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Francis: women are first communicators of the Resurrection.

CNS photo/Paul HaringAs I moved through St. Peter's Square pestering every American I could find, I noticed a trend. Young Catholics kept bringing up the same concerns about their faith: how the church treats abuse victims, gays and lesbians, people of other religions -- and women. (I wrote up some of that in the current issue ofCommonweal.) I hope they've been paying attention to Pope Francis since they left Rome, because he's been addressing the last of those topics with considerable vigor.

Francis's Easter Vigil homily led with the women who discover the empty tomb. "They had felt understood by [Jesus] in their dignity," Francis said, "and they had accompanied him to the very end." Even though the women initially react with fear to what they find, their "loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others." In their dignity, understood by Jesus, they bring the good news. And yesterday morning, he preached on John's account of Mary Magdalene weeping at the empty tomb -- until the risen Christ appears and bids her to tell the rest what she has witnessed. Francis then exhorted believers to see through her eyes: "Sometimes in our lives tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus," he said. And today, during his Wednesday audience, he extended his reflection on the role of women as first communicators of the gospel.

After criticizing attempts to "obscure faith in the Resurrection of Jesus," Pope Francis turned to the question of transmitting that faith. Again he noted that women were the "first witnesses to this event." Yet, "in the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women." Why? To answer that question, Francis delivered a little lesson in historical-critical method:

According to the Jewish Law of the time, women and children were not considered reliable, credible witnesses. In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. Here we can see an argument in favor of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were a invented, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women. Instead, the evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses. This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women.... In the church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love. The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!

As I read that passage, I suddenly recalled the first time I'd heard that argument -- as a sophomore at Fordham, in a course on feminist theology, taught by Elizabeth A. Johnson.

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Thank you, Crystal. The Jesuits have been very good on women in recent years. Remember that Ignatius admitted two women to the Society in his day. It did not pan out as he had expected but the important thing is that he had admitted them. He had an openness to women. Today, in their collaborative ministry Jesuits work with many women, some of whom direct the Spiritual Exercises, which is the highest compliment Jesuits could pay to anyone: to direct the Exercises. As a Jesuit Pope Francis holds the Jesuit view on the importance of women in the Church, as he had already articulated. I would not be surprised if he expanded the role of women in the church. One has to keep in mind that in the Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius assumed that the Risen Jesus appeared to his mother first, something which cannot be grounded in the tradition of the Church. so forward thinking are Jesuits on these important matters. There is a new Pope in town and happily he is a Jesuit. Wonders never cease.

John Page wrote,

I have now watched, several times, a video clip of Pope Francis speaking of mothers and women passing on faith in Christ Risen to their children and grandchildren. . . . But the English text leaves out donne (women) at this second point, and has only Mothers, go forward with this witness! The smiling, animated Francis seems, however, to be extending his peroration not just to mothers, but to women in general. John XXIII was often frustrated by the editing in the official Italian text of what he had actually said in Italian.

Tom Blackburn added,

I hope everyone registered John Pages comment in the dead of night (1:21 a.m.) . . . Francis would not be the first pope to be zealously protected from doctrinal deviation by those who surround him. The real test of a pope is not what he says, especially in official texts and translations, so much as the new assignments he finds for his most zealous protectors.

Heres another example. During an in-flight press conference on his way to the meeting of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil in 2007, Pope Benedict said: That Romero as a person merits beatification, I have no doubt. (Answer to Question 9). The quote can be found in John Allen's transcript of the press conference, and was also cited by Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield. Did one of those zealous protectors, as Tom Blackburn calls them, kidnap it on its way to the Vatican website? I dont know, but when you look at the answer it provides for Question 9, the Popes statement is nowhere to be found.

Rita --My hopes are so high for Francis that I'm afraid I've been conned by his charm. I"m afraid that tomorrow he'll announce that women have to wear hats in church.One thing that fascinates me about him is that in Argentina he was known as shy and formal. Must be the Holy Spirit that has gotten into him.I fear I simply misspelled his name. Sigh.

