News

Vatican magazine denounces nuns’ servitude

Lucetta Scaraffia, editor-in-chief of Donne Chiesa Mondo (Women Church World), poses for portraits in her house in Rome on Feb. 28, 2018. The March edition of Women Church World — the monthly magazine of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano — is denouncing how nuns are treated like virtual slaves by cardinals and bishops, forced to cook, clean and tend to their needs for next to no pay. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A Vatican magazine has denounced how nuns are often treated like indentured servants by cardinals and bishops, for whom they cook and clean for next to no pay.

The March edition of Women Church World, the monthly women’s magazine of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, hit newsstands Thursday (March 1). Its expose on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters confirmed that the magazine is increasingly becoming the imprint of the Catholic Church’s #MeToo movement.

“Some of them serve in the homes of bishops or cardinals, others work in the kitchens of church institutions or teach. Some of them, serving the men of the church, get up in the morning to make breakfast, and go to sleep after dinner is served, the house cleaned and the laundry washed and ironed,” reads one of the lead articles.

A nun identified only as Sister Marie describes how sisters serve clergy but “are rarely invited to sit at the tables they serve.”

While such servitude is common knowledge, it is remarkable that an official Vatican publication would dare put such words to paper and publicly denounce how the church systematically exploits its own nuns.

But that pluck has begun to define Women Church World, which launched six years ago as a monthly insert in L’Osservatore Romano and is now a stand-alone magazine distributed for free online and alongside the printed newspaper in Italian, Spanish, French and English.

“Until now, no one has had the courage to denounce these things,” the magazine’s editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, told The Associated Press. “We try to give a voice to those who don’t have the courage to say these words” publicly.

“Inside the church, women are exploited,” she said in a recent interview.

While Pope Francis has told Scaraffia he appreciates and reads the magazine, it is by no means beloved within the deeply patriarchal Vatican system. Recent issues have raised eyebrows, including the March 2016 edition on “Women who preach,” which appeared to advocate allowing lay women to deliver homilies at Mass.

One of the authors had to publish a subsequent clarification saying he didn’t mean to suggest a change to existing doctrine or practice.

Other recent issues have explored the symbolic power of women’s bodies and “rape as torture.”

Scaraffia, a Catholic feminist and professor of history at Rome’s La Sapienza University, sees the magazine as a necessary tool to push the envelope on issues that matter to half the members of the Catholic Church. The fact that a women’s supplement to L’Osservatore Romano is even necessary is indicative of what she’s up against.

L’Osservatore is the official newspaper of the Vatican, publishing official papal decrees and speeches and maintaining an editorial line that reflects the priorities of the Holy See.

The March issue of its women’s magazine is dedicated to “Women and Work” and explores many issues that are in some ways correlated to the #MeToo movement, including the gender pay gap, the lack of women in leadership positions and the “Ni Una Menos” movement to combat feminicide and violence against women, often by spurned lovers.

During his recent trip to Peru, Francis denounced feminicide and gender-based crimes that have turned his home continent, Latin America, into the most violent place on Earth for women. He also has frequently called for dignified work — and dignified pay — for all. And in a recent prologue to a book on women’s issues, Francis acknowledged that he was concerned that in many cases, women’s work in the church “sometimes is more servitude than true service.”

The March edition of Women Church World drives that home, with a lead article, “The (nearly) free work of sisters,” by French journalist Marie-Lucile Kubacki, the Rome correspondent for La Vie magazine of Le Monde group.

Kubacki noted that sisters often work for prelates or church institutions without contracts. When one falls sick, she is simply sent back to her congregation, which sends another in her place.

Other sisters, meanwhile, show remarkable intellectual gifts and earn advanced degrees but aren’t allowed to put them to use because the collective nature of religious communities often discourages personal advancement, another nun, Sister Paule, told the magazine.

“Behind all this is the unfortunate idea that women are worth less than men, and above all that priests are everything in the church while sisters are nothing,” Sister Paul said.

Sister Marie noted that many nuns from Africa, Asia or Latin America who come to study in Rome hail from poor families, whose extended care is often paid for by their congregations. As a result, they feel they can’t complain about their work conditions, she said.

“This all creates in them a strong interior rebellion,” Sister Marie reported. “These sisters feel indebted, tied down, and so they keep quiet.”

Scaraffia said she wanted to give these sisters a voice, even though she counts herself among the church’s exploited.

Neither Scaraffia nor the eight-member editorial staff of Women Church World is paid. The magazine, funded by a grant from the Italian postal service Poste Italiane, pays contributors for their articles, but it is published each month thanks to the free labor of its editorial staff.

About the author

Nicole Winfield

109 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • I wish I could afford servants. Perhaps even live in a palace on a lovely little lake.

    Maybe I should take a vow of poverty.

  • If you put the time you spend on comments like that into productive endeavors, you very well might be able to afford servants.

  • Nuns should by and large stay in their women’s monasteries, where they should devote themselves to the ascetical life of prayer, fasting, worship, and various labors to support themselves, instead of gallivanting all over the place. Ditto for monks.

  • ““Behind all this is the unfortunate idea that women are worth less than men,………..,” Sister Paul said.”

    I wonder where that idea came from?

    Genesis 2:18, 7:2, 19:8, …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    1 Timothy 2:11-15
    Colossians 3:18
    Titus 2:5

  • After publishing an article on “Women who preach”: “One of the authors had to publish a subsequent clarification saying he didn’t mean to suggest a change to existing doctrine or practice.”

    You know if we can’t even talk about it we can’t even deal with the question of if a change is needed. What? Are we just supposed to shut up and wait for the men to figure out, again, what they think the position of women should be?

    Sooner or later, the Catholic Church will have to deal with the fact that the women and society of today are not the same as the women and society of 100 years ago, much less 500, 1000, 2000, 3000 years ago. This is just like they had to deal with new scientific information that says the earth circles the sun, new social ways of organizing like democracies, the spread of an educated populace, the ability of almost instantaneous communication around the world. All affect both our understanding of God/faith/scripture and the nature/structure of a religious institution and what makes it workable in the world of today.

    The Roman Catholic Church has been trying to ignore the issue of how society has changed its mind on the roles of women in the world – and how that means the Church has to change its mind about the roles of women in the earthly institution which is the Roman Catholic Church.

    Guess what guys. It is not all up to you to decide for me. Not any more.

  • It is not always fair to blame the Bible. The way men have interpreted it has preserved patriarchy.

  • Then there is the shortage of vocation and too few priests to cover the parishes. They are closing viable congregations all around me. Not enough men. For a time women religious were keeping some open, but a conservative bishop put a stop to that. Does that make sense?

  • Are you saying that statements such as
    “To be …. obedient to their own husbands,”
    “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands” and
    “I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish”

    are misinterpretations?

    If so, how about the idea that there is a God – is that also a misinterpretation?

