Monday, June 2, 2008

Excommunication for Wanting to Serve God?

via Feministing

Apparently, last week the Vatican sent a little reminder to dioceses across the world, stating that women could not become priests and that those who tried to be ordained would in fact be excommunicated.

But, the women at the Women's Ordination Conference are not having it. They issued their own statement:
"The Vatican is trying to preserve what little power they have left by attempting to extinguish the widespread call for women's equality in the church. It will not work. In the face of one closed door after another, Catholic women will continue to make a way when there is none. We reject the notion of excommunication. In our efforts to ordain women into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, we see it as contrary to the gospel itself to excommunicate people who are doing good works and responding to injustice and the needs of their communities."

As a survivor of Catholic school myself (although I am not Catholic), I have sat in many religion and morality classes and listened to priests fumble for an answer as to why women cannot be ordained. The standard Catholic belief is that since Jesus did not include a woman in his circle of apostles, the Church cannot allow women to become priests (today's apostles). They never mention the important role women played in the early church. Or that social standards might have dictated Jesus' decision to exclude women as public leaders of the movement.

But, I guess its just easier to pretend that women are less capable, smart, caring, and devout.


an.optimistic.cynic said...

Agree with your post, but I have a couple of comments on your point about Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
I watch a lot - too much - History Channel, and one program (sorry, don't remember the name and can't check ATM) made some interesting allusions that Mary may actually have been a disciple. And lest I be mistaken, possibly his most trusted.
Later church leaders began editing her role until the Conference of Nicea(?) fully buried any version that disagreed with a patriarchal interpretation.
Now that's not to say the History Channel isn't wrong. You wouldn't believe the amount of crap they show about ghosts and UFOs, but at least this evidence can be independently investigated.

Goose said...

as a private institution, the church can and should reserve the right to ordain any and all people who they choose.

Kate said...

I have heard the theory that Mary was a disciple. I think she actually wrote a version of the Gospel that was excluded from the Bible. I think you are right about Conference of Nicea; I think I watched the same show as you. Ha. I didn't include any of that just because I wasn't positive, but if it is true, its very important.

Goose, just because the church has the right to deny ordination doesn't make it right. The US govt. gave itself the right to deny voting to black people and women for hundreds of years, but that didn't make it right. "Rights" evolve all the time.

La Pobre Habladora said...

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels includes a great discussion of the Gospel of Mary and Mary Magdalene's place among the disciples. Also, it is a really engaging book. 'Hey, what about Mary!?' is exactly what I though when I read your account of the Church's explanation, but I guess there has been a rather long history of writing her out of the story...

The Great American said...

I don't believe Mary Magdalene was a disciple, but I do believe she was an energetic and devoted follower. I am not Catholic. I am an evangelical Christian and I and my church see no problem with ordaining women. In fact we have a woman as one of our associate pastors. The way I see it is, if a woman can share the gospel and has the call and desire to do so from a Pastoral position, then by all means: feed the sheep!

Lindsay said...

The History Channel has a tendency to find the most ridiculous claims and put them on TV - there was one about the Ark of the Covenant being some 11th c. drum found in Africa. Their shows are interesting, but I wouldn't completely base my religious attitudes off of what I saw on the History Channel. As for the Gospel of Mary, there is one (and you can find it if you Google it so it's not like it's a hidden text or anything). For the most part, books left out of the Bible weren't left out to hide secrets - they were left out because they weren't reliable. There was a long process to decide what was canonized and what wasn't, based on four criteria of 1-when it was written, 2-theological consistancy, 3-who wrote it (someone close to JC or an apostle), 4-use of the book throughout existing churches. If you read a lot of gnostic texts, it'll be clear why it wasn't included in the Bible, most often because it was written centuries after JC and tends to be theologically spurious. Anyway... Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels is a good start if you're interested.

My issue with the Catholic Church not ordaining women is the literalism of being "in the image of Christ." Apparently since women don't have the proper genitals, we're not in the image of Christ. It's such a strict interpretation, if you ask me. That's also why priests have to be celibate, because JC was (or wasn't mentioned as having sexual relations). Plus the Catholic Church has an issue with people not wanting to become priests anymore. They're not going to have people to lead their churches soon and here's a very viable, theologically acceptable answer. They just won't do it. It's really sad, if you ask me.