One of the most
refreshing views that any theologian cam find would be John Paul
II's theology of the body (John Paul II, Rocchetta, Cervantes).
One of the best theological analysis of Genesis was made by John Paul
II himself about not only how the soul is the image and likeness of
God, but also how the body is too. And studying both versions of
creation in Genesis, the Priestly one (Gen. 1,1-2,4a), and the Yahwist
one (Gen 2,4b ff.), a very beautiful spiritual truth can be
how both male and female are God's image in their entire being: body,
soul and grace (John Paul II 25-39). Therefore, the two of them
are equal in dignity as human beings and children of God.
Unfortunately, some conclusions don't follow the
beautiful premises he endorses. One of those conclusions is that
because of reasons of gender, women cannot be priests. It is my
personal position that one cannot be against women ordination without
supposing somehow that a woman is in inferior human dignity condition
This would seem not to be so at first, specially for
women who are against women ordination. However, I invite those
women to look for a moment at point of view. The Church
had its origin in the first century "ekklesias"
(communities that met in an assembly to share their faith).
Therefore the Church is inclusive in its nature, not exclusive.
Following this line of reasoning, if the Church excludes
women from the ministry of priesthood, then that means that it must
have good reasons to do so. But, as we shall see, it doesn't
present any valid argument for it. It is the purpose of this page
to present all the most important arguments that the Vatican presents
ordination, and why are they logically and historically absurd.
Let us look at these arguments closely:
Christ, the Second Person
of the Trinity, when He incarnated, he became a man, not a woman.
Since the priest represents Christ on Earth, it would be important to
maintain a ministerial historical fidelity, therefore all priests
should be men.
This argument is
completely empty. There is no reason why a woman can't represent
Christ. Let me give you an example of what I mean. There
are many political parties and governments which sometimes have women
representing the male presidents or politicians. In other cases,
like in the case of the wife of former President Clinton, she can
represent his views perfectly, because she has political and
intellectual capacity to do it.
As in politics, in the Church there is a great
number of women who have the intellectual, moral and spiritual capacity
to exercise priesthood and represent Christ. Which is more
important? Fidelity to gender or fidelity to the Gospel?
The second question that comes to mind is why give
so much importance to historical fidelity in the aspect of
gender? If this is so important, then, why doesn't the Church ask
those priests to speak Aramaic or that they be circumcised? Why
does it consider priests only those men born in other parts of the
world, and not only those born in Bethlehem of Judea, or only those who
are Jews? With this line of questioning it is quite evident that
the requirement of being male as the only one to be priests shows to be
Jesus didn't ordain any woman as Apostle, and the Apostles
in turn, didn't ordain any woman.
It has been proven historically that this statement
is completely false. Here is why.
The Case of the Ordination of Deaconesses
Let's start first with this statement:
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at
Cencreae; give her, in the Lord, a welcome worthy of God's holy people,
and help her with whatever she needs from you -she herself has come to
help of many people, including myself (Rom. 16,1-2).
According to Senén Vidal this chapter 16 is a letter of St.
Paul, nor written along with the rest of the Epistle of the Romans, but
later compilers added this letter to it. For him, this letter was
directed to the community of Ephesus, where Phoebe was going to
(Vidal 359). Phoebe is the one that probably was carrying the
letter with her, and St. Paul is commending her and telling his
followers to welcome her to their community. Some argue that the
fact that Phoebe was a deaconess means nothing, since the word "diakonos" in Greek means "servant",
which didn't necessarily mean that she was ordained a deaconess in the
same way that Apostles ordained deacons (Acts 6,1-6).
The problem presented in this argument is
historically evident. As Alcala points out correctly there are
ancient Church documents that corroborate the existence ordination of
women for the position of
deaconesses. There is a very important document called the Didaskalia, a book on the ecclesial
orders in Syria dating from the third century. Afterwards it was
enhanced in the Constitutions of the
Holy Apostles in Constantinople in
the fourth century (Alcala 213). Among the things that the Didaskalia says is the following:
The priest, the first among you, is the Levite bishop. He is the
administrator of the word and mediator; he is Master after God, your
father, and regenerator through water; he is your powerful rector
(basileus). When he directs you, in the place of God, be him
honored by you as you honor God, because the bishop presides over you
like a prototype of God. The deacon is there as prototype of
Christ; therefore love him. Be the deaconess honored by you, as
the prototype of the Holy Spirit [. . .] (Alcala 213, my translation).
