Inter Insigniores: Commentary by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the
Inter Insigniores: Official Commentary
Commentary by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the
Declaration Inter Insigniores
Published in L'Osservatore Romano on Thursday 27
January 1977 and in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis 69 (1977) 98-116
Numbering of the paragraphs by John Wijngaards
Circumstances and origin of the Declaration Inter
1. The question of the admission of women to the
ministerial priesthood seems to have arisen in a general way about 1958, after
the decision by the Swedish Lutheran Church in September of that year to admit
women to the pastoral office. This caused a sensation and occasioned numerous
2. Even for the communities stemming from the sixteenth
century Reformation it was an innovation: one may recall, for example how
strongly the Confessio Fidei Scotiae of 1560 accused the Roman Church of
making improper concessions to women in the field of ministry.(2) But the
Swedish initiative gradually gained ground among the Reformed Churches,
particularly in France where various national synods adopted similar decisions.
3. In reality, the admission of women to the pastoral
office seemed to raise no strictly theological problem, in that these
communities had rejected the sacrament of order at the time of their separation
from the Roman Church.
4. But a new and much more serious situation was created
when ordinations of women were carried out within communities that considered
that they preserved the Apostolic succession of order:(3) in 1971 and 1973 the
Anglican bishop of Hong Kong ordained three women with the agreement of his
synod;(4) in July 1974 at Philadelphia there was the ordination in the
Episcopal Church of eleven women-an ordination afterwards declared invalid by
the House of Bishops.
5. Later on, in June 1975, the General Synod of the
Anglican Church in Canada, meeting in Quebec, approved the principle of the
accession of women to the priesthood;(5) and this was followed in July by the
General Synod of the Church of England: Dr Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury,
frankly informed Pope Paul VI of the slow but steady growth of a
consensus of opimon within the Anglican Communion that there are no fundamental
objections in principle to the ordination of women to the priesthood.
6. These are only general principles, but they might
quickly be followed by practice, and this would bring a new and senous element
into the dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church on the nature of the
ministry.(6) It has provoked a warning, first by the archbishop for the
Orthodox in Great Britain, Athenagoras of Thyateira,(7) and then, more
recently, by Pope Paul Vl himself in two letters to the Archbishop of
7. Furthermore, the ecumenical sectors brought the
question to the notice of all the Christian denominations, forcing them to
examine their positions of principle, especially on the occasion of the
Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Nairobi in December 1975.(9)
8. A completely different event has made the question even
more topical: this was the organization under United Nations auspices of
International Womens Year in 1975. The Holy See took part in it with a
Committee for International Womens Year, which included some members of
the Commission for the Study of the Role of Women in Society and the Church,
which had already been set up in 1973.
9. Ensuring respect for and fostering the respective
rights and duties of men and women leads to reflection on participation by
women in the life of society on the one hand, and in the life and mission of
the Church on the other. Now, the Second Vatican Council has already set forth
the task: Since in our times women have an ever more active share in the
whole life of society, it is very important that they participate more widely
also in the various fields of the Churchs apostolate.(10) How far
can this participation go?
10. It is understandable that these questions have aroused
even in Catholic quarters intense studies, indeed passionate ones: doctoral
theses, articles in reviews, even pamphlets, propounding or refuting in turn
the biblical, historical and canonical data and appealing to the human sciences
and sociology, (11) psychology and the history of institutions and customs.
11. Certain famous people have not hesitated to take sides
boldly, judging that there was no basic theological objection to the
possibility of women priests.(12) A number of groups have been formed with a
view to upholding this claim, and they have sometimes done this with
insistence, as did the conference held in Detroit (USA) in November 1975 under
the title Women in Future Priesthood Now: A Call for Action.
12. The magisterium has thus been obliged to intervene in a
question being posed in so lively a fashion within the Catholic Church and
having important implications from the ecumenical point of view.
13. Archbishop Bernardin of Cincinnati, president of the US
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, declared on 7 October 1975 that he
found himself obliged to re-state the Churchs teaching that women
are not to be ordained to the priesthood; Church leaders, he said, should
not seem to encourage unreasonable hopes and expectations, even by their
14. Pope Paul VI himself had already recalled the same
teaching. He did so at first in parenthetical fashion, especially in his
address on 18 April 1975 to the members of the Study Commission on the Role of
Women in Society and in the Church and the Committee for the Celebration of
International Womens Year: Although women do not receive the call
to the apostolate of the twelve and therefore to the ordained ministries, they
are nonetheless invited to follow Christ as disciples and co-workers . . .We
cannot change what our Lord did, nor his call to women.(14)
15. Later he had to make an express pronouncement in his
exchange of letters with Dr Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury: Your Grace
is of course well aware of the Catholic Churchs position on this
question. She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the
priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. (15)
16. It is at his order that the Sacred Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith has examined the question in its entirety. The question
has been complicated by the fact that on the one hand arguments adduced in the
past in favour of the traditional teaching are scarcely defensible today, and
on the other hand the reasons given by those who demand the ordination of women
must be evaluated.
17. To avoid the rather negative character that must mark
the conclusion of such a study, one could have thought of inserting it into a
more general presentation of the question of the advancement of women. But the
time is not ripe for such a comprehensive exposition, because of the research
and work in progress on all sides.
18. It was difficult to leave unanswered any longer a
precise question that is being posed nearly everywhere and which is polarizing
attention to the detriment of more urgent endeavours that should be fostered.
In fact, apart from its nonacceptance of the ordination of women, the document
points to positive matters: a deeper understanding of the Churchs
teaching and of the ministerial priesthood, a call to spiritual progress, an
invitation to take on the urgent apostolic tasks of today.
19. The bishops, to whom the document is primarily
addressed have the mission of explaining it to their people with the pastoral
feeling that is theirs and with the knowledge they have of the milieu in which
they exercise their ministry.
20. The declaration begins by presenting the Church's
teaching on the question. This in fact has to be the point of departure. We
shall see later how necessary it is to follow faithfully the method of using
21. It is an undeniable fact, as the declaration notes,
that the constant tradition of the Catholic Church has excluded women from the
episcopate and the priesthood. So constant has it been that there has been no
need for an intervention by a solemn decision of the magisterium.
