Nuns Dionne’s preferred papal candidates (Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)

E.J. Dionne Jr.’s solution to various Vatican problems (covered-up/enabled child-abuse scandals, emphasis on politicking instead of poor-helping, the appearance of a profound love of luxurious worldly goods, a power structure increasingly out of touch with the Catholic Church’s congregational strength in the developing world, a now-anachronistic low status of women — wow, that took a lot of words) … Dionne’s solution to all this is promoting a nun, particularly one fighting for the downtrodden in uncomfortable places, to the papacy.

He argues that the weirdness of the current pope’s resignation could enable some more, salutary weirdness, some blessed shake-up. With one stone (ha!), a LOT of changes Dionne hopes for could happen — and fast.

Dionne acknowledges that a couple of rules would have to change first. But the kind of Catholic Church that could make it happen is the kind Dionne wants to be part of.

Tobit says it’s not just rules that would have to change:

1st Corinthians would disagree with you. “Women should be silent in church.” How’s that going to work with a lady Pope?

mbertaut argues it is fundamentally anti-Catholic to chase membership in order to be popular with the current crowd of potential believers.  We’re going to let him talk for a bit, because he’s summing up one side of the case nicely.  We are assuming mbertaut is a he because, um, we just are. See if you agree:

It would be good to consider that the Church is not a marketing organization trying to figure out how to attract and keep the most customers.
It is, by it’s own Canons and Catechism, the most accurate path with the “truest” course to eternal salvation. That means that it is responsible not for making itself culturally relevant, but to make the culture understand that it has an obligation to return to the Church for the good of its own eternal life.
Is this mission served by allowing abusive churchmen to get off scot-free when they commit a crime? Certainly not, and your point about abuses within the church are perfectly legitimate.
But reality is, Dionne knows that no female can legitimately consecrate a host, let alone become a Priest, Bishop, or Cardinal. Thus the “female Pope” is a non-starter and he knows it. Which really takes away from the value of his column, in my opinion.
And the Church is not losing membership in the West because it has done something wrong. It is because our society has largely decided that God does not exist, and even if he does, we are each going to create our own little version of him, upon which we will never fully agree.
We have no talent for submission to a higher power. We are betting the house on our own wit and knowledge being the keys to heaven.

There is a brief interlude of good-natured in-house ribbing about orders — Franciscans being sworn to poverty and Jesuits being particularly intellectual, if PostScript is reading the joshing correctly:


Personally – I’d prefer a Franciscan. At least there would be no graft.


A Jesuit would be more entertaining.

njglea argues from authority:

I talked to God this morning, Mr. Dionne, and she said to tell you she thinks this is one of your best ideas yet. She also said to tell you that the men who run the Catholic Church will eventually come to understand that she created all people equal.

There is an argument about the church’s responsibilities to this world’s power structure, and vice versa:

I say we who are not Catholic step back, put our social engineering caps back in the closet, and let the Catholic Church run itself without government or community activist involvement.


Then how about the Church run its own business and stay out of politics?

jrbascom hopes that at least one patriarchal power structure remains sacred:

Feminist totalitarianism again. I don’t know what’s worse: the megalomania of E.J. Dionne thinking he knows better than 2,000 years of unbroken tradition, or the feminist delirium that hates everything and anything that is not dominated by women.

Catalpa says, on the contrary, women are doing a heck of a lot of work in the church, just not with title or authority, and it means much less Catholic control over personal lives:

The irony is that, at least here in the United States, Catholic churches are increasingly run by women. Because of the scarcity of priests (and even of nuns), lay “parish coordinators” now run just about everything in their churches and a priest is brought in only to perform Sacramental functions. I have an extended family member who is in such a job. With two Master’s degrees (Catholic Theology and Social Work) she is well-qualified to instruct for Confirmation, plan funerals and weddings in keeping with Church requirements, counsel on every kind of religious, moral, and personal matter, and do so many other jobs formerly reserved to priests. The fact that she is a woman, married, and a mother doesn’t seem to subtract one bit from her competence for the work she does. It seems that if the Vatican refuses to adjust from above, the Church will find ways to adjust itself from below.

And finally, cprdcnats swaps out some nouns to compare the time Jesus was tempted by political earthly power to the time current church leaders were tempted to abandon their political earthly power. At least that’s how PostScript intends to interpret the text:

At that time the Body Of Christ was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when they had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards they were hungry. And the tempter coming said to them: If Thou be the Body Of Christ, command that these works of charity be made secular, religion-free acts conforming to our HHS mandates and limited definitions of religious institutions. They answered and said: It is written: Not in temporal goods alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took them up into the holy city and set them upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to them: If Thou be the Body Of Christ, change the rules to allow women to serve as persona Christi. For it is written: Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven. They said to him: The Church has no authority to change the clear instructions Christ has established. Again the devil took them up into a very high mountain and showed them all the nations of the world and the glory of their media establishments, and said to them: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt affirm sodomy and contraception. Then the Body of Christ saith to him: Begone Satan! for it is written: ‘Man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ Then the devil left them. And Holy Spirit came, and ministered to the Body Of Christ.