What is the Lasting Significance of Eric Doyle’s Contribution to the Debate on the Ordination of Women in the 1970s?
by Brenda Abbott
|The Question of Authority||4|
|A Brief Biography||8|
|The Histrical and Theological Context of the Debate|
|Meetings in Assisi and Versailles||11|
|Doyle’s Paper: ‘The Ordination of Women: The State of the Question The State of the in the Roman Catholic Church’|
|A New Question||21|
|The Arguments For and Against the Ordination of Women|
|The Scholastics and Canon Law||23|
|The Argument from Scripture||31|
|The Argument from Tradition||40|
|The Atttitude of Christ towards Women||45|
|The Argument from the Order of Creation||48|
|In Persona Christ||52|
|The Psychological Argument||60|
|God and the Feminine||64|
|Doyle’s Conclusions and his Lasting Significance for the Debate on the Ordination of Women|
The 1960s and 70s witnessed a lively and even ‘potentially explosive’ debate,(1) in ecumenical circles, on the subject of the ordination of women to the priesthood. By the mid-1970s most major Protestant churches had accepted the ordination of women or had the subject under consideration. Similarly there were Anglicans and Roman Catholics also interested in the question, and dialogue between the two began to take place on this topic. In November 1975 Fr Eric Doyle served, by appointment of the Holy See, as a member of the Anglican/Roman Catholic Working Group on the Ordination of Women in Assisi, and as a member of the Anglican/Roman Catholic Consultation on the same topic in Versailles in1978. Doyle was, therefore, at the heart of official debates within the Catholic Church and in discussion with Anglicans.
On 27 January 1977, the Declaration Inter insigniores was published, which clearly stated that the Catholic Church ‘in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination’.(2) The Declaration was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and submitted in an audience to the Pope who ratified it and ordered its publication. It is an authoritative but not definitive statement on the question of the ordination of women. Doyle comments that this statement might have warranted ‘a more intrinsically authoritative document than a declaration’.(3) Nevertheless, following the Declaration’s wish that more light be shed on the subject, discussion on the topic continued. In 1984, seven years after the publication of Inter insigniores, Doyle wrote: ‘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?'(4)
A response to this question came ten years later, on 30 May 1994, when Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter, Ordinatio sacerdotalis,(5) in which he called for the debate on the ordination of women to be put to an end. He issued the letter ‘in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance’. The Pope declared that ‘the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all of the church’s faithful’. Many were stunned by the letter, (6) since it carries far more doctrinal weight than the declaration Inter insigniores, and the discussion on the ordination of women shifted to one which considered what kind of authority the Pope was exercising in the letter. In order to clarify the position, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a Responsum ad Dubium on 18 November 1995. The statement declared two things: that the doctrine excluding the ordination of women to the priesthood pertains to the deposit of faith; and that it has been infallibly taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium.(7) Caplin comments: ‘Once this document became public, the importance of the women’s ordination issue paled in comparison to the authority issues that the CDF raised in the Responsum ad Dubium. Church conservatives and reformers alike reacted swiftly to the declaration… and if anything, more doubt has been stirred up.'(8)
Francis Sullivan SJ, a leading Catholic ecclesiologist and professor emeritus of the faculty of theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, in his study of Ordinatio sacerdotalis, comments that canon 749.3 of the code of canon law declares that no doctrine is understood to have been defined infallibly unless this fact is clearly established. He considers that there are sound theological reasons for applying this same rule to the claim that a doctrine has been infallibly taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium.(9) He writes:
Hence I take the CDF’s statement to mean that it is a clearly established fact that the worldwide Catholic episcopate is in agreement with Pope John Paul II in teaching that the exclusion of women from ordination to the priesthood is a divinely revealed doctrine that must be held definitively by all the faithful. I think it is a fair question to ask how they know that this is a clearly established fact. One thing, at least, is certain: the statement of the CDF to this effect is not infallible, because, even published with papal approval, it remains a statement of the Congregation, to which the Pope cannot communicate his prerogative of infallibility.(10)
He goes on to explain that what has to be clearly established is that the tradition has remained constant, and that even today the universal body of Catholic bishops are teaching the same doctrine as definitively to be held.(11) This can be demonstrated in one of three ways. In the encyclical Evangelium vitae Pope John Paul indicated one way this can be done: namely, by consulting all the bishops. When he declared that the doctrine condemning direct abortion was “taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium,” he said that he was teaching this “in communion with the bishops who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine.”(12) A second criterion was suggested by Pope Pius IX, who said that the response of faith must be given to “those things which are handed on by the ordinary magisterium of the whole world dispersed throughout the world as divinely revealed, and therefore are held by the universal and constant consensus of Catholic theologians to pertain to the faith”.(13) A third criterion, already mentioned, is proposed in canon 750 of the code of canon law, which says that when a doctrine is proposed as divinely revealed by the ordinary and universal magisterium, this is “manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful.” Thus official documents have proposed three ways of establishing that a doctrine is taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium: consultation of all the bishops, the universal and constant consensus of Catholic theologians, and the common adherence of the faithful.(14) According to Sullivan the CDF has not invoked any of these criteria in support of its assertion that the doctrine excluding women from the priesthood has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.(15) He writes:
The question that remains in my mind is whether it is a clearly established fact that the bishops of the Catholic Church are as convinced by those reasons [put forward in Inter insigniores] as Pope John Paul II evidently is, and that, in exercising their proper role as judges and teachers of the faith, they have been unanimous in teaching that the exclusion of women from ordination to the priesthood is a divinely revealed truth to which all Catholics are obliged to give a definitive assent of faith. Unless this is manifestly the case, I do not see how it can be certain that this doctrine has been taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium. (16)
In the light of the somewhat uncertain status of Ordinatio sacerdotalis, and the, for some, still unanswered question of the priestly ordination of women, Doyle’s work continues to have contemporary relevance.(17) Since, at the invitation of the Holy See, he was at the heart of discussions, and his work was familiar to at least some members of the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity (SPCU), it is possible that it was also known to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). It might even not be too much to suggest that Inter insigniores was, in part, a response to Doyle’s paper in Assisi. This paper covers in depth all the theological issues involved in the debate in a way such that it still merits attention today. Doyle concludes that the church is in the midst of a development concerning the question of the ordination of women, and that there is an awareness amongst theologians, that an exclusively male priesthood belongs to the accidentals of the church. It is to be noted that Doyle was an exceptionally gifted scholar with a deep understanding and appreciation of ecclesiology and canon law, well aware of the question of authority and the legitimacy of even posing the question of the ordination of women.
