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Theological Speculation (Ratio Theologica) from 'Women Priests in the Catholic Church?' by Haye van der Meer

Theological Speculation (Ratio Theologica)

Women Priests in the Catholic Church?
by Haye van der Meer, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1973, pp. 106-156.
Republished on our website with the necessary permissions

It is striking that the Fathers undertook no real speculations on their thesis. They simply appealed to the fact that Jesus and the apostles commissioned no women. Or they referred to the Pauline texts. That is not speculative at all. Only where they appealed to the inferior status of woman did reflection emerge. In this of course they presupposed that the priest is a superior.

The actual basis for their thesis is thus the conviction that woman cannot have any leadership role — have no jurisdiction, we would say — and it is completely obvious to them that woman may not have this in either the religious or the secular area. The texts which we have cited from Augustine, Lactantius, and Chrysostom might be compared.

1. The Power of Jurisdiction

The same thing is true of Thomas, who attempts to give a genuine “ratio theologica.” He does not appeal to the cultic, hallowing aspect of the priesthood (the sanctificare or sacrificare function), which becomes more prominent in latter times because the inability of women to rule is no longer so convincing, but exclusively to the aspect of the magisterium and of rule. His argumentation goes:

For since a sacrament is a sign, not only the thing but the signification of the thing is required in all sacramental actions; thus it was stated above (q. 32, a. 2) that in Extreme Unction it is necessary to have a sick man, in order to signify the need of healing. Accordingly, since it is not possible in the female sex to signify eminence of degree, for a woman is in the state of subjection, it follows that she cannot receive the sacrament of Orders.(1)

Thomas is concerned merely with the eminentia gradus in the area of sign, not with eminentia, which should not be defined. To the objection that there were women prophesying in the Old Testament (Hulda in 4 Kings 22, 14) and that the “prophetic office” is superior to that of the priest, from which it could be concluded that a woman could also be a priest, he did not respond by disputing the superiority of the prophetic office (which we, fortunately or unfortunately, are perhaps inclined to do) or by saying (like Gratian) that such a thing could happen only in the Old Testament and not in the New, which is more perfect. Prophesying is no sacrament, but a “gift from God,” and therefore “no external designation” is demanded for it, but only the thing itself. Then Thomas continues:

And since in matters pertaining to the soul woman does not differ from man as to the thing (for sometimes a woman is found to be better than many men as regards the soul) it follows that she can receive the gift of prophecy and the like, but not the sacrament of Orders.(2)

As we see, Thomas thus came to a logical development and systematization of various data from Patristic times. “In those things which pertain to the soul” woman is not different from man. Another passage states explicitly that woman too is created “in the image of God,” that is, “in reference to the spiritual nature”; although the male is the “image of God” in another respect where the woman is not, inasmuch as the man is the “origin and goal” of the woman, just as God is the origin and goal of the entire universe.(3) It is also explicitly said that woman “in reference to the soul” can be better than many men. We will see later that Thomas believed that woman “in reference to the body” was in no way of equal value to the man, but far inferior. Perhaps he was of the opinion that a woman, on the level of “symbol,” could not exhibit an “eminence of degree.” Thomas does indeed seem somehow to have grasped that the entire woman is woman, for he applies the contrast of the sexes to the person:

The genus masculine refers to the hypostasis or person, whereas the genus neuter refers to the nature.(4)

But Thomas expresses no opinion on why woman can be a superior in the secular area but not in the religious. For to the objection that Deborah of the Old Testament was a judge he responded:

Deborah exercised secular offices, not priestly, just as today women can exercise worldly power [possunt mulieres temporaliter dominari].(5)

And he does not explain in any more detail just what constitutes the difference between secular and sacerdotal jurisdiction and why this distinction leads to specific conclusions denying spiritual jurisdiction to a woman. That however seems to be a very important question. For worldly office too demands an “eminence of degree on the level of symbol.” Inasmuch as Thomas did not give an answer to this, his proof is very imperfect. According to Thomas himself woman even in the secular area is in the state of subjection! In fact, he says very generally: “The reason why [women] are in a subordinate and not a commanding position is because they lack sufficient reason, which a leader above all needs.” (6) Manser believes that Thomas logically would have had to say that woman is unqualified for office in the secular area: “Even if Thomas in the above-mentioned passages speaks only of public-ecclesiastical offices and positions, it is nevertheless clear to everyone that the reasons which he adduces speak against any civil equivalence of woman with man.” (7) In another passage Manser himself believes that Switzerland’s denial of woman’s suffrage is the “most reasonable” position.(8) Thus Manser resolves the contradiction by removing jurisdiction in temporal things. Professor Trooster of Maastricht permits the contradiction to remain, for he believes that it is the peculiar essential function of the man to be the head in the kingdom of God.(9) But it seems to us that we must really ask him why he believes that the function of the male is something other in the kingdom of God than it is in the secular area. The difficulty arises of itself in its most basic form: May the kingdom of God be compared to any other kingdom as if it were a kingdom of sin? In other words, are the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world really so distinct from another that a completely different law prevails?

This is not the place to develop a complete overview of Thomistic teaching on woman. But one thing is certainly clear: in some respects Thomas has not proceeded beyond the views of the Fathers in reference to woman. For him, as for Augustine,

It was necessary for woman to be made, as the Scripture says, not as a helpmate in other works than generation as some say, since man can be more efficiently helped by another man in other works; but as a helper in the work of generation.(10)

Manser asserts that it is incorrect to say “woman according to Thomas existed only for breeding,” for elsewhere Thomas says:

The human male and female are united, not only for generation, as with other animals, but also for the purpose of domestic life, in which each has his or her particular duty.(11)

But Manser is correct only insofar as these “other works,” namely the education of children, are not precisely the same as breeding. But when Thomas says woman is the most frequent (not the best!) teacher of children,(12) he has not said anything essentially new. The question was whether Thomas had an understanding of other female tasks which are not immediately connected with childbearing. He certainly did not have, or express, such an understanding.

Anyone who so narrows the working scope of woman a priori must naturally answer with an unhesitating “yes” the question “Is being a woman an impediment to the reception of ordination?” Such a person believes men will be able to work much better together. In the area of sacerdotal tasks they need no help from women. Women are not created for this: “Not as help for other work, but as help in the work of generation.”

That Thomas saw the “impediment of womanhood” merely in the priestly power of jurisdiction and not in the power of sanctification can be concluded from, among other things, the argument that he draws up to demonstrate that a woman can baptize validly. For the argument is not valid merely for baptism; it has a universal validity for all sacraments. In the article “Can a woman baptize?” he gives as the third objection:

In the spiritual regeneration water seems to hold the place of the mother’s womb. . . . But he who baptizes seems to hold rather the position of father, which is unfitting for a woman. Therefore a woman cannot baptize.

He responds to this in the body of the article, “It ought to be said that Christ is the chief baptizer.” And, thirdly:

In carnal generation male and female cooperate according to the power of their proper nature; wherefore the female cannot be the active, but only the passive principle of generation.

But in spiritual generation they do not act, either of them, by their proper power, but only instrumentally by the power of Christ. Consequently, on the same grounds either man or woman can baptize in a case of urgency.(13)

If it is thus true that woman is not insufficient in the area of salvation in which the human acts “instrumentally by the power of Christ,” because her nature does not act in its own power, then the question arises so much the more urgently why spiritual jurisdiction in the area of salvation does not belong to woman when after all secular jurisdiction is not denied her.

In the question of tie validity of the Thomistic argumentation the question again emerges whether, perhaps, when he excludes woman from the sacerdotal office, he is speaking of another subject than we are when we speak of women.

Woman is indeed, for him, “something deficient and accidental.” (14) For a precise interpretation of this expression see the two articles by A. Mitterer.(15) According to the intention of the “universal nature,” which is dependent upon God, woman is not something which has miscarried, but she is such according to the intention of “individual nature,” for the inner aim of the individual act of procreation of the male is precisely to beget one “similar to himself.”

Who among us could still subscribe to such an idea! Or the idea that woman is here only for procreation! Or that she merely supplies the matter for the procreation of a new living being, nothing more than the earth for the seed! Woman is more than a field for the seed of the male in which (as in the seed kernels) the entire new being is already contained. From his false biological presuppositions on man and woman, and especially on the actual roles of the man and the woman in the act of procreation, Thomas arrived at a false understanding of the value of woman: a qualitative inferiority of woman, Mitterer correctly puts it, on account of genetic and functional inferiority.(16) A few texts may suffice.

Woman naturally is less in virtue and dignity than the male, for it is always more honorable to be active than to be passive.


The discretionary power of reason naturally abounds more in man.(17)


The male is more perfect in reason and stronger in virtue.(18)


Women commonly are not perfect enough in wisdom that public teaching can be entrusted to them.(19)

And still worse:

Women have only a mediate contact with Christ: only the nuns know him immediately.

Woman is not immediately subordinate to God, but rather is subordinate to a man who is subordinate to God.(20)

The masculine sex is nobilior than the feminine, which is ignobilior and vilior.(21) Woman is less able to resist temptation.(22) The father is better suited for education, because he can instruct better with his understanding and can punish better with his bodily strength.(23)

Who can still agree with all this? At the very least a better proof is necessary. Nussbaumer does in fact assert that this agrees with the data of modern psychology;(24) but without giving evidence, that is not sufficient.

The Thomistic argument proceeds from the idea that woman does not possess “eminence of degree”; therefore it is to be concluded that the male does possess such eminence in order to be able to be a priest. We have just asked whether woman is still the same as in the time of Thomas. Perhaps it must also be asked whether the male has remained the same. Does he in our society still have the same “eminence of degree” which he had in Thomas’s time? Much of what the man earlier was and produced is now no longer performed by him as man in his roles of husband or of father, but by the authorities, by the community — by a female type, that is. In a primitive society it is the man’s job to protect against robbers and murderers; now this is done by the police, who of course are males but who act as an official authority, a group. In any case, the head of the family as such does not do it. He cannot. Likewise with sustenance; in the patriarchal period the father provided everything his own family needed; now, at most, he provides the money. Insurance provides our security in sickness; the man of course has paid for that himself, but it is no longer “on the level of a symbol”! On the level of a symbol, not he but the insurance company has “eminence of degree.” His knowledge and his experience do not offer enough to the children; if they are to go through life well equipped, they need the school. His wife does the same work as he, or at least she could do it in the great majority of the masculine professions. And in the city he does not secure a home at all; that is done by the city offices for assigning homes or by other agents. “From matriarchy through patriarchy to bureaucracy,” goes the formula.(25) The man is no longer leader, ruler, health bringer, etc., in the same measure as was earlier the case. Where he is still such, or attempts to be, or alleges himself to be, he becomes a distortion of this positively-valued title: he becomes a tyrant, and so on. The man is no longer so clearly the type of Christ. The community has become that. The farmer, large or small, was as a matter of fact the head. The contemporary factory worker or office employee is a number. And in government it is no longer the prince who rules but the majority of the ballots. Has the male remained the same? (26)

a. The Secular Jurisdiction of Women

When Thomas said, “The corruption of urbanity appears when a woman attains dominion,”(27) he speaks of course in an Aristotelian, even a Patristic, manner, but he is not completely convincing. In the section which includes the words quoted above, he brings forth two arguments why abbesses could possess neither the “key of orders” nor the “key of jurisdiction.” First, because according to Paul woman is “in the state of subjection” and therefore can have no spiritual power; second, because it is a “corruption of urbanity,” etc. We have already discussed, in chapter II, the relativity of Paul’s arguments. The second argument is likewise unconvincing. It is noticeable that, unlike Augustine, Thomas does not speak of the “unhappy home”; he talks not merely of the family but of “urbanity.” Although Thomas elsewhere never mentions urbanity as a virtue (if we may trust the most important lexicons and indices of Thomas’s writings), one may nevertheless conclude from a passage in which urbanus appears (28) that this virtue has reference not to the household but to civic life. If Thomas too had said only “unhappy home,” one might have left it at that.

In this book it is not my intention to question the leadership role of the man in the family.(29) Papal statements, as for example that of Pius XI in the encyclical Casti connubii, are too clear for that.(30) Perhaps something more nuanced would be in order here, but that is not my present task. Thus, I shall also not touch the question of whether the man is head of his wife inasmuch as she too is a member of the family; nor am I discussing the question of whether the man is head of his wife insofar as she is a separate, free person who, although a member of the family, transcends this member-of-the-family existence. I am speaking only of the question of whether the man always and everywhere and under all conditions is the head of every woman — in other words, whether the man, merely because of his membership in the male sex, is the head of every woman, even if she is not his wife or if she is not married at all or does not wish to be. If this question should be answered in the positive, we could speak, with Thomas and Aristotle, of “corruption of urbanity” — but must this question really be answered in the positive? I believe that today this problem must not be presumed already long solved, as it was in earlier times. Thomas’s understanding of woman appears to me too questionable. It cannot be seriously asserted that the phenomenon of a contemporary female minister of state is a “corruption of urbanity.”

