Thursday 5 October 2023

Quite Contrary

Do not worry about the Synod. Instead, enjoy laughing at what the media claim is on the agenda when it simply is not, and indeed cannot be. A stopped clock may be right twice a day, but a slow clock is always wrong, and Mary McAleese on yesterday's Woman's Hour was the funniest throwback that I had heard in a very long time.

30 years rolled back, as 40 will have done for many people and 50 for listeners of her own generation, on hearing McAleese give us the full "women can be lawyers, therefore they can be priests" act, complete with the equally old favourite that "none of the Apostles was Italian or Irish, either". She had obviously never read anything. But what an upper-middle-class, white, female Boomer wants, then, by the power of the State as reconfigured by the economic changes of the last 40-odd years, an upper-middle-class, white, female Boomer gets. Except that, this time, she does not. She cannot.

For all the comedy value of the impending deflation of McAleese's and her sort's arrogant entitlement, at least she did not demean herself with "Saint Mary Magdalene was an Apostle", or "women were priests in the catacombs", or "Pope Joan", or "women were once ordained to the Diaconate", or that preposterous reading of Galatians 3:28, or the Dan Brown fantasies of Dr John Wijngaards, although I expect that that was only because she had never heard of any of it.

Tellingly, no one any longer says that, "There would be more priests." That totally non-theological argument has been disproved by the experience of the still or historically State Protestant bodies of Northern Europe, which at least theoretically retain the concept of ministry to the whole παροικία. Here in England, as elsewhere, several parishes routinely share a woman where they used to have a man each.

By the way, Anglicans who said that the ordination of women would lead to same-sex marriage were either screamed down or laughed out back in the day, including by Catholic supporters of women's ordination. But today, the two come as a package deal, and everyone recognises their pairing to be self-evident. McAleese also repeatedly used the term "LGBT". She does not even know what a woman is. Again, that is just part of the deal these days. That preposterous reading of Galatians 3:28, indeed.

The Catholic Church is awash with vocations where She is characterised by accurate catechesis and by edifying liturgy, and proponents of such are even managing to slip through in Western Europe, North America and the Antipodes, as the only ordinations in those regions in the last 30 years, since before a few of those who were now being ordained were born. The McAleese Mafia, which firmly controls the process in the West, is aghast at the "conservatism" of younger priests, some of whom are now well into middle age.

But what else could the McAleese mafiosi possibly have expected? They have defined themselves by their rejection of Humanae Vitae, and thus by having a birth rate far below replacement level, as well as by their ambivalence, at best, about the whole notion of conversion, and their very strong hostility to almost everyone who ever did convert. It is possible that they may have liked different converts, and that they still would, but my mind cannot boggle that far.

Thus have they defined themselves by being outbred by the people who did adhere to Humanae Vitae, as is manifest in every parish in the West while not being an issue in what are therefore the world's Catholic heartlands, and by taking no part in the steady stream of converts who are highly disproportionately likely to seek ordination, often but not always after having ministered elsewhere, to the point that there are dioceses in this country that would collapse without them.

Yes, some of them are married. The Church has always had married priests, with a certain number at every point in Her history; it is a pastoral decision how many there should be, and what they should be doing. The Church has never ordained women, because She cannot; the matter is not disciplinary, but doctrinal. Married or celibate, if priests in England are not yet more likely to be converts than to have done all 13 years of Catholic school, then that will very soon be the case.

And what of the ones who have put in those years? For all the curriculum time devoted to RE, Catholic schools have not taught doctrine in the lifetimes of more than half the population, people who have wanted to know it have always had to teach themselves, and that is now far easier to do. With their weekends and their holidays still sacrosanct, schools have taken to finishing in the early afternoon. Just as anyone with an Internet connection has plenty of time to read non-liberal political thought, non-liberal social and cultural commentary, and non-liberal economics, so he also has plenty of time to read non-liberal theology, and anyone who would now wish to become a priest will have done so, probably to some extent across that full range.

In between the colouring in of infantile pictures to ram home trite little moral messages to 16-year-olds who were otherwise doing quadratic equations and Shakespeare, a mini-McAleese can bang on to her heart's content. As in any other lesson, the boys know what to write, on the rare occasion that they were expected to write anything, while keeping their heads down and while getting their education elsewhere. The first spark of any vocation to the Priesthood would now be its unique opportunity ever to outrank any woman or even schoolgirl.

Of course, in this and comparable countries, the Church can be rather disappointing in practice, leading to heroic status among the clergy for any layman who stands up to the coven because he can. Follow that latter link for a hint as to how the coven's imagined triumph in these parts was about to come crashing down, and consider the startling words of one H&N INSIDER, in a comment on Pat Buckley's closely moderated blog: "I can assure readers that Bishop Buckley’s blog along with his cooperation with two other individuals, one episcopal and one lay, played a significant role in Byrne”s departure from H&N Bishop Buckley has more information than he published here."

"One episcopal and one lay." Then as now, other than the Diocesan, there was only one bishop in Hexham and Newcastle. The one who put the late Canon McCoy in charge of the Youth Pilgrimage to Lourdes for 10 years despite now claiming to have known that he was a "safeguarding risk", meaning, if anything, an orthodox Catholic who on that basis maintained intergenerational male intellectual and spiritual contacts beyond the coven's control. Oratorians also do that. The coven would have hounded Saint John Henry Newman at least from this See, if not to his death. If they had ever heard of him.

McAleese's insistence that Jesus never established the Hierarchical Church, while making a nonsense of her interest in who could or could not be ordained, was a useful reminder that no one could hold a Catholic ecclesiology and Eucharistic theology while advocating the ordination of women. That is clear from an examination of those proponents' published work. And being accustomed to Catholic ecclesiology and Eucharistic theology as the guarantor of Chalcedonian Christology, then they have departed from that, too.

Yet the Chalcedonian Definition is the Holy Spirit's definitive answer to the Incarnate Word's perennially normative question, "Who do you say that I am?" It is the only logically sustainable interpretation of Saint Peter's immediate reply to that question. And we all know what Jesus, in turn, said in immediate reply to that. Christological orthodoxy cannot be separated from fidelity to the Petrine Office, and it is precisely in its incompatibility with dialectical materialism that it has implications far more radical than anything that Marxism could ever formulate, much less deliver. 

Wittingly or otherwise, that is what liberal capitalists such as McAleese truly fear, and never more so than when they begin to grasp towards the realisation that thus equipped intellectually and spiritually, it would the principal victims of deindustrialisation and of war, ludicrous though that combination is in itself, who would be the vanguard for economic equality and for international peace. Very largely with such followings, movements in that vein have arisen in the West in recent years, and they have been viciously suppressed, nowhere more so than in Britain. But none of those, in itself, has been built on the Rock.