Responsive image
Nederlands/Vlaams Deutsch Francais English language Spanish language Portuguese language Catalan Chinese Czech Malayalam Finnish Igbo
Japanese Korean Romanian Malay language Norwegian Swedish Polish Swahili Chichewa Tagalog Urdu
A Tale of Two Documents by John R. Donahue from 'Women Priests'

A Tale of Two Documents

by John R. Donahue

from Women Priests, Arlene Swidler & Leonard Swidler (eds.), Paulist Press 1977, pp. 25-34.
Republished on our website with the necessary permissions

John R. Donahue, SJ, Associate Professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt Divinity School, received his Ph. D. from the University of Chicago and has taught at Woodstock College. He is the author of Are You the Christ? The Trial of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. He has been a member of the Executive Board of the Catholic Biblical Association and was at the time a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biblical Literature.

For those Catholics concerned about ordination of women for the ministerial priesthood the period from July, 1976, through January, 1977, was the “best of times” and the ‘’worst of times." Advocates of such ordination were encouraged by published reports in late June of some results of the April, 1976, meeting of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.(1) Most startling to some observers were the three votes attributed to the Commission:

(1) a unanimous (17-0) vote that the New Testament does not settle in a clear way and once and for all whether women can be ordained priests,
(2) a 12-5 vote in favor of the view that scriptural grounds alone are not enough to exclude the possibility of ordaining women and
(3) a 12-5 vote that Christ’s plan would not be transgressed by permitting the ordination of women.(2)

For those opposed to the ordination of women the “best of times” came on January 27, 1977, with the publication by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Declaration (Inter Insigniores) on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood which declared Catholic teaching to be that “the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.”(3)

Catholics and non-Catholics, lay people and scholars alike, are therefore confronted by an apparent coflict between an official Roman statement (hereafter, referred to as the Declaration) and the report of an official Roman Commission. Where the Biblical Commission says that the New Testament leaves the question open, the Congregation states that it is precisely the will of Christ as attested in the New Testament which determined early Church practice and subsequent tradition. Independent of one’s judgment about which view is more faithful to the New Testament and also independent of one’s sympathies, in order to understand the difference between the two documents some comments must be made about the Vatican offices which issued the documents.

The Biblical Commission and Its "Report"

The Pontifical Biblical Commission, the oldest of the formal commissions of the modern papacy, was established by Leo XIII on October 30, 1902, in order to oversee proper biblical interpretation and to foster biblical studies.(4) In the early decades of its history it was associated with a series of responsa or decrees which were in opposition to modern trends of biblical interpretation. It has also issued instructions, of which the most famous is the 1964 Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels.(5) Prior to 1971 the only formal members of the Commission were the 10 or more Cardinals, even though from its inception the Commission employed for its deliberations consultors or experts in biblical studies. On June 27, 1971, in his Motu Proprio (Apostolic Brief), Sedula Cura, Paul VI promulgated a new set of regulations for the Commission.(6) In place of the Cardinal members, the Commission was to be composed of a Cardinal-President, a Secretary proposed by the President, and twenty formal members who were to be “scholars of the biblical sciences from various schools and nations.”(7)

In its recognition of the need for trained scholars in the discussion of biblical questions and in its “internationalizing” of a Vatican office, the reorganization was seen as a progressive move. At the same time the re-organization weakened whatever independent status the Biblical Commission possessed. The Cardinal President was to be the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Franjo Seper). The Biblical Commission itself was to be in effect a sub-commission of this same Congregation and whatever conclusions it reached were to be transmitted “for the use of the Congregation on Doctrine.”(8) The Biblical Commission could no longer issue any independent reports; its only formal vehicle of communication was through the Congregation on Doctrine. In this light the apparent ignoring of the Biblical Commission’s report by the Congregation of the Doctrine makes some sense, even if it does not evoke much assent. In the mind of the Congregation the work of the Biblical Commission is merely advisory. It is not seen as a consultative body of experts which may arrive at unexpected or unhoped for conclusions which would be normative in any discussion.(9)