The Constitutions further say:
Be the deaconess honored among you as the prototype of the Holy Spirit,
who doesn't do or saying anything without the deacon; just as the
Paraclete doesn't say or do anything without Christ, but does with His
Will giving Him glory. And there is no confession in Christ
without the teaching of the Spirit, also without the deacon, no woman
precedes the deacon or a bishop (Alcala 214).
The Constitutions further
state that women should not teach nor baptize (Alcala 214-215), which
things that the Church does allow women
to do today.
Alcala points out that, before the Constitutions, in the Didaskalia it states that there
should be women deaconesses because they could better minister to
women, and among its duties is baptizing and
anointing with oil. It says also that for women to be
deaconesses the hands must be imposed on them, and they must be
anointed on the head, like the priests and kings were anointed in
Israel. The Constitution
adds something very interesting: the deaconesses should be
anointed and not merely baptized, because baptism is not
ordination. And though it prohibited deaconesses from teaching
publicly, they could teach privately to women (Alcala 217-219).
According to Alcala's own studies on the subject, in
both the Didaskalia and
the Constitution use the
terms "xeirotonía" and "xeirozesía" to refer to the
imposition of hands. But the term used for the imposition of
hands that implied ordination and official membership of the clergy is "xeirotonía" which was
included also for women deaconesses (Alcala 221-223). More
astonishingly, in the Byzantine rituals of the eighth century, it
considered women to be as called to the office of deaconess as men are,
and what they received was the Sacrament of Holy Orders (224).
Others, following a more restrictive interpretation,
state that deaconesses didn't form part of the clergy because of Canon
19 of Niscea's Council (†325). This canon talks about deaconesses
as not having being imposed the hands of them should be considered part
of the laity. What these people forget is that the imposition of
hands this council is talking about in that particular passage is the "xeirozesía". The rest
of the time, it talks about the cases of "xeirotonía" to refer
to what after the fifth century would be called the ordination of
deacons (Alcala 224-225).
Those who argue against women ordination also forget
about the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451) which is more explicit
when it seems to presuppose that deaconesses receive the "xeirotonía" (Alcala 225).
Finally in the ninth century, the Church revoked the
ministry of women as deaconesses. So, for eight consecutive
centuries, women could be ordained as deaconesses and formed part of
the clergy. Today women are not even considered for that
ministry. For more details about it, you can see Wijngaards.
For more historical and archeological evidence of
ordination of deaconesses click here.
B. The Case of the Woman
Also there is one case of Romans 16 that is
clearly avoided by those who don't favor women ordination:
Greetings to those
outstanding apostles, Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and
fellow-prisoners, who were in Christ before me (Romans 16,7).
Those not familiar with the Greek, and read this in plain English will
notice nothing strange in this text, but once you turn to the Greek,
the story is different, because the "Junias" here is not the name of a
man, but of a woman (many translate the name correctly as
"Junia"). Vidal, commenting on this passage says that
this is a beautiful testimony of a woman who was an apostoloi (Apostle)
(Vidal 362). So clear is this fact that Medieval scholars like
Atto de Vercelli (924-961) says that it seems that Andronicus and
husband and wife, Theofilact (1050-1108?) states that it is great
that both were Apostles, considering the fact that Junias is a woman;
and Peter Abelard (1254-1316) states conclusively that in this passage
there is a woman who is an Apostle (Alcala 361-62). And as
everybody knows there are no ancient writings that refer to Junias as a
man, always as a woman (Alcala 361). It was not until the
original Greek "Junia" was translated to Latin "Junias", and this made
it sound like if the passage was talking about a man, but the original
Greek clearly refers to the name of a woman. There are people who
think that this passage refers to "apostleship" of those who preach for
Christ, but what they miss is the fact that at that time there was no
notion equivalent to "apostleship" in today's sense of the word.
These two cases, the one of the deaconesses and the
one on Junia as Apostle, threaten greatly the Vatican's notion of
woman not having being ordained ever in history, and also the idea that
they can't form part of the clergy.
C. The Case
of the Women "Presbyters"
Sometimes people that are against women ordination
will go to these sources to deny that the Church has no power to ordain
(1) It is not convenient that the so-called
"presbytidas" (presbyter-women) or women-presidents be constituted in
the Church (Provincial Council of Laodicea 341-381?; canon 11).
(2) The women called "presbyters" by the Greek, and
among us, old widows, virgins (univirae)
and servers (matriculariae),
should not be constituted in the Church as ordained (Saint Isidore of
(3) However, we have heard with anxiety that there is
scorn against divine things which are approved by women for the
ministries of the holy altars and to practice all of those things
confided to the male gender that are not of their competence (letter of
Pope Gelasius (†494)).
Let's look at these three statements
carefully. Far from being a testimony against the idea that women
were never ordained, they present proof that they did. We
can see in any of these three statements that they DON'T state that
women which were thought "presbyters" were not ordained, rather it
means that they should not be ordained. The validity of the
ordination of "presbyters" is never put into question, what these three
statements do is to say, that women should not be ordained as they
indeed were at the time.
In the case of (1), we see that this canon of the
Council of Laodicea is controversial. Specially the debate
centers around the word "presbytidas", which could probably designate
the wives or widows of presbyters at the time, because they were
denominated by that by the Council of Epao (†517).
In the case of (2), we find a quote from Collection Hispana of Canons and Ancient
Councils falsely atributted to St.
Isidore of Sevilla. As we said earlier, the author of this book
is clearly against a practice being carried out at the time: that
is, the ordination of women as "presbyters".
The most controversial of all quotes seems to be
(3). It comes from a letter of Pope Gelasius dated March 11,
494. It was a reply to John, bishop of Ravena who asked the
intervention of the Pope in many regions in meridional Italy. G.
Otranto infers from this letter, that it inevitably is talking about
women ordained for priestly ministries. The concern may have been
about the helenization of customs in the Church in which women could be
accepted as ministers and therefore ordained, which apparently was a
custom that was repressed (Alcalá 235-36).
Most revealing seems to be the letter of Atto,
Bishop of Vercelli, to the priest Ambrose, in which he states without
if's or but's that women called "women priests" and "women deacons"
were really ordained ministers or wives of those who were
ordained. He explicitly states that there were women priests in
the ancient church (click here).
All of this suggest to us, that indeed women were
ordained at the very beginning of the Church, even though it was not a
dominant custom and it was quickly repressed. As a final note, we
shall also expose a recent discovery. In many regions there have
been found graves of women "presbyters". A stone tablet found in
the catacombs of Tropea (Abruzzos), dated to the V century says the
B. M. S [consecrated to the good memory]. The "Presbyter" Leta,
she lived XL years, VIII months and VIIII days. Her husband
dedicates it [the tomb]. She left in peace in the eve of the ides
In this formula of dedication, we don't see the words "presbyter"
(priest), nor "coniux"
(husband), nor "amatissimae"
(beloved) in the
same way that is seen in tombstone of couples. The body is alone
in this grave. This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that
the body in this grave is of no other than of a woman ordained as
presbyter (Alcalá 236).
Jesus didn't say anything about ordaining women, therefore
this should be taken as a norm against the ordination of women.
Obviously this is another empty argument. One
way to show the emptiness of the argument is also to establish a
dialectical question similar to this one, but for the opposite
purpose: "Where did Jesus say anything about NOT ordaining women?"
Another way to show the emptiness of this argument
is the fact that if the premise of this argument is applied to the
Bible, then it would contradict itself. Let me show an example of
how this is so. There is no doubt in anyone's mind, that (taken
as fact or just metaphorically) the Lord Yahweh ordered explicitly,
without if's or but's, people to circumcise if they wanted to belong to
the people of God. Here's the evidence:
God further said to Abraham, "You for your part must keep my covenant,
you and your descendants after you, generation after generation.
This is my covenant which you must keep between myself and you, and
your descendants after you: every one of your males must be
circumcised. You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and
that will be the sign of the covenant between myself and you (Gen.
