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Pope Francis: Let’s study idea of ordaining women as deacons

Pope Francis arrives at the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, on April 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SKULLCAP-AUCTION, originally transmitted on April 27, 2016.
Pope Francis arrives at the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, on April 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SKULLCAP-AUCTION, originally transmitted on April 27, 2016.

Pope Francis arrives at the weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on April 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SKULLCAP-AUCTION, originally transmitted on April 27, 2016.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) In an opening with historic import, Pope Francis has said he wants to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons, a step that could for the first time open the ranks of the Catholic Church’s all-male clergy to women.

The order of deacons was reinstituted in the Catholic Church after the reforms of the 1960s, and while deacons cannot celebrate the Eucharist like a priest, a deacon can preach at Mass, preside at weddings and funerals, and perform baptisms.

But in restoring the diaconate, the church also restricted ordination as a deacon to “mature married men” over 35.

Many protested that limitation, saying the earliest Christian texts also speak of “deaconesses” and arguing that the modern church should also allow women deacons.

St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI were both theologically conservative pontiffs who said that such a move was unjustified and could undermine the concept of the all-male priesthood.

But Francis said Thursday (May 12) he agreed the matter should be given more careful consideration, telling hundreds of nuns from around the world that he himself always wondered about the role of deaconesses in the early church.

“I would like to constitute an official commission to study the question: I think it will be good for the Church to clarify this point, I agree, and I will speak so as to do something of this type,” Francis said, according to the Vatican transcript of the encounter.

“So, with regard to the diaconate,” he added a bit later, “yes, I agree and it seems to me it would be useful to have a commission to clarify this well, especially with regard to the early times of the church.”

The devil will be in the details, of course.

RELATED STORY: Ordain women? Vatican synod gets an unexpected proposal

As Francis’ own questions indicated, there are thorny and long-standing debates about who the deaconesses were and what they did.

Francis noted, as many argue, that deaconesses played a different role in the early church from that of deacons, an office established by the Apostles to focus on caring for widows and the poor so the Apostles could focus on preaching.

That could mean that the papal commission could re-establish an order of female deacons that falls short of actual ordination.

Or the commission could say there is no justification for establishing the office of deaconess.

Francis has also repeatedly said — as he reiterated on Thursday — that he wants to see women assume greater and more authoritative roles in the Catholic Church, but he does not want to “clericalize” them by reducing such growth to mimicking jobs done by men.

Much may depend on who is appointed to the commission. Francis said he would ask the Vatican’s guardian of orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for further information about the issue.

But the current head of that office, German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, has long expressed the view that ordaining women as deacons is impossible. So if Mueller is calling the shots on the commission, it could be a moot discussion.

Then again, Francis has not always seen eye-to-eye with his own doctrinal chief.

Also, a commission could be a way of either stalling on the issue, or it could be a way for Francis to allow new debate on a topic that seemed to be closed after a Vatican commission in 2002 ruled that “deaconesses mentioned in the tradition of the ancient Church … were not purely and simply equivalent to the deacons.”

Whatever happens, the fact that Francis has opened the door to the debate and the possibility of ordaining women makes it a landmark moment.

“This is not only an idea whose time has come, but a reality recovered from history,” the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author at America magazine, wrote on Facebook.

“Their preaching at Mass would mean that the church would finally be able to hear, from the pulpit, the experience of over half its members,” Martin wrote. “Taken together, all this would be an immense gift to the church. This news fills me with immense joy.”

The pope’s announcement was also welcomed by Kate McElwee, co-executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, who described the move as a “huge step.”

McElwee told RNS she hoped the papal body would include both women and men and make use of the research that has already been done on the topic: “I think it’ll be interesting to see who is included in the discussions. There are a lot of scholars outside of the Vatican who would be incredible resources.”

RELATED STORY: Vatican newspaper essays say women should preach at Mass

“I can’t underscore enough how groundbreaking this is for the church,” said the Rev. James Bretzke, a Jesuit theologian and papal scholar at Boston College.

“Potentially down the road, there could be female priests,” Bretzke said. “Closer down the road is the possibility of women deacons, and minimally, there is the probability of some sort of ministry created for women in the church; whether it involves sacramental ordination remains to be seen. But it’s clear that Pope Francis, I believe, is trying to move towards institutionalizing a greater leadership and service role for women in the church.”

Not everyone is likely to be as pleased.

During a global meeting of bishops at the Vatican last October, a Canadian archbishop asked that the church set up a process for ordaining women deacons, a proposal that seemed to go nowhere and was quickly opposed by conservative commentators.

“If you’ve opened the diaconate to women, you are opening up the door to female priests,” Chad Pecknold, a theologian at Catholic University of America, told The Washington Post at the time.

Quebec Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher anticipated that criticism, telling Catholic News Service that “the diaconate in the church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.”

A number of other scholars and theologians and even a few bishops and cardinals have agreed, and over the years have kept the debate over deaconesses alive.

Now their arguments will get an official hearing.

