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Dissent will not renew the Church, Pope says at Chrism Mass

By on Thursday, 5 April 2012

Benedict XVI celebrates the chrism Mass this morning (CNS)

Benedict XVI said that dissent from Catholic teaching will not renew the Church during a Chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica this morning.

Surrounded by more than 1,600 priests, bishops and cardinals, the Pope cautioned against calls for women’s ordination, saying that such campaigns seemed more “a desperate push” to fulfill one’s own preferences rather than a sincere attempt to conform one’s life more closely to Christ.

During the April 5 chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which focused on Holy Thursday as the day Jesus shared his priesthood with the apostles, the pope said he wanted to use the occasion to ask all priests, including himself, to meditate upon what their consecration really means.

“Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him,” which entails a renunciation of oneself and “of the much-vaunted self-fulfillment,” the pope asked.

Being Christ-like means not to be served but to serve, not taking but giving, he said.

If that is the nature of the priesthood, then what should be the response of priests when faced with “the often dramatic situation of the church today,” the pope asked.

Without specifying the country, Pope Benedict said a group of priests from a European nation have issued a call for disobedience of church teaching, specifically regarding the question of women’s ordination.

Last year the president of the Austrian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, condemned a “Call to Disobedience,” signed by 250 of Austria’s 4,200 Catholic priests. The document urged Catholics to begin a campaign in support of women priests and “priestless Eucharistic liturgies”, as well as for Communion to be given to non-Catholics and remarried divorcees.

Also, 311 theologians from Austria, Germany and Switzerland signed a memorandum last year demanding the ordination of women and married men, as well as an “open dialogue” on the Church’s “structures of power and communication.”

Pope Benedict asked, “Is disobedience a path of renewal for the church?” adding that Blessed John Paul II taught “irrevocably that the church has received no authority from the Lord” to ordain women.

Pope Benedict said perhaps such campaigns are motivated by concern for the Church and believe that “the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and bring the church up-to-date.”

“But is disobedience really a way to do this?” the pope asked.

True renewal must be based on lives that are radically conformed to Christ and God’s will, he said.

Christ did seek to correct errors in human traditions, the pope said, but only those customs that stifled God’s word and will, seeking to eliminate “human caprice” so as to reveal God’s authentic desire for his people.

Being humble, subservient, and obedient to God and following church teaching are not excuses “to defend inertia, the fossilisation of traditions,” the pope said.

The era following the Second Vatican Council showed what a process of “true renewal” looks like, and it can be seen in many of the new movements and ways of life that are “filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love,” he said.

Presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, Pope Benedict blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick.

Deacons carried the oils in large silver urns to the main altar while catechumens, youths preparing for confirmation, the sick and deacons about to be ordained in the Diocese of Rome wheeled small tables carrying large urns, which also contained sacramental oils.

In his homily, the Pope called on all priests to continue to look to Christ and the saints for guidance in how best to serve and renew the Church and minister to humanity.

“God is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victories under the humble sign of the mustard seed,” the pope said.

He urged bishops and priests to remember their role as teachers and to use the upcoming Year of Faith to combat “the growing religious illiteracy found in the midst of our sophisticated society.”

“We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the church,” he said. Accurate, authentic guides of what the church teaches can be found not only in sacred Scripture, but also the texts of Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II’s writings, which “are still far from being explored,” he said.

But such teaching will only be credible when those preaching live lives that are visibly touched and shaped by Christ and his word, the Pope said.

Later in the day at the Basilica of St John Lateran, the Pope celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which commemorates Jesus’s institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood.

During the evening Mass Pope Benedict washed the feet of 12 priests from the Diocese of Rome. The ritual reflected the call to imitate Christ by serving one another and forgiving each other.

The Pope poured water from a golden pitcher onto the foot of each priest, then gently rubbed each foot dry with a white towel.

In his homily, the Pope said that pride and wanting to be free to do as one wants is “the real essence of sin”.