Fr Eric Doyle (born William Martin Doyle) entered the world on 13 July 1938, son of Patrick Doyle and Josephine Reynolds, in Bolton, Lancashire, where he first attended St Joseph’s Primary School and later the Thornleigh Salesian College. He entered the Franciscan Order in the English province of the Friars Minor as a novice on 8 September 1954, was solemnly professed on 14 July 1959 (the Feast of St Bonaventure) and was ordained to the priesthood on 16 July 1961. He took his doctorate in ecclesiastical history at the Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum in Rome, receiving it summa cum laude, having gained the maximum marks possible. On his return to England he lectured in ecclesiastical history at the Franciscan House of Studies in East Bergholt. This continued to be the main activity for the remainder of his life, most of which was later spent at the Franciscan Study Centre in Canterbury,(18) of which he was one of the pioneers and ‘founding fathers’.
In addition Doyle became well known as a preacher, counsellor, writer and broadcaster, taking part in over five hundred television and radio programmes. He offered ‘Thought for the Day‘ on Radio 4 and was one of the three-member panel on ‘The Big Question‘ (Anglia TV) broadcast weekly, almost without interruption from its beginnings in 1971 until March 1984. Doyle was also much sought after as a retreat-giver and lecturer in many parts of the country. Amongst other things he gave the Fisher Lectures at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in February 1980, where he was very well received, and he was a member of the Teilhard de Chardin Society, being their vice-president at the time of his death.(19) He also taught in St. Bonaventure University’s Graduate Theology Department in New York from 1970 until 1982, and in 1983 dedicated his translation of St. Bonaventure’s sermons on St. Francis, The Disciple and the Master, to the Franciscan Institute there. This book with its sixty- page introduction has come to be regarded as invaluable to Franciscan scholars. (20)
In a legacy of over a hundred and twenty articles and books Doyle’s most scholarly work is contained in the six articles, including his doctoral dissertation, on William Woodford.(21) He wrote principally on Franciscan spirituality, but quite a number of articles are concerned with ecumenism and the environment, both areas of great interest to him. He wrote A Litany of Our Lady of Walsingham, now in common use. His book St Francis and the Song of Brotherhood is a commentary on St. Francis’ Canticle of Brother Sun. Doyle states that his ‘one purpose in writing the book has been to attempt to show how belief in the universal brotherhood can help us to create a better world’;(22) this book has been re-printed three times, most recently by the Franciscan Institute, New York, in 1996. At the time of his death he was working on a book on Christology.
Doyle died of cancer on 25 August 1984, aged 46. Many felt his loss keenly, not only those in the academic world to which he had contributed so much, but also on a more personal level. He always had time for people, and those who had met him would be left with the indelible impression of a man of enormous intellect and learning, with a quick wit and sense of humour, a man of humility, sincerity and above all of prayer.(23) The year 2004 will mark the twentieth anniversary of Doyle’s death and an anthology of his work is to be published in that year, a sure indication that his thought continues to be both influential and inspirational.
Meetings in Assisi and Versailles
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Working Group for Western Europe considered the question of the ordination of women at their meeting from 10-14 November 1975 at the Centro Ecumenico in Assisi;(24) the paper which Doyle presented there, entitled ‘The Ordination of Women: The State of the Question in the Roman Catholic Church’, will form the basis of this essay. (25) This paper was significant to the debate, not only because Doyle addressed all the central issues, but also because the findings (that there were no theological objections to the ordination of women) were submitted to the SPCU. (26) Mgr Purdy of the SPCU was certainly familiar with Doyle’s position and work, and it was he who subsequently issued the invitation to Doyle to represent the Catholic side at the Anglican/Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women in Versailles(27) in 1978. In fact, it is clear from the correspondence between Doyle and Purdy, that Doyle initially turned down the invitation and only reconsidered the matter after a second request. (28)The question that arises, therefore, is whether Doyle’s reluctance to take part can be attributed to the fact that his paper was also familiar to the CDF. Whilst there is no correspondence in the archives to support this supposition, there is some anecdotal evidence to this effect, and one can only speculate what Doyle’s reasons were for initially declining to take part in the Versailles Commission.
