Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Pope and Me

Anyone who knows me knows that I am fairly positive toward catholicism.  I find the standard Protestant sticking points more peculiar than devilish.  Things like transubstantiation, saints praying for us, the perpetual virginity of Mary are more curious to me than something to get upset over.  Their official position on justification now isn't really too different from ours any more.  And Protestants who get upset about the role the Bible plays in Roman Catholic theology usually either don't really know the RCC position or have a blind spot with regard to the role theology plays in their own use of the Bible.

There is one area where I still pretty much let my low church Protestant biases have free reign and that has to do with the Pope. Now, mind you, I admired Pope John Paul II as a godly man, for all I knew.  And I know that it is only when a Pope speaks "ex cathedra" that he's supposed to be infallible (I don't know when the last time was a pope actually invoked that level of authority).  But I just don't like the amount of authority the RCC has invested in a single individual.

P.S. for you Wesleyans out there.  Our current single General Superintendent model isn't at all the same.  The General Board has more authority than our GS, unlike the College of Cardinals... real authority in my church lies with the General Conference.  Our current model is meant to promote delegation even more than when we had three General Superintendents.

So why am I thinking about the Pope?  Because a RC archdiocese in Milwaukee stripped a 92 year old Jesuit priest of his priestly duties for presiding over a Mass with a female "priest."  Pope John Paul II put it somewhat amenably: the church doesn't have the authority to do it.  Under the current Pope, however, it has become a grave crime to attempt to ordain a woman.

Of course I believe the RCC is gravely wrong on this one.  In fact, in my misguided optimism, I believe eventually the RCC will ordain women.  I believe this because I do not believe the RCC to be evil and to the extent a church is in tune with the Spirit, I believe it will eventually come around.

A day is as 1000 years with the Lord.  He is very patient.  A church can miss this (to me obvious) spiritual truth for a while.  But the spiritual equality of men and women in God's eyes, something the RCC accepts, must eventually work its way through to its full implications.  In patriarchal cultures, the full spiritual authority of women can lie dormant in practice. It can express itself in indirect ways because of the overall cultural blindness. This has been the case everywhere for most of church history, which is why the issue only emerged in full force in the 1800s.

But in modern egalitarian cultures like the West, the implications are open to the light.  It becomes a common sense.  Spiritually minded people in patriarchal cultures don't really oppose the ordination of women, because it isn't a cultural possibility. (Mind you, such cultures often still have a place for the "deviant" woman who is spiritually, perhaps even militarily superior to the men of her generation.)  Spiritually minded people in egalitarian cultures become conflicted and eventually see it is inevitable.

The current Pope represents a step back from the advances the church made during Vatican II.  I do not believe history will remember him fondly... even Roman Catholic history.  I say that because I am optimistic about the RCC's future.


Mr. Mcgranor said...

Mr. Schenck, despite the needless disguise of Vatican 2. Those of us who have a sense of history and faith that defies the past Counterculture--thus the postmodern; have more of a bias then what you mentioned. Of which are great starting points.

Tom said...

That men and women have different roles is certainly controversial in our age, but given the tenuous nature of modern democracies (i.e. plummeting birth rates and religious devotion on the wane), there's reason to believe that hundreds of years from now that after the current fad has passed, people will be again cognizant that God created two sexes and that the priesthood is not an exalted honor (as a leadership position is viewed in worldly terms) but a position of humble service.