The report of the Biblical Commission which was made public July, 1976 is not really an official or finished document but the unofficially leaked portions of sections of the Commission’s deliberations. The question of the ordination of women occupied the Biblical Commission prior to and during its plenary sessions of April, 1975 and 1976. Given the time spent and the high quality of scholarship represented by members of the Commission, one could have hoped for a more thorough and adequate biblical statement on women. The Report cannot be read with this expectation. Its introduction and four sections comprise answers to specific questions, rather than organic parts of a finished piece. Because of the secrecy which surrounds the work of all Vatican Offices, the actual questions posed are unknown. Like the problems behind Paul’s letters, the questions must be deduced from the often cryptic answers to them.(10)

At the same time the Report does summarize major aspects of the best New Testament scholarship on women. Also the significance of the Report is not in the cogency or polish of the public statement but in the votes which accompanied it. In spite of its official status as a subcommission of the Congregation on Doctrine, and in face of public and clearly articulated statements about what was and was to be the official teaching on women’s ordination, the Commission arrived at a conclusion different from that of the Congregation.(11) Whatever the ecclesiastical status of the report, the conclusions and the votes of the Commission are signs of an emerging pluralism in Catholic thought as well as of a changing relationship between the official Magisterium and theologians.(12)

The Congregation and Its Declaration

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under whose direct authority the Declaration was issued has a long and important history. It was founded by Paul III in 1542 as “The Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition,” was later called the Holy Office, and, on December 7 1965, was re-organized by Paul VI and given its present name.(13) Though at this time some of the more harsh juridical procedures of the Congregation were mitigated, it still functions as a overseer of orthodoxy.

Given the history and juridical status of this Congregation and given the public statements of Paul VI over the past three years, the conclusion of the Congregation should have come as a surprise to no one. From all indications it was sometime in early 1975 that Paul VI mandated the Congregation to prepare a statement on women’s ordination.(14) From this same period onward the position of Paul VI became increasingly clear. On April 18, 1975, he stated that “women did not receive the call to the apostolate of the twelve and therefore to the ordained ministry.(15)

In the exchange of letters with the Archbishop of Canterbury, especially in the letter of November 30, 1975, Paul VI expressed, in brief form, what was to be the substance of the argument in the Declaration: the example of Jesus in choosing only men is determinative of Church doctrine and practice.(16) The only new elements in the final Declaration are certain expansions of this statement and the addition of the theological argument on the natural resemblance between Christ and the minister of the Eucharist. All of this suggests that during that very period when the Biblical Commission was studying the matter, the conclusions, the general shape of the argument and perhaps the actual formulation of the final Declaration of the Congregation were nearing completion.

In this light a discrepancy between the Commission’s Report and the Congregation’s Declaration is not surprising. What is, however, a bit surprismg is the apparent absence of any formal participation in the deliberations by the Secretariat for Christian Unity. The initial contacts on the issue between Anglicans and Catholics took place through this Secretariat. However, when the Declaration was released there was no one present representing this Secretariat, and the Swiss Journal Orientierung reports that the Declaration hit the Secretariat members “like a bolt from the blue."(17) Such an apparent lack of communication between Roman offices dealing with a critical issue is surprising in view of the regulation of Paul VI in his 1967 reform of the Curia that when business falls under the province of a number of departments, it is to be discussed ”on the basis of consultation of the departments concerned.(18)

This glance at the offices involved and at some of the events of the past few years suggests that the Declaration of January 27 cannot be seen as the end product of serious and sustained reflection and study on the part of a wide representation of the Magisterium. (19) Just as the Biblical Commission’s Report cannot be read as the best discussion of the scriptural evidence bearing on the question, the Declaration of the Congregation can not be read as if it were the best presentation of the available considerations either against or for the ordination of women.

Two Documents Compared

While it is impossible to know whether and how the Report of the Biblical Commission was used by the Congregation, there are a number of places where common material is treated. We will attempt to describe some of the areas of common concern and indicate points of agreement as well as significant difference.

I. The Attitude of Jesus

The basic argument of the Declaration is that in his call of the twelve men Jesus was not influenced by any cultural prejudice against women and deliberately did not entrust “the apostolic charge” to women, not even to his mother. The Declaration also rejects the view that Mt 19:28 (“You will sit on the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”) with its eschatological symbolism is basic to an understanding the ministry of the Twelve.(200

The Report also stresses the newness of Jesus’ attitude toward women which is “in striking contrast to the contemporary usages of the Jewish world.” While the Report admits the fact that Jesus chose a group of twelve men, it stresses that these are chosen “who, after the fashion of the twelve patriarchs of the Old Testament, would be leaders of the renewed people of God.” Though the Report recognizes the masculine character of leadership in the early Church, it does not root this in the intention of Jesus, and asks, “Must we conclude that this rule must be valid forever in the Church?” The Report never alludes to the question of the ordination of Mary since there is not enough evidence in the New Testament even to address this question. Finally, the Report stresses the eschatological framework of Jesus’ total ministry, as well as of his choice of the Twelve, when it says, “Jesus inaugurates in the framework of the present world the order of things that constitutes the final horizon of the kingdom of God.”