When Jesus spent the night on the Mount of Olives deep in prayer and wracked with anguish, he asked God to spare him of the evil that awaited him: betrayal, denial, torture and death, the Pope said.

He struggled, looking deep into the night of evil and saw “the filthy flood of all the lies and all the disgrace which he will encounter in that chalice from which he must drink”, the Pope said. “He also sees me, and he prays for me.”

Here, Jesus performs the office of a priest, the Pope said, by taking “upon himself the sins of humanity, of all of us, and he brings us before the father”.

Though he begged to be spared, Jesus puts his life in God’s hands and asks that God’s will be done. Jesus transformed the attitude of Adam and healed humanity.

Adam’s pride can be seen in people who believe they need to be free of God in order to be really free, he said.

“This is the fundamental rebellion present throughout history and the fundamental lie which perverts life.”

Without God, people are alienated from themselves and “we are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God”, he said.

The collection taken up at the Mass was earmarked by the pope to offer humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.

  • Benedict Carter

    No. Calling for it, when a male-only priesthood has been defined as belonging to the “infallible Magisterium” is disobedience in anyone’s book. A Catholic’s duty on this matter (as on others) is now to assent and practice Holy Obedience.

  • Benedict Carter

    Entirely agree, EditorCT. These people think they are being “modern” and “progressive”, when they are merely protestants by another name. And as thick as two short planks when it comes to do-it-yourself Biblical exegesis.

  • srdc

    This verse refers to baptism.  St. Paul praises our freedom in Christ, but does not say that men and women are identical or interchangeable.

    Elsewhere in Ephesians 5, male/female relationships are held up as the archetype for the relationship between Christ and the Church.

    A priest offers sacrifice. A Christian priest offers the sacrifice of Christ. If the priesthood does not point to the atonement it becomes a broken sign. The cross becomes a broken sign.

    We cannot change the ontological basis for the incarnation or the atonement. 

    God wants distinctions or we miss Jesus.

    Jesus is the saviour for both men and women.

  • srdc


    Their entire movement is called “a call to disobedience”

    It’s a shame that so many people do not understand sacramental theology. They are an encounter with Christ in this world, until he comes again. The redemption of human matter by sprit.

    Natural symbols are aligned with the physical world.  Rejecting the essence of things, when you live in a physical world is not progressive, but displays a fear of reality.

    During the iconclasm controversy. St. John of Damascus said.

    “I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter,” he wrote. “I will not cease from honoring that matter which works for my salvation. I venerate it, though not as God.”The sacraments operate objectively, but not impersonally. Turing them subjective, leads to a subjective view of reality, and basically ends in moral relativism.

    Matter bad, spirit good is not Catholicism.

  • Jae

    Your allegations against the Church is unwarranted and misguided, blaming the Church for the act of personal sins of liberal clergy is like blaming the forest fire to the trees started by arsons, just silly. Secularization of the western world started way back before Vat2, in fact there are great expansion of the Church in Africa, Korean peninsula, Asia, Pacific, Latin America etc. If we are going to follow your flawed logic, why not blame the Councils of Trent and Florence for the “baddest fruit” of all time, Martin Luther?

  • JabbaPapa

     That’s a rather excellent comment from St. John of Damascus — thank you !!

  • Alan

    I don’t disagree with what you say, but I still think it legitimate to express the view that ordaining women would not be wrong, simply because I am not convinced by the arguments against it.  I think JPII was wrong when he tried to bind the Church for all time against it, you cannot bind your successors in that way.

  • Bart_0117

    I will not waste my breath on issues such as women’s ordination for these some 4200 priests that represent a small minority in the grand scheme of things. They know they will be held accountable and I suspect many of them would know that dissenters were actually much more harshly dealt with than “infidels”. However, things such as Communion given to divorcees is actually quite a common parochial phenomenon these days and I think that is more of an insidious error than the open trumpeting of one’s support for women’s ordination for it creates a false image of the Church not only taking pity in those involved in divorce but also endorsing it. And without the restoration of the Family, I very much doubt there will be any significant miraculous increase in Vocations.

