Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Iowa Bishop Warns Against 'Womanpriest' Ordination #Catholic

Another hen trying to be a rooster...

Bishop Martin John Amos (who is a Buckeye, by the way!), has warned that anyone attempting to ordain a woman as a Roman Catholic priest, bishop, or deacon; and the woman who is attempting ordination, will be ex-communicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

An Iowa bishop has reminded Catholics in his diocese that “those who attempt to confer Holy Orders on women are excommunicated, as are the women who attempt to receive Holy Orders. This includes the attempted ‘ordination’ for a deacon, priest or bishop.’” Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport issued his statement because Mary Kay Kusner-- whom the Iowa City Press-Citizen describes as a “devout Catholic”-- is scheduled to “to become the first female Catholic Womanpriest in Iowa” on June 13. (Source)

To give you some background: Mary Kay Kusner is heading to the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Coralville, Iowa, to complete this grand illusion. And an illusion it is. Because the Roman Catholic Church Does. Not. Ordain. Women. As. Priests. So any woman who says she's going to be ordained as a priest has quickly entered the "No Reality Zone."

I also want to know how exactly a Protestant church got involved in this. The church's pastor, John McKinstry, says he has known Kusner for 15 years. And he "thinks that regardless of the laws of the Catholic Church, she is fit for priesthood." Oh, really? Well, I think I'm fit to be the Queen of England but that doesn't mean it will happen. Besides, how much does this pastor know about Catholic doctrine? Or Catholic history? Or even Catholic identity? I say the obvious answer is...zilch.

It's a sad, divisive situation. Kusner is one of eight children, brought up in Lancaster, Ohio. Only one brother will be attending her fake ordination. The rest of the family has refused to participate. Growing up, her family sounded like a devout, traditional Catholic family. They even had their own chapel, complete with a stained glass window. From the article in Press-Citizen, "Kusner still pursuing dreams despite barriers -- UIHC chaplain working to become state's first Catholic Womanpriest" (emphasis and comments mine):

But Kusner said it was her Catholic background that gave her the desire to serve others. (Beautiful. You can serve in so many other ways. Just not as a priest.) After graduating from John Carroll University in Cleveland and marrying Dave, her husband of 26 years, Kusner went on to pursue a master's in pastoral ministry from Boston College. It was then that Kusner felt she could best use her gifts serving as a chaplain in pediatric oncology. (A very difficult area. Again, it is an awesome place to use one's spiritual gifts of encouragement and compassion.)

During her 20 years as a chaplain, Kusner gave birth to four children -- three healthy sons and a daughter, Anna, who was born with a chromosomal disorder. Kusner chronicled her journey with Anna in her book, titled "Upside-Down and Backwards," published in fall 2009.

It was Anna, she said, who helped Kusner decide to pursue priesthood.

"(Anna) plays a huge part in that she taught me on a personal level the significance of inclusion," Kusner said. "(She is) one of the main reasons I'm doing this." (Ahh. So your daughter's medical disorder became the political for you? News flash, sister: you were always "included" in God's Kingdom. You were included when Jesus Christ died for your sins. You are included in the great love God has for all His children. You are included in receiving spiritual gifts that all His children have been given. How is it you feel not included? Do you not feel included because you can't be the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers?)

Kusner said it's been difficult to pursue priesthood in light of what it has cost her. (No doubt.) Though Kusner was automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church upon her ordination as a deacon in August 2009, she still practices Catholicism in her own faith community, Full Circle, which she currently leads in people's homes. (And this is the crux of it for me. I don't know what she's practicing but to me, it isn't Catholicism. Practicing our faith means attending Mass and receiving the Sacraments [wait for it...] from a priest. She is not doing that because she can't until she is reconciled with the Church. The fact that she has rejected Catholic doctrine tells me she is rebellious enough to operate solely by her emotion, which is not a good thing for the stressful life of ministry. Plus, rebellion is no small thing, either.)

But what is perhaps most painful for her is the disapproval from her parents and siblings. Though one of Kusner's brothers will be attending her ordination, her sisters and parents will not. (No surprise if she came from a traditional Catholic family.)

