Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Crypto-Christians II

Today, Father Raymond de Souza defends, and very well I thought, the Roman Catholic adherence to the male-only rule for its priesthood. Reading him, I can't help thinking how utterly absurd the spectacle of yesterday's little naval ordination was. Indeed, the event bespeaks--what many of the faith's detractors would normally point out to be--two of Catholicism's greatest miscarriages: the presence in it of 1) a rational double-standard, and 2) a certain amount of superstition. For the ceremony, in one fell swoop, managed both to deny papal authority by contravening it, while still somehow confirming it by making a point of acting outside of its "jurisdiction"; but it also seemed to be running on the bizarre assumption that the Church possesses a kind of magical power that could materially prevent the ceremony from happening if it was performed within the geographical confines of a given diocese. Very strange stuff.

And leave it to the traditional Catholics to come off as the most level-headed. With regard to yesterday's ordinations, Monsignor Serge Poitras said, "people can do what they want. We don't have an army. We won't chase after them. All we can do is deplore such challenges to Church doctrine and set the record straight." Father Raymond in turn acknowledges, "Perhaps [the Church] is wrong; [but] Catholics believe she is not." (By which--before you leap out of your seat and scream "A-Ha!"--he means Catholics that accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Like it or lump it, you can no more call a person who denies Catholic doctrine a Catholic, than you can call Belinda Stronach a Conservative after she's accepted a ministerial position in a Liberal government. You can, of course, question doctrine, but you can't actually defy it ... A subtle distinction, I know.)

What I can't understand is why these people don't just become Anglicans ... "Catholics without the guilt" is how we're described, I gather. Although that seems a little less applicable these days. Anglicanism's more like "guilt without the Anglicanism" really. In the West, anyway.