History v Theology?

I’m not sure what Fr John Shea expects to accomplish here. I think I perceive his hope. It’s an unrealistic hope at this juncture. There will be no theological discussion. The people responsible, with the probable exception of the Bishop of Rome, and the possible exception of a minority of prelates probably lack the theological depth to engage it. Fr Shea tries to make a distinction between theology and history. But the recipients of his letter won’t get it. Even if they understand it. But they will probably send him a few more books. Interesting way to build a library.

My own sense is that the ordination of women has no compelling theological reason against it. But given that, the issue is so d***ed contentious, and by the collateral threat to Church unity, the time has just not arrived for Rome and the Orthodox to confront it. So it’s not going to get confronted. It’s just too d***ed scary to even consider talking about it.

The best I can offer, and it seems rather paltry compared to the personal frustrations suffered by a few women I know, is that the Church (meaning the larger entity) is currently incapable of resolving this issue, so we suffer the loss and focus on what we can renew. If not the Sacrament of Orders, then Baptism.

John Shea is asking for theological justification. Just for asking, the man is toast, theologically speaking.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to History v Theology?

  1. Liam says:

    Btw, Fr Shea is asking a question about the anthropological and sacramental implications of the famous theological formula of St Gregory of Nazianzus, in his Epistle 101 against the Apollinarians:

    “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole.”

    If a soul is essentially sexed – something Aquinas tipped up to but deliberately did not go the next step and affirm – then Christ as a man would not have redeemed female human beings because he only assumed a male essence. Under that scenario it makes more sense to treat the metaphor of Bridegroom and Bride – and the iconography of the priesthood deriving therefrom – has having more essential bite than the pregnancy of metaphor. But otherwise, we need to be careful to avoid treating the metaphor as a syllogism.

    • Liam says:

      PS, the metaphor has not yet been formally made the magisterial foundation for the teaching on ordination. The formal foundation is a much more simple, narrow formulation: the Church lacks the power. A lot of defenders of the teaching have tried to present the metaphor as something more than has been formally made in magisterial terms.

    • The intriguing and unsettling thing about the popularity of Theology of the Body (besides it’s use as a panacea) is that many Catholics now seem to be dangerously close to the idea of a sexed soul.

  2. Molly Roach says:

    The refusal to ordain women reflects the essential misogyny which is part and parcel of the shadow side of Christian tradition. Really and truly pathetic and a cause of great paralysis. But there is nothing defensible about it. It’s pathetic.

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