There is, moreover, a real question of how Thomas was able to say this when in other passages he recognizes that “women are able to rule in temporal matters.” In this recognition of the secular jurisdiction of woman he is completely traditional. The Church has never rejected ruling princesses on the basis of their womanhood, neither in Byzantium nor in the West. Innocent III issued an explanation on the matter in the year 1202, as can be gathered clearly, if somewhat laboriously, from the wording of the Bull. It concerns a statement of arbitration of a French queen in a dispute between Cistercian monks and Hospitalers. One of the parties did not wish to hold to the statement. The pope wrote to the “Chancellor and Teacher Lotharius, Canon of Paris”:

Although according to the rule of civil law women are excluded from such kinds of public functions, and although it states elsewhere that they — even if they enjoy a good reputation and are of good behavior, if they have taken on judicial activity, or if as rulers they have settled disputes between their freemen — are to be restrained from any judicial investigation so that no punishment at all against their justified contemners occurs from their allegations and also no exception is made from the contract; because alongside the recognized custom which is considered law, in parts of France — as is known — such distinguished women exercise the regular power of jurisdiction over their underlings, we through apostolic writing leave it to your decision how far you admonish and instruct the above-mentioned Hospitalarii, that they observe the arbitration — particularly because it was empowered in the presence of and through the concurrence of the bishops, as it also was made carefully without any irregularity and freely accepted by both sides — and moreover, should it be necessary, to secure with it the punishment established in the contract, under exclusion of appeal.(31)

One notices that the Pope looked upon the presence and assent of the bishops as a happy coincidence, but not as essential for the validity of the arbitrational dictum of the queen, for he says only “especially”; and he accepts the jurisdiction of the queen as “regular.” Herewith the Pope decided that a woman can have jurisdiction over men in the secular area, even over monks and priests and over their abbot.

The Church has also always recognized secular princesses. The current Pontificale Romanum has a proper consecration for a reigning queen which is not the same as the consecration of a queen who is the consort of the reigning king;(32) the consecration and coronation of the queen ut regni dominae is to a great extent like that of a king. Thus, for example, the prayer at the moment of crowning:

Know well that by this crown you partake of our [the bishops’] service [particem ministerii nostri]. As we are considered shepherds and guides of souls in the spiritual area, so also should you in the secular area stand forth as a true worshiper of God and a resolute defender of God’s Church against all calamities.

The queen thus is “particeps ministerii episcoporum.”

Earlier the queen consort was anointed on the breast. In this way God’s blessing was imprinted in advance upon the future successor to the throne under his mothers heart.(33) The royal consort was thus seen primarily as mother of the successor to the throne — corresponding completely to the common understanding of woman: she exists only for generatio; she is something only inasmuch as she is a mother. But the Church too has progressed beyond this understanding; it knows that a woman can also be more. One would be almost inclined to think: where it is required and made possible by external circumstances, the Church immediately, without further consideration, granted woman much more than in other cases; here it became conscious of what it had always known, that woman can be completely equal to man. The Church points out that not only the king but also the reigning queen can possess the function of a representative of God: “. . . with our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ whose name and whose place is confided to you to bear . . .” And the queen is also mediator, specifically between clergy and people. The “Mediator between God and man” makes her a mediator between clergy and people.

Certainly neither king nor queen is a priest, a favorite thought of the eleventh-century reformers. But it is important that according to the Pontificale a woman can be the people’s mediator. I shall enlarge on this theme later.

In all this we must remember that we are not concerned here with “things,” with the sphere of res: we are working here in the sphere of significatio.

b. Have There Been Women with Spiritual Jurisdiction?

The actual progression beyond the traditional concepts of woman by the Church itself is still clearer when we see how much some abbesses were able to do without ecclesiastical objection. Authors speak of course of a quasi-episcopal power, “a sort of jurisdiction,” (34) or they designate everything done by the abbess as “dominativa power,” qualify her appointments and acts of jurisdiction as “designation of a person.” But that cannot really correspond exactly to the way things were, because there is proof that the actual faculties of the abbesses lacked nothing which would have made the jurisdiction incomplete. There was nothing at all lacking. Thus one is forced to speak of a quasi-jurisdiction only if it is presupposed that a woman can have no jurisdiction. If the facts are taken soberly, it must be said simply: the abbesses had spiritual jurisdiction. If writers believe that in the light of these facts they must nevertheless still speak only in terms of, “as if it were a jurisdiction,” it must be asked how these writers wish to define the concept “jurisdiction” in general. Their definition can only be: jurisdiction is that which woman cannot possess.

It is not the intention of this book to treat all those cases which could prove that women have had jurisdiction. For our purpose it is sufficient to focus on a few characteristic cases.(35)

A very clear case is that of the abbess of Quedlinburg, which is also important because Pope Honorius III confirmed the faculties of the abbess vis-a-vis the clerics who attempted to evade it. Even earlier the foundation was withdrawn from all episcopal jurisdiction and made immediately papal. In the year 1212 the abbess complained to the Pope that the canonesses and clerics subject to her jurisdiction whom she had suspended did not accept the suspension on the grounds that the abbess was not able to excommunicate them. The Pope responded:

Our daughter beloved in the Lord, the Abbess of Bubrigen [Friedberg says in a footnote that this should be read as Quedlinburg in the diocese of Halberstadt] has set forth the following in a petition sent to us: Sometimes when she suspends her canonesses and the clerics who are subject to her jurisdiction [clericos suae iurisdictioni subiectes], because of disobedience and other lapses, from their office and benefice, they do not observe a suspension of this sort because they are strongly convinced that she cannot excommunicate; hence, their excesses remain uncorrected. So that the said canonesses and clerics show obedience and respect to the above named abbess and obey her good admonitions, we consign therefore to your discrimination to what extent you — according to previous admonition — wish to inflict on them ecclesiastical censure under exclusion of appeal.

The text was included in the decretals of Gregory IX.(36) Even if it is not said that the abbess herself could excommunicate — the abbot to whom the letter is directed should inflict the censure — the clerics are nevertheless to observe the suspension pronounced by the abbess.

It should not immediately be assumed that this is a genuine suspension or censure. It could also signify a withdrawal of the receipt of benefices or a forbidding of celebration — punishments, that is, which are part of the potestas dominativa—but in any case, the words of the Pope are quite obvious: “Clerics subject to her jurisdiction.” The Pope thus has less difficulty with the corruptio urbanitatis than do Thomas and the Fathers. L. Hanser sees here an example of the cases where an abbess was an Abbatissa nullius.(37)

Pope Honorius III recognized female power over spiritual matters on still another occasion. In a letter he calls the “Abbess of Iotrens” simply “Head and mistress” of “priests and clerics” of the church there.(38)

Male canons who belonged to foundations of canonesses had to take a special oath of obedience to the abbess.(39) The abbess had the entire exterior and interior direction and administration of the congregation under her. She had to bestow all prebends, churches, benefices, offices, and canonicates in her church.(40) From the bull of Nicholas V (in the middle of the fifteenth century) to the foundation of Gandersheim it follows that the abbess had an “ordinary authority” in addition.(41) In the fifteenth century the abbess of Vreeden had to warn, suspend, or dismiss and discharge completely the male members of the foundation whenever they were negligent.(42) It is known that the abbess of St. Cecilia’s in Cologne had jurisdiction and power of suspension over the canons.(43) She did have to be represented by a canon, called the abbess’s chaplain, in cases of spiritual jurisdiction over men as well as in other formalities.(44) This fact seems to contradict our thesis on the possibility of female jurisdiction, but it should be noted that the canon was only her representative. The abbess’s chaplain had to sit in judgment in the name of the abbess.(45)

The abbess of the Herford foundation appointed the entire clergy, the priests belonging to the cathedral church, the rectors of the independent chapels in the city, and so on. Herford was an abbey nullius. In the entire Middle Ages we know of no case in which the bishop by virtue of his right undertook any kind of official action in the area of this city. Hadrian IV, in the middle of the twelfth century, had renewed the older stipulations and declared the foundation free of any episcopal jurisdiction:

We forbid that in the said monastery any bishop outside the Roman pontiff exercise jurisdiction, and indeed in the sense that he never — unless he will be so invited by the abbess — may presume to celebrate solemn Masses there.(46)

That is exactly the opposite of contemporary canon law:

The local bishop must himself or through a representative visit the individual cloisters of nuns every five years which are subject to him or immediately to the Apostolic See. [can. 512, par. 1]

The “Lady of Herford” is designated as the Herford “ordinary.” This was acknowledged by Paul III in a letter of 5 July 1549, which said in reference to the city:

. . . nevertheless the abbess’s right as proper judge to pronounce due penalties remains undisputed.(47)

Among monastic abbesses too there were similar cases. The most famous example is that of the abbess of the Cistercian monastery of Conversano, who has entered literature as the “monstrosity of Apulia.” (48) After 1266 she was the successor of a Cistercian abbot who was abbot nullius. Her district was but small; nevertheless she appointed the priests for the service of her convent church and for the churches of the city belonging to the convent. On 19 July 1709 she procured a judgment by the Holy See against the clergy of the city, by which her legal prerogatives were confirmed: (49) she named the vicar-general, who ruled the area belonging to the abbey — in her name! The honors which must be offered to every newly consecrated abbess by the clergy were modified by the conciliar congregation in the above-mentioned judgment, but were in no way rejected as monstrous. Earlier the clergy had to betake themselves to the abbey in their choir robes; and while the abbess with miter and crozier sat under a baldachino in front of the outer monastery door, each individual member of the clergy had to file before the abbess, throw himself on his knees before her, and kiss her hand. The judgment supported the prescribed honors but changed a few details. The miter and crozier were first of all laid on a credence alongside the abbess, and the kissing of the hand no longer took place on the bare hand of the abbess but on the gloved hand or on the stole (!) of the abbess. Instead of throwing themselves on their knees before the abbess, the clergy could be satisfied with a mere bow.(50)

When the last abbess nullius of Conversano died in 1809, her territory was transferred to the bishop of Conversano. The government of Naples had already incorporated her district into that diocese in 1806, but it was canonically confirmed by Pius VII only in 1818(51) — itself a sign that Rome was not discontent with an abbess nullius.

There are others who had great power of jurisdiction — the abbesses of Fontevrault in France and of Essen in Germany, and an abbess in the republic of Lucca in Italy; the last was even called episcopa as a result of her extensive jurisdiction.(52) And according to Hallier the abbess of Fontevrault had “spiritual jurisdiction.”(53)

A further case is that of the abbess of the Cistercian nuns of Las Huelgas near Burgos.(54) In the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique her own official “protocol” is quoted. We read there;

Lady, superior, prelate, legitimate administrator of the spiritual and temporal matters of the said royal monastery . . . as well as the convents, churches, hermitages affiliated with it, and the villages and places of its jurisdiction, manors and vassalages, in virtue of the apostolic bull and concessions with a jurisdiction that is plenary, privative, quasi-episcopal, nullius diocesis and with royal privileges: a double jurisdiction which we exercise in peaceful possession, as is publicly well known.


The power to act judicially, just as the lord bishops, in criminal, civil and beneficial cases, to grant dimissorial letters for ordination, faculties to preach, confess, exercise the care of souls, enter into religion, the power to confirm abbesses, to issue censures . . . and finally to convoke a synod.(55)

Of course, if it were absolutely necessary, especially in the granting of the faculties for confession by the abbess, one could speak of a mere “designation of person” and mean that the actual jurisdiction came from the Holy See, as the Dictionnaire does.(56) But in our opinion this is to construct a completely artificial solution after the fact, based only on the conviction that a woman can have no jurisdiction. The facts do not suggest such a construction; on the contrary. Only if it were clearly demonstrated elsewhere that “by divine law” a woman can have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction would such a concept be necessary as an emergency solution to explain a few minor, difficult cases. It certainly cannot be said: “A woman can have no jurisdiction, for look: even among the powerful abbesses there was only a ‘designation of person’ involved.” Even to someone who examines the matter very carefully it is not clear why one should speak here merely of a “designation of person.” Even Krebs must admit that appointments by the abbesses were not merely a matter of the abbess’s right of patronage (although in other respects he sees the Pope as the actual bearer of jurisdiction in the case of the abbess nullius).(57)

Of course it becomes very difficult to discover why and to what extent these abbesses have lacked “eminence of degree on the level of symbol,”

With all these examples before our eyes — especially those of Las Huelgas and Herford— it is no longer possible to speak of Conversano as a “monstrosity.” Baronius, who coined the expression, probably knew only this one case and thus considered it a unique deformity.(58) But the cases, as we have seen, are not so few. So there can be no talk of a monstrosity; on the contrary, it must be simply accepted as a fact that women can have spiritual jurisdiction in the Church. As we saw, the abbesses were not only tolerated by Rome but were, in so many words, confirmed in their status.

Even the consecration formula for monastic abbesses is indicative. It includes a number of things reminiscent of the consecration of bishops and abbots. There are expressions like: “to govern the church” or “to govern and rule your church” (in the prayer cunctorum and in the Preface). “These words are quite strong,” says Puniet.(59) Or: “Receive the complete, unlimited fullness of power to rule this monastery” (at the enthronement). Earlier, and even now in a few places, the abbess received the crozier.(60) Even the double monasteries which stood under the guidance of the abbesses present the same image,(61) especially in the early Middle Ages (seventh to ninth centuries) in France; later in England. In Germany, however, it was the abbot who was the head of the double monastery.

The double orders are interesting. In the order of Fontevrault, founded in the twelfth century, the abbess was the general superior of the entire order. The founder, Robert of Arbrissel (c. 1177), appealed to John 19, 27: “Behold your mother.” The order was sanctioned by Pope Paschasius II in 1106 and 1112. It was suspended only in 1790.(62) The abbess undertook the visitations, exercised penal jurisdiction even over the men, appointed the vicars-general in spiritual matters.(63) These vicars thus existed not for jurisdiction but for the power of ordination.

In other double orders the abbesses had in fact no more than a mere “dominative power.” The Gilbertines were directed by a man.(64) The Brigittines stood under the direction of the local bishops.(65) But even St. Brigit referred to Mary as the head of the apostles after the resurrection. This argument thus is interesting because it says exactly the opposite of what we saw earlier in other passages: women cannot baptize, etc., because even Mary did not do that, or as Innocent III formulated it:

Although the most holy virgin Mary stood above and was also more excellent than all the apostles together, the Lord still did not confide to her but to them the keys of the kingdom of heaven. [See below at note 76.]