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  • The reason this was never brought back was because women decons were used in areas where it was improper for a man to minister. For example, at that time people were baptized completely naked and it would have been improper for a man to do that for a woman. Also, it would have been improper for a man to be alone with a woman such as a widow when ministering to her so women deacons were much needed. The role of deconesses at that time was limited to these functions. If they brought back the deaconate for women in this sense then I think that would be fine BUT women will never be allowed to preach in church nor should they. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he says that women are to keep silent in church and not to speak (Corinthians 14:34). It would be going against scripture to allow women to preach in church. I am a woman and have no issue with this. God wants things a certain way for a reason and am willing to accept that even if I cant understand His reaons why. Sometimes we just need to have the humility to accept that God knows best.

  • Like the pope’s commission to study clerical sex abuse. After two and half years, it has accomplished nothing except expelling the only member who criticized the pope and is still not adequately funded according to member, Marie Collins. So this will be another do-nothing exercise in media-hype.

  • A G.K. Chesterton quote “I want a Church that moves the world, not one that moves with it.”

  • That statement attributed to Paul is known to be fraudulent added to the text later.It is Not related to ANY other Paulist statements regarding women.

  • I don’t care about the “experiences” of the preacher. It is Jesus Christ who is to be preached. This was a disaster for the Anglicans. The answer should be a clear no.

  • Finally, thank God! I am very concerned about the conflation of patriarchal gender ideology and revealed truth in our sacramental theology:

    Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature

    These meditations are based on my understanding of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Across the entire sex/gender spectrum, the essence of human personhood is to be a body-soul. Families are already evolving from sole male (father) headship to joint male-female (father-mother) headship. To continue the process narrated in Acts 15, when the Church transitioned out of the patriarchal Jewish culture, now the Church must let go of the simplistic sex/gender binary. This process of prayerful discernment must continue. None of the sacraments should exclude any human person due to gender identity. All church ministries, ordained and unordained, must be gift-based, not gender-based.

  • This is a very poor choice of topics to be “discussed” at this time by the Pope or any of us. There are much greater issues requiring our attention if we are truly interested in strengthening the position of the Church and its message in today’s society. We are letting social media and political correctness to corrupt much of our lives as it is, no need to invite their ability to control our lives into the sanctuary.

  • It could work. People who favor a male sexist norm and those who favor opening up the priesthood to women will all say it goes too far or not far enough. I can’t see any use for the silly exclusion but if I was Catholic they’d have thrown me out the first time I came to their church. I don’t dig the hocus-pocus, what Patti Smith, a cradle Catholic, called the “sensual conceit” of the RCC.

  • One more reason this pope has to go. What a mistake the cardinals made electing this heretic.

  • If China is to be evangelised, maybe it needs to happen asap.

    I find it difficult to imagine Jesus holding his head in his hands and groaning : ‘Oh. No… They’re not going to be ordaining women now, surely….? Are China, India, Indonesia, really that important ?

    I can’t recall one instance when Jesus reprimanded a woman in the Gospels, though we all know, not least, women themselves, that some of them can be first-class *itches. He did however, sometimes use them as a foil, to show up male officialdom, and hide-bound tradition from a more primitive era ; significantly, here, perhaps when he broke with the tradition of the prohibition against Jews talking to Samaritans, men talking to unaccompanied women, etc.

    The article linked below should temper the extraordinary reliance some of you evince on the more superficial traditions of men, simply because they emanated from ‘the chair of Moses’, so to speak. The more so, since in that encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus spoke of the approaching day when God would be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

    I’m reminded of the widely-held belief among the banking honchos, apparently, that women did not have it in them to make bank-managers, when the reality is that they probably had to take charge of the family budget from the year dot. Even from early childhood, girls are likely to be much more focused where money is concerned than their male sibling peers.

    Again, like the crazy, racist twaddle, common among English football (soccer) managers of earlier decades, to the effect that black men, such as the West Indian immigrants, didn’t have ‘the bottle’ (courage) to make good professional footballers.* And now, though from a much smaller catchment, they dominate the best teams numerically. Nor is their superior strength and athleticism a close secret to most.

    *How crazy is that when they customarily almost exclusively dominate the higher weight-divisions of professional boxing – not least the world, heavy-weight championship of the world ?!? Generally, the most coveted and highly-rated prize by males in the sport they most admire.

  • You could not be more mistaken. There is half a world in the Far East – India, China and Indonesia, for starters – waiting to be evangelised, and the need may become urgent quite suddenly, given the apparent approach of the end times.

  • They can’t preach the homily at Mass. This is not about deacons anyway. It is about the desire of radical feminists to become priests and use power to impose their ideology. That is exactly what happened in the Anglican church. Which is why it is in terminal decline.

  • It’s not a “desire of radical feminists to become priests.” Rather, it’s about using the spiritual gifts that God has given to Church.

  • No, we have the example already in the Anglican church. They said exactly the same thing. We see what happened. We will not be so easily fooled.

  • This is a non starter. Virtually all Catholic lay people in America already believe there should be women and married priests.

  • But the Catholic Church can’t evangelize anymore, remember? All religions are the same and anyone can get to heaven by any belief system. Folks just have to be sincere and follow their consciences. Sacraments? We are our own confessors now, thanks to
    Francis’ Amoris Laetitia. Anything is on the table now for discussion.
    Francis The Destroyer is working overtime.