  • Alan

    It is seldom clear whether a definition is “infallible” or not.  Those who agree with the particular ruling tend to claim that it is, those who disagree claim that it is not..  The only indisputable “infallible” definition was the Assumption in 1950, and I doubt if there will ever be another.

  • JabbaPapa

     This is not true, though to be fair, this is a very confusing area.

    Full Councils of the Church have the Authority to declare as infallible certain doctrines, and have done so many times in the past.

    Meanwhile, the Magisterium is itself infallible — although not every doctrine published by the Magisterium is infallible.

    The point is that “infallible” means “undeniable”, in the sense that doctrines having the charism of infallibility may not be knowingly and deliberately denied by a Catholic — although the reasons why this or that doctrine is infallible may be variable, and the severity of the sin entailed by any such denial is also variable (and there are even a few infallible doctrines that most lay Catholics are not catechetically required to be aware of for reasons of their arcane nature, or their intellectual difficulty, or etc ; so that these doctrines are infallible by any Catholic who has knowledge and understanding of them, but not by Catholics lacking that knowledge).

    So that a Catholic may not deny the truth of the teachings of the Magisterium, whereas in cases where the Magisterium has provided a particular teaching that is NOT endowed with the charism of infallibility, a Catholic could publicly disagree with that teaching by reasons of its own specific fallibility.

    It is true that it is not self-evidentially clear which doctrines are and which doctrines aren’t infallible — but the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as some other doctrinal documents, provide this detail knowledge.

  • JabbaPapa

    You have denied one irrevocable doctrine, and one infallible doctrine in your post.

    The irrevocable one being that only men may be ordained as priests.

    The infallible one being that the Church has the divinely mandated Authority to provide teachings valid for all of time.

  • Benedict Carter

    To Alan, Fred Forett and one or two others, desperately trying to pretend that the question of women priests is one that can still legitimately be discussed, you are kidding only yourselves and attempting to kid others, when you should, if you are faithful Catholics, be toeing the line with what used to be called “Holy Obedience”. 

    Now I know you left-overs of the hippy generation have it in your genes to question even what you should not, thereby wasting everyone’s time, so perhaps it’s only the words of John Paul II’s “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” (other than your deaths one day) which will shut you up. This is the penultimate paragraph:

    “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”.

    That was in 1994. In 1995, the CDF answered the following “dubium”:

    Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

    Responsum: Affirmative.

    This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

    (The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published).

    So this is PART OF THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH. It cannot be questioned or dismissed – except by those who therefore make themselves ex-Catholics, or apostates in other words. Now, I know that 7 out of 10 modern Catholics are already in effect protestant apostates due to Vatican II and its aftermath, so it really IS time to re-learn what it is to be Catholic. isn’t it?

    Start here.

  • Benedict Carter

    srdc, just what are you on about?

  • Benedict Carter

    Jabba’s confusion grows!! 

  • Benedict Carter

    See my post above

  • Alan

    Since Papal infallibility was defined in 1870, there has been only one doctrine which all agree is infallible (the Assumption).  People have argued for others, because they want to shut up those who question them.  That is what I was saying.  Therefore the male-only priesthood ruling is not, in my view, irrevocable, though I don’t expect to see it changed in my lifetime.

  • JabbaPapa

    It is not illicit to provide Eucharistic Communion to divorcees — it is illicit to provide it to impenitent adulterers and to the divorced re-married.

    Providing Communion to divorcees not in those situations does not “endorse” the validity of divorce, but it recognises that divorces may occur against the will of one or both parties due to whichever tragic causes.