    One of the things I find most fascinating about Christianity is that those who believe every word of (say) the KJV is literally and unalterably correct are the ones who are simultaneously both the least critically rational and yet also the ones who’ve understood that once you “interpret” any of it you destroy any potential validity that each component part might have had.

  • “Does that make sense?”

    No.

    The whole idea of the limit of sacramental life and church leadership limited to ordained – read “ontologically changed” – men has to go. Maybe there was a time that idea served the Church and fit the society in which the Church operated. But it doesn’t fit any more. And with the spread of education and instantaneous communication, along with social changes, it definitely does not fit with women.

    Jesus didn’t mandate this form of Church. He gave His followers a mission, not a structure. Men created the structure. It is not sacred.

  • No, it’s not sarcasm. Monastics should be in monasteries. It was an unwise development for monastics in the West to pursue careers and interests in the world. It muddles and detracts from a properly monastic life.

    As for Priests, they should only be in monasteries if they are actually monks, otherwise not. Priests and monastics are not the same thing. Why should non-monastics be in a monastery?

  • Monastics, both men and women, belong in monasteries. If they wish to pursue careers and vocations in the world, they should not become monastics. Trying to do both was an unwise development, which has weakened monastic life in the Western Church.

  • You must be one of those “fake news” so-called priests, that, or you’re a first-class cretin…which is it? ?

  • Neither, my dear. Is that the best you can do?

    You seem to understand little about monasticism. The article is “Exhibit A” in how monasticism in the West has gone off the rails, a development that started centuries ago.

  • Before one can answer one first has to know what a monastic is. Hence the difficulty. 🙂

  • Sorry, but the ministry of the Church being entrusted to Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons goes back to the divinely-instructed Apostles, as the Bible clearly shows. Excuse me if I prefer to follow the Lord Jesus and his Apostles, rather than you.

    As to “ontologically changed”, you are correct. Ordination in Apostolic succession sets one apart for a certain ministry in the Church, and imparts God’s grace for that ministry (‘The Grace Divine, which heals that which is infirm, and makes up that which is lacking…”, from the Byzantine Ordination prayer), but it does not accomplish any ontological change in the ordinand. They remain human beings.

  • True.

    Traditionally a monastic is one who has withdrawn from the world in order to pursue a life of repentance through prayer, fasting, sacramental life, chastity, and obedience to one’s monastic elder, so as to engage in the spiritual-ascetical struggle that ultimately leads to the goal of divinization/theosis.

    Those who call themselves monastics, but have departed from that way of life, may have the name of “monastics”, but not the substance thereof.

  • Well I apologize for not reading your comment carefully enough. I was reading your comment in the context of nuns in general and was taken aback by what seemed to be a broad attack on their roles. I have lived most of my life as a RC and have witnessed many nuns who have devoted their life to service rather than contemplation (e.g.hospitals, schools, etc.).

  • No. Jesus never created a church. We organized to accomplish the mission Jesus gave to Christians, for mutual support, for protection. But Jesus didn’t create “ontologically changed” priests, bishops, popes, and 1000 rules. He did not create “ordination in Apostolic succession.” The Holy Spirit came to all the disciples and continues to come to all the Baptized – and even sometimes to the unbeliever to give him/her a nudge.

    Not that forming a structure was bad, but it was and is all man made and the shape of it reflects the the way power was organized back in the times of Roman rule. There is nothing sacred about that but it was the way to be successful at the time.

  • I am afraid Jesus himself disagrees with you about whether or not he created a Church. See his own words in Matthew 16:18. You will excuse me if I believe Jesus’ own words about his teachings rather than yours.

    Jesus’ Apostles were divinely instructed by him, and they set apart Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons for the service of his Church, so there is indeed something sacred about it. It was hardly “man made”. This is clearly shown in the Bible.

    As for “ontologically changed”, please take the time to read what I wrote more closely. I explicitly denied such a thing.

    “The Holy Spirit came to all the disciples…” So? I never said otherwise.

  • The Catholic implementation of religious differs a bit from Orthodoxy’s.

    Women religious who live in cloisters (women’s monasteries) devote themselves to the ascetical life of prayer, fasting, worship, and various labors to support themselves. These are nuns.

    Others go out in the world and perform a variety of vocations, including medicine, teaching, and social work. They may not wear distinctive garb. They are called “sisters”.

    This article treats the two words as interchangeable, which leaves the impression that the author missed some important distinctions.

  • Yes, Jesus created a church.

    If you’re Catholic, that’s de fide, as is the divine institution of orders – bishops, priests, and deacons.

  • Monastics in the West are not supposed to pursue careers and interests in the world.

    However, as with nuns and sisters, priests are divided into “secular” and monastic.

    Secular priests do not take vows of poverty and do not live in community.

  • Yes. Similar in the East, where monastic clergy are denominated “Hierodeacons”, “Hieromonks”, the latter being Priests. Their occasional appearance serving in parishes is highly anomalous.

  • Are women religious in servitude?

    Of course not. Just ask all the younger women who join “orthodox” Catholic women’s communities: “My vocation is to do and die, not to question why.” These women are looking for stability and safety in institutional certitudes and platitudes. No concrete thinking required.

  • I can appreciate your Orthodox Christian perspective regarding “nuns”, but nothing in the New Testament suggests that “sisters” should not be engaged in social ministry (cf. Mt 25).

  • In the Catholic Tradition, we distinguish between “nuns” who live out of the public eye and “sisters” who are engaged in health care, teaching, social services, parish management, etc. FYI.

  • There were no “bishops” in the earliest Christian communities. Liturgical presiders, known as episkopoi or presbyteroi (term depending on local usage) served in their capacity by virtue of their community leadership, not by virtue of any “ordination”. The “priesthood” was derived from baptism.

    Furthermore, there is no evidence that the Twelve served as “bishops” or ordained anyone to serve in this capacity. You may think that you are following the practice of Jesus and his Apostles, but history informs us otherwise. To be clear, I am not opposed as a Catholic to ministerial ordination to the diaconate, presbyterate, or episcopate although I no longer regard the term ‘ordained priesthood’ as a legitimate one.

  • The references to “church” in Mt 16:18 and 18:17 are interpolations and are the only references to the term in the canonical gospels. Matthew wasn’t written until ca. 70s or 80s, by which time we would expect to see nascent church structure and organization.

  • Neither the Apostles’ Creed nor the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed say anything about Jesus founding a church, much less the “Catholic Church”. The Christian churches did not come into being until *after* the Resurrection (cf. 1 Cor 15:12-19, which is instructive here).

    Furthermore, Jesus — who claimed no priesthood, by the way, and whose followers regarded him as a “prophet”, never as any kind of “priest” — did not institute the *later* ministerial orders of deacon, presbyter (the correct term), and bishop.

