The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church

The Ordination of Women
in the Roman Catholic Church

Eric Doyle, OFM

In Feminine in the Church Chapter Two
Edited by Monica Furlong, London 1984.

The subject on which I have been invited to make some remarks is the actual state of the question in the Roman Catholic Church about the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood. In approaching the subject, I set myself this precise question: Is it still a question in the Roman Catholic Church? The aim of these pages is to examine the data at hand in order to arrive at an exact and unemotional answer to that question. I add ‘unemotional’ deliberately, because the issue about the ordination of women is an emotive one. When it is raised, emotions run high and they run riot. So often on both sides the wish is father to the thought. While intuitions and insights cannot be despised, they have to be tested, and this is as applicable methodologically in theology as it is in physics.

This, then, is the question being asked: Is the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood still a question in the Roman Catholic Church? De facto of course the question is being debated among Roman Catholics, as experience shows. But what of the de jure situation? Is it legitimate in the Roman Catholic Church to raise and discuss the question and even to hold the view that women can be ordained ? This question about legitimacy derives its importance from the fact that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published on 15 October 1976 a Declaration, known from its opening latin words Inter insigniores, concerning the question of the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood. The answer appears already in the final paragraph of the Declaration’s introduction: ‘The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges it necessary to recall that the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination."

The Declaration came from a mandate of Pope Paul Vl. He then approved and confirmed it and ordered it to be published. One might be inclined to conclude from these circumstances especially, that the question is definitively and irrevocably closed. But, as we shall see, this is a conclusion that cannot be drawn.

What, then, is the doctrinal status of the Declaration? What kind of authority does it possess? The answer to this question requires some analysis of the complex machinery that lies behind statements from Rome. While this may seem a little tedious, it is necessary in order to be able to assess the specific status and weight of the Declaration, and I ask the reader’s indulgence for what follows.

The Declaration is no merely private statement presented by a group of Roman theologians. It comes from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (known formerly as the Holy Office) and it is a document concerning the content of Christian revelation.

The Pope frequently exercises his non-infallible, ordinary teaching office through the Roman congregations. He may approve a decree or a declaration of a congregation in a solemn way, in which case he makes the entire document his own and promulgates it in his own name. On the other hand, he may approve a decree or a declaration in a general way and in that case he confirms it as a document of the respective congregation. This latter type of approval is by far the more common, and decrees or declarations thus approved remain entirely the work of the congregation involved. In this case such documents cannot be infallible, because the Pope cannot delegate the infallible teaching office.

It is the responsibility of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to safeguard the Church’s teaching on faith and morals. The authority of its declarations does not derive from the convincing power or weight of the arguments produced for a particular position, but from its participation in the teaching office of the Pope. Thus, the Declaration on the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood is a highly authoritative

Nevertheless, when all this has been said, it has to be pointed out that the Declaration is not an infallible pronouncement. It is not, in the words of the definition of papal infallibility, ‘of itself irreformable’,(2) nor does it possess the certitude that excludes all fear of error. The question about women priests, therefore, is not definitively and irrevocably closed in the Roman Catholic Church. The fact of papal approval and confirmation does not alter this, precisely because the Declaration remains entirely the work of the congregation.

To anyone familiar with the history of Roman pronouncements this is nothing new or remarkable. The Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholic theology have long known the distinction between irreformable definitions of the Roman magisterium and authoritative though reformable pronouncements. The Church is an essentially historical reality and various factors - political, sociological, psychological and theological come into play when a decree or declaration is made.

In respect of the present Declaration, it seems to be the case that, while there is a very significant and articulate minority in the Roman Catholic Church which holds that there is no doctrinal or theological objection to the ordination of women and that it is intrinsically desirable that women should be ordained, the majority are either opposed or indifferent to the ordination of women. Many people are simply not prepared psychologically or theologically even to discuss it. That, I suppose, could have been said about vernacular in the liturgy in the early 1950s.

In any case, no one at present can conclude that women are barred forever by the law of God from becoming priests. The Declaration is an authoritative but not definitive statement on the matter of admitting women to the ministerial priesthood. For this reason the discussion about the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church is not only not excluded, but it is imperative that it be continued.

