Thursday, October 05, 2006

Roman Catholic: Behold Your Future

Ecce femina! Anne Marie Mahoney, "Substitute Preacher" for the priest.
While the world looked the other way, the Roman Catholic Church has slowly conferred many of the powers of the priesthood on laywomen. As this story indicates, dioceses have been training "substitute preachers" to preside over "Communion services," in which priestless parishes may commune from the Reserved Sacrament.
“Increasingly, we expect [lay] people to find themselves in the same position as Anne Marie” when she got that late-night call, says Mongelluzzo, a priest of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, who serves as IREPM’s coordinator of liturgical life. Besides communion services, the rituals reviewed in Mongelluzzo’s introductory and advanced classes have included Evening Prayer, commonly known as Vespers; Vigil for the Deceased, for wakes; the Rite of Committal, for burials; imposition of the ashes, on Ash Wednesday; and the Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, in which the sacred host is removed from the tabernacle and exposed on the altar for periods of quiet devotion. The students this semester are evenly divided between men and women, and range from young adult to retiree. (Emphasis added.)

The Orthodox Church (both Eastern and Western rite) has a similar service, in which a Deacon leads a worship service, then communes the faithful with "Presanctified Communion" (or "Reserved Sacrament"). However, the person leading the modern RCC worship is -- a woman. At this point, a baptized Roman Catholic woman may exercise nearly all the parish functions of an ordained deacon in the traditional Church. One wonders what it might do to the ecumenical dialogue if Orthodoxy knew Rome had created female deacons by stealth?

A conservative Lutheran professor of mine once asked, "How can the Roman Catholics hope to avoid female ordination when they have altar girls?" How can they possibly avoid it now that they have stealth priestesses?

Meanwhile, Mark Shea has the latest on the move for married priests (an innovation I don't oppose which might just cap the bottle on the priestesses).*
(Hat tip: LeoXIII at York Forum)
* - Yes, I recognize mandatory sacerdotal celibacy has a long history in the Orthodox West, beginning in the fourth century; however, such a state was not universally compulsory in the Occident for centuries. (And, in practice, never....) I can see how a married presbyterate could be a benefit...but I ain't no Roman Catholic and ain't got no dog in that fight. I's jus' sayin' is all.


Blogger Deacon Jim said...

Yep, begging the questions: When does compromise become sellout? and When does expediency trump orthodoxy?

In the PNCC we have a Deacon's Service as well.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Ad Orientem said...

A disturbing piece you have posted here. I linked it on AO. Every time I read something new about the Roman Church I shudder. Its getting to the point where I am afraid to check the religious news briefs.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Susan Peterson said...

When Cardinal Newman was still an Anglican, and as such believed that Rome was in serious error on some important issues, he said to his fellow Anglicans "Speak gently of thy sister's fall." Perhaps he meant that this is the right attitude for any group of Christians to take towards another group of Christians whom they believe to be in serious error. Perhaps he had come to see much of ancient Christianity in Rome that he did not see in the Church of England, and yet still felt they were in error, and he saw this as a cause for sober grief, not for harsh condemnation. It seems to me that you ought to take a similar attitude to Rome. Glee at the current discomforts of American Catholicism is either a puerile form of rooting for your own team, an unpleasant and unseemly schadenfreude, or perhaps even a sinful form of taking pleasure in what is evil. C. S. Lewis asks us to ask ourselves what our reaction is, when we hear that some atrocity committed by our enemies (he is talking of war and the germans here, I believe) was not quite as bad as we had heard. Are we disappointed or relieved? If we are disappointed, he says, we have taken the first step on a road that leads to hell.

Therefore I am sure that you will be glad to hear that many American Catholic bishops have now put the kibosh on, or are at least more or less strongly discouraging, "communion services" led by laypeople. I agree that there have been in some places situations of this sort which needed strong discouraging.

However,I was once at an Orthodox church where the priest ceded the pulpit at sermon time to his wife, due to her expertise on a particular subject. Thus it would have been possible to produce a picture of a middle aged woman in an Orthodox pulpit, to contrast with the picture you posted here. I didn't see anything wrong with it as a special and unusual situation.
Surely there are situations in which a woman might be standing at a pulpit, leading a meeting,or leading an opening prayer at a mother's club or pro-life group, no? Your picture itself doesn't prove much.

But again, if we were going in that direction to the degree that you are representing, I believe that sadness and prayer for us would be the Christian response.

Susan F. Peterson

2:20 PM  
Blogger Susan Peterson said...

I'm not sure if I am supposed to do the second word verification and hit login and publish a second time?

2:21 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Dn. Jim -- I think all traditional churches have a deacon's service. God bless and guide your current meeting, BTW.

AO -- disturbing in the utmost.

Susan -- No, you don't need to resubmit; all comments are moderated...whenever the moderator gets around to it. :)

As to the substance of your first comment, you seem to be misjudging me. Given the force of the downfall, I tend not to take solace at an alleged "kibosh" on Female Eucharistic Ministers (FEMs) -- a "kibosh" of which I see precious little evidence. A few months ago, I was counseled to take solace in that the Abp. of Canterbury would crack down on ECUSA/TEC...I'm not holding my breath and think wise members of those communions could do with greater cynicism.

This blog has described itself as being dedicated to "news and views" of interest to those interested in the Western Rite. I derive no joy from the fact that nearly all news from other churches tends to underscore their apostasy and modernism; as I've noted, I would much rather read that the Pope had banished the Novus Ordo, clear-cut the Lavender Mafia (and its pedophile protection ring) from the church, and returned to Orthodoxy. However, this has not happened.

The fact that I occasionally chronicle the current state of the RCC does not mean I am filled with "glee" about it and thus, trotting off to Hell. Perhaps your anger might be better reserved for those in your church committing the sacrileges? Nonetheless, I appreciate your charitable assumption of my "puerile" motives.

2:15 AM  

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