    There’s nothing *de fide* regarding the founding of the Christian Church or the establishment of ministerial orders. As a future conservative pope himself once acknowledged, “[F]acts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine” (Joseph Ratzinger, THEOLOGICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF VATICAN II, Paulist Press/Deus Books, 1966, p. 16). History presents no danger to one’s Christian faith in the Catholic, Orthodox, or any other Christian tradition.

  • A “sister” is not a “monastic”, Pastor Schick. There was/is nothing “unwise” about women serving Christ’s people in the spirit of Matthew 25.

  • Pastor, for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with your background, you are a cleric in the Orthodox Christian tradition, not the Catholic one.

  • Mon ami, I know you can do better. I suggest you delete this post. It is disrespectful and may reflect a lack of knowledge between Orthodox and Catholic terminology.

  • Matthew 16: 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

    ***

    Hebrews 5: Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; 3 and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

    “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;

    6 as he says also in another place,

    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

    7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

    ***

    http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch23.htm

    CHAPTER I.

    On the institution of the Priesthood of the New Law.

    Sacrifice and priesthood are, by the ordinance of God, in such wise conjoined, as that both have existed in every law. Whereas, therefore, in the New Testament, the Catholic Church has received, from the institution of Christ, the holy visible sacrifice of the Eucharist; it must needs also be confessed, that there is, in that Church, a new, visible, and external priesthood, into which the old has been translated. And the sacred Scriptures show, and the tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught, that this priesthood was instituted by the same Lord our Saviour, and that to the apostles, and their successors in the priesthood, was the power delivered of consecrating, offering, and administering His Body and Blood, as also of forgiving and of retaining sins.

    ***

    CHAPTER III.

    That Order is truly and properly a Sacrament.

    Whereas, by the testimony of Scripture, by Apostolic tradition, and the unanimous consent of the Fathers, it is clear that grace is conferred by sacred ordination, which is performed by words and outward signs, no one ought to doubt that Order is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of holy Church. For the apostle says; I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God, which is in thee by the imposition of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love of sobriety.

    ***
    http://www.vocations.com/benedictxvi/natureofpriesthood.html

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger “On the Nature of the Priesthood”

    “Little by little, from these beginnings, there emerges a clearly defined structure of the ministries which by the end of the apostolic era had achieved initial maturity. This emerging maturity is attested above all by two famous texts of the New Testament which I would like to speak about briefly. In the first place, we should interpret the speech of St Paul to the presbyters of Asia Minor. This speech was given in Miletus and in the narrative of Luke it appears as the Apostle’s last will and testament. In the words here handed down, the principle of apostolic succession is clearly established. The Apostle says, according to the tradition of Saint Luke: ‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the Church of God which He bought with His own blood’ (Acts 20:28). Various elements should be looked at here. First of all, two notions which up until this point were unconnected, that is, ‘presbyter’ and ‘bishop’, are here equated; the traditions of Christians stemming from a Jewish background and those of Christians who entered from paganism coalesce and are explained as a single ministry of apostolic succession.”

  • 1. I never claimed there was anything unwise about women serving Christ’s people, only about the wisdom of monastics being involved in the world.

    2. Okay, I see that we are not using “sister” and “monastic” univocally.

  • I have never claimed otherwise. And the nomenclature for Orthodox Priests, as for Catholic ones, is not pastor.

  • I cannot agree with your reconstruction of the history of Church organization and structure. The witness of the Apostle Paul’s Epistles, and the Apostle Luke’s writings, indicate otherwise.

  • 1. Episkopoi is the Greek word for Bishops. Ask any Greek.

    2. Prebyteros – of which the literal English equivalent is “Priest”, derived from the Anglo-Saxon “Prebst” – was often originally used synonymously with Presbyteros. At an early date the term Episkopos came to be reserved for the Proistamenos (chief Presbyter), while the term Presbyter was reserved for his assistants.

    3. The laying on of hands for a specific ministry in the church (ordination) is attested to in the New Testament.

    4. “The ‘priesthood’ was derived from baptism.” I take it that you are referring to passages like 1 Peter 2:9 ( “You are a royal priesthood…”) And here is where the issue is muddled by modern English. The word used in 2 Peter is derived from the Greek hiereus, which is translated as “priest”. However, as I mentioned, the English word “priest” is actually derived from the Greek presbyter. And so we have one English word (priest) covering two very different Greek words (hiereus and presbyter), causing great confusion. Thus we can say that every believer is a priest (hiereus), but not every believer is a priest (presbyter).

  • My comment was in response to your cavalier attitude towards these underappreciated women; did you read the read the article through your own heirarchal, privileged lens? You all but said that they should…”stay in their places”…misoynistic cretin. ?

  • Let the moderator delete the post, Jaglowicz; I stand by everything I said. If this misogynistic so-called priest thinks that these obviously underappreciated women should…”stay in their places”…and not protest the injustices being done to them, then yes, he and all those of his ilk ARE cretins. No doubt YOU wish the issue had remained hidden, like your Church fought so long to keep the child abusers/rapists hidden.But guess what? As the Scriptures say,…”Be sure your sin will find you out”…If there has EVER been a more vile, hateful, putrid religious system foisted upon humanity than Roman Catholicism, I don’t know what it is!! YUCK! DEFINITELY NOT founded by MY Savior!!! ???

  • Pastor Schick is not a Catholic; he is an Orthodox Christian cleric. Contrary to your assertion, I DO NOT “wish the issue [misogyny] had remained hidden.” So far as I know, Schick is referring to “nuns”, not to “sisters” who minister out and about in the world. If a woman, Catholic or Orthodox, wants to become a “nun” in her Christian tradition, so be it. If you’ve forgotten, I left the Church of Rome because of B16’s arrogance and his outreach to schismatic Catholics who essentially reject Vatican II, the main theme of which was ecclesial renewal including the *restoration* of church unity, not a *return of separated brethren to the One True Church* (read: Catholic Church).

    I agree the Church of Christ was not founded by “[YOUR] Savior.” Jesus founded no church. He was never a Christian.

  • You seem to want to read your own narrative into my comments, rather than what I actually said; a common ploy these days.

    This is the second time (I am aware of) that you have called me “misogynistic”. But there is NOTHING that I have said that supports such a claim. If you had even bothered to read (which I doubt) the entirety of what I wrote on this thread, you would have realized that I was speaking in the context of all monastics, BOTH male and female. My beef was with monastics living and working in the world, rather than pursuing their ascetical vocation in its proper setting, a monastery. As the fullness of my writings makes clear, that critique applied to BOTH genders. So your defamatory claim that I was “misogynistic” would seem to be based on little more than your own presumptions and prejudices about me as a supposedly “privileged” Priest.

    Maybe you should try reading a little more closely before climbing on your high horse and hurling down such inaccurate epithets as “misogynistic” at others.

  • You are correct about me; I was referring to monastics. (And certainly not to women in general, as Ringo seems to think.)

