Saturday, March 01, 2008

Pope rules out any role for 'female theology'

This is the actual title given to an article in Ireland’s biggest-selling daily broadsheet, The Irish Independent. Melancholicus has not been able to find the article online, but he quotes the piece in full for the benefit of his readers from today’s paper. Has has added his own comments in red:

Pope rules out any role for 'female theology'

Malcolm Moore

The Vatican has cracked down on feminist interpretations of the liturgy, ruling that God must always be recognised as Our Father [and rightly so, since Christians dare to call God "Father" on the example and invitation of the Lord Jesus Himself].

In a move designed to counter the spread of gender-neutral phrases, the Holy See said that anyone baptised using alternative terms such as "Creator", "Redeemer" and "Sanctifier" would have to be re-baptised using the traditional ceremony [what breathtaking ignorance it is for this writer — or is he being deliberately misleading? — to portray the Holy See’s concern for safeguarding the integrity of the sacraments as merely a mealy-mouthed move "designed to counter the spread of gender-neutral phrases". For baptism to be validly confected, it is absolutely necessary that the form used mention the persons of the Most Holy Trinity by name. To say, "I baptize thee in the name of the Trinity" is insufficient, nor is it at all possible to substitute other appellations intended to denote some aspect or function of the Godhead. The Church has the option of modifying at her convenience the form of certain of the sacraments, but baptism is not one of these, since the Lord Jesus Himself clearly commanded His disciples to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Mt. 28:19). This is a Dominical precept, which cannot be changed by any ecclesiastical authority, however elevated, for any reason whatsoever. Those persons unfortunate enough to be "baptized" in the name of Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier (or some such) are not in fact baptized at all.].

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said yesterday: "These variations arise from so-called feminist theology and are an attempt to avoid using the words Father and Son, which are held to be chauvinistic." [it is amazing how quick some are to follow the feminists with their gender-neutral newspeak, and at the same time how slow to obey the command of the Lord Jesus to baptize in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This is because they fear man (or should that be woman?) more than they fear God. Furthermore, how is it "chauvinistic" to use the proper terms in the first place? Everyone — feminists included — has, or at least had at one stage, a father. Why can almighty God not be addressed as such, especially as His divine fatherhood has been revealed to us by His Son? And speaking of the Son, how can the feminists reasonably let themselves off the hook here, when the Lord Jesus became incarnate as a human being — a male human being — in the words of the Creed, AND WAS MADE MAN? Or are we now going to make like Katharine Jefferts-Schori with her "mother Jesus"? Hate to spoil it for you honey, but mother Jesus had a Y-chromosome.]

Instead it said that the traditional form of "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" had to be respected [with good reason; baptism cannot be validly confected without it. How many times do I have to say this??].

The alternative phrases originated in North America and started to become popular only in the past few years.

The new phrases are particularly popular in the Church of England [!]. It was recently reported that guidelines to bishops and priests advised them to avoid "uncritical use of masculine imagery" [who issued these guidelines?].

The Catholic Church and the Church of England are split over feminist issues [The Catholic Church and the Church of England are split over a whole lot more than merely "feminist issues"]. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Pope, met in Rome last year, but admitted that the ordination of women priests was a "serious obstacle" to closer ties [in the same vein as John Cooney, this tendentious writer omits to mention that the Anglican Communion itself is internally split over feminist issues, and much more besides].

The Pope, who wrote the latest ruling, has been a strong opponent of feminism in the Catholic Church [since so-called "Catholic" feminism seeks to replace the Christian religion with a goddess-worshipping neo-pagan cult I'm hardly surprised the Pope is "a strong opponent" thereof].

In his book, The Ratzinger Report, he wrote: "I am, in fact, convinced that what feminism promotes in its radical form is no longer the Christianity that we know; it is another religion" [first of all, The Ratzinger Report was written not by Joseph Ratzinger but by Vittorio Messori. Secondly, what feminism promotes in its radical form is another religion. This is indisputable. It's not merely the Pope's opinion].

Thank goodness it ended there. What the dickens, we might ask, is “female theology”? Theology is an intellectual discipline, a branch of study, and therefore does not admit of adjectives like male and female, which can be applied only to living beings. Surely the fellow who scribbled this careless piece really meant “feminist theology”. If such be the case, why didn’t he say it? Could it be because everyone hates feminists and therefore his readers would not have responded to his headline, had he used that word, in the emotional manner in which he clearly intended them to? Much better, for our writer’s purposes, to concoct a headline that evokes the image of a sexist, chauvinistic Pope (who, let us not forget, is a former Hitler Youth) patriarchally oppressing suffering womyn in the most hidebound and reactionary fashion.

This story contains a great deal of feminist spin, yet the central issue concerns feminism only peripherally. Perhaps the writer has taken the slant he has in order to uphold the secularist image of the Church as a backward and sexist institution, but in any case he shows very little understanding of the actual issues involved. Instead, he has diverted the attention of his readers (most of whom would hardly know any more about the matter than he does) with this emotionally-charged red herring.

One thing which particularly alarms Melancholicus is the revelation that invalid baptismal forms are increasingly being prescribed for use in the Church of England. He would like to know more about that. Are Anglican converts to Catholicism required to submit to conditional baptism before their reception into the Church? If the Church of England continues to play fast and loose with its baptismal formula, conditional baptism of all converts may quickly become the rule. Catholics and Anglicans are separated by many things, but Melancholicus has always consoled himself with the thought that at least we all have our baptism. It looks like this may be changing now. Shall Anglicans, alas, arrive at such a pass whereafter Catholics shall have nothing in common with them at all?

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