22. The same tradition, the document stresses,
has been faithfully safeguarded by the churches of the East. Their
unanimity on this point is all the more remarkable since in many other
questions their discipline admits of a great diversity. At the present time
these same Churches refuse to associate themselves with requests directed
towards securing the accession of women to priestly ordination.(16)
23. Only within some heretical sects of the early
centuries, principally Gnostic ones, do we find attempts to have the priestly
ministry exercised by women. It must be further noted that these are very
sporadic occurrences and are moreover associated with rather questionable
24. We know of them only through the severe disapproval
with which they are noted by St Irenaeus in his Adversus Haereses, (17)
Tertullian in De Praescriptione Haereticorum,(18) Firmilian of
Caesarea in a letter to St Cyprian,(19) Origen in a commentary on the First
Letter to the Corinthians,(20) and especially by St Ephiphanius in his
25. How are we to interpret the constant and universal
practice of the Church? A theologian is certain that what the Church does she
can in fact do, since she has the assistance of the Holy Spirit. This is a
classical argument found again and again in St Thomas with regard to the
26. But what the Church has never done-is this any proof
that she cannot do it in the future? Does the negative fact thus noted
27. indicate a norm, or is it to be explained by historical
and by social and cultural circumstances? In the present case, is an
explanation to be found in the position of women in ancient and mediaeval
society and in a certain idea of male superiority stemming from that
28. It is because of this transitory cultural element that
some arguments adduced on this subject in the past are scarcely defensible
today. The most famous is the one summarized by St Thomas Aquinas: quia
mulier est in statu subiectinis.(23) In St Thomass thought, however,
this assertion is not merely the expression of a philosophical concept, since
he interprets it in the light of the accounts in the first chapters of Genesis
and the teaching of the First Letter to Timothy (2:12-14).
29. A similar formula is found earlier in the Decretum
of Gratian,(24) but Gratian, who was quoting the Carolingian Capitularies
and the false Decretals, was trying rather to justify with Old Testament
prescriptions the prohibition-already formulated by the ancient Church (25) -of
women from entering the sanctuary and serving at the altar.
30. The polemical arguments of recent years have often
recalled and commented on the texts that develop these arguments. They have
also used them to accuse the fathers of the Church of misogyny. It is true that
we find in the fathers writings the undeniable influence of prejudices
against women. But it must be carefully noted that these passages had very
little influence on their pastoral activity, still less on their spiritual
direction, as we can see by glancing through their correspondence that has come
down to us.
31. Above all it would be a serious mistake to think that
such considerations provide the only or the most decisive reasons against the
ordination of women in the thought of the fathers, of the mediaeval writers and
of the theologians of the classical period. In the midst of and going beyond
speculation, more and more clear expression was being given to the
Churchs awareness that in reserving priestly ordination and ministry to
men she was obeying a tradition received from Christ and the apostles and by
which she felt herself bound.
32. This is what had been expressed in the form of an
apocryphal literature by the ancient documents of Church discipline from Syria,
such as the Didascalia Apostolorum (middle of the third century)(26) and
the apostolic constitutions (end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth
century),(27) and by the Egyptian collection of twenty pseudo-apostolic canons
that was included in the compilation of the Alexandrian Synods and
translated into many languages. (28)
33. St John Chrysostom, for his part, when commenting on
chapter twenty-one of John, understood well that womens exclusion from
the pastoral office entrusted to Peter was not based on any natural incapacity,
since, as he remarks, even the majority of men have been excluded by
Jesus from this immense task.(29)
34. From the moment that the teaching on the sacraments is
systematically presented in the schools of theology and canon law writers begin
to deal ex professo with the nature and value of the tradition that
reserved ordination to men. The canonists base their case on the principle
formulated by Pope Innocent III in a letter of 11 December 1210, to the bishops
of Palencia and Burgos, a letter that was included in the collection of
Decretals: Although the Blessed Virgin Mary was of higher dignity and
excellence than all the apostles, it was to them, not her, that the Lord
entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven.(30) This text became a
locus communis for the glossatores.(31) As for the theologians,
the following are some significant texts: St Bonaventure: Our position is
this: it is due not so much to a decision by the Church as to the fact that the
sacrament of order is not for them. In this sacrament the person ordained is a
sign of Christ the mediator.(32)
35. Richard of Middleton, a Franciscan of the second half
of the thirteenth century: The reason is that the power of the sacraments
comes from their institution. But Christ instituted this sacrament for
conferral on men only, not women.(33)
36. John Duns Scotus: It must not be considered to
have been determined by the Church. It comes from Christ. The Church would not
have presumed to deprive the female sex, for no fault of its own, of an act
that might licitly have pertained to it.(34) Durandus of Saint-Pourcain:
. . . the male sex is of necessity for the sacrament. The principal cause
of this is Christs institution. . . Christ ordained only men...not even
his mother...It must therefore be held that women cannot be ordained, because
of Christs institution.(35)
37. So it is no surprise that until the modern period the
theologians and canonists who dealt with the question have been almost
unanimous in considering this exclusion as absolute and having a divine origin.
The theological notes they apply to the affirmation vary from
theologically certain (theologice certa) to, at times,
proximate to faith (fidei proxima) or even doctrine of
the faith (doctrina fidei).36 Apparently then, until recent
decades no theologian or canonist considered that it was a matter of a simple
law of the Church.
38. In some writers of the Middle Ages however there was a
certain hesitancy, reported by St Bonaventure without adopting it himself(37)
and noted also by Joannes Teutonicus in his gloss on Caus. 27, q. 1, c.
23,(38) This hesitancy stemmed from the knowledge that in the past there
had been deaconesses: had they received true sacramental ordination? This
problem has been brought up again very recently.
39. It was by no means unknown to the seventeenth and
eighteenth century theologians, who had an excellent knowledge of the history
of literature. In any case, it is a question that must be taken up fully by
direct study of the texts, without preconceived ideas; hence the Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that it should be kept
for the future and not touched upon in the present document.
The attitude of Christ
40. In the light of tradition, then, it seems that the
essential reason moving the Church to call only men to the sacrament of order
and to the strictly priestly ministry is her intention to remain faithful to
the type of ordained ministry willed by the Lord Jesus Christ and carefully
maintained by the apostles. It is therefore no surprise that in the controversy
there has been a careful examination of the facts and texts of the New
Testament, in which tradition has seen an example establishing a norm.
41. This brings us to a fundamental observation: we must
not expect the New Testament on its own to resolve in a clear fashion
the question of the possibility of women acceding to the priesthood, in the
same way that it does not on its own enable us to give an account of certain
sacraments, and especially of the structure of the sacrament of order.
