Editor’s note: The following is an essay from Dr. Gintautas Vaitoska, lecturer for psychology and religion at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. He has taught at Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University and St. Joseph Seminary, Vilnius, Lithuania, and has done extensive work with pre-Cana programs, marriage counseling, and chastity education.
Nonverbal communication has always been an important part of general communication skills. Although less discussed in everyday life, it is an explicit part of training diplomats, lecturers, artists, and psychologists. In urbanized society, this kind of communication seems to play an even more important role than in previous times: in contrast to a communal style of life, city people often find themselves in situations where nonverbal communication remains the only link among them, mute passers- or standers-by as they are. Think of riding a public train, for example. Sometimes explicitly and other times almost automatically, we nearly always perceive other people sitting around or in front of us, think about their appearance, possible occupations, social status, etc. This mode of nonverbal interaction is described by psychologists as “eye behavior” . We do not intend to engage in it; rather, it “happens” to us. It is this communication through the glance that is the topic of our inquiry here.
The importance of looking transcends the modern discussions of the nuances of communication. It is of paramount importance for our interior life. As classical psychology states, our thinking process is also based on the sequence of phantasms or images . To a certain extent, therefore, it seems legitimate to say that looking is identical with thinking. In Mt. 5:28, Jesus says: “Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” He does not say: “Everyone who thinks about the woman with lust.” In the process of keeping one’s thoughts in line with the will of the Lord – the essential component of the authentic growth in virtue – it is necessary to pay conscious attention to the way we look at something or somebody. For even if it often passes unnoticed, at least at a “subconscious” level, we really think with our eyes. It is exactly because this thinking, in its automatic and spontaneous quality, reaches the deeper layers of our soul that the old ascetic advice of the “custody of the eyes” can give such a powerful boost to one’s interior transformation.
In the text of Matthew 5, it is interesting to notice that the words of Christ are addressed specifically to men. Did this happen by chance, or is there a deeper law of visual interaction implicit here? Another text on the patterns of looking speaks, in an amusing way, about the “receptive” character of feminine behavior: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes” (Pr. 6:25). In both of these cases, Holy Scripture speaks of a certain digression from the straight paths of the heart: the visual “attack” of a man and the conscious attempt of a woman to “absorb” someone in a “receptive” mode of lustful looking constitute a consent for the impulse of the sensitive appetite, thus going over the line of what is still not a sin. While pondering on the modes of masculine and feminine glances, we always find ourselves in this zone of subtle interplay between simple sensitivity and lust – a field in which complete transparency is a gift of grace rather than a personal achievement.
A profound coverage of this dynamism can be found in Karol Wojtyła’s chapter on the “Metaphysics of Shame” . “The development of sexual modesty – as we call the constant capacity and readiness to feel shame – follows one course in girls and women and another in boys and men,” writes the author. “Since sensuality, which is oriented towards the body as an object of enjoyment, is in general stronger and more important in men, modesty and shame – the tendency to conceal sexual values specifically connected with the body – must be more pronounced in girls and women” . On the other hand, “a man does not have to fear female sensuality[.] … He is, however, very keenly aware of his own sensuality, and this is for him the source of shame” . These two forms of shame – the first of them protecting a woman from being reduced to the object of enjoyment and the second preventing a man from becoming a “consumer” – are described by Wojtyła, correspondingly, as the physical and the emotional or psychological shame . Therefore, for a man lacking in modesty, emotional or psychological shamelessness consists “in the rejection of a healthy tendency to be ashamed of reactions and feelings which make another person merely an object of use because of sensual values” and of when “in his feelings toward a woman he feels no inner shame for his urge towards sensual and sexual exploitation” . The woman, on the other hand, can be “physically shameless,” or immodest, when she presents herself in a way “that the values of sex as such are given such prominence” that they obscure the value of her personality .
