Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Enemies Are Within The Gates

We probably could have still said "at the gates" 100 years ago. Probably. As much as I like to think that things are getting better, though, folks like Nicole Sotelo at the NCR are there to put me back in line.

Ms. Sotelo's article, which I'm sure many of you have already seen, is entitled "Don't Tell the Pope." To translate, the Pope is a very naive and/or stupid man who needs correction in the most sarcastic manner possible. The topic used to provide this correction is that of the priesthood, what with Pope Benedict declaring it the Year of the Priest and all. Let's begin:

I hate to be the one to inform him, but Eucharist, mission and church existed long before the rise of priesthood.

Yes, I'm sure it pains you greatly. Having established your martyrdom of Enlightenment, let's review the evidence provided to support your claim.

According to the Gospels, Jesus was not a priest, nor were his disciples. We do see reference to Jesus as a priest in the Letter to the Hebrews. The author uses the word to refer to Jesus as the new and last “High Priest,” ending a long line of Jewish leaders. The author claims that priests are no longer necessary because no more sacrifices are needed. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and is our final high priest.

A priest is one who offers sacrifices to God. Jesus offered Himself to the Father. He also told His disciples to do likewise, and it's fairly apparent from 1 Corinthians 11 that it's the same sacrifice. There are no "more sacrifices," merely the same perfect offering from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof, if you believe Malachi, at least. Ergo . . . seems pretty basic to me. Granted, she deliberately excludes Paul's letters and the Old Testament here. The last sentence here is actually correct.

Perhaps the pope has forgotten that Jesus was not focused on priesthood. He was focused on ministry. He called people to minister alongside him, regardless of their status in society. He called out to fishermen and tax collectors and the woman with seven demons. Everyone was responsible for engendering the kingdom of God.

Yes, but what was all this leading up to? Perhaps Ms. Sotelo has forgotten the Last Supper and the Cross. All this "ministry" would be absolutely worthless without the offering of the sacrifice and its continuation. Ministering doesn't count for much if we're all locked out of heaven. It wasn't until the Son of Man was lifted up on the Cross that He could draw all to Himself.

All were invited to minister and they did so with various titles given to them by the community based on their gifts. Some were called prophet, others teacher and still others apostle. It was only later that we begin to see the emergence of a formal ministry structure and corresponding terminology as the followers of Jesus were influenced and integrated into the Roman Empire. It is not until 215 A.D. that we have evidence of an ordination ritual for bishop, priest and deacon.

Yet we know a hierarchy existed from the beginning. Otherwise, the bulk of the New Testament would be complete crap. Why are all these guys writing letters telling other people what to do unless they have the authority to make such commands? What was Paul talking about in Acts 20 when he told the people that the Holy Spirit had set bishops over them to rule the Church?

I know. This doesn't necessarily make the case for sacrifices and such, but as we'll see, Ms. Sotelo's real beef is that there are people who can do things she can't, not really with what those things might be.

The emergence of the clerical structure eventually led to a division of the Christian faithful into “clergy” and “laity.” In the early years of Christianity’s emergence, however, Paul reminded Jesus’ followers, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

After the rise of ordination and priesthood, there develops a hierarchical order among the faithful. The word “ordination” derives from the Latin “ordinare” which means “to create order.” It developed from the Roman usage of the words “ordines” that referred to the classes of people in Rome according to their eligibility for government positions.

Ah, there it is. Of course, this entire section is so much bull dung. Maybe she could ask Pope Clement I what he thought of hierarchy and clergy, given that he was writing when you still had at least one living Apostle. Since Ms. Sotelo knows so much more than popes, though, let's see what St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote around 107 AD:

Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to show forth the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to the will of God...

For, when I was among you, I cried, I spoke with a loud voice: Give heed to the bishop, and to the presbytery and deacons. Now, some suspected me of having spoken thus, as knowing beforehand the division caused by some among you. But He is my witness, for whose sake I am in bonds, that I got no intelligence from any man. But the Spirit
proclaimed these words: Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid divisions; be the followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is of His Father.

Epistle to the Philadelphians

How about that? Of course, Ms. Sotelo's claims have no citations and for good reason. She has none. We must believe then that she is producing her "facts" from some bodily orifice.

The laity became “dis-ordered” from the clergy. The word “laity” originates from the word “laikoi” that referred to those in Greco-Roman society who were not “ordered,” or “ordained” within the established political structure. The word “clergy” comes from the word “kleros,” meaning “a group apart.”

Umm. . . Ok. Thanks for the vocabulary lesson. How about making a point?

While many Christians continued to minister within the church and even some women carried the titles of deacon, priest and bishop, most carrying this title were part of a limited group of men commissioned within the context of a particular socio-political and religious order.

I call bull-crap. Pick up the cards. You can make an argument on the deaconess front, although we know they weren't ordained. On the other hand, I admit you might even find some priests and bishops if you are willing to ignore the key distinction that marked such parties.

They were all heretics. I don't think travelling down the paths of Marcion and Montanus makes for good churching.

This endured until 1964 when the Second Vatican Council reminded the church that the role of minister, or priest, was not limited to the ordained, but was a call to all the baptized. The document, Lumen Gentium, proclaimed that the laity were “made sharers in the priestly, prophetical and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (31).

Of course, it would be neo-Modernist garbage without the obligatory, "Vatican II changed all that." Let's check a couple of other things from that same part of Lumen Gentium:

What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. It is true that those in holy orders can at times be engaged in secular activities, and even have a secular profession. But they are by reason of their particular vocation especially and professedly ordained to the sacred ministry. Similarly, by their state in life, religious give splendid and striking testimony that the world cannot be transformed and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes.

Any questions? You are a priest, in a certain sense, by virtue of your baptism. You are still secular. You don't share in all the ordained priesthood's unique stuff.

Since you hate to break things to the Pope, Ms. Sotelo, let me break something to you about Vatican II and what it says about the Holy Father:

This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.

Lumen Gentium 25.

She closes by flexing some more hubris, especially with this bit:

I wouldn’t worry about telling the pope that Eucharist, mission and church existed long before the priesthood, nor that the Year of the Priest should really be a year dedicated to all the laity. Instead, we need to understand this ourselves.

We probably shouldn't worry about telling Ms. Sotelo how wrong she is and how she has bascally declared herself a heretic and schismatic in this article. Something about casting pearls, I think. Instead, let's pray for her (something she never suggests for the Holy Father in the whole article) and ask God to grant her the grace to repent of her insults and lies.

1 comment:

Chants a Lot said...

Perhaps even more troubling than the article were the many comments supporting her arguments. This one, I think, takes the cake: "Maybe the year of the priest will be an opportunity to for all of us to channel our inner priest and take him out to play". The most fitting response I can give to this is, "Hooey!" From these comments it would appear that Satan's intention of destroying the ministerial priesthood, about which Father Corapi has warned, has begun to be fulfilled, at least in the hearts and minds of many Catholics. If we did not have our Lord's own promise that the gates of hell would not prevail, I would be tempted to despair.