We return to Thomas’s argument. As we have seen, his argument concerning the validity of the dispensing of baptism by a woman, if it is a valid proof at all, is a proof against the dispensing of any of the sacraments by a woman. As a matter of fact, he does not prove even from this angle the impossibility of a female priesthood. It is not the power of sanctifying that is his basis for declaring that a woman cannot be a priest. He argues from jurisdiction bound up with ordination: the woman is in “the state of subjection,” and for this reason she cannot be a priest. Now the historical facts prove that she actually does not lack this jurisdiction. There have been women who have had ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and indeed so obviously that the same people who are convinced that a woman can have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction have had to contrive the solution of “designation of person,” for in cases of “designation of person” very often those who designate give every appearance of giving jurisdiction as well — exactly like the abbesses. Thus these writers have implicitly admitted that it at least appears from without as if the abbess granted the jurisdiction.

But this makes the Thomistic demonstration very questionable: the aspect of the power of consecration offers no prospects, and the aspect of the power of jurisdiction is refuted by the facts. What remains? If the rejection of deaconesses is considered in this light, these texts (Pope Gelasius) lose at least a part of their strength. Even Gelasius cannot have held (in any case not as an authentic and infallible teacher of the Church) that a woman cannot baptize even in an emergency. In general, women were permitted much in the sacral area: emergency baptism, assistance at baptism (anointing with the holy oils), distribution of communion, wearing of the stole, singing of the gospel, etc. Only in the area of jurisdiction can stronger restraints be felt. Until the circumstances made it possible!

Even more questionable is the Thomistic proof in which we read that he himself knew that there were women who were no longer “in the state of subjection.” Bear in mind that the “state of subjection” is the middle term on his syllogism. We have already seen the text; on 1 Cor, 11, 6, “It is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off,” he writes:

It appears to be contrary to this that the nuns have their hair cut off. ... To which it can be answered, because they have taken the vow of virginity or have assumed widowhood, thus becoming betrothed to Christ, they are promoted to the dignity of men [promoventur in dignitatem virilem] whereby they are liberated from the subjection to men [libertatae a subiectione virorum] and are joined immediately to Christ.(66)

Ambrose attributes this “promotion” to faith, Jerome to the service of Christ, Thomas to vows. However that may be, these texts make comprehensible how the abbesses could have jurisdiction. As brides of Christ they were withdrawn from subordination to men. Of course Thomas himself did not draw this conclusion. For him:

Woman does not have the key of jurisdiction. . . . Rather, the use of the keys is committed to some women, for example, the need to correct subordinate women became of the danger which can threaten if men and women live together,(67)

But in his commentary on 1 Cor. 11 he went beyond his own position. He held that there was at least one group of women who were elevated “to male dignity” and “liberated from subjection to men”: the nuns.

Writers on the question have, of course, known more or less about these actual powers of office of the abbesses and have sought to clarify these facts. Thus Thomas, as we have seen, said:

She does not have the key, but a certain use of the keys was committed to her.(68)

But Suarez correctly noted in this regard:

It is difficult to explain how the use of the key is committed to someone if the key itself is not committed; for no one can use something he does not have. Likewise, the use of jurisdiction can be committed to no one, unless the jurisdiction is committed; therefore, similarly . , . etc.(69)

Because Suarez gives a good overview of the attempted solution, let us follow him. In De Censuris he presents the problem that woman is “incapable of exercising spiritual jurisdiction, which belongs to the power of the keys.” He quotes the passage from Thomas with which we began this chapter and many other commentators (the passage from Thomas in fact is in IV Sent.) He then proceeds further and says that this is “proved” from the chapter Mulierem 33, q. 5,70 where it is stated that woman can neither teach nor administer justice. But these texts, he says, do not prove much, for there are no papal decrees but only statements of Augustine (Pseudo-Augustine!) and because they seem to treat the question not of absolute capability but of propriety. For this reason it is also stated there that woman cannot be a witness nor can she make any binding pledge (even he does not agree with this!). Rather, he believes, it can better be demonstrated from the chapter De monialibus, de sent, excomm.,(71) where it is said that an abbess cannot absolve her subordinate from a censure; thus, concludes Suarez, she can much less impose a censure, if she cannot absolve from it. It is also demonstrated in the chapter Nova, from De poenit. et remiss.,(72) which discusses several sacramental acts and preaching, and thus not jurisdiction. However, Suarez believed, an argument could be drawn from this text either by analogy or because the pope concluded in the end that the keys of the kingdom were not given to women, not even to the Holy Virgin.

And this is the a priori reason for this conclusion: in truth it is fittingness, because the feminine sex is not of itself appropriate to take on spiritual functions. Whence she is permitted neither to teach nor to rule over men (1 Tim. 2), although in religious orders there is granted to the word of the abbess a certain power of ruling which is morally necessary in orders of nuns, for that cannot honestly and decently be handled by men. This power nevertheless does not extend to proper acts of the keys, but only to acts of commanding, correcting, and instructing insofar as they fit in with paternal and, as it were, domestic rule, as all of the cited authors note, especially Victoria in great detail . . . and all the authors of Summas. This is corroborated by the fact that women cannot receive orders, as we will show below; this power, however, to apply censures presumes orders or at least the first tonsure. Finally, it is consonant with civil law where it is said that women are to be kept out of public offices and therefore cannot be judges.

Because Suarez apparently sensed that this solution — which was concerned merely with a domestic power — did not suffice, he made difficulties for himself from three texts from the Canon Law, We have already quoted these texts. In his solution he notes that in the Quedlinburg case it was not a genuine censure that was involved, but merely a “prohibition or a privation, which can also be called a suspension in the broader sense.” The Pope also did not say that the censure which the abbess had imposed should be observed, but only her “precept and mandate,” and the Pope commanded the abbot to force the obstinate man with a censure — thus intimating that the suspension pronounced through the abbess was no censure.

Beyond this, Suarez does not deny that a woman can have jurisdiction. He especially does not try to argue about “temporal jurisdiction.” However, he says that the jurisdiction over clerics is never merely temporal. He implies that a woman by special law can indeed have jurisdiction over clerics (and thus spiritual jurisdiction), but never a jurisdiction so great that she can impose a censure. Indeed, he even believes that the Pope “in his absolute power” could also impart this power to women, an opinion which many other authors, such as Paludanus, Soto, Navarrus, and Ugolinus have also advocated, for that would not be “contrary to divine law.”(73) But the Church, as a matter of fact, has never gone that far “because it is not fitting.” And “if it is not directly against divine and natural law, it is nevertheless not completely compatible with them.”(74) According to Suarez, then, a woman is not excluded from spiritual jurisdiction “by divine or natural law.”

In De religione he refers to the above passages and amplifies a few. What the abbess exercises over her nuns is simply an “act of religious dominion, which derives in the real sense not from the power of the keys but from vows.” What she exercises in reference to clergy he explains according to the content of the act either as a “jurisdiction which is bound up with ecclesiastical property and which is sometimes extended to clergy, insofar as it relates to the act of making prescriptions (he means, for example, ‘that they should not celebrate Mass,’ thus a quasi-suspension) and to reprimand them; for these acts of themselves concern not spiritual but corporal matters,” or as a “designation of person” to whom the Pontiff gives jurisdiction, specifically when her acts are properly spiritual. In order to explain the “designation of person” more closely, he gives an example; “An example is the faculty of choosing a confessor by whom the penance is given.” In this way an abbess can also excommunicate, thus impose a censure, “at least through her officials.” (75)

That is, as we have already said, a paltry solution. We do not wish to reproach Suarez, for perhaps he did not know that there were so many opposing facts in this matter. But how could we today say that all this was either only “domestic power” or “designation of person”? Is it really credible that the Pope gave jurisdiction to so many persons of whom he had never heard? The theory of quasi-jurisdiction or dominative power seems to imply a dangerous juridicism which is not entirely without meaning, but which has meaning only if it is already established that a woman can never have jurisdiction or impart it. For Suarez, who was convinced that a woman cannot be a cleric (and thus a bearer of jurisdiction), that was an explanation. But if one wishes to investigate whether it is true that a woman is “in the state of subjection” in the Church, and whether the Church has at all times and in all places held and taught that, then this explanation is insignificant. It is, indeed, only an after-the-fact interpretation that can be useful if the thesis is established, which is not accomplished here by the facts themselves.

The historical facts on the question of female jurisdiction are only very seldom mentioned by our authors. One passage from the Corpus Iuris Canonici is again and again adduced, in which Innocent III prohibited abbesses from conferring the vow of virginity, hearing confessions, and singing the gospel. The other passages from the Corpus Iuris Canonici are apparently unknown to them. Although it is thus true that Innocence III forbade these three functions to abbesses, it must at least be taken into consideration that our other texts and even more the historical facts make the Thomistic thesis of the “state of subjection” of woman very questionable.

Innocent III wrote to the bishop of Burgos:

Certain novelties, about which we wonder not a little, have recently come to our ears: apparently abbesses in the dioceses of Burgos and Valencia bless their own nuns [moniales proprias benedicunt], and in matters dealing with misdeeds they also hear their nuns’ confessions, and when they read the gospel they presume to proclaim publicly. Since this is equally unseemly and absurd and can in no case be permitted by us, we commend to your discretion, by apostolic writing, to see to it that this not happen any further, to prohibit it firmly by reason of apostolic authority, for although the most blessed virgin Mary stood above and was also more excellent than all the apostles together, the Lord still did not confide to her but to them the keys of the kingdom of heaven.(76)

By the first (moniales benedicere), the vow of virginity is meant. In the course of history this usurpation of power was often protested.(77 )

The second (confessiones audire) is not attested to further. There are examples which seem similar, but doubt is cast on them. One passage in the Rule of Basil which seems to refer to it is probably speaking of the presence of the abbess at the confession of reverence.(78) The Rule of St. Donatus speaks of non-sacramental confession of guilt.(79) The same is true for the few statements from the life of St. Burgundofara.(80) Finally there is the Chapter of Charlemagne (789), which says:

It is said that, contrary to the custom of God’s holy Church, several abbesses bless men with the laying on of hands and with the sign of the cross on the head and that they also invest virgins with a priestly blessing. Know, holy Fathers, that this must be forbidden completely by you in your dioceses.(81)

As Giner Sempere proves, however, this is concerned with a mere blessing, not, as has been thought, with the laying on of hands in reconciliation.(82)

On the third point, the singing of the gospel (evangelium praedicare), we already know that it has continued to exist in the Carthusian order.

And the argument is therefore interesting because elsewhere — in an order approved by another pope — the supreme power lies with a woman, and the founders of the order appeal to the fact that Mary according to John 19, 27, was the mother of John; thus he was subject to her, just as, according to Brigit, Mary was the chief of the apostles! To conclude these paragraphs we must quote a text which I believe best gives the real background of the Thomistic proof, and in any case is a witness to the widespread attitudes toward woman of the Thomistic time. The reader must himself judge whether in the light of these attitudes it is not necessary to investigate the question of the female priesthood in another manner, and whether the argument from authority can be valid in this problem.

Guido of Baysio (“Archdeacon”) writes in his Rosarium (1298-1302):

Add: say that [woman] may not be ordained as is said above; and the reason is that ordination can be given only to full members of the Church, for it is given to bring forth grace in another. However, the woman is not a full member [perfectum membrum] of the Church, but only the man.

Here we have the same ideas as in Thomas, except that we know of no text from the latter which speaks thus of the membership of woman in the Church. Thomas does, however, speak of her membership in the state; she is, according to him, not a full citizen, but only through her husband.(83) Later on in the same Rosarium we find;

I say besides that woman has been the effective cause of damnation, because she was the source of the transgression of the commandment and Adam was deceived by her, and that she therefore could not be the effective cause of salvation, while ordination is the effect of grace in another, and thus of salvation. But woman could be the material cause of salvation. Because woman is taken from man, even a virgin must rather be in a material way a mother of salvation, and that is true: because for women their sin was the material cause of our salvation, namely the holy virgin Mary, from whom in a material way Christ our salvation proceeded, and thus Goffredus established that woman, if she were ordained, would not receive the sacramental character of orders.(84)

The only question is, from what viewpoint should such a text be read: as witness of the tradition that women cannot be ordained priests (as Giner Sempere reads it), or as an example of the land of background against which this tradition creates its concepts? This background is extremely weak if not explicitly false, on account of the integral role of the motherhood of Mary.

One would be inclined to retort: just as Christ our salvation proceeded not only materially from Mary (materialiter Christus solus nostra procedit), so also did salvation in general come not only materially from a woman. Mary’s maternity is indeed proof that salvation can also proceed effectively from a woman. Why can woman be the effective cause of nonsalvation but not an effective (instrumental) cause of salvation? Whence this discrepancy between her salvific power and her nonsalvific power? Not from original sin, for her nature is not altered thereby; in any case it is difficult to see why woman has lost her saving power through original sin and man has not. The whole idea rests on a biological misinterpretation, as Mitterer has decisively proved.

The following is still to be noted: the important later dogmatic theologians have added nothing new. It is thus superfluous to go into their theological rationale more closely. Joseph A. Wahl gives an overview of the arguments from Bonaventure, Cajetan, Dionysius the Carthusian, Durand, Scotus, De Soto, Billuart, Vasquez, and a few more.(85)

Suarez merely refers to IV Sent., dist. 25 — we already know the Thomistic commentary on this passage — and to the sentence commentaries on this passage. He adds nothing beyond this.(86) In reference to women’s serving at Mass he says:

It is in itself indecent, and not only includes danger but is against the purity and chastity of so great a sacrament.(87)

If we understand the passage correctly, he fears two things: first that woman would of herself defile the most holy sacrament, and second that still worse things would happen, perhaps that the priest and female acolyte would come to carnal desires. This second fear is known to us already from old canons; the first from the Old Testament, and it betrays an almost primitive-tabooistic understanding of menstruation, pregnancy, and so on, as though these states (just as was thought of the male involuntary nocturnal emission) (88) made a person who experienced them even very naturally, and thus without moral disqualification, unfit for the Holy and Cultic.