On the journey, when [Moses] had halted for the night, Yahweh
encountered him and tried to kill him. Then Zipporah, taking up a
flint, cut off her son's foreskin and with it touched his feet and
said, "You are my blood-bridegroom!" So he [Yahweh] let him
go. She said, "Blood-bridegroom" then, with reference to the
circumcision (Exod. 4,24-26).
"Should the stranger residing with you wish to keep the Passover in
honour of Yahweh, all the males of his household must be
circumcised: he will then be allowed to keep it and will count as
a citizen of the country (Exod. 12,48)
Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, "Speak to the Israelites and say:
'If a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a boy, she will be
unclean for seven days as when in a state of pollution due to
menstruation. On the eighth day the child's foreskin must be
circumcised (Lev. 12,1-3).
We could quote ad
nauseam the occasions that God
himself has told in the Old Testament the requirement of circumcision
to the males of the people of Israel, and even to strangers
that want to form part of the Jewish religion and also be part of Israel.
We can see that there
is no shadow of doubt that God wanted His people to be circumcised.
One of the most remarkable things one notices about
Jesus, is that he
never said that circumcision was not necessary after the sacrifice of
the cross. In fact, even the Apostles at that time
(excluding St. Paul) believed that Christians were Jewish and therefore
there was no doubt in their mind that Christians should be
circumcised. As more Christians converted outside Israel, in the
gentile community, they were also required to circumcise. This is
precisely the origin of the Jewish-Hellenistic controversy in Antioch
And to the surprise of many, in the Council of
Jerusalem, they decided the following:
"The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the
brothers of gentile birth of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear
that some people coming from here, but acting without authority from
ourselves, have disturbed you with their demands have unsettled your
minds; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to
send them to you with our well-beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have
committed their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by
word of mouth what we have written. It has been decided by the
Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to impose on you any burden beyond
these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to
idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from illicit
marriages. Avoid these, and you will do what is right.
Farewell" (Acts 15,22-29).
So.... What God established a "thousand" times to be a
requirement for salvation (taking into account that Jesus never said that
circumcision is no longer valid) is now declared by the Apostles not to
be valid anymore as a requirement to be saved or to be a Christian.
Why is that? Because Jesus said something very
simple to the Church:
"In truth I tell
you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you
loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16,19; 18,18).
This means that the Church has the authority even to change the
requirements to be Christians, as long as the essence of the Gospel is
Isn't it ironic that the Church has the authority to
change even what God stated conclusively so many times, and that Jesus
didn't say anything against what God said, but claims to have no
authority to change something that neither God nor Jesus said anything
about?Isn't it ironic that
what God and Jesus DID say has less authority for the Church and
subject to change than what God and Jesus DID NOT say?
Jesus went beyond the peer
pressure of society, and contrary to Jewish customs, he was always with
women, even talking to women of foreign lands as the Samaritans.
Having recognized this sociological fact, why didn't Jesus ordain women
contrary to society's expectations? This proves once more that
women can't be ordained, because Jesus didn't want it to be that way.
very well points out:
If Jesus broke with the social customs of male predominance and yet
refused to admit women to the apostolic team, we might have an
indication that he was setting a permanent norm. If, however, in
selecting only men for the apostolic team Jesus was guided by the
general practice of his own times, we have no reason at all to presume
his objection against the ministry of women in changed circumstances.
And the latter, clearly, was the case (Wijngaards).
Jesus talked about the "Father" in heaven. Wijngaards further
provides another example of how Jesus didn't break "all" the norms of
society of his times:
In all his parables Jesus conforms to the Jewish idea according to
which the man was the centre of the family. The 'owner of the house'
(Lk 22, 11) is always a man. It is the man who builds the house (Mt 7,
24-27). It is the man who defends his house against intruders (Mt 12,
29) and stays awake at night to catch a burglar (Mt 24, 43). It is the
man who manages the property (Mk 25, 14-30), who has authority over the
servants (Mt 24, 45-51) and who controls the family store (Mt 13, 52) (Wijngaards).
About the figure of the husband:
When speaking about marriage, Jesus takes the man-centred concept of
the Jews for granted. He speaks of a king arranging a marriage for his
son, without ever mentioning the queen (Mt 22, 1-14). At the wedding
itself, it is not the bride but the bridegroom who is celebrated. The
wedding guests are called 'the friends of the bridegroom' (Mt 9, 15).
