A Queer State of Affairs
... then Men
are supposed to be other Christs in the
Nuns are supposed to be other Marys in the world — we call them
the Brides of Christ.
There are few, I suggest, who would contend this point.
It does, however, present
something of a problem in the egalitarian world of correctitude which
prevails in many women Religious Orders in America — and has become
a point of rupture in the increasingly radicalized Episcopal Church.
It is, we are encouraged to believe, a matter of “justice”, of “equality”.
It is “the American Way”. And it has been exported, with typical American
industry, to other countries and other continents, although, in all
fairness, the ability to fly in the face of reason is not a particularly
American institution. Absurdity as the product of "progressive” social
agenda finds common ground wherever there are, well, uncommon interests.
Let us look at this issue
of “justice” from a more sober point of view; in fact, from the disinterested
point of view of logic. While this is not the paradigm of the academic
modus ponens, it nevertheless provides us with some logical relief.
If gender, as it is argued, is not a determining factor in the ordination
of women as priests, then by that same argument, gender should not preclude
the Consecration of men as Cloistered Nuns. Agreed?
Above is a photo of an Episcopal woman “priest(ess)”. If this does not strike
you as odd, even incongruous, then neither should the accompanying picture
of a male Nun. I agree that it is a rather “campy” notion, but the logic
of the argument, and its conclusion, is inescapable.
I suggest that serious, even insurmountable, obstacles would exist were
a man to make application to a Cloistered community of Nuns. At least
on the planet Earth.
The Blushing Bride?
The point is that it
has very much to do with a matter of gender. What is more, I think it
extremely unlikely that a man would be entirely comfortable understanding
himself as a (blushing?) “Bride of Christ”. Depending on the man, of
“Greet one another with a holy kiss”? (but not
I would ask the many “progressive” women Religious Orders that proliferate
— especially here in America — if they are prepared, on the premise
of gender neutrality, to accept male novices and postulants into their
Orders — and if they have a ceremony of “Clothing” at all (which is
extremely unlikely) by which a Nun receives her distinctive religious
habit, if they are prepared to attire him with a veil.
If they are not — that is to say, if the “progressive”
Religious Orders that stridently demand that women be ordained priests,
arguing that the failure to do so is evidential of “sexism” and a breach
of equal opportunity, of justice, that impugns the dignity of
women — then they would be all the more guilty of the very “discrimination”
that they find so abhorrent in the Catholic Church's reserving the ordination
of priests — to say nothing of bishops — to men alone.
Unless your “sexual persuasion” is of the most militant sort, it would
be as ludicrous — and absurd — to see a man dressed as a Nun in a habit
as it is to see a woman dressed in the clerical suit of a priest or
the flowing robes of a bishop.
Perhaps we should petition the Leadership
Conference of Women Religious — among the most vociferous in promoting
the ordination of women— in the United States and elsewhere to be at
least consistent in their stridency and agitate to allow men to become
Sisters and Nuns as much as they do to allow women to become priests
and bishops. Why not? If the premises are not faulty, then neither is
The Fields are
Pink to Harvest
Does the LCWR fear that there are too many effeminate
men and that the numbers would strain their already diminished convents
and monasteries (if any remain, given that many “Sisters” live quite
comfortably in their own apartments apart from the virtual — as opposed
to real — “Community” to which they profess themselves to belong)? Or
do they fear that the effeminate men would outnumber the women, making
them a minority in women's Religious Orders? But that is discriminatory
based on sex. In other words, the dreaded word “sexism” would be predicated
of those — who most deplore “sexism” in the Church.
Despite their clearly articulated and much vaunted “enlightenment” and
correctitude that leaves no room for distinction between sexes — does
it come down to the banality of fearing to share “the same facilities”
as the new candidates? Open lids are, to be sure, a nuisance ...
What a skewed understanding of “justice”, of “equality”, of “sexism”!
Well, LCWR? We are awaiting your ... in a manner of speaking,
“redressing”... this injustice by opening your communities to future
male postulants. The fields are pink to harvest ... what are you waiting
for? Or does your willingness in the matter ... your “justice” ... extend
only so far ...?
Of course, you can always
disagree, and if you wish to call a three-sided figure, the sum of whose
interior angles equal 180 degrees, a circle, you are perfectly within your right.
In fact, you can even agitate to legislate that it is so. What you
do is roll it down the street.
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Male bishops could become Anglican nuns, under Synod
I thought this was a
spoof at first, but it seems not: a General Synod working party is exploring
whether the Church of England’s male bishops can join religious orders
previously reserved for women. In other words, become Anglican nuns.
As usual, the Synod’s topsy-turvy ecclesiology is a mystery to me, but
I gather that the idea is that bishops would be entitled to take vows
in orders of nuns so that they can provide special episcopal oversight
to the sisters. It’s a typically ingenious Anglican response to the
forthcoming ordination of women bishops. “There will be jokes about
bishops in wimples, but having bishop-nuns would introduce a degree
of mutual cooperation that could make the introduction of women bishops
much smoother,” says my Synod source.
And just when I thought things couldn’t get any weirder, I learn the
identity of the bishop who is rumoured to have volunteered to take nun’s
vows: the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon, often spoken of as
a successor to Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. Says my informant:
“Nick is a big fan of Sister Act, and we knew he was keen to ‘get ahead,’
as it were, so he was the obvious person to ask. And apparently he was
delighted, because he’s all about challenging gender stereotypes.”