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Priests retain right to debate, promote women's ordination.

The following statement was released Oct. 24 by the Association of Pittsburgh Priests, which has about 40 members and is affiliated with the National Federation of Priests' Councils:

The Association of Pittsburgh Priests issues the following statement in response to a recent letter of Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, about priestly ordination of women.

In John Paul II's recent letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, he states that "the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful." He cites the strong tradition of the church as the reason, equating it, in this instance, with the desires of Jesus, further adding that nothing more will be said because nothing more can be said. This pronoucement seems to put him in the role of a kind father who wants to do something about a difficult situation, but whose hands are tied.

In reality, when the pope uses language in this manner to stifle dissent andend discussion on this important topic, he sends signals that demoralize those who are trying to serve the church with fidelity and creativity. He also misrepresents his own authority. Tradition is just that: tradition. It is not, and can never be confused with, divine law.

Throughout the history of the church, there was always discussion and there will continue to be discussion even though over the centuries the church has tried to squash dissent. Five hundred years ago, when Luther approached his pope and dared ask to distribute communion under both species, he was told that the church would never do so -- there could be no discussion. Four hundred years ago, the pope excommunicated anyone who dared whisper that the earth revolves around the sun -- and there could be no discussion. In more recent history, Pope Pius XII declared that all humans were descended from Adam and Eve -- and there could be no discussion.

It's taken hundreds of years for Luther's "scandalous" request to be granted, and only recently did the church apologize to Galileo. Although the church speaks in centuries and moves at glacial speed, with the conviction that only a faith-filled heart can contain, we know that one day, on this earth that revolves around the sun, the faithful will be receiving communion under both species from the hands of ordained women.

To respect the authority of the bishop of Rome does not involve giving up our own intelligence, our own search for truth, our own right to speak and discuss with others. The demands of free and informed adulthood in the church are heavy; John paul's demands of blind obedience add to their weight. People accepting responsibly their equality and dignity and generously sharing their gifts in the spirit of Christ will make the burden lighter.

The Association of Pittsburgh Priests will continue to work toward the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic church.
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Title Annotation:Oct 24, 1994 statement by the Association of Pittsburgh Priests
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Transcript
Date:Nov 11, 1994
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