Pope Francis has decided to say no to allowing married priests and women deacons.
He was considering married priests and women deacons in the first place because our current system cannot provide priests to the people who live in the vast area of the Amazon. This leaves these people without access to the sacraments.
The people who want to bring Pope Francis down were foaming at the mouth over the possibility of him allowing married priests and women deacons. According to them, such a change would cause St Peter’s itself to fall into rubble and dust.
Now that the pope has given them exactly what they demanded, they are, of course, not satisfied. They still hate him. They still want to destroy him. They are still willing to split the Church from top to bottom to get at him.
On the other side, there are lot of outraged and sad people who are wondering if the Church even has a place for them at all.
The women who thought that perhaps the female half of the human race would have a place in the Church that wasn’t at the back of the bus are bitter and disappointed. I think some of them will end up leaving the Church and ultimately abandoning Christ and their own salvation because of it.
Meanwhile, anyone who has been keeping up with the news these last 20 years realizes that the “celibate” priesthood has just about as much truth to it as a Donald Trump speech. All the stories about how the celibate priesthood is a beacon to animist peoples, something that draws them to Christ, are belied by the testimony of raped nuns, raped little boys and women with babies born to priests. Not only that, but Protestants have managed to convert a lot of people, even though they come to the mission fields as married couples.
I am not questioning the pope’s decision. It was his decision to make, and he made it. I accept his judgement on this.
I also never expected anything else.
The pressures on this man from the schismatics inside the Church, including quite a few of them who parade around in red hats and pointy hats, are enormous. His enemies are fueled by right wing money and hero-worshipped by the same spot-lighted-deer people who worship at the altar of the political heresy. They are soldiers in the army of the political heresy, and they can not be reasoned with.
Having said all that, the people of the Amazon, while they have been spared the horror of married priests and women deacons, still do not have access to the sacraments. I don’t expect that any of the people who have been battering the pope over this issue will go to the Amazon to minister to them.
What I think will happen is that the pope-attacking red and pointy hat wearers will condemn the women who wanted women deacons. They will tell these women that they are “unnatural” and in need of schooling in “true femininity.” When some of these women leave the Church, the red and pointy hat wearers will shrug; good riddance to an annoyance.
As for the people of the Amazon, they won’t even be told good riddance. That’s because they don’t have a megaphone loud enough to be an annoyance. Out of sight, out of mind, and nobody cares.
The people of the Amazon can sin without hope of confession, endure the vicissitudes of life without the healing strength of the Eucharist, die without rites, marry by whatever means they have, and progress through their Christian walk without confirmation. They’re nothing. They don’t matter. Nobody cares.
If large numbers of them drift back into animism, then that’s their sin. They’ll go to hell. But it’s their choice to go to hell.
If Protestants, who are much more open to who can minister, send missionaries to convert these people, that would be a huge blessing. At least somebody would care enough about them to bring them Christ. If the Church doesn’t want them, I hope and pray that somebody else does. I do not want these souls to be lost to Christ because of the particularities of a pretend celibacy and the desire to keep things as they are, no matter who we desert or abandon.
As for me, I don’t care all that much in a personal way about whether or not we have married priests. I have been Protestant and I am now Catholic. I know that it can work, either way. On the other hand, I also know that married clergy are no more immune to sexual predation and adultery than their unmarried brothers. Priests aren’t always celibate, and married clergy aren’t always faithful to their wedding vows. Sexuality is the biological manifestation of the life force. It won’t be mastered.
While I would dearly love to see women deacons, I’m not going to leave the Church over it. I’m still trying to work out how I can square the circle of the fact that the Church I love has no place for women except the back of the bus. I will write later and with as much honesty as I can about the Church’s abject failure to stand with rape victims and victims of sexual assault. But for now, I’ll just say that I’m disappointed that there won’t be women deacons, but not at all surprised. Nobody wants to share power.
The sticking point in all this is that the Holy Father’s decision leaves large numbers of people abandoned and adrift in an absolute and final way.
As I read the rancorous discussions about this issue which preceded the publication of the pope’s decision, I was struck by the total lack of concern or even interest in the plight of the people of the Amazon. The arguments I read verged on the fantastical. They were nasty nonsense. None of them addressed or even acknowledged the needs of people who are starved for the sacraments.
The people of the Amazon don’t have choices. They can’t leave the Church because the Church has already left them. Their task is how to stay Christian when other Christians don’t want them, when the only One Who wants them is Jesus, Himself.
I think we need to regard this situation with prayer.
For everyone, including our own poor selves.
I have just described so many lost souls. We treat one another so very badly. What we need is the Holy Spirit to heal us.