  • Yes, ‘episkopoi’ is the Greek word for ‘bishops’. In the earliest Christian communities, however, the term referred to “supervisors”, not to “bishops”. The episcopacy was a later institutional development. What I shared with you is correct.

    No, the word ‘presbyteros’ is not “the literal English equivalent” for ‘priest’. The term, instead, means “elder”. Different early Christian communities used one or the other word in reference to liturgical presiders who served in their capacity by virtue of their community leadership. Later, as you’ve noted, Christian communities began to embrace a single leader (bishop) assisted by assistants (presbyters) forming what came to be known as the presbyterate. The order of deacon was intended to directly serve the bishop and, in some/many ways, outranked the presbyter. Primitive Christianity was a time of flux and diversity in institutional organization.

    It is doubtful that the “laying on of hands” was ordination to ministry in the New Testament. Other purposes were also served by this ceremony.

    I agree with your last paragraph. Perhaps our disagreement is superficial only because of your phrasing “literal English equivalent”.

  • We disagree. My sources include Kenan Osborne’s PRIESTHOOD: A HISTORY OF THE ORDAINED MINISTRY IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, Francis Sullivan’s FROM APOSTLES TO BISHOPS: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EPISCOPACY IN THE EARLY CHURCH, and “Why Not? Scripture, History & Women’s Ordination”, published in COMMONWEAL, April 3, 2008. Egan’s article is available free online.

  • As I wrote, “…for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with your background…”

    I no longer use the term “Father” to address or refer to Catholic or Orthodox presbyters (allowing for a very few exceptions for elder clergy not accustomed to newer forms of address or designation). The term ‘Pastor’ is scripturally based and sex/gender-neutral. It’s time to jettison the term ‘Father’.

    I don’t know your background, but I recently turned age 70 and have been Catholic all my life. I have 16 years of formal Catholic education, served “mass” in my youth, and had extended family members who, as presbyters, were seminary professors. One of them was eventually elected superior-general of his religious congregation. Religion, so to speak, is “in my blood”; I’ve always been interested in matters of church.

    EDIT (a day later): I overlooked the form of address “Pastor” having an ecumenical value, as well. FYI.

  • Thank you. Perhaps you can elaborate a bit about “monastics being involved in the world.” As a Catholic, I am aware of Orthodox tradition whereby bishops are drawn from monasteries. I do remember seeing an elderly Orthodox cleric from time to time in front of a Greek Orthodox parish in Louisville many years ago, and I had passing acquaintance with one of his successors several years later. Do the Orthodox churches have the Catholic equivalent of “sisters”? Your information can help clear up any confusion I and others may have about such matters.

  • I’m confused here, Jaglowicz…what church did you leave,exactly? Didn’t you claim that you’re Catholic? As for claiming that…”Jesus was never a Christian”…I’m always perplexed when people say that; what does that even mean? Followers of Jesus the Christ are Christians, period, a genuine Biblical designation; the issue isn’t who Jesus is, but who His people are in relation to Him. I think that the Scriptures do a more than adequate job of describing Him as He is, and He’s not referred to as “christian”, I’m not getting the point of your remark, so…At any rate, I don’t really care what man-concocted designation you or Schick label yourselves as; I would certainly hope that at the very least you both are Born-again, Blood-bought, Spirit-filled sons/servants of Almighty God in Christ Jesus who have…”confessed with your mouths Jesus as Lord, and believed in you hearts that God has raised Him from the dead”…thereby being saved. THAT’S the Scriptural paradigm; anything else,well…let that be unto you. PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS!!! ?

  • Look up the etymology of the English word “priest”. It is as I said, from the Greek word “Presbyteros”.

    The problem is that English is imprecise. It never (at least to my knowledge) came up with a separate word for the Greek “hiereus”, but let “priest” cover both “presbyteros” and “hiereus”, thus causing needless confusion.

    And yes, “episkopos” does mean overseer. For that matter, “bishop” is etymologically derived from “episcopos” via the Old English “bisceop”. “Episcopos”, “bisceop”, and bishop all very adequately indicate the Christian bishop’s role as overseer.

    Yes, I agree with you that the laying on of hands had various meanings in the New Testament Church; it still does today, as seen, for example, in Baptism as well as Absolution. I would call the laying on of hands for the first deacons (Acts 6) by the term “ordination”, meaning the setting apart for a particular order/service/task in the Church. The specific meaning of any laying on of hands depends on the context.

  • I don’t think it was Peter so much as Paul who formed the Church. What we have of the early formation of the Church is far, far, far, more Paul than it is Peter. I don’t know why we have to think that because Jesus said it was up to Peter that what we now understand of what Peter did looks anything like ordained priests, bishops, and popes, infallibility of what these humans think is from God regarding issues on which Jesus never spoke.

    I have often wondered what a church/faith formed by Peter would look like. He was not the organizer that Paul was. Maybe what we would have would be far closer to what Jesus intended, but it would have had much less structure, many fewer rules, and a great deal more love.

  • Jose, I don’t think it will be a surprise to you to find that there are tens of millions of Catholics who don’t buy the whole story of what rigorists claim is required to say one is “Catholic.” Most couples use birth control and don’t bother to confess it because they genuinely don’t think it is a sin. Most in the developed world rarely bother with confession at all. Majorities in developed world think women priests would be fine, civil gay marriage is the right thing to do, and on and on.

    I admit it has to be confusing that we can’t come up with (and should not try to come up with) a list of “must believes”, not any more. But, I know some wonderful, faith filled, loving, generous, prayerful, followers of Jesus who love the Catholicism they do practice, even if it is not fully obedient to the 1000 and 1 dictates of the magisterium.

  • I stand corrected on the word ‘priest’ being derived from “presbyteros”. Per Egan, “Ironically, the word ‘priest,’ which is the only word we have to translate sacerdos or hiereus, is derived historically from presbyter.”

    We agree on the “laying on of hands”.

  • Thank you. In general I tend to interpret some of the evidence differently. So far I have only been able to find Osborne’s Table of Contents on line.

  • Yes, I am still a Catholic, albeit an unaffiliated Catholic since December 2006 when I formally left the Church of Rome (I notified my cathedral vicar/pastor in writing of my decision). My departure had everything to do with B16’s attempts to reinterpret Vatican II in a decidedly quite conservative way, including his attempts to bring schismatic SSPX Catholics back into the Church of Rome (as a reminder, these people reject key doctrines of Vatican II).

    Jesus was always a Jew up to and including his death on the cross. Whatever problems he had with Judaism, he remained basically a Jew. For instance, Jesus never claimed to be any kind of priest; he claimed he was a “prophet”. New Testament sources outside the Gospel demonstrate followers regarding him as a “prophet”.

