Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Some discussion of women in the diaconate at ByzCath. Both men and women can serve others - but is it the case that women deacons were raised to Holy Orders? Does the deacon have a place in the hierarchy of authority? (Or is it the case that the diaconate, for both men and women, is a separate Holy Order from that of the presbyterate, as one commentor claims?)

While it may convince some that the priest is male because he represents Christ, what about the question of why is Christ male? Arguing that He is male because He is the Bridegroom while the Church is the Bride may be sufficient for some, but isn't the difference in role not something accidental?

Tomás Luis de Victoria, Ave Regina Caelorum

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) Ave Regina caelorum a 8

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) Missa Ave Regina caelorum
Forte's joining the fray is significant, and in some ways surprising.

It is significant because he is one of the best-known Italian bishops, including at the international level, and enjoys a substantial following among his brother bishops, who in fact appointed him as their representative at the worldwide synod on the new evangelization that will be held in Rome in October. Of the four selections he is the only one without the scarlet, the other three being all cardinals: Angelo Bagnasco, Giuseppe Betori, and Angelo Scola.

It is surprising because Forte has always been considered a theologian of the progressive camp, the camp that most opposes, and not only in Italy, the passage from "for all" to "for many."

At the memorable ecclesial conference in Loreto in 1985, which marked the ascent in the leadership of the Italian Church of then-auxiliary bishop of Reggio Emilia Camillo Ruini, Forte was fighting for the other and the winning side, together with the president of the episcopal conference at the time, Anastasio Ballestrero, and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. And it was he who gave the introductory theological presentation.

This is why he has not rarely ended up in the crosshairs of his more conservative theologian colleagues.

For example, in a 2004 article Fr. Nicola Bux, an adviser – both then and now – to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, singled out Forte as one of the "promulgators" of a "weak and derivative theology" concerning the resurrection of Jesus, reduced "to an 'etiological legend,' or an artifice in support of the worship that the Judeo-Christians were conducting on the site of Jesus' burial."

But Forte's taking the field is even more surprising because it marks in him a change of judgment with respect to the past.