"They ask, 'Why don't you stay a chaplain?'" Kusner said. "They've lived by the letter of the law, staying within the box." (It's called obedience. I know. It is difficult. But the rewards of our trust and obedience far outweigh any fleshly desires we may have.)

Another look at Disciples of Christ: The denomination has a woman president, Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins. They are also part of the World Council of Churches, which advocates leftist ideology such as economic and social justice, climate change, and "poverty, wealth, and ecology." So it's no surprise a fake ordination would be encouraged from this type of institution.

I'm not sure how these women would explain St. Paul's letter to Timothy. You know, that niggling little verse:
I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men, she is to keep silent. (1 Tim. 2:12, RSV)
The Greek word for "authority" is authenteō. It means to govern, exercise dominion over one. And I know many ladies get their backs up over the command to "keep silent." But that word, hēsychia, means a description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others. Somehow I suspect St. Paul was referring to that type of quietness. This is one of the marks of a godly woman - someone who serves with joy, keeps her responsibilities, and doesn't seek constant affirmation and recognition from others.

I know of this well because I used to be Kusner. At one point in my life, I wanted to see more women "released" into ministry, including serving as a pastor. However, over time I began to see God's wisdom on the topic. I always felt uneasy whenever I saw a woman as the senior pastor of a congregation, but wasn't sure why. I'm still not sure I can articulate clearly why it's not a good thing, but here are a few thoughts:

Women rarely can handle the stress of leading a congregation. I know, I know. Some women will point out that Margaret Thatcher led pretty well and then there was Deborah the Judge from the Old Testament. I'm not saying a woman cannot hold a position of leadership in the world (although I still think it's tougher on women), but within the spiritual world, it's a different story. God created Adam first. Eve was created for Adam. This tells me that God had some priorities when He created mankind. In the Old Testament, never was a woman consecrated as a Levitical priest. Never.

Jesus Christ said that He did not come to destroy the Law of the Old Testament, but to fulfill it. I would think that if there was something as major as allowing women to become priests -- He would have mentioned it at that point. He didn't. He chose twelve men to be His disciples. He traveled with them, ministered with them, and sent them out as His ambassadors, giving them divine power to accomplish His commands. Again, if women were to be given the authority to do these things, I would think Jesus would have made it clear at that point. He wasn't afraid to break cultural taboos such as speaking to a Samaritan woman at a well. He certainly wasn't shy about letting people know where He stood in relation to His Father's kingdom, such as driving out the moneychangers from the temple. So this leads me to one conclusion. Women were not meant to hold the position of pastor, elder, bishop, archbishop, or cardinal.

Am I saying that women are sub-standard or too stupid for those positions? Absolutely not. In fact, I believe God has given women many gifts and talents -- and one of them is wisdom. Women can still have an amazing influence upon her circle of family and friends, her city, state, and the world. Some are called to positions of authority within political spheres and in the business world. (I still retain the opinion that for a woman to walk in those positions of authority - her strongest gift should be wisdom.)

But in the Church, there is a hierarchy, a specific church government that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Women are usually much more open to spiritual matters than men. It's natural for a woman to flow from prayer to meditation to serving. Most men are fine with doing something but if a woman is already doing it, do you think they'll attempt to interfere? Not usually. I've been in many churches that have opened the door to women being pastors and all of them lost the men when they did it. In other words, the majority of the work of the church was done by women and the men did little or nothing.

Now some women may say, "And that's a problem?" Well, yes it most certainly is. And the reason it's a problem is because men are robbed the opportunity to explore and grow in their own gifts. When women are doing all the work (because "it won't get done if we wait for the men...") men will rarely balk. Many of them would rather just sit back and let someone else fulfill their roles. As I've mentioned before, in the last non-denominational church I was a part of, about 80% of the church roles were filled by women. The only reason the men weren't totally dominated by the women was because the senior pastor and his leadership team were predominately men.

Something just seems upside-down when women are in church leadership positions. If we're going to talk about feelings, I'll say it: it doesn't feel right. Women have been given some amazing opportunities to be used by God but so often they're looking in the wrong direction. When Jesus Christ walked this earth, a group of women followed and ministered to His needs. What does Jesus Christ need today? How can we as women minister to Him and what does that look like? Ministering to Jesus Christ is an awesome and humbling calling upon women's lives.

