This reprint surveys several important published responses to the Nov. 18 decree from Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) claiming that the Church's ban on ordaining women is infallible teaching. As expected, this latest Vatican attempt to shut down discussion of women priests is only provoking a wider dialogue -- though now the risks of ecclesiastical repression are higher.
First in these pages, we quote four male theologians, two on each side of the debate. Francis Sullivan challenges the CDF claim to infallibility, and Nicholas Lash calls it a scandalous misuse of power. Avery Dulles and Augustine di Noia defend it, but seem to leave gaping holes in their logic. Then we turn to women's voices: the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing 80,000 U.S. sisters, expresses the grief of Catholic women, and calls the Vatican's bluff: if women are equal in all save ordination, then open all other church roles to women. Joan Chittister says the CDF decree doesn't close the women-priest subject, but suppresses it -- a more ominous sign. Theologian Rosemary Ruether says the doctrine of infallibility is untenable, and calls the many other Catholic theologians who agree to have the courage to speak out. Theologian Hans Küng, who did so in a 1970 book and has suffered the consequences, thinks the latest CDF statment locks all theologians in a dilemma only Vatican III will resolve. Finally, to keep smiling through the pain of a badly divided church. don't miss the report on an apocryphal gospel by our resident humorist, Bob McClory.
The discussion of women priests is widening, not narrowing. A petition asking for married priests and women priests got 500,000 signers in Austria and 1.8 million in Ratzinger's Germany. The petition sponsors met with similar reform groups from Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and Great Britain in London Jan. 3-7 and formally established the European Network. CTA co-directors Dan and Sheila Daley were there. CTA has now officially affiliated, and is urging others in Catholic Organizations for Renewal to follow suit. CTA, Women's Ordination Conference and others are discussing how to further dramatize in 1996 the support for women priests in the sensus fidelium. Hundreds have already signed up to participate in the 1996 National Dialogue on the Future of Priestly Ministry, co-sponsored by CTA and FutureChurch. Please consider joining them!
Read responses to the CDF infalliblity claim by:
Essays quoted in this reprint are from National Catholic Reporter, Kansas City, MO (1-800-333-7373); The Tablet, London (0181-748-1550); and AMERICA, New York, NY (212-581-4640).
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