42. Keeping to the sacred text alone and to the points of
the history of Christian origins that can be obtained by analysing that text by
itself would be to go back four centuries and find oneself once more amid the
controversies of the Reformation. We cannot omit the study of tradition: it is
the Church that scrutinizes the Lords thought by reading scripture, and
it is the Church that gives witness to the correctness of its interpretation.
43. It is tradition that has unceasingly set forth as an
expression of Christs will the fact that he chose only men to form the
group of the twelve. There is no disputing this fact, but can it be proved with
absolute certainty that it was a question of a deliberate decision by Christ?
44. It is understandable that the partisans of a change in
discipline bring all their efforts to bear against the significance of this
fact. In particular, they object that, if Christ did not bring women into the
group of the twelve, it was because the prejudices of his time did not allow
him to: it would have been an imprudence that would have compromised his work
45. However, it has to be recognized that Jesus did not
shrink from other imprudences, which did in fact stir up the
hostility of his fellow citizens against him, especially his freedom with
regard to the rabbinical interpretations of the Sabbath. With regard to women
his attitude was a complete innovation: all the commentators recognize that he
went against many prejudices, and the facts that are noted add up to an
46. For this reason greater stress is laid today on another
objection: if Jesus chose only men to form the group of the twelve, it was
because he intended them to be a symbol representing the ancestors of the
tribes of Israel (You who have followed me will also sit on twelve
thrones and judge the tribes of Israel: Mt. 19:28; cf. Lk. 22:30); and
this specialmotive, it is added, obviously referred only to the twelve and
would be no proof that the apostolic ministry should thereafter always be
reserved to men. It is not a convincing argument.
47. We may note in the first place how little importance
was given to this symbolism: Mark and John do not mention it. And in Matthew
and Luke this phrase of Jesus about the twelve tribes of Israel is not put in
the context of the call of the twelve (Mt. 1-10:1-4) but at a relatively late
stage of Jesus public life, when the apostles have long since been given
their constitution: they have been called by Jesus, have worked
with him and been sent on missions.
48. Furthermore, the symbolism of Mt. 19:28 and Lk. 22:30
is not as certain as is claimed: the number could designate simply the whole of
Israel. Finally, these two texts deal only with a particular aspect of the
mission of the twelve: Jesus is promising them that they will take part in the
eschatological judgment.(39) Therefore the essential meaning of their being
chosen is not to be sought in this symbolism but in the totality of the mission
given them by Jesus: he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions
and to be sent out to preach (Mk 3:14).
49. As Jesus before them, the twelve were above all to
preach the good news (Mk 3:14; 6:12). Their mission in Galilee (Mk 6:7-13) was
to become the model of the universal mission (Mk 12:10; cf. Mt. 28:16-20).
Within the messianic people the twelve represent Jesus. That is the real reason
why it is fitting that the apostles should be men: they act in the name of
Christ and must continue his work. It has been described above how Pope
Innocent III saw a witness to Christs intentions in the fact that Christ
did not communicate to his mother, in spite of her eminent dignity, the powers
which he gave to the apostles.
50. This is one of the arguments most frequently repeated
by tradition: from as early as the third century the fathers present Mary as
the example of the will of Jesus in this matter.(40) It is an argument still
particularly dear to Eastern Christians today. Nevertheless it is vigorously
reflected by all those who plead in favour of the ordination of women.
51. Marys divine motherhood, the manner in which she
was associated with the redeeming work of the Son they say put her in an
altogether exceptional and unique position; and it would not even be fair to
her to compare her with the apostles and to argue from the fact that she was
not ranked among them.
52. In point of fact these assertions do have the advantage
of making us understand that there are different functions within the Church:
the equality of Christians is in harmony with the complementary nature of their
tasks, and the sacramental ministry is not the only rank of greatness, nor is
it necessarily the highest: it is a form of service of the kingdom. The Virgin
Mary does not need the increase in dignity that was once attributed
to her by the authors of those speculations on the priesthood of Mary that
formed a deviant tendency which was soon discredited.
The practice of the Apostles
53. The text of the declaration stresses the fact that, in
spite of the privileged place Mary had in the upper room after the ascension,
she was not designated for entry into the college of the twelve at the time of
the election of Matthias. The same holds for Mary Magdalene and the other women
who nevertheless had been the first to bring news of the resurrection.
54. It is true that the Jewish mentality did not accord
great value to the witness of women, as is shown by Jewish law. But one must
also note that the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of St Paul stress the
role of women in evangelization and in instructing individual converts.
55. The apostles were led to take a revolutionary decision
when they had to go beyond the circle of a Jewish community and undertake the
evangelization of the Gentiles. The break with Mosaic observances was not made
without discord. Paul had no scruples about choosing one of his collaborators,
Titus, from among the Gentile converts (Gal. 2:3).
56. The most spectacular expression of the change which the
good news made on the mentality of the first Christians is to be found
precisely in the Letter of the Galatians: For as many of you as were
baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there
is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all
one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3 :27-28).
57. In spite of this, the apostles did not entrust to women
the strictly apostolic ministry, although Hellenistic civilization did not have
the same prejudices against them as did Judaism. It is rather a ministry which
is of another order, as may perhaps also be gathered from Pauls
vocabulary, in which a difference seems to be implied between my fellow
workers (synergoi mou) and Gods fellow workers
58. It must be repeated that the texts of the New
Testament, even on such points as the sacraments, do not always give all the
light that one would wish to find in them. Unless the value of unwritten
traditions is admitted, it is sometimes difficult to discover in scripture
entirely explicit indications of Christs will. But in view of the
attitude of Jesus and the practice of the apostles as seen in the gospels, the
acts and the letters, the Church has not held that she is authorized to admit
women to priestly ordination.
Permanent value of this practice
59. It is the permanency of this negative decision that is
objected to by those who would have the legitimacy of ordaining women admitted.
These objections employ arguments of great variety.
60. The most classic ones seek a basis in historical
circumstances We have already seen what is to be thought of the view that
Jesus; attitude was inspired solely by prudence, because he did not want to
risk compromising his work by going against social prejudices. It is claimed
that the same prudence was forced upon the apostles.