  • Alan

    I would merely point out that several matters have been regarded as effectively infallible in the past, which are now not so.  For example, at one time it was definitively held that you had to be a member of the Catholic Church to be saved, before the let-out phrase of “invincible ignorance” was added.  This is certainly not the case today (though possibly you hold the old view).  There was a time when you could be excommunicated for denying the existence of Limbo, which has now been quietly dropped (by Pope Benedict).

  • Josephine

    I am a young Catholic woman and I am absolutely fed up with the Church’s treatment and opinion of women.  Is it any wonder people are falling away from this religion?  One day the Catholic church will be left with no one and it will be their fault- where is the respect and love that Jesus taught?  At times I am ashamed and upset to be Catholic.

  • JabbaPapa

     Catholic = both Catholic per se and Universal. This is a non-argument.

    The current teaching concerning “invincible ignorance” is actually just a superficial gloss. The deeper teaching is that our own ignorance as to who is and who isn’t saved in the eyes of God is invincible — except that we know through revelation that Christian baptism and Catholic Faith are efficacious towards that salvation. That teaching therefore logically shifts the question of *invincible* ignorance as concerning salvation to outside of the Faith.

    Even Wikipedia claims that Limbo was entirely theoretical — and it is not licit to excommunicate somebody for disagreeing with a cosmological theory about the nature of Hell (although such abusive forms of excommunication certainly have occurred in the history of the Church).

  • JabbaPapa


    What exactly is “confused” about saying that the Church has a divinely mandated Authority to provide teachings valid for all of time and that this dogma is infallible ?

  • JabbaPapa

     Alan’s confusion OTOH persists –

    Therefore the male-only priesthood ruling is not, in my view,
    irrevocable, though I don’t expect to see it changed in my lifetime.

    The Pope has declared ex cathedra that this teaching is irrevocable.

    Your opinion is therefore objectively false.

    Say that you reject the Pope’s sovereign Magisterial teaching if you want to ; but do so then in plain words ; no matter how radically incompatible with the Catholic teaching on the question those words may happen to be …

  • srdc

    I used to hold the same views, until I understood sacramental theology. I know support the church’s views on the sacraments. I hope you will study it.

  • srdc

    Sacramental theology.

  • srdc


    The Pope has the authority to do this. The priesthood was instituted by Jesus. We cannot change it.

    A priest is ordained to offer sacrifice. Jesus is the only priest. All other priests are icons for him. We cannot change the incarnation or the atonement, regardless to who’s offended.

    The parts of the liturgy include offering of the gifts, and the sacrifice. Historically the high priest who entered the sanctuary to offer the sacrifice was male because of the mixing of life and death, judgement and mercy. The sacrifice was also always a male sheep or animal. 

    The priesthood in temple Judaism had distinctions based on life and death. A priest was always conscious of them.

    Christ is both priest and victim. In Him alone is this fulfilled. God gives what is his for the salvation of the world.

    The Mass is a true sacrifice. We are standing at the foot of the cross at calvary.

    We need distinctions or you miss Jesus.

    What arguments are you not convinced of?

    I do think there should be a further study conducted into explaining this.

  • JabbaPapa

    Benedict, there was actually a second objection towards the Catholicity of the doctrine, and one that the Holy Father has now quite definitively answered.

    The question was that Blessed John Paul II had not *explicitly* provided the doctrine with a sufficient degree of innate Authority that it could not be potentially changed (or simply : reinterpreted) by a future Pope or future Council.

    That is to say that teaching infallibly that the Church *has* no such Authority does not actually prevent the Church receiving such Authority at a later date.

    Pope Benedict XVI’s ruling that this teaching is irrevocable removes the final doctrinal doubt about the permanent nature of the doctrine.

  • srdc


    This is simply not possible. The church has no authority.

  • srdc


    I am a woman who has taken the heat for defending the male only priesthood. So stop making comments about murder and please use rational arguments, because you are just re-inforcing stereotypes about the church.