It is interesting to note that papal approval of Inter insigniores on 15 October 1976 came only eleven months after the meeting in Assisi. It seems plausible that that Declaration may, in part, have been a response to Doyle’s paper and others who held similar views, including those of Hervé-Marie Legrand OP,(29) the other Catholic participant at Assisi. Doyle comments that Pope Paul VI’s letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury (in which he writes: ‘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 ‘) was dated 30 November 1975, only two weeks after the Working Group had met in Assisi. And in 1978, Mgr Purdy, speaking at the Versailles Commission commented: ‘It is, I think, very important to see the famous Declaration approved in October 1976 and published in January 1977, against the background of this correspondence. Obviously the Declaration was already at an advanced stage when the Pope last wrote’.(30)
The meeting in Assisi and its importance in contributing to the debate on women’s ordination also needs to be seen against the backdrop of the ongoing ARCIC discussions. Speaking at the Versailles Commission Mgr Purdy (Catholic co-secretary of ARCIC) stated: ‘ARCIC’s mandate as set out by the Joint Preparatory Commission in the ‘Malta Report’ … was notably wider than the theological programme which has actually been carried out and has resulted in the three statements.'(31) The question of the ordination of women had been raised in its meetings from time to time and there was a discussion which resulted in the co-chairmen addressing a letter to Cardinal Willebrands recommending discussions of the question at provincial/national level. But, comments Purdy, ‘the recommendation was never passed or acted on and there was never, anywhere else, serious discussion comparable to that of US/ARC except in the European group which met at Assisi in November 1975.'(32) Doyle’s paper was, therefore, one of very few officially presented during this period and prior to the publication of Inter insigniores.(33)
In November 1975 an informal meeting took place in Rome between Anglicans and members of the SPCU, the outcome of which was a recommendation to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Willebrands (President of the SPCU), that a Joint Consultation should take place 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 Inter insigniores, the Plenary Session of the SPCU accepted the proposal, and in May 1977 the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) 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 and as such was a service of advice to the two churches.(34)
The Commission was held in Versailles from 27 February to 3 March 1978. The Anglican members were appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Secretary General of the ACC, (35) whilst the Roman Catholic members were appointed by the SPCU.(36) From the minutes (37)of the meeting it is clear that the focus of discussion was the divergence between Inter insigniores and the Canterbury Statement of ARCIC and how the differing viewpoints might be reconcilable.(38) It had been envisaged that more than one meeting might be required, but the Commission was able to complete a Joint Report, the key paragraph of which was no.6:
Two things may be seen as ground for hope. First there is the fact that those Anglican churches which have proceeded to ordain women to the presbyterate have done so in the conviction that they have not departed from the traditional understanding of apostolic ministry…. In the second place there is the fact that the recent Roman Declaration does not affirm explicitly that this matter is de jure divino. These facts would seem not to exclude the possibility of future developments.'(39)
As a practical result of the meeting, Bishop C. Daly of the SPCU was asked to make an official statement at the Lambeth Conference of 1978, where he insisted that the Catholic position was very well considered and not provisional. Doyle commented:
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.(40) It should be recalled that the document has no more authority than that of the members of the Consultation who produced it. 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 this 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”.'(41)
In Doyle’s view, that continued search for reconciliation will have to go on examining the subject of women’s ordination to the priesthood, and both Anglicans and Roman Catholics will need to remain ‘open to what the Spirit may be saying to the churches.’ With the subsequent publication of Ordinatio sacerdotalis and Pope John Paul II’s comment that the ordination of women in the Anglican Communion presents ‘a serious obstacle’ to reconciliation,(42) that confidence in the guidance of the Holy Spirit must remain of paramount importance as a source of hope to all the churches.
The Declaration Inter insigniores was the Vatican’s response to the debate not merely amongst theologians, but also to the admission of women to the priesthood in certain churches of the Anglican Communion, and the demand for the ordination of women even within some Catholic circles.(43) Thus the Vatican Commentary on the Declaration,(44) written at the request of the CDF, states: ‘The magisterium has thus been obliged to intervene in a question being posed in so lively a fashion within the Catholic Church and having important implications from the ecumenical point of view.'(45) There were many who were disappointed with the Declaration, one critical reaction of note being written by the faculty of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California.(46) In an open letter they wrote: ‘It is our judgement that the conclusion of the Declaration is not sustained by the evidence and the arguments alleged in its support, and that it could sanction within the church a practice of serious injustice.'(47)
After a short introduction on the role of women in modern society and in the church the Declaration is divided into six sections. The first part refers to the ‘constant tradition’ which always and everywhere in the whole course of church history indisputably and uniformly excluded women from the priestly ministry, so that the magisterium never needed to intervene to reinforce a principle of law which had never been questioned. The second section examines the attitude of Christ towards women and it is pointed out that Christ did not call any women to become part of the Twelve, although his attitude was otherwise very favourable towards them and unlike that of the prevailing culture. The conclusion arrived at is that Jesus intended to exclude women from the priestly ministry for all times and under all sociological conditions, although it is admitted that a purely historical exegesis of the texts of scripture does not ‘make the matter immediately obvious’.(48) The third section refers to the apostles and the fact that they never ordained any women, since they were convinced of their duty of fidelity to the Lord on this point, and the fourth section stresses the permanent value of the attitude of Jesus and the apostles. Karl Rahner commenting on the Declaration writes: ‘At the end of a none too lucid argument the conclusion is then drawn that the church’s practice of excluding women from the priesthood has a normative character.'(49) Sections five and six consider the priesthood in the light of the mystery of Christ and the church in order to clarify with the ‘analogy of faith’ the conclusions reached in the first four sections. Here it is expressly observed that these reflections do not present a conclusive argument, since their conclusions are apparent only to someone already convinced by the reasons invoked.(50)
Mgr Purdy had commented at Versailles that the status of a declaration is the lowest in the ranks of papal utterances. Furthermore the status of the Commentary is not ‘official’. He states: ‘It was distributed to the press on the occasion of the press conference presenting the Declaration. It seems to have been intended as a help to those pressmen who wished to report the Declaration more seriously. No doubt its authors (who are not named or indicated) were, in the usual Roman style quite content that its authority should be estimated as highly as possible: but in fact it has no authority beyond that of its anonymous authors.'(51)
In 1984 Doyle made a similar point: ‘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.'(52) He also quotes Rahner who commented: ‘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’.(53)
Bearing in mind the status of the two Vatican documents (as discussed above), the search for Christian unity, and the recognition that the question of the ordination of women necessarily forms a part of this discussion, it will be a worthwhile activity to review again the conclusions which Doyle draws in his paper, after examining all the arguments against the ordination of women.
