Following the election of Pope Francis, many were asking “What do you think of the new Pope?”
Judging from the responses, there was general satisfaction with the election of the Argentinian pontiff. His “humility” and “genuineness” seemed to top the list of reasons explaining this satisfaction.
Then came Holy Thursday and the foot washing. The new Pope washed the feet of women, including Muslim women.
This action raised a few eyebrows, especially on the part of conservative Catholics. “There were no female apostles,” was the standard response.
Questions were raised, too, especially on the part of the American catholique left.
“Was the Pope signaling ‘openness’ to new forms of ordained ministry, perhaps women deacons and priests?” those asking the question were wondering…and, truth be told, hoping.
Just as some conservatives correctly opined early into this new pontificate, that “signal” is now being taken as “fact” by some on the American catholique left.
According to a press release, Dr. Debra Meyers is to be “ordained” as Cincinnati’s first woman, Roman Catholic priest on May 25, 2013, at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church. Dr. Meyers’ ordination follows upon the April 27, 2013, “ordination” of Dr. Rosemarie Smead in Louisville, KY.
The press release states:
Women priests are leading the Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality for women in the church. We are the “Rosa Parks” of the Roman Catholic Church….Since two-thirds of the world’s poor are women, justice and equality must be top priorities for our church. Our world and church can no longer function without the voices of women’s lived experience. Women priests are visible reminders that all women are images of God.
Okay. That’s what the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) thinks. That’s nothing new.
But, the press statement offers two “signals” indicating that Pope Francis has encouraged their extra-ecclesial conduct:
The first signal: “We are encouraged by the tender gesture of Pope Francis who washed the feet of women in prison on Holy Thursday, thus breaking the sexist tradition of washing only men’s feet.”
The second signal: “During the Easter homily Francis affirmed women as the first witnesses to the Resurrection. ‘This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria….The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves.’”
The important point is not that ARCWP types are “cutting” and “pasting” snippets of the Holy Father’s actions and statements into statements to indicate his support of their erroneous beliefs. That’s bad enough. The important point is that those actions and statements lend themselves to this type of propaganda.
In response, some have opined that Pope Francis is “learning how to be Pope.” People should calm down and expect some bumps as the neophyte pontiff navigates that learning curve.
Perhaps there’s some merit to that opinion.
That said, it doesn’t take a member of Mensa to know that greater savvy is required on the international stage. Might it not be better, especially at the beginning and early months (or first year) of a pontificate, for the Pope just to “do the red” and “say the black” until he’s clearer about his responsibilities as well as the scope and impact of the exercise of those responsibilities as the Chief Shepherd?
Yes, the American catholique left would get angry with him. But, they’d argue, he’s been a Vaticanista apparatchik all along. He wasn’t created a cardinal advocating for women’s ordination or anything else on their agenda.
When the Pope’s opponents on the American catholique left see the Holy Father betraying his “social justice” roots, they won’t just be angry. No, that won’t express sufficiently the depth of their outrage, and perhaps that of the 70% of American Catholics who allegedly support the ordination of women.
That potentially could fuel even greater resistance than there is at present among a much broader swath of the Catholic populace in the United States than if the Holy Father had simply let the American catholique left portray him as a Vaticanista apparatchik. Amidst their griping, complaining, and moaning, he would be steering the ship of Holy Mother Church directly toward the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
To read the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests press release, click on the following link: