Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Did St Therese want to be a priest?

Other bloggers have responded to a letter in this week's Tablet suggesting that St Therese of Lisieux expressed a wish to be a priest. A full refutation of the conclusion from this that St Therese was an advocate of women priests can be found in an article by Peter McDonald at Church in History.

Literally, it is true that Therese wrote that she wanted to be a priest, and described with what love she would handle the sacred host if she were a priest (the understanding of priesthood expressed in her words is strikingly similar to that of St John Vianney, an interesting point to note in the Year for Priests). But if you take that literal statement in the context of the surrounding paragraph, any possible conclusion that St Therese claimed to have a vocation to the priesthood or that she claimed that the Church could ordain women evaporates rather rapidly. She was really expressing, in a completely idealistic manner, a desire to fulfil every vocation in the Church, at every time and in every place. And she concludes by saying that she has found her vocation as that of being "love in the heart of the Church" (ie a contemplative), a vocation that embraces all the other vocations at once.

H/T: Hermeneutic of Continuity and Caritas in Veritate.

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