They are everywhere, these progressives.
They are intent upon transforming society, even all of mankind. They are ready to attack anything traditional. They challenge the old order no matter where it is, including all things biological, and sexual, and male–female. Nothing is sacred or sacrosanct, especially anything which has to do with religion.
They hate the notion of God. There is no such thing as a divine being, or Creator of the Universe, and most especially a special creator of mankind, male and female. If anything is traditional, conservative, you can be sure that sooner or later it will be under attack, change demanded and often radical change. The means justify the end, and if the end, an ultimate societal, biological and human progressive transformation, requires that the freedoms to differ, disagree or even discuss alternatives, true freedom of speech or belief must be eliminated, so be it. So much is under attack by these angry, aggressive, activists and they are determined to win no matter the cost.
This radical, constructive, all encompassing and changing force occurs in religion as with anything else society holds dear. Progressivism arises in the German Catholic Church where there is open opposition to fundamental and traditional Catholic theology traditionally in place for hundreds and hundreds of years. German Catholic Bishops and lay leaders have petitioned Pope Francis to loosen the church’s rules on priestly celibacy and to permit the ordination of women as deacons. Such petitions are the latest in the German’s progressive drive for change no matter that Francis has warned that such moves if enacted could well split the worldwide Catholic Church.
The draft statement from the German Catholic Bishops called on the Pope to allow Catholic Bishops around the world to ordain married men and to give already ordained Priests permission to marry without having to leave the priesthood. If any such changes were made, the Catholic Church would fundamentally change at its core and the progressives within the church would have scored a major victory. It will be interesting to see if Pope Francis bends and accommodates, which of course means a major and fundamental compromise to a radical once considered heresy.
The German Bishops went further. They asked the Pope for permission for Bishops to ordain women as deacons. In the Catholic Church, that is a lower rank of clergy, lower than Priests. But women would be authorized to preach which the German Bishops find reasonable and many Catholics agree, especially those in Germany.
And more. The German Synod is asking the Pope to permit women as deacons and as established members of the clergy to officiate at baptisms. That was once reserved strictly for Priests. Further, the Germans are asking the Pope for permission for women to perform weddings and to officiate at funerals. All such clergy functions have been prohibited to this point for women and only authorized by the Catholic Church for men. Pope Francis has turned down similar requests before and it will be interesting to see how he reacts this time around.
There are those in the Catholic Church worldwide who believe that the discipline of celibacy for Priests is a real symbol of the orientation of life towards the Lord, embedded as they say within a long spiritual experience. Married to Christ for Priests is a hallmark for the Catholic Church. Even the Apostle Paul believed that one could tend to the things of the Lord better and with more singular devotion if a male Priest was not married. Many feel that celibacy however at this extreme level may have given rise in part to the sexual abuse and the pedophilia which has troubled the Catholic Church for years. Permission to marry would go far in ameliorating this problem.
The German Catholic Bishops point out to the Pope that sacramental marriage, the union between one man and one woman, points to God’s love and unbreakable faithfulness towards His people. They indicate that God created Eve for Adam so that he would not be alone and that he would bear children. He created them male and female, no matter what the progressives say and for man and woman that was a good thing. So, there is a logical extension between that God–created act and the quality role that women should play in His service.
The German Bishops point out that married men already can be ordained as Priests in some of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Vatican also has allowed, they remind the Pope, the ordination as Priests of married men who formally served as Protestant Ministers but converted to Catholicism. Conservative Catholics remind the Germans that of the more than 400,000 Catholic Priests, the vast majority are celibate.
Conservative Catholics including retired Pope Benedict XVI have warned that loosening the rules on clerical celibacy could undermine the church’s tradition and identity. That it surely could. It would also produce an extremely different priestly culture, lifestyle and approach to the church which could have both benefit and negative effects.
Interestingly, the German Bishops admitted that a shortage of Catholic Priests in Germany was one reason for opening the Priesthood to married men. In short, the call for this radical change was practical, meeting a current earthly need of the German church and perhaps the Catholic Church worldwide. The German Catholic Synod also stated very forthrightly the following:
“Obligatory celibacy may attract a disproportionately large number of men who are unsure of their sexuality, of their sexual identity and orientation, and wish to avoid confronting it”.
That, say conservative Catholics, sounds like true compromise and the lessening of the standards of the church which needs to solve its problems in other ways.
But the German Catholic Bishops are adamant in their call for GENDER EQUITY in the church. They firmly believe that women are called in equal measure to exercise diaconal ministry and there can be no exclusive on the basis of gender. They point out that women served as deacons in the first millennium of the church’s history. They pointed to all the ministerial acts and Christian services rendered by women in the time of Jesus and the early church.
But what really concerned conservative Catholics was that the Germans admitted that all of these measures, if approved by Pope Francis, were merely intermediate steps toward opening all sacramental offices to all genders. Conservatives fear that may mean transgender admissions or others with gender identity (i.e. lesbian or gay) which is now forbidden by the church. Jesus they say was a man and he appointed 12 male disciples, no women. How cogent that argument is remains to be seen.
So, the Catholic Church itself a mammoth, worldwide institution is under attack. There is progressive and radical progressive demand for change. If these petitions are granted by Pope Francis, there is no question the Roman Catholic Church will radically change, perhaps not all at once but for sure in due course. There are indeed two sides. But these petitions cannot be granted without fundamental change and potential damage, real damage to the Orthodox, traditional, firmly and biblically established Roman Catholic Church.
Time will tell. What a world. There is something, my fellow Christians and Americans which will never change. That is:
I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE. NO MAN COMES UNTO THE FATHER –
BUT BY ME!