…Doesn’t make it possible.
Once again our newspapers are full of people imagining impossible things and thinking by doing so that said things might become possible. It’s a bit like those get rich schemes where people say you have to “vision it” for it to happen. People have really begun to believe this is true. It is a peculiar 21st Century version of nominalism (Nominalism v2.1, perhaps).
I am, of course, referring to last night’s 73-72 vote in the Federal Parliament calling on MPs to gauge their constituents’ views ”on ways to achieve equal treatment for same-sex couples, including marriage”. A harmless enough motion, you say? What damage can it do? Only this: that it is an exercise in “thinking the impossible” as a step toward making it “possible”. Which in any previous age would have been dismissed as a futile exercise. But not today. Today we have convinced ourselves that if we get enough people thinking it is possible for two people of the same sex to be “married”, then it will become a real possibility.
And it isn’t just in the area of gay marriage that this happens. In 1994 Pope John Paul II wrote:
4. 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.
He wasn’t being mean. He was being a Realist (with a capital “R”). A 21st Century Nominalist on the other hand would say that the just by thinking that the impossible is possible we can make it so. Sorry, we can’t.
Marriage isn’t just to do with “love”. It is to do with reproduction, and a few minutes thought about what it actually takes to produce a baby (and a quick look at a school text book on human anatomy) will make it clear that marriage between two people of the same sex is an impossibility. Everyone knows – no matter how many pictures are published in our papers showing happy “same-sex families” – that same-sex sexual relations are, as a simple biological fact, utterly sterile.
Similary, ordination as a priest isn’t simply to do with “a call”. They have to do with the configuration of a man to Christ as “in persona Christi capitis”. It is only because he has been sacramentally configured in this way that a man is able to exercise Christ’s priestly service to God’s people. It should not surprise us that there is a common element here between the supporters of same-sex marriage and the supporters of women’s ordination. Both ignore the plain fact of nuptial reality. You have a man and a woman, a bridegroom and a bride. The Bridegroom is Christ, and the Bride is the Church. The Sacrificial Meal in which Chrsit is liturgically present in person of the priest is a Nuptial Meal. Thus Christ is “Priest” to the Church precisely as “The Bridegroom”. There is no getting around this fact. And so likewise, the one who, by sacramental ordination, is configured to Christ and enabled to exercise Christ’s sacerdotal office in the Church, must be male. A woman simply cannot be the liturgical “bridegroom” for the Bride.
Except, of course, in a world which imagines that by imagining the impossible it makes the impossible possible. Welcome to the world of 21st Century nominalism.
What we need is a remedial dose of Realism.