Theology’s task is not simply one of repetition. Even in regard to the explicit teachings of divine and catholic faith, the theologian expounds and unfolds the meanings contained in them, establishes the relationship of one truth to another and demonstrates how any particular statement of faith is to be understood in the light of the Church’s faith as such. Therefore, in regard to authoritative documents of the Roman magisterium which are not definitive or infallible, it is much less the case that the theologian should simply repeat them or necessarily justify them. The doctrinal reason for this is that the authority of faith derives from the authority of the Word of God itself, to which the magisterium is a servant.

In a very balanced study of the question published after the Declaration, Fr John Wijngaards, MHM, explains the doctrinal status of the Declaration as follows: According to generally accepted ecclesiastical interpretation such doctrinal declarations by the Congregation do not impede further discussion. In at least two official interpretations given, it was authoritatively stated that such documents ‘have not in the least the aim to forbid that Catholic writers should study the question further and, after carefully weighing the arguments on both sides, adhere to the contrary opinion’. (2 June 1927) (3)

This quotation is taken from a declaration of the Holy Office in connection with a reply which the Holy Office itself had given on 13 January 1897, concerning the Johannine Comma. Though Wijngaards does not quote it, the text goes on to say ‘provided that they own themselves ready to stand by the Church’s decision, which has received from Jesus Christ the authority not only to interpret Scripture but also to safeguard it faithfully’. Nevertheless, the Holy Office did not forbid scholars to hold the opposite view with regard to the Johannine Comma, namely that 1 John 5.7b,c-8a, is a marginal gloss that crept into the text of the Old Latin and Vulgate texts of the New Testament.

Wijngaards also gives a quotation from a letter to Cardinal Suhard from the secretary of the Biblical Commission, on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and on the historical chaeacter of Genesis 1-11, published on 16 January 1948. Wijngaards also gives a quotation from a letter to Cardinal Suhard from the secretary of the Biblical Commission, on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and on the historical character of Genesis 1 - 11, published on 16 January 1948. The quotation reads: ‘. . . such decisions do in no way oppose the further and really scientific study of such questions’.(4) Though both these official interpretations refer to scriptural questions, Wijngaards explains: ‘It was generally agreed, even before Vatican 11, that this interpretation should be extended to all documents of the same kind and that by their very nature, these documents do not exclude further discussion.’(5) In support of this position he refers the reader to the work of Fr Francis Sullivan, on the Church, where Sullivan equiparates decrees of the Holy Office and replies from the Biblical Commission.(6) Even the manualists admitted that the assent to be given to decrees of the Holy See is relative and conditional.’

In an address given nearly twenty years ago under the title ‘The position of women in the new situation in which the Church finds herself’ Fr Karl Rahner maintained . . . there can be no real point or prospect of achieving anything by pursuing this question [women and the priesthood] at this point in the history of the Church’s understanding of her own faith and of her practice outside the specialist circles of those engaged in scientific theology. Nor is it of any avail to point to the developments in theology and in actual practice with regard to this question which have taken place among Evangelical Christians. For these do not in fact recognize any official priesthood based on sacramental consecration such as provides the basis for the fundamental distinction between clergy and people.(8)

This passage calls for some comment. Much has happened in the two decades since Rahner wrote those words. The question has been discussed at very many levels ‘outside the specialist circles of those engaged in scientific theology’; indeed theology has been done in many new places.(9) Perhaps this is one of the reasons which explain the rather different view expressed by Rahner in 1972. He wrote then: In this connection, of course, the question might be raised whether today or at least tomorrow, in the light of the secular social situation, a woman could be considered just as much as a man for leadership of a basic community and therefore could be ordained to the priestly office. Having in mind the society of today and even more of tomorrow, I see no reason in principle to give a negative answer to this question.’(10)

Rahner, of course, was not opposed to the ordination of women when he delivered the above-mentioned address in June 1964. The point I want to emphasize is that he has clearly shifted his position on the opportuneness of the question. It should also be noted that in the course of the address he also pointed out, in passing, that in many instances those who put forward the theological arguments to support the impossibility of women priests ‘are unconsciously and without realizing it working from positions deriving from an age which is no longer with us and with which we no longer need to identify ourselves’.(11)

Some qualification is required on what he says about the significance of what has taken place among Evangelical Christians. To say that it is of no avail to point to the developments which have taken place among these because they do not recognize any official priesthood, is far too general a statement. Professor J.-J. von Allmen, the Calvinist theologian, criticizes Catholic theologians who assume that this view of the ministry is held indiscriminately by all Protestants.(12) Professor von Allmen’s view is that the ministry is of the esse of the Church and requires more than baptism for its reception and practice. Von Allmen, incidentally, is opposed to the ordination of women.

