Monday, 11 October 2010

No Women in Holy Orders? The Women Deacons of the Early Church

This is a fascinating book. I had no idea that the whole thing about allowing women to be ordained had its basis in something historical. Now I do. Wijngaards makes it very clear that the early church ordained women as deacons. He deals clearly and succinctly with the arguments of those scholars that believe that these women were merely blessed. Personally, I would go a step further and show how ridiculous these arguments are by replacing the word 'women' with 'men'.

Having read this book, I simply cannot understand how anyone can object to the ordination of women on anything other than sexist grounds. A sexism that has no place in the world in which we live and in which the (Catholic) church is trying to survive. Wijngaards makes the point wonderfully when he says that there will come a time when people are no longer willing to support an institution that excludes them in a prejudiced manner (read the book for the actual quote, the way he puts it is far better).

Which brings me to a point that I feel should not be ignored. There is clear and damning evidence that the Catholic church has, among other heinous acts, condoned and covered up the sexual abuse of minors by priests (and presumably others, but 'priests' is a useful catch-all term) for the better part of the last thousand years. The current Pope - the infallible representative of the Catholic god on earth - is personally responsible for this. How can anyone remain Catholic in the face of this? Denial and ignorance play a role, I'm sure. As far as I can tell, the only way to remain Catholic in the face of this is to accept that what the church has done is perfectly acceptable in god's eyes. If you don't, you deny the infallibility of the Pope and, presumably, violate a bunch of other stuff that is required of you to be Catholic. I can't help feeling that in the face of the greater question (why on earth are there still Catholics?), the question of the ordination of women is largely irrelevant.

No comments: