Will Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein touch a third rail in Catholic doctrine? Of course not ...

First things first, to update our recent former-GetReligionista watch post, congratulations to Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein today as she receives her doctorate in sacred theology -- magna cum laude -- from the University of St. Mary on the Lake (Mundelein Seminary).

And congratulations, as well, on that A1 Chicago Tribune story that managed to cover quite a bit of Dawn's complex and fascinating life -- from rock-beat journalist to teaching seminarians -- up to this rather historic moment in Catholic higher education.

The story, for example, mentioned that her faculty appointment -- which still has not been announced -- will be overseas. Interesting. Does Dawn speak Italian?

As you would expect, there are some interesting editorial nuances in a mainstream news report about a person as complicated as Dawn. For example, even though (a) her journey into this work began in the Pope Benedict XVI era and (b) women have been appointed to interesting leadership posts (for several decades, actually) in conservative as well as progressive dioceses, the hook for this story (it's a news-media law) must be linked somehow to the current occupant of the chair of St. Peter.

She is earning the degree, issued by the authority of Pope Francis, at the same time Francis is pushing to raise the profile of women in the Catholic Church, most recently in his 260-page apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia," in which he praised some aspects of women's liberation, though he did not go so far as to say women should be priests.
Goldstein is not calling for women's ordination. She's not condemning celibacy, and she voluntarily took a vow herself. She's simply pursuing an education to shape the church's ministers of tomorrow and mentor women who feel called to serve the church.

Of course, there is a reason this pope didn't "go so far" as to support female priests. There is, after all this document from St. Pope John Paul II called "Ordinatio sacerdotalis" in which he ruled that church teachings on this subject are "definitive," and part of the church's ancient "deposit of faith."

As is customary in most news coverage of Catholicism, the story -- over and over -- discusses contemporary issues in language that hints that they are (a) personal opinion, (b) political or (c) both. Also, Dawn is hit with the kind of secular-sin language that is rarely applied to people on the left. Read carefully, in this passage about her conversion to Catholicism:

... The church's position against abortion rights and fertility treatments reflected Goldstein's political views.
In 2002, she launched a blog called The Dawn Patrol to rail against abortion rights, in-vitro fertilization and groups such as Planned Parenthood. During that time, she also worked as an editor and headline writer for Women's Wear Daily, The New York Post and New York Daily News. The blog occasionally prompted words of caution from editors -- and eventually cost her her job at the Post.

Yes, we're talking about that "railed against" syndrome. You know you are getting close to a "third rail" issue when journalists pull out this other "railing" word. As in:

rail against
To attack with harsh, often insulting language

One can only assume that she "railed" on these topics in a manner that would be insulting to Planned Parenthood and the Tribune. That would not be hard to do. Also note that it was her "political" views that meshed with Catholicism, not her theological or faith convictions.

But back to some interesting material about Dawn, the pope and, yes, theology.

Goldstein has been inspired by Pope Francis' messages on the healing power of mercy, as well as his statements on women.
In his most recent papal document, he stated that women could and should help prepare men for the priesthood. She said it shows a respect for what women have to offer the church, without crossing the line into women's ordination, which she thinks would be heresy.
"There have been a number of female theologians that have shown it is possible to be a woman in theology writing on topics of importance to women, yet to not to take this subversive kind of view," Goldstein said.

Note that Dawn "thinks" the ordination of women would be heresy, as opposed to saying that she affirms the church's "definitive" teachings on this topic. We're not talking about doctrine, remember. This is all about politics and personal opinions.

Nevertheless, there is much to learn in this Tribune piece (I had forgotten, for example that Dawn's sister is a rabbi). If you are interested in knowing more details about the life and times of the new Dr. Goldstein (such as the "The Lady is a Trump" headline and her exit from the Post), please check out her own biographical essay when she joined GetReligion, which ran under one of her legendary punny headlines, "The inky-fingered Dawn."

And again, congratulations, Dr. Dawn. Please stay in touch with your lowly ink-stained GetReligion colleagues, wherever you end up.

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