Friday, November 6, 2015

an open letter to Sister Joan Chittister & the National Catholic Reporter

Dear Sister Joan-

You believe that ordaining married men to the priesthood in the Roman-rite of the Catholic Church will lead to the Church ordaining women. This thought of yours jumped out at me: “Why do they have ordained women priests in other Christian denominations? Think. Because they have married male priests, that's why.”

I see that you have forgotten the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches that have a hallowed 2,000 year tradition of ordaining married men to the diaconate and the priesthood. There is little or no ‘push’ from the feminine believers of these Churches to be ordained to ministry. In fact, you might be disheartened to learn that the altar space is reserved for clergy. There are no female altar servers, and only deacons and priests distribute the Holy Eucharist. 

Where does this leave me, my three daughters, and other female believers? We sing the Epistle, organize fellowship, serve on councils, cantor the entire lay-portion of the Divine Liturgy, help with the day-to-day running of the parish, write the bulletin, work on the web site, and paint icons for use in church and home. A blessed few women live traditional lives as monastics and sisters in faith. The list of women’s service in the Eastern Churches is long and respected. 

In the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church (in my family, Byzantine) and the Orthodox Churches, lay people know that they are a vital part of the liturgical life of the Church. A holy priest is not a tyrant; he is a servant leader. He guides the people in a back and forth style of all-chanted worship to Christ the Merciful. Women who might feel attracted to a priestly ministry humbly accept that, if Jesus did not make His all-immaculate mother a priest, they also will serve the Lord in other ways to emulate Mary the Theotokos. 

You continue: “How many conferences for how many years do you think a male priest could come home at night, throw his briefcase on the desk and say victoriously to his wife and daughters  one more time, "Well, I voted against all of you again."

I can assure you that my husband, a Byzantine Catholic priest of over ten years, has never lorded his supposed power over me and my daughters. He does not share information flippantly. I know plenty of other married priest couples both in the United States and Europe where the relationship is complementary and loving. All are equal in dignity as Christ-followers. 

An ardent feminist might not be satisfied with my lifestyle, a married woman of four children who has never used artificial birth control. I feel empowered by not allowing chemicals disrupt my body and by having a relationship based on respect and communication. I feel empowered by having a spouse in my life who is a mutual support. Although I have a Master’s degree and teach at the college level, I have no desire for power in the Church. I try to serve the Church. My husband has no aspiration for domineering power in the Church. His ordained ministry gives him the grave responsibility to die to himself, just as Jesus did. 

Sister Joan, the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches might be too inconsequential for you to consider, but I encourage you to look past privilege and see how our Churches worship Christ in our tradition. 2,000 years of married men being ordained to the priesthood in the East have not lead to women ministers. Lay women and men work with their priests to bring ‘heaven to earth’ in the Divine Liturgy. All baptized Christians are part of the mystical priesthood of Christ. A few men can be called, like the apostles, to an ordained priesthood.
Anne Boyd, ‘priest’s wife’ 
Remnantofremnant.blogspot.com

20 comments:

  1. So, this popped up in my facebook feed as the closest Byzantine rite parish (over 2 hours from me) shared it. And I love it. Whenever people discuss married clergy, I think of your family and the family of an Episcopalian priest I knew growing up who converted and was given permission by the Vatican to be ordained and served our parish for years. I don't know if I will ever seen married priests but it is simply ridiculous what the Reporter is putting out there. Thank you for being a voice in the wilderness!

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  2. Preotessa Anne,

    Keep up the good work. When I read this to my wife, she gave an audible cheer. Sr Joan clearly has an agenda, and disregards our Eastern Christian experience, and the voice of women who do uphold Catholic morality. Your perspective as a Presbytera (a "priestess" literally) is important. Too often the voice of Catholic women who understand and live the Faith are shouted down because they do not fit the modernist mold or spew the correct slogans. People are leaving the Church because it's irrelevant, not because it's not modern enough, but because it's become too watered down and meaningless. Sister Joan does not get that. She does not see where there are abundances of vocations, or where the parishes are full of young people. She ignores them because they try to be traditional, focused on Jesus Christ. She clearly is not. She does not see how the priesthood is about self sacrifice and "being clothed in Christ," but as a place of power and control. Her apparent contempt of power and control belies what is truly desired.

    Again, keep up the fight!

    In Christ,
    Adam Kemner

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    1. I think the key word of your response is "agenda"- if Sister Joan gets her way...what will the Church be? Women 'do' most everything in the Church- except the sacraments...she wants that too/ It is a little bit like a man wanting to give birth.

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  3. Wonderful article!

    -Germaine Nadine

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  4. Awesome post Preotessa! I hope Sister Joan reads it and pays attention.

    Thanks for writing this.

    -Jessica

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    1. I don't think she will see it- NCReporter didn't publish my comment. There are some comments similar to mine- but none others from those with first hand family knowledge of married clergy

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  5. Amen & add my name to that open letter to Sr. Joan. :)

    God bless you & your family!

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    1. thanks! ...she might think it strange that there are women who believe that the Church is correct to ordain 'only' men

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  6. Gosh, don't waste your breath on that old lesbian and these other God haters just ignore them

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    1. I hear your point...but God loves even those who hate Him...I fear for Sister Joan (she is also pro-birth control and certainly not pro-life is all aspects), but maybe this will convince others...

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  7. You speak the truth so beautifully -- thank you!

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  8. Here here Anne Boyd !! Thanks be to God for the Byzantine and Roman rites. (two equal lungs) . Perhaps you should send this to Joan or the newspaper she writes for.

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    1. I don't think she will see it- NCReporter didn't publish my comment. I tried.

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  9. Sr Joan's ideology is common in the Latin rite probably due to their ignorance regarding their sister Eastern Catholic churches. Roman rite pulpits never mention the Catholic Churches of the East. The THEOTOKOS is foreign to them- never explained. Maybe the term is Orthodox (a NO NO. Orthodox is non- Catholic and a NO NO. How will the Latin rite prepare its faithful for Church Unity with the Orthodox? Lord, Have Mercy Upon Us.

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    1. yes- there is lots of DIVERSITY in the Church! ;)

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  10. I split up the post into 3 comments for the Reporter, so hopefully, the moderators will let it through...

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