It would, I believe, not be entirely off the track to see in this sexual taboo the principal reason in the psychological area why the idea that a woman can also be a priest has never prevailed. But to prove it, completely new research is needed.

2. The Bridegroom

Theologians have sought other proofs besides the arguments from the lower status of woman, most especially considerations which derive from the idea that the priest, or more precisely the bishop, is the bridegroom of his bride, the congregation, or diocese, just as Christ is the bridegroom of his bride, the Church. That is the major proposition of the argument. The minor proposition adds: a woman cannot fill the role of the bridegroom on account of her sex. Thus, goes the conclusion, she cannot be a priest either, at least not a bishop.

This argument can be found, curiously enough, among Protestants too, for example, Professor Haitjema of the Calvinist theological faculty of the University of Groningen. He holds that Christ rules his Church through office.(89) The office is, of course, according to old Reformation principles, not hierarchical, but he nevertheless believes several corrections must be made. Although the source of office is the coetus fidelium, the Church is seen more and more, according to Haitjema, as the Church of the Word, as Church of the three divine institutions: Scripture, sacrament, and office. Christ rules the congregation through Spirit and Word, and in this uses the officebearer as his organ.(90) Office thus exists not only to care for Church order, which is already present through Christ in a Church which already exists; it should equally serve to build up and gather together the congregation, that it might appear as the congregation of Jesus Christ, prepared without blemish or wrinkle as the bride is adorned for her bridegroom. Therefore a woman cannot be a bearer of office. The relation of Christ and the Church is presented with an almost sacramental significance in Scripture in the symbol of marriage; and thus in office too there should be a reflection of this: the representation of Christ, the bridegroom of the congregation.(91)

This idea is brought forward by Swedish Lutheran thinkers, especially H. Riesenfeld.(92) Of course “Romanizing” attitudes are ascribed to him. In general such ideas are found only among the “high church” Protestants. For the others, Christ, who is present wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, has no need of representation.(93) This is certainly consonant with Reformation thinking. Whether in Protestantism there is nevertheless still room for a representation — perhaps even a sacramental representation — of the Lord in the Church, need not be investigated further here. Certainly, however, what Congar wrote in 1953 seems to us today to be incomplete:

Since the Protestant Reform entirely rejected the hierarchical priesthood and every properly sacerdotal title of the ministry and of the Church, forbidding women access to the ministry can only be a question of expediency.(94)

On the Catholic side of course this argument is also familiar. It is only noteworthy that it emerges in literature so late. It is found in the Middle Ages in the writings of Bonaventure:

The other levels of ordination are steps to the episcopacy insofar as one has proved himself in one’s office. But the bishop is the spouse of the Church. If then woman cannot be admitted to the episcopate, but only man — otherwise he would not be the spouse of the Church — only men can be admitted to the preceding levels of ordination as well.(95)

To our knowledge it was first developed in recent times by Engelbert Krebs in an article in Hochland. In fact he did not quote any writers who had used it before him. He argues as follows; The bishop at his episcopal consecration receives a wedding ring which pledges him as the visible vicar of the bridegroom Christ to his Church. To be a bridegroom, however, is man’s work, and thus in the office of the priest there lies a mystical connection to maleness, which makes it conceivable that Christ entrusted this male office to men once and for all.(96) Hick, in his book on woman in Paul,(97) writes in somewhat the same spirit, as does A.-M. Henry in his article “Le mystère de l’homme et de la femme,” (98) and many others.

This aspect of the problem was seldom stressed by the great theologians of the Middle Ages. In none of the classical arguments does this aspect play even the slightest role, although it was well recognized that the bishop could be seen as the bridegroom of his diocese.99 We need only remember the struggle over the election of Pope Formosus at the end of the ninth century, which was portrayed by his opponents as invalid because he had already been bishop of another diocese and thus had deserted his bride.100 In the battle against simony too there was an awareness that the bishop could be called the bridegroom of his diocese. Emperors who bestowed dioceses for money were considered procurers, fathers who gave their daughters over to prostitution.101 But in the question of female priesthood the thought of referring to this aspect arose only very rarely.

Even in recent times the idea has not found as great approbation as could be expected. Although, for example Diekamp,(102) like Lercher,(103) refers to Krebs, neither has taken over this idea, but instead something else from the same article (see section 3 of this chapter). Schmaus does not acknowledge the idea either, although he presumably used Krebs’s article, as we shall see later.

The validity of this argument seems quite questionable to me. In several writers, moreover, the proof seems to be situated not only in the argument, as we have seen it formulated in a syllogistic fashion above, but at the same time in the jurisdictional aspect. It is not always stated clearly, “Only men can be bridegrooms,” but rather, “Only men can represent Christ, insofar as Christ as the bridegroom is the head of his bride, the Church.” Then the jurisdictional aspect comes into play.

Now to get to the matter. Surely several things must be asked of the major premise: first, whether the bridegroom function of the bishop to his congregation is something which touches and expresses the essence of office or is only a metaphor, an image to express symbolically certain aspects of office without expressing the reality itself. It certainly expresses very beautifully the totality of his contribution to his diocese, the exclusivity of his love, his care, his loyalty, sacrifice, finality, solicitude etc. But is it a real symbol, presenting the essence itself? Is it the kind of image that is itself a concrete embodiment of the essence? In other words, is the bishop the bridegroom of his diocese, or can he only be compared to one? But if he actually is a bridegroom, how could he then be replaced? A real marriage is indissoluble. And although the old canons are against it,(104) the displacement of a bishop is not impossible, as the practice of the Church proves.

Pope Innocent III sensed this difficulty and rescued himself with the help of a “trick”: as God can separate a marriage, so too Christ’s vicar, the Pope, can displace bishops. It was not the “canonical constitution” which gave the Pope this faculty, but the “divine constitution.”

As no man can dissolve a legal marriage between man and woman, for the Lord says in the gospel, “What God has bound together let no man put asunder,” so too can the spiritual marriage bond between the bishop and his Church, considered to have been begun in the nomination, validated in the confirmation, and consummated in the consecration, be dissolved only by the authority of him who is the successor of Peter and the representative of Jesus Christ.(105)

So we have to make a choice. Either the bridegroom relationship of the bishop to the diocese is not an image which is the concrete embodiment of the essence, or the Pope can dissolve matrimonia rata et consummata, — sacramental marriages — with permission to enter a new marriage. Innocent III himself clearly tended toward the second possibility.(106)

For Thomas the bishop was not at all so univocally a bridegroom of the diocese. For he appears to insinuate a comparison with soluble eternal vows rather than with insoluble marriage.(107) It was often said later that bishops have a double marriage: a soluble one with their diocese and an insoluble one with the Church. What a soluble marriage means, however, remains very questionable.

The marriage is a concrete embodiment of the bride and bridegroom relationship between Christ and the Church, as Schlier has explained very neatly and explicitly when commenting on Eph, 5.(108) But is this just as true of the episcopal office and its relation to the diocese in the same sacramental-symbolic way? That, it seems to me, has not yet been proved.

It is noticeable that Paul designates himself with an explicitly female qualification in Gal. 4, 19, where he writes: “My children, for whom I am again in labor (Vulgate; parturio) until Christ shall have been formed in you.” He appears not to have considered the bridegroom aspect so essential. He can also characterize himself in other ways.

Laurentin still refers to 1 Cor. 4, 15, and Phil. 10,(109) which texts are, however, not convincing because of the double meaning of γενναν (fatherly and motherly).(110) Laurentin also mentions a certain tendency “to consider sacerdotal functions as maternal functions” since the twelfth century, and later in the French school as well as in Scheeben. But he dismisses this tendency as artificial and relies on Bonaventure, who says, “The priest is neither father nor mother — Sacerdos nec pater nec mater.”(111) But is it really so artificial? The manner of expression of Gal. 4, 19, is certainly clear enough! And on the matter of “not father” — there are plenty of Pauline passages where Paul does call himself father and speaks of his children: 1 Cor. 4, 14; 2 Cor. 12, 14; Phil. 10; 1 Cor. 3, 1; 2 Cor. 6, 13; Phil. 2, 22.

One would rather tend to say, “The priest is not only father and not only mother, but simultaneously father and mother.”

On the bridegroom role of the bishop, it must further be said that Paul also calls himself the “marriage arranger” for the community: 2 Cor. 11, 2. This concept of the “marriage arranger,” which Paul also uses for Christ himself in Eph. 5, immediately after the assertion that Christ is the bridegroom of the community,(112) seems to us to express the kernel of the episcopal office no less clearly than does that of the bridegroom. The bishop of course is also “representing” Christ, he makes him present, but in an equally true sense the bishop is not Christ himself and it is his function to lead the Church to its bridegroom Christ. This of course says nothing per se about the possibility of a female marriage arranger, but it makes clear that it is still far from obvious that the bishop must be designated according to his essence as bridegroom.

It is already striking in the Old Testament that Israel was described as both male and female: Israel may appear now as daughter and now as son, and also as bride.(113)The images are exchangeable; one alone does not express the essence itself with great stringency.

According to Joachim Jeremias, the bridegroom metaphor for the Messiah is unknown in the body of Jesus’s preaching, though it is also familiar in the primitive Christian literature. Jesus does not compare the community of salvation with the bride but rather with the wedding guests.(114) Schlier also, in his excursus on the “sacred marriage” in his commentary on Ephesians, says that the Old Testament texts do not contain more than images, comparisons. In the synoptics, Jesus of course is the “bridegroom,” but the community are wedding guests or bridesmaids. In Paul, the apostle in 2 Cor. 11 is the marriage arranger (father of the bride?). There remain, then, only the passages from the Apocalypse and, in Paul, Eph. 5.115 But, it might be remarked, if the community is to be seen ultimately as the bride of Christ, then projecting the image onto the bishop necessitates its own proper proof. And Eph. 5 does not speak of the bishop in any case. J. J. von Allmen correctly notes: “It is very obvious that St. Paul never considers the Church his own spouse.”(116)

Thus one is truly justified in expecting a more precise proof that the bishop is the representative of Christ, that also in this regard he plays the role of the bridegroom and portrays it sacramentally and symbolically, and that the image of the bridegroom is of a different order from other images, as for example the shepherd, the leader of the army, the marriage arranger, father, and so on, which can also be used to characterize the episcopal office.

Be that as it may — ultimately the bishop is really the representative of Christ and thus also of Christ as bridegroom of the Church — the heart of the question lies in the minor premise. Can a woman really not fulfill this role of bridegroom? Is sexuality decisive here?

We have seen Ambrose, Jerome, and Thomas say that the believing woman or the woman living in a religious order is raised to the status of the male. It must be assumed that she certainly remains a woman. Thus, what is meant is that at least biological sexuality has become irrelevant to what a woman can become and how she is to be evaluated. (For the question of whether there is a psychic-spiritual femininity and to what extent that is relevant, see below.) One other thing is certain: the relation between bridegroom and bride in this context is not sexual in the biological sense; the children of God are born “without blood, without the will of the flesh, nor from the will of man” (θέλημα. here has the meaning of sexual drive).(117) The relation has a meaning which transcends the biologically sexual. But is there sense then in asking about the biological sex?

If, in the Old Testament, Jahweh was called the bridegroom of the covenant people, Schoonenberg correctly notes,(118) it was not in order to sexualize the image of God but to personalize it;(119) the Bible expressly rejects any sexualizing of the image of God (the prohibition of the golden calf, which was earlier a bull and symbolic of male procreative power). Of course we always speak of God as father — but is not that also just a manner of presentation? According to Quell, the word “father” in scriptural usage means primarily “bearer of authority,” (120) and is thus not chiefly sexual — unless one wants to characterize woman as “incapable of jurisdiction.” Beyond this, the Church has in fact used other styles of portrayal. The Fathers already speculated on the passage from the Psalms, “from the womb I have begotten you,” and John speaks of him “who is in the bosom of the Father.” The passage from Isaiah (49, 14 ff.) also comes to mind: Jahweh compares his love with that of a mother in the sense that his love is still greater. In short, God transcends all sexuality.

But it will be answered that Christ was after all a man, and the bishop is the representative of Christ, not God. Obviously that is correct, but then the question arises whether Christ was so much male that he cannot be represented by a woman. Bonaventure is definitely negative:

For in this sacrament the person who is ordained characterizes Christ as mediator; and because the mediator was only of the male sex and also can be characterized only by the male sex, only males can receive ordination, for they alone can represent [Christ] on the basis of their nature and, if they have received the character of ordination, can also bear its sign in completion [actu].(121)

It must nevertheless be said that a woman can in any case represent the aspect of “like a hen” (Luke 13, 24). And if one still wishes to respond to the question in the negative, how can one still say that woman is of equal value to man or even that woman is redeemed? The ́ομοούσιος ήμ́ιν does not hold true for males alone. Christ took on the complete human nature, the Fathers argue, or else it would not all be redeemed, “for what was not taken on is also not redeemed.” (122)

That was true first of all for metaphysical completeness — body and soul — but must it not be asked whether it is not also true of the feminine? And if the feminine is also taken on by Christ, how can the female not also represent him? This is formulated by an Anglican as follows:

Since there is in our Lord Jesus Christ himself, both as man and as God, the perfect expression of all that is best both in man and woman, ... to represent him perfectly in human priesthood both man and woman are needed.(123)

And an Orthodox writer states that in Christ there is no exclusivity, but all humanity: each finds himself in Christ. He is the universal archetype of the human, the second Adam who includes all in himself, as the first Adam enclosed the undifferentiated male and female within himself before the birth of Eve.(124)

To put it differently, if there are really feminine virtues (more on this later), how can virtues be called Christian if Christ himself did not realize them? But if he did realize them, they, and thus he too, can be represented by a woman.