61. On this point too it is clear from the history of the
apostolic period that there is no foundation for this explanation. However, in
the case of the apostles, should one not take into account the way in which
they themselves shared these prejudices? Thus St Paul has been accused of
misogyny and in his letters are found texts on the inferiority of women that
are the subject of controversy among exegetes and theologians today.
62. It can be questioned whether two of Pauls most
famous texts on women are authentic or should rather be seen as interpolations,
perhaps even relatively late ones. The first is 1 Cor. 14:34-35: The
women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak,
but should be subordinate as even the law says. these two verses, apart
from being missing in some important manuscripts and not being found quoted
before the end of the second century, present stylistic peculiarities foreign
to Paul. The other text is 1 Tim. 2:11-14: I do not allow a woman to
teach or to exercise authority over men.The Pauline authenticity of this
text is often questioned, although the arguments are weaker.
63. However, it is of little importance whether these texts
are authentic or not: theologians have made abundant use of them to explain
that women cannot receive either the power of magisterium or that of
jurisdiction. It was especially the text of 1 Timothy that provided St Thomas
with the proof that woman is in a state of submission or service, since (as the
text explains) woman was created after man and was the person first responsible
for original sin.
64. But there are other Pauline texts of unquestioned
authenticity that affirm that the head of the woman is the man (1
Cor. 11:3 cf. 8-12; Eph. 5:22, 24). It may be asked whether this view of man,
which is in line with that of the books of the Old Testament, is not at the
basis of Pauls conviction and the Churchs tradition that women
cannot receive the ministry.
65. Now this is a view that modern society rejects
absolutely, and many present-day theologians would shrink from adopting it
without qualifying it. We may note however that Paul does not take his stand on
a philosophical level but on that of biblical history: when he describes, in
relation to marriage, the symbolism of love, he does not see mans
superiority as domination but as a gift demanding sacrifice, in the image of
66. On the other hand there are prescriptions in
Pauls writings which are unanimously admitted to have been transitory,
such as the obligation he imposed on women to wear a veil (1 Cor. 11:2-16). It
is true that these are obviously disciplinary practices of minor importance,
perhaps inspired by the customs of the time. But then there arises the more
basic question: since the Church has later been able to abandon prescriptions
contained in the New Testament, why should it not be the same with the
exclusion of women from ordination?
67. Here we meet once again the essential principle that it
is the Church herself that, in the different sectors of her life, ensures
discernment between what can change and what must remain immutable. As the
declaration specifies, When she judges that she cannot accept certain
changes, it is because she knows that she is bound by Christs manner of
acting. Her attitude, despite appearances, is therefore not one of archaism but
of fidelity: it can be truly understood only in this light. The Church makes
pronouncements in virtue of the Lords promise and the presence of the
Holy Spirit, in order to proclaim better the mystery of Christ and to safeguard
and manifest the whole of its rich content.
68. Many of the questions confronting the Church as a
result of the numerous arguments put forward in favour of the ordination of
women must be considered in the light of this principle. An example is the
following question dealt with by the declaration: why will the Church not
change her discipline, since she is aware of having a certain power over the
sacraments, even though they were instituted by Christ, in order to determine
the sign or to fix the conditions for their administration? This faculty
remains limited, as was recalled by Pius XII, echoing the Council of Trent: the
Church has no power over the substance of the sacraments.(42) It is the Church
herself that must distinguish what forms part of the substance of the
sacraments and what she can determine or modify if circumstances should
69. On this point, furthermore, we must remember, as the
declaration reminds us, that the sacraments and the Church herself are closely
tied to history, since Christianity is the result of an event: the coming of
the Son of God into time and to a country, and his death on the cross under
Pontius Pilate outside the walls of Jerusalem. The sacraments are a memorial of
saving events. For this reason their signs are linked to those very events.
They are relative to one civilization, one culture, although destined to be
reproduced everywhere until the end of time.
70. Hence historical choices have taken place by which the
Church is bound, even if speaking absolutely and on a speculative level other
choices could be imagined. This, for instance, is the case with bread and wine
as matter for the eucharist, for the Mass is not just a fraternal meal but the
renewal of the Lords supper and the memorial of his passion and thus
linked with something done in history.(43)
71. It has likewise been remarked that in the course of
time the Church has agreed to confer on women certain truly ministerial
functions that antiquity refused to give them in the very name of the example
and will of Christ. The functions spoken of are above all the administration of
baptism, teaching and certain forms of ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
72. As regards baptism, however, not even deaconesses in
the Syriac-speaking East were permitted to administer it, and its solemn
administration is still a hierarchical act reserved to bishop, priest and, in
accessory fashion, deacon. When urgently required, baptism can be conferred not
only by Christians but even by unbaptized people whether men or women
73. Its validity therefore does not require the baptismal
character still less that of ordination. This point is affirmed by practice and
by theologians. It is an example of this necessary discernment m the
Churchs teaching and practice, a discernment whose only guarantee is the
74. As regards teaching, a classical distinction has to be
made, from Pauls letter onwards. There are forms of teaching or
edification that key people can carry out and in this case St Paul expressly
mentions women. These forms include the charisma of prophecy (1
75. In this sense there was no obstacle to giving the title
of doctor to Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena, as it was given to
illustrious teachers such as Albert the Great or St Laurence of Brindisi. Quite
a different matter is the official and hierarchical function of teaching the
revealed message, a function that presupposes the mission received from Christ
by the apostles and transmitted by them to their successors.
76. Examples of participation by women in ecclesiastical
jurisdiction are found in the Middle Ages: some abbesses (not abbesses in
general, as is sometimes said in popularizing articles) performed acts normally
reserved to bishops, such as the nomination of parish priests or confessors.
These customs have been more or less reproved by the Holy See at different
periods: the letter of Pope Innocent III quoted earlier was intended as a
reprimand to the Abbess of Las Heulgas.
77. But we must not forget that feudal lords arrogated to
themselves similar rights. Canonists also admitted the possibility of
separating jurisdiction from order. The Second Vatican Council has tried to
determine better the relationship between the two; the Councils doctrinal
vision will doubtless have effects on discipline.