  • As a pastor who is the only priest in a 2200 family parish, I’m very busy, sometimes overwhelmed by so many things coming from every direction. However I do not think women should be ordained deacons. I have wonderful women who help in ministry in many ways, occasional communion service, wakes, burials, visitation, when I just cannot get there. They give talks and workshops etc.they run religious education, the list just goes on. my pont is here and in many parishes women are doing great ministry, I just don’t see why they need to be ordained.

  • No – just misguided. The statement about silence was in reference to only one particular church, not the Church in general. Any Biblical scholar knows this.

    What is non-Pauline is the statement that women not be allowed to teach. It was attributed to him, but not written by him.

  • There are numerous sources for this. Most Biblical scholars agree on this (with the exception of some fanatically-literalist types who refuse to acknowledge it). What must be understood about Paul’s epistles, comes down to two main points:

    1. Only 7 of them are presumed to have been authored by an educated Hellenized Jew from Cilicia in the mid 1st century who converted to Christianity (i.e. the character known as “Paul”). Those are: Galatians, Romans, Philemon, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and 1 & 2 Corinthians. The rest are all later creations; this is evident in their language (the 7 mostly all seem to have been the product of a single author, while the others all differ markedly in one or more ways).

    2. Even the “genuine” epistles have a few additions, or “interpolations.” Again, this can be determined by linguistic comparisons; when virtually the entirety of a document has a single, distinct linguistic style, a few sentences in a different style will tend to stand out this way.

    The most commonly cited admonitions by Paul against women speaking in church are 1 Cor 14:34 and 1 Tim 2:11-12. 1 Timothy is not a Pauline document (it was written likely decades after Paul’s time). The “genuine” Pauline letters mostly talk about women having high status in the church, to the point where it seems absurd to silence them during services. The 1 Corinthians passage is mostly viewed as a later addition intended to make that epistle seem to agree with the later forgery (i.e. 1 Tim) because the “genuine” letters don’t otherwise appear to repress women.

    I’d send you links to info on this but can’t do so here (RNS will delete my comment if I include a link). What’s more, a Web page or two is not going to be enough to explain all of this. I suggest reading something which will give you a better idea both of the history in which the New Testament documents were originally written as well as information on how and why scholars evaluate them as they do. One good source is Who Wrote the New Testament? by Burton L. Mack. Also, Bart Ehrman has several books out that deal with the subject, although Forged and Jesus, Interrupted are both most focused on that topic. Those books should be available in any good library.

  • Re: “In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he says that women are to keep silent in church and not to speak (Corinthians 14:34). It would be going against scripture to allow women to preach in church.”

    Scripture clearly orders Christians to do — or not do, as the case may be — a lot of things. (Like amassing wealth, or fighting, or defending oneself in court … among many other things.) But most Christians ignore most of those teachings. Why should this one rule be an exception?

    Besides … it’s not enough just to say it violates scripture for women to speak in church. There has to be a reason for this rule. What is wrong with women, that makes it intolerable for them to speak in church? What will they do to people, if they do? What horrible outcome will result from women speaking in church? I’m not clear as to why this should be the case.

    Re: “I am a woman and have no issue with this.”

    So, this means everyone else is required to go along with your scheme?

    Re: “God wants things a certain way for a reason and am willing to accept that even if I cant understand His reaons [sic] why.”

    So … you somehow “know” your god has a reason for silencing women in churches, but you have no idea what that reason is? How, exactly, does that work? How can you be certain there is a reason when you have no idea what it could be?

  • Re: “I have wonderful women who help in ministry in many ways, occasional communion service, wakes, burials, visitation, when I just cannot get there.”

    So it’s fine with you if women do all of that. It’s just great if they do all that work for you. You just object to them being granted a position and/or a title that might give them a little recognition for all you admit they do. Really!?

  • “Potentially down the road, there could be female priests,” Bretzke said

    All the more reason why this is another Francis goof that shows the man is Not Ready For Prime Time.

    When is the Pope going to start strengthening Catholicism and stop pandering to every disaffected group in society ?

  • Let’s hope so.

    Maybe some of the gals from the Women’s Ordination Conference can serve coffee and donuts for the members…..LOL

  • Yeah, because they CANNOT be ordained. As in, it’s not part of God’s Plan and it is theological impossibility.

    You want to see chicks on the altar ? Go become an Episcopalian.

  • Re: “As in, it’s not part of God’s Plan and it is theological impossibility.”

    Please show me the Bible passage that says, “Thou shalt not ordain chicks.”

  • “We are letting social media and political correctness to corrupt much of our lives as it is, no need to invite their ability to control our lives into the sanctuary.”

    Did social media and political correctness “corrupt” the church in the 2nd century, too?

  • The historical evidence does not confirm this view. In fact, the historical evidence — embarrassingly enough for the Roman Catholic Church, confirms that deaconesses were sacramentally ordained and that their ministry was not substantially different from that of male deacons.

  • If the Church said it was going to make homosexuality a sacrament, James Martin would be the first to support the idea. The dissident America Magazine is the go-to source for all things anti-Catholic for the media.