Christ, much as he was a real male,(125) did not complete the biologically sexual in his life. And it must be asked whether this uncompleted masculinity in the male is really so exclusively something of the man that it cannot be realized by a woman. That is of course a matter that cannot be settled here. But sociological and psychological investigations force us to put the question seriously. It is still not at all agreed what is transtemporally typically male and what transtemporally typically female. The best-known authors who have investigated this are Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. A few citations must suffice to indicate that a real problem lies before us here. Ruth Benedict says:

Man is not committed in detail by his biological constitution in any particular variety of behavior. [The behavior of man and woman is rather dependent on the sociological and cultural circumstances.] (126)

Margaret Mead says that there are no changeless structures which are ordered according to the sexes:

We are forced to conclude that human nature is almost unbelievably malleable, responding accurately and contrastingly to contrasting cultural conditions.(127)

What is biological naturally remains the same, but apart from that essential differences appear. Man as well as woman can be motherly, and both can be rough, aggressive, “masculine.” Or the man can be motherly and the woman masculine and fatherly: “The woman the dominant, impersonal, managing partner, the man the less responsible and the emotional dependent person.(128)

One should be very careful about calling a certain property, tendency, or style of conduct typically masculine or typically feminine:

If we look the world over, we find that the capabilities of both sexes have been attached, sometimes to one sex, sometimes to the other.(129)

The Dutch psychiatrist J. H. van den Berg also says that we must not see certain psychic properties as necessarily bound up with biological data.(130)

Edith Stein too proposes the task of investigating whether the various types into which women are differentiated contain a single and immutable nucleus which could be characterized as a species of woman: (131)

The question of the species woman is the principal question of all the questions on women. If there is such a species, then no alteration of the conditions of life, of economic and cultural relationships like her proper activity will be able to change anything. If there is no such species, . . . then under certain conditions the carryover of the one type into the other is possible. This is not so absurd as it might appear at first. The concept already has support in that bodily difference is considered constant, but the spiritual is viewed as infinitely variable.(132)

She herself does not try to say the question is unanswerable.(133) But she limits herself almost completely to outlining the method according to which one would have to proceed.(134)

The question is linked, we think, to whether the human spirit is differentiated according to sex. We believe with Schoonenberg that the question cannot be answered with a straightforward yes or no. God (and the angels?) are not differentiated sexually.

Sex comes “from below.” Thus the anima as the material form is certainly differentiated sexually; but at the same time the anima, as transcending materiality, is also asexual. The person (and we are actually speaking of that, not of the soul) has masculinity or femininity and is distinguished by it, projects it — and at the same time he is man or woman. For this reason, according to Schoonenberg, the position of authority of the male and the subordination of the woman do not lie on the highest level of intrahuman relationships. The inequality of the sexes manifests itself where the persons do not yet deal with one another completely as persons: in the sphere of law, where human communities are still “organization” and “society,” and not yet completely “community.” (135)

Schoonenberg adds that the position of man and woman on the plane of organization and society is quite variable, depending on cultures and times. The relationships within the family, as Peter and Paul see them, are, according to him, not specifically Christian but rather time-conditioned. But — he continues — in the sacramental-ecclesiastical area there are no such variations, for these structures are established by Christ himself. When he investigates further the background of these directives of Christ, however, he begins not quite logically to refer to psychological and sociological phenomena.(136) It will be clear to the reader that I cannot agree with him on this last point. Why would these variations exist in the secular area and not in the sacramental-ecclesiastical? It can only be imagined to what remarkable situations that could lead. Besides, it appears to me to be too much of a Scotist, voluntarist way of thinking.

On the question of whether a woman can fill the role of the bridegroom, the following must be considered. First, no one has ever concluded that the congregation should consist solely of women. And writers have always considered the biological sex irrelevant where it was a matter of the virginity of the male members of religious orders. Friedrich Wulf has explained(137) that it can in fact be justly said that the priest represents the bridegroom-Christ and the members of religious orders the bride-Church, but that that is only a kind of emphasis, because both are the representation of the same eschatological reality, The male priest is also a member of the faithful, a member of the bridal Church. He can thus — at least as a member of the community — fill the role of bride. According to Wulf, it would be impossible to call an individual person, either man or woman, the bride of Christ. The ascetical literature which has done so, based on 1 Cor. 7, is one-sided. The Fathers and others such as Bernard have never done that; Bernard even explicitly rejected it. Only as member of the religious community and the Church are man and woman in a bridal relationship to Christ. But the man is indeed in this role!

As the male can also stand in the bridal role, Schoonenberg’s words, although he has something else in mind, are valid:

The relation of the Church to her bridegroom is proper to every Christian, for the Church does not hover over us but exists in us. We are often inclined to ascribe the marital relationship with Christ only to the soul. But Paul mentions specifically the body: “the body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6, 13).

The second section which presents the relationship as mutual shows the marital character of our belonging to Christ:

Here indeed is the same mutuality of belonging to one another in the body which Paul proclaims between man and woman in 1 Cor, 7, 4.(138)

If the male can thus fulfill the bridal role in the community, it must also be asked why the woman cannot fulfill the role of bridegroom. Obviously that is not apparent of itself. But it should be investigated. Especially if one considers at the same time that the feminine is not so facilely defined as is customarily thought; if one considers that in Christ the entire human nature, including its feminine aspects (if these do exist), was assumed; if one considers that according to Paul and the Fathers — in their best moments — the religious significance of the sexes, as they prevailed in the Old Testament, is surmounted fully by Christ; if one considers that in any case the biologically sexual is irrelevant for the bridegroom relationship between Christ and the Church; if one considers that the new era, where “they marry not and are not given in marriage” does not simply break in upon us abruptly but is actualizing itself already little by little in this world. This last especially seems to us to bring up many questions. For if it is true — the passage from Jerome almost suggests even a disappearance of the contrast between man and woman — it could be thought that this happens in precisely the same measure in which the sphere of the sacramentum et res disappears and the res prevails in its totality. That, however, would mean that as long as there is a sacramental office (as long as the sacramentum et res is there for the res, as long as the res has not yet entirely realized itself), so long and in that measure a distinction between the sexes is still significant for office.

With this, I think, we are at one of the central questions of the entire problem. “Office” and “distinction of the sexes” belong to the tune in which we still live: to the sacramental time. We return to the reflections of Thomas, who looked for the necessity of the male priest merely in the area of the sacramentum et res, not in the sphere of the res itself. As Schoonenberg also formulates it: “The concept of office implies the plane of interhuman relationships insofar as they are still ”objective. “(139)

The same idea is worked out by A.-M. Henry(140) and Laurentin(141) in somewhat different terminology. Henry, moreover, says that every woman is a new man, because she is “another Christ.” But that, according to him, is “the spiritual order, where the difference of sex no longer counts.” (142) But on the plane of symbol there is a difference. And therefore man and woman, although they have the same vocation, have a differing mission.(143)

Laurentin approaches the question from the viewpoint of the Church. The Church is simultaneously “Jesus Christ distributed and communicated” and “the spouse of Christ.” Under the first aspect the Church is male; “recapitulated in the man Christ, its chief, its head, it is represented by men: the bishops and the priests.” Under the second aspect (communion) it is essentially female, the bride of Christ and mother of Christians; as a type it has a woman, Mary.(144)

Thus we stand before the question of whether on the level of symbol too man and woman are of equal value, or, to use a better expression, whether man and woman can fulfill the same sociological functions — the roles of bridegroom and bride.

The answer to this question depends, we think, on what is actually believed to be characteristic of man and woman. Now that, as we have seen above, is still far from settled, at least for the woman of our time. For even if it were established that there is a transtemporal species woman (to use Edith Stein’s terminology), it could still be true that this transtemporal species woman would say nothing on the problem of whether a woman can fulfill a certain sociological function. Then it would follow that even were it established that a woman in earlier times could certainly not represent Christ, that would still say nothing on this possibility for our time.

Secondly, one comes to an answer to this question in the sense that the woman can fill only the role of the bride, which is not to suggest that the woman is less than the man, as Thomas quite candidly does. For the woman would, at least on the plane of symbols, stand only on the level of Mary, not on that of the God-man, while the man would stand on both levels — on that of Christ and, as a member of the bride-Church, on that of the Mother of God.

Henry in a logical manner also comes to that, so that he even says:

The man represents the Christ, that is to say, the Word of God who takes flesh . . . , the Wisdom in whom everything has been conceived and ordered; the woman represents the humanity toward which God bends and comes to snatch it back from the quagmire of evil, of sin, of opposition to the Spirit.(145)

These are certainly strong words! Woman is close to being once again, as she was to the Fathers, the type of sin, of the flesh. A contemporary theologian is startled at this. Even if Henry intends to do no injustice to woman, because he is speaking only on the level of mission, not on that of vocation, it is our impression that this subsequent correction makes no great amends. At bottom he does say exactly what Thomas said.

Laurentin looks only at the de facto representation exercised only by males. He does not explain the “why.” He gives some kind of post factum explanation — the dichotomy: “Jesus Christ distributed and communicated” vis-a-vis “the spouse of Christ” — but he does not show why it must be so.

If woman cannot be “another Christ” even on this point, she seems to lack something which cannot be remedied by modifying the statement to say that that is true only on the plane of symbol. For I believe that in this case males can once again — even if only in secret — pray with the rabbis, “I thank you that you have created me a man,” which Paul in Gal. 3, 28, rejected for all time.

Obviously there are different missions in the Church. And obviously there are differences between the sexes. But how does one know that these two tension lines, “man-woman” and “suited for office - not suited for office” run parallel? We might illustrate what we mean with two detailed quotations from Karl Barth:

We have seen that the systematizations to which we might be tempted in this connexion do not yield any practicable imperatives. Different ages, peoples, and cultures have had very different ideas of what is concretely appropriate, salutary and necessary in man and woman as such . . . the distinctions are given [according to Barth they are knowable only through the law of God; pp. 7 f.] and it would be totally perverse to wish to blur them.(146)

The command of the Lord does not put anyone, man or woman, in a humiliating, dishonourable, or unworthy position. It puts both man and woman in their proper place. Interpretations may vary as to where this place is, for the Lord is a living Lord and His command is ever new. It is certainly foolish to try to make an inflexible rule of the particular interpretation of Paul in this instance. It is undoubtedly the case that women may also not wear veils and actually speak in the assembly. But this is not the most important point to be gathered from 1 Cor. 11 and 14 in the present context. The essential point is that woman must always and in all circumstances be woman; that she must feel and conduct herself as such and not as a man.(147)

Thus: there are certainly differences between the sexes, but how does one know that they signify anything about suitability or unsuitability for spiritual office? Ultimately even Henry and Schoonenberg can only adduce the psychosociological differences between man and woman for their demonstrations.(148) And Laurentin has only the data of Scripture and tradition and the fact that Christ was a man as verification.(149) But Christ was also a Jew and a free man, and Goyim and slaves can nevertheless be priests.

It must not be said here that being a Jew or a Gentile is something different from being a man or woman and that therefore the Jewishness of Christ says nothing on the question of whether a non-Jew can represent him, but sex does indeed import something. For sexual difference is also rejected in Gal. 3, 28; its significance is denied. And finally, when it is said that a Gentile can be a priest, it is true only because baptized Gentiles are the “new Israel according to the Spirit.” But is not the believing woman in the same way a man? Very much in the sense of the texts we have quoted from Ambrose, Jerome, and Thomas, Edith Stein writes:

Because Christ incorporated ideal human perfection, in which all narrow-mindedness and lack are elevated, the merits of male and female nature united and weaknesses canceled, his true disciples are likewise elevated more and more above the limits of their nature. Thus we see in saintly men feminine tenderness and kindness and truly maternal care of the souls entrusted to them; in saintly women we see masculine courage, constancy, and determination.(150)

Thus our understanding of Gal. 3, 28 is indeed of significance for our question — even if, as we have seen in Schlier, it is indirect and qualified — for if being a Gentile no longer matters for the question of whether someone can be a priest because the Gentiles are the new Israel, then also being a woman does not matter, because in Christ every woman is elevated to the masculine level.

In this context too the old question returns: are secular offices not on the level of symbol? Would not the distinction between vocation and mission, between hierarchy and communion, also obtain in the secular area? Or between the sphere of justice and organization and that of community? But if that is no hindrance to admitting, women to secular office, what reason can be given as a hindrance to spiritual office?

Perhaps theology must simply rely on the facts of secular psychological-sociological development. That did no harm in the problem of slavery or in the attitudes toward witches, the burning of heretics, tolerance in general, suffrage for woman, and so on.

3. The Begetter of the Life of Grace

The arguments of Thomas and those deriving from the concept of the bridegroom are, as we have seen, more concerned with the aspects of “teaching” and of “leading.” Now we will consider the argumentation from the viewpoint of “sanctifying.”

