for Women aren't familiar with this teaching of Vatican II.  Maybe they simply consider themselves to be some sort of ersatz Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?


Wendy said...

I don't think the Commission for Women can be called Catholic in any real sense. I exhort women of the Diocese to avoid it at all costs.

Ellen Wironken said...

1536 of the Catechism states that, "Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate." And 1577 states clearly that, "Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination."

The Commission for Women is NOT Catholic. It does not represent women who are authentically Catholic in the Diocese of Worcester. It is more akin to Kissling's "Catholics for a Free Choice." Meaning Catholic in name only.

Ashley Pelletier said...

Radical feminism and its adherents are an embarassment to the Church and to faithful Catholic women everywhere. Inclusive language? I thought that asinine approach to the Holy Scriptures went out with the 1990s. Women's ordination to Holy Orders? It would be nice if those who represent the "commission for women" would take the time to read Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and to purchase a Catechism.

Evidently these disgruntled and bitter women are frozen in a time warp of 1960s nostalgia.

Derek said...

If these women are so unhappy in the Catholic Church, perhaps they should consider becoming Episcopalians? Or Unitarians. Then they can have what they want: paganism, homosexuality, lesbianism,contraception, abortion, gay marriage and women priests.

Anonymous said...

What I find terrifying is that Bishop McManus stands behind this dissent group. The truth which sets us free doesn't always find welcome in this diocese.

StBernard'sGal said...

There is definitely an element of the demonic in the Commission for Women. In my opinion, this organization attracts evil like a magnet. You have shown how one after another of their guest speakers at the Gather Us In Conference is a noted dissident. This isn't by coincidence. It is by design. And all with the Episcopal blessing of Bishop McManus apparently.

Site Meter