  • Show me the Bible passage that says “Thou shalt not ordain atheists.”

    It’s called common sense, pal.

  • I’ve been a priest for over 30 years, This ‘recognition’ thing is beyond comment. I have received little ‘recognition’ for my work, if that was my reason for working hard I would have left long ago. I work hard in ministry and the men and women around me. not for adulation and recognition, but for the greater glory of God. (No one should think for a moment that this is about Deacons, this is about the final goal, priesthood.
    This would cause a schism and totally divide the Church, as well as the action being completely invalid.)
    To my original point, there is no ‘glamor or reverential respect’ for priests anymore. And any man who enters this vocation with the idea that they will be recognized, respected, or advanced will be sorely disappointed.
    I stand my any on line statements, as is seen by using my real name and not a ‘cover’.
    St. Alphonsus Ligouri said about his Institute the CSsR, and could well be said about priesthood today
    ‘If anyone wishes to enter, they must above all be resolved to suffer and to suffer much following the example of Jesus Christ, whose life on earth was one a suffering.’

  • Do you regressives have a laundry list of catch-words that you use like “misogyny” etc. al ?

    You like the Anglicans so much ? Go join them….

  • It’s a joke….lighten up !

    P.S. I like mine with 2 cubes of sugar and milk. Hold the cream…….

  • Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you see it, God doesnt always give the reasons for His actions or laws. He created the universe and everything so I expect if He doesnt explain He probably has a really good reason and/or knows we will not/cannot understand. That is what faith is. In the same way my 2 year old doesn’t understand why I tell her not to play near the stove and she cries and throws a tantrum every time I remove her. I know why…becasue I don’t want her to get burned but she can’t understand. We are like that 2 year old. We want what we want. We don’t like when we dont get our way and we want a good explanation why we can’t have something. We assume if no explanaition is forthcoming, then there simply isn’t a good one and the reasons MUST be malicious. “God or that darn ‘boys club at the Vatican’ just wants to keep women down.” Well, thats not the way God works, its not the way life works and it doesnt lead to happiness.

    If you would like to know my suspicion as to why women should not preach it is this…..women tend to be very compassionate by nature. We are good at relating with and empathizing with the suffering of others. This is a good trait if it is right ordered but has lead many women into the trap of false compassion. ie: Accepting the sin of others and not admonishing them because they dont want to cause any more suffering BUT at the expense of the others soul. We see this very much in the case of abortion, whose most militant defenders are women. Women are also the ones who have abandoned the family. Men have done so as well to a lesser degree but women have given up the most precious gift of life for the attainment of sexual freedom, so called liberation, and mammon. This has lead to a fight between the sexes for “sameness” instead of a willingness to accept complimentarity. We have brainwashed an entire generation of women to thinking in terms of “us against them” always suspicious of each other instead of working together.

    Additionaly, I do not expect everyone to go along with “my scheme” because its not my scheme….its is God’s, as I understand it. If I am proven wrong by scripture and/or History scholars (forgive me if I dont take the word of those in the combox) as some suggest I am humble enought to accept that. I am often wrong and acknowleding so keeps one humble. The tone of your comments suggests maybe you should try this spiritual execise. I have become much happier since I have embraced not always having to be right.

  • Please dont speak for “all lay Catholics in America”. I am one of them and I do not agree with that statement. While we are generalizing, nor do “most” of the lay Catholics I know.

  • Ah before your side said it was a “big tent” and open to all. Now suddenly those you oppose are evil misogynists, like Jesus, and are to be shunned. You prove my point perfectly. “When orthodoxy becomes optional it soon becomes proscribed.” As soon as you gain power you will drive out all who disagree with you and enforce your ideology. Thanks for proving me right.

  • I have several advanced degrees. Your response indicates derision, but no refutation. Like many liberals you prefer to ridicule something that you cannot refute.

  • That is my understanding too–but what sources, primary or secondary, would you use to support it?

  • Kevin and PsiCop are right: most scholars think this is an interpolation, that is, something added to manuscripts of the text, but likely not part of the original text (which we do not have). Here’s an argument from a conservative scholar making that case (and I say “conservative” because the blog is run by Zondervan publishers and because the author presented his ideas at the Evangelical Theological Society, hardly a gathering of “godless liberals”):

  • “Now suddenly those you oppose are evil misogynists, like Jesus, and are to be shunned.”

    Right, because “big tent” has to include those who want to knock down the tent pole. Sure.

    “As soon as you gain power you will drive out all who disagree with you and enforce your ideology. Thanks for proving me right.”

    Ha! Want some cheese to go with your whine? Admit it: you were ready to be “proven right” no matter what I or anyone else have to say.

  • Already have, thanks. And sorry you think a small vocabulary is the mark of a true Christian.

  • “It is about the desire of radical feminists to become priests and use power to impose their ideology. That is exactly what happened in the Anglican church. Which is why it is in terminal decline.”

    The first sentence cannot be refuted because it is a conspiracy theory. The second sentence is false because the Anglican church was decline in numbers in the West, if that is what you mean by “decline,” before women’s ordination happened.

