Thursday, June 12, 2008

Going wearyingly in circles

Both Fr. Longenecker and Zadok report on a new petition by some English Catholics calling for the Bishops of England & Wales to allow women and married men into the priesthood. Their comments are worth reading. I was reminded of the following passage from The Salt of the Earth, Peter Seewald's book-length interview with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The context for this question is a similar petition, which originated in Austria.
Referring to ciriticism of the church, you once spoke of a classical "cannon of issues": women's ordination, contraception, celibacy, the remarriage of divorced persons. This list is from 1984. The "Petition of the People of the Church" of 1995 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland shows that this canon of issues hasn't changed one iota. The discussion seems to be going wearyingly in circles. ... It seems to me that many don't know exactly what they're talking about when they speak of the papacy and the priesthood, and they actually don't know the meaning of these terms.

I would stress again that all of these are certainly genuine issues, but I also believe that we go astray when we raise them to the standard questions and make the the only concerns of Christianity. There is a very simple reflection that argues against this (which, by the way, Johann Baptist Metz has mentioned in an article entitled "Petition of the People of the Church"). These issues are resolved in Lutheran Christianity. On these points it has taken the other path, and it is quite plan that it hasn't thereby solved the problem of being a Christian in today's world and that the problem of Christianity, the effort of being a Christian, remains just as dramatic as ever. Metz, if I recall correctly, asks why we ought to make ourselves a clone of Protestant Christianity. It is actually a good thing, he says, that the experiment was made. For it shows that being Christian today does not stand or fall on these questions. That the resolution of these matters does not make the gospel more attractive or being Christian any easier. It does not even achieve the agreement that will better hold the church together. I believe we should finally be clear of this point, that the church is not suffering on account of these questions.
(Emphasis added) And for these latest English petitioners, one could add: just look to your neighbors in the Church of England.

1 comment:

Fr. Andrew said...

Further, these issues and this tension with the modern world will only be resolved for the individual Christian when they learn to contemplate and be drawn into the internal life of the Trinity through Jesus Christ. That is the only necessary issue.

And I think Pope Benedict said something like that in an interview in 2000 in Spain that I saw at his election but can't find.