We are speaking of the laws of modesty and shame, but let us not forget that we are dealing here with visual behavior. Consequently, the analysis of the patterns according to which shame functions differently in the sexes can be helpful in understanding the laws of male-female interaction by glance in general – i.e., not only when the issue at stake is that of immodesty. Before arriving at a more precise definition of the peculiarities of the visual communication between a man and a woman, we could formulate it as follows: in the visual interaction, a man looks at, while a woman is looked at. A man is, as it were, projecting his attention through his eyes, while a woman is receiving and attracting it. A man is “going out” of himself; a woman is “staying within” and “calling towards” herself. This law also seems to be supported by the traditional admiration of the feminine face in art and literature, and even by some psychological experiments . The words of Jesus to men in Matthew’s Gospel and the admonition of the Proverbs regarding “eye behavior” point in the same direction.
This pattern of nonverbal communication between a man and a woman corresponds well with what could be said about the complementary nature of human character in general. Criticizing “the widespread bias in the Western world by which receiving is regarded as inferior to giving,” and grounding his claims in the rich analysis of the deeper symbolism of the structure of human embrace, sexual intercourse, and fertilization, philosopher Robert Joyce puts the principles of activity and receptivity in men and women in good balance: “I would define a man as a human being who both gives in a receiving way and receives in a giving way, but is so structured that he is emphatically inclined toward giving in a receiving way. The nature of being a man is an emphasis on giving in a receiving way. A woman is a human being who both gives in a receiving way and receives in a giving way, but is so structured in her being that she is emphatically inclined toward receiving in a giving way” . Applying Joyce’s formulation to nonverbal communication, we could equally say: a man is a human being who both looks and is looked at in nonverbal interaction but is emphatically inclined toward looking at and “projecting” his glance; a woman is a human being who both looks and is looked at in nonverbal communication but is emphatically inclined to attract the glance and attention, to receive it in a giving way.
This seems to be a natural state of things within human beings. We do not think how to react in nonverbal interaction; rather, our glance and our “energies” react in a certain way, as in a kind of psychological reflex.
After this general analysis of nonverbal interaction and “eye behavior,” we can approach the issue of nonverbal communication at Mass.
Although the priest standing at the altar represents the second person of the Holy Trinity, he also has all human qualities and characteristics, as Jesus Christ Himself had them in His human nature. But we attend Mass not in order to listen to the priest. We are eager to hear the Word of God; the priest is only a mediator. His task is to convey this Word and to mediate God’s love to us in the Holy Sacrifice. Although invited to participate actively in the liturgy, the gathered community is primarily receptive, staying “within,” contemplating the gifts that flow through the altar toward the faithful. The necessary quality for the priest is to be in tune with the giving relation of God with his people; in the best possible manner, the priest’s human nature must enable this act of giving to happen.
From the point of visual interaction, it is the male nature of the priest that best fulfills this requirement – although never perfectly. We emphasize nature here, for it is not the personal merits of the priest that are responsible for this; nobody could dispute that there are many women who are holier than men, more profound, “meditative,” wise. These “phenomenological” considerations can nevertheless help, in an age that emphasizes the personal experience of the Church’s teaching, to clarify the doctrinal position according to which the maleness of the priest pertains to the signification of the Sacrament: the priest is a living “icon” of Christ the Bridegroom-Priest .
We must discuss now the exact mode and input of the visual communication at Mass, which allows us to be so “sexist” and “non-modern” with the issue at stake. The direction of the event of Mass is ex-centric: the power of God, the gift, comes from the altar to the people. As we have already discussed, the feminine nature is fundamentally of a receptive character. When the priest faces the faithful, the natural qualities of his spontaneous visual interaction must have a projective, ex-centric or giving character, and in this way, they coincide with the main semantic direction of Mass. This is a predominantly masculine mode of interaction by sight.
If a woman were celebrating the Mass, her words and actions would aim at the same objective: to convey the Word of God. But the automatic process of interaction by glance sets the flow of attention in the opposite direction: toward the woman. There is a contradiction between the intention to be a transmitting link in the chain God-priest-faithful and the spontaneous receiving of attention by reason of the feminine nature.
