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Hindus Urge Pope to Reconsider Ordination of Women Priests

April 23, 2012

This doesn’t seem to have generated much notice in the press, but I found it interesting nonetheless. Hindus are urging the Vatican to change its mind on the ordination of women priests in Roman Catholic Church, according to The Chakra, an online Hindu-interest newspaper.

In the article, Rajan Zed—a distinguished Hindu statesman, chaplain (he gave the first Hindu prayer to open the Senate in 2007), and commentator, not to mention the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism—was quoted as saying that women could disseminate God’s message as skillfully as men and deserved equal and full participation and access in religion.

He said that as women were equal partners in society, so they should be equal partners in religion as well. He urged the Vatican to be “kinder” to Roman Catholic women, since the exclusion of women from conducting religious services, just because they were female, was very unfair and ungodly.

Quoting the Hindu scriptures, he said, “‘Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased.’ Men and women are equal in the eyes of God and religions should respect that,” adding that the time has now come for the women priests and bishops. He pointed out that the Catholic Church, being the largest religious organization in the world, should show exemplary leadership on the equality of women to the rest of the world.

According to the article, Zed suggested that theologians and canonists of the Church needed to address this issue urgently, and re-evaluate Church doctrine, theology, male hierarchy, and history. Women should be ordained to priesthood and should perform the same functions as male priests—it is clearly a case of discrimination promoting gender inequality.

Zed’s remarks came in the wake of the Vatican’s reprimand of a group of Catholic nuns for promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith”—a reprimand Zed called “unfortunate.”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Javier permalink
    April 23, 2012 8:41 pm

    “it is clearly a case of discrimination promoting gender inequality”, for this to be true, there must be a set of Universal Truths, always valid, that we must obey in every time and place, and that the Church is breaking. What are those Universal Truths, and who is the Universal Lawgiver?.
    If there are no such Universal Truths or Universal Lawgiver, then this is just a matter of local culture and taste. And of people in some modern societies trying to impose its tastes on a 2000 years old institution. Membership of which is voluntary.
    In fact, up to the 19th century, some hindus used to burn the wife during her husband’s burial (this was called “sati”). And the hindus found it extremely rude and intrusive when the brits tried to stop it.

  2. April 24, 2012 3:14 pm

    Javier,
    “Women in Hinduism” and “Women in Vedas” might give another perspective.

    And here’s a bit from Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier’s reflections on how Catholicism (with respect to what women teach and model in ministry) might find strong support, from Hinduism:

    When I imagine Mary through the lens of Kali, I do not just think back to her conception or the birth of Jesus; I think also of Mary and those disciples who stood vigil at Jesus’ death. Pope Benedict XVI has written of the passive receptivity of Mary at the foot of the cross, which becomes a feminine model for all of Christian life. But I see something profoundly active and Kali-like in Mary and others’ presence at his death, as they stood vigil, took him from the cross, prepared his body for burial, and entombed him. The death of Christ is the great death in our Tradition, which of course becomes the great birth of his, and our, resurrection. In the Gospel of John, Mary is said to be at the foot of the cross; and I think this devastating image of a mother who chooses to be with her son while he is tortured and killed presents us with an amazing tale of the power of presence and solidarity at the edges of life and death. Mary gave birth to him as a baby, but in her presence to him at his death, she helps birth him again from life, to death, to rebirth in resurrection. Those who were present at the foot of the cross could not stop Jesus’ suffering and death, but they could accompany him and stand with him, be present to him in his journey to death and resurrection. This provides us with a powerful picture of Christian vocation, a call for Christians to accompany Jesus and all others in life, death, and resurrection – to give birth to Christ’s presence in the most desolate of places, the cremation grounds, the crucifixion grounds. The courageous choice to stand with Jesus in his death shows not our powerlessness in the face of death, or the passive receptivity of our faith, but it shows us a graced and active call to stand in solidarity with all those crucified – to bear Christ in life, and death, and beyond. This is a far cry from a passive, receptive, benign vision of Mary, womanhood, and Christian faith.

  3. almagore permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:43 pm

    I have the utmost respect for the High Hindu Holy Men who are the Gurus of Bhakti, Karma, and Jnana Yoga. But, it was none of these Holy Men who suggested that the Pope change his position on women being ordained as priests. In fact, it is against the Principles taught by them, The Buddha, and the Christ that anyone should care about earthy respect or power and certainly that is what the women want who want to be Priests in the Catholic Christian Church. For one does not have to be in a position of power or status to serve God or to seek God or to Realize that sublime state of Samadhi, Nirvana, or the Kingdom of God; where one is in complete Union with God.

    One must realise that equality does not mean having the same function. A woman can conceive, bear, deliver, and suckle her children. I can do none of that so that I am clearly not equal in function as a woman. She can do things that I can not do and I am not designed to do. Does that mean that a man is not equal to a woman? Although there are some women I have heard say just that; no, it does not mean that although I was designed to not have the same function as a woman, that I am not equal regarding importance or value in the sight of God. God sees both men and women as having equal value and importance but He designed us to have some different gifts and functions. To deny that is to deny Reality, deny a part of our earthly self, and to deny that our Creator knew what He was doing.

  4. April 30, 2012 9:03 pm

    “In fact, it is against the Principles taught by them, The Buddha, and the Christ that anyone should care about earthy respect or power and certainly that is what the women want who want to be Priests in the Catholic Christian Church.” Surely you don’t mean to be saying that women who want to serve as priests only want earthly respect or power, are you? Or, by implication, that the men who serve as priests DON’T want respect or power? For if you do, then I think you have known very few male priests and even fewer females who aspire to priesthood.

    “God sees both men and women as having equal value and importance but He designed us to have some different gifts and functions. To deny that is to deny Reality, deny a part of our earthly self, and to deny that our Creator knew what He was doing.” Odd, I don’t recall reading that God said a single word about the ordination of women. For you to imply that because the Church does not currently allow women to be priests, it must somehow be part of the Creator’s plan, is outrageous. Humans in general and the Church in particular have done a great deal of harm in the name of God, and to perpetuate a hierarchy where one gender has perpetual power over the other and call it divinely ordered to be that way is nothing short of blasphemous.

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