Church not perfect, just certain teachings
I am writing to respond to your front-page article on the possibility of ordaining women. In the second paragraph, a faculty member (a good guy, I know him) says that he came to the realization that sometimes bishops and lay Catholics make mistakes (like condemning someone unjustly). This led him to believe that it was possible the Church had made a mistake when she said, "we have no authority to ordain women as priests."
I am not qualified to argue about whether women should be priests or not. But I can say something about this idea of the Church making mistakes. Of course Catholic laypeople, priests, bishops and even the Pope make mistakes. We write with misspellings; we forget about tests; we ruin job presentations. Bishops and popes make mistakes in judgment all the time.
This is why the Pope every once in a while names someone that turns out to be a bad, proud, unfaithful bishop. That is why bishops end up ordaining priests who are great sinners. Never, as far as I know, has any Catholic argued that other Catholics (laypeople, priests, bishops or even popes) are free from sin.
What Catholics do believe is that the teaching authority of the Church cannot fail when speaking about faith and morals: who God is, what he is like, how we should worship him and what we should do to gain eternal life. It's not that the Pope is so cool that he never makes a mistake. God protects the Church so that we always get it right, as a Church, in matters of faith and morals. (We also believe bishops have special graces to help them make right judgments in other matters. Let's pray they use them.)
The Pope has said, "God did not give the Church any authority to ordain women." God must have had good reasons. Whether John Paul II or any other Catholic writes with misspellings or even makes (big) errors of judgment is irrelevant, because God does not protect Catholics from bad grammar. But surely God protects his Church from misunderstanding God.
Second, I would like to say something to Marc Echeveste, who wrote a letter about homosexuality that same day. Marc, we are all objectively disordered. That's what original sin did to us. In you, that objective disorder is a very large cross, for others, the cross takes a different shape. God, who made us, does not hate us because we are objectively disordered: He loves us so much, he sent his only Son to liberate us from sin, so that we can live holy lives and eventually join him in Heaven, free at last from our natural inclination to sin.
Dec. 2, 2000
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, December 5, 2000