Doyle’s Paper: ‘The Ordination of Women: The State of the Question The State of the in the Roman Catholic Church’
A New Question (54)
* Fr Doyle’s starting point, then, is that the question regarding the ordination of women is a new one in the church. With few exceptions, the question regarding the ordination of women had not really arisen prior to this period. Until that time it had been accepted that only a male could be validly ordained, but gradually the principles on which this position was based began to be examined more closely. Doyle writes:
To ask the question today: Can women be ordained to the priesthood? is to ask the question in a way so differently nuanced from how it has been asked ever before, that it is patently a new question. The difference is due to theological, biblical, sociological, psychological and ecumenical reasons which make it clear that the question about the ordination of women cannot be ripped from the wider context of the emancipation of women in the church and in society at large. With completely new theological, biblical, sociological, psychological and ecumenical data which have undermined and in some cases completely destroyed many of our most cherished assumptions about what is ‘the nature of things’, it is clear that we are asking a new question based on a new understanding of the dignity and value of women in the church and world. Therefore to answer this new question: Can women be ordained to the priesthood? with the reply: No, because only men can be ordained, is grossly to beg the question.’ (55)
For Doyle, as for many others in the church, ‘there is the possibility that the opinion in favour of women priests has come about under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of all times in the history of the church.'(56)
Indeed the Commentary to Inter insigniores states: ‘We have a long way to go before people become fully aware of the greatness of woman’s mission in the church and society, “both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true countenance of the church.” Unfortunately we also still have a long way to go before all the inequalities of which women are still the victims are eliminated, not only in the field of public, professional, and intellectual life, but even within the family.'(57)
This acknowledgement of the rightful place of women both within society and the church is very welcome, and was, of course, previously addressed in Gaudium et spes.(58) Nevertheless, it is somewhat disappointing that neither Inter insigniores nor the Commentary make any practical suggestion as to how these inequalities might be overcome within the church.
The Scholastics and Canon Law
Doyle readily recognized that the strongest argument against the ordination of women is the constant tradition of the church. The nature of the priesthood as male is understood to be a datum of revelation which the church has received in the Tradition (59) from Christ. The Scholastics are an important factor in this Tradition, though the arguments they present are far from compelling. Doyle states that St Bonaventure’s reasons for the maleness of the priesthood (most of which are to be found in St Thomas) are singularly unconvincing. Bonaventure presents four principal arguments why the male sex is necessary for the reception of orders.
He argues firstly that an order cannot be conferred on someone not possessing the natural fitness of receiving it. A person cannot be ordained who does not have the natural aptitude to receive the tonsure. A woman does not have this natural fitness because she ought always to have her head covered. It is fitting by nature for men only to pray with uncovered head. He refers here to 1 Cor 11:4 and concludes that the male sex is necessary for ordination. Secondly, in order to be ordained it is necessary to bear the image of God because in this sacrament the person (60) in some way becomes God or divine in that he is given a share in divine power. The male by reason of his sex is the imago Dei according to 1 Cor 11:7. St Bonaventure accepts the literal understanding of this text that a woman is not the image of God but the glory of man. Thirdly a woman is unable to receive spiritual power according to 1 Tim 2:12. Finally all the orders are a preparation for the episcopate and the bishop is the spouse of his church. A woman could not be the spouse of the church and so she cannot be ordained. St Bonaventure concludes that women cannot receive orders de jure or de facto.(61)
St Thomas, Doyle tells us, enumerates the female sex among the diriment impediments to sacred orders. ‘(62) Because a sacrament is a sign it requires not only the res but also the signification (significatio rei) as, for example, in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick it is necessary to have a sick person in order to signify the need of healing. Therefore because it is not possible to signify eminence of degree in the female sex – woman is in a state of subjection – it follows that she cannot receive the sacrament of orders.'(63) Interestingly Legrand has pointed out that St Thomas reaches this conclusion based, not on the example of the Lord, but on 1 Tim 2:11-14,(64) which states that women should ‘learn in silence with all submission’. Woman is not permitted to teach or have authority over men.
John Duns Scotus argues slightly differently in that he maintains that the requirement of maleness for the priesthood derives from the will of Christ. (65) He states that the reason why Paul did not allow women to teach was that Christ had not done so, and indeed Christ had not granted a share in the sacrament of orders even to his mother.(66) Doyle states: ‘[Scotus] traces back the exclusion of women from the priesthood to Christ’s intention precisely because 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.'(67) In addition Scotus adds that women cannot receive orders because since the Fall she is not permitted to hold any position of eminence over men. He bases this on Gen 3:16,(68) according to which woman’s desire will be for her husband and he will rule over her.
This position is found in canon law, which states in canon 968.1: ‘Only a baptized male may receive sacred orders.’ (69) This canon sums up a tradition inherited by Gratian, (70) which had been developing since the early centuries of the Christian tradition and presents a position which went substantially unchallenged until the twentieth century in terms of the church’s law.(71) Although canon law does not speak openly against women, according to Vasquez, there does appear a subtle thread of anti-feminism woven into its fabric.(72) There were essentially four aspects of the tradition which led to the negative legislation regarding women. These were the development of clerical celibacy during the Gregorian Reform, the schism with the Church of Constantinople, Gratian’s use of his sources, and the fluid understanding at that time of the sacraments.(73)
Raming has traced the sources of canon 968.1 back to the codification of church law by Gratian in the twelfth century, and beyond him to his sources: the bible, the Fathers and earlier conciliar decisions. It becomes clear from her analysis that a large part of Gratian’s work in this area was based on earlier forged documents (the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals), on documents that were erroneously thought to be conciliar decrees (Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua), and serious misreadings or misunderstandings of other documents. At the basis of Gratian’s work was his conviction of the metaphysical and moral inferiority of women and their consequent “status subjectionis”.(74)
There is an acknowledgement of this attitude in Inter insigniores: ‘It is true that we find in the Fathers’ writings the undeniable influence of prejudices against women,'(75) yet the magisterium cites five texts from the Fathers in defence of its proposition ‘that the church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination’. John Wright SJ (76) has made a study of these texts and has concluded that those passages offered as support do not provide sufficient evidence to uphold the Declaration’s contention.