    I agree people who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are Christians, regardless of their particular faith tradition (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East). Thanks to Vatican II, we are witnessing better relations among Christian churches and communities and greater understanding of one another’s religious traditions, any differences notwithstanding. My reminder that Jesus was never a Christian is important because I think history is important. It puts the development of Christianity into its proper perspective, most notably the fact that the earliest disciples of Jesus were Jews, just of a different kind. Their cultic priests could be found in the Temple precincts or, at other times, in local Jewish communities/synagogues. The earliest understanding of Christian priesthood was that of following Jesus’ example in helping people in need; sacrifice was understood in such terms. Cultic Christian priesthood and sacrifice would come later as apologists reached out to Jews to join the nascent communities; typology was the recruitment and retention tool in this endeavor.

    I embrace the doctrine of universal salvation, in part based on Vatican II’s teaching that “[the Church] regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.” I’ve concluded that if God is Love, then God will not condemn us or let us condemn ourselves when all is ultimately said and done. God will do at least as much for us as God asks us to do for one another. The name of “Jesus” means “God saves”, not “God saves if”. Perhaps contrary to your belief, I do not embrace the idea that the Father sent the Son to die for us on the cross to effect our salvation. Jesus’ sacrifice was self-sacrifice; he was not sacrificed by the Father. His entire life was one of sacrifice.

    God bless you, Mr. Ringo.

  • I am not a fan of gender neutral terminology, as human beings are not gender neutral.

    Thank you for sharing part of your background. It goes far in explaining your high level of “religious literacy”, not often found today.

    I myself am in my 60s, but but no longer active in parish ministry due to serious health issues.

  • The closest I am aware of Orthodox coming to having something like the organized Catholic sisters has been the Sisters of Charity (also called the Black and White Sisters) in Minsk, Belarus. There is also a similar group in Russia, although I do not recall their name. They are active in providing medical and social aid to those in need, and are associated with local women’s monasteries. They are inspired by the example of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr.

  • I suspect people tend to think that Paul was responsible for a great deal more of the structure of the early Church than Peter was simply because Paul’s Epistles take up far more space in the New Testament and Peter’s do, thus skewing our perspective.

    Actually Paul entered a Church which was, under the guidance of the Apostles, already regularizing its structure. Deacons were already part of it, according to Acts 6. Bishops and Presbyters also arose during the early Apostolic period; most likely Paul was following the existing Apostolic guidance in community structure rather than initiating something completely new on his own.

    However, I do agree with you that popes and infallibility had little to do with Paul, Peter, or any of the Apostles.

  • As a “raised Roman Catholic” feminist who subsequently left the Church largely *because* of the deep strains of misogyny in the Church.

    RIGHT THE HECK ON.

    Some day, maybe the Church will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century… from where it exists… in the 9th century.

    By then, it will be the 35th century. Or so.

  • By the time Matthew was written, we would expect to see some rudimentary but formal Christian organization. Communities were known as *ecclesiae*, i.e., assemblies. Jesus, based on extant sources, did not know of such entities. The Christian churches began *after* the Resurrection (had there been no such event, there would have been no reason for Jesus’ followers not to return to their previous labors).

    HEBREWS uses Jewish references to attract Jews to the new Christianized Jewish communities (and to encourage them to remain within said ecclesiae). Much of HEBREWS is typology to demonstrate the superiority of Christian belief over Judaism. HEBREWS is not historical fact. Today’s political strategists employ typology to appeal to audiences likely to respond positively to messages. For example, a campaign manager might say that “Candidate X is the fulfillment of Ronald Reagan’s dream” or similar appeals to the past familiar to a targeted audience. Typology proves nothing in terms of basic Christian doctrine. If we’re going to identify Jesus as some kind of priest, it only seems reasonable and fair to inquire if Jesus regarded himself as a priest. He did not so identify.

    Your quote from Trent regarding “Priesthood of the New Law” is doctrine, not historical fact. Again, it is based on typology. Neither Jesus nor the Twelve saw themselves as cultic priests. There is no evidence, in addition, that the Twelve served as bishops or ordained anyone to serve as heads of local churches. The earliest Christian liturgical presiders were priests by virtue of their baptism; every member of the worship assembly was a priest by virtue of his or her baptism. Liturgical leadership was based on one’s community leadership, unlike today when community leadership is based on liturgical leadership.

    Regarding Ratzinger’s observation, Paul died ca. 67 CE. Ignatius died, presumably from martyrdom in Rome, ca. 110 CE. Based on extant information, Antioch was apparently unique in having a monarchical bishop and a presbyterate (even Rome at this time did not have a monarchical bishop). Note, too, that Ratzinger himself states that “‘presbyter’ and ‘bishop’, are here equated.” Fact is that some early Christian communities used the term ‘presbyteros’, and other communities employed the term ‘episkopos’ to designate their liturgical leaders/presiders. Suffice to say that churches/ecclesiae/assemblies were diverse in organization as they strove toward eventual standardization. This was a time of flux.

  • As the Catholic Church defines “Catholic”, these tens of millions you speak of could only be termed “nominal” Catholics, or “poorly catechized” Catholics, or some other adjectival distinction between them and Catholics who accept their church’s teachings and strive to learn more and live it.

    Every single religion has a counterpart: Jews who eat pork, Mormons who smoke, and so on.

    The comment “1000 and 1 dictates of the magisterium” is descriptive of an internal attitude toward the magisterium, not the actual magisterium as it really functions.

  • According to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger we saw rudimentary but formal Christian organization recorded in the New Testament itself. When you write “(b)y the time Matthew was written, we would expect to see”, who is the “we” and by what criterion would we expect to see whatever you believe was not seen? Had a prior Christian church or its like been formed with which to compare?

    Hebrews is a clear theological explanation of the nature of the Christian priesthood, which was clearly known to the recipients. It points out that in every way this new priesthood, the High Priest of which is Jesus Christ Himself, fulfills what the Old Testament prefigured and therefore is superior. Not only is Hebrews describing historical fact, its author is intimately familiar with the Temple and its operation AND with the Christian priesthood and its operation.

    My quote from Trent regarding “Priesthood of the New Law” makes it clear that this belief is de fide, which you denied.

    This is a good place to stop and ask that you define the word “typology”, which you use profusely. I know where you copying it from, but I would like you to explain in simple English we both know what you’re trying to say and that you know its significance.

  • While human beings are not gender-neutral, we should remember Paul’s observation: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). When one considers that (a) Jesus did not regard himself as any kind of priest, (b) his earliest followers did not regard him as any kind of priest, (c) early Christian apologists used typology with its references to O.T. concepts including priesthood to attract Jews to the Christianized Jewish fold and encourage them to remain within it, (d) the earliest Christian communities saw priesthood as properly the claim of all baptized followers, (e) the earliest liturgical presiders were not ordained to any kind of cultic or non-baptismal priesthood, and (f) available historical evidence demonstrates the later gradual unfolding of Christian cultic priesthood and sacrifice, then the idea that cultic priesthood is an exclusive male domain rests on very shaky if unsupportable grounds, indeed. Other Christian traditions, e.g., Anglican and *non-Roman* Catholic, have women’s ordination to the “priesthood” (a term, of course, that I reject on biblical and historical grounds), and these female clerics have been accepted by communities for liturgical presidership. Based on their vocational performance to date, women are just as capable as men in carrying out the tasks of ecclesial leadership.

