Saturday, February 11, 2012

Catholic Free Press columnist Stacy Trasancos: Faithful to the Magisterium?

In a previous post, I noted how Catholic Free Press columnist Stacy Trasancos implied in a Blog post that the faithful can challenge the Church's Magisterial teaching.  Mrs. Trasancos became very angry and left a comment here in which she said, "My attitude toward the Magisterial teaching of the Church is one of complete assent."  I was prepared to take her at her word even though her post seemed to imply that the faithful can indeed challenge the Magisterium.

Now I really have my doubts about Stacy Trasancos' fidelity to the Church's teaching.  In a Blog post on the subject of women's ordination, Mrs. Trasancos writes, "We know that by the end of the first century the Roman Catholic Church was established and there can be little doubt that the cultural influences of that time and place affected the doctrine [that only men are called to the ministerial priesthood].  We do also know that the Church has evolved over time and that part of theology's goal is to communicate faith to changing cultures.  For these reasons, maybe the question of women in the priesthood will remain unsettled.  There isn't any hard logic to support the idea that the concrete forms of the ecclesiastical offices cannot be changed....Whether women should or will someday be priests, isn't for this single writer to say." (See here).

The Church's doctrine was affected by cultural influences?  Really?  The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (Inter Insigniores), which was approved for publication by Pope Paul VI on October 15, 1976, refutes this asinine thesis: "Jesus Christ did not call any woman to become part of the Twelve. If he acted in this way, it was not in order to conform to the customs of his time, for his attitude towards women was quite different from that of his milieu, and he deliberately and courageously broke with it.

For example, to the great astonishment of his own disciples, Jesus converses publicly with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:27); he takes no notice of the state of legal impurity of the woman who had suffered from hemorrhages (cf. Mt 9:20-22), he allows a sinful woman to approach him in the house of Simon the Pharisee (cf. Lk 7:37 ff); and by pardoning the woman taken in adultery, he means to show that one must not be more severe towards the fault of a woman than that of a man (cf. Jn 8:11). He does not hesitate to depart from the Mosaic Law in order to affirm the equality of the rights and duties of men and women with regard to the marriage bond (cf. Mk 10:2-11; Mt 19:3-9).

In his itinerant ministry Jesus was accompanied not only by the Twelve but also by a group of women: "Mary, surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna and several others who provided for them out of their own resources" (Lk 8:2-3). Contrary to the Jewish mentality, which did not accord great value to the testimony of women, as Jewish law attests, it was nevertheless women who were the first to have the privilege of seeing the Risen Lord and it was they who were charged by Jesus to take the first paschal message to the Apostles themselves (cf. Mt 28:7-10; Lk 24:9-10; Jn 20:11-18), in order to prepare the latter to become the official witnesses to the Resurrection.

It is true that these facts do not make the matter immediately obvious. This is no surprise, for the questions that the Word of God brings before us go beyond the obvious. In order to reach the ultimate meaning of the mission of Jesus and the ultimate meaning of Scripture, a purely historical exegesis of the texts cannot suffice. But it must be recognized that we have here a number or convergent indications that make all the more remarkable the fact that Jesus did not entrust the apostolic charge to women. Even his Mother, who was so closely associated with the mystery of her Son, and whose incomparable role is emphasized by the Gospels of Luke and John, was not invested with the apostolic ministry. This fact was to lead the Fathers to present her as the example or Christ's will in this domain; as Pope Innocent III repeated later, at the beginning of the 13th century, "Although the Blessed Virgin Mary surpassed in dignity and in excellence all the Apostles, nevertheless it was not to her but to them that the Lord entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven."


The apostolic community remained faithful to the attitude of Jesus towards women. Although Mary occupied a privileged place in the little circle of those gathered in the Upper Room after the Lord's Ascension (cf. Acts 1:14), it was not she who was called to enter the College of the Twelve at the time of the election that resulted in the choice of Matthias: those who were put forward were two disciples whom the Gospels do not even mention.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled them all, men and women (cf. Acts 2:1; 1-14), yet the proclamation of the fulfillment of the prophecies in Jesus was made only by "Peter and the Eleven" (Acts 2:14).

