This post is a continued reflection on a comment I made when discussing the inappropriateness of women on the sanctuary during Catholic liturgy with Part time Pilgrim (see here and here for the discussion).
I mentioned that I did not know why women should not be on the sanctuary: in these rationalist days, a damaging admission to make in any argument; however, it is the truth.
I could also add that I don’t know why women can’t be priests.
But Ben, you are completely undermining your own positions! you gasp in horror.
For though I do not know the reasons, I know the second as a simple fact, guaranteed by the teaching authority of the Church, following the example of Our Lord Himself. And the first I am pretty sure of due to the constant practice of the Church through the centuries (and see the previous discussion for further reasons).
So are we called to blind obedience?
No. But there are times when we are called to obedience first, and to seek understanding second; and I think this area may be one of those.
Let’s take the issue of women’s inability to be Catholic priests. If we are Catholics in the traditional sense of that word, we accept the teaching of the Church (by constant practice, Papal teaching, successive Catechisms etc) that women cannot be priests.
We may then seek to understand why that may be the case. In the first instance, it is clearly because of the example of Christ, and the constant tradition of the Church. But that only gives us the reason for the teaching and the obedience. We may legitimately wonder why Christ instituted a male priesthood. And then we are in the realm of speculation.
But if we read the Bible with a Catholic intellect, we will notice right at the start: male and female he created them. There is a difference there. And this difference is clearly of sacramental importance: matrimony is the way by which the race is to be propagated.
Anna and I have been discussing the male-only and wondering if there is any link with the damage due to Original Sin. Immediately after the Fall, Eve is told that she must submit to Adam, and Adam that he must work.
Is there a sense in which the damage to women and the damage to men is different? Is it that women need to learn obedience and men to learn to be industrious? I notice that Our Lady is particularly honoured for her unquestioning fiat: obedience. And that until political correctness put the boot in, women were required to obey their husband in marriage.
Of course, one can easily think of men who are extremely industrious - workaholics, even - and women who are so obedient as to be too passive: but maybe both of those are simply the other end of the same damaged stick.
And I love the idea that woman is the higher in the order of creation, and that Christ became Man so as to enter the race in its lowest condition...
As I say, that is all speculation: I am thinking out loud and have reached no conclusions.
But that man and woman are different - and not merely biologically as some would have us believe, seems to me to be a clear and observable fact.