Christian Brother calls for women’s ordination in RCC

America Magazine, The National Catholic Weekly reviews DeThomasis’ new book and interviews him.

Brother Louis DeThomasis, FSC, a Christian Brother for 40 years and the president of St. Mary’s University in Minnesota for 20, has written a new book in which he calls for, among other things, the ordination of women as part of an overall metanoia (change in consciousness) that must, he argues, be brought about in the church. “Is the institutional church dying?” he asks. “Yes, fortunately.”

“It is fortunate because this death can be the occasions for a metanoia in the church,” he writes in Flying in the Face of Tradition: Listening to the Lived Experience of the Faithful (Acta). “Sexual abuse, corruption, authoritarianism, lack of transparency, and cover-ups have all been collapsing into and on top of the institutional church….The ‘tipping point’ has been reached, and the moral authority, honor and respect that the institutional church once elicited from most peoples and secular institutions around the globe no longer exists.”

Brother DeThomasis, now 70, views this as a positive spiritual development. “However, if there is metanoia and transformation within, then there will and can be a ‘resurrection’ for the institutional church.” His brief book (102 pages) touches upon what he calls the “subversion” of Vatican II, the proper use of tradition and what is bound to be the most controversial topic: the ordination of women. “After listening to the arguments put forth by the institutional church that Jesus would demand anything other than the full complete and total equality of all persons in his church and finding those arguments completely unpersuasive and often silly,” he writes, “we the faithful believe that the ordination of women not only should take place, but must take place soon.”

What is perhaps most surprising about this book is not simply that Brother DeThomasis is challenging church teaching on certain matters (e.g., the ordination of women) or even strongly criticizing the hierarchy in general, but that he writes from within the heart of the institutional church, as a member a large religious order, after many years in a leadership role (he served as president of St. Mary’s from 1984 to 2005) and still in active ministry: he runs the Christian Brother Investment Services, and lives in Rome.

h/t to Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

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