Over coffee last week, I had a long chat with a bright and outgoing young seminarian who will be ordained in July. He is dedicated and intelligent. He has a quick smile and is a handsomely athletic young man. And he is totally committed and obedient to whatever requests the Church will make of him.
Future bishop material? Perhaps.…he IS held in VERY high regard by his bishop and is VERY obedient and VERY conservative in a nineteenth century sort of way.
I told Jim (not his real name of course) that I had just written a letter to Fr. Edward Dougherty, Maryknoll Superior, to protest the planned expulsion from Maryknoll of Fr. Roy Bourgeois and his forced laicization.
Seminarian Jim was dumbfounded and very surprised that I would defend Roy Bourgeois: a “dissident and heretical priest.” In fact he launched into a little tirade against all people who support (in his words) the “pseudo-ordination” of women.
Before I could get a word in, Jim then stressed how delighted he was that our American bishops are once again “showing some muscle.”
Jim, adjusting his Roman collar, meant of course Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the USCCB’s condemnation of Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s book: Quest for the Living God. Our bishops with muscle have banned the book because it opposes “authentic Catholic teaching.”
Time ran out. Jim had to get to class. I had to get an aspirin, for a major theological headache………………….
The Vatican has great plans for today’s seminarians. In coming months we can expect to see a new mandate from Pope Benedict (or the appropriate papal mouthpiece) that all seminarians be trained in Latin so that they can celebrate the Latin Mass of the Council of Trent. And, certainly to the delight of today’s seminarians who love old-style clerical threads, the word coming from Rome is that the Vatican will re-emphasize the importance of “traditional” clerical dress for priests and the “traditional” ornate dress for bishops…… But for now back to heresy!
Sorry to say, there are a lot of Jims in today’s church. I don’t know what happened to them in their seminary programs, but they all need remedial theological education…..along with their bishops :-)
For the record………………
Father Roy Bourgeois has publicly supported women’s ordination. And there is every good reason why he should and no good reasons why he should not. Jesus’ early disciples were men AND women. Jesus did not ordain anyone! Ordination was a later creation of the early church. Before ordained ministers, the people who presided at Eucharist were the heads of households. We know that men AND women were such heads of households. And we know today that there is a long tradition of women being ordained in the Church right up through the Middle Ages.
AND……What did Cardinal Wuerl and his episcopal colleagues find so problematic with Elizabeth Johnson’s book?
(1) In our contemporary secularized world, Johnson says, we need to think about God and talk about God in contemporary and not medieval language and thought categories.
(2) Johnson reminds us that all of our names for God are metaphors. I would say: but of course! All of my affectionate names for my wife are metaphors as well! We use special language for those whom we love…..More poetic but certainly appropriate.
(3) Cardinal Wuerl was particularly bothered that Johnson wrote that God suffers along with us when we suffer. I guess he forgot that Jesus – Son of God, God from God — suffered under Pontius Pilate…..
(4) Johnson writes that God is present in all religions. Vatican II said that as well. Maybe some US bishops don’t. WHO then is the deviant Catholic?
(5) But perhaps what really rattles Cardinal Wuerl is that Sister Elizabeth challenges the old boys club’s hang up that GOD HAS TO BE A GUY.!