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Confusion Twice Confounded

Feminist theologian Mary Hunt’s recent essay in the National Catholic Reporter is all at once hateful, blasphemous, and sacrilegious.

Pope Francis leads a prayer service in an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 27, 2020. At the conclusion of the service the pope held the Eucharist as he gave an extraordinary blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world). (CNS photo/Yara Nardi, pool via Reuters)

Far be it for the National Catholic Distorter to let a good crisis go to waste.  Presumably in honor of Our Lord’s Passion and Death on Good Friday, their readers were treated to one of the worst articles in their decades of promoting heresy and schism with Mary Hunt’s “Catholic Progress in extremis.  The piece is all at once hateful, blasphemous, and sacrilegious.  One might be forgiven for not recognizing the author’s name, for she has little claim to fame, except as the spawn of two other radical “theologians,” Rosemary Radford Reuther and Juan Luis Segundo. Hunt is the foundress of Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, and “an advisor to the Women’s Ordination Conference.”  She was also a signatory to the scandalous “A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion,” justifying dissent from the Church’s teaching on that topic.

The difficulty in responding to her lunacy is knowing where to begin.

Hunt latches onto the Church’s perennial teaching and practice of allowing anyone with the right intention to baptize in extremis.  Yes, we all learned that in second or third grade in Catholic grammar school.  My Sisters, however, did not have such an inclusive understanding of that doctrine as Ms. Hunt, for whom it is the lynchpin to open the Church up to priestless Eucharists and a bottom-up structure for the Church herself.

Our “theologian” begins with the powerful visual of Pope Francis’ extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing on March 27.  She dubs the event “surreal” and “a clear swan song to a bygone era” and mocks the notion of indulgences.  She goes on:

The sight of the pontiff carrying a monstrance in an empty St. Peter’s Square was a stark reminder that the last one out should turn off the lights. While it is likely that he and his Vatican advisors had the best of intentions, the visual was abysmal, more morbid — or, as one television commentator described it, “ghostly” — than hopeful.

Now, regular readers of CWR know that I cannot be accused of being a cheerleader for this pontificate. But I happen to believe that that blessing was the best thing this Pope has done in seven years.  Interestingly, most secular media types likewise found the gesture deeply moving.

Hunt is undeterred in her assessment as she uses that event to call for “structural change”:  “The top-down model fell that night in the Vatican when the hierarchy was once again, and in a profound way, inadequate to the pastoral needs of its people who needed comfort that the 13th-century ritual just did not provide.”  The snideness is breath-taking, a relic of the anti-Catholic rhetoric of folks such as Loraine Boettner, Jimmy Swaggart, or Tim LaHaye.

As she goes further into her vision of a “re-formed” Church, Hunt praises communities of women Religious who have been burying their dead without the presence of a “male priest” and, she adds, “no one seems to miss them [sic].”  She looks into her crystal ball and divines:

Whether they will ever be called again is an open question. I think I know the answer in many cases. This is change, progress. If and when it becomes more widespread, the whole community can move beyond the gender of sacramental leaders to the focus on pastoral needs.

She calls for “a wholesale rethinking of Eucharist” and “all sorts of creative eucharistic options,” meaning the attempted celebrations of the Holy Eucharist without a validly ordained priest.  Very condescendingly, she notes that “it will take time to educate people to assume their rightful place as promoters of their own spirituality.”  In case her readers are slow to grasp her drift, she spells it out more clearly:

. . . what I favor, is the do-it-yourself approach that women-church groups and other intentional eucharistic communities have long engaged in with satisfying results. The community engages in the Eucharist, sometimes in the context of or followed by a meal, much as the early Christian communities are thought to have operated. . . .  But the Eucharist is an act of thanksgiving engaged in “when two or three are gathered” (Matthew 18:20). These groups have decades of experience, much to teach, and more than a willingness to share.

With all the flourish of a biblical prophet, she concludes:

The hierarchical structure and many of its narrow, power-conserving, people-excluding ways will never be acceptable again, nor do they need to be. If these early days of the pandemic teach us anything, it is to look carefully and speak boldly about what really counts. In extremis, as in God, all things are possible now.

What becomes clear is that her misandry drives her whole train.  This hatred is pathological and causes her to reject the male priesthood, the very meaning of the Eucharist, and the hierarchical structure of the Church.  These positions would make even Martin Luther blanch.  Luther, however, at least had the intellectual honesty and courage of his convictions to bolt from the institution he had come to loathe.  Not so, this reformer.  She has the temerity to claim to remain within or the insanity to believe it to be the case.  One does not have to go back to “the 13thcentury” to find answers to her challenges (although that is not a bad thing to do, either!).  One need only consult relevant documents of the Second Vatican Council like: Sacrosanctum Concilium, Lumen Gentium, Christus Dominus, and Presbyterorum Ordinis.  If 55-year-old documents are too dated, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a bit “younger.”