  • JabbaPapa

    Since Papal infallibility was defined in 1870, there has been only one doctrine which all agree is infallible (the Assumption).

    Blessed John Paul II’s teaching that only men may be ordained as priests has been provided with the charism of infallibility.

    (thank you Benedict Carter for your kind and invaluable assistance in helping to investigate this question)

    The forthcoming Doctrinal Preamble to the Vatican II Council is also, on the face of things, liable to precisely define which of those teachings are infallible, and which of them are not.

  • Alan

    You ask what arguments I am not convinced of.  I have heard two main arguments, which are rather different, and the second seems to have replaced the first in recent times.  The first is that Christ chose only men as the apostles, which has merit but is not finally convincing.  The second is that Christ Himself was male, so the priest, representing Christ as an icon, must be a man also.  This presupposes that the one key defining aspect of Christ was His gender.  To me this seems somewhat arbitrary.  There is also the argument from tradition, but again this presupposes that nothing can ever be changed.
    I am not of the “hippy” generation, as one poster suggested, nor do I have any personal interest in the ruling being changed, nor would I march in the street about it.  I am merely expressing a view, held by many, seeing as the subject has come up.

  • srdc

    “The first is that Christ chose only men as the apostles, which has merit but is not finally convincing. ”
    The Catholic teaching is that the priesthood was instituted at the last supper.  Jesus transferred authority from the levitical priesthood to his Apostles who became sacrificial priests.

    There were women in many roles, but is there ANY evidence to prove that the Apostles ordained them by the laying on of hands to offer sacrifice?

    “The second is that Christ Himself was male, so the priest, representing Christ as an icon, must be a man also.  This presupposes that the one key defining aspect of Christ was His gender. ”

    This is important because, of the incarnation of the son of God.  The second person of the Holy Trinity came in the flesh. He took on flesh to redeem flesh. 

    Sacramental signs have to be perceptible to the senses. This is called sense-perception.

    You can only deny this if you have stopped living in the physical world.

  • srdc

    No problem. Another one by Chesterton was this, “Hostility to the sacramental is rooted in a fear of matter”

    The gnostics held that the created world was only an illusion and that Jesus was a angel in a sandbag.

    What do you think Dan Brown’s attacks on the church are about?

    It’s to push feminist/homosexualist gender-bending nonsense.

  • Benedict Carter

    “Will be left with no-one”.

    There’s a lovely example of strong faith in Our Lord’s words that He would be with the Church until the end of time. 

    These nu-Churchers do like having a laugh, don’t they?! Hahaha!

    The Church’s opinion of women is very elevated and noble. What else could it be? Or do you mean that it should allow contraception, abortion, and easy divorce?

  • Benedict Carter

    You’re right Jabba, the question is done; over; decided; not for discussion any longer by any Catholic. 

    The dissenters here should take note and be quiet. 

  • buckingham88

    It is interesting to see that those Christian Churches that have introduced women priests and clergy have also lost the sacramental ,real presence,part of the sacrament.Their belief,that if two or more are gathered together in My name, I am there with you, is shared by all Christians, but loses the actual bodily presence of Christ.When I say ,lost it I mean they accept that and do not for the most part ,believe in the real presence anyway. It is then understandable that the Catholic church would want to hang onto the elements that constitute the sacrament of the real presence or end up losing it as many other Christian churches have done already.

  • Jae

    There are always dissenters from the entire history of the Church, just the last 5 centuries alone, there had been ‘traditionalist” Catholics who protested against the Council of Trent for it’s “Baptism by Desire”, there had been “old” Catholics who protested against l the Council of Vatican I for it’s “papal infallibility”, there are also “traditionalist” Catholics like the Sedevacantists, Conclavists, SSPX etc. Who protested against the Council of Vatican 2 for it’s Ecumenism, religious liberty etc.

    Where are they now? Scattering like the Protestants.