The Report therefore exercises exegetical reserve in regard to the intention of Jesus. The argument of the Declaration that Jesus was free of certain cultural prejudices in regard to women and therefore consciously excluded them freely from leadership suffers from both poor logic and poor exegesis. The accounts of the call and the mission of the Twelve simply do not provide the kind of information required to arrive at the intention of Jesus.(21) Likewise the overlooking of the eschatological significance of the Twelve is a serious defect of the Declaration. If the choice of “the Twelve” is dictated by the eschatological consciousness of Jesus that the end is near, then his choice can scarcely be seen as prescriptive for a long period of Church history.(22)

II. Practice of the Early Church

The Declaration holds that the apostolic community remained faithful to the attitude of Jesus in excluding women. Though women worked with St. Paul, he never envisaged “conferring ordination” on these women, and he clearly distinguished between “my fellow workers” and “fellow workers of God” who participated in the “official and public proclamation of the message.” Paul’s prohibitions in 1Cor 14:34-35 and 1Tim 2:12 are not the expression of cultural fact but of a different nature and concern “the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly.”

The Report differs on almost all of these points and also adds a fuller picture of ministry in the New Testament. The Report does not use the anachronistic language of “conferring ordination” in describing ministry in the early Church, nor does it gives the impression that the different forms of ministry arose in continuity with the explicit intention of Jesus. It mentions the choice of the Twelve and states that, upon leaving the earth, “he also delegated to a group of men whom he had chosen the responsibility to develop the kingdom of God and the authority to govern the Church.” This group is the basis of a community which has continued the work of Christ, but there is no statement that this group explicitly determined the shape of ministry in the early Church.

The report gives a much fuller picture of the role of women in the early Church. They participate in the work (kopian) of evangelization. Phoebe is not described in the weak language of the Declaration, “in the service of the Church,” but as a deacon. the Report mentions the possibility that the Junias of Rom 16:7 who is ranked with the apostles may be a woman, and it alludes to the significant role of women in the Gospel of John.(23) The Report does not make the dubious distinction between “my fellow worker” and “fellow worker of God.”(24) Finally Paul’s prohibitions of 1Cor 14:34-35 are evaluated in the following way. “It is possible that they refer only to certain concrete situations and abuses. It is possible that certain other situations call on the Church to assign to women the role of teaching which these two passages deny them, and which constitute a function belonging to the leadership.” In comparing what the two documents say about the early Church it is clear that the Declaration is selective in its description of the roles of women in the early Church and that when it does mention them, it minimizes them.

III. The Use of Nuptial Imagery

Both documents call attention to those texts in which Christ is related to the Church as bridegroom to bride. The Declaration then goes on to make a theological extension of this image not found in the New Testament: the priest represents Christ the groom and therefore must be male. In the New Tcstament the image is used only of Christ and the Church and never extended into the area of ministry.

I V. Principles of Exegesis

The Report begins with a number of cautions on addressing the question of the ordination of women:

(1) woman does not constitute the principal subject of biblical texts,
(2) the very posing of the question in terms of “priesthood" and celebration of the Eucharist is “somewhat foreign to the Bible” and derives from a perspective of a later conception of the priesthood, and
(3) the Church is now in the process of broadening its concept of the priesthood beyond that of the eucharistic ministry.

With these exegetical cautions the Report is rather tentative in its conclusions, suggesting in different ways that the New Testament provides a background for theological reflcction and questioning whether all New Testament practices can be directly normative for present Church life.