Lest anyone be confused about the teachings of the Church called into question – or outright contradicted – by this dissenting theologian, the following excerpts from the Catechism should resolve all such questions.

The Hierarchical Structure of the Church

811 “This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.”These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. the Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.

857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

– she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;

–  with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;

– she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor.”

Ordination necessary for confecting the Eucharist

1369 The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Since he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the Pope is associated with every celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named as the sign and servant of the unity of the universal Church. the bishop of the place is always responsible for the Eucharist, even when a priest presides; the bishop’s name is mentioned to signify his presidency over the particular Church, in the midst of his presbyterium and with the assistance of deacons. the community intercedes also for all ministers who, for it and with it, offer the Eucharistic sacrifice:  Let only that Eucharist be regarded as legitimate, which is celebrated under [the presidency of] the bishop or him to whom he has entrusted it.

Through the ministry of priests the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is completed in union with the sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests’ hands in the name of the whole Church in an unbloody and sacramental manner until the Lord himself comes.

1566 “It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful (synaxis) that they [priests] exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father.” From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength.

Worship of the Eucharist

1378 In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.”

What comes across, loud and clear, from Mary Hunt (a “cradle Catholic”) is a most unsettled nature—unsettled in herself and unsettled in her understanding of the meaning of the Church. St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, a convert, had the exact opposite experience of himself and of the Church. In his spiritual autobiography, Apologia pro Vita Sua, he offers this stirring witness:

From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.

Ms. Hunt is confused and thus confuses others.  National Catholic Reporter, since its founding in 1964, has made their mission one of sowing confusion.  We should recall that the Greek word for causing confusion or dissent is the verb diaballo which, in turn, yields the noun diabolos, coming into English as “diabolical.”  Confusion twice confounded.


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About Peter M.J. Stravinskas 159 Articles
Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas is the editor of the The Catholic Response, and the author of over 500 articles for numerous Catholic publications, as well as several books, including The Catholic Church and the Bible and Understanding the Sacraments.

20 Comments

  1. If it only were confusion. It seems her inferiority complex makes her hate men, jealousy of manhood, total defiance of God and his holy will of divine providence. Yet, Jesus took flesh to be son and man proclaiming God as Father, Daddy, male by the primacy of his divine being. The trouble with this zealously of modernity puts pastoral, the church of and for people, into the spotlight, alas, it’s not about us, even if we strive for happiness, fulfillment and eternal bliss, we need to die to our self and be raised above to become one with Christ, the Savior, from Christ bearer to God’s image to Paradise. Blessed Easter Tide.

    • Your church teaches that women are worthless inferior creatures who do not bear the image of Christ at all every single time a priest performs his ceremony. If you remain in this organization you as a woman accept that God thinks you’re worthless. I hope the writer of the NCR piece comes to her senses and leaves for a place that values her as more than a womb attached to a scrub brush.

      • To suggest that the Church teaches that women are worthless is a misguided and willfully negligent thing to do, considering that the greatest of creatures was a woman, and not just a woman, but the Immaculate Conception who contributed more to our redemption than any other creature in history. Women have an inherent dignity not because they can function in positions of leadership but because they were brought into existence thanks to the infinite and loving God who deigned to create humanity out of a love so intense that you, Karen, can not even comprehend because of your preoccupation for worldly things. Perhaps instead of being so preoccupied by the “power” of the priesthood, perhaps you can meditate on women’s role in the salvation of souls. Mary had her role in our salvation without herself being a priest. The Blessed Mother has so much to teach, you, Karen. If only you had the humility to truly understand.

  2. What we have with Mary Hunt and the National Catholic Reporter (NCR, yawn) is yet an excellent example of what St. Augustine termed fantastica fornicatio-— “the prostitution of the mind to its own fancies.” Or, better yet: necromania…

    Her warmed-over leftovers remind this reader of the most unsavory novelties of the Call to Action menu of, when was that, oh yeah, back in 1975 and 1976 of the last century. Embedded tidbits already included parody living-room Masses, adulterated kitchen-blender reading lists, and the pivotal instruction that if real theological or doctrinal questions ever did come up, participants were to masticate their questions in subjective group-think rather than simply ask the priest.

    As the saying goes—-“this dog won’t hunt.” But this Hunt has produced the rattling of disinterred bones from a burial pit only a decade more recent than Woodstock. Or, maybe a flea hitching a free ride on the back of Germania’s synodal path.

    Either way, even the 7th-century Islamic Hadith (thinking multiculturally!)—-a sort of Non-Catholic Reporter (NCR!)—-offers this about the Hunt: “the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”

    • Thank you, Peter. My new favorite word is fornicatio. It so succinctly diagnoses
      the outrageous opinions of friends and family who hold what seem to me to be
      irreconcilable (to reason) positions.

  3. This sort of thing is only to be expected as the logical outcome of the “new things” that (as Msgr. Ronald Knox pointed out) have plagued the Church from its earliest days. Not by coincidence, Knox’s student, Abp. Fulton J. Sheen, made it the focus of his first two books, God and Intelligence (1925) and Religion Without God (1927), explaining the shift from a God-centered religion, to one worshiping the abstraction of a deified humanity.