When they and Paul went beyond the confines of the Jewish world, the preaching of the Gospel and the Christian life in the Greco-Roman civilization impelled them to break with Mosaic practices, sometimes regretfully. They could therefore have envisaged conferring ordination on women, if they had not been convinced that their duty of fidelity to the Lord on this point. In the Hellenistic world, the cult of a number of pagan divinities was entrusted to priestesses. In fact, the Greeks did not share the ideas of the Jews: although their philosophers taught the inferiority of women, historians nevertheless emphasize the existence of a certain movement for the advancement of women during the Imperial period. In fact, we know from the book of the Acts and from the Letters of Saint Paul that certain women worked with the Apostles for the Gospel (cf. Rom 16:3-12; Phil 4:3). Saint Paul lists their names with gratitude in the final salutations of the Letters. Some of them often exercised an important influence on conversions: Priscilla, Lydia and others; especially Priscilla, who took it on herself to complete the instruction of Apollos (cf. Acts 18:26); Phoebe, in the service of the Church of Cenchreae (cf. Rom 16:1). All these facts manifest within the apostolic Church a considerable evolution vis-a-vis the customs of Judaism. Nevertheless, at no time was there a question of conferring ordination on these women.

In the Pauline Letters, exegetes of authority have noted a difference between two formulas used by the Apostle: he writes indiscriminately "my fellow workers" (Rom 16:3; Phil 4:2-3) when referring to men and women helping him in his apostolate in one way or another; but he reserves the title "God's fellow workers" (1 Cor 3:9; cf. 1 Thes 3:1) to Apollos, Timothy and himself, thus designated because they are directly set apart for the apostolic ministry and the preaching of the Word of God. In spite of the so important role played by women on the day of the Resurrection, their collaboration was not extended by Saint Paul to the official and public proclamation of the message, since this proclamation belongs exclusively to the apostolic mission."

The Church is viewed by the egalitarians as archaic because it will not go against the Lord Jesus and ordain women to the ministerial priesthood. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was Pope Pius XII who recalled that, "The Church has no power over the substance of the sacraments, that is to say, over what Christ the Lord, as the sources of Revelation bear witness, determined should be maintained in the sacramental sign." (Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis).

This is the teaching of the Council of Trent: "In the Church there has always existed this power, that in the administration of the sacraments, provided that their substance remains unaltered, she can lay down or modify what she considers more fitting either for the benefit of those who receive them or for respect towards those same sacraments, according to varying circumstances, times or places." (Council of Trent, Session 21, chap. 2: Denziger-Schonmetzer, Enchiridion Symbolorum 1728).

The practice of not ordaining women to the ministerial priesthood has a normative character. This norm is based upon the example of the Lord Jesus and has an unbroken tradition throughout the history of the Church. Which is why Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, nos. 2-4, wrote: "In the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, I myself wrote in this regard: 'In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time.'

In fact the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God's eternal plan; Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mk 3:13-14; Jn 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, "through the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood, the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord's way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Rv 21:14). These men did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7-8; 28:16-20; Mk 3:13-16; 16:14-15). The Apostles did the same when they chose fellow workers who would succeed them in their ministry. Also included in this choice were those who, throughout the time of the Church, would carry on the Apostles' mission of representing Christ the Lord and Redeemer.

Furthermore, the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe.

The presence and the role of women in the life and mission of the Church, although not linked to the ministerial priesthood, remain absolutely necessary and irreplaceable. As the Declaration Inter Insigniores points out, 'the Church desires that Christian women should become fully aware of the greatness of their mission: today their role is of capital importance both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the Church.'

The New Testament and the whole history of the Church give ample evidence of the presence in the Church of women, true disciples, witnesses to Christ in the family and in society, as well as in total consecration to the service of God and of the Gospel. 'By defending the dignity of women and their vocation, the Church has shown honor and gratitude for those women who-faithful to the Gospel-have shared in every age in the apostolic mission of the whole People of God. They are the holy martyrs, virgins and mothers of families, who bravely bore witness to their faith and passed on the Church's faith and tradition by bringing up their children in the spirit of the Gospel.'

Moreover, it is to the holiness of the faithful that the hierarchical structure of the Church is totally ordered. For this reason, the Declaration Inter Insigniores recalls: 'the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (cf. 1 Cor 12 and 13). The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints.'

Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

Got that?  The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgment is to be definitively held by all of the Church's faithful.  But Stacy Trasancos believes otherwise.  She insists that "maybe the question of women in the ministerial priesthood will remain unsettled."  Mrs. Trasancos believes she knows better than Christ's Vicar and treats women's ordination as something which might still be possible.  For her, there is no "hard logic" to support the idea that women cannot be ordained.

Not even the Holy Father's definitive judgment, made in virtue of his supreme teaching ministry is enough for her.

This is fidelity to the Magisterium?  God preserve us from such nonsense.  Small wonder the Catholic Free Press gave her a weekly column.  Small wonder my views are censored.  I fully adhere to, defend and propagate the teaching of the Magisterium. 


Wendy said...

Trasancos is yet another wolf in sheep's clothing. God help the Worcester Diocese!