I'm surprised no one is mentioning Pope Francis has Occupied the Vatican. The major issue of the 21st century is the obscene distribution of wealth. By his lifestyle as an Archbishop, and by the choice of his papal name, Pope Francis has shown that he gets it.

So maybe the Pope's most important appointment won't be a Secretary of State, but rather, translators with skill and integrity?

Regarding the translation lacuna that John Page has called out for us: sorry if this is a naive question, but what is the importance of omitting the word "women" in the translation? It seems as if several commenters here believe there is something nearly conspiratorial in the English translation; what is significant about the omission?

I am just hoping and praying that bishops throughout the universal church rise up and speak out in favor of women being ordained permanent deacons.

Jim, the traditional view of women restricted their role in the world to parenting (and to being receptacles for men's semen). Nowadays we know that women have a lot of other talents to bring to the world. But since they are still now excluded from diaconate, priesthood, and positions of governance in the Catholic church, there is always the suspicion that the Catholic clergy don't get it. Calling for "mothers" to be witnesses suggests that the suspicion is well founded. Calling for "mothers and women" suggests that they might be witnesses in other ways besides by parenting. Given the current sensitivity of this issue, it's an important nuance.

We might reflect on the way many of us have highlighted how women were the first ones to proclaim the resurrection and how Jesus chose them to see him first. Remember our frustration that this fact being downplayed. Now here is a pope who places this riveting story front and center. This is sensational.

Shephards at Jesus's birth? Another childish Benedict xvi, Jesus' Infancy.Do bishops do not have time to study Scripture,i.e. biblical scholars like ex.R.E.Brown, J.P.Meier.A kissing of Muslim women will follow the fight against Muslim countries like Pakistan with blasphemy law or the chicken policy of Cassaroli before John Paul II to Soviet Empire not to embarass them! Is he a man or ...woman but not like biblical Judith? Let's see..

Mr. Ciuba --A story doesn't have to be literally true to be true. If you leave out the shepherds, a truth is lost.

Gene Palumbo,Your research is outstanding on the Vatican's protectiveness of what it considers politically correct speech. It would seem the censors need close scrutiny, particularly when it comes to Francis. I am just savoring these early days of his papacy, hoping for more of the same.

Claire, thanks for that explanation - that does make sense. I do try to be sensitive to these things, even when I fail. Thanks, too, for not being too critical of my insensitivity.

Add me, a mother of six and certainly not one to disparage motherhood, to the list of those skeeved out by PF's comments on the specialness of women. I have been very surprised reading some comments from women I would consider much more "feminist" (for lack of a better word) than I ever have been--the fawning excitement that PF mentioned how special we are by these feminists strikes me as just plain weird.I'm not ready to write him off as an old man victim to the attitudes of his time and culture, but I remain quite wary anytime women are pigeon-holed into "special" roles within the Church.It doesn't take much to deduct that if the Church is a mess, it surely must be because same special women must be failing at their special role.(I grew up hearing about how women who had gotten "too big for their britches" had "forgotten their place and ruined the Church", so this is a particular hot button for me)

Some of you may remember fifty or so years ago when classified employment ads in newspapers were headed "Help Wanted Male" and "Help Wanted Female." The separation was based on the facile assertion that God or nature did not intend women to do certain kinds of work, usually the kinds that paid better.Women fought against that discrimination and eventually got help in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned the separate listings. Newspapers tried and failed to have the ban declared unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. At this distance, the whole thing seems both nakedly punitive and ludicrous, until we recall that well-respected people were making what they thought were serious arguments for the status quo.The Church today is where our society was back then, except that the evidence for women's competence is all the clearer after fifty years' experience. If there are any intellectually respectable arguments for excluding women from positions of true responsibility in the Church, they haven't yet been made. And the ban on even discussing the subject saves bishops the embarrassment of having to try, which perhaps is the real reason for it.

Yolanda, in your skeeved-offed-ness, I'm sure you didn't mean to blame women on here for being dupes.I understand Pope Francis's appeal. Look at that smiling face. That accessibility. The fact that the man has never been entangled with the Vatican bureaucracy. That he is known for his actions rather than all the smart books he writes. There's lots to be encouraged like.But being called "special" by the RCC hierarchy should make any woman's blood run cold. Women are special cases, set apart, ie., confined, to certain uses and jobs to be determined by what male theologians extrapolating from male theologians down two millennia of religious thought say the natural order is.