    Not that facts or truth will matter. See sentence number one.

  • Does someone need to show you the passage that says “thou shalt not bear false witness”?

  • “Pal”?

    As for women being too defective to be ordained … sorry, “pal,” but that’s not “common sense” at all.

  • Re: “This ‘recognition’ thing is beyond comment.”

    No, it’s not. It’s entirely on point. That you cannot or will not see that, is quite irrelevant. To be clear: When you were ordained, your church “recognized” you and the contribution you would make to it. I find it curious that, after having received this kind of recognition yourself, you’re actually offended at the notion of having to extend it to others who — you admitted! — also do a lot of work for you church. And you’re offended solely because they’re women!

    Re: “To my original point, there is no ‘glamor or reverential respect’ for priests anymore.”

    Who are you kidding? People outside the Church defer to it all the time … even now. As merely one example of this phenomenon, the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown took full advantage of this deference, to the point where they selected local police chiefs, among other things. (I can’t provide a link to the grand jury report that uncovered this because RNS will block my comment if I do, but you can find it if you Google “altoona-johnstown grand jury report.”)

    In any event, your being ordained is more of an internal form of recognition. It grants you access and privileges within the Church that most others cannot and will never have.

    Re: “I stand my any on line statements, as is seen by using my real name and not a ‘cover’.”

    So you’re proud of being a misogynist. Did you honestly think that impresses me? For the record, it doesn’t.

  • Re: “Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you see it, God doesnt always give the reasons for His actions or laws.”

    I will ask again: If you don’t know what those reasons are, how can you know s/he even has them?

    Re: “He created the universe and everything so I expect if He doesnt explain He probably has a really good reason and/or knows we will not/cannot understand.”

    Your deity is all-powerful. If s/he wished you to know the reasons s/he does what s/he does, you would — instantly. So whether or not you might be able to understand them is irrelevant to your deity; s/he is not limited by what you can or can’t learn.

    Re: “[Women’s compassion] is a good trait if it is right ordered but has lead many women into the trap of false compassion.”

    I hardly know where to begin with this. In fact, not all women are “compassionate.” I know some who are vicious. I know some who are moderately compassionate. I know still others who are very compassionate. But … I also know some men who match all of those descriptions. The generalization you’ve drawn is so broad (no pun intended) as to be useless in explaining anything.

    Besides, if “compassion” is the problem, then make that — rather than gender — the criterion for whether someone can or can’t be ordained.

    Re: “The tone of your comments suggests maybe you should try this spiritual execise.”

    Ah. The “tone argument.” Nice.

  • Are Protestants ? No, because God has ordained Men and Women different roles for His plan on Earth.

  • I am following Jesus. And the Church. And the CCC.

    Are you allergic to following rules ?

  • Do you need to see the passages and CCC that says be obedient to the teachings of the Catholic Church ?

  • Re: “No, because God has ordained Men and Women different roles for His plan on Earth.”

    Not an answer to the question I asked. Try again.

  • They themselves will say that priesthood is all about power and wielding it, which is why they say they want it. The ECUSA and other Anglicans, except in Africa, have declined rapidly. That’s a fact. It has accelerated. Women claim that if only we ordain them then suddenly the pews will be full because we are “inclusive.” That is demonstrably false. What I said was absolutely true, just very inconvenient to your propaganda, as the truth always is.

  • It was the feminists who wanted to knock down the tent pole and they did. They should have been kicked out, but they whined that there should be “diversity.” Now that they are in power no diversity or dissent is permitted. So you admit I am right yourself.

  • I, too, have several advanced degrees. And derision was warranted, given your simplistic comments. You did not make a good argument and when challenged, you trotted out the tired”liberals” as a parry. Clearly you not only don’t know your Bible, you also are ignorant of the art of debate and insult.

    The bottom line is: I don’t need to justify myself to you. I justify myself to God. I was called to ministry. I’d rather have been a schoolteacher, but I followed the call. If that threatens you, it’s your issue. Not mine.

    Write a Post-It to God (citing the letters to Timothy) about how He screwed up.

  • I see you studies at the I’m Rubber, You’re Glue school of logic and debate. You must be proud.

  • Your ability to misrepresent facts is almost as impressive as your ability to put words in your opponent’s mouth. Enjoy your fear of women though!

  • This is what they say. I don’t have to make it up. Enjoy your fear of the truth though.

  • As usual liberals respond “shut up he explained.” You made no argument at all. That makes sense because you have no argument. I am right and you know it. You aren’t debating, just insulting. The bottom line is I don’t care what you think. I have heard that garbage for years and can recite your lines better then you can. You manufactured a call in your own mind. God didn’t screw up, you have.

  • I see a man I know at the gym today. He is a well-respected in both the local Catholic parish where we live in Lake Forest, CA. He was a former police chief and is close personal friends with a few priests as well as serving in several positions at the local parish. I saw him and said, “Did you hear that the Pope is considering allowing women to become deacons in the church?” His response, “F### the Pope; who cares what that A## H### says!” I see another man from the same parish who is a retired commercial airlines pilot and also serves in several positions at our local parish in Lake Forest, CA, and I pose the same questions to him. His answer, “I don’t pay attention to anything those people do.”