ACatholicinClinton said...

I don't think you can get published in the CFP unless you support either women's ordination, homosexuality or New Age spirituality - think of the "Commission for Women." You must pass a sort of litmus test for dissent.

ShrewsburyCatholic said...

Just great....that's EXACTLY what this diocese needs, another promoter of Catholicism-Lite who believes that she is wiser than the Magisterium...Worcester continues to suffer from a crisis of infidelity.


Michael Cole said...

Trasancos' claim that, "There isn't any hard logic to support the idea that the concrete forms of the ecclesiastical offices cannot be changed," is nothing less than an attack on the Church's authoritative teaching regarding women's ordination.

She is saying here that the Church's teaching that women cannot be ordained does not rest on hard logic.

Trasancos is a dissenter. And her column should be removed from the Catholic Free Press immediately.

Jonathan said...

How is the question of women's ordination unsettled? Trasancos doesn't accept Pope John Paul II's infallible decision in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, No. 4 then.

She is not only challenging the Magisterium, she is openly rejecting the Pope's authoritative and infallible judgment by presenting the Church's teaching as an unresolved matter.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Trasancos writes, "We do also know that the Church has evolved over time and that part of theology's goal is to communicate faith to changing cultures. For these reasons, maybe the question of women in the priesthood will remain unsettled.."

While it is true that doctrine does develop, it does not develop in the same way as knowledge in other fields. Divine Revelation and faith do not originate in human observation and reasoning and their truth transcends the cultural forms in which they were first expressed. Trasancos appears to believe that religious knowledge progresses like other kinds of knowledge where mistakes in observation, errors in reasoning and cultural limits are gradually overcome.

The Church can never contradict the truth which she has received from God. Therefore, development of doctrine cannot ever call into question anything which Catholics as a whole have held with faith in earlier times.

Pope Paul VI warns that, "Among our contemporaries, the religious sense which provides faith with a kind of natural foundation is growing weaker. But Catholic belief, too, is being contaminated. Ideas are appearing in the field of exegesis and theology which have their origin in certain bold but misleading philosophical theories and which cast doubt upon or narrow down the full meaning of the truths which the Church has taught with her rightful authority. There is a pretense that religion must be adapted to the contemporary mind; the directive wisdom of the Church's teaching authority is scorned; theological inquiry is remodeled to suit the principles of 'historicism'; the divine inspiration and historical truth of Sacred Scripture are boldly denied: in short, God's People are being encouraged to adopt a new, so-called 'post-conciliar' attitude of mind." (Petrum et Paulum, AAS 59 (1967) 198, The Pope Speaks 12 (1967): 141).

HolyCross2012 said...

2,000 years of unbroken Tradition based on the fact that Christ called only men isn't enough "hard logic" for Trasancos. An infallible statement from the Roman Pontiff doesn't quite cut it for her. A mind darkened.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

I received an email this afternoon from an individual who wanted to know how to respond to people who promote women's ordination by citing the text from Galatians 3: 27-28, specifically the passage which reads, "There is no longer either male or female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ." Saint Paul precedes this passage with these words: "For all you who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ."

This Scripture has three parallels in the epistles of Saint Paul. In Romans 10:12, St. Paul observes that since all men are saved who all on the name Jesus, who confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, "there is no difference, no diastole at all between Jew and Greek."

To the Church at Corinth, St. Paul recalls that "we have all been baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greeks, whether bond or free; we have all been made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13).

And to the Colossians, where St. Paul is describing the behavior proper to those who, being baptized, are risen with Christ, he teaches his readers that, since they have put off the old man and have put on the new man who does not cease to be renewed after the image of Him who created him, they must know that "there is no longer here either Jew or Greek, either circumcised or uncircumcised, either barbarian or Scythian, either bond or free, but Christ who is all in all." (Colossians 3:11).

As Fr. Miceli explains, "Only the first of these four texts mentions that there are no longer male or female in Christ. But as shown clearly from the context, all four texts are intimately connected with baptism and have nothing to do with the ministry of the priesthood. Because baptism is sufficient for salvation since Christ's coming, circumcision is no longer needed. Women are no longer passed over by an initiating seal into the people of God. In what relates to their salvation they receive the same necessary rebirth in Christ and the Holy Spirit that men receive."

Anonymous said...

Vatican Ban on Women Priest Is Infallible

by Paul Likoudis

Challenge Magazine January, 1996

Determined to put a stop to a three decades long campaign waged by
dissenting theologians and renegade religious to open the Catholic
priesthood to women, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith released
a statement November 18 saying the Church's traditional ban on women
priest "requires definitive assent...(and) has been set forth infallibly by
the ordinary and universal Magisterium."

