Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Saturday 13 April |
Saint of the Day: Pope St. Martin I
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

News You Might Have Missed

Women’s ordination Anglican

Sam Leite

John Burger - published on 07/25/14

Women in ministry, "gaystapo," and gender dysphoria in Catholic schools.

Some years ago, my wife and I found ourselves in upstate New York during Holy Week. It was the year Pope John Paul II “went home to the Father’s House,” and I recall watching the Stations of the Cross on television, with now-St. John Paul sitting in his chapel, clutching a crucifix as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led the Stations in Rome’s Colosseum.

We attended the Easter Vigil Mass in the local church. Boy was I surprised—after all the candles in the dark and singing of the Exsultet and the Old and New Testament readings and glorious Gloria and Alleluiasto see not the pastor ascend the pulpit to deliver the homily but a religious sister. It was announced that she would offer a “Gospel reflection,” and I think we visitors were the only ones who were surprised.

Recently, a local newspaper from that area reported that such scenes are not likely to be repeated.

This is, in fact, the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., and the practice of allowing women religious and lay persons giving homilieswas tolerated, according to the Democrat and Chronicle, for “the better part of 40 years.”

(So it started some time after Bishop Fulton Sheen’s brief tenure as ordinary of the Diocese of Rochester.)

The new bishop, Salvatore Matano, told the newspaper he’d been confronting the issue on a case-by-case basis since January, when Pope Francis asked him to “go west,” from the Diocese of Burlington, Vt. Now, he is drafting guidelines to clarify that homilies are reserved for ordained priests and deacons, as prescribed by canon law, the paper said.

"I am trying to help the faithful understand what is the universal law of the Church and how important it is that in the celebration of Mass," said the bishop. "We do what the Church asks of us."

From Rochester to Russia… 

Like Bishop Matano, the Russian Orthodox Church felt it necessary to clarify Church teaching on a subject affecting women, i.e., the Church of England’s decision to allow female clergy to ascend to the episcopate. Granted, the ROC and the state within which it operates are not winning too many popularity contests these days, but the Moscow Patriarchate felt compelled to clarify what effect the Anglican vote to ordain women as bishops would have on efforts for Church unity. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales had already spoken of the stumbling block the vote put on that road. But the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations noted that a “centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism.”

Not anymore.

“The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy,” the statement flatly said. “Such practice contradicts the centuries-old Church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the Apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Savior Himself and the holy Apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church."

I suspect the unsigned statement was written by Metropolitan Hilarion, a gifted theologian who serves as the Moscow Patriarchate’s point man for relations with other Churches. “In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of Church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society. The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable Gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God."

We all recall Brendan Eich, the Mozilla exec who lost his job because it was revealed that he had made contributions to a perfectly legitimate political effort. We all should be free to support whichever side of a political issue we feel is right. Right? But the cause here was California Prop. 8, and Mozilla apparently could not countenance having anyone at the top who didn’t support a redefinition of marriage to include members of the same sex.

We’ve been hearing more and more cases where people in business are losing their jobs because of their perfectly legitimate viewpoints on this issue.

The trend has struck small-town America, where the editor of the Newton, Iowa, daily newspaper was sacked after posting pro-traditional marriage sentiments on his own personal blog.

“Back in May, the Newton Daily News of Iowa fired its editor-in-chief for comments he’d made on his personal blog. This week, the editor filed a discrimination lawsuit claiming he was fired for his sincere religious beliefs, which compel him to fight ‘the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo to the last,” Gawker reported.

Robert Dale Eschliman, who calls himself  an evangelical Christian who believes in Holy Scripture and the Biblical view of marriage, claims his dismissal was a case of religious persecution. He is suing with help from the Christian Liberty Institute.

Pressure to conform to the “gay agenda” got a boost this week from President Obama’s executive order regarding hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation. The question is, how will Catholic Church agencies be affected? Church organizations can no longer assume that they will be completely free to make decisions based on religious convictions.

In Canada, in fact, the Catholic schools of Vancouver, British Columbia, have been forced to modify their curriculum because a court found it to be discriminatory against a boy who wanted to be treated as a girl. The family of an 11-year-old named Tracey Wilson, who’s been “diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” sued under Canada’s human rights law.

So the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese (CISVA) approved of a “new policy that accommodates gender expression and students with gender dysphoria,” according to a press release from the archdiocese’s communications office. 

Doug Lauson, CISVA superintendent, said that although Catholic teaching does not recognize that a student can change his or her sex/gender, the CISVA is committed to providing an inclusive school environment for its students and reasonable accommodation of students’ forms of gender expression. “We expect that this policy will be a practical basis for accommodating students with gender dysphoria, or who express their gender in ways that are different from prevailing stereotypes,” said Lauson.

The new policy “directs that schools accommodate gender variant students and that an accommodation plan for gender dysphoric students be developed in collaboration with the family, educators, pastors, and medical professionals,” the press release said. 

The archdiocese’s statement seemed happy to say it would be the first Catholic school district in Canada to have such a policy. Its capitulation emboldened  the Wilsons’ attorney, Barbara Findlay, to predict it won’t be the last. Findlay, who on her website calls herself a “queer feminist lawyer committed to making the law work for all of us," said the new policy will “serve as a template for other Catholic school districts everywhere.” 

John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.

Image courtesy of Craig Sillitoe Photography

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.