Last week I dealt with an Instruction on Parishes. (At another time I will talk about how that belittles lay people with faint praise.) An Instruction is a document from the Holy See that talks about how to implement law. There are canons in the Code and Instructions that deal with preaching. Who can do it? What is the purpose? Answers, clerics (men only) and to use the scripture to instruct in the faith. Whenever I talk with a cleric/canon lawyer about this, they say things like “Well lay people are forbidden to preach at Mass!” That is harsh and negative. It also begs the fact that there is room, albeit limited, for exceptions. I would think that priests would be glad for the help of someone preparing a homily instead of them.
Recently I said something on a canon law listserv to the point of how much better homilies would be if women were giving them too. One of the priests/canonists answered back that my post was not appreciated because in his judgment, it was not canonical enough and that the style of my post was more Facebook than academic. He continued that he refuses to be a Facebook subscriber because of the trite nature of most of the posts. I tend to think that nobody wanted to be his friend. Note that this whiner is just another member with access to the listserv, he is not the Moderator. So initially I ask myself, who made him the canon law police?
Next, I believe that if I were a man, more exactly, a cleric, this whiny cleric would not have minded my comments half so much. And third, if I were a man/cleric he would never had had the nerve to attack me. Welcome to the world of clericalism at its worst. And I see a great deal of that in canon law.
I got thirty-eight private emails praising me for what I said on the listserv, all supportive and even encouraging me to tell him off because they never liked him anyway. These same people said they did not want to say it publicly on the listserv because of people like the critical cleric. If this were the civil law world, there would have been a real and public argument starting with First Amendment rights to say anything I want short of “Fire” in a crowded building. (If you do not like what is on the TV, don’t watch or grab the remote). That would have been fun on this listserv but honestly, the critical cleric is no competition. I have to admit though, I truly appreciated the thirty-eight emails of support. And I will continue to say what I want, where I want, and not be intimidated by a collar, even one with a canon law degree behind it. So not impressed.
I stick with my initial premise. If women could preach at Mass, the homilies would be better, maybe even great.