78. In a more general way, attempts are being made,
specially in Anglican circles, to broaden the debate in the following way: is
the Church perhaps not bound to scripture and tradition as an absolute, when
the Church is a people making its pilgrim way and should listen to what the
Spirit is saying? Or else a distinction is made between essential points on
which unanimity is needed and auestions of discipline admitting of diversity:
and if the conclusion reached is that the ordination of women belongs to these
secondary matters, it would not harm progress towards the union of the
79. Here again it is the Church that decides by her
practice and magisterium what requires unanimity, and distinguishes it from
acceptable or desirable pluralism. The question of the ordination of women
impinges too directly on the nature of the ministerial priesthood for one to
agree that it should be resolved within the framework of legitimate pluralism
between Churches. That is the whole meaning of the letter of Pope Paul VI to
the Archbishop of Canterburv.
The ministerial priesthood in the light of the mystery of
80. In the declaration a very clear distinction will be
seen between the documents affirmation of the datum (the teaching it
proposes with authority in the preceding paragraphs) and the theological
reflection that then follows. By this reflection the Sacred Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith endeavours to illustrate this norm by showing
the profound fittingness to be found between the proper nature of
the sacrament of order, with its specific reference to the mystery of Christ,
and the fact that only men have been called to receive priestly
81. In itself such a quest is not without risk. However, it
does not mvolve the magisterium. It is well known that in solemn teaching
infallibility affects the doctrinal affirmation, not the arguments intended to
explain it. Thus the doctrinal chapters of the Council of Trent contain certain
processes of reasoning that today no longer seem to hold.
82. But this risk has never stopped the magisterium from
endeavouring at all times to clarify doctrine by analogies of faith. Today
especially, and more than ever, it is impossible to be content with making
statements, with appealing to the intellectual docility of Christians: faith
seeks understanding, and tries to distinguish the grounds for and the coherence
of what it is taught.
83. We have already discarded a fair number of explanations
given by mediaeval theologians. The defect common to these explanations is that
they claimed to find their basis in an inferiority of women vis-a-vis men; they
deduced from the teaching of scripture that woman was in a state of
submission,of subjection and was incapable of exercising functions of
84. It is very enlightening to note that the communities
springing from the Reformation which have had no difficulty in giving women
access to the pastoral office are first and foremost those that have rejected
the Catholic doctrine on the sacrament of order and profess that the pastor is
only one baptized person among others, even if the charge given has been the
object of a consecration.
85. The declaration therefore suggests that it is by
analysing the nature of order and its character that we will find the
explanation of the exclusive call of men to the priesthood and episcopate. This
analysis can be outlined in three propositions: (1) in administering the
sacraments that demand the character of ordination the priest does not act in
his own name (in persona propria), but in the person of Christ (in
persona Christi); (2) this formula, as understood by tradition, implies
that the priest is a sign in the sense in which this term is understood in
sacramental theology; (3) it is precisely because the priest is a sign of
Christ the saviour that he must be a man and not a woman.
86. That the priest performs the eucharist and reconciles
sinners in the name and place of Christ is affirmed repeatedly by the
magisterium and constantly taught by fathers and theologians. It would not
appear to serve any useful purpose to give a multitude of quotations to show
this. It is the totality of the priestly ministry that St Paul says is
exercised in the place of Christ: We are acting as ambassadors on behalf
of Christ, God, as it were, appealing through us-in fact this text from 2
Corinthians has in mind the ministry of reconciliation (5: l 8-20)-you
have received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus (Gal. 4:14).
87. Similarly St Cyprian echoes St Paul: The priest
truly acts in the place of Christ.(44) But theological reflection and the
Churchs life have been led to distinguish the more or less close links
between the various acts in the exercise of the ministry and the character of
ordination and to specify which require this character for validity.
88. Saying in the name and place of Christ is
not however enough to express completely the nature of the bond between the
minister and Christ as understood by tradition. The formula in persona
Christi in fact suggests a meaning that brings it close to the Greek
expression mimema Christou.(45) The word persona means a part
played in the ancient theatre, a part identified by a particular mask. The
priest takes the part of Christ, lending him his voice and gestures.
89. St Thomas expresses this concept exactly: The priest
enacts the image of Christ, in whose person and by whose power he pronounces
the words of consecration.(46) The priest is thus truly a sign in
the sacramental sense of the word. It would be a very elementary view of the
sacraments if the notion of sign were kept only for material elements.
Each sacrament fulfils the notion in a different way. The text of
St Bonaventure already mentioned affirms this very clearly: the person
ordained is a sign of Christ the mediator.(47)
91. Although St Thomas gave as the reason for excluding
women the much discussed one of the state of subjection (status
subjectionis), he nevertheless took as his starting point the principle
that sacramental signs represent what they signify by a natural
resemblance,(48) in other words the need for that natural
resemblance between Christ and the person who is his sign. And, still on
the same point, St Thomas recalls: Since a sacrament is a sign, what is
done in the sacrament requires not only the reality but also a sign of the
92. It would not accord with natural
resemblance, with that obvious meaningfulness, if the
memorial of the supper were to be carried out by a woman; for it is not just
the recitation involving the gestures and words of Christ, but an action, and
the sign is efficacious because Christ is present in the minister who
consecrates the eucharist, as is taught by the Second Vatican Council,
following the encyclical Mediator Dei.(50)
93. It is understandable that those favouring the
ordination of women have made various attempts to deny the value of this
reasoning. It has obviously been impossible and even unnecessary for the
declaration to consider in detail all the difficulties that could be raised in
this regard. Some of them however are of interest in that they occasion a
deeper theological understanding of traditional principles.
94. Let us look at the objection sometimes raised that it
is ordination-the character-not maleness, that makes the priest Christs
representative. Obviously it is the character, received by ordination, that
enables the priest to consecrate the eucharist and reconcile penitents. But the
character is spiritual and invisible (res et sacramentum). On the level
of the sign (sacramentum tantum) the priest must both have received the
laying on the hands and take the part of Christ. It is here that St Thomas and
St Bonaventure require that the sign should have natural meaningfulness.
95. In various fairly recent publications attempts have
been made to reduce the importance of the formula in persona Christi by
insisting rather on the formula in persona Ecclesiae. For it is another
great principle of the theology of the sacraments and liturgy that the priest
presides over the liturgy in the name of the Church, and must have the
intention of doing what the Church does.
96. Could one say that the priest does not represent
Christ, because he first represents the Church by the fact of his ordination?
The declarations reply to this objection is that, quite on the contrary,
the priest represents the Church precisely because he first represents Christ
himself, who is the head and shepherd of the Church. It indicates several texts
of the Second Vatican Council that clearly express this teaching.