This is formulated in the clearest and briefest way by Odo Casel, though only incidentally and in another context. He starts from the supposition that the natural talents of the priest are not suppressed but are included in ordination. He says: The idea of woman is to portray the power of obedience of the spiritual creature to God; she is the image of the soul, the Church, the bride of God, receptive and loving. The man is an image of the divine principle as the procreator, the life awakener; for this reason, only masculine nature can be “taken up” into the ordination of the priest as mediator of divine life.(151)

M. Schmaus too suggests the same thoughts. The intrinsic reason why only baptized males can be ordained is, according to him, not to be seen in a natural inability of woman for the sacerdotal vocation, but in the tasks of the priesthood which correspond more to the essence of the male. The priest is in a special manner the instrument of Christ. It is obvious that that baptized person who serves Christ in a special manner, as the instrument of his salvific operation, also participates in his natural qualities. The fact that the Son of God took on human nature in its masculine form is not based in the essence of God, for God stands beyond all sexual differences. Rather, it has its basis in the work of Christ. The Son of God become man had to fulfill the task laid upon him by the Father in the public eye of the earth and for the whole world. The public eye is the work place of the man; woman works in obscurity. Further, there lies in the male character a hint of the type of Christ’s mission, to bring lost life back to the world. To beget life is a masculine thing. In this natural relationship there lies a correspondence to the fact that the Son of God, whom the Father granted to have life in himself as the Father bears it in himself, begot in mankind divine life in its fullness. So too in the priest his character as male signifies a natural allusion to his mission to proclaim the message of the kingdom of God in the public eye of the world, to dispense the sacraments, and thus to mediate divine life to creation perfected in the power of Christ. The business of woman is rather to take up life and to preserve it. That signifies no lesser competency of woman. What is most valuable in the kingdom of God is not the fullness of power of office bestowed for service, but divine life mediated through the power of the office.(152)

The Old Catholic bishop of Deventer (Netherlands), Msgr. P. J. Jans, argues in the same manner, with express reference to Schmaus.(153)

Engelbert Krebs’s article, which we have already mentioned several times, works out the same argument in the following way:

The priest stands in the stead of Christ, It is his office to beget from humanity children of God for heaven (1 Cor.4, 15). To beget life is, in humanity, the business of the male. Christ brought new life to humanity. For this reason he appeared among us as a male, because his work was man’s work. “Just as the Father has life in himself, so he also gave to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5, 26). Thus the mystery postpones itself into the lap of divinity. That is the most characteristic quality of God; that he does not receive his life but has it in himself. And the eternal word, which proceeds eternally from him, has, as its essential image, likewise life in itself. Therefore the first in the Godhead is not called Mother but Father. For any mother merely protects and hands on received life. And the eternal essential image is Son and not Daughter, for the Father has also given to him “to have life in himself.” God is without doubt exalted above all sexuality. But if we ask who among humans reflects in at least some respect that most characteristic quality in God — that is, to hand on nonreceived life — then it is the male and father on earth, while the woman and mother reflects more that kind affection and care for life at hand, as is also proper to God (Is. 49, 15; Mt. 23, 37).(154)

As we have already seen, Diekamp and Lercher follow him, although they also stress the arguments from Krebs omitted by us:

The masculine sex rather than the feminine is more suited to teaching, since from its own psychic strengths it is more likely to be equal to the demands of mental work; ... it is more suited to ruling, since it more than the female sex follows steadily the direction of reason and not of feeling.(155)

The “since” clause is not at all illuminating, so we will not enter further into these last arguments. The one thing that must be said to these is that they are too time- and culture-conditioned to be the foundation for a divine law.

As Schmaus too follows Krebs (he often uses the same statements word for word), we shall discuss the two together.

Schmaus’s assertion on public activity seems likewise much too time-conditioned. If it were true, it would also be perverse to have women ministers of state and so on. Pius XII in any case thought quite differently about the activity of women in the public arena. He even commanded it!(156)

Let us go on to the idea that procreation is a male affair and that the woman merely receives life and cherishes it; or, as Krebs says, the mother only hands on received life. There is much to question here. Can it really be said that the mother receives life? She receives indeed; however, it is not life but semen. Life is begotten by man and woman together. One gets the impression that Schmaus and Krebs are still speculating on the proceedings in the begetting of human life from an Aristotelian-Thomistic attitude. Mitterer’s entire criticism is thus also valid for them.(157) What they say in this reference is simply wrong. In the Dutch and German languages it is said very significantly when a woman has born a child, “She has given life to a child.” She!

Now it could be replied that the man is nevertheless the more active partner, that he initiates the coming into existence of the child, although the child is begotten by two parents, and that Schmaus is thus correct. But his argument does not have as its middle term the activity of “being the first” but of “awaking life,” “handing on life which he carries in himself as not-received.” That is certainly not true. The male alone does not give life, and the woman does not give the life of the male to the child, but the two hand on their common life.

But the inadequacy of the argument comes to light most clearly if we consider more closely the trinitarian reflections of the writers. What we present here should certainly not be understood as our own concept; we merely wish, arguing from Schmaus’s standpoint, to reduce his ideas ad absurdum.

The argument proceeds by saying that Christ and the priest mediate the divine life of grace, that is, they proclaim the kingdom of God and dispense the sacraments. Now the handing on of the life of grace is the same thing as what we call the imparting or sending of the Holy Spirit. If we then proceed to say that the economic trinity is the immanent trinity,(158) we come to the remarkable fact that according to Krebs and Schmaus the Son sends the Spirit (the life lets life proceed from itself) as non-received life. “The Son of God, whom the Father has granted to have life in himself, as the Father bears it in himself, generates the divine life (= the Spirit) for men.” But that is incomprehensible. The Son does not have life in himself as the Father has it in himself, for he has it as imparted, whereas the Father has it as unimparted. Schmaus’s statement contains — salva reverentia— a contradiction, I believe. If the Father has granted the Son to have life in himself, it can no longer be said that the Son has it as the Father bears it in himself. In fact, Schmaus himself says in his volume on the trinity: “The second person is characterized as the reception of the divine essence and as the handing on of it to the Holy Spirit.” (159)

It is certainly better to adhere to the Council of Florence:

As everything which belongs to the Father the Father gives to his only-begotten Son in generation with the exception of his Fatherhood, so the Son also has the quality that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, eternal from the Father.(160)

The fact that the Son generates the Spirit for men comes from the Father (the economic trinity is the immanent trinity).

“To hand on nonreceived life”— that, according to Krebs and Schmaus, is the task of Christ and of the male. It is not accurate for the male, for the woman too hands on “nonreceived” life; she does not receive the life but the semen of the man, and both man and woman give their own life together (perhaps it can even be said: tamquam unum principium—as one pair of parents— even if in a different sense than it is meant for the trinity) to the child. Nor does it hold true for Christ. It is written of him not only: “Just as the Father has life, so has he also given the Son to have life in himself” (John 5, 26), but likewise, “You have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him” (John 17, 2); and: “For I have given them the words which you gave me” (John 17, 8); and: “I have given them your word” (John 17, 14); and: “The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17, 22). And what is true of the priest? He does not hand on nonreceived life, but he can act only insofar as he himself is empowered to do so. Once one begins to think in this direction, one can hardly avoid seeing here a parallel to woman instead of to man!

This is not the place to go further into this trinitarian reflection. What has been said is sufficient as a question mark to the argument proposed by Krebs and Schmaus.

Just as woman was “in the bosom” of man (Adam) and came forth from him as “like to him,” and as both generate the child through their life — to be sure, in such a way that Eve receives from Adam so that she brings forth the child — so also, it might be said, does the sending of the Spirit, the generating of the life of grace, take place. We can discover no argument here for the male character of the priest. Or, in other words, everyone will admit that the woman is “another Christ” as “receiving from the Father”; but, one might think, she is in her natural womanhood just as much the image of Christ as “breathing the Holy Spirit.” Why then should she not be the person who portrays the mediation of grace in her nature? One gets the impression that Krebs and Schmaus have merely played with the word “generate.”

It is certainly quite unusual to see the reflection of the Son in woman; usually it is the reflection of the Holy Spirit that is looked for in woman. There are Fathers who even call the Holy Spirit “the rib of the word.”(161) And certainly that too makes sense. But do not the correct psychological and sociological understandings of the generation of children force us to take such considerations seriously?

A second ground for questioning the argumentation of Krebs and Schmaus we believe must be deduced from the very traditional teaching on the dispenser of the sacraments.

According to Schmaus it is the task of the male priest to dispense the sacraments, and thus to mediate the divine life to a creation perfected in the power of Christ. Here again we come upon the noteworthy fact that on the one hand he speaks of “giving the life” which the male has in himself (and the woman apparently does not), but on the other hand he does add “in the power of Christ.” The second, however, appears to be more accurate than the first. Traditional teaching does indeed say with Thomas on the question of whether a woman can baptize validly:

In spiritual generation no one (that is neither male nor female) operates on his own power, but only as an instrument through the power of Christ.(162)

Joseph A. Wahl, who discusses this article of Thomas, overlooks the logical consequences. In the pertinent article he has read only that woman must not baptize “publicly,” just as she must not speak “publicly” in the Church.(163)

What is specific for the dispensing of the sacraments is thus according to Thomas not that the dispenser hands on his own life which he has in himself, but that he has been allowed to cogenerate life. The instrument is effective insofar as it is brought to act by the principal cause.

It is to be noted that the Thomistic argument is not valid only for baptism but for all sacraments and also for proclamation. Therefore it is not evident that only the male should be the person assigned to dispense the sacraments. He it is who imparts to the woman that she can hand on life together with him. He is therefore analogous to Christ inasmuch as Christ is the high priest; while the woman is analogous to Christ inasmuch as he operates through the earthly priest. To formulate it in another way: in marriage the woman is the analogue of the ecclesiastical priest, the man the analogue of Christ as high priest. How then can the male be seen as the earthly priest? One would even be inclined to see the woman as priest insofar as the priest dispenses the sacraments.

Perhaps here we may mention a statement by Karl Barth which concerns a much different subject but is nevertheless also relevant in our context. When he considers why Christ should have no earthly Father, he amplifies:

Willing, achieving, creative, sovereign man, man as an independent fellow worker with God, man in the impulse of his eros, who as such, where God’s grace is concerned, simply cannot be a participator in God’s work,(164) is a parte potiori man the male. , . . Willing, achieving, creative, sovereign man as such cannot be considered as a participator in God’s work. For as such he is the man of disobedience. As such, therefore, if God’s grace is to meet him, he must be set aside. But this man in the state of disobedience is a parte potiori the male. So it is the male who must be set aside here, if a countersign is to be set up as the sign of the incarnation of God. In this sign the contradiction of grace is directed against the male because he is peculiarly significant for the world history of human genius. What happens in the mystery of Christmas is not world history, not the work of human genius.(165)

What we believe is the following: if in the sacraments it should also be indicated that salvation is not wrought by men themselves but must be received unclaimed as a free gift of God, why has it not been asked whether woman would perhaps not better represent this aspect?

Put in a trivial manner; if it is not against the symbolism of the sacraments and of masculinity that males can receive them, how is it then against the symbolism of the sacraments and of femininity for women to dispense them?

It is important to consider that we have discovered here something significantly feminine, not only in the Church as bride, as receiving, but in the Church as imparting, as dispensing life. Or in the terminology of Laurentin: not only in the Church as “communion,” but in the Church as “hierarchy.” In Schoonenberg’s terminology: not only in the Church as “community,” but also as “organization.” How is it possible that this idea has never been raised before, although it certainly seems to be not seriously off the track? Perhaps because the need has never been felt; in earlier times woman just could not be a priest. And, second, because the role of woman in the generation of the child was seen falsely, as though she received the child from the father and only carried it (“protected,” says Schmaus) and gave it birth. That this is not true need not be demonstrated again. Only one point do we wish to stress: it should not be thought that this is so merely on the biological level; it is just as true on the psychological plane. Alice Scherer writes: “Man and woman are both receptive and creative together as much in reference to one another and to the world as in reference to their creator.”(166)

And it has been the merit of Mitterer to have put this forward clearly in a theological context. Mitterer himself said nothing in his article of the logical consequences of his thesis for a feminine priesthood. In this respect we hope to enlarge the reflections.

We do not argue against Krebs that the Church, the bride, is sacerdotal. More on that later. We have only stated that the sacerdotal function — to obtain from Christ the power to bestow the spirit — suggests the role of the woman in marriage rather than of the man.

But the following conclusions could be drawn. The priest is of course primarily the representative of God to the people, but he is also the representative of the people to God. Pius XII in his encyclical “Mediator Dei” especially stressed the first,(167) but he did not deny the second; and the reason why he emphasized the first so strongly was simply that he wished to prove that the people did not delegate the priest, but that the priest was commissioned by the apostles and by the hierarchy. The fact thus remains that the priest is also the deputy or representative of the people, the bride-Church.

One would tend from this to ask as well why the person who represents the bride really ought not be a woman. The priest is not merely the mediator of the divine life (we have already seen that this aspect too does not immediately suggest the male!), but also the representative of the bride to the bridegroom. In the priesthood (ultimately in the Pope) the Church, the bride, finds her socially visible, juridically tangible culmination. Why is it always presupposed that that must be a male? At least the idea that the community must always find its representative in a man should be analyzed and argued more closely. Apart from all the other considerations of this book, it seems to me that the central point of the problem is not whether a woman can say, “This is my body,” but whether a woman can conduct and lead the celebration of the Anamnesis as president and representative of the community — that is, whether a woman can represent the congregation in the religious area (for until now it still has not been proved that this question can be answered differently for the religious area than for the secular).(168)

If we understand Karl Rahner correctly, he also sees this point as the heart of the matter. Corresponding to his distinction between the two aspects of the Catholic priesthood (the cultic priest, in whom man’s word to God is made visible, and the prophetic priest, in whom God’s word to men is visible), he says that woman is capable of being the bearer of the prophetic Spirit, but cannot exercise the cultic priesthood which by virtue of its essence follows natural orders.(169) In other words: woman can indeed mediate from “above” to “below,” but not from “below” to “above.” The latter, according to Rahner too, is the central problem.

It is not the task of this work to answer the questions which it demonstrates must be raised. But the question becomes even more urgent when it is remembered that there is an ancient tradition (see Thomas), cited by Pope Leo XIII, which says that Mary in her fiat to the angel spoke in the name of all humanity.

And in the secular area the fact remains that the Church has never protested against reigning queens; in fact it even speaks at their coronation of their position as mediator, as we have seen above.

And the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces has no meaning at all if it does not also signify that Mary stepped forward in a mediatory fashion toward Christ in the name of the Church.