    May God bless and keep you as you deal with your health problems.

  • Who is the “we”?

    Persons acquainted with church history and an appreciation for the reality of organizational/institutional development.

    What “criterion”?

    Extant evidence which demonstrates diversity.

    Any comparisons?

    Scriptural and non-scriptural.

    Regarding HEBREWS:

    + The only New Testament source with any mention of a (cultic) Christian priesthood;

    + The “recipients”, as converts (loosely speaking), were familiar only with the Jewish priesthood; they “clearly knew” the Christian (cultic) priesthood only by embracing the new doctrine;

    + “Prefiguring”, like “foreshadowing”, is a synonym for typology and, as such, proves nothing in terms of basic Christian doctrine (CCC-125 is relevant);

    + Does not describe any “historical fact” that is important to basic Christian doctrine (cf. CCC-125);

    + Yes, the writer is familiar with the Second Temple.

    Regarding Trent’s “Priesthood of the New Law”, the earliest Christian priesthood was the baptismal priesthood of all the faithful, men and women alike. The Church of Christ had no cultic priesthood for a century or more (and different Christian apologists offered different “takes”), yet we accept that primitive Christians did receive the body and blood of Christ at their eucharistic liturgies. As to “de fide”, the faith is Christianity; the faith tradition (in our exchange) is Catholicism. Key Christian doctrine is found in the four canonical gospels (CCC-125). One can only hope the ecclesiastical days of “anathema sit” are over. I think Joseph Ratzinger made a sensible observation in 1966, to wit, that “facts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine.” When historical fact and church doctrine conflict, the former must prevail. The Church values faith *and* reason. To not use our God-given brain is an insult to our Creator. We ignore history at our peril.

    As to the meaning of ‘typology’, I like the basic description from Wikipedia: “Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Events, persons, or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament.”

  • Good for you, Dejah!! After reading this shameful article, I don’t mind saying that I’m not at all surprised that that type of servitude was going on; in the wake of the pedophile priests scandals, frankly I myself wouldn’t put too must past this vile, vicious, hateful religious system known as Roman Catholicism. I’ve known individual Catholic throughout the years who were sweet, gracious ,wonderful people , and may Almighty God bless them!! But the institution itself I have absolutely NO USE for. Thank God you got out dear; BLESS YOU!!! ???

  • The Letter to the Hebrews clearly designates Jesus the Christ as THE High Priest of ALL CHRISTIANS; there is no so-called Christian” priesthood ” except the Priesthood of all believers; the supposed sacredotal priesthood of Roman Catholicism is an invention of men as a control mechanism. The ONLY priest that I will EVER acknowledge as such is Jesus the Christ.

  • The only priest a Catholic, an Orthodox, an Assyrian, or any of the churches acknowledge is Jesus the Christ, who offers himself to the Father perpetually in the heavenly holy of holies.

    The description in the New Testament, particularly Hebrews, is completely muddled by translation into English.

    Western thought patterns tend to be both rationalistic and materialistic, and so the mystery which permeates the Bible is lost.

    Jesus, at the Last Supper, told the Apostles to do what he had done as the anamnesis of him. Anamnesis is a key concept in the New Testament’s theology. In worship the faithful recall God’s saving deeds not simply as a passive process but by actually entering into the mystery.

    The Christian priest does not offer a new sacrifice but acts as an alter Christus in bringing the One Sacrifice which continues forever into the present.

  • If “we” involves “persons acquainted with church history”, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was several rungs up the ladder from you and your sources.

    Since the Christian Church purports to be of divine institution, it is difficult to assess what “an appreciation for the reality of organizational/institutional development” would mean, except whoever you’re reading wanted to establish himself as an authority without earning his creds.

    Hebrews is not the only New Testament source with any mention of a (cultic) Christian priesthood. Every account of the Last Supper mentions a cultic Christian priesthood.

    Hebrews ties the Jewish priesthood to the new priesthood with Jesus as the fulfillment of the OT’s foreshadowing.

    “Prefiguring” proves everything in terms of basic Christian doctrine in that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies. The New Testament goes to great lengths to establish that, which if your theory were correct, would be a complete puzzle.

    The sentence “Regarding Trent’s “Priesthood of the New Law”, the earliest Christian priesthood was the baptismal priesthood of all the faithful, men and women alike.” is simply a restatement of your total rejection of Catholic doctrine, sans reasoning, sans authority, sans everything.

    If you believe Joseph Ratzinger made a sensible observation in 1966, to wit, that “facts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine.”, then you would be paying attention to what he wrote, which was excerpted from his longer dissertation on the history of the priesthood. Yes, you know what you like. No, your theories lack any authority.

    “Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Events, persons, or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament.” is the basic thrust of the New Testament. Cut loose from the Old Testament, the New Testament is without meaning. An itinerant preacher in Galilee made a lot of folks angry, came a cropper, was ignominiously executed, and that’s the end of that. Using your tools the Resurrection, upon which the entire enterprise rests, is ahistorical.

    Nice work. You managed to nuke Christianity entirely.

  • Very interesting comments. I have only a few brief notes.

    On (a): Yes, Jesus did not present himself as a cultic/Aaronic priest, although his acts of intercession (John 17) have priestly overtones, much like Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple.

    On (b) and (c): I would not distinguish the two as significantly different groups, especially if you are alluding to Hebrews in (c). This then lessens the force of (a), and indeed calls it into question. (Issues of the dating of Biblical documents lie in the background of all this.)

    On (d): I agree.

    On (e): I would agree, though with the important caveats that (1) this applies to “Hiereus” priests, and (2) it was the “Episkopoi” and “Presbyteroi” who were the liturgical presiders.

    On (f): The idea of a cultic priesthood, especially when coupled with Roman ideas of the sacrifice of the mass, really end up complicating the issue:
    1. The idea of sacrifice as something the Priest offers to God by virtue of his “power” of the Priesthood distorts the idea of liturgical Christian sacrifice. I think the Byzantine Liturgy is on the right track when it speaks of “a sacrifice of praise”. The whole body of the faithful, in thanks for all God’s gifts, offers all things – including themselves – back to God, in the form of bread and wine, staples of human life. And this offering then becomes the means of our communion with God. (Fr. Alexander Schmemann, whom I studied under, explains this very well in his book “For the Life of the World”.) The Priest is but the duly appointed leader of this action; he cannot offer it on his own. This is why the Orthodox forbid the Priest offering private masses.