97. Here there may well be in fact one of the crucial
points of the question, one of the important aspects of the theology of the
Church and the priesthood underlying the debate on the ordination of women.
When the priest presides over the assembly, it is not the assembly that has
chosen or designated him for this role. The Church is not a spontaneous
gathering. As its name of ecclesia indicates, it is an assembly that is
convoked. It is Christ who calls it together. He is the head of the Church, and
the priest presides in the person of Christ the head (in persona
98. That is why the declaration rightly concludes
that the controversies raised in our days over the ordination of women
are for all Christians a pressing invitation to meditate on the mystery of the
Church, to study in greater detail the meaning of the episcopate and the
priesthood, and to rediscover the real and pre-eminent place of the priest in
the community of the baptized of which he indeed forms part but from which he
is distinguished because, in the actions that call for the character of
ordination for the community he is-with all the effectiveness proper to the
sacraments-the image and symbol of Christ himself who calls, forgives, and
accomplishes the sacrifice of the covenant.
99. However, the objectors continue: it would indeed be
important that Christ should be represented by a man if the maleness of Christ
played an essential part in the economy of salvation. But, they say, one cannot
accord gender a special place in the hypostatic union: what is essential is the
human nature-no more assumed by the word, not the incidental characteristics
such as the sex or even the race which he assumed. If the Church admits that
men of all races can validly represent Christ, why should she deny women this
ability to represent him?
100. We must first of all reply, in the words of the
declaration, that ethnic differences do not affect the human person as
intimately as the difference of sex. On this point biblical teaching
agrees with modern psychology. The difference between the sexes however is
something willed by God from the beginning, according to the account in Genesis
(which is also quoted in the gospel), and is directed both to communion between
persons and to the begetting of human beings. And it must be affirmed first and
foremost that the fact that Christ is a man and not a woman is neither
incidental nor unimportant in relation to the economy of salvation.
101. In what sense? Not of course in the material sense, as
has sometimes been suggested in polemics in order to discredit it, but because
the whole economy of salvation has been revealed to us through essential
symbols from which it cannot be separated and without which we would be unable
to understand Gods design. Christ is the new Adam. Gods covenant
with men is presented in the Old Testament as a nuptial mystery, the definitive
reality of which is Christs sacrifice on the cross.
102. The declaration briefly presents the stages marking the
progressive development of this biblical theme, the subject of many exegetical
and theological studies. Christ is the bridegroom of the Church, whom he won
for himself with his blood, and the salvation brought by him is the new
covenant: by using this language, revelation shows why the incarnation took
place according to the male gender, and makes it impossible to ignore this
historical reality. For this reason, only a man can take the part of Christ, be
a sign of his presence, in a word represent him (that is, be an
effective sign of his presence) in the essential acts of the covenant.
103. Could one do without this biblical symbolism when
transmitting the message, in contemplating the mystery and in liturgical life?
To ask this, as has been done in certain recent studies, is to call into
question the whole structure of revelation and to reject the value of
scripture. It will be said, for example, that in every period the
ecclesial community appeals to the authority it has received from its founder
in order to choose the images enabling it to receive Gods
revelation. This is perhaps to fail even more profoundly to appreciate
the human value of the nuptial theme m the revelation of Gods love.
The ministerial priesthood in the mystery of the
104. It is also striking to note the extent to which the
questions raised in the controversy over the ordination of women are bound up
with a certain theology of the Church. We do not of course mean to dwell on the
excessive formulas which nonetheless sometimes find a place in theological
reviews. An example is the supposition that the primitive Church was based on
the charisma possessed by both women and men.(51) Another is the claim
that the gospels also present women as ministers of unction.(52) On
the other hand, we have already come across the question of the pluralism that
can be admitted in unity and seen what its limits are.
105. The proposal that women should be admitted to the
priesthood because they have gained leadership in many fields of modern life
today seems to ignore the fact that the Church is not a society like the rest.
In the Church, authority or power is of a very different nature, linked as it
normally is with the sacrament, as is underlined in the declaration. Disregard
of this fact is indeed a temptation that has threatened ecclesiological
research at all periods: every time that an attempt is made to solve the
Churchs problems by comparison with those of states, or to define the
Churchs structure by political categories, the inevitable result is an
106. The declaration also points out the defect in the
argument that seeks to base the demand that the priesthood be conferred on
women on the text Galatians 3:28, which states that in Christ there is no
longer any distinction between man and woman. For St Paul this is the effect of
baptism. The baptismal catechesis of the fathers often stressed it. But
absolute equality in baptismal life is quite a different thing from the
structure of the ordained ministry. This latter is the object of a vocation
within the Church not a right inherent in the person.
107. A vocation within the Church does not consist solely or
primarily in the fact that one manifests the desire for a mission or feels
attracted by an inner compulsion. Even if this spontaneous step is made and
even if one believes one has heard as it were a call in the depths of
ones soul, the vocation is authentic only from the moment that it is
authenticated by the external call of the Church. The Holv Office recalled this
truth in its 1912 letter to the bishop of Aire to put an end to the Lahitton
controversy.(53) Christ chose those he wanted (Mk 3:13).
108. Since the ministerial priesthood is something to which
the Lord calls expressly and gratuitously, it cannot be claimed as a right, any
more by men than by women. Archbishop Bernardins declaration of October
1975 contained the sound judgment: It would be a mistake . . . to reduce
the question of the ordination of women to one of injustice, as is done at
times. It would be correct to do this only if ordination were a God-given right
of every individual; only if somehow ones human potential could not be
fulfilied without it. In fact, however, no one, male or female, can claim a
right to ordination. And, since the episcopal and priestly office
is basically a ministry of service, ordination in no way completes
109. The declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith ends by suggesting that efforts in two directions should
be fostered, efforts from which the pastors and faithful of the Church would
perhaps be distracted if this controversy over womens ordination were
110. One direction is in the doctrinal and spiritual order:
awareness of the diversity of roles in the Church, in which equality is not
identity, should lead us-as St Paul exhorts us-to strive after the one gift
that can and should be striven after, namely love (1 Cor. 12-13). The
greatest in the kingdom of heaven are not the ministers but the saints,
says the declaration. This expression deserves to be taken as a motto.