But here we arrive at the next subtopic.

4. Mary Was Not a Priest

As we have seen in the preceding sections time and again, the fact that Mary was not a priest has long been seen as a proof that women could not be priests. Even today the fact that the Mother of God was not a priest is raised by writers.

However, the problem of the priesthood of the Mother of God is a long way from being ready for the “solved” file, as is demonstrated simply by the almost unsurveyable quantity of new articles on this theme.(171) It is not possible to sketch out even in rough outline the most important aspects of the problem here. Laurentin, with an amazing display of material from all centuries, shows that according to all the writers Mary “is superior to sacramental priests.” But at the same time it is established that “Mary did not receive the sacrament of orders . . . , she did not receive formally the power to celebrate the Mass.” The entire task thus consists in bringing these two statements into harmony with one another.(172) Almost every writer attempts to make his solution in this way, perhaps by saying that Mary was a priest “in a more eminent way,” or “improperly” or “properly but as a servant or assistant” (proprie sed tamquam ministra vel socia), etc.(173) Thus Mary was a priest in some way. If we then investigate why it was necessary to seek these solutions, the reason is naturally found in the fact that no one wants to say that Mary possessed the “ministerial priesthood” (the second statement). Asking further why no one has ventured this far, Laurentin has only one answer:

One reason only is ever forthcoming: Mary is not capable of the sacrament of orders “on account of her female sex.”(174)

These are strong words, but according to Laurentin’s basic investigations, quite justified words: “one reason only . . . ever.” In other words, the Fathers and later writers would gladly have ascribed the priesthood to Mary but they did not venture to because Mary was a woman.

Granted that a very strong argument of tradition against the priesthood of women is involved — one thing is nevertheless certain: the power of the argument “Mary was not a priest” for the dogmatic thesis that a woman cannot be a priest is thereby invalidated. For the thesis of the theologians and Fathers that a woman cannot be a priest can no longer be proved by the argument that “Mary was not a priest” if their thesis itself was the only reason (une seule raison) why they always said that Mary was not a priest. Obviously both can be true together, but the first cannot be used to prove the second and the second at the same time be used to prove the first.

Still a second difficulty exists in this proof of the Fathers and theologians. For if, for the sake of argument, we were to grant that Mary was in no way a priest — does it then follow that no woman can be a priest? That would follow only if one could really say with Rondet and many others:

“Mary is woman; it is in Mary that one must learn the role of woman in the history of the world.” (175)

Actually, if the factual condition of the most holy virgin in her earthly life were the norm for what a woman could be or could do, then a woman could never be a priest. But is that true? First it would have to be proved that that was really true specifically for the priesthood. For it must, for example, also be said that Mary never had sexual intercourse, but no one would say here: “It is in Mary that one must learn the role of woman in the history of the world.” Sexual intercourse, according to Thomas, is for women also a bonum excellens.(176) Mary also had no secular profession and exercised no public office; she acted only in obscurity. But it does not follow from this that every woman should remain at home (even if so esteemed a writer as M. Schmaus seems to say that; Pius XII said something very different!). The letter of Timothy seems of course to intimate that (1 Tim 2, 15), but Rondet correctly comments on that:

Christianity has liberated woman, restoring her dignity and her supernatural vocation, but has it not also for a long time confined her to the roles of spouse and mother?(177) Paul accented the submission of the woman to her husband more than was just.(178)

To say simply that Mary was not a priest and, that thus no woman ever can be is certainly not sufficient. It must be investigated exactly why her not being a priest is relevant while other actual circumstances from her life are not.

A third difficulty also works against Rondet’s statement, “It is in Mary that one must learn the role of woman in the history of the world.” For this is to presuppose that woman can become only what she can read in Mary as her prototype, while the man has as his prototype the God-man himself. Would it not be better to consider Mary as the prototype of the creature in general, thus of both women and men, not as the prototype of woman alone? Would it not be better in light of Gal. 3, 28 to seek for man also a norm for what he can be in a man who is not God-man? This is not irrelevant; in fact it has often been done. Several Fathers name in this context St. Joseph or even the apostle John, as Laurentin indicated.(179) Recently too P. Evdokimov did that in the noteworthy book La femme et le salut du monde; he sees John the Baptist as the archetype of the male.(180) And the double orders of Fontevrault, of which we spoke in greater detail earlier, venerated specially the apostle John alongside Mary.(181) Let us remember that the founder of this order, explaining the superiority of the abbess over the male members, pointed especially to John 19: “Behold your mother — behold your son.”

The theologians would answer: yes, that is true on the level of the res, but not on the level of the sacramentum et res; on the level of the res woman is just as oriented to the God-man as is the man, but not on the level of the sacramentum et res. But then all the difficulties which we raised earlier return. It would mean that woman does occupy a lower place in some things; the man could again recite the rabbinic prayer.

If Epiphanius of Salamis and the Apostolic Constitutions fear that the institution of the female priesthood necessarily went together with the adoration of female deities, and see therein a proof that women should not be priests, then their own arguments can be turned back on them: if women, at least in the area of public cult, are oriented only to Mary, the tendency will arise among them to deify Mary. But if it is made clear to them and the world that women can be “another Christ” even in the cultic area, then the need for Marian maximalism disappears of itself.

5. The Situation of the Primitive Church

Karl Rahner, in a lecture in the summer of 1959, raised the point that Christianity has the right to remain imprisoned in certain historical situations of its origins, and that therefore woman could not become a priest.

It was clear from the beginning that this was merely an attempt to come to grips with the problem and did not pretend to be a final solution. Even the circumstances — it was an unprepared response to an unexpected question — make it clear that Rahner must not be held to this solution. The questions which are asked here are thus not intended in any way to invalidate this response as if it were his. We are concerned with the value of the argument itself. Moreover, Prof. Trooster of Maastricht has also referred to this aspect independently.(182)

The idea itself is clear. There is a jus divinum in the Church which is not founded in the essence of things; jus divinum is not the same as jus naturale; there is ajus divinum which arises from actual circumstances, and thus is qualified more by history than by essence.(183)

Rahner mentioned several other examples. The New Testament, for example, was composed in Greek. But that is not in any way to be understood as following from the essence of the Greek language; it was contingent and might have been different. Nevertheless the Church can no longer change this fact. A second example: the Church celebrates its liturgy with wheat bread and grape wine. It can certainly be said that if Jesus had lived in Germany he would have used rye bread and beer at the last supper. So according to Karl Rahner’s attempt at a solution, the male priesthood cannot be derived from the essence of the sexes. And it can certainly be accepted that the Church in its primitive phase merely took over the contemporaneous contingent ethos and thereby “canonized” it for all times. As the first and most serious question to all this, we must point out that the establishment of the contingent has still not been proved in the matter of the priesthood. For there are many things which for centuries appeared to belong to matters which were established by the Church as permanent but which were later discovered not to have been; this is the case in sacramental theology, as for example the alteration of the thesis on the “special establishment” of the sacraments by Christ. It is true that this thesis was changed on the basis of historical data; it was seen that, de facto, in several points this fixing of the contingent which had always been assumed had not occurred. And for our case there is no historical material that would say to us: where an establishment of the contingent is seen, there was none in fact. However, this example is not brought up with that intention, but merely to show that the perception of what is fixed for all times is changeable. And, de facto, there are also things which actually seemed valid in the primitive Church and thus might suggest that an establishment of the contingent was involved but which were nevertheless later abandoned. Our example from chapter II comes to mind: the Quaedam capitula ad religiosam sectae nostrae disciplinam pertinentia. Much of what has been considered jus divinum positivum has gradually turned out to be jus ecclesiasticum.

For this reason a tighter proof must be demanded that the thesis of the primitive phase of the Church also says something decisive on this point. And as long as no really binding statement of the magisterium exists, one can have recourse only to Scripture and tradition, for according to this understanding, metaphysics, psychology, and sociology are not decisive. But we have already seen in the preceding chapters how many difficulties the arguments from Scripture, tradition, and magisterium leave still unanswered.

Several difficulties also appear, we feel, against the principle as such. If the selection of males was really only time-conditioned and contingent, as this thesis asserts, then indeed very unpleasant consequences could be drawn. This attempted solution proceeds from the idea that Jesus, if he had lived in another time and in another land, could also have chosen women. This attempt thus grants that there could be another time in which woman could be completely appropriate for spiritual office. This speculation must thus come to grips with the following: it is then possible that the Church and its spiritual office stand fixed in a social ethos — that of the first century — which stands diametrically opposed to the ethos of the century in which the Church now lives. That seems to us to be an idea difficult to cope with,

Rahner’s two examples also raise still further problems. The New Testament was composed in Greek, which could well have been different; it has in fact consequences even in our time. We will always have to go back to the Greek manner of expression if we wish to express our faith anew or orient ourselves anew to revelation. But is that an example for other cases? In this case it simply happened that way. Revelation is past and finished, and it did happen in this way and not another. It would be nonsense to think that the Church could, although she used the Greek language in the past, change it later in order to express her decisive self-understanding in later times. If a lawgiver expresses himself in a certain way, with these certain words and expressions, he can never try to express this law and this way of promulgation in a different way. What has happened remains for all eternity a happening in this and not in another way. And if what has happened in this way is normative for later times, the way is also normative. But that is still not eo ipso an example which of itself says anything about other matters. Only if it is clear from some other place that the Church has expressed an aspect of her self-understanding in the male priesthood — perhaps from an analysis of biblical theology of office and of woman — only in that case may it be said that there is a parallel here.

For the example of the material of the eucharist, it can be said that it is perhaps no longer an example at all. John McHugh in an article in Verbum Domini has shown that it is very doubtful whether Jesus used wheat bread at the Last Supper at all. According to McHugh, it would more likely have been barley bread. And he refers to the significance of this thesis for the missions.(184) But apart from the question of whether Jesus used wheat bread or not — is that really normative for all times? It seems to be not so certain. H. Bouëssé has already questioned it, as we have seen earlier (chapter IV, note 66),


1. Summa Theologiae suppl., q. 39, a. 1; this text is taken over from Thomas’s work, In 4 Sent. d. 25 q. 2, a. 1.

2. Ibid, suppl., q. 39, a. 1, ad 1.

3. Ibid. 1, q. 93, a. 4, ad 1.

4. Ibid. III, q. 52, a. 3; I, q. 32, a. 2, ad 4; cf. G. M. Manser, “Die Ehe,” Divus Thomas 24 (1946): 121-246, esp. 123.

5. Summa Theologiae suppl., q. 39, a. 1, ad 2.

6. In I ad Cor. lectio VII, 1, p. 402.

7. Quoted in A. Nussbaumer, “Der hl. Thomas und die rechtliche Stellung der Frau,” Divus Thomas 11 (1933): 150; in the same sense see Manser, pp. 128 ff.

8. Manser, p. 130.

9. S. G. M. Trooster, “De leek in huwelijk in gezinsleven (III), VI Man en vrouw,” Katholiek Archief 14 (1959): 565.

10. Summa Theologiae I, q. 92, a. 1; cf. I, q. 98, a. 2; suppl. q. 41, a. 1. Already in 1930 Hildegard Borsinger raised her criticism in her book, Die Rechtsstellung der Frau in der katholischen Kirche (Leipzig, 1930), p. 50. The argument against her interpretation by Nussbaumer, pp. 138 ff., is not convincing.

11. Summa Theologiae I, q. 92, a. 2; cf. Manser, pp. 126-28.

12. IV Sent. d. 27, q. 1, a. 1; q. 3, concl. 2.

13. Summa Theologiae III, q. 67, a. 4.

14. Ibid. I, q. 92, a. 1, ad 1.

15. A. Mitterer, “Mann und Weib nach dem biologischen Weltbild des hl. Thomas und der Gegenwart,” Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 57 (1933): 491-556; Mitterer, “‘Mas occasionatus’ oder zwei Methoden der Thomasdeutung,” ibid 72 (1950): 80-103; cf. also the article by A. Nussbaumer and G. Manser cited in note 7.

16. Mitterer, “Mann und Weib,” p. 519.

17. Summa Theologiae I, q. 92, a. 1, ad 2.

18. ScG 3, 123.

19. Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 177, a. 2.

20. In 1 ad Cor. 11. lectio III, 1, p. 349.

21. Summa Theologiae III, q. 31, a. 4, ad 1.

22. Ibid. II-II, q. 156, a. 1, ad 1; suppl., q. 62, a. 4, ad 5.

23. ScG 4, 122.

24. Nussbaumer, p. 146.

25. A. Ziegler, “Das Bild der Frau von heute,” Orientierung 23 (1959): 68,

26. On the whole issue cf. H. Schelsky, “Der Vater und seine Authorität,” Wowa 8 (1953): 663 ff. Also, Vaessen, ”Die Stellung der Frau" (see chap.II, n. 120, above), pp. 263 ff.

27. Summa Theologiae suppl., q. 19, a. 3, ad 4; in 1 Tim. 2. lectio III; in 4 Pol. 2. lectio III.

28. Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 123, a. 5, ad 2.

29. Cf. A. Ziegler, Das natürliche Entscheidungsrecht des Mannes in Ehe und Familie (Heidelberg-Louvain, 1958).

30. AAS 22 (1930), pp. 549-50; cf. pp. 567-68.

31. Corpus Iuris Canonici, 4, X, de arbitris, I, 43; Friedberg (see chap.

III, n. 49, above), vol. 2, p. 231.

32. Pontificale Romanum. De benedictione et coronatione reginae ut regni dominae.

33. A. Wintersig, “Zur Königinnenweihe,” Jahrbuch für Liturgiewissen-schaft 5 (1925): 150-53.

34. P. de Puniet, Le Pontifical romain (Louvain-Paris, 1931), vol. 2, p. 136.

35. For the following pages we have depended heavily on the unpublished dissertation of Vaessen (see above), pp. 151 ff.

36. Corpus Iuris Canonici, 12, X, de maioritate et oboedientia, I, 33; Friedberg, vol. 2, p. 201.

37. L. Hanser, “Abbatissae nullius,” Studien und Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Benediktinerordens und seiner Zweige 43 (1925): 219.

