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It's in the Good Book

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Joyous Christian greetings!

Robert McClory is, by his own reasoning, dead wrong about women priests and contraception [Hot Type, January 16]. McClory states that "the pope is infallible if he's teaching what the church believes," and the church's teaching on both of these matters has been pretty clear over the last two millennia.

Christ, who broke all manner of precedent when it served his purpose and could have chosen women if he wished, chose only men as his priests. All through the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles we see only men being chosen for the priesthood. And finally, there is the explicit rejection of women for the priesthood in Paul's First Epistle to Timothy (2:12). Over the last 20 centuries, not only the Roman church but also the separated churches with valid orders (Eastern Orthodox, Jansenist, Old Catholic, Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, etc) have all maintained exclusively male priesthoods. With both the New Testament and two millennia of tradition against it, one must ask just what more agreement McClory could need to indicate church belief?

Artificial birth control too is a dead issue. No matter how the "nuanced" liberal theologians might dissemble it, God struck Onan dead for practicing coitus interruptus (Genesis 38:9), and again, church teaching has been constant for the last 2,000 years. The pope would be well within his prerogatives were he to condemn this and similar practices infallibly.

Ex-father McClory is disingenuous, if not willfully deceptive, when he holds out false hope to "cafeteria Catholics" that the church might ever change her teaching on these or any other points of faith or morals.

Finally, I must ask why the Reader is giving a forum to yet another tiresome ex-priest with a chip on his shoulder. Would you cite as "experts" a doctor who had lost his license or a pilot who had crashed his plane?

R.M. Schultz

W. Delaware

Michael Miner replies:

I'm not sure you're right about Onan. Here's what scripture tells us:

Genesis 38:6: "And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.

"7. And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.

"8. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's [Er's] wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

"9. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

"10. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also."

There's no particular reason to believe from this biblical account that the Lord was displeased simply because Onan spilled some seed. Onan had a job to do and he didn't do it: he was supposed to move in on his dead brother's wife and impregnate her. His instructions were clear. I assume you make no nuanced distinction between coitus interruptus and the sin of refusing to make babies with widowed sisters-in-law. Or are you someone who interprets the Bible literally but doesn't read it carefully?

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