Wednesday, February 23

Upon reflection...a bit of clarity may be in order.

At the risk of belaboring the point, I should mention that I have no animosity or underlying issue with the office of the presbyter.  This is not about shooting sacred cows, but rather coming clean and being perfectly honest.  The 'someone' isn't a single person, but multiple people from multiple places, so please don't take offense.

Any time that I hear someone say "'X' has always been that way", it raises a big, red flag.  That is a sign of lax scholarship and/or thinking.  The only thing which has always been is God.  When you have a solid start date to something (whether it be the founding of Rome or Christianity) and a good written record, you can find when a concept was developed.

Whenever I hear someone say something similar to "you must believe in Y to be a good Catholic/Christian/etc.", that is another huge, red flag.  This is an implied 'No Good Scotsman' fallacy.

No Catholic would eat fish on Friday...
I'm a Catholic and I eat fish on Friday...
No Good Catholic would eat fish on Friday

We've seen this in mundane circles in the US media regarding 'true patriots', 'real soldiers'...etc.

If you wish to say that, by ancient Tradition a priest is required to perform certain sacraments, sweet!  I can be very much behind that and can make a substantive argument for that part of Tradition being formally in play since the 13th century.

If one wishes to regard presbyters (catholic or protestant) as subject matter experts in their field (which is most commonly pastoral care/social work), I can respect and support that.

If you wish to say that there is a permanent, ontological change which occurs during the process to ordination, I can certainly accept that, but that change is independent of the licensing of the presbyter to perform sacraments.  Put differently...learning about the law, graduating from law school and being licensed to practice law are three different things.

Where I have issue is saying that the ability to perform the sacraments (as opposed to 'simulate' them) is the sole province of the licensed presbyter due to his ability to transform into God.  I would refer readers to the argument between the Traditors and the followers of Donatus Magnus.  One argues that the validity of the rite depends upon certain characteristics of the celebrant (let us, licensure, in mortal sin or not), whereas the other argues that it is God who validates the rite independent of the celebrant and their worthiness.

The current opinion of many RCs is that one must be a celibate, straight man who has license from the Church to celebrate the sacraments with an unwritten coda that he probably shouldn't be in mortal sin.  That's pretty much in line with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the teaching of the 20th century, but is explicitly what the Donatists were condemned as heretics for at the Council of Arles in 314 and is what St. Augustine wrote vehemently against as he outlined a key doctrine within the Deposit of Faith for fifteen centuries. 

This could easily digress into a non-productive rant about 'some people' who believe they can change history and texts to suit their political agendas and who use infallibility to cover over what they cannot reasonably argue (much in the same way that 'certain fundamentalists' use the word "BELIEVE" (with booming voice)), so lets leave that there.

I hope I've generated more light than heat, cleared things up rather than muddied the water further.

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