I’m a great fan of Pope Francis,

AND

it would be tragic if I reduce the impact of the primary environmental focus of Pope Francis’ latest teaching, Querida Amazonia. And it is certainly possible, knowing the type of person that he is, that Pope Francis may have a trick or two up his sleeve…

BUT

Pope Francis deserves the respect to have his reasoning (presented in Querida Amazonia) against ordaining women taken seriously and, hence, debated intelligently.

Pope Francis (rightly, IMO) has regularly attacked clericalism of the ordained. He constantly argues that it is clericalism that created a culture where criminal abuse was widespread and extraordinary efforts were made to keep the crimes hidden.

Now, in Querida Amazonia, he claims:

To admit women to Holy Orders “would in fact narrow our vision; it would lead us to clericalize women, diminish the great value of what they have already accomplished, and subtly make their indispensable contribution less effective.”

Querida Amazonia 100

The argument, here, that Holy Orders ipso facto leads to clericalism totally contradicts all Pope Francis has been trying to achieve on this front. If admitting people to Holy Orders inevitably “leads us to clericalise them”, and if clericalism inevitably leads to a culture where criminal abuse is widespread and extraordinary efforts are made to keep the crimes hidden, then we have no choice, ethically, but to cease ordaining altogether.

I would argue in the other direction. As Pope Francis himself argues,

Women make their contribution to the Church in a way that is properly theirs, by making present the tender strength of Mary, the Mother.

Querida Amazonia 101

By admitting women to Holy Orders, one begins to dismantle the clericalist culture experienced in male-only ordination. One can hardly have a better image for the ordained than Mary – the one who, in full obedience to God, and treasuring all God’s words and pondering them in her heart, brings Christ into the world. Mary stands below Christ crucified, constantly devotes herself to praying with the followers of Jesus, and instructs that we do whatever Christ tells us. Ordaining women introduces the tender strength of Mary, the Mother, into Holy Orders that so desperately need this tender strength.

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