    Some people inside the Catholic Church believe only the Catholic church has the authority to interpret the Bible because they claim Peter was the first bishop of Rome they consider every bishop of Rome to be Peter’s successor and the rightful superior of all other bishops. Although Peter never bore the title of “Pope”, or “Vicar of Christ”, in this sense the Catholic Church considers Peter the first Pope. There is no real basis for this claim, but they make it nonetheless. And, despite that, the context and clarity of the two areas in which the New Testament, our guide for the first church, is clear that anyone serving as a deacon would have authority over a man and also teach and not remain quite inside the church is in direct violation of scripture. It is also true from experience that Roman Catholics have very little respect for the actual word of God despite claims to the contrary, instead relying mainly upon manmade tradition apart from what is found in scripture to be their most prominent guiding principle using highly flawed logic to justify such disastrous practices. One need only to look at RCC history to see they ignore their own traditions whenever it is popular among the ruling class. They will even contradict previous rulings made by long successions of Pope’s that were considered infallible in favor new doctrines that are now considered infallible which completely contradicts the idea of Papal infallibility. Even this escapes the most learned of Catholic scholars and priests discrediting them as good sources for scholarly review other than what RCC traditions are.

    Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error “When, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.” (Seen nowhere in the Bible)

    This doctrine was defined dogmatically in the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870, but had been defended before that, existing already in medieval theology and being the majority opinion at the time of the Counter-Reformation.

    According to Catholic theology, there are several concepts important to the understanding of infallible, divine revelation: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Sacred Magisterium. The infallible teachings of the Pope are part of the Sacred Magisterium, which also consists of ecumenical councils and the “ordinary and universal magisterium.” In Catholic theology, papal infallibility is one of the channels of the infallibility of the Church. The infallible teachings of the Pope must be based on, or at least not contradict, Sacred Tradition or Sacred Scripture.

    1 Timothy 2:12-14 NAS, “12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

    1 Corinthians 14:34-36, “34The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 36Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?”

    Let the scripture speak for itself. God’s reasoning may escape some despite the clear statement giving reason as to why, but that is found here, “13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” God doesn’t ask for your opinion as to whether your finite and corrupt human mind agrees or disagrees. He simply leaves in a straight forward manner for people to obey, or not obey. The second has consequences. That deals with sin, heresy and even apostasy concluding ultimately in judgement of some type or another usually seen on this earth first and manifested, in this case, to the level of corruption that exists inside a church.

    As we can see, many lifelong Catholics have little or no use for the Pope and the ecumenical councils, nor do they believe the Pope in his official capacity in infallible under any circumstance, yet according to Catholics in positions of leadership, these Catholics are not real Catholics and don’t belong in the church, yet they are not only tolerated, but are out in positions of leadership and propped up as examples. What hypocrisy is this? Anyone in catechism seen to be asking too many questions will be told they are not ready to become a part of the Catholic family, yet these kinds of gross incongruences are all too common.

  • Of course most scholars disagree with your conclusion and you fail to acknowledge claiming, “with the exception of some fanatically-literalist types who refuse to acknowledge it”. Such dishonesty deserves complete disdain. You intentionally mislead people and make unfounded statements as if they were fact when the opposite is true. You are speaking from a pure RCC dogma when you speak which is hardly where the best biblical scholars are found, nor is it unbiased in its opinions.

  • The Bible doesn’t waste time speaking about one church if it is not meant to be applied in a general sense…all true biblical scholars know this. Your intentions are too pollute the word of God and lead people astray. You don’t know who God is, nor is Jesus in you.

  • Critics began to question Paul’s authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) early in the nineteenth century with the rise of German literary criticism. Because 1 Timothy 2:8-15 places explicit restrictions on a woman’s role in ministry, the controversy continues today especially by those who disagree with this perceived inequality. These critics prefer to believe that 1 and 2 Timothy were not authored by the Apostle Paul, were pious forgeries, and therefore, should not be part of the Bible. Is this true?

    How tradition began

    With little written record, oral tradition established that Paul authored 1 and 2 Timothy, and this was well known and universally recognized by the Church (Eusebius). Early theologians and writers who lived during and were contemporary with the apostles or contemporary with Timothy (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp) were familiar with the letters and accepted 1 and 2 Timothy as genuine letters from the apostle Paul. As further evidence that their authorship was never in doubt, the Pastoral Epistles were found in the early Latin and Syriac versions of the New Testament.

    Clement, the Bishop of Rome (100 A.D.), wrote a letter to the church of Corinth, which was preserved and can be seen today.

    Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch (67-110 A.D.), was the pupil and friend of the Apostle John.

    Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna (69-156 A.D.), like Ignatius, was the pupil and friend of the Apostle John.

    Of the Church fathers, three were great scholars who wrote and cited the New Testament extensively.

    Iranaeus, the Bishop of Lyons (130-200 A.D.), was a pupil of Polycarp and Papias. Of his works in possession, he made 1200 references to the New Testament, including the earliest quotations of 1 and 2 Timothy around 170 A.D. in his apologetic against Gnosticism.

