This blog started off being something strange and quirky and quickly became a quite deep conversation on religion. I’ve done studies into the Church and the Catholic faith over the years, being a Catholic school teacher. I’ve taught Religious Education and try always to approach it from the point of view of acceptance and tolerance first, as the best priests I’ve known have also preached. Below are some of the thoughts I’ve had. The scholarly writing I’ve put together has always gotten me into trouble, but it seems to be based on solid research and interpretation. Enjoy. Or don’t.
So the pope apparently tried to perform an exorcism on a disabled man during an appearance (1, 2 3). Exorcism experts say that he was reciting prayers for ridding a person of evil spirits. The pope’s peeps insist that he was only praying over the man, as he usually does when meeting sick people.
However, a spokeswoman for the church in Madrid says that exorcism is real and there is a plan to train up more exorcists to fight the devil in Spain. The devil came down from Georgia and just kept on going.
I posted this on Facebook and a friend immediately came up with these statements:
“Hmmm… I might give Madrid a miss until they have their demonic possession problem sorted out.”
‘Or maybe it’s a trap? “Our demons are hungry. Please send more exorcists.”‘
Catholics are weird. I should know, I am one. But the church in general, being the starting point for the Christian religion, has just held onto all of the things the other flavours have given up on.
Celibacy for leaders of the church.
Disappeared in most denominations when they realized that it was completely untenable and caused more problems for the community than a holy man who dared to love someone else apart from God.
People sin. A sinner can’t get into Heaven. But if you have a priest absolve you of your sin, that’s all good. Tell the priest what you did. He’ll give you some Hail Marys and Our Fathers, and send you on your way, blameless as a newborn child.
That’s an insultingly simplistic view of the rite. You have to want and ask for forgiveness. You need to repent. And if you’ve wronged someone, often the priest will suggest as part of your penance that you tell the person and ask for their forgiveness as well. It depends on the priest. But for years, I went to confession, sat in the booth, very aware that the priest knew exactly who I was, and confessed that “I took the Lord’s name in vain. I had impure thoughts. I fought with my brother and didn’t respect my parents”, took the penance of prayer and went on with my life. I’m pretty sure confession only works when you’re confessing to a priest you don’t have to deal with every Sunday as an altar boy.
That reminds me of a joke, the punchline being: “A Mars Bar and a can of Coke”. You’re not getting any more out of me here, that’s for sure.
No women priests.
I’ve actually done research on this one. And although hundreds of church leaders and scholars came up with a different interpretation, I can’t find any reason why women can’t be priests. So, to finish off, here are some excerpts from an essay I wrote on the subject:
Modern scholars and Christologists interpret the Gospels and the life of Jesus from the basis of their own world views. There is no such thing as objectivity. Our world is not Christ’s world and our culture is not His culture. Having said that, we can still take valuable lessons from the words and deeds of Jesus. We can definitely use his actions as written in the Gospels to provide examples on how to react to certain issues in contemporary society.
In society today, one of the greatest issues is the equality of the sexes. The equal treatment of men and women in the workforce and in the minds of the people. Part of that equality should be the ability for both men and women to be ordained in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church makes an illogical argument for not ordaining women and ignores the message of Christ’s actions as set down in the Gospels.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, p394) tells us that women cannot be ordained because:
“The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose the collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.”
Taking the argument that anyone not chosen by Christ* cannot be ordained as a priest can lead us in a terrifying direction. No Asians were chosen. No people of colour. No disabled people. The negative argument is far too limiting. We need to look at the intentions of Christ and his Ministry, as well as the world that he lived in.
The Jesus Christ of the Gospels was all-inclusive. He dealt with and welcomed thieves and tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick and foreigners.
And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:3)
He had a special place in his heart for children.
But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. (Luke 18:16)
Most importantly, he always treated women equally to men. In a society where women “had no official place in religion”**, the Gospels make a point of mentioning Jesus’ interactions with women, especially in Luke’s Gospel. Women were clearly important in Jesus’ eyes.
Jesus called upon women to be disciples, as well as men. His message was that the call to discipleship and the “message of the kingdom” was to come before “social and family patterns” (Notes, p33). Women such as Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha and Joanna were called to follow him and pass on the message he was preaching. More significant is the fact that it was Mary Magdalene and a number of women who brought the Good News of Christ’s resurrection to the Apostles***. The angels at the tomb reminded the women of Jesus’ words, “that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:7) The women went to the apostles and others to tell them. It is hard to claim that women cannot preach the Good News when it was women who were the first to do so.
And, being that this is a blog with research, here is the research that I did! Proud of me?
- *“The Arguments from Scripture” London, UK: Women Priests. Accessed 16 April 2007. Available from http://www.womenpriests.org/scrip_ac.asp
- ***Carrol, Elizabeth (1975) Theological Studies 36, quoted in “Women and Ministry” London, UK: Women Prists. Accessed 16 April 2007. Available from http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/carroll3.asp
- **Goosen, G & Tomlinson, M (1994) , Studying the Gospels: an introduction, Newtown: EJ Dwyer (Australia) Pty Ltd.
- (1998) The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, London: HarperCollinsReligious
- Hall, Rev G (1996), Course Notes, Certificate of Religious Education (NSW), CEO Sydney