Alas, Fr James (Slippery Jim) Martin is at it again…subtly subverting the Catholic faith with his unique brand of saccharine spirituality.
He tweets here”
It is stupefying to me that women cannot preach at Mass. The faithful during Mass, as well as the presiders, are missing out on the wisdom, experience and inspired reflections of half of its members. St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.https://t.co/USedUvBxS1
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) July 22, 2019
and follows up with
Just think. Women with PhDs in theology. Catholic sisters with decades of experience. Women spiritual directors. Authors. Mothers. Physicians. Attorneys. Teachers. Grandmothers. Women who work with the poor and marginalized. And on and on. The church needs their voices at Mass.
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) July 22, 2019
The discussion was about this article at America magazine in which a woman named Jean Molesky-Poz told how she was preaching at Mass until she was banned.
First let’s analyze what seems to be a restriction on women preaching at Mass. In fact this is not a restriction on women preaching at Mass. It is a restriction on laypeople preaching at Mass. Once again Slippery Jim mixes sentimentality “It’s soooo mean and unkind to treat women like this!” with not a lie as such, but a dishonest skewing of the truth by an intentional wrong emphasis. The restriction is not against women, nor is it especially against laypeople. Instead it is promotes the proper distinction between the ordained and non-ordained within the ministry and liturgy of the church.
It is a simple truth of Catholic ecclesiology that the ordained man is configured to Christ in a unique way. The priest is configured to Christ’s priestly ministry and the deacon with Christ’s ministry of service. Within the liturgy this unique charism is revealed through the functions set apart for the ordained. In the liturgy the priest and deacon perform the sacramental sign of Christ, priest and servant. It’s very simple. Laypeople can’t do this because they are not ordained.
This distinction between the laity and the clergy is part of Catholic teaching and tradition back to the very beginning at the call of the apostles. Fr Martin knows this, or at least he should know this, and to tiptoe around it with his unique blend of sentimentality and subterfuge indicates either that he is very poorly formed in the Catholic faith (but how could that be true when he is a Jesuit–one of the best trained of the religious orders?) or he is being deceitful and subversive intentionally.
The second point is related to the first. The distinction between the clergy and laity is there not to oppress the laity, but to empower them. The laity share in the priestly ministry by virtue of their baptism. St Peter teaches that we are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood” (I Pt.2:9) But they share in the royal priesthood as laity and not as ordained people. This is vital because the laity “offer their bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom.12:1) They can be priests in the world in ways the clergy cannot, and that is their power and glory. When the distinctions between the clergy and laity are blurred it is the laity whose proper function and ministry in the world is blighted and weakened.
Subject to this same point is the problem of clericalism. The church is already too clerical, and when laypeople begin preaching at Mass it gives the signal that “your not really an important Catholic if you don’t get up in the pulpit. The really important people are the priests you know…” That’s one of the main problems plaguing the church today. Giving laity a priestly function exacerbates that problem. It therefore denigrates and patronizes the true glory of the work of the laity in the world.
Let’s move on to the third point. Women (along with all of the laity) are not permitted to preach at Mass. But are they banned from teaching the faith? Not at all. Women preachers and teachers have been active in the church from New Testament times. Priscilla and her husband Aquila were teachers of the faith and friends of St Paul. Church history is replete with smart, feisty, well educated women who were leaders and teachers. St Therese of Lisieux, St Edith Stein, St Catherine of Siena, St Bridget of Sweden, Julian of Norwich, St Hildegard of Bingen, St Teresa of Avila–all were great female teachers and leaders and some are Doctors of the Church.
In our day there are plenty of women who teach the faith and preach with great zeal and passion. Johnette Benkovic is a powerful evangelist. Mother Angelica formed an international television network to preach and teach. Jennifer Fulweiler and Teresa Tomeo are smart, articulate and media saavy. Others are bloggers, radio presenters, podcasters and authors. Abby Johnson, Lila Rose and others have an international pro-life platform to preach and teach. Other women are prominent scholars, teachers, theologians and philosophers.
Nobody is banning women from preaching and teaching.
Let’s be perfectly honest and cut through all the whiffle.
Fr Martin’s whiny tweets are no more than his usual crybaby bullying. He, and others like him, want women priests and they will continue to use every oily article, tweet, Facebook post and backroom pressure to get their way.
What should one do in response? See the subtle subterfuge for what it is. Call it out and get on with being faithful Catholics.