To be sure, this receiving and attracting quality of nonverbal interaction of a particular person has little to do with an intention to do so; primarily, it is an objective mode of feminine interaction. Even if it is true that, occasionally, there can be a wish to attract attention on the part of the person standing at the altar, or, likewise, somebody in the congregation can exhibit a conscious intention to “broadcast” an excessive interest, these subjective “initiatives” only add speed and power, so to speak, to the basic and objective modes of nonverbal activity and receptivity. For, fundamentally speaking, what we are dealing here is not morality, but anthropology .
In the context of what has been said, we may speak more exactly about the issue of girls serving at the altar. The logic of the visual interaction between people of opposite sexes would have to demand that girls serve at the altar before they enter upon the age of a bride – i.e., before puberty. The blossoming of girl’s beauty at this age calls for attention quite naturally, and with force: the primarily receptive character of the bride’s feminine nature logically reaches culmination at the moment she is called to fulfill her vocation of inviting and receiving a bridegroom. Her attractiveness and beauty are a blessing from God, but they do not fit the basically ex-centric direction of the Mass. The logos of the liturgy should flow from the altar and be “situated” in the “within” of the believer, and not in the opposite direction. Especially we should think of teenage males, who are in the stage of life that calls them to look for a female friend. The withinness of attention should not be disrupted by its spontaneous flow toward a girl in her bridal age .
We can attempt to answer two possible objections here. Somebody could say I am speaking from a masculine perspective, and thus, my sensitivity to the question of “visual” receptivity of the woman-priest standing at the altar is boosted by my masculinity. Consequently, the logic of the argument would require positing an equal discomfort on the part of a woman with regards to the (male) priest. If the argument is based on the disturbing character of feminine-masculine attraction during Mass, it is irrelevant, for women in the male-celebrated Mass would face the same problem as men would face if the ordination of women were established. The answer to this objection seems to be related to the essential receptivity of women: she is the object of visual attraction for both men and women. Feminine beauty attracts the eyes of another woman along with the sight of a man (although the mode of looking is different – perhaps that of identification rather than interest).
A question could also be raised whether the receptive nature of a female professor derails the process of conveying information, say, at an academic lecture. The answer is no, although it may cause distraction to the audience for the reasons we have given. As we have seen, each of the two sexes possesses the giving and the receiving dimensions, with the difference in emphases. The female professor uses the “giving” aspect of her activity, and the remaining “receiving” mode of her nonverbal visual interaction with the audience in the case of the lecture is of relatively little importance. The Holy Mass, however, is a process of different modality: its meditative character, the fragile vibrancy of the interior integration of God’s message into our hearts, demands a “purer” receptivity than in the case of a lecture. The university is a human institution, after all, while the Mass is divine, with divine symbolism that must be adhered to. It seems not by accident that the High Priest Jesus Christ mediated the action of God though his masculine nature, just as the human priest does, acting in persona Christi .
The analysis of “eye behavior” at Mass can also shed light on the discussion of whether the priest should face the congregation or the altar. What is he supposed to “do” with his eyes? One occasionally hears a remark about being disturbed by the “wandering eye” of the priest. A gentleman in the United States once uttered: “I hate this priest’s looking at me during the liturgy. I go to the Byzantine liturgy instead, where I am not distracted in this way.” While the visual “thinking” of the main celebrant is more readily concentrated on the Lord and less distracted by his seeing the congregation, the wandering glances of the Mass servers or even of the concelebrants seems to pose a greater challenge to the proper concentration of the faithful and their wish to avoid pointless visual interactions with persons on the altar.
Some readers could treat our support for the maleness of priesthood on the basis of laws of visual interaction as but one more offense to women on the part of “conservatives.” But this is to look at it the wrong way. I could answer that, as a layman, I feel equally “offended” by the higher status of the priest in the Church. On occasion, I could give a better homily in front of the congregation than the priest who is up there. Happily enough, Christianity has a good remedy for the treatment of ambitions: the principle of the last place. “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all,” says Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (9:35). It is in becoming childlike that we approach the kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 18:3). It is a painful remedy, but, nevertheless, it is the only real one. It is not important to be important; “importance” weighs one down.
