Sunday, November 11, 2007

Exercises in Wishful Thinking and Holding Grudges

Well, now, this is just silly in so many ways. Here's what the Associated Press reports today, as captured in the New York Times and elsewhere:

November 11, 2007
Two Faiths Divided on Women’s Ordination Ceremony

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 10 (AP) — The Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Central Reform Congregation are on the same side when it comes to advocating for immigrants and the poor, often finding common ground in a zeal for social justice.

But when the Jewish congregation offered its synagogue for an ordination of two women in a ceremony disavowed by the Roman Catholic Church, it drew the ire of archdiocese officials, who vowed never again to work with the congregation.

Bizarre on the face of it, yes? A religious group that is about as far outside of the Catholic philosophy as you can get (you know: the Jesus thing?) allows its facility to be used by a group with whom the Catholic diocese has issues, and so the diocese decides that we can't be friends anymore?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, apparently: What is this, junior high?

It gets goofier:

The Reform congregation’s rabbi, Susan Talve, informed the Rev. Vincent Heier, director of the archdiocese office for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, of the decision.

Mr. Heier told her it was unacceptable. “It’s not appropriate to invite this group, to aid and abet a group like this, which undercuts our theology and teaching,” Mr. Heier said he told Ms. Talve.

Um. Isn't, like, the whole of Judaism "undercutting" Catholic theology and teaching? Isn't any non-Christian religion? Kind of by definition? It's been awhile since my last catechism class, but I'm pretty sure there was something in there about Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world, and I'm also pretty sure that non-Christian religions don't share that point of view. So, given that every Saturday, at least, there are religious services at the Central Reform Congregation that the St. Louis Diocese would not be in agreement with, why the big dust-up over their allowing a bunch of fringey soon-to-be-ex-Catholics use the building?

In a nutshell: Who cares?

And, P.S., Father Heier: Good job of giving these women free publicity.

I also like this bit:

The women are ignoring the warnings of Archbishop Raymond Burke, who said they would be excommunicated if they proceeded with the ceremony.

Which makes the whole business even more of an exercise in so-what. If the women proceed with the ceremony, the bishop will excommunicate them. (Seems to me that if they proceed with the ceremony, they're pretty much thumbing their noses at the bishop anyhow, but that's neither here nor there.) Wouldn't that by and large take care of the whole thing? Why pick on the Jewish congregation at all? If the ceremony takes place in a bowling alley, would the archbishop condemn Happy Lanes and forbid Catholics from bowling there? Actually, I suppose there's a pretty good chance he would, given the AP report... Okay, try this: If the ceremony took place in a city park, would the archbishop condemn the city of St. Louis and move the diocese to another community?

Which is not to say that the women's quest is particularly sane, either. Those who know me know that, if I were in charge of things, you'd have women priests PDQ. But I'm not, and the sad fact is these bogus ceremonies accomplish absolutely nothing. When it's over, the women can SAY they're priests. But they're not--at least not in the Roman Catholic Church. Wishing doesn't make it so, no matter the ceremony attached. They're not legit, they're not recognized, and they have no standing at all in their church. That is, their soon-to-be-former church.

Here's the final gag:

“This is not a lack of forgiveness,” Mr. Heier said, “but we have to stand for something. It’s a matter of principle.”

Ah. Good to know. It would also be good to know precisely what "principle" Heier thinks they're standing on. From here it kind of looks like the principle of proving that the "leaders" of the Catholic church are, often as not, leading the church further and further in marginality.

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