If you needed some evidence of the power of the new media, look no further than at the excellent Rorate Caeli blog. Here, what is clearly a retractation from him (he calls it “clarification”; let us put a charitable blanket of silence on that…) was posted.
Allow me to say beforehand that I will not insult your intelligence by pretending to believe – and asking you to believe – that no external pressure was at work on this, and Rorate Caeli themselves have no doubt whatsoever on the matter. If you ask me, this has “Rome” written all over it and my congratulations are for them, not for the Cardinal.
The most salient words of Policarpo’s message are in my eyes the following (emphases always mine):
The reactions to this interview have forced me to look into this theme with greater care, and I have ascertained that, mostly for not having taken into appropriate consideration the latest declarations of the Magisterium on the matter, I gave rise to those reactions
So, he has forgotten to read Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, or was not attentive in class. Which, OS having been released only seventeen years ago, goes under “latest declarations of the Magisterium”. Still, it is nice and deserving of credit that he acknowledges that the problem has been caused by him.
The most recent Magisterium of the Popes interprets this uninterrupted tradition, that has its origin in Christ and in the Apostolic body, not only as a practical way to proceed, which may change at the rhythm of the action of the Holy Spirit, but as an expression of the ministry of the Church itself, which we must receive in faith.
The Cardinal is wrong again here, but one understands that he is just trying to give some half-baked excuse for his scandal. The truth is that the Church has never said that male priesthood is a practical way to proceed. Never, ever. The Cardinal is confusing male priesthood with male celibacy, for sure. Much less has the Church ever said that male priesthood “may change at the rhythm of the action of the Holy Spirit”. Already the idea that there be a “rhythm” of the Holy Spirit “rhythmically” changing Truth is openly heretical and again, the Cardinal is confusing Catholicism with, say, Episcopalianism. The idea that there could be an “uninterrupted tradition” in such vital doctrinal matters that could be changed by the “rhythm of the Holy Spirit” is purest “so-called bishopess Schori”-thinking.
Male priesthood is constant and universal tradition of the Church. This is Ordinary and universal Magisterium, period. This would be every bit as infallible if Ordinatio Sacerdotalis had never been written. Someone who had expressed himself in, say, the Thirties as Cardinal Policarpo expresses himself today would have found himself in deep trouble, very fast.
Let us read again the relevant bit of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, also cited by the Cardinal:
‘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.’
How is it possible to understand from here anything else than the simple, plain fact that the “rhythm of the holy spirit” bollocks has never been justifiable, that it has always gone against Church teaching and that it even goes against “the Church’s divine constitution” is beyond me. If a teacher teaches to his pupils in 1994 that 2+2=4, this is not the teacher’s “latest declaration”. This is fact. It has always been this way, not starting from 1994!
The Cardinal continues with the following words:
“We are thus called to accept the Magisterium of the Holy Father, in the humility of our faith, and to continue to deepen the relationship of the ministerial priesthood with the priestly quality of all the people of God, and to discover the feminine way of building the Church, in the decisive role of the mission of our women sisters.
I hate to be fussy, but the good Cardinal obviously still doesn’t get it. It is not the teaching of JP II that says that male priesthood is the only way. It is Ordinary and universal Magisterium, because it is what “has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church”. There can’t be a clearer indication of this being Ordinary and universal Magisterium than these words. Cardinal Policarpo, and all those with the same strange “rhythmical” fantasies, must once and for all stop pretending that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis has brought any change. It hasn’t. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis has merely stated what always was.
In the end, though, and making some allowance for the embarrassment of a poor man trying to justify the unjustifiable – like the pupil caught sleeping in class and asked to give an explanation of what he is doing – Cardinal Policarpo makes very clear that where the Magisterium is, there is he. This is a welcome, erm, “clarification”, because a different message had been spread through his words.