The ten virgins are not waiting for the bride but for the bridegroom.
It is he who excludes the foolish ones from the feast (Mt 25,1-13). It
was quite natural for Jesus to say 'The bride exists only for the
bridegroom' (Jn 3, 29). In passing Jesus makes mention of a man's wife
and children being sold as slaves to pay off his debt (Mt 18, 25) and
enumerates the wife and children among other possessions which he
invites his close followers to leave for the kingdom of heaven (Lk 18,
29). Isn't it abundantly clear from all this that Jesus simply accepted
the social relationships between man and woman as he found them in his
own times? (Wijngaards)
And from all of this and other evidence to support his claim,
Wijngaards concludes the following:
All these laws were in force in Jesus' time. All religious leaders -
whether priests, scribes, pharisees or rabbis - were men. If this was
the religious climate of the day, need we be surprised that Jesus
called only men to be his apostles? To put it differently: entrusting
the ministry to women would have required a profound social revolution,
even more than a religious reform. Even if Jesus had wanted to
overthrow the social structures of his society, it would be doubtful if
he could have achieved this in so short a time. A centuries-old social
myth that is ingrained in the texture of people's life and thought
cannot be uprooted even by a God-man through three years of preaching.
But Jesus did not want to effect an immediate social liberation.
Although his teaching and redemptive action enshrined the principles
that make true social equality possible, Jesus himself refrained from
any direct social rebellion. He refused to be drawn into a political
struggle for independence. He accepted discrimination against women as
a reality of the society in which he lived. In selecting only men
for leadership functions in his Church, Christ simply followed the
social limitations forced on him by contemporary society (Wijngaards).
However, he does recognize that indeed Jesus planted the seed for
women's treatment as equals in the Kingdom of God. But we have to
recognize also the following:
There is, however,
no question of a direct attack against discrimination. Jesus did not
fight for the emancipation of women in the same way that he made a
stand for the poor. He has frequent clashes with the pharisees about
the sabbath and other traditional observances. Not once is he recorded
as having a dispute to remedy the oppression woman was under. The
question of emancipation simply never arose. It could not arise. The
social climate was not ripe for it. (Wijngaards).
The Virgin Mary was not
ordained. She was the most likely to be ordained by the Apostles
because of her immaculate holiness. If the Apostles didn't ordain
her, it was because they couldn't ordain women.
Is this aspect of
Mary not being a priestess really true? Let's see what Tradition
has to say about this:
“Today, in harmony with prophecy, the shoot of David has budded forth
from the always blossoming staff of Aaron, the staff that announced the
flower it would bring forth, the staff of power, Christ. Today has
emerged from Judah and David a young virgin girl, presenting the face
of royalty and the priesthood of Aaron, who has exercised the priestly
functions according to the order of Melchisedech.” St. Andrew of Crete (c. 660 - 740), First
Homily on the Nativity, PG 96, cols. 864B-865A.
“Hail Blessed Virgin . . . . ointment with which the royal priesthood
has been anointed , . . . . royal seal, imprinting on the universal
King who takes his substance from her, a body similar to that of his
Mother, . . . . incorruptible wood from which the spiritual altar who
is Christ, was made.” Theodore the
Studite (826), 2nd Homily on the Nativity. PG 96, col. 693C-D.
‘O consecrated Virgin, offer your son and present to the Lord the
blessed fruit of your womb. Offer for our reconciliation to all, this
holy victim, agreeable to God. The Father will fully accept this new
sacrifice, this precious oblation (victim) of whom he himself has said:
“This is my well beloved Son in whom I have put my love” (Mt 3, 7).’ St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 - 1153), ‘In
Purificatione Mariae’, Sermo III, in Sancti Bernardi Opera Omnia, ed.
J. Mabillon, Paris 1982, p. 370 col. b
‘After the sacred virgin had arrived at the altar, having knelt down,
inflamed by the Holy Spirit more than the seraphim, and holding her son
in her hands, she offered him as a gift and acceptable sacrifice to God
praying in this way: “Accept, almighty Father, accept the oblation
which I offer you for the whole world, I your handmaid. Accept now from
the hands of your handmaid this very holy morning sacrifice, which one
time will be offered to you in the arms of the cross as the sacrifice
of the evening. Look down most pious Father on what I am offering you
and pay attention to the purpose for whom I am offering it to you.’ St. Thomas of Villanova (1486-1555),
‘Concio I in Purificationem’, Opera, Manila 1883, vol. 4, p. 397.
