A reader writes:
I found Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry's characterization of your view regarding women and Christianity rather comical. He makes it seem that it's the entire Roman Catholic Church vs. Andrew Sullivan (complete with the dismissive italicization of your name). In fact, mainline Protestants in the West had this debate years ago when deciding whether to ordain women, and they all came down on your side. This is in fact a disagreement within Christendom, not between one blogger and Christendom, as Gobry portrays it.
The justification for excluding women from the priesthood rests mainly on the Pastoral Epistles, which are pseudo-Pauline, i.e. written under Paul's name, but not by Paul. From Wikipedia:
The vocabulary and phraseology used in the Pastorals is often at variance with that of the other epistles. Over 1/3 of the vocabulary is not used anywhere else in the Pauline epistles, and over 1/5 is not used anywhere else in the New Testament, while 2/3 of the non-Pauline vocabulary are used by second century Christian writers.
Many mainline Protestant biblical scholars believe one of the reasons these epistles were written was to claw back the egalitarianism instituted by Paul in the church. These epistles have some of the most misogynist verses regarding women found in the New Testament. The Catholic church has largely based their ecclesiology upon the Pastor Epistles. Mainline Protestantism, having gone through these debates in the 70s and 80s over the ordination of women, look largely to Acts and the authentic Pauline epistles for their ecclesiology.
Gobry would like to make you out to be the isolated critic of anti-women policies as un-Christian. Rest assured, you have a huge portion of western Christianity standing with you.
What is tellingly blind in Pascal Emmanuel-Gobry’s response is his premise that “The Catholic Church” is equivalent with the teachings of the Roman Magisterium. He asserts that even non-Catholics would acknowledge that the Catholic Church knows more about Christianity than Andrew Sullivan. Certainly. But this is true only when we understand that the Catholic Church is more than the pope or the Vatican bureaucracy or the clergy as a whole. Emmanuel-Gobry has no business pretending he can speak for this Catholic Church in its entirely; no more so does Benedict XVI. The church is not and has never been univocal, and that is precisely why it is imperative for all Christians, including Andrew Sullivan, to be in ongoing debate over what it means to be Christian today. Truth is not determined by polls or human authorities.
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