  4. Thank you, Fr Stravinskas, for an excellent article. I do not read the National Catholic Reporter specifically for those who write articles like Mary Hunt’s. Her notion of “it will take time to educate people to assume their rightful place as promoters of their own spirituality.” I do not go to Mass to exercise a search for my spirituality but for God’s. Ms Hunt is wrong! I think that Catholics miss the Mass very much and will flock back in numbers heather to unequaled. I don’t think Ms Hunt can be called a “theologian” as she does not have one! At least not one based on sound theology. This poor lady is lost and we, as good Catholics should and do pray for her and anyone who harbors such views. These people have been around throughout the Church’s history and are STILL on the outside! And will be as they have forgotten Christ’s words, “I will be with you until the end of the age!

  5. As utterly revolting the notions propounded by the fembot Hunt are to read, it is good for us to be reminded what is transpiring between the ears of the more nefarious inhabitants of our Roman Catholic world. She is not alone, and her perspectives are more widely held than we would care to believe — indeed virulent in the Catholic theological academy. They are most often concealed behind the “wink and the nod.” It is nothing less than demonic.
    Be well aware.

  6. As my old school Jesuit teacher of moral theology said, “All bad moral theology finds its roots in the rationalization of unconfessed sin, usually sexual.”
    How many contributing members of Planned Parenthood (and other such anti- Catholic groups) write big checks to assuage guilt from their rationalized sin? It seems easier to commit spiritual suicide than to humbly seek reconciliation. It’s as old as Judas, as well as anyone who opts to stay hang around and collect a nice paycheck from guilt driven contributions. How many members of Planned Parenthood have personally been involved directly or
    Indirectly in an abortion? Think about it.

    • “All bad moral theology finds its roots in the rationalization of unconfessed sin, usually sexual”. Yes! Yes! Yes! The most rabid, Anti-Catholic Attack dogs are ALWAYS among the most guilty, unrepentant, hateful, sinful, criminally-entitled people on this planet and all of history. That’s why we must NEVER fold or allow ourselves to be intimidated by their foam-in-the-mouth barking, accusations, name calling, political/judicial persecution and physical threats.

      They don’t bring God’s Holy Wrath but Satan’s Slandering Sin-Glorifying Wrath. They don’t need male Priest Fathers to worship because you don’t need one to worship with bended knee at the latrine of your own sins. They should call themselves the Sisters of The “Holy” Latrine. That’s where they are leading us and all True Catholics, men and women, must say: “NO!! Our GOD is only JESUS and not our sins!!”

      • Judith, First I get “fornicatio”, now this exquisite quote which sheds further
        light on the befuddled stances of friends and family. After spending only a few minutes on FB last evening – a sad state of affairs brought on by my need to use FB
        to access coronamass- I was awakened at 2:30am with their idiocies ringing in my
        ears. A quick Chaplet of the Divine Mercy calmed me enough to return to my bed, but I appreciate these posts so I won’t wonder again, “How do they hold these ideas?”

  7. It is easy to see how she can object to Eucharistic adoration and Pope Francis’s Benediction, since she is satisfied with the apparent confection of a eucharist by the non-ordained, which would not require adoration.

  8. “All bad moral theology finds its roots in the rationalization of unconfessed sin, usually sexual.”

    That was a wonderful quote Judith. Thank you so much for sharing it. Those are my thoughts too, but I probably couldn’t express them as well as your professor did.

  9. LES RECOMIENDO UN LIBRO SOBRE EL JESUITA URUGUAYO JUAN LUIS SEGUNDO ESCRITO POR OTRO JESUITA URUGUAYO
    Horacio Bojorge, S.J.
    Teologías Deicidas. El pensamiento de Juan Luis Segundo en su contexto.
    Fecha: enero 1, 2000
    Examen crítico del pensamiento de Juan Luis Segundo desde el punto de vista de la teología católica.

  10. The sight of the Pope alone in St. Peter’s Square praying for all Catholics and men and women of good will, indeed for the whole world, is the most fatherly act the Successor of St. Peter could do in this most challenging and perilous times. Alone, he carried the weight of the world in prayer and and performed his most solemn duty of serving as a bridge between the church militant and the church triumphant, and between the Church and our Lord and God. What Pope Francis did evoked and communicated of the fundamental unity binding all Catholics. May God listen to our prayers, with the Holy Father Pope Francis leading the way, as a good shepherd should.

  11. Good article and comments on the subject but it is getting to the point where the subject needs closure. Surely it is time for all the theological novelties and their adherents that have arisen since Vatican II to to take their leave and find a church more suitable to their beliefs. Should they fail to locate a suitable home, they can do as two groups have done in our town and start their own church. In any event, the constant yammering of the dissatisfied is getting past tiresome and it has reached the point when further exposition of their positions is pointless.

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