Jan George, Fargo, Published August 24 2013
Letter: Best deal on face of EarthIn her Aug. 13 column in The Forum, “Pope’s woman problem,” Diane Winston draws sweeping and erroneous conclusions based on a few pieces of misinterpreted information.
No, Pope Francis is not taking a stance against his predecessor and changing church teaching (though Winston is delighted by the idea) when he says persons with same- sex attractions who live according to the laws of God can have communion with the church, as can anyone who avoids grave sin. The laws governing communion with God in the body of Christ, i.e., the church, are for all of us. By calling homosexual acts objectively disordered, the church is simply doing what she has done for 2,000 years: her job, to tell the world what God has made clear about the kinds of sin that lead to eternal death, and the healing and wholeness he promises those who obey his word. That Winston uses Pope Francis’ statement of hope to suggest that the church is confused about her duty to proclaim the message is divisive and dishonest.
But Winston’s “religious angst” lies not in Francis’ invitation to fallen human persons to “search for the Lord” in “good will,” rather in her view of the church’s view of women. I repeat: her view of the church’s view. The church’s understanding of women is not the problem; the problem is Winston’s understanding – grave misunderstanding. The church has always taught the dignity of women and the equality of man and woman from the beginning. It is the church, after all, that stands fearlessly (and usually alone) against a culture that objectifies women through contraception, abortion and pornography – pathetic “solutions” that depersonalize both women and men – with women often leading the charge. And no, the church won’t back down in her defense of women.
Winston’s real beef with the church, she admits, is the fact that women cannot be ordained to the ministerial priesthood, as the popes consistently tell us – not because they decided it but because God ordained it. One wonders whether Winston has read Scripture on this point, beginning with Melchizedek to the levitical priesthood, to Jesus Christ and the priesthood He institutes in establishing his church – not to mention what St. Paul has to say on the matter.
Most who read the Gospels would agree that Jesus did not feel the need to conform to the standards of the world and that he had the courage, unto death, to reveal the fullness of truth. That Christ chose 12 men was a deliberate, foreordained choice on the Lord’s part. A male priesthood is God’s wisdom, not man’s; the church simply recognizes she is bound to be faithful to what God makes clear. To argue that a male priesthood is dismissive of women is to accuse God of an injustice and of contradicting himself in creating man and woman equal in dignity. A male priesthood represents Christ, the God-Man and one true high priest, and is thus the language of divine revelation.
At the same time let us not forget that it is the woman whom God reveals as the highest honor of the human race in his choice of Mary, prototype of the church, the God-bearer and body of Christ. If Winston truly understood the point the popes are making about the exalted role bestowed by God on woman as bride and mother (naturally in the language of creation, and supernaturally in the language of redemption), women would not so easily be duped into believing we’ve been cheated. Au contraire! When we (male or female) become brides of Christ through baptism (yes, this is the language of revelation), we become heavenly citizens. Whether we’re male or female, it’s the best deal on the face of the Earth.
George, Ph.D., is director of Sacred Heart Productions Inc., which produces “Knowing the Scriptures” Bible study program.