    Tertullian (born about 150 A.D.) was the first Christian writer to write in Latin and coin the phrase “New Testament”. Trained as a lawyer, he was considered an “Apologetic Father” for his vigorous defense of Christian doctrine against Greek philosophy and Hellenistic culture. Of his known works, he made 2,500 references to the New Testament.

    In one of his works, Tertullian acknowledges that the Pastoral Epistles were written by Paul to Timothy and Titus and expresses surprise that the heretic Marcion did not believed that the Pastoral Epistles should be part of the canon. Marcion’s version of the canon, which he assembled around 140-150 A.D., only had Luke (which he heavily edited), and only ten of thirteen of Paul’s epistles; the heretic omitted all of the Old Testament and 16 books (or 60%) of the New Testament.

    Clement, the Bishop of Alexandria (born about 165 A.D.) is considered, after Justin and Irenaeus, to be the founder of Christian literature. Alexandria was renown in the ancient world for its scholars, university, and library. Clement succeeded his teacher Pantaenus to be the head of the famous Catechetical School of Alexandria, which would produce other great Christian writers such as Origen.

    Clement of Alexandria, notable for his expansive knowledge of classical and biblical literature, cited more pagan and Christian authors than the work of any other ancient author. Of the New Testament, he cites all of the books except Philemon, James, 2 Peter, 2 John and 3 John.

    In light of how tradition was established, the claim of pious forgeries of 1 and 2 Timothy would imply that the early church fathers were either at best duped or at worst conspirators of the forgeries, and that the heretic Marcion was correct. What is the basis for the claim of pious forgeries?

    The critical arguments can be categorized into 4 areas:

    1. Chronology – does the event of 1 Timothy correspond with the chronology of Paul’s travels in the book of Acts?

    2. Literary Style – does the literary style (vocabulary, logic, structure, etc) match with Paul’s style of writing?

    3. Ecclesiology – does the church structure found in the letter reflect the early first century Christian church?

    4. Theology – does the letter address a form of Gnosticism found only in the second century? Does the soteriology correspond to Pauline thought and concept?

    As a side note, what if the Pastoral Epistles were forgeries? Pious Forgeries – Was it possible for a forgery to be accepted in the Canon?

    The Problem of Chronology

    Critics charge that the book of Acts does not mention the situation where Paul goes to Macedonia and leaves Timothy at Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3). With the belief that the chronological references of 1 Timothy does not correspond with the book of Acts, critics have assumed that 1 & 2 Timothy were written by a later author.

    However critics have misunderstood the reason for Paul’s first imprisonment and assumed that he was executed. This would have ended any chance of Paul going east; thus, he could not possibly write 1 Timothy. Biblical and extra-biblical evidence clearly suggest otherwise. 1 Timothy does not fit within the chronology of Acts, because it took place after the end of Acts.

    At the conclusion of his third missionary journey, Paul had organized a relief fund among the Gentile churches to help the poorer members of the Jerusalem church. He was returning to Jerusalem with representatives of the Gentile churches carrying their respective donations (Acts 20:17-36, Rom 15:25-32). Shortly after his arrival in Jerusalem, Paul was attacked by a Jewish mob and rescued by Roman soldiers (Acts 21:26- 22:1-30- 23:10). He was imprisoned at the Roman governor’s headquarters in Caesarea for the next 2 years (Acts 23:11- 24:27).

    In response to God’s prompting of “so you must witness at Rome also” (Acts 23:11), Paul exercises his privilege as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar, which transferred his case to Rome. Paul was sent to Rome in 59 A.D. where he spent 2 years under house arrest waiting for his case to be heard before the supreme tribunal (Acts 25:1- 26:1-32- 27:1-44- 28:31).

    When Luke finished writing the book of Acts, he does not reveal what happened to Paul’s case, and there is little information about the rest of Paul’s career. But there is implicit evidence that Paul was released.

    1. Paul was innocent by all Roman officials up to this point.

    Paul was arrested to save him from a Jewish mob not from any legal offense.

    The Jews did not bring any charges or testify against Paul during his 2-year imprisonment in Caesarea.

    At this time, Christianity was considered a part of Judaism and was not considered an illegal or forbidden religion and therefore not an offense punishable by death.

    Agrippa and Festus believed that Paul did nothing wrong and would have been freed had he not appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:30-32).

    While in captivity, Paul expresses confidence in his release (Phil 1:25, 2:24, Philem 22).

    2. Ancient tradition says that Paul did go to Spain as he intended (Rom 15:24).

    Clement of Rome wrote that “Paul…preached in the East and the West, and won noble renown for his faith. He taught righteousness to the whole world and went to the western limit. He bore witness to the rulers, and then passed out of the world…” (1 Clement 5:6-7)

    During the first and second century, a reference to the “western limit” always meant Spain.

    In other extra-biblical sources, such as the Muratorian Fragment and Acts of Peter, there are indications that Paul was released from prison.

    It is believed that, upon his release, Paul resumed his missionary journeys for at least 3 more years before being arrested, tried, condemned, and executed around 67 A.D. during the persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Nero. Marking Paul’s burial near the Basilica in Rome, a stone inscription says “To Paul, Apostle and Martyr.”

