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Women and the Eucharist. Online Congress January - September 2008 concerning 'the Dignity and Vocation of Women', 'Mulieris Dignitatem'

Women and the Eucharist

Online Congress January - September 2008
concerning “the Dignity and Vocation of Women”,
“Mulieris Dignitatem”
Encyclical Letter by Pope John Paul II (30 September 1988)
TOPIC FIVE

“Against the broad background of the "great mystery" expressed in the spousal relationship between Christ and the church, it is possible to understand adequately the calling of the "Twelve." In calling only men as his apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner.”

“Here one finds an explanation for the calling of the "Twelve." They are with Christ at the Last Supper. They alone receive the sacramental charge, "Do this in remembrance of me," (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:240 which is joined to the institution of the Eucharist. On Easter Sunday night they receive the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins: "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20:23)” (Mulieris Dignitatem § 26)

We just print some excerpts here. It is worth reading the whole text.

Paragraphs in Mulieris Dignitatem

“Since Christ in instituting the Eucharist linked it in such an explicit way to the priestly service of the apostles, it is legitimate to conclude that he thereby wished to express the relationship between man and woman, between what is "feminine" and what is "masculine." It is a relationship willed by God both in the mystery of creation and in the mystery of redemption. It is the Eucharist above all that expresses the redemptive act of Christ, the bridegroom, toward the church, the bride. This is clear and unambiguous when the sacramental ministry of the Eucharist, in which the priest acts in persona Christi, is performed by a man.”

“This explanation confirms the teaching of the declaration ‘Inter Insigniores’, published at the behest of Paul VI in response to the question concerning the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood.” (Mulieris Dignitatem § 26)

blasphemy and God-with-us

every time again confused spirals of thought
from a complacent church leadership
collide ferociously against my indignant soul
deeming themselves infallible and showing no scruples
this leadership announces God’s predilection for the male
a male ‘God has created like himself’

my fantasy and my feeling of wounded self-respect created an image
--- in analogy to the biblical golden calf ---
of the pope devoutly kneeling before the gilded phallus
as counter pole I see my own experience of God
it rehabilitates my relationship to ‘God–with-us’

in creative freedom I picture to myself from biblical texts
how God’s presence shows itself
hidden as plain day light in a column of cloud
as a column of fire in the darkness of night

© Tina van Lieshout
translation John Wijngaards
The text and art work are free for personal use
but, please, ask for permission to publish.


Excerpts of Hans Urs von Balthasar on whose theology Pope John Paul II relied:

  • "The priestly ministry and the sacrament are means of passing on seed. They are a male preserve. They aim at inducing in the Bride her function as a woman." ( H. U. von Balthasar, Wer ist Kirche? Vier Skizzen, Freiburg 1965, p. 24)
  • "What else is (Christ's) eucharist but, at a higher level, an endless act of fruitful outpouring of his whole flesh, such as a man can only achieve for a moment with a limited organ of his body?" (H. U. von Balthasar, Elucidations, trans. John Riches, London 1975, p. 150).


Comments:

* "(Balthasar's reflections are) male daydreaming that comes closer to ecclesiastical soft porn than to a theological treatise on the Church". (Hedwig Meyer-Wilmes, 'Vater Gott und Mutter Kirche', in Marie-Therese Wacker (ed.), Theologie feministisch, Düsseldorf 1988, p. 150. )

* "The 'what else ... but' (v.B. quote 2) implies that it is nothing else. This is the eucharist understood not primarily as Christ's identification with the universal human tragedy of death, but rather as the identification of Christ's death with the uniquely male experience of penile ejaculation . . . The justification given (in the encyclical) for the essentialisation of the male priesthood has reduced the symbolic richness of the Mass so that it is indeed nothing but a cosmic male orgasm, as von Balthasar suggests. The female body, lacking the 'limited organ' which allows for this experience, cannot represent Christ in the eucharist. Ultimately this means that women have become bystanders in the metaphysical consummation of homosexual love, a marriage between men and God in which the male body is both the masculine bridegroom and the feminine bride, the masculine God and the feminine creature, the masculine Christ and the feminine church. This makes Catholic theology more explicitly phallocentric than has been the case in the past, since the phallus has become the defining symbol of Christ's giving of self in the Mass." (Tina Beattie, God's Mother, Eve's Advocate. A Gynocentric Refiguration of Marian Symbolism in Engagement with Luce Irigaray, Bristol 1999, p. 65.)


Equality of Women

Christ and Women

Women as Mothers

Bride and Groom

Women and Eucharist

Women and Love



Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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