…an angel loses it’s wings.
In a piece at the National Catholic Distorter titled “Of Parishes, Priest Shortages, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit”, author Sr Christine Schenk (co-founder of FutureChurch, one of the many The Institutional Church Is Mean For Not Letting Us Dissenters Have What We Want groups) goes scattershot on the Church. Using parish closures and consolidations as a starting point, she segues into the priest shortage, and then swerves straight into standard boilerplate mode vis a vis mandatory priestly celibacy and women’s ordination.
Because that’s the only play in their playbook.
A couple quotes:
“Overcoming centuries-old celibate exclusivity in the priesthood will not be easy. But if celibacy really is a gift of the Spirit, why are we so afraid to allow the Spirit to do her thing and permit it to be optional for diocesan priests? Do we really think the celibate charism will disappear if we allow priests to choose it freely?”
Here’s the thing – these “faithful dissenter” (FD’s) types refer to the Holy Spirit in the feminine because it ties into their feminist-theology narrative. The hierarchy restrains the Holy Spirit just as they restrain women, they say. Agitprop for true believers.
Let’s take a look at what our Savior had to say about the Holy Spirit:
“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (Jn 16:12-15)
“These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (Jn 14:25-26).
If addressing the Holy Spirit in the masculine is good enough for Jesus, hey? Who are we to argue?
Now, the Holy Spirit – sometimes the FD’s call her Sophia – is on occasion referred in a feminine manner in the Old Testament. True enough. And the Church doesn’t define the Holy Spirit as any sex, yet consistently refers to the Holy Spirit in the masculine. God transcends the distinction between male and female, sure – but He revealed Himself as Father. As God is One in three persons, and as Christ is male, and the Holy Spirit reveals the Father…you get the idea. To keep the “oneness”, as it were, the Holy Spirit is referred to in the masculine. No one is saying the Holy Spirit ought to be envisioned as some invisible dude handing our gifts and charisms, or a ghostly image of Jesus dropping in on Baptisms and Confirmations. Simply put, through Tradition and Scripture, the Holy Spirit is referred to in the masculine. It ought not be a big deal to rational believers. And it really isn’t. It bears mentioning, by the way, that regarding the Holy Spirit as a female, which is really what Schenk and those who think like her are wont to do, strikes at the truth that Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit, as well as the Church being the bride of Christ.
Bottom line: feminizing the Holy Spirit is pure agenda, not theology. It’s not a deepening of the understanding of the nature of the Holy Spirit. It’s an expression of dissent and distinction among panty-twisted Catholycs unhappy their vision of Church hasn’t been realized. Groups like FutureChurch want to fashion a church in their image rather than worship in the Church protected, guided, and led by the Holy Spirit. So they prattle about the Holy Spirit’s gifts being constrained by the hierarchy, as not being allowed to, as Schenk says, “do her thing”. I think what Schenk really means is, the Church is not allowing FutureChurch to do their thing. Kinda like how my kids complain when I tell ’em what’s what.
I’m called to celibacy myself. I love this lifestyle because it is the best way for me to experience and witness to the God of love. But much as I love my own path, I also know that our church needs spiritual leaders who are as diverse as we are. We need married priests, celibate priests, gay and straight priests, black, white, and brown priests, male priests and yes (gasp), female priests.
Don’t you just love the dog whistle “gasp”? Tres dramatic! But see, what it all comes down to, in the end, is the push for recognizing womynpreests. And Schenk doesn’t shy away from that, so props for her honesty.
Some fear opening ordination to married men will put full acceptance of women’s priestly calls on indefinite hold. I used to feel this way myself. But I have come to agree with the late Richard Schoenherr, whose book Goodbye Father wisely contended: “Saying good bye to celibate exclusivity means eventually saying goodbye to male exclusivity. We will discover that a married clergy is still anathema for most of the Catholic hierarchy because it is the camel’s nose under their patriarchal tent … gender inclusivity must be preceded by the introduction and routinization of marital-status inclusivity in the priesthood.”
Funny, isn’t it, that the Catholycs know what the Holy Spirit is doing, and yet the hierarchy doesn’t? Or at best, the hierarchy knows, yet is controlling the Holy Spirit, like a sorcerer would control a summoned spirit?
Here’s what I want to know: how do they know – really, really know – that they’re right, and that the Institutional Misogynists Club, ie: the hierarchy, is wrong? If you ask them, they say it’s because their feelings tell them so. I dunno. While feelings are neither right nor wrong, you can certainly make yourself do wrong as a result of those feelings. Hundreds of fauxrdinations of womynpreests is evidence of that.
The Catholycs don’t really care about parishes closing, or consolidating. They don’t really care about the priest shortage. Not really, not as terrible problems. Because they don’t see them as problems, but rather as opportunities to push their agendas. And they are willing to hijack the Holy Spirit to do so, and in doing so, become the very thing of which they accuse the Church: a group of people not allowing the Holy Spirit to do his thing.