In the first cited text, Irenaeus (77) describes a gnostic religious service with magical overtones. What he objects to is the heretical and blasphemous nature of the act, not women’s involvement in it; he would react similarly if men were involved. Wright comments: ‘It may well be that Irenaeus objected to women exercising priestly ministry in the church, but this passage does not show it.'(78)
The second passage comes from Tertullian, who is objecting to the slipshod procedures of certain heretics.(79) Whilst Tertullian is objecting to the frivolous conduct of men here and to the capricious and changeable character of their ordinations, Wright points out that although Tertullian would certainly have objected to the ordination of women, that is not what he is doing here.(80)
The third reference comes from Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea, who opposed Pope Stephen I in the matter of the rebaptism of heretics. In Firmilian’s letter to Cyprian, he offers an argument against Pope Stephen in defence of Cyprian’s position, that those baptized by heretics should be rebaptized.(81) Wright comments: ‘It should be noted that the heart of Firmilian’s objection is that the person baptizing is the instrument of a demon, not that she is a woman. Even a man baptizing under similar circumstances would be baptizing invalidly in Firmilian’s view. The same thing should be said about the performance of the eucharistic rite: the person presuming to do this acts “through the illusions and trickeries of the devil.” That she is a woman may aggravate the matter in Firmilian’s view, but it is not the point of objection. It cannot in context be taken as an argument against the possibility of ordaining women’.(82)
The fourth quotation comes from Origen’s commentary on 1 Cor 14:34-35: ‘Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.’ Once again, as Wright points out, Origen’s argument is not admitted today and hence his prohibition has no relevance to the ability of the church to ordain women to the priesthood. (84)
The fifth quotation comes from Epiphanius (85) and here there is indeed opposition to the priestly ordination of women, but what emerges from his writings is predominantly the conviction that women are simply inferior to men. In a somewhat earlier passage (not cited by the CDF), Epiphanius makes it even clearer why he opposes women’s ordination: ‘And who but women are the teachers of this [excessive glorification of Mary]? Women are unstable, prone to error, and mean-spirited’. Wright comments: ‘If Epiphanius in his writings had shown respect for women and regarded them as equal to men in human dignity, then we might take seriously his unwillingness to ordain women. But he harbours a misogynist spirit from which could come only a negative appraisal of women’s capacity for ordination. This profoundly influences his way of interpreting the scriptures. He is scarcely a noble or credible witness in this matter’. (86)
Thus Wright concludes that much of the evidence cited in the Declaration does not directly concern the ordination of women and the arguments concerning the inability of women to baptize and teach are not valid, since these arguments are no longer admitted. Similarly, arguments drawn from sources which condemn women involved in heretical practices are also irrelevant, since men in the same circumstances would also be condemned. Further, the main point that emerges from the patristic evidence cited in the Declaration is the conviction that women are inferior by nature, temperament and in social status. Even the practice and intention of Jesus are set within the context of this inferiority. (87) But with the revision of this teaching at Vatican II, the CDF no longer admits or argues this inferiority and even deplores the kind of discrimination still found in some places in society.(88) Wright asks:
If the Fathers were wrong regarding the inferiority of women, why may they not have been wrong on the inability of women to be ordained priests, since this inferiority is the basic reason for their stance on ordination? It seems to me that if the examples cited by the CDF as the testimony of the Church Fathers are at all representative of what tradition has to offer, we must acknowledge that their testimony offers meagre support for the claim that the tradition of not ordaining women was motivated primarily by the church’s intention to remain faithful to the will of Christ.
Wright has clearly shown that the CDF’s use of patristic evidence to support the position that women cannot be ordained does not hold up under scrutiny. The fact that the Fathers argue from the ‘status subjectionis’ of women, a stance no longer admitted by the church, renders the evidence very weak. Referring to the Fathers’ view that women were inferior, Rahner has made a similar comment: ‘What otherwise is the explanation of the fact that the Fathers of the Church (and also the medieval theologians), brought forward largely these (and not other) reasons against the admission of women to the priesthood, if they had other and better reasons based on the gospel?'(90) And Doyle reaches the same conclusion: ‘There is good proof of prejudice against women and of anti-feminism in a number of early Christian writers.'(91) It seems, then, that there is no support to be found in the Fathers for withholding priestly ordination from women; this needs to be sought elsewhere.(92)
The Argument from Scripture
Doyle notes that it is beyond question that women were involved in the evangelizing work of the early Church by preaching and catechizing, though chiefly with women and only loosely connected with official and liturgical gatherings of the communities.
As regards Romans 16:1-6, Doyle notes that St Paul names a number of women who have worked with him, including Phoebe, deacon of the church at Cenchreae; Prisca (also mentioned in Acts 18:2; 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19) who was a fellow worker in Christ Jesus, and Mary and the mother of Rufus. The word deacon(93) seems to have been a general term and did not indicate precisely what her functions were, though C.H. Dodd suggests: ‘We may assume that whatever the “deacons” were at Philippi [cf. Phil 1:1] that Phoebe was at Cenchreae.’ Doyle comments that in 1 Tim 3:8-13 deacons are a recognized order and we learn something of the qualifications necessary for their office and that ‘the order of deacons which emerges in the second century, with special charge of the more secular side of the church’s affairs, had its origins in Paul’s own time; and that it then included women as well as men.'(94) And according to Franz Leenhardt the term diakonos in Romans 16:1 designates a particular office, an established function. Moreover, it has been suggested that Evodia and Syntyche may also have been deacons in the church at Philippi and Lightfoot writes: ‘Whether I am right or not in the conjecture that the work of the gospel was in this respect aided by the social condition of Macedonia, the active zeal of the women in this country is a remarkable fact, without a parallel in the apostle’s history elsewhere and only to be compared with their prominence at an earlier date in the personal ministry of our Lord’.(96)
Doyle notes that biblical studies and critical exegesis have ‘neutralized the authority’ of the texts in 1 Cor 11:2-16, 1 Cor 14:33b-35 and 1 Tim 2:11-15 as arguments against the ordination of women. Nevertheless, he comments on them in the light of his examination of the arguments advanced by opponents.