    2. “the idea that cultic priesthood is an exclusive male domain rest on very shaky if unsupportable grounds.”
    Perhaps that is true of the idea of a cultic priesthood, but what about a noncultic-priesthood understanding of the Episcopate and the Presbyterate? It does not of necessity follow that the latter would therefore be non-gender specific. That would be another issue.

  • I would say that the way men have applied the literal meaning with their own self-interest in mind over the centuries has preserved patriarchy.

  • If you are not an ordained Catholic cleric, you, nonetheless, are another Christ. You also act in the person of Christ when you help others in the Lord’s name (cf. Mt 25). Furthermore, because the sacred/divine liturgy is a *communal* act of eucharist/thanksgiving, you are another Christ when the presbyter or bishop saying the words of institution functions as the presider/president of the assembly to which s/he belongs. The liturgical presider, in other words, does not *stand between* God and human beings since his/her priesthood is identical to that of the other members of the assembly at worship. The presider stands *with*, not *above*, the Christian ecclesia.

  • Was Ratzinger “several rungs up the ladder from [my] sources”? Only organizationally. I remember a retired PhD many years ago opining that the cardinal’s writings did not impress the retiree as being more than what would be expected of any academic.

    As to the idea that the Church was of divine institution, remember that God works through flesh-and-blood human beings — who don’t necessarily get things right! Ministerial orders arose in response to community need and other circumstance. Primitive Christians, i.e., those disciples closest to Jesus and his apostles in time and place, did not have an “ordained priesthood” or cultic sacrifice (other than found in the Temple), but we still *believe* they had a *valid* eucharist, don’t we?

    The Last Supper was not a cultic priestly event. It was a thanksgiving service hosted by a man who did not claim priesthood. Jesus asked his disciples to gather together to remember him. Later, he would instruct the Apostles to go forth, preach, and baptize. They were not cultic priests: later apologetics relying on typology would present the Twelve as cultic priests. They were missionary preachers, not even bishops!

    Foreshadowing proves nothing. If I am going to identify you by trade or employment, it would stand to reason to get such information from you, not from others who portray you as something you never were. What an insult to you not to rely on your self-description! Jesus’ earthly ministry would carry just as much faith import without typology, which was nothing more than a recruitment and retention approach used by later Christian apologists borrowing concepts, etc. valued by their targeted audiences, i.e., Jews. If you find meaning in foreshadowing, so be it. For me as a Catholic Christian, it is so much blather in terms of its relationship to the New Testament — (not that I don’t value the Old Testament for its own sake).

    I rely on the canonical gospels, “the heart of all the Scriptures ‘because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior'” (CCC-125). Everything else is secondary.

    Trent’s verbiage was reactionary. Beware of assemblies that react. They can assert things that are later found to be not true. History trumps doctrine, and history should be no impediment to one’s embracing the Christian faith — yes, even in the Catholic tradition!

    Regarding Ratzinger’s 1966 observation, it stands firmly on its own as a basic truth of life: fact trumps belief when the two conflict.

    Yes, “[c]ut loose from the Old Testament, the New Testament is without meaning.” However, typology as a communications tool does not sever the New Testament’s link to the Old Testament. While Jesus used foreshadowing at times, he also “cut to the chase” by criticizing certain religious leaders who taught the Law but behaved otherwise. Because they feared his influence, these leaders persuaded the Roman prefect, always on the alert for “trouble a’ brewing”, to execute Jesus as a threat to Roman rule. Jesus taught the Father’s will regarding desired human behavior (e.g., Mt 25).

    There’s no “nuking” Christianity in recognizing typology for what it was two thousand years ago in evangelizing.

  • I think the Church of Rome has a small but vocal (and formerly influential) group of Catholics who, in effect, have made the institution itself a god of sorts. They forget that the institutional apparatus is intended as a means to promote the Christian life and is not the goal of such life. It’s almost as if the “good news” means nothing to them. They are a FEARful people and look to a FEARful leadership for support and supposed comfort. A really sad lot.

  • Your first paragraph borders on arrogance. Indeed, it reminds me of the parable of “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector”:

    “He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. ‘Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.” But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”‘ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted'”(Luke 18:9-14). In fact, the Pharisee did do everything expected of him by God in terms of ordinary daily life; he was not a bad person. Unfortunately, he overlooked God’s preference for mercy (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13 and 12:7). Mercy is an attribute of God’s unconditional love, “no strings attached”.

    The phrase “1001 and 1 dictates of the magisterium” is a metaphor as you appear to acknowledge. Sadly, this metaphor has not been inaccurate when applied to the history of the papacy and episcopate. No wonder we had a Reformation and, sadly, a Catholic reaction.

  • RE: (b) and (c), we may disagree. We’re looking at a time span involving different apologists employing typology.

    RE: (e), if I understand your reply, I agree that liturgical presidership was performed by presbyteroi and episkopoi who were not ordained to any kind of cultic, non-baptismal priesthood. The terms ‘hiereus’/’sacerdos’ = ‘(cultic) priest’ would enter the picture later.

    RE: (f), I share your understanding including legitimate concerns about Rome’s doctrine about ‘sacrifice’ in cultic terms. The earliest Christian understanding of ‘sacrifice’, as I suspect you might agree, was that of offering one’s life in service to others as Jesus did during his earthly ministry. Jesus’ sacrifice was *self-sacrifice*; he was not sacrificed by the Father. Even the Church of Rome did not have so-called “private masses” until medieval times; Vatican II discouraged the practice. It is the community including its fellow member, the presider, who give thanksgiving/eucharist to God. Alexander Schmemann was highly respected in Catholic as well as Orthodox circles. I may still have his text, THE HISTORICAL ROAD OF EASTERN ORTHODOXY, in my personal library (not at my residence right now; hope I did not donate his book to our public library 🙂

    Your point in 2. is well taken. Priesthood has always been associated with males in Judaism and Christianity. From my perspective, since Jesus self-identified as a “prophet” and never as any kind of “priest”, the Church has no legitimate claim to a cultic, non-baptismal priesthood. When we realize the latter arose later in Christian history (some folks would suggest to preserve and promote patriarchy with its pomp, power, perks, and privilege), it makes no valid sense today to continue the use of this term. Women can serve the Church today as presbyters and bishops although one blogger suggested awhile back that Catholics will always use the term ‘priest’ because it has only one syllable! What a sad commentary on the general ignorance of church and doctrinal history.

    By the way, before I forget, one of my other sources is Jaroslav Pelikan’s THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION: A HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). To say his contribution is very informative would be an understatement. He could “run circles” around Ratzinger if still alive. Too many Catholics even today mix doctrine with history: They can’t separate fact from fiction. Sad.

    EDIT (2 days later): Good news (pun intended), I still have Schmemann’s text!!! As we say in our parts, “it ain’t goin’ nowheres.”

  • I just tell it like it is and you call it arrogance.

