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Bless me, Father, for I have questioned

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, September 20, 2009

I have never responded to a Viewpoint article before. I generally prefer to sit back and enjoy the repartee between the indignant, the well-meaning and the sarcastic. However, something about Chris Damian’s “The Sexist Church” (Sept. 18) really got to me. It could have been the over-simplified and inherently flawed style of reasoning, the patronizing chastisement of more than 60 percent of obviously misguided U.S. Catholics who are open to the ordination of women or it might have been the enlightened tidbit of advice about staying in our place.

First of all, a two-minute conversation is more than sufficient to educate a curious child on why men cannot have children – they lack the plumbing. However, I would love to know which pipes and valves women lack that keeps them from leading a congregation. Keeping in mind the logical fallacy of using precedents to counter change, let us review some of the perils of accepting our respective places in the cosmos: slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, oppressive regimes, genocides … the list continues. If anyone in these situations had “remembered their place,” unjust and atrocious acts would have continued. Thank God we do not follow this practice. A line from Gaudium et Spes. states: “All the faithful, both clerical and lay, should be accorded a lawful freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought and freedom of expression.” Thinking that something is unable to be improved through decisive action based on intellectual questioning is not only na’ve, but downright dangerous. “Sure, Mrs. Parks, you can ask why you must give up your seat, just as long as you move anyway…”

Would it shake your faith to the core if Mother Theresa had been allowed to consecrate the Body of Christ? Would the Church collapse if a woman absolved you of your sins? Can you honestly look at some of your wonderfully spiritual female classmates and say that they would not make great priests? God help us if we one day have to call some priests “Mother.”

Our own University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh once said “I have no problem with females or married people as priests, but I realize that the majority of the leadership in the Church would. But what’s important is that people get the sacraments.” If you would like to remind him of his place, he takes student appointments in the library.

Malcolm Phelan


Keough Hall

Sept. 20