The openness and receptivity of a child’s nature, as of someone who has retained this nature in his adult years, is significant in still another respect. Anyone who has at least some experience of talking to a group of people may have noticed that the success of his or her talk often depends on some peculiar circumstances. These can at times be more influential than the readiness and preparation of the lecturer. It is receptive personalities who have such an influence: through a silent contact and relatedness, it is as if they encourage the talker to express his thoughts clearly and fluently. This stance, which could be mistaken as “passivity” by those who perceive activity on purely masculine terms, is in fact active – and, at times, even crucial to the outcome of the lecture! Though scarcely examined in this respect, the individual speaking in front of the group is participating in what could be called “communal” thinking. What we have in mind here is not something like Avicenna’s concept of a common intellect for all men, but rather a difference in subtle modalities of one’s thinking in a dialogue depending on the peculiarities of the person or persons one is talking with .
This dimension also has its place in religious gatherings and especially at Mass. The primacy of receptivity in the female nature can be especially “active” and influential in creating the soil in which the Word is received. Equally, a man must use the “receptive” dimension of his personality when he is listening to the priest.
At the conclusion of this essay, let me call your attention to an old metaphor, a way of ancient thinking. In the traditional household of an agricultural society, a man was considered the head of the home and the woman the heart of it. She was deeply respected by the members of the community and held a position of obvious centrality in the family itself. The question “which is more important: the head or the heart?” seems meaningless. It is true that the head speaks, but, according to the wisdom of the Old Testament, the place of wisdom in man is the heart. The mind can think about the subtle issues of male-female communication, but the heart knows them. If Catholics (including the clergy) could take seriously their intuitions and experiences, many abuses of the liturgy would either never arise or would be rooted out.
 See Virginia P. Richmond etc., Nonverbal Behasveikvior in Interpersonal Relations, Prentice Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs,. New Jersey, 1991, p. 73.
 cf. Summa Theologica, I, Q. 84, art.7.
 Love and Responsibility, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1991. See also his subtle analysis of the relationship among sensuality, passion, and lust in the process of perception, p. 148.
 Idem, p.176.
 cf. p. 178. It seems legitimate, for describing this “masculine” form of shame, to use the term “psychological” as a synonym to the Wojtyla’s “emotional” – as to reflect the broader scope of interior response to the utilitarian attitude: thoughts, emotions and psychophysical reactions.
 p. 187.
 An interesting experimental psychological study of D.R. Ruther (“Looking and Seeing: the role of visual communication in social interaction,” Chichester, New York, 1984) can also complement the analysis of feminine-masculine interaction by sight. Ruther’s experiment has shown that, starting from babies above infant age, all subjects, irrespective of gender and age, gaze at adult women 90% more than at men. While reading such studies, one is tempted to ask: do we need empirical experiments to see that women are more beautiful than men?
 Robert Joyce, Human Sexual Ecology, p. 67
 cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1612
 It seems relevant to add here that the dynamic of nonverbal interaction described above is most vividly expressed in Novus Ordo Masses celebrated versus populum. When the priest faces the East – either in the Novus Ordo or in the traditional Latin Mass – his visual interaction with the faithful is limited to the reading of the Word of God and the sermon.
 The power and mystery of the feminine face, so often overlooked in the midst of the daily rush, was so acutely sensed by St. Francis of Assisi. The saint had a special reverence for women, considering each a bride of Christ. Asked by a friend why he did not look up at a girl who with such a great admiration gazed at the saint during the conversation, he answered that he does not dare to look at the beauty of the bride of Christ (as told in the biography of St. Francis of Assisi by J. Joergensen, Munchen, 1935).
 An explicit treatise of this principle can be found in Benedict Ashley’s article “Gender and the Priesthood of Christ,” The Thomist, vol. 57, no 3.
