Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his intention to resign is truly a startling development, but perhaps it does show that, in the words of Cardinal Dolan, God really is in charge.
The imminent resignation and consistory to come for electing a new pope may have relegated the “explaination” by the papal theologian of why women are excluded from church ministry to the back pages, but could not both events be signs of the holy spirit at work?
Whatever individual Catholics believe about what is or should be the role of women in ministry, despite Pope John Paul II’s declaration that church teaching is “definitive” and not open to debate, is this “explanation” the best that the papal theologian can do?
Men are more likely to think of God in terms of “philosophical definitions and logical syllogisms,” and love the church in a characteristally “male way,” which enables them to “show concern” about church buildings and leaky roofs?
Women are better able to perceive the “proximity of God,” have “special access” to the heart of Jesus, and can develop an easier “spousal relationship” with Him? Really?
One might hope that the church would abandon at long last these tired gender stereotypes as most of modern society has already done; one might also pray that a new pope will introduce a renewed aggiornamento in the church in the spirit of Pope John XXIII, to include a vigorous examination of declining church attendance, the critical shortage of priests, and yes, the role of women in ministry. And let us pray that the new pope will also find a new papal theologian.
Richard E. Wachter
Feb. 12, 2013 CatholicReview.org