111. The other direction for our efforts is in the apostolic
and social order. We have a long way to go before people become fully aware of
the greatness of womens mission in the Church and society, both for
the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of
the true countenance of the Church. Unfortunately we also still have a
long way to go before all the inequalities of which women are still the victims
are eliminated, not only in the field of public professional and intellectual
life, but even within the family.
Note 1. Note especially: J. E. Havel, La question du
pastoral feminin en Suede, in Archives de sociologic des religions,
4, 1959, pp.207-249; F. R. Refoule, Le probleme des femmes-pretres en
Suede, in Lumiere et Vie, 43, 1959, pp.65-99.
Note 2 No. 22 (W. Nisel, Bekenntnisschriften und
Kirchenordnungen . . ., Munchen 1939, p.l11): quod...foeminis, quae
Spiritus sanctus ne docere quidem in Ecclesia patitur, ilk (papistae)
permittunt ut etiam Baptismum administrarent.
Note 3. The position of the Catholic Church on this point
was made clear by Leo XIII in the Letter Apostolicae Curae of 13
September 1896 (CTS H 311).
Note 4. Earlier, in 1944, his predecessor Bishop Hall called
a woman to the priesthood, but she had to refrain from exercising the ministry
because of the energetic intervention of the Archbishops of York and
Canterbury, who for ecumemcal motives repudiated the action of the Bishop of
Note 5. Letter of 9 July 1975 to the Pope. See ch. 3 below.
Note 6. Cardinal Willebrands stated this to some United
States Episcopal Bishops in September 1974, according to the account published
m Origins-NC Documentary Service, 9 October 1975.
Note 7. Italian translation published in
LOsservarore Romano, 16-17 June 1975.
Note 8. Letters of Paul VI to Dr Coggan, 30 November 1975
and 10 February 1976. See . ch. 3 below.
Note 9. At the WCCs Assembly in New Delhi in 1961, the
Department on Faith and Order was asked to prepare, in collaboration with the
Department on Cooperation of Men and Women in Church, Family and Society, a
study on the theological questions raised by the problem of womens
ordination (cf NouvelleDelhi 1961, Neuchatel, 1962, pp.166, 169). On the
discussion of the problem at the Nairobi Assembly, see E. Lanne, Points
chauds de la VAssemblee mondiale du Conseil oecumenique des Eglises a
Nairobi..., in Revue theologique de Louvain, 7, 1976, pp.197-199:
Les Femmes dans lEglise.
Note 10. Second Vatican Council Decree Apostolicam
Actuositatem, n. 9.
Note 11. This intrusion of sociology into hermeneutics and
theology is perhaps one of the most important elements in the controversy. This
has been rightly stressed by B. Lambert, LEglise catholique peut-elle
admettre des femmes a lordination sacerdotale? in
Documentation Catholique 73, 1976, p.774: en corrigeant dans
Iinterpretation de la Tradition et de lEcriture ce qui etait lie a
des formes socio-culturelles, historiquement necessaires et conditionnees, mais
aujourdhui depassees, a la lumiere de [evolution de la societe et
Note 12. The very phrase (reported in Le Monde of
19-20 September 1965) used by J. Danielou during the Council at a meeting of
the Alliance Internationale Jeanne dArc. He returned to the subject,
introducing perhaps more shades of meamng, in the interview he gave at the time
of his promotion to Cardmal, LExpress, 936, 16-22 June 1969, pp.
122, 124: 11 faudrait examiner ou vent les vraies raisons qui font que
lEglise na jamais envisage le sacerdoce des femmes.
Note 13. Origins - NC Documentary Service, 16 October
1975: Honesty and concern for the Catholic community . . . require that
Church leaders not seem to encourage unreasonable hopes and expectations, even
by their silence. Therefore I am obliged to restate the Churchs teaching
that women are not to be ordained to the priesthood.
Note 14. AAS 67 (1975), p.265.
Note 15. Letter of 30 November 1975: See ch. 3 below
Note 16. Cf., for example. the theological conversations
between Catholics and Russian Orthodox at Trent, 23-28 June 1975:
LOsservatore Romano, 7-8 July 1975; Documentation Catholique,
71, 1975, p.707.
Note 22. St Thomas, Summa Theol., 2a 2ac, q. 10,
a.12; 3a pars, q. 66, a. 10; q. 72. a.4 anda.l2;q.73.a.4;q.78,a.3 and
a.6;q.80,a.12:q.82,a.2:q.83,a.3 and a.5: -cf. In IV Sent Dist 20, q I,a 4,qa I
ff ; Dist 23, q I,a 4,q a I, etc
Note 23. St Thomas, In IV Sent. Dist. 19, q. 1, a.1,
qa 3 ad 4-um; Dist, 25, q. 2, a. I, qa 1; cf. q. 2, a. 2, qa 1, ad 4;
Summa Theol., 2a 2ac, q. 177, a. 2.
Note 24. Dictum Gratiani in Caus. 34; q. 5, c. 11,
ed. Friedberg, t. 1, co. 1254; cf. R. Metz, La femme en droit
canonique medieval, in Recueil de la societe Jean Bodin, 12, 1962,
Note 25. Canon 44 of the collection called after the Council
of Laodicea: H. T. Bruns, Canones Apostolorum et Conciliorum . . . t. 1,
Bertolini, 1839, p.78; St Gelasius, Epist. 14, ad universos episcopos per
Lucaniam, Brutios et Siciliam constitutos, 11 March 494, No. 26: A. Thiel,
Epistolae Romanorum pontificum..., t. 1, Brunsbergae. 1868. p.376.
Note 26. Chap. 15: ed. R. H. Connolly, pp.133 and 142.
Note 28. Can. 24-28;-Greek text in F. X. Funk, Doctrina
Duodecim Apostolorum, Tubingen, 1887, p.71; T. Schermann, Die
allegemeine Kirchenordnung. . ., t.1, Paderborn, 1914, pp.31-33;-Syriac
text in Octateuque de Clement, Lib. 3, c. 19-20, Latin text in the
Verona ms., Bibl., capit, LV, ed. E. Tidner, Didascaliae Apostolorum,
Canonum Ecclesiasticorum. Traditionis Apostolicae Versiones Latinae,
Berlin, 1965 (TU 75), pp.111-113. The Coptic, Ethiopian and Arabic versions
of the Synodos have been translated and published chiefly by G. Homer,
The Statutes of the Apostles or Canones Ecclesiastici, Oxford University
Press, 1915 (=1904).
Note 29. De Sacerdotio 2, 2: PC 48, 663.