 At least some glimpses into understanding of this phenomenon can be provided by psychotherapy and also by the psychology of language-learning. The important dimension in overcoming stuttering lies in the establishment of a good rapport with the one to whom one speaks; also, the teachers of languages are well aware of the importance of the good quality of interpersonal contact for fluency in foreign languages, as well as even one’s native language. It is not only the “movements of the tongue” that are supported by a receptive listener, but the thinking process itself.
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One thing I really appreciate about One Peter Five is a willingness to post groundbreaking, thought-provoking articles like this one, that advance the discussion beyond the knee-jerk reactions of either “side.”
No, no…..first we need to talk about whether women can be deacons! The priest issue is for the future…..long after my pontificate has ended. No, incrementalism is the name of the game here. Every logarithmic leap can be subdivided into 39 smaller steps so lets first study the historical role of women deacons. I have instituted a commission to study this very issue and somewhere in Rome, they are, even as we speak, working to clarify this matter, just as there’s a commission studying Humanae vitae………………..*wink*………
LOL, do we really have the need for a story on why women can’t be priests? How about a story on why men don’t have the tools to bear children?
If Francis and pals try it it will be as invalid as a formal declaration saying the moon is made of green cheese. Oh and they can’t be deacons either, first woman deacon that tries to show up in a mass, every Trad I know will walk out which of course would make Francis happy but I’m just saying what would happen. Next Francis will have Male nuns up for discussion.
Yeah, he could really get into the ‘gender neutral’ thing, I have no doubt.
Hey, it all depends what you’re looking at :).
We know why women can’t be priests…Christ did not intend them (us) to be priests. Why make it sexuall for heavens sake….we need men to take the place of Christ He was not female nor effeminate like some of today’s clergy.
This is a tad insulting to men because they have free will even if they like to look at women. Male nuns ? lol
You meant sodomites clergy?
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which definitively prohibited ordination of women, imho lacked one more reason for men to be priests: Men need to learn how to serve, as noted in the article:
“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all,” says Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (9:35). It is in becoming childlike that we approach the kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 18:3).
Matthew 20: 28:  Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many.
Women do so much for the church (bake sales, parish picnics etc) and men need to learn how to serve as well.
At one time our parish had 2 (!) male cantors. Both have passed away. I learned from both of them how to sing the Liturgy and now I am the lay cantor for our parish. (N.B. Only men can be *ordained* cantors, D.G.)
Yes, that men choose to serve us in the ministerial priesthood is a very wonderful thing and we ought to be thankful and appreciate their life of sacrifice and service.
Wow, that’s awesome. The FSSP chapel I sometimes attend has all women singing, I don’t think they could find any men and I don’t get there enough to make the commitment plus you need more than one man’s voice and all women.
My other closer TLM has a guy that can sing like an opera singer. He sing’s the sung mass at 6:30 am, if you’re ever in around these parts, a great way to start your day.
You should try and attend a Solemn High Mass at St. Agnes in St. Paul Minnesota, they have an all male Gregorian schola and it is awesome to behold.
For sure I will if I am up that way, nothing better than finding the local TLM when travelling.
Some FSSP priests are quite progressive now. They want to compromise as civilized priests (actually modernists). They’re unaware that they open door for feminists in and very soon the altar would look like a stage. Please God, stop them.
Then the priest has to encourage the men to sing. When my mom was a teenager, her priest directed the choir practice!
That was my first thought when reading the title of this piece. It took an awful lot of words to restate settled doctrine and serves no purpose except to put Bergoglio’s heretic dreams back on the table.
“… its meditative character, the fragile vibrancy of the interior integration of God’s message into our hearts, demands a ‘purer’ receptivity …”
Beautiful language, profound thoughts. We cannot tinker with revelation and truths handed down, for we cannot begin to understand all they signify. There’s no accident that the call for women priests and redefinition of marriage are promulgated together. All same-sex unions are sterile, whether in society or at the Holy Altar. By their fruits you shall know them.
