Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Women's Ordination: What are they THINKING?

Erin had a good post on the latest Women's Ordination 'protest.'

As an ex-supporter of women’s ordination (hey.. I was 19! And I’m properly embarrassed by it now!), I think I can give some insight into what’s going on in these women’s heads.

1. They’re confusing “Justice” with “sameness.”

My women’s ordination craze started back when I was an altar server. I was one of the first girls to serve at my parish, and I *LOVED* being that close to the action at Mass. I got pretty good at serving, and served until I grew out of the robes. (For some reason, the height limit at our parish was about 5’4”)

I saw male-only-ordination as deeply unfair. After all, women could be policemen and firefighters – why not priests? I was a really good altar server—how come boys who weren’t as good as I was were allowed to become priests, but I couldn’t? It wasn’t fair.

At the peak of my fairness crusade, I even wrote the Superior General of the Society of Jesus demanding that he start a women’s order, admit me, and ordain me. He wrote me back a very nice letter explaining that he didn’t have the authority to do any of those things and promising to pray for me. At the time, I was angry and crushed. Today, I’m thankful for his patience and prayers.

2. They suffer from a weird sort of hyper-clericism, which leads them to misunderstand the nature of the priesthood.

I wanted to be a priest. I swore God was calling me to be a priest, in spite of what the Church, through her documents and through my confessors, told me. But I didn’t even have any idea what a priest really is. I saw a priest as primarily a king – a person with authority who gets to ‘be in charge.’ It wasn’t about serving the people of God – heck, if I wanted to do that, I could be a nun. But nuns were oppressed by the male hierarchy. Why couldn’t women also run a parish and boss people around? If we could be CEOs, why not priests?

Basically, I saw priesthood as a career within the Church for people who thought living in community with a bunch of women would be a horrible life, and a great career because it meant you got to be a dictator! With a salary! And be better than everyone else, because you were ordained!

I missed the point of the whole suffering servant/sacrifice/Persona Christi thing. It was all about me and what I thought I wanted, and obviously God would want whatever I did because he loved me, right?

3. They want attention.

When you advocate something like women’s ordination, you’re guaranteed lots of attention. People will call you brave and selfless, even when you’re being precisely the opposite. Protestant friends will invite you to their churches and tell you to apply for their seminaries.

Even the people who disagree with you will take the time to argue with you. And if you actually succeeded in changing things, you’d get to stand on that big stage behind the pretty table, wearing gorgeous silks and have everyone look at you and admire you and your holiness! What’s not to like?


Fortunately, I eventually repented and learned to love Church teachings. (The story involves rash oaths, exams, the flu, a friend’s late paper, and St. Thomas More, of all things. And a Holocaust-surviving-Quaker.) Fr. Kolvenbach’s prayers probably helped too. We should pray for the women in this picture – that God will give them the grace they need to stop worrying about ordination and learn to love the Church.