Decree Will Rock You: Woman Priests in the Catholic Church

There's been dismay Pope Francis saying that there will never be women priests in the Catholic Church. But did he really say it?

Top Irish prelate Eamonn Martin certainly thinks that Pope Francis was unequivocal on the subject of women priests being a non-runner. Francis was merely reiterating one of the timeless truths of Catholic teaching, he has informed the rattled faithful.

Long-time readers of this column will know that I have had to put senior Irish Catholic clerics right on matters of doctrine more than once in recent years. Now I am called upon again.

The widespread dismay at Francis’s pronouncement reflects the common perception of the man from Argentina as a singularly undogmatic class of Pope, compassionate, humble, breath of fresh air, etc. Why, he has even expressed sympathy for gay marriage marchers in Mexico. A decent man with an understanding heart, then....Thus the sighs at his seeming reversion to the unfeeling ways of the past.

Francis’s declaration was made in conversation with journalists on the plane back to Rome after a visit to Sweden where he had been welcomed by the female head of the Lutheran church. Asked whether he could see the day when women enjoyed equality within the Catholic Church too, he replied that, “St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this, and it stands.”

The reporter pressed on: “Forever, forever? Never, never?” To which Francis responded: “If we read carefully the declaration by St. Pope John Paul, it is going in that direction.”

Not, well-read Hot Press readers will immediately have spotted, a ringing statement of personal conviction.

On the other hand, he was, indeed, endorsing the unambiguous view of the hardline misogynist John Paul II, who had not only said no, nay, never to women priests, but had had his spokesman emphasise afterwards that this was an infallible teaching to be held by the whole Church for all time. No room for wriggling there... Or so you’d think. But it’s the Catholic Church we are dealing with, which hasn’t held sway over the souls of billions for 2,000 years without developing a certain preternatural slipperiness.

Within a few weeks of John Paul’s stern 1994 insistence that no woman could ever consecrate a host hitting the world headlines, the distinguished American Jesuit theologian Avery Dulles was explaining in specialist journals that when the Pope said that the ban on women priests was an infallible teaching, he wasn’t speaking infallibly...

Nice one, Pope, I thought at the time, a sentiment which, in contrast to the easy-oozy manoeuvres of the Vatican, I continue to espouse.

I also continue to believe that when pressure for equality from women and the world can no longer be resisted, another immutable Law of God will be repealed without compunction.

All of which reminds of the fellow who ran into Madden’s superior tobacconist’s in Waterloo Place and asked the woman behind the counter, “Do you keep stationary?”, an inquiry which she cogitated upon for a moment before replying, “Well, sometimes I wriggle about a bit...”

The air has been filled with caterwauling and yelps of rage at the cheek of the great unwashed of England voting to get out of the EU.

Nationalists in the North are particularly exercised. We refuse to recognise the result, they say. The North voted 56 percent to 44 to stay. That’s what matters. A bunch of knuckle-dragging racists across the water who probably travelled to the polling stations in white vans and ear-studs can’t be allowed to drag us out of a club we are chuffed to have been allowed into.

I have no problem with the idea of a majority in the North trumping a majority across the UK as far as Irish issues are concerned. Neither do I have a problem with the EU falling apart, or the UK disintegrating either.

But I am struck by the fact that just last year the Greek people voted by a larger majority than the Remainers managed in the North – 61 percent to 39 – to reject the EU’s austerity drive, and little good did it do them. Fuck democracy and fuck you too, was the response from the unelected boot-boys of Brussels, suppurating with corruption, seething with contempt for common people.

The most repellent argument of the baying faction which approaches the EU with all the critical acuity of a stadium of school-children squealing for Justin Bieber, is that freedom of movement between EU member states represents the best hope Europe has of a future free from racism. The argument is offered even as the barbed wire fences around the EU grow higher by the day, to keep out families fleeing wars and misery which Europe had some hand in bringing about. What’s the difference in principle between this and the wall against Mexicans with Donald Trump wanted built?

The Hungarian prime master Viktor Orban says that his country will accept “no more Muslims.” Is this not word-for-word what Trump wanted Americans to vote for?

It’s okay to keep out people with dusky skins and exotic religious beliefs as long as white Europeans can travel freely within the EU borders. And all in the interests of combating racism...

 

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