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Human rights, such as equal rights for women, do not apply in the context of the ministries. From INTER INSIGNIORES

Human rights, such as equal rights for women, do not apply in the context of the ministries

From INTER INSIGNIORES:

(The hyper-linked comments in italics are by John Wijngaards)

Arms of John Paul II

35. It is opportune to recall that problems of sacramental theology, especially when they concern the ministerial priesthood, as is the case here, cannot be solved except in the light of Revelation. The human sciences, however valuable their contribution in their own domain, cannot suffice here, for they cannot grasp the realities of faith: the properly supernatural content of these realities is beyond their competence.

36. Thus one must note the extent to which the Church is a society different from other societies, original in her nature and in her structures. The pastoral charge in the Church is normally linked to the sacrament of Order; it is not a simple government, comparable to the modes of authority found in States. It is not granted by people’s spontaneous choice: even when it involves designation through election, it is the laying on of hands and the prayer of the successors of the Apostles which guarantee God’s choice; and it is the Holy Spirit, given by ordination, who grants participation in the ruling power of the Supreme Pastor, Christ (cf. Acts 20 :28). It is a charge of service and love: ‘If you love me, feed my sheep’ (cf. Jn 21 :15-17).

37. For this reason one cannot see how it is possible to propose the admission of women to the priesthood in virtue of the equality of rights of the human person, an equality which holds good also for Christians. To this end, use is sometimes made of the text quoted above, from the Letter to the Galatians (3 :28), which says that in Christ there is no longer any distinction between men and women. But this passage does not concern ministries: it only affirms the universal calling to divine filiation, which is the same for all. Moreover, and above all, to consider the ministerial priesthood as a human right would be to misjudge its nature completely: baptism does not confer any personal title to public ministry in the Church. The priesthood is not conferred for the honour or advantage of the recipient, but for the service of God and the Church; it is the object of a specific and totally gratuitous vocation: ‘You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you. . .’ (Jn 15:16; cf. Heb. 5:4).

For the full text, see: INTER INSIGNIORES.

From the Commentary by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Declaration Inter Insigniores:

Sacred Congregation for Doctrine

105. The proposal that women should be admitted to the priesthood because they have gained leadership in many fields of modern life today seems to ignore the fact that the Church is not a society like the rest. In the Church, authority or power is of a very different nature, linked as it normally is with the sacrament, as is underlined in the declaration. Disregard of this fact is indeed a temptation that has threatened ecclesiological research at all periods: every time that an attempt is made to solve the Church’s problems by comparison with those of states, or to define the Church’s structure by political categories, the inevitable result is an impasse.

106. The declaration also points out the defect in the argument that seeks to base the demand that the priesthood be conferred on women on the text Galatians 3:28, which states that in Christ there is no longer any distinction between man and woman. For St Paul this is the effect of baptism. The baptismal catechesis of the fathers often stressed it. But absolute equality in baptismal life is quite a different thing from the structure of the ordained ministry. This latter is the object of a vocation within the Church not a right inherent in the person.

For the full text, see: Official Commentary on INTER INSIGNIORES.



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.

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