It's the Vatican's rigid practice of forbidding public discussion of obviously neuralgic problems that drives me crazy. Just ignore the toothaches, kiddies, and they will go away, it tells us. Even four-year old children know that's nonsense. Sex abuse, bishops' cover-ups, married priests, woman priests, sexual morality -- just bury the topics and all will be hunky-dory! Yeah, sure. And chickens have lips. Have they no conception that they will have to answer for this silence?

Correction: There's lots to be encouraged ABOUT.

John Prior,I recall those ads well. Coming out of college, the question in interviews was still, can you type?For a bit of humor - I read once that some very large percentage of Brits (60?) had dreamed of having tea with the queen.Well, last night I dreamed that Francis came to visit at my house. I was just thrilled to be in his company though ashamed that my house was not cleaned up and neat. He stayed for a good period of time, walking around inside and outside, visiting with neighbors, etc. I remember saying excitedly, "he is the pope of the whole world." He was so unassuming.Well, for various reasons, we did not get a chance to sit down and talk one on one. He was so much in motion. As he was preparing to leave, and I was perhaps waking up, I yelled "dumbbell" to myself. There I lost a chance to present a tightly worded, well-researched summary of recommended actions re: sexual abuse for his consideration. What a wasted opportunity!I have never to my memory ever dreamed of any pope. Hope must remain.

Carolyn, what a dream! I am smiling. Something very touching about all that. Thank you for sharing it. Yes, hope must remain!

This is bizarre but I had a dream about the pope too, about a week ago (I've never dreamed about a pope before). I was visiting the Vatican with a bunch of other people and we spent the day with him, just following him around and talking to him. What surprised me about him was that he was so much an ordinary, practical, decent person.

A keeper, Gene. Into MSWord and on the hard drive. Thanks to you and Ann.

What does it mean to say the Vatican "forbids discussion"? How could they even do so? Or are we just using loose language here?

Mark==What Rome has done and continues to do is to have theologians fired from their jobs teaching in Catholic theoogy departments and withdraw their licenses to teach in Catholic schools. See Hans Kung, for instance. It can put pressure on the heads of orders to which theologians belong to forbid them to continue their reseaarch about certain matters. It can put pressure on bishops to silence theologian priests of their dioceses. It can cancel the charters of nuns' organizations and assign priests to rewrite them to Rome's liking. See the American nuns. And, of course, it can excommunicate whom it disapproves of. It used to burn theologians' books and even theologians, but it has improved on that regard.Where have you been?

Ann O.,Language will have its little jokes. Isn't it amusing that to fire a theologian and to burn a theologian mean different things?You may well be right that the Church has a more modern and humane attitude toward dissent today and would never burn a heretic alive. But I don't think I would want to put it to the test by giving back to Church leaders the power they once had. Nothing leads people faster to dark places than absolute power joined to serene self-righteousness, and whatever it may have lost of the first, the Church has as much as ever it had of the other.

John P. ==Now that you mention it, I wonder whether the origin of "fire" (as in dismissing from work) might originally have had something to do with firing/burning theologians.

Ann--You are avoiding my question: What discussion has Rome "forbidden"? You have discussed what you have claimed they have forbidden. See the contradiction?

Ann, is this the kind of forbidding you are talking about? In this Reuters story from last year, Pope Benedict calls challenges to Church doctrine on the ordination of women "disobedience" to doctrine he says is "infallible teaching."The lead in says the Pope will "not tolerate" these challenges, but what he actually would (or did) do to stifle the talk is unclear. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/06/us-pope-idUSBRE83500U20120406It strikes me that in these days of instantaneous communication through various media, it would be impossible to enforce a ban on discussion of anything. However, as you suggest, the Church has ways of making it difficult for groups and individuals to raise questions or objections to certain things without losing their place at the Table.