“Mary is the priestess [sacerdotissa] of justice because she did not
spare her own Son, but stood by the Cross, not, as blessed Ambrose
says, to just see the death of her Son, not to witness the suffering of
her Son, but to look forward to the salvation of the human race,
prepared herself to offer the Son of God for the salvation of the
world”. St. Antoninus of Florence
(1389 - 1459), Summa Theologica
Moralis, IV, Tit. 15, c. 3, § 3. (Wijngaards)
And as a priestess, she offered us also the Eucharist:
Mary is the ‘table
that carries life, that supplies not the loaves of proposition but the
bread of heaven’: St. John of
“If the Saviour,
as the Fathers of the Church assure us, is at each Mass the principal
priest and the one who offers himself to the Father and who delivers
himself up to people, the blessed Virgin shares in this function of the
sovereign priesthood, accompanying the oblation and immolation which
her Son makes of herself with her own agreement. For it is therefore
that St Epiphanius among other praises, calls the Virgin a priest and
an altar.” Jean de Machaut (1599 -
1676), Le Thrésor, vol
III, pp. 152-153.
will of the Virgin has cooperated with the will of the Son in the
realisation of the Eucharist, we can with enough certainty declare and
absolutely affirm that she has given us and has offered for us this
heavenly bread. In fact, we recognise that the gift which is entrusted
to us under these species - - that is : the body and blood of Christ
the Lord -- is truly her gift and belongs to her. The divine Epiphanus
touched on this reason is his sermon ‘De Laudibus Virginis’.
What could we say or imagine that is more splendid ? He says that the
Virgin is a priest in some way in the gift and in the offering of the
celestial bread; which is true precisely for this reason that together
with her Son she gave and offered [this eucharistic bread], thus
realising at the same time both the sacrament and the sacrifice.”
. . . . “It was right that she who was present at the first act of
giving, and of whom it was said that she had given and offered together
with the Father and the Son, should also be present at the consummation
and fulfilment of this donation, to such an extent that we can say that
she has in the same way given and offered it (the Eucharist) with her
. . “The manner in which the incarnation was achieved in the breast of
the Virgin pleased Christ so greatly ...that he invented a new way of
repeating it and reiterating it...-... that is, the Eucharist. Ferdinand Chirino de Salazar (1575 - 1646),
In Proverbiis, IX, no 148-149,
vol. 1, 770D-771A. (Wijngaards)
So, not only this argument of the Virgin Mary is
refuted by the fact that women belonged to the clergy at one point in
history, but also it is refuted by the Tradition of the Church.
Definitely, there is no greater priesthood than that of the Virgin
Mary. Did she need to be ordained by any Apostle, when with her "fiat" makes Christ's incarnation
possible, when she served as the bridge between the divine and the
human? Certainly not.
To grant priesthood to women is symbolically inappropriate,
because Christ is represented symbolically in the Bible as a man and
the Church (the bride of Christ) as a woman. Therefore the person
representing Christ, i.e. the Priest, must be a man.
The same kind of reasoning can
support the contrary:
It is said that
the Church is the bride of Christ, and brides are women. The
priest, who represents the Church in its relation to Christ, represents
the bride of Christ. Therefore, only women should be priests.
(Wostyn 35, my translation)
This shows how inadequate is the Church's symbolic argument to deny
women the Sacrament of the Holy orders.
The Bible says: "As in all the churches of God's holy
people, women are to remain quiet in the assemblies, since they have no
permission to speak: theirs is a subordinate part, as the Law
itself says. If there is anything they want to know, they should
ask their husbands at home: it is shameful for a woman to speak
in the assembly. Do you really think that you are the source of
the word of God? Or that you are the only people to whom it has
come?" (1 Cor. 14,33b-35) Therefore, if women can't preach
in the assemblies, they can't be priests.
