Monday, May 28, 2007

50% Of This Headline Is Wrong

No, not the headline at the top of this post, the headline "Canada Catholics 'ordain' women" at the top of this BBC News story. The 'Canada' part seems reasonable as it describes events in Toronto; the 'women' part would be accurate, if better spelt 'wimmin'. The other two words in the headline, not so much.

So a group of radical feminist theologians and their hangers-on decided to stage a ceremony and call themselves Catholic bishops, priests and deacons. Unfortunately, the Church's teaching is clear; ordination is restricted to males only and anyone conducting themselves in the way that these women do is subject to excommunication. Therefore, the ceremony was not an ordination, nor are the women concerned Catholics.

This reminded me of Kathy Shaidle's superb answer to the Toronto Star's questions about equality rights and religious tradition, and while searching for that link, I found her link to the Baby Boomer Death Counter, which is more than superb.

The big problem with all these movements for women's ordination, or other trendy ideas du jour, is, as Kathy rightly says, that they have the thing backwards. They're not trying to be faithful to God and the Church, they're trying to make God and the Church faithful to their transitory 2007 liberal beliefs and values. And the really big problem is that when such modernist and revisionist movements succeed, as they have in the Anglican Communion of late, it's the people who haven't changed, the people who haven't done anything wrong, the people who have remained faithful and contributed lifetimes of service, that either have to tie their consciences in knots, or have to leave. And when they are forced to leave, they're sued and chased for every last penny and every last brick of church property, so they leave with nothing.

When the Church of England voted to ordain women in 1992, I found myself in a real struggle of conscience. It wasn't clear to me what this change, made in isolation from Rome and the Eastern Churches, meant for the validity of Anglican orders and sacraments. Not that I claim to know the mind of God, not that I know that the orders aren't valid, but there is now a question. I don't know the answer, but I suspect that if there is one, it will come from Rome, come in the right time, and come with a theological basis for the whole church. I'm not convinced God would choose to turn the apostolic succession upside down through a bunch of stout middle class English ladies taking tea at the CofE's General Synod.

At least in England, some provision and allowance is made for those who can't in conscience accept women's ordination. In Canada, you can't be an Anglican and question women's ordination at all. So it was that in the end I made the journey that I had to make; to the Roman Catholic church. Women like those in Toronto, who agitate for change should have the integrity to do what I had to do, to pack up and leave, and go do their own thing in their own religion. That they won't tells me that their quest is far more material and far less spiritual than they claim.