Is it ever right to silence dialogue? John Paul II attempted to do so around the question of women`s ordination with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in 1994. The document was meant to quash the rumblings among Catholics as we watched the Anglican Church grow in acceptance of women priests. The boys in the Vatican wanted to make sure that we in the pews `got it`. The Catholic Church does not ordain women and never will. What they don`t get, is that many of us still don’t get it!
What I love about Catholicism is its deep commitment to faith seeking understanding. We revere the great intellectual giants in our history that spent their lives trying to prove the reasonableness of our faith. We are the Church of Augustine and Aquinas, Teresa of Ávila and Catherine of Siena. We look to biblical scholars to study languages and use historical-critical methods to ensure accuracy in interpretations. We have rich apologetic resources at our disposal to explain the basis of our beliefs to others.
Some beliefs cannot be explained, and must be relegated to the realm of mystery. And some beliefs are given explanations that just leave us scratching our heads. For many of us, the rationale behind a male-only priesthood falls into this last category.
During a Vatican-sponsored women’s congress, a brave soul stood up to share her difficulty in accepting this teaching of the church. (No, I wasn’t that brave!) There was immediate heckling from the faithful. Another woman quickly stood up to state that she did not attend this congress to listen to others question her faith and her church. It was a tense moment.
To my surprise, a man stood up and gently shared his own difficulties as a Bishop. He stated that many young people could not understand or accept a male-only priesthood regardless of how carefully he presented the teachings of the Church. He wondered…if the reasoning is so difficult to accept, perhaps we need to relook at the way it is being presented? Perhaps, we need to rethink the logic being used.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a gentle prod to rethink the whole teaching. By the way, the Bishop was a seventy-five year old Canadian. Oh Canada!