Thanks for a great article!
For pure receptivity does the “audience” at Mass need to be ALL women.
What is a same sex union at the Holy Altar?
A woman attempting to confect the Eucharist. The priest is a bridegroom in relation to the spotless Bride, the Church. His masculinity is essential to the fruitfulness of their union.
One of the comforting things I felt about converting to the Catholic faith was the notion that there are some things, many, actually, that are fulfilled and finished in discussion. Settled by the courageous acts of past saints and theologians and Popes.
How naive was I.
What I have found is that Vatican 2 and culminating in the revolutionary takeover of the Catholic Church by heretical Jesuits has placed EVERYTHING on the table.
We see now that nothing is sacred and nothing is settled in their minds and alas, in the Church today.
This is because we are but fallen humanity. Do not let this challenge discourage you from the graces that the Church has to offer through the Holy Spirit. Everything will always be on the table so long as there are people with free will.
You are correct. Everything is on the table with Francis. It will get very ugly.
Nevertheless, be not afraid. This pope and his lieutenants have only so many heartbeats. Then they will answer to their Maker.
Read the writings of the great Saints. Doing that will calm your heart and mind.
Thank you for this very insightful article on the non verbal communication of men and women. Many of our readers could benefit from reading this and pondering in prayer how they communicate with their eyes to their fellow brothers in sisters in Christ, especially during Holy Mass.
This is one of the reasons that proper custody of the eyes was stressed from time immemorial for Religious and why in the TLM the priest is instructed not to look at the people’s faces during the times when he is addressing them with the texts of the Mass, so that his words speak and not his gaze. It’s an unnecessary distraction from what is actually to be communicated to the Faithful.
And this is why when I preach, I look at my parishioners intentionally, not for long periods of time, but because it helps them keep their attention and calls it back when they have become distracted. And my thought process is fully in tune with what I am preaching so my eyes help further convey the same message.
Offering the Holy Mass facing the people is an onerous burden on the priest who is trying to focus intently upon what he is doing, because the people’s faces are always in his field of view even if he isn’t directly looking at them. The same is true of the faithful laity who desire to give all of their attention to the prayers of the Mass, for father’s face is always in their field of view.
If there were not already sound theological principles and the weight of Tradition behind ad orientem worship, these psychological reasons would be sufficient in and of the themselves to promote it.
It is also interesting to note that the Priest, according to the rubric’s of the TLM, is instructed to look at the Eucharist during the prayer of the Our Father.
Alright let’s be serious. It is easier for women be good but when they are not good “they suffer more” (Edith Stein) It is more difficult for men to be good but they are endowed with a corresponding will power. When a man chooses the priesthood he is choosing self mastery , Christ and his Holy Church. This choice is spiritually and profoundly important for all Catholics and the rest of the world as well hence our great respect for our faithful priests.
On another note, Edith Stein shouldn’t be referred to as Edith Stein, she is St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. The common use of Edith Stein is actually a modernist use/denial of the good of Holy Religion and Sacred Profession. She freely chose to give up her birth name and receive a new name dedicated to Our Blessed Lord when she entered into the professed state of life and received the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, ora pro nobis. Amen.
MEA CULPA !!!! So easy to fall into Modernists traps…..to become infected.
Oh, please! A modernist under every bed!
She is so often called Edith Stein because she was already famous under that name as a world-class philosopher, and because of her remarkable conversion from Judaism to Catholicism. The fact that she was murdered precisely because she was a Jew is another reason not to forget her origins.
She is called Edith Stein by Jews who will not accept her conversion and by atheists who will not accept her faith.
The reason she was murdered by the Nazis is common knowledge, as is her education and status as a philosopher, which was unaltered by her conversion.
Well, I think that it is more of a sign of indifference or even disrespect to her religious profession, even if that is not the intention of all who refer to her as Edith Stein. Quite simply, that is not how she referred to herself.
Men and women both sin. No one finds it easy to be good.