It is noteworthy also that Rahner in an essay published after the Declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the question of admitting women to the ministerial priesthood, maintains that, despite papal approval, the Declaration is not a definitive decision; it is in principle reformable and it can (that is not to say a priori that it must) be erroneous . . . the discussion is not yet at an end and it cannot consist merely in a defence of the basic thesis and arguments of the Declaration. (13)

At this point it is opportune, I think, to say something about the ecumenical significance of the doctrinal status of the Declaration. I have in mind particularly those of my Anglican brethren who are opposed to the ordination of women and who invoke the Declaration as a grave warning to the Anglican Communion. I have heard Anglicans who are opposed to the ordination of women, argue that unilateral action in ordaining women on the part of some churches of the Anglican Communion has placed an almost, if not totally insurmountable barrier across the road to Christian unity. Some even lament that by ordaining women the Anglicans have done irreparable damage to the cause of ecumenism, and they quote the Roman Declaration in support of their case.

With respect, I submit that this attitude is a little simplistic, alarmist and lacking in trust in the Holy Spirit. In response, it has to be urged that the Declaration has not closed the question definitively. While I do not consider that this will alter the view of anyone opposed to the ordination of women, I do hope it will make them cautious about using the Declaration in support of their position against those of their Anglican brethren who hold the view that women can be ordained. The ecumenical significance of the Declaration is precisely that it is not irrevocable and definitive.

But there are more important issues at stake here. Ecumenism concerns the Church of Christ as it is now making its way into a God-willed, though to us unknown, future. What is required of all of us is complete openness to the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2.10). Moreover, the question about the ordination of women is not an isolated one. It belongs to the context of a much wider question concerning the theology of ministry. As N. Mitchell has emphasized, ‘the theology of ordained ministry is, then, a derivative of ecclesiology, not vice versa’.(14) It needs to be stressed also that the ministerial priesthood is not exhaustively defined by its cultic functions, though these are an essential part of it. It includes also the preaching of the Word, teaching and leadership in the community. The ministry in general is undergoing a transformation which has already proved that the Church needs the male/female partnership in fulfilling her mission of salvation. What is most crucial, then, in the question about the ordination of women to the priesthood is the developing theology of ministry

It must be clear to the Anglicans that there is no consensus or unanimity in the Roman Catholic Church on this question. Until very recently it was accepted that only a male can be validly ordained a priest. Since this position was a priori accepted, there could be no really serious question about the ordination of women. As the Declaration itself admits: ‘. . . we are dealing with a debate which classical theology scarcely touched on . .15 Now, however, questions have arisen about the principles on which this a priori position is based. To ask today: ‘Can a woman be ordained a priest?’ is to ask a very different question than that which was asked by the Fathers of the Church or the medieval Scholastics. The difference derives from theological (especially ecclesiological), biblical, sociological, psychological and ecumenical factors. There is not space to examine these again here, but it is not necessary as they are well known. The new data which these diverse areas have produced about many topics in the Church have undermined and in some cases totally demolished so much that was once thought to be part of the unchanging and unchangeable nature of things. It is clear that the question about women priests that we are asking is entirely new, stemming from an altogether unprecedented understanding of the dignity, value and uniqueness of being a woman. In ecumenical terms, then, I would want to ask those of my Anglican brethren who are opposed to the ordination of women: ‘Did you ever consider it distinctly possible that the growing awareness of the place of women in the Church, and the view that women can be ordained, have come about by the grace of the Holy Spirit who leads us into the truth and who is the Spirit of all times in the history of the Church?’ finally, on this matter, I would concede to my Anglican brethren who are opposed to the ordination of women that none of us can ignore the official position of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Old Catholic Church of the Utrecht Union, on this matter. And undoubtedly there are problems here - though I do not think they are insuperable. But I would also add that the action taken by some churches of the Anglican Communion and the statement made by the General Synod cannot be ignored either. We have to be completely open to the Holy Spirit who may well be teaching us all through the Anglican Communion something very new and profound about the ministry and the role of women in it.