The Declaration also admits the limitation of the data provided by the New Testament; however, it responds to this limitation not with the exegetical reserve of the Report, but with the statement that a purely historical exegesis of Scripture cannot suffice to reach the ultimate meaning of the mission of Jesus and the ultimate meaning of Scripture, and that “it is the Church through the voice of her Magisterium that, in these various domains, decides what can change and what can remain immutable.” While Catholic exegetes would agree that the ultimate meaning of Scripture is beyond the province of exegesis and would recognize the authority of the Magisterium in articulating authentic tradition, Catholic exegetes would also recall the hermeneutical guidelines of par. 12 of the Vatican II Degree on Revelation which stress the need for scientific and historical exegesis in order to fnd what the sacred writers really intended.(25)


The documents discussed reveal not only different conclusions on the admission of women to the priesthood; they reveal different ways of looking at the biblical material. In the Declaration the exegesis is selective and is marshalled to support the current teaching of the Magisterium.(26) Such exegesis will convince no one who is not disposed to agree with the Declaration on grounds other than the strength of its exegesis. The Report of the Biblical Commission is necessarily tentative and limited by the questions posed to it. Both documents leave an unfinished agenda. The mainly negative conclusion of the Biblical Commission (there is nothing in the New Testament which prohibits the ordination of women) can be supplemented by positive considerations not simply by biblical scholars but also by theologians, especially in the area of ecclesiology.(27) One relatively untapped area of biblical and theological reflection will be to ask how the different forms which ministry assumed in the early Church were in response to different social and religious demands of the emerging communities. From its very beginning the Church embodies a principle of sacramental adaptation. The question can then be raised as to what forms ministry must take today in response to different social and religious demands.(28) The Declaration of the Congregation also leaves an unfinished agenda. In its call for attention to the symbolic dimension of scriptural language “which affects man and woman in their profound identity and through which the mystery of God is revealed” the Declaration implicitly calls for the use in theology and exegesis of not only the tools of historical method and critical reflection but also for engagement in anthropology and the phenomenology of symbol and of psychology as a way to sound the depths of what Scripture says about the mystery of man and woman and how they are to minister to the body of Christ in the world. The Report of the Biblical Commission and the Declaration of the Congregation are not the end but the beginning of a task of study and reflection which will continue to engage the whole Church.(29)


1. “Biblical Commission Report. Can Women Be Priests?” Origins Vol VI, No. 6 (July 1, 1976), pp. 92-96. For press reports see National Catholic Reporter, Vol. Xll, No. 34 (July 2, 1976), p. 15; John T. Muthig Our Sunday Visitor, Vol. LXV, No. 3336 (June 27, 1976), p. 3.

2. The questions voted on comprise the final three paragraphs of the report.

3. The National Catholic Register (Los Angeles), February 13, 1977, contained the headline, "Women Priests Ban Acclaimed." Cardinal William Baum of Washington, D.C., stated: “I thank our Lord for the firm and clear guidance which the Holy Father has given to us in approving and confirming the teaching of this declaration.” Origins Vol. VI, No. 34 (Feb. 10, 1977), p. 548, published also in L’Osservatore Romano, English edition (Feb. 24, 1977), p. 7.

4. B.N. Wambacq, “Pontifical Biblical Commission,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, pp. 551-554; Enchridion Biblicum (Rome: A. Arnodo, 1961), pp. 64-68; Rome and the Study of Scripture (St. Meinrad, Indiana: Grail Publications, 1962), pp. 33-34.

5. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. XXVI (1964), pp. 299-304 (Latin Text); pp. 305-312 (English Text).

6. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. LXIII (1971), pp. 665-669, Origins Vol. 1, No. 8 (July 29, 1971), pp. 149-151; D. Stanley, “Pontifcal Biblicai Commission,” New Catholic Encyclopedia: Supplement, 1967-1974, Vol. XVI, pp. 357-358.

7. Sedula Cura, No. 3. A list of the members can be found in the Annuario Pontificio (1973), p. 1036.

8. Ibid., No. 10. Stanley, op. cit., p. 358. Vatican watchers can observe the reduction of the Commission’s official standing by noting that prior to 1972 the Biblical Commission was listed first among the “Commissioni e Comitati Permanente” (Annuario Pontificio [1970], p. 1069). Affer the reorganization it (along with the International Theological Commission) was listed as a sub-committee of the Saered Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith and no longer appears first in the list of commissions, but inconspicuously in the middle.

