Oh, Brother! Really? Fr Tom Reese asks the good questions
consensus through ambiguity
“Thanks to a perceptive question by Thomas J. Reese, S.J., former editor in chief of America and currently a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter.
Brother Herve Janson, a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus, an order noted for its poverty and simplicity, was one of the participants at the daily press briefing. It was noted that he was also a voting member.
Father Reese asked, rightly, “What is the rationale for you being admitted to the synod and religious women not being admitted to the synod?”
What does that mean? Basically, Brother Janson is not ordained. Some may not be aware of this tradition, but you can be a member of a men’s religious order and not be ordained: thus the term “Brother.”
Brother Janson is neither a bishop, nor a priest, nor a deacon. Technically, his canonical “status” in the church is that of a layman. That is, he has the same “status” as that of a woman religious, or in common parlance, a Catholic sister. And the same status as a laywoman as well.
In response to Fr. Reese’s question, which produced some uncomfortable laughter from the other panelists (who immediately grasped the challenging nature of the question): Brother Janson said “That is a big question…I felt very uncomfortable …Before, the distinction was between cleric and lay. And now, it became between man and woman, exactly as you said very well…I asked myself the same question.” Strikingly, Brother Janson said he thought of refusing the invitation to be a voting member, out of solidarity with women religious.”
See Fr Tom Reese: Five reasons the synod is doomed to fail Here
“This is a serious failure for the Synod.
Previously, at least as far as I had known, it seemed that ordination was a prerequisite for voting. That is, there were priests who were appointed, in addition to the bishops, as voting members. There were strong theological arguments that could be advanced for that: it was a synod of bishops, and, in Catholic theology, priests participate in the ministry of the bishop through the sacrament of holy.”
See Fr James Martin Complete Article Here