The Reliquary Casket of St Thomas of Canterbury

Women Priests

While everyone is still scratching their heads about Francis' comments on marriage, and getting excited over gender theory, there is a little matter on the back burner.  One that could be the next major front of attack - to weaken the church in all she maintains: I refer simply to the forthcoming push for women priests. That's right, this single point links to all others. Indulge my bit of drama and ask me 'how so'?

First of all, OK, Francis hasn't actually said women priests, but on 2nd August he officially instituted a commission to study the issue of a diaconate of women. For years advocates of women's ordination have argued that historically 'deacon' can mean more or less. This was enough to get the Press' hopes up at least!  The Beeb said a 'chink' had appeared. Yet in 2002 an international Theological Commission concluded a five-year study that gave advocates for women's ordination nothing much to hold on to. I'm not saying Francis wants women priests, but he's created a bandwagon that others will eagerly jump on. Little doubt, a push is coming.

But where's the link to the 'all the church teaches' thing?  What's the fuss with whether there's a bloke or a blokette at the altar?  In one word: a sign, a symbol. OK that was two words. The thing is, all sacraments flow from the Eucharist. They and the Eucharist are both signs and instruments of grace. Destroy the sign, and what have you got?  The priest is a sign of the man Jesus, who being God acts through the priest to make the Eucharist present for us.  Put a woman in the place of the man and what have you done to the sign?  Enough said.

We know that a storm is coming over gender, so where better to strike a gender attack than at that sign which is the fount of all grace. This serves two purposes up front: destroy the sacrament, and destroy people's sense of sex difference, on which is built humanity. It was said of old that when the Devil rebelled saying he would not serve God, it was over the small issue of God's intentions for mankind, to elevate us to the divine. The Devil wants to destroy not just you and me, but our ability to be fruitful and in that way, to spoil one of God's works, which was not about him.

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The main picture is a detail of a reliquary which once contained the relics of Thomas à Becket. It's now in the British Museum in London.

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