Know thine enemy
Letter to the Editor | Monday, September 21, 2009
I myself was not altogether pleased by the arguments put forward by Mr. Damian in his earlier letter (“The sexist church,” Sept. 16). Although he shares my belief that women cannot be ordained, he incorrectly assumes that arguments citing “nature” or “the Church” would be effective in an increasingly secular environment such as Notre Dame.
There are two separate currents of popular thinking which meet under the shade cast by this question. The first is that no one but oneself is the authority over oneself. It is individualism gone wrong. We, as a society, perpetuate the myth that we can determine our final state in life absent any serious inquiry as to the quality of that final state. If one by some miracle does inquire, radical individualism would dictate such inquiry be limited to the realm of ones experiences. “No one else can tell me how to be happy.”
The second current, related to the first, is that we all have “rights” which undermine any authority’s attempt to direct our lives. While in many cases, these rights have helped liberate an oppressed minority, these rights have also given rise to another myth: that we can do whatever we want because we have a right to. Want something? Make up a right. In this line of thinking, many opponents of Mr. Damian’s original letter have implicitly stated, in one way or another, that women have a “right” to become a priest. No one will point out in the public conversation, however, that priesthood is not a right. Because that would be the oppressive Roman Catholic Church, perpetrator of the Inquisition and the Crusades, rearing its ugly head again.
Mr. Damian and many others may hold the views they wish to hold but, to be persuasive in a public forum, must understand their opponent. Citing any authority (even nature), especially in this debate over women ordination, will cause the rivers of individualism and “rights” to flow with passion.
class of 2009