Friday, June 11, 2010

Gaffe-Prone

Here we go again!

Yep, more gaffes per square inch than ever before in the Pope's homily today at the closing Mass for the Year for Priests.

As always with these things, one has to have a carefully trained ear to find the subtle nuances of offensiveness. You've got to keep a sharp eye and a finely-tuned sense of outrage. In this case, a lot of the "political missteps" are more in what he didn't say than in the actual content.

Let's see if we can do a little reading between the lines.

His very first sentences are calculated to exclude women. Of course.
The priest is not a mere office-holder, like those which every society needs in order to carry out certain functions.


Right here in the first lines, we have here a slam against the women who are working from within the institution to bring about equality. This "not an office-holder" stuff is the crux of the whole "priest-as-alter-Christus" thing that the old white guys say makes it impossible for women to be ordained.

Instead, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, which are words of transubstantiation – words which make Christ himself present, the Risen One, his Body and Blood – words which thus transform the elements of the world, which open the world to God and unite it to him.


Sacraments. Transubstantiation. Absolution. Yep. It's all just a bunch of hocus pocus. Note the total absence of any mention of the priestly role of the laity. Of the participation of the congregation in the priestly acts on the altar. And of course, nothing whatever on the role of the priest as community leader in the fight against injustices like poverty and global economic hegemony and the rape of the environment.

The priesthood, then, is not simply "office" but sacrament: God makes use of us poor men in order to be, through us, present to all men and women, and to act on their behalf.


Yes. Here it is in a nutshell. A priest is first and only a sacramental minister. And note the careful use of the words "men" and "men and women". Very clear slam against women there. Priests are men. Laity are both. Got it.

This audacity of God who entrusts himself to human beings – who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in his stead – this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word "priesthood". That God thinks that we are capable of this; that in this way he calls men to his service and thus from within binds himself to them: this is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year.


Men. Men. Men.


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