I think my daughter said it best when i was home schooling several years ago. She was about 9 years of age:
“Men are priests because they are like Christ.
Women are nuns because they are like Mary and are motherly.”
Out of the mouths of babes and infants……….. It is as well to ponder why such a young, innocent and uncluttered mind can perceive with such evident clarity, while we, with our ‘life experience’ and accumulated ‘wisdom’ sometimes cannot see the wood for the trees. In fact, many go to their graves without ever re-learning the art of ‘seeing’. I think we must all daily pray that we should not be numbered among them.
Providence! You quoted part of today’s Gospel on the Byzantine Catholic calendar (Matthew 18:1-11 with footnotes):
 At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who thinkest thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven?  And Jesus calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them,  And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.  And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.
 But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.  And if thy hand, or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire.  And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.  See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
 “Shall scandalize”: That is, shall put a stumblingblock in their way, and cause them to fall into sin.
 “It must needs be”: Viz., considering the wickedness and corruption of the world.
 “Scandalize thee”: That is, cause thee to offend.
 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
There is an easy way around “women can’t be priest”. A joint Catholic – Protestant worship service, say for example, a liturgical celebration with the Lutherans in celebration of the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. After all, it’s a special occasion and an exception is warranted. (Soon after the exception becomes the rule.) Wasn’t the Lutheran bishop that Francis met with in Lund, Sweden a woman? How many Protestant groups have women deacons, clergy, bishops?
The Catholic Church doesn’t have women deacons, priests and/or bishops and that will never change …. but the partner Protestant faith community has them. We are then told that as Catholics we must be respectful and ecumenical of our separated brethren in the name of love, tolerance, community, and fill in the blank. Women are now serving as priests at the altar. See, that wasn’t hard at all. (I wish my comment were sarcasm. Please, someone, anyone, tell me I am wrong about what I have written.)
Don’t give them any ideas!
Not only was she a woman, but also a ‘married’ lesbian. Ugh. And you have it correct, that is the avenue that is being taken. And women deacons are all about making women Cardinal’s, not priests (though that is the desire in the long run) for the Church has the ancient tradition of the Cardinal Deacon…
When I first came to my parish some of the parishioners wanted us to participate in an ecumenical Thanksgiving Day prayer service with the local Lutherans (abominable on many fronts in and of itself), who had a woman ‘pastor.’ I said absolutely not. They complained, I said I will not be responsible for promoting some woman in a Roman Collar in our sanctuary and leading our children astray…they stopped complaining. It was a minor miracle, they actually understood what I said and have never asked for any such thing again.
I have never heard of that before. A Cardinal Deacon? How long ago was that and how is that different from the regular male deacons we have today?
The order of Cardinal currently has three prominent tiers (though all are the same now and there used to be more than those, including sub deacon etc.) Cardinal Bishop, Cardinal Priest and Cardinal Deacon.
All of the Current Cardinals (as far as I am aware) are Bishops, though they may have the title Cardinal Priest, or Deacon (for they are filling a specific office based in history). However, St. JPII made Fr. Avery Dulles a Cardinal, even though he refused to be made a Bishop, he was made a Cardinal Deacon.
On April 15, 1962, John XXIII’s Motu Proprio Cum Gravissima declared that all Cardinal’s had to be bishops unless they were specifically excepted of this by the Pope. Like Avery Dulles was by St.JPII. This is also in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
Deaconess’ are part of the ancient Church. They helped with teaching catechism to women, helping women in need and with adult women’s baptism back when the Bishop/Priest would anoint the breast of the adult catechumen for baptism: it was unseemly for a man to do this with a naked woman. So, the deaconess would guide the minster of baptism (he was behind a screen) for the anointing. Once this practice stopped so the role of the deaconess died out. Ancient Abbesses were named deacons often because of their role in the cloister etc… They were not the equivalent of the male Deacons, they never served a liturgical role at Mass or preached etc…see: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_pro_05072004_diaconate_en.html
So, all it would take would be to make up a reason to reinvent the female Deaconate and then…well you know there are Cardinal Deacons and bam, there you have it Women Cardinals…it would all be based on false pretenses which them selves would be based on nonsense, but that has never stopped a modernist before, that’s what they live by.