In 1 Cor 11:2-16 St Paul writes that man is the head of the woman on the basis of Gen 2:18-23. However, says Doyle, this passage may refer more specifically to the fact that the husband is the head of the wife. According to C.K. Barrett, St Paul is setting up ‘a chain of originating and subordinating relationships… God, Christ, man, woman. From this proposition practical consequences are deduced’.(97) A man who prays and prophesies in the assembly has to do so with uncovered head whilst a woman who does so must do so wearing a veil. The point made by Doyle here is that the passage in 1 Cor ‘is clear testimony that women prayed and prophesied in public worship and Paul obviously approves of it as a general practice at Corinth’.(98) He cites Hooker on the necessity of women wearing a veil during worship. He writes: ‘According to Paul, however, it is man, and not woman, who is the glory of God, and who will therefore naturally play the active role in worship: if now woman also, in contrast to Jewish custom, takes part in prayer and prophecy, this is because a new power has been given her… Yet now woman, too, speaks to God in prayer and declares his word in prophecy; to do this she needs authority and power from God. The headcovering which symbolizes the effacement of man’s glory in the presence of God also serves as the sign of the authority which is given to woman’.(99) In other words the veil has become the symbol of the woman’s right to pray and prophesy in public, and not a sign of subjection to man, or perhaps only to her husband.
Referring to 1 Cor 14:33b-35(100) Doyle writes:
In the western text of this epistle vv.34 and 35 are placed after v.40.(101) This may be their proper place or they may have been added later as a marginal note dependent on 1 Tim 2:11ff. That they may be a later interpolation need not lead one to suppress them as has been done by some commentators.(102) If we keep exegesis distinct from biblical theology we are obliged to accept in terms of the latter that these verses are contained in holy scripture and are, therefore, the inspired word of God. This does not mean that they must be taken simply as they stand and made to apply to all times and places. Faith in the inspiration of scripture does not forbid the use of critical exegesis and the application of hermeneutical principles. (103)
That the women at Corinth have been forbidden to speak in public seems to be beyond question. Barrett has suggested two possibilities for this in his commentary. The first is that the these verses may not have been written by Paul but added at a later date when the need for good order to be established was required, or secondly that St Paul, having been informed of some disorder in the Corinthian congregation, gave orders for women to be silent in a way similar to v.30: ‘If one of the listeners receives a revelation then the man who is already speaking should stop’. Nevertheless, Doyle feels that it has been satisfactorily argued that Paul did not make a rule here of universal application for all times.(105)
The second text, 1 Tim 2:11-15,(106) forbids women to teach or give instruction in the Christian assembly or to have authority over men. This is because Adam was created first and it was Eve who then sinned. According to Doyle, this interpretation is based on a ‘very questionable exegesis of Genesis’,(107) which suggests that woman may be saved from falling into the error of usurping authority by her childbearing function.
Galatians 3:27-28 on the equality of all Christians is also cited by those for and against the ordination of women in support of their arguments. Undoubtedly this text teaches the equality of all men and women in the church through baptism: ‘For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Yet differing interpretations of the text exist. Doyle refers first to Boucher,(108) who, in her summary of the New Testament teaching on the role of women summarizes her theory as follows: There is a theory of subordination in marriage(109) and in the congregation (110)on the one hand, and on the other a theory of equality.(111) She points out that two main lines of interpretation have emerged. One holds that the primitive church took over the theory of women’s subordination in society and at the same time arrived at the new doctrine that all persons are equal before God. Yet there is another interpretation which maintains that v.28 is not without relevance to the question of the ordination of women. Doyle cites Stendahl who states that this verse from scripture is ‘directed against what we call the order of creation, and consequently it creates a tension with those biblical passages – Pauline and non-Pauline – by which this order of creation maintains its place in the fundamental view of the New Testament concerning the subordination of women.'(112) Stendahl states: ‘It would be peculiar if the church, which wants to belong to Christ and to witness to him saw it as its duty to turn this biblical picture (the new equality between men and women) upside down by saying to its faithful: “In worldly affairs you may accept emancipation – and before God there is neither man nor woman – but in the church’s life and its worship it is not so.” Then one would have to go on to say “In the world slaves are emancipated by now, but in the church that should not be so … etc”.'(113) Doyle comments that if the Roman Catholic Church can regret that fundamental personal rights are not yet being universally honoured, (114) this is because ‘she has received a word in revelation that certainly teaches the equality of men and women in the church. There is no hierarchy of persons in the church, but a hierarchy of functions.'(115) Thus Doyle concludes that in terms of the basic equality of men and women in the church
it is entirely in order to ask whether women are barred from ordination on the grounds of being women, that is, are they debarred from a function in the church on the grounds of their sex? There is a strong probability on the evidence of scripture itself that they are not so debarred.
After examining the texts cited by authors of canonical, moral and dogmatic manuals he concludes firstly that it is not sufficient to merely cite these texts in support of the exclusion of women from the priesthood; secondly, that neither 1 Cor 14 nor 1 Tim 2 contain any formal exclusion of women priests and that St Paul does not give any explicit teaching on the matter; and thirdly, that nowadays there are many women within the Roman Catholic Church who have the ecclesiastical authority to instruct publicly. For example, it is common for nuns in mission territories to conduct services in which they read from the scriptures, preach and distribute communion. This practice is not in keeping with a literal interpretation of 1 Cor 14 or 1 Tim 2.(117) The fact that nuns were already performing an essential ministry in mission territories, when Doyle wrote in 1975, and the introduction of eucharistic ministers since then, shows that the texts discussed above cannot be taken as normative as regards women’s ministry in the church. So scripture cannot be interpreted as presenting an insuperable objection to the question of a possible ordained ministry for women.