    Arrogance permeates your entire take on the religion you were apparently raised in.

    You know more than the Councils, the pontiffs, the bishops, and on, and on, and on, and on.

  • Thank you for restating your mantra. It added nothing to your argument, nor did it effectively answer anything I wrote.

  • I gave you a historically based understanding of the Christian priesthood in reply to your *novel* portrayal of the ordained priest as “bringing the One Sacrifice which continues forever into the present.” Fact is the official Catholic doctrine on the ministerial priesthood is “muddled” (to borrow your word) because it attempts to bridge the gap between the toxic notion of sacrifice and the scripturally based reality of Jesus’ self-sacrifice.

    “In worship the faithful recall God’s saving deeds not simply as a passive process but by actually entering into the mystery.” This is more Catholic esoteric theological jargon that, understandably and legitimately, means nothing to most Catholics. There’s no “mystery” in a community coming together to give thanks to God. Too many theologians over the centuries have made needlessly unintelligible what the earliest Christians clearly understood as eucharist, i.e., “Thank you, God, for all your blessings.”

  • “So, I see no point in responding.”

    Thank you.

    You’d have a hard time trying to do otherwise.

  • No, you do not “tell it like it is.” You tell it as the good little Catholic kid who regurgitates everything out of a self-serving Catholic catechism that conveniently mixes history with doctrine. It’s no surprise that Joseph Ratzinger, who oversaw the CCC’s preparation, would make sure it mixed history and doctrine to produce a travesty of historical accuracy and theological usefulness.

  • Unfortunately you’re simply engaged in gainsaying.

    You quote Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger approvingly about history, and then when he uses history to describe holy orders you reject it.

    You tell it as the bad little boy in the back of the room who likes to say naughty words and snicker.

    There is a not great deal of thought involved.

  • Thank you for the congregationalist perspective.

    That explains why the early Christians defended the consecrated elements with their lives.

    Not.

  • “You quote Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger…”

    I’ve no problem giving credit where credit is due. I’ve no problem criticizing progressives or conservatives when I think it’s appropriate.

    I think; you regurgitate.

  • Yes, you have no problem making a series of pronouncements.

    It’s your qualifications for doing so that appear suspect.

  • The earliest Christians were “congregational” of a sort. They were self-governing in that members recognized community leadership as a legitimate basis for liturgical leadership. At the same time, they were in growing communion with other Christian communities, and their leaders would meet periodically to discuss doctrinal issues regarding, inter alia, Jesus’ identity, etc. Even the earliest supposed “bishops of Rome” did not have authority over churches outside the Roman province. Each bishop (when the term eventually came into use) was “vicar of Christ” in his local church. As time went on, bishops of neighboring dioceses would be involved in ordaining a new bishop selected by the people of his diocese.

    Martyrdom was infrequent in the Roman world. When it did occur, it could be vicious. However, most of the time, people got along — “Live and let live.” It was only when an emperor “got an itch” to kill Jesus-followers that they could expect brutal repression. What I learned in parochial school more than fifty years ago, thanks to modern scholarship, was largely promotional fiction. In at least one instance, as I recall from my reading, Roman authorities could look across the street, see where Christians worshiped, and did nothing about it!!!

  • Of course, my qualifications would “appear suspect” to someone demonstrating little adult knowledge of Christian church and doctrinal history.

  • Agree. It appears some think faith and trust in our Lord is equal to faith and trust in Catholicism. But the point of Catholicism is to lead us to Our Lord, not to substitute for Him.

  • “I just tell it like it is and you call it arrogance.”

    I used the key word “borders”.

    I’ve been blogging for well over a dozen years and, since my retirement, I have used a lot of my free time to study (informally) church and doctrinal history. I’ve always had an interest in Catholicism but never had any interest in going to the seminary.

    You should be grateful I am not the pope. I’d be implementing all kinds of reforms inspired by earliest church history, and I’d be changing a lot of patriarchal-based policies and practices out of Rome.

  • I cite sources and provide quotes when I think it’s appropriate to do so. Over the years at NCROnline and elsewhere, I’ve done so on topics including women’s ordination, validity of Anglican orders, development of Catholic orders, slavery (I remind you), etc.

    I suspect you lack the ability to “train a parrot” to do anything. (on the other hand, u might think it a worthwhile endeavor 🙂

  • It is a shame that NCR wound up ncronline.

    At least when it was on paper it could be useful for something.

  • “I embrace the doctrine of universal salvation…..”

    You’re one word short, yet again. A 100% accurate statement would be this:

    “I embrace the heretical “doctrine” of universal salvation…..”

    followed by the following:

    “And I obdurately, obstinately, and irrationally reject the eternal and unchanging truths of the Catholic Church (the only church established by God on this earth), which are found in Sacred Scripture, the Magisterial teachings of the Church, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the four last things – namely, death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. I also reject the the eternal and unchanging truths of the Catholic Church regarding the existence of Satan and regarding the existence of Hell.”

  • Contrary to your opinion, the Church of Rome has never condemned the doctrine of universal salvation, which should not be confused with the doctrine of apokatastasis. The latter holds, inter alia, that God will save the fallen angels as well as all human beings. I remind you that Rome, which has used its infallible teaching authority to proclaim souls in heaven, has never used such authority to declare souls in hell. I also remind you that the name “Jesus” means “God saves”, not “God saves if”. In addition, it is impossible to love a deity prepared to condemn one to hell or allow one to condemn oneself to hell. Love and FEAR, like oil and water, are incompatible. Also, Jesus instructed Peter and other followers to initiate unlimited forgiveness without any preconditions. What God asks of us, God will also do. Otherwise, God would be a hypocrite. Finally, I remind you of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 15, the key point of which is that it is God, not the sinner, who initiates salvation by seeking sinners, finding them, and rejoicing at the end. Sinners cannot save themselves.

    EDIT (18 hours later): “[The Father] makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:45). No matter one’s moral state, God provides sunshine and rain, i.e., divine blessings.

    “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). RE: “perfect”: in the gospels this word occurs only in Matthew, here and in Mt 19:21. The Lucan parallel (Lk 6:36) demands that the disciples be merciful” (per USCCB commentary).

    God’s love is unconditional, “no strings attached”.

  • Mr. Ringo, I do not support censorship, no matter how much I may disagree with a fellow blogger. That said, I’ve no problem with a moderator removing lewd words. In all the time I’ve come across your blogging, I don’t recall a single time your comments merited censorship. I support one’s right to hold and express one’s opinion even when it reflects deep anger at the Church of Rome. Just to clarify.

  • You hit the nail on the head, ATF45; Thank you!! I have often made the point in my posts that Jesus the Christ didn’t invite His people to anyone’s “isms” , certainly not the various man-centered religious systems rife among humanity as a whole; Our Blessed Savior invited us to HIMSELF!! PRAISE HIM!!! ???

ADVERTISEMENTs