Mark --If you tell your child, "If you do that again you're grounded for two weeks", the form of the statement is that of a hypothetical, but the message/command is, "I forbid you to do that". Learn how language works, Mark. It's not always what they teach you in kiddie grammar classes.

AnnIndeed, I am trying very patiently to understand how your language of forbids works, but you continue to avoid answering my question. How can the Church forbid the discussion we are having? Have they excommunicated you? Me? Have we been grounded?

The Vatican "forbids" discussion by people it has direct power over (e.g., anyone holding an office in the Church, the prerequisite for which is taking an oath of fidelity; professors under a mandatum, the examples that Ann O points out, etc. etc. etc.). Another handy tactic is ignoring arguments. When has a bishop ever responded to an article or an argument posted at Commonweal? For example, I think articles like Prof. Kaveny's on the contraception mandate are worthy of a response from the hierarchy. Where is that response, that, as AnnO says, "answers one by one each of the arguments, giving ... *reasons why* they were wrong"? This never happens. I have been reading and commenting at Commonweal for years and have NEVER in all my time here, seen a counter-argument from anyone in the hierarchy on any of the material presented.

The Vatican forbids when it has direct power to do so, and ignores when it doesn't. Either way, fruitful dialog does not occur. Not exactly a stunning example of the Catholic intellectual tradition's belief in the coherence of faith and reason.

Jeanne, I appreciate your answers, and I don't wish to be seen as baiting anyone.But, practically speaking, does the hierarchy have time to answer specific groups and people at all times? Didn't Pope Benedict directly address the Austrian clerics, as outlined in the Reuters article? He DID give reasons why, as far as the Church is concerned, the possibility of women priests is not up for debate (i.e., they were not among the chosen apostles at the Last Supper). Certainly, Pope Benedict did not address the counter arguments (the reason women were not chosen was because Jesus felt people at that time would not accept them, though he did bring women into his ministry time and again), and a better Pope might do so in a friendlier and more collegial way. But at some point--and perhaps my experience with the never-ending wrangles in Anglicanism affect my thinking here--isn't it useful to have an arbiter say, "Look, right now we see no reason to reverse two millennia of tradition on this point. If the Holy Spirit so leads us, we could revisit the issue, and we trust that, if we are wrong, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to us in the fullness of time."

Jean, I see your point, but at least the Anglicans have wrangles. The Holy Spirit seems unfortunately stuck with working through humans. Having open debate (like the medievals did), where actual arguments and counterarguments are had on specific points, seems a way to let such a "revisiting" happen and to "let the Holy Spirit reveal in the fullness of time." Unless we have the sudden appearance of a holy dove that speaks, it will happen through human wrangling. The question, to me is not whether the hierarchy has the time to answer specific groups and people at all times, but whether they have the confidence to rationally answer any groups at any time. Remember, we still await a rational answer to the arguments in favor of lifting the ban on birth control from the papal commission on the topic.

Wonderful responses to Mark, though perhaps none will ever satisfy. I believe it is called creeping infallibility. And Jeanne is so right about the church exercising power of over those it can, and ignoring others. Mark, I don't think you will ever find a Vatican direct order that says, "Catholics are forbidden to discuss these settled matters: women priests, married priests, contraception, etc. etc.That's not how it works. Indirect language, Vaticanese, whatever, is an art all its own. But everyone knows, as theologians are silenced (Roger Haight, right now), what one can say and what one cannot say.An interesting example is the question whether bishops were ever told not to report sexual abuse allegations to the authorities. Nowhere is that direct language specified, and the Vatican points to Crimen Sollicitationis, (sp?), the 1922, 1962, 2001 and other documents and says, see, there is no such stipulation. However! We have any number of cardinals saying never to report to police; the example of priests who did so who were drummed out of their positions or the priesthood. The names are in my files but I don't have hours to spend getting the citations.The curia works in wondrous ways to both own and disown liability for anything. It's a brilliant tactic, learned perhaps over centuries. Mark, please smell the coffee.

