08 June 2010

Aquinasblog Dialog IV

This is part IV of the Aquinasblog Dialog that was started here.

[Aquinasblog author],

Thank you for getting back with the last email. Another good document for assessing development of Catholic doctrine is Cardinal Newman's "An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" ( ). I haven't read it (or the book you cited), but I've heard Newman's Essay basically says that there can't be a strong break in teachings of faith and morals by the Church.

Your point about clerical celibacy is not really a controversial topic since, as even we speak, many former clergy of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) have swam the Tiber and have stayed married and have remained active clergy.

The thing is with the ordination of women is that it is not done, has not been done, will not be done, and that there are consequences for it ( ). The reason: celibacy is a discipline question and woman ordination is a faith and morals question.

Again from JPII in "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis"

"Although the ***teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church*** and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate [i.e., it shouldn't be open to debate], or the Church's judgment that women are ***not*** to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely ***disciplinary force***." (asterisks and [ ] added by me)

To make the assertion that it's up to debate is to say that the doctrine of
transubstantiation is up to debate. A debate about transubstantiation with a Protestant would be understandable, but not with a Catholic.

Agreeing to disagree on this topic is like saying that the Church is
simply wrong (and has always been wrong) about a matter of faith. I can't say that.

It seems that you put into one basket topics of faith & morals and prudential judgments. (Did you read the post from First Things blog that I cited in the last email (on limbo)?)

Sorry, --deep breaths-- I'll just have to read that book you suggested. I don't want to attack (I don't think I have): I'll look at the book's (and Card. Newman's Essay) arguments since I might be ignorant of some thing(s).

God bless,

Hi again [gbm3],

I would not put the topic of women's ordination in the same category as the transubstantiation. I agree one wouldn't argue about the reality of the transubstantiation, but I do think each generation has to come to an understanding of it on its own that both fits their perspective and is in line with the tradition, which would require thoughtful discussion. That's what keeps the faith alive, tradition recreating itself in line with itself.

I think an argument can and should be made that women have been excluded from ordination for cultural reasons, just like for cultural reasons the church once accepted slavery. Saying such a topic cannot even be discussed cuts off development of the idea. If the Holy Spirit chooses at some point in the future to move the church in this direction, forbidding discussion gets in the way. And who's to predict how the Holy Spirit moves the church?

As Catholics, I think we need to pay attention to the good developments of the secular world. As Ladislas Orsy says, "God is in the real." To me that means in the world fully and completely. That's where we have to look for evidence, not just in a trail of encyclicals.

[Aquinasblog author]

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