This is always a difficult topic for me to address because I do have a teaching gift. It has been a challenge over the years to find ways to exercise that gift without usurping the authority of men. I have found fulfillment by teaching women and occasionally, children. But whenever I see an incident of a woman trying to be a priest, I feel a strong pull to speak out. If one is a part of a church structure that does not allow for this, why continue to push it? What is one's motivation at that point? To prove that they're worthy of service? Or to be publicly affirmed as being "just as important" as a man -- whatever that means? Only honest examination and prayer will reveal the truth.


Shirley said...

Thank you for thaing the time to write this post. Excellent insight, as usual. I think you have some of that gift of wisdom you were talking about. This woman is a perfect example of why women should not be priests. It's too bad Ms. Kusner can't see the harm she is doing- to herself and her family. I would rather die than do anything which would separate me from the grace of God, which comes to us through the Sacraments of our amazing Catholic Church.

Janny said...

Years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of my diocesan paper addressing something that no doubt had appeared in its pages at the time (I don't remember now!)...but its crux was about women and the priesthood. In the letter, I simply mentioned that out of all the women I'd ever heard talk about ordination, all the women who chafed at being "only" women within the Church, not ONE of them ever said, "I want to be a priest because I feel called to lay down my life in sacrificial service, just as Christ did." They said, "I want to be a priest because it's only right and fair that the power of the Church be shared among men and women equally."

So this was their noble "calling": not one of sacrifice but one in which they could grab a share of power, authority, and visibility. It was about "privilege" (as in, you have privileges I want and I'M ENTITLED TO THEM!). Sometimes, it was about anger ("I'm sick and tired of stupid, patriarchal priests lording it over us women when we do all the work.")

But it was never, EVER about sacrifice. It was never, EVER about giving. It was about taking, and seizing power, and Changing the Church to Recognize Reality.

To this day, even among women I know who honestly (if misguidedly) feel "called" to the priesthood and are heartbroken because that big nasty male-dominated Roman teaching authority Just Doesn't Understand Their Gift...at the end of the day, it's STILL not about sacrifice. It's about what "I" feel called to do, what "I" want, what role "I" desperately want to fulfill in the Church, and the role GOD IS CALLING ME TO DO--it MUST be, because I want it so badly!

Whereas with all the holy, truly good male priests I talk to, and hear from...you can't go a sentence into a conversation with most of them before you hear the "S" word. They refer to their calling as a gift, not as their due, not as something they've earned, and not as something they're somehow "owed" by God. And they don't say the word "sacrifice" as if it's something I'M supposed to do, and they're NOT. They say the word as if it's something we're ALL called to do, together...and something that, by its nature, is difficult at times. If it weren't, it wouldn't be a sacrifice in the first place. :-)

But then again, if salvation were easy...God's Son wouldn't have had to die a criminal's death to procure it for us, either. Of course, maybe God should have sent a daughter to die instead--and then the whole equation would make more sense to these people? One can only wonder.

Obedience is much simpler. Easy? Maybe not always. But simpler? And more blessed? Yes, and yes.


Mary Rose said...

Shirley, thank you very much for your kind words. You have wisdom, too! Praise God that He gives generously when His children ask for it! And it's something to think that I'm in that place, too. I do not want to separate myself from the grace that comes from receiving the Sacraments. It's sad that some feel it's not that important. I should have ended my post by saying "Pray for her and also her family." I know this is very difficult for them, also.

Mairin :o) said...

Awesome post! I loved the Steelers comparison. It is a selfish, egocentric desire that is completely opposed to the selflessness and sacrifice that is the priesthood.

joannaB73 said...

I think it is too about women being the hld bearers in the main and God wanting the men to be the protectors both of us and the faith. I have alwasy felt a call to ministry but not to be a priest or a 'mrs deacon'. I would see it is more of a call to guide and support other women and as you say 'teach' children. I think women are called to keep the threads of home together, especially in this day and age when they untangle so easily. And to keep the relationships both to the young - grandchildren and the old - grandparents.