Jean,You said, . . . isnt it useful to have an arbiter say, Look, right now we see no reason to reverse two millennia of tradition on this point. Why is that useful? Also: maybe the arbiter sees no reason for change, but what about all the others who see it differently? Why, on this kind of issue (i.e. were not talking about an article of the creed), should the arbiter get to have his way, get to impose his will? Why should we walk away and say, Okay, you win. Maybe another day . . . .You also said, If the Holy Spirit so leads us, we could revisit the issue. . . . But what if the Holy Spirit is leading us or is trying to right now, is doing so by speaking to us through those who say that the time to revisit the issue is now, and not some point in the future? Finally, you say, . . . we trust that, if we are wrong, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to us in the fullness of time. But what if we are wrong, now, and theres no need to wait for the fullness of time to see that because the Holy Spirit is revealing it to us or is trying to -- now, if only we had eyes to see?

Jeanne-Thanks for responding. Thats a pretty serious accusation you are making against the Vatican, though. As was Anns original accusation. Can you back it up? Can you provide an example of someone the Vatican has forbidden to discuss anything? How, exactly, did they enforce the forbidding?CarolynI am pleased to see you offer that, not only does the Vatican not have the apparatus of power to forbid discussion, it has never even stated that Catholics are forbidden to discuss... So, that leaves us with the Vatican forbidding discussion in the sense that it has not forbidden discussion, it has not explicitly said it is forbidding discussion, and we Catholics are all here discussing that topics theyve indirectly forbidden us to discussdo I have that about right?Cream and sugar?

Mark,You really expect explicit instructions on such matters from the church? I see how literal and limited your interpretations are.You truly mean to imply that there were no consequences for priests who reported abusers to the police after their bishops did nothing? The Vatican and bishops certainly have the power, and have indeed exercised it to stop others - like removal from office and the priesthood. And when you don't, see what can happen. And did.Or being silenced, like so many have been? One example: "Yves Congar, a French Dominican and the 20th century's most prominent ecclesiologist, wrote the following as part of a letter to his mother in September 1956 when the Vatican had forbidden him to teach. It appears here in English for the first time.http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_31_36/ai_62741542/?tag=co... What I am blamed for is usually very little. Most of the time, whatever problem is raised about an idea in my work is explained in the preceding line in that same work. What has put me in the wrong (in their eyes) is not having said false things, but having said things that they do not like to have said. I have touched on problems without always aligning myself to the one point of view which [Rome] wants to impose on the comportment of the whole of the Christian world and which is: to think nothing, to say nothing, except what they propose...The present pope [Pius XII] has (especially since 1950) developed almost to the point of obsession a paternalistic regime consisting in this: that he and he alone should say to the world what it has to think and what it must do. He wishes to reduce theologians to commenting on his statements and not to dare to think something or undertake something beyond mere commentary; except, I repeat, in a very small and safeguarded area of inconsequential problems...It is clear to me that Rome has never looked for and even now does not look for anything but the affirmation of its own authority. Everything else interests it only as matter for the exercise of this authority. Except for a certain number of cases dealing with people of holiness and creativity, the whole history of Rome is about insisting on its own authority and the destruction of everything that cannot be reduced to submission... Practically speaking, they have destroyed me as far as it was possible for them. Everything I believed and had worked on has been taken away: ecumenism, teaching, conferences, working with priests, writing for Temoignage Chretien, involvement in conventions, etc.They have not, of course, hurt my body; nor have they touched my soul or forced me to do anything. But a person is not limited to his skin and his soul. Above all when someone is a doctrinal apostle, he is his action, he is his friendships, he is his relationships, he is his social outreach; they have taken all that away from me. All that is now at a standstill, and in that way I have been profoundly wounded. They have reduced me to nothing and so they have for all practical purposes destroyed me. When, at certain times, I look back on everything I had hoped to be and to do, on what I had begun to do, I am overtaken by an immense heartsickness.This is not just history but history in the making, today, on any number of issues.

Congar isnt the only one. Bernard Haring is another. He explains what happened to him in his book, My Witness for the Church. A few lines on the back cover describe it as follows:

Haring details and documents his own painful encounters with the CDF, particularly the trial concerning his own writings in the 1970s. In the end, he urges, and exemplifies, a mature love for Christ and the Church, calling us to wholeness and holiness: I wrote this book to show that we can love the Church in the midst of difficulties; to awaken hope for a new springtime in the Church in the midst of wintry frost.

