PEOPLE POWWOW | Why are there no women priests?

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BY HERBERT VEGO
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017
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YOU must have seen or heard Sister Joan Chittister on radio and TV.  Now an octogenarian, she was a prioress of Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania who has been campaigning for integration of women into the Roman Catholic priesthood, but to no avail.

The only time I saw her was on “Oprah,” the popular TV show of Oprah Winfrey where she reiterated her unchanged stand on “priesthood for women.”

That reminded me of Pope Francis’ words addressed to a Swedish journalist who had asked him to lift the ban on women priests. He said, “Saint Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands,” referring to a 1994 papal document stating that women could never join the priesthood.

Sister Chittister has influenced younger nuns to toe her line critical of a “patriarchal” Church.  Surprisingly, Vatican has refrained from disciplining them, probably for fear of provoking wider dissent.

Could Sister Chittister have influenced the decision of Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to retire after only eight years of reign?

Let us remember that in the year 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI ascended the papal throne to succeed the late Pope John Paul II, he uttered these words in his inaugural address: “My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church.”

On the day Pope Benedict XVI said that, progressive Catholic women were badgering the Church to integrate women into priesthood and fire homosexual priests, apparently because of the dwindling number of manly men entering the seminaries. Did he listen?

No deal.

I remember that forum “Defending Our Faith” on a forgotten date in Antipolo City where speaker Dr. Michael L. Tan, now chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, joked, “Fire the homosexuals? Then there would only be half of the priests left.”

In his lecture, Dr. Tan blamed seven “early church fathers” for misogyny, handing down to succeeding generations their sexist treatment of women.

Tan cited Tertulian (150-225 AD), a North African theologian, for calling woman “the devil’s gateway who still bears the curse of God on Eve.”

St. Ambrose (339-397 AD), as Bishop of Milan, imputed second-class status on woman because “she was only a rib taken out of Adam’s body.”

St. John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), Bishop of Constantinople, called woman “an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil for the man.” He urged men not to marry.

St. Augustine (354-450 AD) blamed Eve for the “original sin.” Adam could not have eaten of the forbidden fruit had Eve, the only one who succumbed to the serpent’s deception, not transgressed first. Thus, Augustine hyped his conversion to Christianity as “a vocation of celibacy.”

St. Albertus Magus (1200-1280), Dominican theologian, openly despised women in a sermon: “When a woman has relation with a man, she would like, as much as possible, to be lying with another man at the same time. Woman knows nothing about fidelity.”

To St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), “women symbolize decay, deformity and the weakness of the age.”

Pope Gregory I, who reigned from 590 to 604 AD, is badly remembered for his idea that the woman was fit only for either harlotry or maternity.  Despite that, he was later canonized as St. Gregory the Great.

If the aforementioned pillars of the Catholic faith were to resurface today and repeat what they said in their time, today’s women would probably stone them to death.

Incidentally, it is not my intention to offend the Catholic Church.  I quoted none but Catholic sources. ([email protected]/PN)

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