9. In a press conference on June 28, 1976, a Vatican spokesman made the following statement: “The proper agencies of the Holy See follow and study all those major questions which are significant, among which must be included the question of the ordination of women. It should be noted that the fact a question is studied in no way signifies that a change is foreseen. In the case of the priesthood for women, the study bears solely on the manner of presenting the traditional teaching and practice of the Church as it has been clearly recalled by the Holy Father on many occasions." Documentation Catholique, Vol. LXXIII, No. 1704 (Sept., 1976), p. 770.

10. A major problem facing anyone writing about Vatican statements is the practice of secrecy which surrounds the workings of all Vatican offices. This secrecy extends often not only to matters of necessary confidentiality but to the most mundane matters of when a cetain study was begun, who was consulted, who participated in the drafting, etc. The Biblical Commission’s Report is a “leaked” document made public “after a source unrelated to the commission made it available to the press” (Origins, Vol. Vl, No. 6, p. 92). It is directed not to the general public but to those who mandated the study, presumably the Pope or the Congregation on Doctrine.

11. The ordination of women has become a topic of intense research and discussion in Catholicism only in the past decade. See Ann E. Patrick, “Women and Religion: A Survey of Significant Literature, 1965-1974,” Theological Studies, Vol. XXXVI (Dec., 1975), pp. 737-765 (also published in Women: New Dimensions, ed. Walter Burghardt, S.J. [New York: Paulist Press 1976] pp. 161-189). With the emergence of reflection on the possibility of women’s ordinations official Church statements which earlier had not addressed the question became increasingly negative on the possibility; see E.J. Kilmartin, S.J., “Full Participation of Women in the Life of the Catholic Church ” in Sexism and Canon Law, ed. James Coriden (New York: Paulist Press, 1977) pp. 109-135, and Nadine Foley, O.P., ..Woman in Vatican Documents 1960 to the Present," ibid., pp. 82-108; H.M. Legrand, O.P., “Views on the Ordination of Women," Origins, Vol. VI, No. 29. (Jan. 6, 1977), pp. 459-468. Infra, Notes 14-16.

12. R. A. McCormick, S.J., “Notes on Moral Theology,” Theological Studies, Vol. XXXVIII (March, 1977), pp. 84-100 has a superb summary of the recent literature on this topic.

13. U. Beste, “Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for the,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IV, pp. 944-946. The decree of reorganization(Integrae Servandae) is found in the Acta Aposto/icae Sedis, Vol. LVII (1965), pp. 952-955 = The Pope Speaks, Vol. XI (1966), pp. 13-16.

14. See the report by Desmond O’Grady, National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 4, 1977, p. 17, who states, “In mid-1975 Pope Paul asked the Doctrinal Congregation to prepare a statement.”

15. Address to the committee studying the Church’s response to the International Woman’s Year. Origins, Vol. IV, No.45 (May 1, 1975), pp. 718-719.

16. Origins, Vol. VI, No. 9 (Aug. 12, 1976), pp. 129-132.

17. A. Ebneter, “Keine Frauen im Priesteramt,” Orientierung, Vol. XLI, No. 3 (Feb. 15, 1977), p. 26.

18. “Reorganizing the Roman Curia,” Apostolic Constitution, Regimini Ecclesiae Universalis, Aug. 15, 1967. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. LIX (1967), pp. 885-928 = The Pope Speaks, Vol. XII (1967), pp. 393-420, No. 13.

19. As noted serious study of the question of the ordination of women is relatively recent in Catholicism. Legrand and Patrick (supra,n. II) mention some of the recent studies; see also, A.M. Gardner, S.S.N.D. (ed.) Women and Catholic Priesthood (New York: Paulist Press, 1976), esp. the bibliography on pp. 199-208; compiled by Donna Westly and R. T. Barnhouse, M. Fahey, S.J., B. Oram and B. Walker, O.P. “The Ordination of Women to the Priesthood: An Annotated Bibliography, ‘ Anglican Theological Review, Supplementary Series, No. 6 (June, 1976), pp. 81-106. Though the press reported that members of the theological Commission, bishops, other theologians and women were consulted, no specifics were ever made available about who was actually consulted and how they were consulted. See, Report of Interview with Fr. Richard Malone of the NCCB staff, The Baltimore Catholic Review, (Feb. 4, 1977), p. B-2. The International theological Commission never formally considered the question nor did the Papal Commission on Women. See, M-T van Lunen-Chenu, ‘La Commission pontificale de la femme,” Etudes, Vol. CCCXLIV (June, 1976), 879-891

