In my former stomping grounds, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk has taken a stand against Sr. Louis Akers, a Sister of Charity who espouses the view that women should be ordained to the priesthood.

Pilarczyk has banned Akers from teaching in any Archdiocesan schools unless and until she recants her incorrect statement.

The Archbishop said:

Pilarczyk Photo0002

“It is a bishop’s responsibility to provide authentic and orthodox Catholic teaching in his diocese. Persons who are not in accord with the teaching of the church should not expect to be allowed to teach catechetical leaders or others in the name of the church.

“We don’t hire people to teach only infallible doctrine; we hire people to teach what’s in the Catechism of the Catholic

Church. . . . As a result, Sister Louise may not teach in the name of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati or at any venue for which the archdiocese is responsible.”

The teaching of the Church is clear: priestly ordination is res

erved to men alone. The Church, in essence, “does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination” because Christ instituted the priesthood in a particular way. John Paul II’s letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis sums this up quite nicely:

Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great

importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

akersUnfortunately, some in the Church (really, at the periphery of the Church) still attempt to hold that the ordination of women is not only theologically justifiable, but also a necessary way to bring about “justice” in the Church. These proponents, like Akers, fail to acknowledge one of their principal duties as a practicing Catholic–to be obedient to the Church and her teaching.

Catholic obedience, as described by Fr. Ronald Knox, is

a submissiveness which we imitate from our Lady herself–Ecce ancilla Domini! It is a free act of loyalty by which Catholics acknowledge and accept the administrative authority of the Church, and hear in the commands of their superiors the voice of almighty God.

And above all, Catholic obedience rallies to the person of that Supreme Pontiff who holds his succession from the Pilot of the Galilean lake.

Knox is quick to point out that Catholics are not called to a blind obedience, an ignorant obedience. Rather, we are called to willing and free submission to the Church as the repository of Truth and divine revelation and to the Holy Father as the infallible communicator of that Truth regarding doctrine and morals.

Von Balthasar elaborates on the virtue of obedience and links it to the love we should have for God. We should imitate Christ in His loving obedience to the Father. And that obedience was not marked with self-assertion, but with self-surrender. By being obedient to the Church, and therefore to God, the believer

commends himself and all his freedom to the protection of love; that he surrenders his freedom to the beloved in order to receive in return the law of love. There is no progress in love without at least a modicum of this attitude of self-surrender. Love can never be content with an act of love performed for the present moment only. It wants to abandon itself, to surrender itself, to entrust itself, to commit itself to love. As a pledge of love, it wants to lay its freedom once and for all at the feet of love. As soon as love is truly awakened, the moment of time is transformed for it into a form of eternity.

When we submit to love, our freedom is not taken away, but reaches its fulfillment and proper end.

And sometimes it is love that requires us to recall people to the correct practice of religion. Sr. Akers has failed to submit to the Church and openly teaches doctrine contrary to the Church. Archbishop Pilarczyk’s stand is, in essence, an act of love recalling a lost sheep to the fold. Perhaps now, after an official act by the Church, Sr. Akers will revisit the Church’s teaching, properly form her conscience, and freely submit to the love offered to her.

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