Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Final Words on Priestesses, for a very long time

There are people for whom the absence of women clergy is nothing more or less than proof of the corrupt patriarchy. I am not among them.

There are people for whom the ordination of women is the sine qua non. I am not among them.

There are people who want to use the present crisis within our church as a bludgeon to force politically-motivated changes on it. I am not among them, either.

The truth is, I am only in favor of women clergy insofar as they may have once existed. The evidence for this existence is, to put the best possible face on it, sketchy. The crisis which we now endure demonstrates that even in a “media age,” prelates are capable of concealing vast amounts of evidence of things they want to remain hidden. So I give the smidgeon of evidence that does exist fairly great weight, recognizing that the tendency to conceal is not a new one.

This does not mean that women were ordained in the early church, nor that Ludmilla Javarova was a valid priest. The scholarship I have read on these subjects does not strike me as honestly entered into. That is, authors on both sides have written polemics, rather than open discussions of the facts as history records them. Much work needs to be done by people more intelligent and learned than I before such questions can honestly be considered as settled.

Until then, I have nothing more than opinion and tantalizing possibilities to go on. Those who argue against me have the weight of 1700 years of inarguable tradition on their side. (I leave open the first 300 years as the debatable grounds.) The Javarova case is different, and is best left to canon lawyers, not uninformed lay people like me, or theologians who are used to dealing in absolutes. (An unambiguous statement on her specific case from Rome would help, though to the best of my knowledge has not been forthcoming. Please email me with a citation if I missed it.) Pope Joan is nothing more than legend—if she really reigned, so little exists in the way of fact about her, that she only exists or doesn’t for History “but wishing makes it so.”

The Holy Spirit will bring about the modern ordination of women or not, and nothing any blogger says on the subject will affect that. I will not pray that women are ordained, as such, but I will pray that history sheds further light on the subject, and that truth will out.


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