Use of reason needed in debate
Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, September 22, 2009
In his “Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 1995,” Pope John Paul II states, “The Second Vatican Council fully grasped the logic of the Gospel … when it presented the Church first as the People of God and only afterwards as a hierarchical structure. The Church is first and foremost the People of God, since all her members, men and women alike, share – each in his or her specific way – in the prophetic, priestly and royal mission of Christ.”
John Paul II continues to explain in his letter how the hierarchal structure of the priesthood is a ministerial priesthood in which priests are called to a ministry of service and must thus work to guarantee everyone’s participation in the goal of eschatological fulfillment. Upon examination, it is obvious that the duties to the Church as the People of God must first be fulfilled before one can fulfill the duties to the Church as a hierarchical structure (a lexicographical ordering of sorts). The hierarchal structure must not inhibit the Church from functioning as the Church as the People of God. John Paul II does not believe that the hierarchical structure poses any hindrances to guaranteeing that all people, including women, participate in Christ’s prophetic, priestly and royal mission. He does remind priests though to remain observant of their duties as servants and to be vigilant that it never becomes the case that the Church’s hierarchical structure excludes a certain group from participation.
Thus, if members of the Church believe that the Church’s hierarchical structure, viz., the sole ordination of men into the priesthood, is interfering with the mission of the Church as the People of God, their concern is a completely valid concern. It is good and proper for individuals to raise flags of warning on matters of belief that the Church as an ecclesial community can then subsequently reflect upon. It is simply not adequate to point to a certain Church teaching and proclaim, “See! I’m right!” We must always seek to make use of the reason that God has granted us with.