Monday, October 29, 2007

More Plates, revisited

The other day I received a comment on the previous entry about the 300 Anglicans who are soon to be "swimming the Tiber" to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. The author of the comment, let's call him "Bob", wrote this to me (with my emphases added):

Father,

Yeah, well, prejudice has caused folks to leave places and institutions before; this isn't the first time, you realize. (Think about white flight in previously stable urban environments; white folks who had a streak of bigotry moved out when the first black family moved in. Same thing in many schools in the south and midwest; many whites started looking for private schools for their kids when the local public school integrated.) Fear of another group increasing in power or prestige (the priesthood does have prestige, in Anglican as well as Catholic culture) is nothing new. You can be against women's ordination all you want, but I don't see the point in patting people on the back simply because they're fearful of women having an important role in the Anglican church.

My best friend from high school/college is in seminary now to become an Episcopalian priest, and she will be a wonderful priest, a gifted priest, a priest who serves God as well as any man I know. And though you don't know her, I can assure you that there's no need for anyone (including those 300 soon-to-be former Anglicans) to be afraid of her. She's a woman. She'll be a priest. May God be served always. (Be not afraid!)
This line of thinking is nothing new: The "phobia" defense. It presumes that, if I disagree with someone or something, I must be against it because deep down inside of me I'm really afraid of it. I'm too shallow and incapable to disagree with something on an intellectual basis, so therefore any dissent from their beliefs must be rooted in some irrational fear.

Of course, that's nonsense. I can disagree with, for example, the civil government recognizing same sex unions, but it does not mean that I'm afraid of them (despite the fact that I will be labelled a "homophobe"). The three parishes who have asked for reunion with Rome do not appear to be "bigoted", "prejudiced" (which would be odd, especially since there are women amongst the membership of the reuniting parishes) or "afraid" of women. As the news article says, they feel the vote by the Anglican Church of Ireland to ordain women to the priesthood is "a defiance of scripture and tradition." In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, all three "legs of the stool" (Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterial teachings) point to a male ministerial Priesthood. That's no more bigoted than saying that history, experience, and biology all point to only females bearing children.

When former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey formally left the Roman Catholic Church and was received into the Episcopalian Church because of his disagreement over the Church's teachings on homosexuality, no one accused him of being "fearful" or "prejudiced" against the all male Roman Catholic clergy. Words like "courageous" were used. People applauded his "journey of faith" and wished him well. We should do the same for the "Irish 300".

2 comments:

Dad29 said...

That "fear" thing...

Often as not, the "phobia" defense is a projection. As you state, it is not based on fact.

Drew Ann said...

"That's no more bigoted than saying that history, experience, and biology all point to only females bearing children."

I couldn't agree more and often think of this analogy when the topic of ordaining women comes up.

I enjoy your blog!
Drew Ann