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Can Men be Ordained?

Can Men be Ordained?

Rosemary Radford Ruether

Catholic Renewal Movement (The RC radical organization, from its journal “RENEW”)

A Vexed Question for Mother Church

A synod of bishops from the four corners of the earth, and a full panoply of Mother Superiors, recently converged on the Holy City of Rome to consider the vexed question of the ordination of men. The Holy See had received many tearful appeals from the cruder sex claiming to have a call to the priesthood directly from God Herself. But Her Holiness had firmly replied to these appeals that the call must have been a wrong number. Our Holy Mother in Heaven would never call to the ministry those so obiouslv disqualified by reason of gender. But the men had refused to take no for an answer Throwing down their picks and shovels, they had declared that they would do no more maintenance work for the Church until there was equality of rites. They sent petitions to the Holy See, filled with arguments for the ordination of men, both theological and practical. Atthough, of course, they could cite no example from Jesus himself, the incarnation of Holy Wisdom, since he most evidently had ordained no men to the priesthood (or women either).

It was said that confining the ordained ministry to widowed women over sixty-five was causing a crisis throughout the world. More and more older women felt the juices still flowing after sixtyfive and were not willing to embrace blessed widowhood. Some preferred to run for Prime Minister or Chairwomen of the Board, rather than turn to the sacred service. Finally Her Holiness decided to gather the Holy Mothers of the Church together, with a number of the best qualified peritae, who had spent a lifetime studying the odd characteristics of the male gender, from a safe distance, of course. They hoped to come up with a definitive answer, once and for all, to the vexed guestion of the ordination of men.

After long and careful study, in which the Holy Mothers had enjoyed a good many laughs on the subject of men and their foibles, a final decree was drawn up defining the reasons why men could not be ordained. Ihe decree was proclaimed by Her Holiness ad urbe et orbe, and the Holv Mothers departed for their respective seats of wisdom, feeling very pleased with themselves. The decree Ad Hominem stated to their satisfaction, and, hopefully, for all time the weighty reasons for their gut prejudices.

The first part of the decree deduced a good many reasons from men’s biological and psychological natures that disqualified them from the priesthood. It was said, first of all, that men were too violent and emotional to be priests. .Anyone who has watched groups of men at football matches, ice hockey, soccer or cricket games, not to mention political conventions, has seen their volatile tendencies and penchant for solving conflicts with fisticuffs. To ordain such creatures would be to risk disgraceful brawls at the altar. The male proneness to violence surely disqualifies them to represent the One who incarnates graciousness and peace.

The cruder and heavier physical frame of the male clearly marks him out for the physical tasks of society, digging ditches, mending roofs and the like. The finer more spiritual tasks of society are intended by our Mother in Heaven for those more refined spirits and bodies, women. This separation of roles is clearly evident in Scripture where the males are said to have been created from dirt, while women were created from human flesh. Moreover women were created last, clearly marking them out as the crown of God’s Creation. It was even suggested by one Mother Superior that Adam was a rough draft, Eve being the more refined and complete version of human nature. The Mothers had a good many laughs on that one, and some decided to make it into a bumper sticker.

It was also felt that men were needed for military defence. A man’s place is in the army, declared one wise perita, and all the Holy Mothers nodded in agreement. Besides men would look silly in red dresses and lace. The sacred garb is clearly intended for women

Profound matters of a theological nature were also discussed. One perita has prepared a long paper proving from the symbolic order that men could not be ordained. The division of humanity into male and female is a profound mystery that symbolizes the relationship of the transcendent and the immanent, the spiritual and the material. Women represent the spiritual realm, men the material. The material must be ruled by the spiritual, just as Holy Wisdom presides over the physical cosmos as her household.

Moreover since the Church is female, those who represent the Church clearly should be female as well. There should be a physical resemblance between the priest and the Church as Holy Mother. Obviously this means that all priests should be mature women. The Church is also said to be the Bride of Christ, and brides are female. The priest, as representative of the Church in relation to Christ, represents Christ’s bride. Therefore only women can be priests.

Finally it was noted that most of the people who come to church are women. Men tend to stand outside the doors of the church gossiping or else sneak off to sporting matches. To have a man on the altar might distract a woman from her prayers. It was solemnly noted that men are sexually attractive to some women. For women to have to sit listening to men preach or watching them stomping about the sanctuary might lead their thoughts to descend from the higher to the lower realms. It was hoped that with so many clear reasons, from both the natural and the theological realm, against the ordination of men, this would settle the matter. Male impertinence would be silenced, and they would slink back into their proper sphere. Roma locuta: cause finita.

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