The Declaration, then, has not definitively closed the question about the ordination of women. I must admit that it came as something of a surprise to me that Rome chose to issue only a declaration. The year before it was published I had been a member of the Sixth Anglican/Roman Catholic Working Group for (Continental) West Europe, which met in Assisi at the Centro Ecumenico from 10-14 November 1975 to consider the question of the ordination of women in the light of recent developments in this area in the Anglican Communion. The Old Catholic Church of the Utrecht Union was also represented. Peter Staples, an Anglican theologian, gave a paper on what a theologian can say about the ordination of women. Fr Nickel explained the Old Catholic viewpoint. Herve-Marie Legrand OP and I presented theological reflections from the Roman Catholic side. All this material, together with a note appended by Canon Dessain, was edited and published by Peter Staples: The Assisi Report 1975, The Inter-university Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Research, Utrecht 1975.

The Catholic representatives were present at the invitation of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. Both Legrand and myself concluded that there is no theological objection to the ordination of women. We were not, of course, stating an official position, but presenting a theological opinion. At the end of the meeting - which had been a little heated at times there was a general feeling, by no means unanimous, that a good deal more discussion at many levels would have to take place about the ordination of women. Eleven months later, in October 1976, the Declaration was published. The gravity of the conclusion that the Church ‘does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordinationn might have warranted a more intrinsically authoritative document than a declaration. This is reinforced by the words of Pope Paul in his letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, dated 30 November 1975 (only two weeks after the Working Group had met in Assisi): ‘Your Grace is of course well aware of the Catholic Church’s position on this question. She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons.16 Yet the fact of the matter is that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration.

Subsequently, I was invited to take part in the Anglican/ Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women which met at Versailles from 27 February to 3 March 1978. The Anglican members were appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council: the Rt Revd Donald Cameron, Assistant Bishop of Sydney; the Revd Professor Edward Fashole-Luke, Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone; the Revd Professor James Griffiss, Nashotah House, USA; Miss Christian Howard, York; the Rt Revd Barry Valentine, Bishop of Rupert’s Land, Canada, who was co-chairman; and the Revd Christopher Hill, who acted as co-secretary. The Roman Catholic members were appointed by the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity: Fr Yves Congar, OP; Fr Eric Doyle, OFM; Fr Pierre Duprey, WF, Under Secretary, Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity; Revd John Hotchkin, United States Bishops’ Ecumenical Commission who was co-chairman and Mgr William Purdy, Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, who also acted as co-secretary. These were the terms of reference the Joint Consultation was asked to consider: ‘To what extent and in what ways churches with women priests and churches without women priests can be reconciled in sacramental fellowship.’"

In November 1976, therefore after the publication of the Declaration which had taken place in October, the Plenary Session of the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity accepted the proposal to hold a Joint Consultation which had been made in Rome in November 1975. And in May 1977 the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council also agreed to the proposed Joint Consultation. On both sides it was understood that the authority of the findings of the Consultation would be only that of its members. The Consultation was a service of advice to the two Churches.

We discussed the terms of reference at great length and it was then, as it remains now, a sign of hope that the question was raised at all. The outcome of our deliberations was a short document of eight paragraphs. This document had a rather strange subsequent history. It was not published by the Vatican Secretariat, but it was submitted in printed form to the Lambeth Conference in August 1978. It should be recalled that the document has no more authority than that of the members of the Consultation who produced it.18 Bishop Cahal Daly, who represented the Roman Catholic Church at the Lambeth Conference, reasserted the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to the ordination of women. He expressed the anxiety of the Vatican Secretariat about what seemed a prevailing tendency to regard the Roman Catholic Church’s position on the ordination of women to the priesthood as unclear and somehow provisional. He stressed that the chief purpose of his statement was to say to the members of the Lambeth Conference that it is not possible to call in question the seriousness and firmness of the Catholic position in this matter. There is no doubt that Bishop Daly had in mind the document produced by the Joint Consultation in Versailles in 1978. It should be added that Bishop Daly went on to say: . . . the Secretariat for the Union of Christians, of which I am a member, would in no way wish to dissociate itself from the hopefulness and the commitment to continued search for reconciliation which was clearly apparent in the Holy Father’s letters and has characterized Anglican-Roman Catholic confrontation of this ‘new and grave obstacle’.19

