[Fr. Z’s April Fool’s Day story]
Posted on 1 April 2017 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
This day it seems that the news goes from bad to worse. You can see what results from the ambiguities of Amoris laetitia.
You have heard, I’m sure, about the quixotic attempts to pry open Holy Orders for women (an impossibility… or is it?) through their admission to ordination to the diaconate.
Unfortunately, I picked this up from that purveyor of bad news, the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap), which soon will be scheduling conga line dances in dissident parishes near and far.
Keep in mind, friends, before you slit your wrists, that this is based on rumor. I want to see the Pope’s decree in black on white. Meanwhile, because I am trying… trying… to be fair and obedient… I am going to work with this. My [Fr. Z’s] comments [in brackets].
Francis decrees: Women to be ordained deacons in the “internal forum”
VATICAN CITY — It has been reported that the special Commission established by Pope Francis to study the question of the ordination of female deacons met last month. A well-placed source disclosed that the Commission, which meets under the aegis of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made sufficient progress in March to be able to submit a recommendation to the Holy Father. [It boggles the imagination that they could get any work done this quickly, but… hey! Stranger things have happened. Maybe someone came up with a key insight or piece of information.]
According to a report in the Münchener Beobachter, a member of the special papal study group, Petra Henkys-Asmussen, professor of historicity and theology at the University of Immenstedt, revealed [Of course the Commission’s members aren’t supposed to be talking to the press… but I digress…] that the Commission had recommended that women could indeed be ordained deaconesses. [Please, O Lord, return NOW!]
This positive response from the Commission was then studied by the theological experts of the Congregation who, in turn, made their recommendation to the Holy Father for his final judgment.
Pope Francis, it is reported, accepted the Commission’s recommendation, apparently in contradiction to the Congregation’s determination. [I can believe that. Card. Müller must be going crazy.]
However, the Holy Father determined that, while the ordination of women to the diaconate could, in fact, go forward, it would at first be conferred in the “internal forum”. [Behold, the fruits of Amoris laetitia! But… why not? If penitents who are not really penitents can, according to their own consciences, be admitted to the sacraments of Penance and to the Eucharist, then why not ordination? More and more people claim that conscience is supreme.]
The Pope sidesteps the question of the ordination of a woman by suggesting that, [NB] if the woman herself, in prayer with Jesus, concluded that she could be ordained, then she can be ordained. This is because conscience is supreme, [SEE?!?] and the Magisterium has not infallibly closed the issue of ordination of women to the diaconate. Bishops, however, [This is where it gets worse… oh yes, they can always hurt us more…] would not be free in the matter.
It is probable, Henkys-Asmussen related, that if women are convinced that they are called to the diaconate, then bishops and priests must abide by their decision or be suspended a divinis, that is, from exercising their ministry. [Okay, that’s it. I’m not waiting anymore. I now declare that, in my conscience, I am officially an ‘internal forum’ Monsignor. I’m getting my new gear the next time I am at Gammarelli.]
It is expected that a decree to this effect will be forthcoming once the Congregations for Clergy, Divine Worship and the Doctrine of the Faith have completed the necessary liturgical texts. [Imagine that nightmare.]
Prof. Henkys-Asmussen affirmed that, while this was certainly going to go forward, she expected that the inter-dicasterial preparations between the Congregations might proceed very slowly. [We can only hope.]
“There are many people, mainly men,” she said, “clerics of the Roman Curia of course, who are set firmly against this determination of the Pope to bring the church forward into the light of equality of all genders.” She continued, “It is good news, but they will try to block it.”
When asked about the very unique method of “internal forum” ordination, Henkys-Asmussen declared, “But naturally, this is a compromise path to avoid what some will see as a shock and even ‘scandal’, as they would put it. But it is a logical bridge from the Pope’s revolutionary post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.”
Fr Tullio Tomassini, SJ, an instructor of biblical exegesis at the Pontifical Gregorian University and an expert of the Pontifical Theological Commission, which did work on the topic of deacons in 2002, reacted to the news.
“The phrase in the New Testament, ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’, must be reinterpreted in light of history and through the signs of the times. We, having greater insight now, sense the Christ’s meaning to really have been – if you’ll excuse levity in such a serious matter – ‘many are called, few are chosen, but some push their way in!’” [Card. Kasper would be proud.]
Tomassini, continued, “When we inter-text that Matthean passage with ‘Go out into the highways and byways and force them to come in’ of Luke 14 we must conclude that the Holy Father discerned the right choice.”
When pressed on the possibility of opening up the ordination of women to the priesthood as the next step, Tomassini was dismissive.
“In truth”, he said, “the next logical step must be the ordination of the trans-gendered. Now that the Church has made this definitive determination about deaconesses, [HA!] we look more closely at the figure of Phoebe in Romans 16:1. Given the needs of our age, we must ask if the Phoebe of the Bible was really a woman? Or was Phoebe, in fact, a man? What was Phoebe? This is not clear. This biblical ambiguity reminds us that gender itself is not a fixed reality.” [What did you expect. He’s a Jesuit biblical scholar, right?]
A well-placed Vatican source, who requested anonymity, reacted to the news saying, “This is obviously what these days in the media is being called ‘fake news’”. He continued, “[A decision] can’t possibly have happened this quickly. But, on the other hand, these days, who can say? What’s the phrase? ‘Who am I to judge’?” [The phrase that keeps on giving.]
Cardinal Ludwig Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Doctrine Congregation, and Greg Burke, the papal spokesman, were unavailable for comment.
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