In the year 2000

conanyear200Is there something toxic in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests stories that makes reporters just forget everything they know about journalism?

WUKY, the NPR station in Lexington, posted this introduction to a piece on a Lexington-area woman and her ordination performed by the group without any standing or authority in the Roman Catholic Church:

LEXINGTON, KY (2008-08-08) Although the Roman Catholic Church banned women from becoming priests over two-thousand years ago, a Jessamine County woman will be “ordained” by a church activist group. Bryan Bartlett has the story.

I’m not even going to gripe about the use of the word “although,” which doesn’t fit in the story. Or phrasing who can hold the office of the priesthood as a ban, which games the story. But the reader who passed this along was more upset by the failure of this story to “get history.”

If the Roman Catholic Church banned women from becoming priests over 2000 years ago and we’re in the year 2008, that means the church had set up priest policy no later than the year 8 A.D. At that time, Jesus hadn’t even begun his public ministry, Peter may not have been born and Paul and others hadn’t written about who should lead congregations.

But other than that, no problems with that single sentence introduction.

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  • http://www.companionofjesus.com Jesuit John

    Maybe the “over 2000 years ago” bit refers to the fact that the Jews had no women priests either. And if the Catholic Church is, as it claims, the fufillment/continuation of the Old Covenant, maybe the report isn’t as far off as it seems.

    OK, I admit it’s a stretch.

  • Chris Bolinger

    This is not that difficult:
    The Roman Catholic Church never has allowed women to become priests, but a church activist group still plans to “ordain” a Jessamine County woman.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Yes, the story bolloxed up the time-line. But the main point is well taken and better than most news reports in the MSM which simplistically blame current Vatican policies for there being no women priests. The fact of the matter is that the Early Christian (Catholic) Church spread in a world well acquainted with a religion having priestesses. In addition Christ was far more respectful of women than the Jews of his time. Yet, Jesus chose only men for his “inner circle” of which Catholic priests and bishops are the successors. And certainly the Son of God would have realized the consequences across the centuries of only choosing men to be part of that “inner circle” of leaders.
    The Catholic Church is the Church of TRADITION. Those who want to destroy core, major Traditions of the Church are clearly not Catholics. Let these women start their own untraditional Christian Church and they can have it teach or do anything they want it to. One need only look at the anarchicly divergent teachings and practices among Christians outside the Catholic Church where Tradition counts for squat to see the value of upholding Tradition. But all this seems beyond the ability of most of the MSM to understand or report on fairly most of the time.

  • http://markbyron.typepad.com/main/ Mark Byron

    Thanks for running the story so quickly; I think I was the “reader who passed this along,’ unless two Lexington-area readers jumped on the same idea today.

    I heard that statement, and thought that someone would have fact-checked it before making it to their web site… no, it’s still there in all its glory.

    My best guess is that the writer thought that since AD is based loosely when Jesus was born, the +8 would work, not thinking that the Church didn’t start until about AD 30.

  • http://www.southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com Fr Joseph Huneycutt

    Besides, there’s scant evidence that the Catholic Church was based in Rome. At that time. Of course.

    Using the word Roman before Catholic, for some, is a chronological reference.

  • Julia

    Using the word Roman before Catholic, for some, is a chronological reference.

    You must be meaning the theory that the Catholic Church did not begin until Constantine invented it.

    hmmm Hadn’t thought of that.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    And again, depicting refusal to institute something which has never existed as a “ban”.

  • http://www.magdalenesegg.blogspot.com Michael

    Remember that there is a contingent which argues that there were female clergy in early Christianity, depending in part upon how one understands the office of deacon. If they were clearly right, it would be fair to talk about a “ban.” But they are in fact an embattled minority, and certainly do not represent the self-understanding of the vast majority of Roman Catholics. A journalist who wants to knowingly reflect this minority perspective would seem obliged to say so, at the very least — and better yet, to argue the case on an op-ed page

    As for Fr. Honeycutt’s remark that “using Roman before Catholic is a chronological reference,” I doubt he meant anything at all about Constantine. After the Great Schism of 1054, “Catholic” gradually came to identify the Western Christians over against the Eastern ones. One occasionally finds expressions like “the Roman church” used synonymously. But the use of the words together seems to be — as far as I can tell — a post-Reformation device. From the Roman perspective, it made clear that the two ideas (Rome and catholicity) were linked, while from a Protestant perspective, it clarified just which Catholics one meant — the evangelical ones or the Roman ones.

    My understanding is that some (Roman) Catholics dislike the modifier, on the basis that it should be unnecessary. Needless to say, some Protestants — principally Anglicans and Lutherans — consider themselves entirely catholic, and consider Roman to be the critical word for describing Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

  • http://www.magdalenesegg.blogspot.com Michael

    But I lost my train of thought. The real question is: What does this story have to do with Conan O’Brien?

  • Julia

    Needless to say, some Protestants — principally Anglicans and Lutherans — consider themselves entirely catholic, and consider Roman to be the critical word for describing Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

    In my experience, Protestants do not include all Christians in communion with the Bishop of Rome when they say “Roman Catholic”. They mostly mean the Latin Rite Catholics and leave out all the other ones. So it is not a very precise term to use.

    Back in the really old days, even before the Great Schism, you will see lots of references to the Latins and the Greeks, but that doesn’t work anymore.

  • Julia

    Since I’m up late anyway, I’ll also answer Michael’s question: Conan O’Brien has a schtick whereby he shines a light on himself as in the photo, sings spookily “In the Year 2000″ and makes goofy predictions or quasi-predictions.

  • Pingback: When Jesus was 8 years old (GetReligion) « A Blogspotting Anglican Episcopalian

  • http://www.southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com Fr Joseph Huneycutt

    Julia! You are cracking me up! Move over Conan!

    Seriously, I’m rather pleased (surprised) that the writer used “Roman Catholic” at all — generally one sees the word CATHOLIC used to mean “all those under the pope.”

    However, as Michael has stated, many consider themselves CATHOLICS (rightly or otherwise), thus, using Roman, in this context, is proper.

    My point is, and this is true (I don’t care who you are): The ROMAN Catholic church did not exist 2,000 years ago.


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