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The World Council of Churches. Regarding the ordination of women

The World Council of Churches

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When the Ecumenical Council of Churches was set up in Amsterdam in 1948, the problem of differing praxis regarding the ordination of women was thus already present. It was debated in the committee on “The Life and Work of Women in the Churches”. The conclusion at that time was as follows:

“The churches are not agreed on the important question of admission of women to the full ministry. Some churches for theological reasons are not prepared to consider the question of such ordination: some find no objection in principle but see administrative or social difficulties; some permit partial but not full participation in the work of the ministry; in others women are eligible for all offices of the Church. Even in the last group, social custom and public opinion still create obstacles. In some countries a shortage of clergy raises urgent practical and spiritual problems. Those who desire the admission of women to the full ministry believe that until this is achieved, the Church will not come to full health and power. We are agreed that this whole subject requires further careful and objective study.”

‘Report of Committee IV:I. The Life and Work of Women in the Church. 4. Ordination of Women’ in: The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches (Man’s Disorder and God’s Design), ed.W.A. Visser’s Hooft, London 1949, p. 147.

Documents on our website

‘We will pour our ointment on the feet of the church’, Aruna Gnanadason, Women’s Ordination Conference, Dublin 2001.

World Council of Churches: ‘Concerning the Ordination of Women’, Department on Faith and Order, 1964.

World Council of Churches: C. F. Parvey (ed.), ‘Ordination of Women in Ecumencial Perspective’, 1980.

“The contribution of the WCC has been to help the churches to set the discussion within the context of an emerging convergence on the understanding of ministry and priesthood and, perhaps even more important, within the concept of the unity we seek. The studies on the unity of the church and the renewal of human community have enlarged and enriched the perspective of this unity. Some have come to maintain that the churches’ ministry must include women in order to show to the world the depths of unity in human community and make the gospel and the vision of the kingdom credible in a broken and divided world.” Mary Tanner



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

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

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

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