The quoted passages should not allow one to consider Paul a misogynist, since many of his letters show a real acknowledgement of the apostolic activity of a number of women. He held Priscilla in high esteem, gave the title of apostle to Junia(118) and the title of diakanos to Phoebe at a time when this title was in the process of becoming institutionalized. Later tradition became much more restrictive and until very recent times the influence of the andocentricism of the Jewish, Greek and Latin civilizations has predominated.
As Raymond Brown, the distinguished scripture scholar, has pointed out, there are problems inherent in discussing the texts which refer to both the equality and subordination of women in society and cult.(120) Instead, he considers the whole picture of women presented in the fourth gospel, and their role in the Johannine community. He states: ‘If the more precise claim is made that women did not celebrate the eucharist in New Testament times, there is simply no way of proving that, even if one may well doubt that they did. We know very little about who presided at the eucharist in New Testament times. Yet, there is some evidence that prophets did, for prophets are said to be involved in liturgy (leitourgein in Acts 13:2) and to give thanks (eucharistein in Didache 10,7); and certainly there were women who prophesied (1 Cor 11:5; Acts 21:9).'(121)
In 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission completed a two-year requested study of the bible as to whether women could be ordained to the priestly ministry. (122) The confidential results which were illegally ‘leaked’ to the press indicated that the seventeen members voted 17-0 that the New Testament does not settle the question in a clear way once and for all; 12-5 that neither scripture nor Christ’s plan alone excluded the possibility. Some scriptural difficulties were noted: ‘The masculine character of the hierarchical order which has structured the church since its beginning [seems] attested to by scripture in an undeniable way’, but the report asks: ‘Must we conclude that this rule must be valid forever in the church?’ They also ask: ‘What is the normative value which should be accorded to the practice of the Christian communities of the first centuries?’ And the Commission concluded that: ‘It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.’ (123)
It is significant, therefore, that Doyle was by no means alone in his findings, and that his conclusions were corroborated by such an august body as the Pontifical Biblical Commission. In view of this, it is still worth looking at Doyle’s work today, since not only his analysis of the argument from scripture, but also his other findings will be found to carry some weight.
Jesuits at the School of Theology in Berkeley claimed that this report, prepared by the Biblical Commission for the CDF, was ignored in the writing of Inter insigniores, and indeed one of the members of the commission, David Stanley, a well-known Canadian scripture scholar, resigned from the Commission as a result. In their letter the theologians had protested at this and wrote: ‘The Declaration fails to acknowledge that it is disagreeing with the Pontifical Biblical Commission and to provide adequate grounds for so doing.'(125)
Detailed research, then, has shown that there is no clear evidence in scripture which would not allow the ordination of women to the priesthood. Furthermore, women’s participation in the ministry of the early church was significant, especially in the light of the prevailing culture, which regarded women as inferior. Women were the first witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, they were present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), and The New Jerome Biblical Commentary suggests that it is possible that women were present at the great commission, when Christ describes the Eleven apostles as witnesses to his life and resurrection, at the end of Luke’s gospel (Lk 24:48). (126)
The Argument from Tradition
The evidence for the existence of women deacons from New Testament times onwards is conclusive. In a detailed study Wijngaards has documented their existence, ministry and rites of ordination.(127) Doyle tells us that they exercised extensive pastoral and liturgical functions including the baptism of women, the anointing of sick women and the distribution of communion.(128) The reason for their eventual disappearance was the desuetude of adult baptism in both the East and West. What is most important in the present context is that women deacons were ordained by the imposition of hands. The sources indicate that they were ordained by a bishop χειροτονία or χειροθεσία the technical term for ordination.(129) Indeed Doyle points out that in the fifteenth canon of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 it was laid down that only a woman over forty years of age may be ordained.(130) The technical term used here is χειροτονεσθαι, the same as in the Constitutiones apostolorum, and indicates ordination in the formal sense, rather than merely a blessing;(131) it was an ordination in the formal and strict sense. These texts, Doyle states, are considered decisive: women deacons became part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and were fully integrated in the liturgical and pastoral ministry of the church. For Doyle, it is not so important that the functions of women deacons were curtailed compared with their male counterparts, in so far as they only ministered to women, but the fact that they administered them at all.(133)
In addition, Doyle argues that many of the arguments put forward by more conservative writers may be dismissed without any injustice, especially those ‘drawn from a very questionable exegesis of Genesis and arguments based on the weakness, loquacity and illogicality of the female sex, such as are put forward by St Epiphanius.(134) Experience shows that all these defects are to be found equally in the male sex’.(135) According to him, what is of far more importance is the argument based on the actual example of Christ. He writes:
This example is taken as a clear indication of Christ’s intention in the matter. It cannot be established with certainty what is post hoc or propter hoc in the argument nor how far cultural conditioning was operative at the conscious or subconscious level. But this must be kept in mind…. The intention of Christ understood to be manifested by his actual practice and the explicit exclusion of women from the priestly ministry are the strongest arguments in the early tradition to support the canonical position.(136)
Certainly Jesus’ commissioning of the Twelve at the Last Supper where he instructs the apostles, after the breaking of bread, to: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’, and the subsequent development of the threefold ministry, is of central importance. However, nowhere in the accounts of the Last Supper does Jesus imply that women may never undertake, in the future of the church, the role given to the apostles.
Yet Inter insigniores (and later Ordinatio sacerdotalis) states that ‘the central reason for this opposition to the ordination of women [is] the intention of the church to remain faithful to the type of ordained ministry willed by Christ and carefully maintained by the apostles.’ The Declaration cites three sources in its support. The first is the Didascalia Apostolorum and the passages referred to object to women teaching and baptizing.(137)
Nowadays however, as we have seen, women are not regarded as being incapable of teaching or baptizing and ‘since we do not admit this inability, we cannot argue from it for evidence against the ability of women to receive priestly ordination…. The remark that Mary Magdalene was not commissioned to teach overlooks her mission to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus to the apostles themselves (Jn 20:17-18).’ (138)The second quotation from the Apostolic Constitutions simply confirms the same position as the Didascalia Apostolorum. It is noteworthy that Jesus’ way of acting is explained by the supposed natural inferiority of women and their subjection to men. There is no evidence here of an equality between male and female.