    This means that there was enough time for Paul to go on a fourth missionary journey and pen his Pastoral Epistles.

    The critics’ contention of a problem of chronology is further eroded when evaluating the epistle 2 Corinthians, which is undisputedly a letter from Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul mentions his experience of frequent imprisonments, 5 whippings, 3 beatings with a rod, 1 stoning, and 3 shipwrecks; all of which was not mentioned once in the book of Acts.

    The Problem of Literary Style

    Critics have contended that the Pastoral Epistles were not authored by Paul, because the letters lacked the typical vocabulary, grammatical phrases, and literary style of Paul’s other epistles. For example:

    1 Timothy has 356 of 529 words, or 67%, that do not appear in ten of Paul’s letters, including 96 hapax legomena (words that appear only once in the New Testament).

    Typical Pauline words used in ten of Paul’s letters are not found in 1 or 2 Timothy.

    1 and 2 Timothy also use different words than Paul’s other letters to say the same thing.

    1 and 2 Timothy have grammatical forms, such as how definite articles, prepositions, and conjunctions are used, that are unique to the Pastoral Epistles and lack grammatical forms typical of Paul’s other ten epistles.

    The Pastoral Epistles lack the distinctive writing style of Paul. Many aspects of his literary style, such as his use of prepositions and pronouns are absent; consequently, the tone and character of the Pastoral Epistles are different from Paul’s other ten epistles.

    However this evidence is hardly conclusive against Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles. It is less conclusive than the explicit evidence within the Pastoral Epistles themselves, which indicate Paul as the author (1 Tim 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1, Titus 1:1).

    Evidence of non-Pauline vocabulary and frequent hapax legomena used to deny Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles does not hold up under closer examination.

    The biggest problem for critics is Paul’s use of amanuenses (secretaries) to write his letters (i.e. Rom 16:22). Because it is unknown how the epistles were originally produced, the contribution of the amanuenses to the original text is unknown. This makes it impossible to establish what is typical Pauline vocabulary, grammatical structure, and literary style.

    During the first century, Greek secretaries functioned in a variety of ways as directed by the author. Some secretaries took dictation from authors while others wrote their own words to convey the thought of the author. In the case of the Pastoral Epistles, it has been postulated that Luke was Paul’s amanuenses based two observations: 1) 2 Timothy 4:11 states that “Only Luke is with me…” and 2) there are many similarities in vocabulary with Acts.

    In considering the literary evidence against Pauline authorship, most words missing in the Pastoral Epistles are also absent in epistles that have been unquestionably established as Paul’s. There is no even distribution of vocabulary throughout all of Paul’s epistles. Yet critics never mention the inconsistent use of this type of evidence to condemn the Pastoral Epistles or disqualify those epistles unquestionably Paul’s.

    The hapax legomena are not evenly distributed and occur in groups; most of the occurrences are found where Paul is discussing a new subject. Almost half of the hapax legomena can be found in the Septuagint, which Paul studied extensively. Roughly one quarter of the hapax legomena have been identified as part of the Greek language of the time. A little over one quarter of the hapax legomena may possibly be new Greek words to describe the new subjects associated with the new religion of Christianity.

    When one studies Paul’s letters in light of his missionary journeys and experiences, it is very difficult to see how an even distribution of vocabulary can be expected as he discusses a variety of subjects, to Christians of a variety of ethnicities and regions, and with the variety of situations that he writes from.

    In contrast to his passionate letters for Christ intended for large audiences, the Pastoral Epistles were written to two very dear individuals. Their quiet meditative tone reflects Paul’s love and concern for them and perhaps in context of his age and mortality.

  • Re: “These critics prefer to believe that 1 and 2 Timothy were not authored by the Apostle Paul, were pious forgeries, and therefore, should not be part of the Bible. Is this true?”

    Yes, it’s true. They’re forgeries. Moreover, they can’t even be called “pious forgeries,” because as far as I know, there’s nothing “pious” about “forgery.”

    Re: “With little written record, oral tradition established that Paul authored 1 and 2 Timothy, and this was well known and universally recognized by the Church (Eusebius).”

    You do realize, I hope, that nothing Eusebius — who wrote in the early to middle 4th century — says about this is relevant, don’t you? He very literally cannot attest that Paul wrote the Pastorals. He lived, like, over 2 centuries too late to do so. Yes, over 2 centuries.

    I could, I suppose, proceed to shoot holes in all of the rest of your ridiculous copied-&-pasted Christianist propaganda, but I won’t. I’ve heard it all before — and I happen to know better than to fall for any of it. Been there, done that, as they say. Please copy-&-paste your ridiculous dreck on someone who’s stupid enough to swallow it. OK? I’m not the moron you clearly think I am.

  • Re: “Of course most scholars disagree with your conclusion … Such dishonesty deserves complete disdain.”

    That’s rich. In reality — outside the world of Christian literalist apologetics — most scholars actually do agree with what I said. So the “dishonesty” here is coming from YOU and your apologetics friends, not from me. Stop projecting your own lies on me.