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Johannes Teutonicus and his 'Apparatus ad Decreta'

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Johannes Teutonicus

Johannes Teutonicus wrote his Apparatus ad Decreta in 1215 AD. This became one of the most important books, after the code of Gratian, almost like an official juridical source in the Church. It was completed later on by Bartholomew of Brixon in 1240 AD and had great influence on the theologians of the Middle Ages.

Translations from the latin by John Wijngaards

Woman cannot receive the ‘character’ of ordination

“I am saying to this that women cannot receive the character of ordination on account of the impediment of their sex and a decree of the Church”.

Causa 27, quaestio 1, chapter 23

Note. Johannes draws conclusions from this repeated throughout his work:

  • Women cannot exercise any ministry that requires ordination.
  • The ordination to deaconesses mentioned by the Council of Chalcedon cannot have been a sacramental ordination.
  • Women may not teach, except in some cases with permission from the priest.
  • Women may not baptise, except in case of absolute emergency.
  • Women may not bring communion to the sick. If a priest cannot be found, a layman must do it.

There are other theologians who only require baptism, not gender, for ordination

“There are others who say that if an abbess is ordained, she does very well receive the character of ordination, because to be ordained is a question of fact. And after baptism anyone can be ordained”.
(in summarised form:) “These theologians quote a decretal of Pope Innocent III (=X 3. 43. 3), which says that an unbaptized person cannot be ordained and, if he is factually ordained, he does not actually receive the character of ordination. Thus the question of the conditions requisite for valid ordination is objectively answered: the only foundation, or the necessary presupposition, for the validity and efficacy of ordination, as well as for the exercise of ecclesiastical office, is the baptized and believing person . The sex of the ordinand is irrelevant.”

Note. The indispensable presupposition for valid ordination, according to this variant conception, an opinion that differs from traditional thinking, is not male sex but only baptism. If ordination is granted on the basis of being baptized, then the validity of ordination is acknowledged eo ipso (=automatically) with its factuality. Post baptismum quilibet potest ordinari —i. e., After baptism anyone, i.e. man or woman, can be ordained.

Causa 27, quaestio 1, chapter 23

Women cannot carry any public responsibility

“Women are excluded from all male responsibilities”.

On Causa 33, quaestio 5, chapter 17, ad v.

“Women cannot hold any civil or public responsibility.”

On Causa 15, quaestio 3, princ., ad v.

Note. Johannes underwrites the role models found in Roman Law and adopted in medieval society. Women have no capacity to hold “masculine functions”, such as political posts, being a judge, functioning as a witness for last wills and testaments and in penal cases or bringing accusations in court (with some few exceptions).

A woman's task is to produce children

“Nature produced women for this purpose that they would give birth... and it is a shame for a woman not to have the fruits of her marriage.”

Distinctio 56, chapter 5, ad v.

Note. In Teutonicus' eyes, the real job of a woman is the care for and multiplication of the family. This opinion agrees fully with the original Roman Law which said: “For this purpose nature has brought forth women, namely to produce children, and their ambitions are mostly constituted in this area.” (Corpus Iuris Civilis II 271).

Woman is like the soil fostering the male seed

“So the soil, that is the womb, accepts the human race, and what is her own after receiving it she nourishes, and while nourishing this body, and while giving it a body, distinguishes it into various members”.

Note. Johannes Teutonicus here follows the letter of St Jerome to Pammachius according to which the womb of the woman is compared to the soil that receives the seed.

A woman owes her existence to man

“That is, the man himself is called the image of God, because as water flowed from the side of the Lord, so also Eve flowed from the side of Adam”.

Causa 33, quaestio 5, chapter 12, ad v.

“This comes from birth and from origin, because the woman arises from the body of the man”.

Causa 33, quaestio 5, chapter 13, ad v.

Woman is the source of sin

“God is not glorified through the woman, as through a man, because through a woman the first sin came about”.

Causa 33, quaestio 5, chapter 13, ad v.

“Original sin is called original because it had its origin from a woman before it came to man”

Causa 33, quaestio 5, chapter 19, ad v.

A wife owes a double servitude to her husband

“A husband is owed a double servitude by his wife, the first one with regard to rendering him his sexual dues, the other one because of the ministry she has to render him.”

Source: Ida Raming, The Exclusion of Women from the Priesthood, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen 1976, pp. 65-68.



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The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church.

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