Note 30. Decrelal. Lib. V. tit. 38, De paenit.,
can. 10 Nova A. Friedberg, t. 2, colt 886-887: Quia licet beatissima
Virgo Maria dignior et excellentiorfuerit Apostolis universis, non tamen ilk,
sed istis Dominus craves regni caelorum commisit.
Note 31. e.g., Glossa in Decretal. Lib. 1, tit. 33,
c. 12 Dilecta, Vo lurisdicuani.
Note 32. In IV Sent., Dist. 25, art. 2, q. 1: ed.
Quaracchi, t. 4, p.649: Dicendum est quad hoc non venit tam ex institutione
Ecclesiae, quam ex hoc quod eis non competit Ordinis sacramentum. In hoc
sacramento persona quae ordinatur significat Christum mediatorem.
Note 33. In IVSent., Dist. 25, a. 4, n. 1; ed.
Bocatelli, Venice, 1499 (Pellechet-Polain, 10132/9920), f 177-R: Ratio est
quod sacramenta vim habent ex sua institutione: Christus autem hoc sacramentum
instituit conferri masculis tantum, non mulieribus.
Note 34. In IV Sent., Dist. 25, Opus Oxoniense,
ed. Vives, t. 19, p.140; cf. Reportata Parisiensia, ed. Vives, t.
24, pp.369-371. Quod non est tenendum tamquam praecise per Ecclesiam
determinatum, sed habetur a Christo: non enim Ecclesia praesumpsisset sexam
muliebrem privasse sine culpa sua actu qui posses sibi licite competere.
Note 35. In IV Sent., Dist. 25, p.2; ed. Venice,
1571, f 364-v: . . .sexus virilis est de necessitate sacrament, cuius causa
principalis est institutio Christi. . . Christus non ordinavit nisi viros. . .
nec matrem suam. . . Tenendum est igitur quod mulieres non possum ordinari ex
Note 36. Details of these theological notes can be found in
E. Doronzo, Tractatus Dogmaticus de Ordine, t. 3, Milwaukee, Bruce,
1962, pp.395-396; Cf. also F. Haller, De Sacris Electionibus, 1636,
quoted in J. P. Migne, Theologiae Cursus Completus, t. 24, colt 821-854;
many present-day objections are surprisingly anticipated in this work, which
goes so far as to qualify as periculosa in fide the opinion that would
admit womens ordination in general, and as haeretica that which
would admit them to the priesthood, colt 824; cf. also H. Tournely,
Praelectiones Theologicae de Sacramento Ordinis, Parisiis, 1729, p.185,
notes as an error contra fidem this assertion with regard to episcopate,
priesthood and diaconate. Among canonists: X. Wemz, lus Decret., t. 2,
Romae, 1906, p.124: Iure diving (he quotes several writers); P.
Gasparri, Tractatus Canonicus de Sacra Ord inatione, t. 1, Parisiis,
1893, p.75; Et quidem prohibentur sub poena nullitatis: ita enim traditio et
communis doctorum catholicorum doctrina interpretata est legem Apostoli: ed id
eo Patres inter haereses recensent doctrinam qua sacerdotalis d ignitas et of
ficium mulieribus tribuitur.
Note 37. St Bonaventure, In IVSent., Dist. 25, art.
2, q. 1, ed. Quaracchi, t. 4, p.650: Omnes consentiant quod promoveri
non debent, sed utrum possint, dubium est (the doubt arises from the case
of the deaconesses); he concludes: secundum saniorem opinionem et
prudentiorum doctorum non solum non debent vel non possum de lure, verum etiam
non possum defacto.
Note 38. This canon deals with deaconesses. At the word
ordinari, Johannes Teutonicus states: respondeo quod mulieres non
recipient characterem, impediente sexu et constitutione Ecclesiae: uncle nec
officium ordinum exercere possum . . . nec ord inatur haec: sed fund ebatur
super eam forte aliqua bened ictio, ex qua consequebatur aliquod officium
speciale, forte legend) homilias vel evangelium ad matutinas quod non licebat
aliis. Alii dicunt quod si monialis ordinetur, bene recipit characterem, quia
ordinari facti est et post baptismum quilibet potest ordinare.
Note 39. Cf. J. Dupont, Le Logion des douze bones, in
Biblica, 4s, 1964, pp.35s-392.
Note 40. The documents cited in notes 26-28 above. Note also
the curious Mariale falsely attributed to Albert the Great, quaest. 42,
ed. Borgnet. t. 37, pp.80-81.
Note 41. I. De La Potterie, Titres missionnaires du
chretien dans le Nouveau Testament (Rapports de la XXXIeme semaine de
Missiologie, Louvain, 1966). Paris, Desclee de Brouwer, 1966, p.29-46, cf.
Note 42. Council of Trent, sess. 21, c. 2 and Pius Xll
Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, 30 November 1947, quoted in the
Note 43. Cf. Ph. Delhaye, Retrospective et prospective
des ministeres femininsdans lEglise, in Revue theologique de
Louvain 3, 1972, pp.74-75.
Note 44. Epist. 63, 14: ed. Hartel, CSEL t. 3, p.713:
sacerdos vice Christi vere fungitur.
Note 45. St Theodore the Studite, Adversus Iconomachos
cap. 4; PG 99, 593; Epist.
Note 46. Summa Theol., 111 q. 83, a. I, ad 3-um
Note 47. Above, note 32: persona quae ordinatur
significat Christum mediatorem.
Note 48. In IV Sent., Dist. 25, q. 2, a. 2, qa 1, ad
4-um: signa sacramentalia ex naturali similitudine repraesenten t.
Note 49. Ibid. in corp. quaestiunculae: Quia cum
sacramentum sit signum, in eis -quae in sacramento aguntur requiritur non solum
res, sed significatio rei.
Note 50. II Vatican Council, Constitution
Sacrosanctum Concilium on the Liturgy no. 7 (CTS Do 386); Pius XII,
Encyclical Mediator Dei. 20 November 1947.
Note 51. Cf. Concilium iii, 1976, La femme dans
lEglise, French edition, pp. 19, 20, especially 23: Au temps de
Paul, les fonctions de direction etaient reparties et reposaient sur
Note 52. Theological Studies 36, 1975, p.667.
Note 53. AAS 4, 1912, p.485.
Note 54. In Origins-NC Documentary Service, 16