For Haring, loving the church did not mean pulling punches or failing to speak truth to (the CDFs) power. He cites serious flaws in the charges against him, and asks, Was this document of indictment checked over by no one? Was no one assigned to carefully check the indictment to see whether or not it dealt justly with the aims of the indicted author?Here is an excerpt from his response to one of the charges:

The next, likewise unargued, accusation speaks of a falling into an ethical relativism which derives the criteria of a virtuous act exclusively from the historical situation. As I read this charge a strong feeling of disgust came over me. How should I disprove this extremely serious charge since there is not a single item of argumentation given for it? This charge weights all the more heavily since the Doctrinal Congregation presumably is familiar with the rest of my works. From them there is more than enough to show how constantly I have turned my efforts against the charge of historicism, which is made against me here. If I have done this with greater nuance than those theologians who have neglected the historical context of the language and the ethical statements, then I may be seen as having made a significant contribution in this regard so that it is inconceivable that I should be accused of having contributed to the promotion of historicism, of relativism. Has it occurred to no one in your Congregation how weighty the word unicamente (exclusively) weights? May I request that you personally read my book Medical Ethics itself so that you may realize the enormous injustice of this accusation?

He added that, despite the negative experiences, I would not like to skip mentioning that I have found much love and recognition in the Vatican, first of all by popes, but then also by many highly placed and not so highly placed persons. I admonish the reader not to be misled into too quick generalizations. Even today I have good friends in the Vatican. Even there, there are open and absolutely selfless men. I would glad add and women, but for women the Vatican has hardly been a place of much influence thus far. This does not foster a healthy climate, and here lies one of the points in which the Vatican is not representative of the world Church.

Gene,Those are very large and very deep questions you're asking. If our ultimate reliance for faith is in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how do we recognize and receive it? Have we sometimes the self-assurance or effrontery to limit the Spirit's freedom to ways and means that we understand clearly here and now? Does God reveal his truth only through the exalted of this world? Or can it be a more distributed process requiring less declaring and more listening? Is it a gentle breeze or a whole gale?And what are the effects of human weakness? I suppose it is possible for anyone, even a bishop, to be so overcome by vanity and self-interest that he simply will not hear the truth. What is the Holy Spirit to do? Knock him down and force the truth upon him?I don't know the answers, but I'm glad to know that I'm not alone.

Hi, John,I want to say "thanks" but at the same time admit that I'm not sure how this relates to what I wrote. If it's that you found it flawed, or wide of the mark, I'd like to hear more about that, because as of now, I'm honestly not sure that I've fully grasped what you're saying.

CarolynThe insinuation in your second paragraph, being wholly unsupported, can be considered nothing more than a libellous calumny which I think it would be wise to retract, if not apologize for, post haste.Regarding Congars alleged silencing (for which youve provided a link to nowhere), despite his difficulties with Venerable Pius XII, my understandings is that he published many influential books in the 1950s. This is a most curious example of silencing, no? Even in the letter youve excerpted, which must have been written when he was having a very bad day, he acknowledges that, They have not, of course,... forced me to do anything...One lump or two?

Mark --The Vatican doesn't have to explicitly forbid everyone to stop discussing an issue. It can and does forbid the ones who matter the most -- the theologians -- to stop discussing the matter. If a theologian persists, there are severe professional consequences, sometimes without even an opportunity for the theologian to defend him/herself.You seem to think that general expressions (which are addressed to some members of a group) are the same thing as universal expressions (which are addresedto all of the group). True, the Vatican hasn't explicitly told *all* Catholics not to discuss certain things publicly. It would be mostly irrelevant if it did so because few non-theologian-Catholics do discuss theology publicly. But the Vatican does force theologians to stop public discussions, thus stemming criticism of the Vatican, though theologians in the last few decades do seem to be getting more courageous. It will be interesting to see how much of this talk Pope Francis will tolerate.Again I ask, where have you been?