First of all it is
good to see here that this passage was not written by St. Paul himself,
but that it was an interpolation of some kind. How do we know
this? Because this interrupts the thought sequence from v.33a to
v.36. Let's see how would it sound without the passage
(v. 32) The prophetic spirit is to be under the prophets' control, for
God is a God not of disorder but of peace. (v. 36) Anyone who
claims to be a prophet, or to have any spiritual powers must recognise
that what I am writing to you is a commandment of the Lord (1 Cor. 14,
32.36). [For a more precise analysis, refer to Vidal 214-15]
Also, it is highly unlikely that St. Paul would have written anything
like 1 Cor. 14,33b-35, because he had deep admiration for Christian
women. Let's see some examples of this.
We can refer to the passages in Romans 16 when he refers to Phoebe, the
deaconess, a woman named Mary, and Junias in a very affectionate and
respectful manner. Even at one time he protests when apparently
he was told not to take women in her voyages for missions: "To
those who want to interrogate me, this is my answer [. . .] [Have
we not] every right to be accompanied by a Christian wife, like the
other apostles, like the brothers of the Lord, and like Cephas?" (1
Secondly we can see in Paul passages such as this
Now for the
questions about which you wrote.
"It is a good
thing for a man not to touch a woman".
For reasons of immorality,
every man should have his own wife and every woman her own
husband. The husband must give to his wife what she has a right
to expect, and so too the wife to her husband. The wife does not
have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and in
the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body,
but the wife does. You must not deprive each other, except by
mutual consent for a limited time, to leave yourselves free for prayer,
and to come together again afterwards; otherwise Satan may take
advantage of any lack of self-control to put you to the test [. . .] (1
Cor. 7,1-5; Vidal 180: the statement in quotes is not from St.
Paul as many translate in the English versions of the Bible, because if
it would be his statement, then vv.2-5 wouldn't follow).
Sometimes the presence of a Christian woman makes her husband holy:
You see, the
unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife and the unbelieving
wife is sanctified through the brother. If this were not so, your
children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy (1 Cor. 7,14).
It is also good to point out that St. Paul was very
much influenced by the Platonist Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria
(20 BC-50 AD), who established the degrees of likeness to God.
Saint Paul seems to accept many aspects of this philosophy in which it
establishes these degrees of the likeness of God:
Christ for him is the head of man, and the man is the head of a woman
(1 Cor. 11,7); because it is from God that man comes from, and woman
comes from a man (1 Cor. 11, 8-10). But it is also very
important to notice that St. Paul indeed notices that this is not
consequent of his views about humanity, specially man-woman
relationship. And though he indeed says that women should be
subordinated to men, he states the following astonishing statement in
which, in the same letter, he completely changes his mind:
However, in the
Lord, though woman is nothing without man, man is nothing without
woman; and though woman came from man, so does every man come
from a woman, and everything comes from God (1 Cor. 11,11-12).
This can explain easily the following passage:
[. . .] for all of
you are the children of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus, since
every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in
Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither
slave nor free man, there can be neither
male nor female - for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal.
Is the denial of women ordination consistent with these Pauline
statements? Is it legitimate to deny women priesthood because of
an interpolation that reflects the biases and discrimination against
women at that time, and not on the Christian content Paul
transmitted? Obviously the answer is "no".
There is absolutely no justification for denying women the Sacraments
of Holy Orders. Many will say that it has been a long tradition
held by the Church that women may not be priests. However, it is
obvious as Haya van Meer pointed out, that such tradition does not form
part of the truths held by the Church along all these centuries,
because they are based solely on the biased position that women are
imbecillitas naturae as St.
Thomas Aquinas stated (Contra Gentiles III,
123), because through Eve sin came into the world, forgetting that
through Mary salvation came to the world, because they are more
imperfect than men, etc. (Boff 123) I'm not saying that Rome
upholds this as being true, but by not ordaining women, it is
perpetuating the effects of this terrible way of thinking. If
Rome really wants to have a moral authority in front of the world to
say that women should no longer be oppressed or denied any rights, it
has to begin at home. Contrary to what the Pope stated in 1994,
this is not a "Rome has spoken" case. The Vatican has to reflect
on its position and overcome this aspect of itself which so much
damages the credibility of the Church in the eyes of the world.
Any comments on this article,
please, feel free to use my forum:
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