Friday, May 04, 2007

Q&A Potpourri

Maria emailed me the following questions:

I was wondering about your thoughts on cloning. I think its playing God and that its totally wrong.
I think you're on to something. Note, however, that it depends on what you mean by "cloning." The Pontifical Academy for Life provides the following explanation in the document Notes on Cloning:
...any type of cloning is to be considered illicit which implies the creation or splitting of embryos, no matter what techniques are used or what aims are pursued because it is not licit to do evil even to bring about good.

The illicitness of cloning is derived from the relationship of domination over the corporeity of the cloned subject, from the absence of a personal act of procreative love since it involves asexual, agamic reproduction and, in short, from the offence to the Creator's design.

Only the reproduction of cells starting from cells taken and separated, without doing any damage, from a human individual (who is procreated naturally and not purposely cloned to provide cell lines), is to be considered licit, as well as the reproduction of DNA fragments for which, however, the cloning of a human individual is not foreseen as a premise or an aim in order to obtain them.
This document is also helpful. Basically, any form of reproduction that does not involve both the marriage act and the fertilization of egg by sperm is ethically immoral.

For more on cloning, go here.

Also, what do you think of priests marrying? Do you think it is more holy and proper for a priest to not be permitted to marry a woman? I wonder if priests are lonely or feel fulfilled.
I think the long-standing tradition of the Latin Rite of the Church should be retained. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen says: the priest is not his own. God calls certain men to celibacy for the sake of the kingdom (Mt 19:10-12), to devote their whole lives to His Bride, the Church. I think it is a holy and blessed calling, and for those called by God to live a life of celibacy, it is indeed a fulfilling life because they are living their lives in accordance with God's will. Fulfillment in life comes with living your life in accordance with the purpose for which you were made, and God has called certain men to be shepherds for his people.

For more on priestly celibacy, go here.

I have torn feelings on the subject of gender-bias and preaching. Do you think females should be able to have a higher rank than nun in the Catholic church?
No. But, I also don't think that this is a "gender-bias." It has nothing to do with men being "better" or "superior" to women. It has nothing to do with "preaching" either. It's about the nature of the priesthood and the sacrament that the priest makes present.

First of all, no one has a "right" to be a priest, not even a man. The priesthood is not something that anyone "deserves," no matter how well you can preach or how well you know the Bible, or how willing you are to serve others. The priesthood, essentially, is not even about these things. It's about being a symbol of Christ.

Every sacrament has symbols. A sacrament does what it symbolizes and symbolizes what it does. So, water is the "matter" of baptism because it most effectively symbolizes the true cleansing that is taking place. Wine is the matter of the Eucharist because it most effectively symbolizes the blood of Christ. When the wrong symbol is used the sacrament is ineffective.

So, we can't baptize people in honey (as fun as that would be), we can't use kool-aid for the Eucharist, and women can't be priests. The primary function of the priest is to be the symbol of Christ in the Sacrifice of the Mass. In the Mass, the Bridegroom comes to meet his Bride. The Son gives himself to the Father. This symbolism is destroyed when the priest is not a man.

It doesn't matter that we are all made "in the image and likeness" of God. That line of argumentation betrays an ignorance of what it means to be in the image and likeness of God. What this phrase means is that we were all made by God, with an equal dignity before God, and with the purpose of being united with Him in heaven. It has nothing to do with the fittingness of a women to effectively symbolize what is taking place in the Mass.

Of course, this doesn't even address that fact that Jesus, after deliberation and prayer (Lk 6:12-13), chose 12 men to follow him and to celebrate his sacrifice, that Jesus was not simply a puppet of the culture he lived in, and that in all things, the Church, as His Mystical Body, can only do what he does. There is also the authority of Tradition and the perennial teaching of the Church, which cannot be contradicted. But, I think the symbolism argument is the strongest.

For more on this, I suggest an excellent article by Mark Shea that utilizes this argumentation: Ordination Is Not a Right: Why the Church Cannot Make Women Priests. For more on the ordination of women, go here.

Pax Christi,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nick! I really needed the review and I'll check out the articles you suggested.
Peace Out!
Maria Helena

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