Mark, while you're catching your breath on that fainting couch, maybe you could acquaint yourself with Google:http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/theologian-yves-congar-s-heroic-silence... concern-trolling in my threads.

Ann--You continue to make that assertion and you continue to refuse to support it with even one concrete example, or to answer the question I have asked you. If it is a serious wrong to forbid discussion, it is also a serious wrong to false accuse someone of same. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander, no?Grant-Thanks for the link. I few you have not read it carefully, as it provides more support for my view than yours.Father Congar reacted to the measures with anxiety and, at times, anger, although he always obeyed. At times his reactions were excessive, and he himself recognized this in moments of serenity.... Father Congar was appointed consultor of Vatican IIs preparatory theological commission. He took part in Vatican II as an expert from 1962 to 1965. After the council, his theology gave extraordinary impetus to ecclesiology.You had to go back 50 years, and this is the best example of silencing you can put forth?I trust you will not consider having a different opinion than yours a form of trolling and that you will not be forbidding discussion from a conservative point of view on this blog.

Jean --Thanks for the article about the German priests who depart from Vatican teaching. Here's what Benedict said, for those who didn't look up the article:"The pope responded specifically to a call to disobedience by a group of Austrian priests and laity, who last year boldly and openly challenged Church teaching on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and women's ordination."'Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?,' he asked rhetorically in the sermon of a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the day Catholic priests around the world renew their vows."In his response to the Austrian group, his first in public, Benedict noted that, in its "call to disobedience", it had challenged 'definitive decisions of the Church's magisterium (teaching authority) such as the question of women's ordination ...'"By the way, note the language Benedict uses -- he doesn't talk about a *judgment* regarding the truth of a proposition, he talks about a "decision" (an act of the will) as justifying the proposition, It's as if he thinks that one *chooses* whether or not a statement is true. He's confusing a judgment (an act of the intellect) with a decision (an act of the will). I suspect it's his admiration of Bonaventure which leads him to think muddily about the will and intellect sometimes. He's certainly not talking Aquinas' language here. Also note: in the classic Scholastic language, decisions are never said to be "definitive", only judgements can define. Benedict's implicit principle here is: "what I *decide* is true *is* what is true", a highly dangerous view of what truth is. Of course, I'm sure that if he were asked about this, he would deny the explicit statement, "we can choose what is true and it will be true". But sometimes he contradicts himself.

Mark: You troll this blog almost seven days a week. No one disputes that the Vatican has silenced theologians. Do some homework.

Gene,I was responding to your comment of 3:30. I meant, although that certainly does not mean that you meant, that the guidance of the Holy Spirit is too important in the life of the Church to be left solely to those who claim to discern and declare it infallibly. The HS is a free spirit.

I am certainly encouraged by our new Pope and his enlightened outlook on women from his predecessors. My concern is: Is it enough to effect change? Is this going to be followed closely by changing the leadership make-up of the Church? On Holy Thursday, I would have liked to see 6 men and 6 women having their feet washed, not 10 men and 2 token women. Seeing women as "special" or communicating Christ to our Families - not enough. We (women) feed our families every day of every year - and yet, we are not good enough (because we don't have a "Y" chromosome) to change bread and wine into body and blood? We are not worthy of leading the Church, because that was the mores of 2K years ago. I don't buy it. I know what the catechism teaches, I know this is contrary to the whole Peter is the Rock business - I think Jesus preached with his life how much credence he gave to women and men alike. Women are not better than men - we complement one another. We are meant to work together. When the Pope starts moving in that direction - I will leap for joy.

Grant,Besides theologians, it wasn't very long ago, was it, that the Vatican was, if not silencing, which fortunately is hard to do these days, at least shushing whole congregations of nuns? But of course, they are women, and "a woman must listen in silence and be completely submissive. I do not permit a woman to act as teacher, or in any way to have authority over a man; she must be quiet." 1 Timothy 2:11-12Not an ounce of animus in that. It's just an ontological thing. Or possibly heartburn. Whatever we may think of popes and bishops these days, there's no denying they know and love their Paul.

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