SEXISM AND CHURCH LAW
Equal Rights and Affirmative Action
edited by James A. Coriden
published by PAULIST PRESS New York/Ramsey, N.J./Toronto, 1977
Republished on our website with the necessary permissions
|THE JURIDICAL STATUS OF WOMEN IN
CONTEMPORARY ECCLESIAL LAW
by Francis Morrisey, OMI
|WOMEN IN RELATION TO ORDERS AND
by Katherine Meagher, S.C.
|CHANGING FORMS OF MINISTRY IN THE
by Hamilton Hess
|TRADITION, HERMENEUTICS AND
by Francine Cardman
|WOMEN IN VATICAN DOCUMENTS 1960 TO
by Nadine Foley, O.P.
|FULL PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN
THE LIFE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
by Edward J Kilmartin, S.J.
by Edward J Kilmartin, S.J..
|AN AGENDA FOR DIALOGUE BETWEEN
CATHOLIC FEMINISTS AND CHURCH AUTHORITIES
by John T Finnegan
|CONSENSUS STATEMENT FROM THE
SYMPOSIUM ON WOMEN AND CHURCH LAW
|APPENDIX 1 Biblical Commission
Report Can Women be Priests?
|APPENDIX 11 Declaration on the
Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood.
|NOTES ON THE CONTRIBUTORS||191|
Women's struggle for equal rights is one of the most significant social movements of the 20th Century. The eventual extent of its success is hard to predict and its impact on our society has yet to be measured. However, anyone committed to the cause of human freedom and dignity cannot but rejoice at the progress achieved thus far.
Inevitably the demand of women for equal and equitable treatment in the areas of political life, employment opportunities, family, social structures, and sports had to be raised in the community of faith as well. The Church has been challenged to reflect and respond. Much has been written recently about women in biblical literature, in the history of the Christian churches, and in theology, especially the ordination question. A wealth of serious scholarship is now available; this study adds to it and carries the issue into the life and structures of today's Church.
The chapters in this book are concerned with the practical equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church. That is, they treat of what the law allows and how women are actually regarded as members and ministers. Where did Church laws which discriminate against women come from, and why are they still with us? Precisely which laws need to be changed, and how can that be accomplished? Although the authors approach the question of women's situation in the Church from a variety of scientific backgrounds, personal experiences, and points of view, they are focused on the Church's discipline and life. They recommend specific changes in law and practice.
Francis Morrisey provides an overview of the present law of the Church and woman's place in it. He adds those changes which have been proposed for the revision of canon law, and suggests some elements necessary for women's genuine equality before the law.
Katherine Meagher examines the specific underlying issue of women in relationship to the twin "powers" of Orders and jurisdiction. After an historical exploration she reviews the reasons for the exclusion of women from priesthood, and then presents new perspectives and modifications since the Second Vatican Council.
The changes in forms of ministry which took place in the critical and pivotal fourth century are presented in the chapter by Hamilton Hess. The structure, styles, and theories of ministry which exclude women from equal roles which were developed then remain with us to a large extent.
The theological senses of "tradition" and its mutability are explored by Francine Cardman. She discusses the restoration of meaning which might be accomplished in the faith community by the ordination of women.
Nadine Foley scrutinizes the major statements which have emanated from the Holy See in recent years and analyzes them for the notion of "woman" which they contain. She compares that vision with other contemporary insights and raises both serious questions and hopeful signs for the Church of the future.
Edward Kilmartin studies the participation of women in the fife of the Church, and the ecumenical implications of changes in the legal status of women. He also reviews the theological arguments for excluding women from sacramental ministry and speculates on the possibilities for change.
John Finnegan writes of the spectrum of present positions from the staunchest feminist to the entrenched clericalist and suggests some strategies for realistic progress.
The chapters of this book were originally composed for a symposium on "Women and Church Law" sponsored by the Canon Law Society of America and Rosemont College, and held on the campus of the college on October 9-11, 1976. After reflecting on the authors' presentations, the symposium participants entered into animated discussions. They then formulated a set of observations, conclusions, and recommendations which form the "Consensus Statement" in this book. The suggestions directed to the Canon Law Society were adopted by the Society's members who met in their annual convention in Philadelphia, October 11-14, 1976. After the symposium the authors of the chapters then made some modifications of their own work for this publication.
This book and the interdisciplinary meeting from which it emanated take their place as the most recent in a series of scholarly investigations of issues vital to the renewal of Church law sponsored by the Canon Law Society of America.* This one was initiated by the Society's Committee on the Status of Women (Lucy Vasquez, O.P., Judy Barnhiser, O.S.U., Elizabeth Carroll, R.S.M., Doris Gottemoeller, R.S.M., Harmon Skillin) which reported to the national convention of the Society in October, 1975. At that meeting the membership authorized the proposed symposium. Bertram Griffin, the President of the Society in 1975-76 and Donald Heintschel, the Executive Coordinator, fostered and encouraged the project. It was my privilege to make arrangements for and to chair the symposium.
Ann Durst, S.H.C.J., President of Rosemont College, graciously provided the hospitality and fine facilities of that beautiful College for the symposium as well as co-sponsorship of the event, Mary Popit, S.H.C.J. and her co-workers in campus ministry at Rosemont coordinated the practical and liturgical arrangements and helped to make the encounter a pleasure as well as an enrichment for the participants.
Two recent documents of exceptional importance and relevance to the subject of this book have recently appeared and are appended to this volume: (1) a report from the Pontifical Biblical Commission on the New Testament evidence for women's place in the ministry of the Church, and (2) a Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (October 15, 1976) from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Even though this latter declaration was released after our symposium, it is reprinted here for the reader's convenience. L. Mason Knox of Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, an Episcopal priest and canonical scholar, is responsible for the index of this book.
It is my strong hope that this study of women's status in the Church will contribute to the ongoing reform of canon law. Women must be permitted full equality as members of the Church, and they should be welcomed as full partners in every level of the Church's ministry. In terms of their rights, such equal treatment is. only just; in terms of pastoral effectiveness, it is a critical need.
To eliminate sexist discrimination in the Church's law and life will not be easy or uncomplicated; it will require enthusiastic and persistent affirmative action. But the "signs of the times" in the world around us seem to indicate that it is the will and work of the Lord. And the benefits for the community of faith and its ministry for Christian mission and witness will be simply incalculable. If women enter fully into the leadership of the Church, and if they bring a fresh view and a creative vigor, it will cause a major and much-needed renewal. May the Spirit of God lead and guide us in this reform.
James A. Coriden
*The previous studies have been published as follows: Law for Liberty: The Role of Law in the Church Today, ed. James Biechler (Baltimore: Helicon, 1967); We, The People of God . . . : A Study of Constitutional Government for the Church, ed. James Coriden (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1968); The Bond of Marriage: An Ecumenical and Interdisciplinary Study, ed. William Bassett (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968); The Case for Freedom: Human Rights in the Church, ed. James Coriden (Washington; Corpus, 1969); The Once and Future Church: A Communion of Freedom, ed. James Coriden (New York: Alba House, 1971); Who Decides for the Church? Studies in Co-Responsibility ed. James Coriden (Hartford; Canon Law Society, 1971).
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