The teaching that the Church possesses no authority to ordain women,
declared the letter, "is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as
belonging to the deposit of faith."

The letter, signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the
Congregation, was accompanied by a cover letter insisting that bishops
"will do everything possible to ensure its distribution and favourable
reception, taking particular care that, above all on the part of theologians,
pastors of souls, and religious, ambiguous and contrary positions will not
again be proposed."

Invoking the word "infallible" in the letter, explained Father Augustine
DeNoia, a theological advisor to the US Bishops, means that "to teach the
contrary is equivalent to leading consciences into error."

For the ordinary Catholic, the so-called "person in the pew" who has to
read women's ordination agitprop in his parish bulletin, the young
student who is required to believe in women's ordination as a pre-
requisite for Confirmation, the seminarian who must agree women
should be ordained as a requirement for continuing his studies, this
Vatican letter will come as a great support.

For, now he can tell women's ordination advocates that they are not
Catholic. For, as those on both sides of the battle agree, the essence of this
recent statement is that those who will not accept Church teaching on
ordination are not Catholic.

The Pope is not only "aiming to shut the door on debate about women's
ordination" as Catholic New Service reporter John Thavis wrote from
Rome, but he has made it clear that dissenters on the issue are out of the

One of North America's most prominent dissenting theologians, Father
Richard McBrien of Notre Dame university realized this immediately, as
he told the New York Times: "If the pope wants us to believe that the
prohibition against the ordination of women is a matter of divine law
and divine faith such that the denial of this teaching is a heresy, then that
puts everyone who disagrees outside the Church. Is that what is being

Precisely, says Archbishop J. Francis Stafford of Denver. The issue of
women's ordination has been explored exhaustively, and now "it is time
to move on.

"The Church's teaching is definitive, and has been set forth infallibly by
formal declaration. It will not and cannot change. Therefore, for those
who see with the eyes of faith, the matter is resolved."

I've had letters to the editor of the CFP which also weren't published. I really do think they try to manipulate opinion in this way still. I still remember the moratorium on Fr. McBrien. While the CFP wouldn't publish letters to the editor expressing concern over the dissenting priest's views, his column continued to be published every week.

Same old nonsense at the CFP.

Michael Cole said...

Even though Stacy admits that, "the attitude pushing for change is wrong..", she still suggests that the Church's teaching is not supported by "hard logic" and suggests that it could change. In light of the Vatican's infallible ban, such a statement is very disturbing.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Right Mike. The Church's teaching that women cannot be ordained has been set forth definitively. And Canon 750 § 2. of the Code of Canon Law states that:

"..each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church."

It is not sufficient for Trasancos to acknowledge that "the attitude pushing for change [on women's ordination] is wrong." By suggesting that the teaching is not supported by hard logic and can still change, Trasancos is not firmly accepting and holding a teaching which has been "set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church."

Trasancos' attitude strikes me as most arrogant. The Church teaches with the authority of Jesus Christ. To suggest that the Church's teaching in this matter, which reflects the mind of Christ and which has been set forth infallibly by the Supreme Pontiff, does not rest upon "hard logic" is arrogant and opposed to that religious submission of mind and will called for in Lumen Gentium, No. 25.

Ellen Wironken said...

Lumen Gentium 25 says: "Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."

Stacy Trasancos isn't showing that "religious submission of mind and will" called for by Vatican II when she suggests that the Church's teaching on this issue might "remain unsettled."

Imagine if a Catholic wrote: "The attitude of pushing for abortion and contraception is wrong....perhaps the question of a woman's right to choose abortion or to use artificial birth control will remain unsettled. There isn't any hard logic to support the idea that these practices are always sinful and that the Church's teaching cannot be changed"

Once the Church has addressed a matter definitively, the matter is - for the faithful Catholic - closed.


Blake said...

"We know that by the end of the first century the Roman Catholic Church was established and there can be little doubt that the cultural influences of that time and place affected the doctrine [that only men are called to the ministerial priesthood]. We do also know that the Church has evolved over time and that part of theology's goal is to communicate faith to changing cultures. For these reasons, maybe the question of women in the priesthood will remain unsettled.."

How is the question unsettled? Bizarre. And the argument that Jesus was influenced by the culture is nothing less a demonic attack on the Lord Jesus and His authority. As E.L. Mascall explains, "If the supporters of women priests are right, then Our Lord in instituting an exclusively male apostolate, was doing something which has deprived half the members of the Church from their legitimate rights for nearly 2,000 years. And it would be difficult in that case to feel very confident of either his moral or his intellectual integrity. And then it is difficult to see why we should attribute any authority to him at all."

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