38. Corpus Iuris Canonici, 14, X de excessibus praelatorum et subditorum, V, 31; Friedberg, vol. 2, p. 841.

39. Schäfer, Kanonissenstifter (see chap. IV, n. 59), p. 103.

40. Ibid., p. 143.

41. K. H. Schäfer, “Kanonissen und Diakonissen,” Römische Quartal-schrift für christliche Altertumskunde und für Kirchengeschichte 24 (1910): 89.

42. Schäfer, Kanonissenstifter, p. 144.

43. Schäfer, “Kanonissen,” p. 54.

44. Schäfer, Kanonissenstifter, p. 146.

45. Ibid.

46. A. Cohausz, Herford als Reichsstadt und papstunmittelbares Stift (Bielefeld, 1928), p. 25.

47. Ibid.

48. E. Krebs, “Priestertum der Frau” (see chap. I, n. 5, above), pp. 214— 15; Hanser, p. 220. The expression “Monstrum Apuliae” was coined by Baronius.

49. “Abbesses,” DThC I, p. 21.

50. Borsinger, Rechtsstellung der Frau (see chap. IV, n. 47, above), p. 55.

51. Hanser, p. 220.

52. F. Ferraris, Bibliotheca canonica iuridica moralis theologica (Rome, 1844), vol. l, p. 28.

53. M. F. Hallier, De sacris electionibus et ordinibus ex antiquo et novo ecclesiae usu (Paris, 1636), p. 519.

54. Borsinger, pp. 57-58.

55. “Abbesses,” DThC 1, p. 21.

56. Following Suarez here; see below. DThC I, pp. 21-22.

57. Krebs, p. 215.

58. Borsinger, p. 55.

59. De Puniet, vol. 2, p. 134.

60. L. Eisenhofer, Handbuch der katholischen Liturgik (Freiburg, 1933), vol. 2, p. 429.

61. Cf. S. Hilpisch, Die Doppelklöster (Münster, 1928).

62. M. Heimbucher, Die Orden und Kongregationen der katholischen Kirche (Paderborn, 1907), vol. 1, pp. 327-29.

63. Borsinger, p. 65; DThC 1, p. 21.

64. Hilpisch, p. 73.

65. Borsinger, p. 63; Hilpisch, pp. 78-85.

66. In 1 ad Cor. 11. lectio II, op. cit., 1, p. 347.

67. Summa Theologiae suppl. q. 19, a. 3, ad 4.

68. Ibid.

69. F. Suarez, De Religione, Tract. 7, lib. 2, cap. 9, ed. Vivès (Paris, 1860), vol. 16, p. 148.

70. Friedberg, vol. 1, p. 1255.

71. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 903.

72. Ibid., p. 886.

73. Many other authors think otherwise, however; cf. DThC II, pp. 2125-26.

74. F. Suarez, De Censuris, Disp. 2, sect. 3, ed. Vivès (Paris, 1861), pp. 22 ff.

75. Suarez, De Religione, p. 148.

76. Corpus Iuris Canonici, 10, X, de poenitentiis, V. 38; Friedberg, vol. 2, p. 886.

77. Cf. the Capitulare Caroli Magni, Mansi, vol. 13, app. 3, c. 174.

78. Giner Sempere, “La mujer” (see chap. III, n. 141, above), p. 859; cf. DThC I, p. 20.

79. Giner Sempere, pp. 860-61.

80. Ibid., pp. 862-63.

81. Mansi, vol. 13, app. 3, c. 174.

82. Giner Sempere, pp. 863 ff.

83. Mitterer, “Mann und Weib,” pp. 534 ff.; Nussbaumer, p. 150.

84. Quoted in Giner Sempere, pp. 846-47, and Gillmann, “Weibliche Kleriker” (see chap. IV, n. 51, above), p. 253, n. 1.

85. Wahl, Exclusion of Women (see chap. I, n. 1, above), pp. 45-56.

86. Suarez, De Censuris, Disp. 51, sect. 2, p. 565.

87. F. Suarez, Disput. in 3am partem, Disp. 87, sect. 1, ed. Vivès (Paris, 1861), vol. 21, p. 922.

88. The Missale Romanum appears to consider it still useful to state expressly that the priest may celebrate despite “de defectibus dispositionis corporis,” 9, 5. For a general discussion cf. also J. Fuchs, Die Sexualethik des heiligen Thomas von Aquin (Cologne, 1949), pp. 50-53, 249-53.

89. Th. L. Haitjema, Nederlands Hervormd Kerkrecht (Nijkerk, 1951), p. 142.

90. Ibid., p. 11.

91. Ibid., pp. 148-49.

92. Refoulé, “Femme-prêtres en Suède” (see chap. II, n. 76, above), pp. 76-77.

93. Ibid., pp. 78-79.

94. Congar, “La femme dans 1’Eglise” (see chap. II, n. 83, above), p. 764.

95. In IV Sent. dist. XXV, art. II, q. 1 (ed. Quaracchi, 1889), tom. IV, p. 649.

96. Krebs, “Priestertum der Frau” (see chap. I, n. 5, above), p. 209.

97. Hick, Stellung des hl Paulus (see chap. II, n. 40, above), p. 179.

98. Henry, “Le mystère” (see chap. I, n. 6, above), pp. 488 ff.

99. Bonaventura, In IV Sent. dist. XX, p. II, q. 3 in corp. (ed. Quaracchi, 1889), tom. IV, p. 534.

100. K. Bihlmeyer and H. Tüchle, Kirchengeschichte, 12th ed. (Paderborn, 1948), vol. 2, pp. 59-60.

101. Cf. Humbertus Cardinalis libri 3 adv. Simoniacos. lib. 3, cap. 5, 11. Monumenta Germaniae Historica Libelli de Lite 1 (Hanover, 1891; editio nova, 1956), pp. 203-4, 211-12.

102. Diekamp-Hoffmann, Theologiae dogmaticae (see chap. II, n. 4, above), p. 426.

103. Lercher, Institutiones theologiae (see chap. II, n. 37, above), p. 316.

104. Nicea, canon 15: Hefele-Leclercq, vol. 1, pp. 597-98; Chalcedon, canon 5: Hefele-Leclercq, vol. 2, pp. 783-84.

105. Corpus Iuris Canonici, 7, X, de translatione episcopi, 1, 4; Friedberg, vol. 2, p. 100.

106. Denz.-Schönm. 769.

107. Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 184, a. 7, and q. 185, a. 4.

108. H. Schlier, Der Brief an die Epheser (Düsseldorf, 1957), pp. 252 ff.

109. R. Laurentin, Marie, l’Eglise et le sacerdoce (see chap. I, n. 7, above), vol. 1, p. 93, n. 119.

110. F. Büchsel’s article γεννάω [κτλ] in Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (see chap. II, n. 8), vol. 1, p. 665.

111. Laurentin, Marie, l’Eglise et le sacerdoce (see chap. I, n. 7, above), vol. 2, p. 79, note 62.

112. Schlier, p. 266.

113. G. Quell’s article πατήρ in Kittel, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 972, n. 145.

114. J. Jeremias, Die Gleichnisse Jesu (Göttingen, 5th ed., 1958), p. 159, n. 2; cf. also pp. 43-44, 100.

115. Schlier, pp. 264 ff.

116. J. von Allmen, Maris et femmes d’après Saint Paul. Cahiers théologiques 29 (Neuchâtel-Paris, 1951), p. 16.

117. G. Schrenk’s article θέλημα in Kittel, vol. 3, p. 59.

118. P. Schoonenberg, Het geloof van ons Doopsel, vol. 1: God, Vader en Schepper (‘s-Hertogenbosch, 1955), p. 202.

119. I therefore do not agree with Henry, who believes that God is to be understood as male; p. 467.

120. Quell, p. 970.

121. In IV Sent. d. XXV, a. II, q. 1 (ed. Quaracchi, 1889), tom. IV, p. 650.

122. M. J. Rouët de Journel, Enchiridion Patristicum, 19th ed. (Freiburg, 1956), p. 1018.

123. R. W. Howard, quoted in Thrall, Ordination of Women (see chap. I, n. 11, above), p. 15; cf. also H. Thurn, “Animus und Anima,” Geist und Leben 26 (1953), pp. 50-51.

124. P. Evdokimov, La femme et le salut du monde (Paris, 1958). Dutch translation, De vrouw en het heil der wereld (Rotterdam, 1962), p. 274.

125. P. Schoonenberg, Het geloof van ons Doopsel, vol. 3; De mensgeworden Zoon van God (‘s-Hertogenbosch, 1958), pp. 161 ff.

126. Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture (Boston, 1934), p. 14.

127. Margaret Mead, Sex and Temperament (New York, 1935), p. 191.

128. Ibid., p. 190.

129. Margaret Mead, Woman, Society, and Sex (New York, 1952), p. 23.

130. J. H. van den Berg, “Man en vrouw,” Wending 9 (1954-55), p. 275.

131. Edith Stein, Die Frau (see chap. I, n. 18, above), p. 109.

132. Ibid., p. 121.

133. Ibid., p. 125.

134. Ibid., pp. 122 ff.

135. Schoonenberg, vol. 1, pp. 203 ff.

136. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 162.

137. F. Wulf, “Der Zölibat des Weltpriesters und die Jungfräulichkeit des Ordensstandes,” Geist und Leben 35 (1962): 51-55.

138. P. Schoonenberg, “Het huwelijk in heilshistorisch perspectief,” Streven 15, no. 1 (1962): 502.

139. Schoonenberg, Het geloof van ons Doopsel, vol, 3, p. 53.

140. Henry, pp. 479-80.

141. Laurentin, vol. 2, pp. 74 ff.

142. Henry, p. 477.

143. Ibid., pp. 479-80.

144. Laurentin, vol. 2, pp. 74 ff.

145. Henry, p. 484.

146. Barth, CD III/4, pp. 154-55.

147. Ibid, p. 156.

148. Henry, p. 488.

149. Laurentin, vol. 2, pp. 70 ff.

150. Stein, p. 44.

151. O. Casel, “Katholische Kultprobleme,” Jahrbuch für Liturgiewissenschaft 7 (1927): 110-111.

152. M. Schmaus, Katholische Dogmatik IV/1 (Munich, 1952), pp. 594-95.

153. P. J. Jans, “Mann und Frau in ihrem Verhältnis zum kirchlichen Amt,” Internationale Kirchliche Zeitschrift 52 (1962): 145-56.

154. Krebs, p. 207.

155. Lercher, p. 316.

156. See the addresses of Pius XII cited above in chap. 4, nn. 58 ff.

157. Mitterer, in both articles (cf. above, note 15), passim.

158. Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations (see chap. II, n. 6, above), vol. 4, pp. 77-104.

159. M. Schmaus, Katholische Dogmatik (Munich, 1948), vol. 1, p. 428.

160. Denz.-Schönm. 1300-1302.

161. Methodius v. Olympos, PG 18, c. 73; cf. Damascenus, PG 94, cc. 814 f. Further texts are provided by Daniélou, Théologie du Judéo-Christianisme (Tournai, 1958), pp. 191-92.

162. Summa Theologiae III, q. 67, a. 4.

163. Wahl, p. 47.

164. When Barth excludes participation, he is exclusively in the spirit of the Reformation. The Council of Trent had specifically defined co-operari (Denz.-Schönm. 1554). But one could well say that woman is better suited to symbolize this co-operari that man, who more aptly symbolizes operari; woman is the adiutorium of man. And in our situation the concern is about co-operation!

165. Barth, CD 1/2, pp. 194-95.

166. A. Scherer, Die Frau, Wesen und Aufgaben. Wörterbuch der Politik 6 (Freiburg, 1950), p. 2.

167. AAS 39 (1947): 538; cf. p. 553.

168. Prof. K. H. Miskotte of the theological faculty of the University of Leiden writes: “If one were seriously to believe that the basis for the exclusive choice of men rested on the order of creation with an absolute distribution of tasks, then one would also have to reject a female monarch, female judges, etc., indeed, even woman suffrage. ”De vrouw in het ambt, Kerk en Theologie 1 (1950): 177.

169. Rahner, Theological Investigations, vol. 3, pp. 242 ff.

170. Summa Theologiae III, q. 30, a. 1; Leo XIII, Octobri mense: Denz.-Schönm. 3321.

171. A good overview can be found in E. Doronzo, “De sacerdotali ministerio B. V. Mariae,” in Maria et Ecclesia (Rome, 1959), vol. 2, pp. 149-67, and C. Koser, “De Sacerdotio B.M.V.,” ibid., pp. 169-206. The standard work is still the two-volume work by Laurentin.

172. Laurentin, vol. 2, pp. 37-38.

173. Cf. Doronzo, passim.

174. Laurentin, vol. 2, 38-39.

175. Rondet, p. 924.

176. Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 153, a. 2.

177. Rondet, p. 929.

178. Ibid, p. 926.

179. Laurentin, vol. 1, pp. 93-94.

180. Evdokimov, pp. 273 ff.

181. Lexikon för Theologie und Kirche, 2d ed, IV, p. 200.

182. S. G. M. Trooster, “De leek in huwelijk en gezinsleven (I), VI Man en vrouw,” Katholiek Archief 11 (1956): pp. 1245-46.

183. Cf. Karl Rahner, “Bemerkungen über das Naturgesetz und seine Erkennbarkeit,” Orientierung 19 (1955): 239-43.

184. John McHugh, “Num solus panis triticeus sit materia valida SS. Eucharistiae?” Verbum Domini 39 (1961): 229-39.

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