Debate Over Ordination of Women Seen Producing a Deep Rift

German Bishop Talks of «a Sort of Mental Ecclesial Schism»

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MURCIA, Spain, NOV. 28, 2003 ( Far from being a «power structure,» the Church has a sacramental character willed by Christ and therefore lacks the authority «to confer the priesthood to women,» says a German bishop.

Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg delivered that message Thursday at the opening of the academic year of the Catholic University of Murcia.

Noting that women’s ordination is a conflictive issue, Bishop Muller said that «the attitude of the Church is not based on distrust in the capacities of women.» Rather, it is «an important issue that affects the divine constitution of the Church,» he said.

«Every Catholic Christian has the right to information on what is the real motive given in the substance of the sacrament of orders — which the ecclesiastic magisterium cannot decide either,» he added.

«This means that the bishop is tied not only by a disposition of a disciplinary order,» he continued. «In the theological plane, this indicates that a sacramental rite eventually carried out would have no sacramental-spiritual effect whatsoever and that the action of ordination would be ineffective before God.»

Given this fact, «it doesn’t make much sense to wait for the Holy Spirit to give a ‘solution’ at a future time,» the bishop said.

«Every attentive observer can perceive, at least in some countries of Western Europe, a sort of mental ecclesial schism,» he lamented.

«Precisely on the topic [of] women in the Church, a resentful state of mind is obvious, which offers very few opportunities to establish a frank dialogue and an objective argument. Under the one organizational roof of the Catholic Church, two ecclesiologies cohabit today which already seem incompatible,» the bishop continued.

The «idea — theologically correct — that we are the community of those who believe in Christ and form his Church, seems to have given way to the opinion that the Church is our property and that its Creed — as if it were a party program — must always be approved again by assemblies of delegates taking as their guideline the degree of attraction for the voters,» he added.

For Bishop Müller, these differences within the Church on certain matters has reached a limit.

«It is not about trying to know who is right, or wins in the end,» he said, «but of knowing what Revelation contains, to which man opens and submits himself in faith by the power of the Spirit of God.»

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