Friday, October 1, 2004 Catholic Tradition Based in Reason By Maya Noronha

Mark Ipri fails to understand a wealth of Catholic teaching and tradition in his viewpoint “What Would Jesus Think?” (The Hoya, Sept. 28, 2004, A3).

Like Ipri, I am a cradle Catholic. Five hundred years ago, some Jesuits converted my ancestors to Catholicism in India. I have been privileged to attend Catholic schools since kindergarten. I am a Catholic Studies major, a former regent of the GU Catholic Daughters and a member of the Catholic Student Association.

As a Catholic woman, I support the Church’s decisions to disallow women priests, to restrict the forms in which the Eucharist can be celebrated and to oppose gay sexual behavior.

Ipri asked the wrong question in his viewpoint. He should have asked “What did Jesus do?” The long tradition of Catholic teaching which follows Jesus’ model offers clear explanations for each of these Catholic tenets to which he disagrees.

First, I take gross offense to the assertion that the Roman Catholic faith is somehow archaic or prejudicially patriarchal.

As St. Paul wrote in Corinthians, although “woman came from man, man was born of woman.” Even though a rib of Adam’s was formed into Eve in Genesis, each man has a mother who carried him in her womb.

One need look no further than the Virgin Mary to see an example of feminine virtue that the Catholic faith honors. Mother Teresa, one of the most well-known modern Catholic women, never wanted to be a priest. She was contented in whatever ways she could serve God as a nun. She did not view females in the priesthood as some sort of political right. It was a privilege of males.

There are two major theological reasons of tradition (which is not sexism) that explain why the Church restricts priesthood to the male sex.

First, simply, Jesus was a man.

Jesus was a revolutionary and could have come in feminine form if He so chose. He selected to be in male form. Why did He do this? Catholic theology purports that the male form demonstrates the way in which Jesus was married to the Church, which is represented in female terminology.

God and the Holy Spirit, the other Persons of the Trinity cannot be anthropomorphized. Although “God the Father” is the terminology we use, Jesus was the only Person in the triune Godhead that took on human form in the Incarnation.

Second, all of Jesus’ 12 disciples were male.

When Jesus told Peter that “upon this rock, I will build y Church” he placed the papal authority in a male vessel. This is not sexist. Jesus recognized the beauty of both males and females but chose to come in male form and ordain a group of men as the first fathers of the Church. The Church continues in Jesus’ tradition.

The next issue – what forms the Eucharist may take – follows from this argument of tradition.

Catholics do not perform consecration rituals haphazardly. Unlike Protestant faiths, the Eucharist is not a symbolic form of God. For Catholics, God is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Catholics cannot celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist in just any way. Catholics cannot partake of beer and pizza as if it were the body and blood of Christ. The bread of the Eucharist must be unleavened, purely of wheat and recently made so that it does not decompose, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

God of course does not want to exclude any of His children from Grace, but the celebrants of the sacrament likewise must not desecrate the Eucharist by changing its form willy-nilly.

Finally, Ipri does not sufficiently understand the Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

First, one must understand the nature of love in terms of the three levels of love which the Greeks defined. A person – male or female – is capable of caring for another person with a filial or paternal love.

Two gay people may love each other as brothers and sisters, or as a father or mother would love his or her child. A gay person who does not act on his sexual appetites can take Holy Orders.

Feeling, however, is separate from action in Catholic teaching. The expression of romantic love in a sexual manner should be reserved to a man and a woman within the realm of matrimony and open to procreation. Sexual activity between two males or between two women will never result in the ultimate creative act of human beings – the conception of a child.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus upheld the beautiful celebration of love between a man and a woman in marriage. The selfless giving nature of the sexual act requires that it remain within the bonds of traditional marriage.

The Catholic faith is a reasonable one.

Just read any writings of Pope John Paul II to see the rational nature of it. With a basis in natural law and philosophy, the Catholic faith stands alone in faithful adherence to Jesus’ teachings in the modern world.

Maya Noronha is a senior in the College and a contributing editor for The Hoya.

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