The headline in the newspaper El Diario del Centro del País (2/11/2010) was irresistible, Un cura de la Diócesis local concelebró misa con una mujer ("A Diocesan Priest Concelebrated Mass with a Woman"). As the Vatican gets ready to open an international theological congress on the theme “Faithfulness in Christ, Faithfulness of Priests” which will address celibacy among other issues of priestly identity, a Paraguayan Jesuit shows us what the future of the Church will look like. Here is my translation of the article, which will also show you why I have so much respect and love for Jesuitical reasoning...
The Jesuit retreat house in Limpia, 10 kilometers from the Paraguayan city of San Lorenzo, was the scene of the celebration of the golden jubilee of the priesthood of Arnaldo Gutiérrez.
Gutiérrez is not your everyday priest. He was one of those who received authorization from the Holy See to get married and even though he is prohibited from the normal priestly role (with parish and faithful), in certain situations, when there is no priest, he can serve in that function.
That is how Gutiérrez reached 50 years in the priesthood and he wanted to celebrate a Mass, to which he invited his friend José Amado Aguirre from the Diocese of Villa María.
"I have participated in a unique historic moment. We concelebrated Mass with a woman," said the man who believes that the Church must inevitably move towards the admission of women into the priesthood and towards optional celibacy for priests.
He said that when the time came to consecrate the Eucharist, the Jesuit invited Gutiérrez's wife to participate at that moment. "It was really heartwarming to see the hands of the wife intertwined with her husband's around the chalice [sic], consecrating the body of Christ," he said.
He explained that that role is only for ordained people within the Church like priests and the woman, obviously, wasn't one.
"Also, the Jesuit priest offered a liberal interpretation deeming that, if marriage makes a man and a woman into one being, the fact that the man is a priest gives the woman the right to share this condition."
It is a subject that will surely be polemical. But it happened, and in a country where a bishop is president.
Photo: The hands of the priest and his wife at the moment of Consecration.