They could be addressed as: Your Feminence.
Wasn’t St. Charles Borromeo made a Cardinal by his uncle the Pope before he was ordained a priest and still a layman?
Yes, however he was in the clerical state at the time. He received tonsure at the age of 12! Things were a lot different back then. Cardinal Bishop, Cardinal Priest and Cardinal Deacon are ‘titles’ for they fill the ancient posts that the original Cardinal’s came from. Sort of like ‘titular’ bishops.
There are in fact a number of living Cardinals, who are NOT bishops. One, who comes immediately to mind is Prosper Cardinal Grech, OSA, who was “Father” Grech until he received the Red Hat from His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI on the 18th February 2012. Two other non-bishops were created Cardinals at that particular Consistory. His Holiness, Pope Francis also created a number of non-bishop Cardinals.
Thank you, that’s why I said I could be wrong about whether or not they were all Bishops at this time. And it turned out that I was…which doesn’t surprise me.
I have read the comments of former Lutherans who say the diocese of Lund is the most degenerate in all of Lutheranism.
Only Catholic is a true Church, Christ Church.
This article is very interesting and its attempt to analyze and give concrete rational reasons for maintaing a male priesthood may be quite valid. However, it is much too intellectual.
The most important reasons are these: First, had Jesus wanted women priests He would have included them among His apostles. Secind, and by far the mosr important, the priest acts in persona Christe, in the person of Christ. As such he is more than a mere substitute or even proxy. The priest serves, in a miraculous way, as a projection by Jesus of His humanity. As such the priest must posses all of the characteristics or attributes consistent with Jesus’ human nature. The major attribute of the human nature of Jesus is that He is male. A woman does not possess this characteristic. Cinsequently, were she a priest, a dissinant contradiction would exist because she could never be a faithful projection of Jesus’ humanity. This is the fundamental reasin why the Church has not permitted the ordination of women, even to the diaconate. It is also why there should not be fenale altar servers. Serving at the altar is a type of postulancy, an initiation, potentially leading to the priesthood. Fenale altar servers convey the wring impression. Furthermore, a Mass celebrated by a woman would be invalid because she can never be in persona Christe precisely because she is female.
Do we not have to say something here about appropriate relationships? … and respect ? … Do we look at our mothers, sisters or daughters in the way this article suggests that all men look at all women? …
I feel this article makes us look as though we are scraping the bottom of the barrel …. there must be better God given reasons for women not being allowed to become priests …. surely ?
Today, 10:01 AM
thought I had already heard all the sexist arguments against women’s ordination, but this one takes the cake. This problem can be solved by castrating all the male members of the congregation!
I was waiting for a woman to reply to this “article”. This sausage fest of comments was getting surreal. I could only stomach the first 6 paragraphs and then went to comments because this guy is out to lunch.
One word of advice here, if anyone supports only male priests that’s fine (I personally could not careless either way), but to put this “rationalization” here with these quacky examples disguised as rational thought back up by misinterpretations of scripture is beyond the pale.
God can speak in all places. Please, don’t be so quick to judge. There is a trickle of truth hidden in this article; it is not totally a forsaken piece of writing. I ask that you pray and willingly open your hearts to try and discern what that truth may be. It would be saddening to let anger be the defining factor as is portrayed by your use of words.
It’s a hard truth to say these days, but women exist to serve men, not the other way around. (1 Cor 11:8-9: “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”) In particular, women exist to allow men to reproduce (Summa Theologia, 1st part, question 92: “I answer that, It was necessary for woman to be made, as the Scripture says, as a “helper” to man; not, indeed, as a helpmate in other works, as some say, since man can be more efficiently helped by another man in other works; but as a helper in the work of generation.”) Women, in humility, should accept that this is the limit of their place in the universe.