Some people cling to various metaphors. Pope Francis, in his post-synodal exhortation, gets into two “buts.”
101. Jesus Christ appears as the Spouse of the community that celebrates the Eucharist through the figure of a man who presides as a sign of the one Priest. This dialogue between the Spouse and his Bride, which arises in adoration and sanctifies the community, should not trap us in partial conceptions of power in the Church.
The image breaks down, and not just for women, when more than one priest assembles to lead a parish, or preside at the Eucharist. Yes, I know: there are limits to metaphors. But let’s be honest: spouse and bride is but one image. It doesn’t always apply. And some wholly orthodox understandings tend to break down the explanation.
The Lord chose to reveal his power and his love through two human faces: the face of his divine Son made man and the face of a creature, a woman, Mary. Women make their contribution to the Church in a way that is properly theirs, by making present the tender strength of Mary, the Mother.
True enough. But many men have also adopted Mary as model and intercessor, and offer that “tender strength” to others, both from within Holy Orders and as baptized believers.
As a result, we do not limit ourselves to a functional approach, but enter instead into the inmost structure of the Church. In this way, we will fundamentally realize why, without women, the Church breaks down, and how many communities in the Amazon would have collapsed, had women not been there to sustain them, keep them together and care for them. This shows the kind of power that is typically theirs.
True enough. But this truth is not always satisfying to people who cannot provide for spiritually hungry communities or people who have discerned gifts of leadership.
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