Monday, September 21, 2009

Peter Kreeft Explains It All For You

For the longest time, what the Church taught about only men being called to the priesthood, was something with which I neither agreed or disagreed. It was something I accepted, nothing more.

Most defenses of Her position, frankly, were inconclusive. Yes, Christ was incarnated as a male, but it was either that or the other choice. So what? God could have flipped a coin for all we know. Yes, Christ chose only males as His first Apostles, and as His first priests. But why only males? We're not explaining the Holy Trinity here. There is an identifiable, measurable defense to be sought, one that can put the opposition squarely to rest, or at least to leave it wondering.

Until about sixteen years ago, I never found it.

Then I read an article in Crisis magazine by Dr Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College. Not only did he defend the Church's position on the priesthood, but he explained why Her position was worth defending. To do so, is not only to understand the nature of the ministerial priesthood, but the nature of the universe, and its relationship with the God who created it.

At the time, I was in a scripture study group which included another professor of philosophy. A prominent lay leader at a progressive urban parish run by (who else?) the Jesuits, "Siobahn" openly expressed curiosity about this teaching, stopping short of agreeing with it outright. So I made copies of the article, and shared them with the whole group. Sometime after that, Siobahn expressed her assent to this teaching, which may have contributed to her fall from grace among the intellectual cabal that dominated parish life there.

Some years afterward, the internet became a part of our lives, including my own. I went so far as to get permission from the publisher to reproduce the article on the Web, but something always came up.

Dr Kreeft has had a website for a number of years...

...which has expanded to include more excerpts of his published works, as well as audio clips of his recorded talks.

Despite a rather silly title -- "Why Only Boys Can Be the Daddies" -- it is far and away the finest presentation on the Church's teaching in this area for general audiences. Bar none. The finest. Ever. It was also one of two parts of a book published by Franciscan University Press, now sadly (and mistakenly) out of print, entitled Women and the Priesthood.

If you can't sit still for an hour and four minutes to find out for yourself (and it's worth it, trust me), perhaps you can endure the following print excerpt consisting of one of the four reasons presented, in this case on the "Sexual Symbolism" of said teaching -- also known by certain smarty-pants pseudo-intellectuals as "plumbing theology."

Obviously that's the best they can do.

Meanwhile, if the gang at Steubenville ever has enough good sense to take time out from speaking in tongues at Sunday Mass, and reprint such a stupendous five-dollar book, it just might be worth leaving one at the front porch of Dr Carol Egner in Westwood, ringing the doorbell, and running like hell.

Doc, if you're out there reading this, you're entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. Your oblivion to that alone renders you ill-prepared to teach objective subject matter like the Faith to your own children, never mind anyone else's. If the loss of that privilege means so much to you, it is all the more reason to find out why, and listening to the presentation linked above is one place to start.

Because the only way to really stand up to anything, is to actually know what it is.

(H/T to Rich Leonardi. Photo of Dr Kreeft from his website. Photo of Dr Egner from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Both are reproduced here without permission or shame.)

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