20. Mt 19:28 (Lk 22:30) is mentioned only in note 10 which says that in these texts it is “only a question of their participation in the eschatological judgment.” The importance of this text cannot be so minimized. It is the only place in the New Testament where “the Twelve” is on the lips of Jesus in giving a mandate to the disciples (Mk 14:20, the sole other place where Jesus speaks of “the Twelve,” is a prediction of Judas’ betrayal). See R. Brown, Priest and Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1970), p. 55; and R. H. Fuller, “Pro and Con: The Ordination of Women,” in Toward a New Theology of Ordination, ed. M. H. Micks and C. P. Price (Alexandria: Virginia Theological Seminary, 1976), p. 2; and the essay by Elisabeth Fiorenza, pp. 114-122.

21. It is generally admitted that Mk 3:13 where it says Jesus called those “whom he wanted” is a redactional comment of the Evangelist. These words are not found in the Matthean (5:1) nor the Lukan (Lk 6:13) parallels. The literal historicity of the call narratives is also disputed. the following authors agree that Mk 3:13-14 are mostly redactional, i.e., due to the Evangelist, and can not be used as a historical description of Jesus’ intentions. R. Pesch, Das Markusevangelium, Part I, Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament (Freiburg: Herder, 1976), pp. 202-209, Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to Mark, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1966), p. 229, says, “The narrative appears to have been constructed ad hoc on the basis of existing tradition”; D. E. Ninehan, Saint Mark (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1963), p. 116. In its exegesis the Vatican Dcclaration does not always seem aware of the different levels of the traditions about Jesus as they are described in the 1964 Instruction (supra, n. 5).

22. Fuller, op. cit., p. 2.

23. R. E. Brown, “Roles of Women in the Fourth Gospel,” Theological Studies, Vol. XXXVI (Dec., 1975), pp. 688-700 (also in Women New Dimensions, pp. 112-124). Brown is a member of the Biblical Commission.

24. For a more extended critique of this distinction see, J. R. Donahue, “Women, Priesthood and the Vatican,” America, Vol. CXXXVI (April 2 1977), pp. 286-287.

25. “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation,” in The Documents of Vatican II , ed.Walter Abbott (New York: Herder and Herder, 1966), par. 12. In his commentary on this section Alois Grillmeir notes that “the determinata adiuncta. the particular circumstances, the situation from which the sacred writer speaks or in which the text has grown," must be the starting point of exegesis, “and he further notes: ”This must all be established by historical critical methods. Divino aff1ante firmly urged this." Commentary On The Documents Of Vatican II, ed. H. Vorgrimler (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), Vol. III, p. 221.

26. The understanding of the relation of theology to the Magisterium which seems to be at work in the Declaration is that expressed in the 1950 encyclical of Pius XII, Humani Generis: "It is also true that theologians must always go back to the sources of divine revelation; for it pertains to their office to show how (qua ratione) the teachings of the living Magisterium are contained, either explicitly or implicitly, in the Sacred Scriptures and divine Tradition." No. 21, in The Encyclical “Humani Generis” trans. A. C. Cotter (Weston, Mass: Weston College Press, 1952), also in Denzinger-Schönmetzer, Enchridion Symbolorum (Freiburg: Herder, 1962), No. 3886.

27. For recent New Testament studies see the surveys by, A. Lemaire, “The Ministries in the New Testament,” Biblical Theology Bulletin, Vol. III (1973), pp. 133-166; and R. Schnackenburg, “Apostolicity: the Present Position of Studies,” One Christ, Vol. VI (1970), pp. 243-273.

28. See Anne Carr, “The Church in Process: Engendering the Future,” in Women and Catholic Priesthood, pp. 66-88.

29. McCormick, op. cit., p. 99, writes: “Finally—and this is delicate— something must be done to liberate Roman congregations from a single theological language and perspective.... More radically, one can wonder whether congregations as such should be involved in doing theology.” The Declaration on Women, published after McCormick wrote these words, confrms his view.

Contents of “Women Priests” book Support our campaign Sitemap Contemporary theologians Join Campaign activities Go back to home page

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.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.

Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.

The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.

Join our Women Priests' Mailing List
for occasional newsletters:
An email will be immediately sent to you
requesting your confirmation.