  • Jae

    So sorry but the “storm” is actually occurring inside your recalcitrant mind and the belief on your own ability to discern what Tradition truly says. Tell me this, since apparently you, Sedevacantists, Conclavists, Old Catholics and a few hundreds more have and appeal to the same, exact Catholic Tradition that is PRE Vatican II, then why do you diametrically opposed to each other? Can you give a reasonable answer from Tradition, if you can find?

  • EditorCT

    Listen to yourself. “reinforcing stereotypes about the Church” – what the blankety blank does that mean?

    You feminists talk in propaganda sound-bites.  I haven’t said a single word that is not in total conformity with Catholic teaching. 

    You certainly didn’t give the impression of  being a woman who has “taken the heat for defending the male only priesthood” – on the contrary, you quoted the St Paul quotation used by the crackpot feminists to promote their non-argument.

    If you really can’t get the point I was making, using the example of one of the Ten Commandments – murder – then let me spell it out for you. 

    Just as the Pope has no authority to change the commandment which forbids wilful murder, so he has no authority to change the God-given teaching on male only priesthood.

    Is that clear enough for you?  It’s the best I can do, Sugar Plum.  I’m a simple gal – I love the Church and Her authority and I can’t stand feminists.  So, forgive me if I bow out of this conversation now. If you still don’t get it, I’m not the simple gal to help you. Another simple gal can take a turn!

    God bless.

  • Benedict Carter

    “Sedevacantists, Conclavists ..”

    About three of them.

  • Benedict Carter

    ” … those Christian Churches that have introduced women priests and clergy have also lost the sacramental, real presence, part of the sacrament.”

    What a ridiculous comment. They never had it! Their Orders are not valid. That’s also part of the deposit of the faith. 

  • Hamish Redux

    It depends what you mean by authority. If the Church is doing God’s will under the authority of Christ, then it clearly does not have the authority to go against that will, and a validly elected Pope directed by the Holy Spirit will not lead the Church into sin.

    If, as I think, you are regarding the Catholic Church as a political institution rather than a religious one, then you are interpreting “authority” as “whatever is decided by the masses, is OK”. This works for the Anglican church, in its own way, so perhaps you are (unwittingly?) simply another Protestant?

  • Hamish Redux

    Disobedience is a sin. If 250 priests in Austria are really choosing Satan above Christ, then there are real problems. Dismissing them from office seems to be the only solution.

  • Alan

    I agree that there is no evidence that the Apostles ordained women, and that sacramental signs have to be perceptible to the senses.  Also (your other post above) that “spirit good, matter bad is not Catholicism”.  But none of these provides a definitive case for an all-male priesthood for all time.  So you have to fall back on an arguable claim that recent Papal rulings are in the same category as the indisputably infallible dogma of the Assumption.
    If women are never to be ordained, so be it, but I still reserve the right to express my view when the subject is aired.  For better or worse, the subject will not go away.

  • Bart_0117

    Thank you. I did not know divorcees were allowed to receive Communion. However, the fact that restoration of the Family is the most pressing issue concerning future Vocations still remains firm.

  • srdc

    Pope John Paul 2 did call for a new feminism.

    I did not quote St. Paul. I was responding to someone else who did, to defend the church.

    Murder might be an infallible teaching, but it’s not a good example to use in this case.

    It’s an ad-hominem attack.

  • srdc

    Yes, this is very true. 

  • srdc

    Anglicans back in the day, had a little bit of if, it not the fullness of faith.

  • srdc


    Changing the nature of the sacraments is like trying to create an new sun in the sky.

    If you understand sacramental theology. You will start to see why.

    May I recommend a book.

  • EditorCT

    Who, precisely, did I attack?  (an ad hominem attacks means I made a personal attack – upon whom did I inflict a personal attack?)

  • srdc

    Using murder and the female ordinations in the same sentence, implies that women are murderers. Even if you did not mean it that way.

    I just pointed out that this is not a nice  thing to say.

    It won’t help the cause.