Therefore if we are to continue the search for reconciliation we will have to go on examining the subject about the ordination of women to the priesthood and remain all of us, Anglicans and Roman Catholics, open to what the Spirit may be saying to the Churches. And as has been said, and must with respect and in truth be repeated, the Declaration, due to its technical character, does not forbid further discussion about the ordination of women. For these reasons we may enter into dialogue with the Declaration in regard to the cogency of the arguments it presents for the position it adopts. In a spirit of dialogue I have examined the argument against the ordination of women which the Declaration derives from a particular interpretation of the phrase in persona Christi. The fact that women who baptize and marry act in persona Christi considerably weakens the Declaration’s argument.(20)

In the same spirit I would like to make some comments about the argument from tradition. The Declaration states The Church’s tradition in the matter has thus been so firm in the course of the centuries that the Magisterium has not felt the need to intervene in order to formulate a principle which was not attacked, or to defend a law which was not challenged.(2l)

Thus the argument is: To ordain a woman would be contrary to the tradition of the Church. In the sense that women have never been ordained to the ministerial priesthood on the Church’s authority, this statement stands. It seems, however, more accurate to say: To ordain a woman would be contrary to the practice of the Church. This is no verbal quibble, but an important distinction because the word tradition carries far greater weight and authority than does the word practice. It is noteworthy that the Declaration, after mentioning the Fathers and the Scholastics, says: ‘Since that period and up to our own time, it can be said that the question has not been raised again, for the practice has enjoyed peaceful and universal acceptance.’(22) ‘Practice’ seems by far the more preferable. To justify the use of the word tradition would require a greater number of early witnesses explicitly against the ordination of women, a more cogent argument than ‘peaceful and universal acceptance’, a more compelling case than silence and less evidence of a negative theology of womanhood. The only argument of any of the Scholastics against the ordination of women that is worthy of serious consideration is one given by Duns Scotus. He maintains that the necessity of maleness for the priesthood is derived from the will of Christ. He argues that the Church would never have presumed on its own authority to deprive the entire female sex of participating in the sacrament of orders.(23) I do not say that this is a convincing argument, but it does have some dignity. In any case, I would be inclined to agree with Begley and Armbuster: ‘It is historically more accurate to speak of a non-tradition concerning the ordination of women rather than a tradition against it.’(24)

I came upon a fascinating detail recently from the life of St Therese of Lisieux.(25) Among the testimonies from the process of her beatification there is a long and detailed statement by her sister, Celine Martin, whose name in religion was Sister Genevieve of St Teresa. She gave her testimony from 14 to 28 September 1910 before a diocesan tribunal, set up by the Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux. Sister Genevieve bore witness under oath that:

In 1897, but before she was really ill, Sister Therese told me she expected to die that year. Here is the reason she gave me for this in June. When she realised that she had pulmonary tuberculosis, she said: ‘You see, God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest . . . If I could have been a pnest, I would have been ordained at these June ordinations. So, what did God do? So that I would not be disappointed, he let me be sick: in that way I couldn’t have been there, and I would die before I could exercise my ministry.’ The sacrifice of not being able to be a priest was something she always felt deeply. During her illness, whenever we were cutting her hair she would ask fore tonsure, and then joyfully feel it with her hand. But her regret did not find its expression merely in such tnfles; it was caused by a real love of God, and inspired high hopes in her. The thought that St Barbara had brought communion to St Stanislas Kostka thrilled her. ‘Why must I be a virgin, and not an angel or a priest?’ she said. ‘Oh! what wonders we shall see in heaven! I have a feeling that those who desired to be priests on earth will be able to share in the honour of the priesthood in heaven.’(26)

St Therese was twenty-four on 2 January 1897, the canonical age for ordination to the priesthood in theRoman Catholic Church at that time.(27) She died on 30 September that same year. This remarkable passage provides much food for thought. One wonders what reaction it provoked in the Promoter of the Faith (known popularly as the ‘Devil’s Advocate’) in Rome as he sifted and examined the evidence for St Therese’s heroic sanctity. It evidently proved no barrier to her canonization.

I would like to make one final point. This question ought not to be divorced from the theology of God and the feminine. The mystics and the mystic theologians have much to teach us here. Without embarrassment and with complete confidence so many of them spoke beautifully of God in feminine terms. That has so much relevance to the question about the ordination of women. Let St Anselm, then, have the last word: ‘Surely, Jesus, good Lord, you are a mother? Are you not a mother who, like a hen, gathers her chicks under her wings? Indeed, Lord, you are a mother.’(28)

Notes

1. Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to thc Ministerial Priesthood (Vatican City, 1976, published by the Catholic Truth Society, London 1976), p. 5.

2. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ of Vatican 1, session IV, ch. 2: ‘ideoque eiusmodi Romani Pontificis definitiones ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae, irreformabiles esse’.

3. Did Christ Rule out Women Priests? (Great Wakering, 1977), pp. 7-8.

4. ibid, p. 8; see Acta Apostolicae Sedis 40 (1948), p. 46.

5. Did Christ Rule out Women Priests?, p. 8.

6. F.A. Sullivan, SJ, De Ecclesia 1: Quaestiones Theologiae Funtamentalis (Romae, 1963), p. 355; ‘His decretis [Congregationis S. Officii] quae formaliter respiciunt securitatem doctrinae, videntur aequiperandae responsiones Commissionis Pontificalis de Re Biblical’

7. A. Tanquerey, Synopsis Theologiac Dogmaticae Fundamentalis (Parisiis, Tornaci, Romae, 1949), pp. 638-9: ‘Assensus religiosus internus his praeberi decretis . . . omnino inferior est assensui fidei tum divinae, tum ecclesiasticae; nec est absolute certus aut omnem erroris possibilitatem excluders, quia circa magisterii declarationes non infallibiles versatur’ see also M. Nicolau, SJ- 1. Salaverri, SJ, Sacrae Theologiae Summal Theologia Fundamentalis (Matriti, 1958), p. 722.

8. Theological Investigations. V111: Further Theology of thc Spiritual Life, 2 (London/New York, 1971), p. 82. This chapter was delivered as an address at the Convention of the Union of German Catholic Women, in June 1964.

9. See Concilium 115 (5/ 1978): ).-P. Jossua and J.B. Metz (eds.), Fundamental Theology, Doing Theology in New Places, New York, 1979.

10. The Shape of the Church to Come (London, 1974), pp. 113-14.

11. Theological Investigations, V111, p. 82.

12. Est-il legitime de consacrer des femmes au ministere pastoral?’ in Verbum caro, 65 (1963), pp. 5-28.

13. Theological Investigations, XX: Concern for the Church (London, 1981), pp. 37, 45.

14. ‘Ministry Today: Problems and Prospects’ in Worship, 48 (1974), p.337.

15. p.4.

16. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 68 (1976), pp. 599-600.

17. In November 1975 an informal meeting took place in Rome of Anglicans and Roman Catholics at the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. It recommended in a Note to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Willebrands these precise terms of reference; see Anglican Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood, p. 3.

18. The text of the document was published in The Tablet (5 August 1978), pp. 762-3.

19. See The Tablet (5 August 1978), p. 762.

20. Eric Doyle, OFM, ‘The Question of Women Priests and the Argument in persona Christi’ in the forthcoming issue of the Irish Theological Quarterly.

21. p.6.

22. p.6.

23. Lib. IV Sent. d.25, 9.2, 4 in Joannis Duns Scoti . . . Opera Omnia XIX (Parisiis, 1894 (dives) ), p.140a. Scotus also presents other familiar and now unconvincing arguments. He states that a woman cannot receive orders because at least since the Fall a woman is not permitted to hold any position over men; see ibid., p. 140b.

24. John J. Begley, sj - Carl I. Armbuster. sj, ‘Women and Office in the Church’ in Thc American Ecciesiastical Review, 165 (1971), p. 97.

25. This was drawn to my attention by Miss Ann Marie Stuart of Canterbury, a former student of mine. l wish to express my thanks to her for this reference.

26. St Therese of Lisieux by those who knew her: Testimonies from the process of beatification, ed. and trans. by C. O’Mahony, OCD (Dublin, 1975), pp. 155-6.

27. This has been altered in the new Code of Canon Law which came into effect on 27 November 1983; see Canon 1031, par. 1: ‘The priesthood may be conferred only upon those who have completed their twenty-fifth year of age . . .’

28. S. Anselmi Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi Opera Omnia, vol. III . . . Ad fidem codicum recensuit Franciscus Salesius Schmitt, OSB, Edinburgi MDCCCCXLVI, Oratio 10, pp. 40-41.


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