The final authority quoted by the Declaration is John Chrysostum where he is trying to encourage a certain Basil to accept ordination as a bishop.(140) Wright points out that Chrysostum makes no appeal to the example of Christ and the desire to remain faithful to it, as maintained by the CDF. Chrysostum is, in fact, explaining that to be a bishop is to be superior to the rest of Christians, as human beings are superior to all animals. Wright makes three observations about this passage. Firstly the contrast between this passage and with Jesus’ words to the apostles in Matt 23:8-11 in which he tells them that they are not to be called rabbi. The second is that Chrysostum regards women as inferior to men. In stating that all women must give way to the magnitude of the task he regards them as unequal to it. As Wright comments: ‘One who is unwilling to accept this premise must find another reason for saying that women cannot be ordained, if one wishes to maintain this.'(141) Thirdly, Chrysostum’s remarks apply in this case to the episcopacy, though he would, no doubt, object to women’s ordination to the presbyterate as well.
So, the constant tradition of the church remains the strongest argument to exclude women from the priesthood. Thus Doyle writes: ‘Even in the face of a more enlightened and exegetically correct interpretation’ of scripture it must be emphasized that ‘critical exegesis cannot of itself alter the essentials of a doctrine taught by the church. In Roman Catholic theology a doctrine is not rendered “unscriptural” merely because no text can be found in the bible which explicitly teaches the doctrine. If a scriptural basis in this grossly literalist sense were essential then there would be grave problems with sacramental theology and with that most beautiful expression of the theology of grace, Mariology’.(142)
The decisive question, then, appears to be whether the unchanged custom of the church of the non-ordination of women since apostolic times until the present constitute ‘Tradition’ and, therefore, the revelation of the will of God for the church. Legrand states that if the history of the church were identifiable with Tradition it would be easy to verify this position, but since such an identification is opposed to the teaching of the church which says that revelation closed with the death of the last apostle, then one must be able to connect it to the will of Christ through the use of scripture or to the apostolic church. The question therefore has to be asked, whether the practice of Jesus and the apostolic church contain indications excluding women from exercising the pastoral office.(143) He writes: ‘History teaches us today that we must distinguish between Tradition and traditions. It has also led to a much more nuanced interpretation of the decisions of the magisterium. But this is not the key issue. This is, rather, to discover if tradition is simply repetition or if it has no meaning other than to face the future, a future specifically eschatological where there will be neither male nor female. The idea of tradition as repetition has already proved itself to be theologically untenable.'(144)
Commenting on this problem Karl Rahner writes: ‘We really have no clear answer… to the problem of how to distinguish in principle between a “divine” tradition and a generally and long-enduring “human” tradition’;(145) and Doyle writes that it is more accurate to speak of the ‘practice’ or ‘non-tradition’ of the church. This, he says, ‘is no verbal quibble’. It is historically more accurate to speak of a non-tradition concerning the ordination of women rather than a tradition against it. ‘To justify the use of the word tradition would require a far greater number of earlier witnesses explicitly against the ordination of women than are to be found and would require a much more cogent argumentation than the argument of silence and the actual practice of Christ.’ (146)
The Attitude of Christ towards Women
Both those in favour of women’s ordination and those opposed agree that Christianity showed itself to be of a revolutionary character with regard to the emancipation of women, and that Jesus’ attitude towards them was quite unconventional. Nevertheless, no woman was included among the apostles, neither was Mary given any share in the priesthood. However, it should also be remembered that within Judaism at the time of Christ, a woman’s role was primarily as a homemaker, a view still prevalent today. Thus Doyle writes:
It seems obvious that the reason why no woman was included in the apostolic college was due precisely to the subordinate role of women in Judaism. An argument used for the authenticity of the accounts concerning the empty tomb is that women are recorded to have discovered it, when women were considered invalid witnesses according to Jewish law.(147) It is unthinkable in such circumstances that Jesus should have said to women: “and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts1:8). One cannot conclude therefore that because Jesus did not commission women to bear witness to his life, death and glorification, though he did show an extraordinary unconventional attitude towards women in contemporary Jewish society, then he must have meant them to be excluded forever from the priesthood. He could not have sent women into Jerusalem and Judea as his witnesses because their word would have counted for nothing. (148)
Doyle rightly points out that Jesus’ attitude to women has to be seen in its cultural context. He could not have commissioned women in the same sense as the Twelve because they would have been unable to fulfil their mission.
The Declaration too acknowledges the extraordinary attitude of Jesus towards women but claims that he could have chosen female apostles, including his mother Mary, had he wanted to.(149) Thus the Declaration argues that for Jesus never to have called upon any woman to be a part of the Twelve, has nothing whatever to do with a conformity to the times in which he was living. Legrand argues that the significance of the choice of the Twelve was not governed by the question of the place of women in the subsequent ministry of the church. He writes:
It would be unwarranted to interpret such an act from this perspective. Rather, it must be interpreted from its symbolic importance, that is, as an eschatological warning by Jesus for all of Israel. In the time of Jesus, there were only two and a half tribes; in the eschatological time the fullness of unity would be achieved. Consequently by choosing twelve men, Jesus announces that the eschatological time is approaching, that he comes to gather together all Israel (that is, the Twelve Tribes) and that all people will be judged by his word. Thus the Twelve will act as eschatological judges, as the twelve sons of Jacob. (cf Mt 19:28). The significance of such a gesture would have been severely compromised if Jesus had included women or a Samaritan in the group.(150)
Legrand’s second point is that the mission of the Twelve is limited to Israel and they are not replaced after their death. Therefore, no conclusion is possible from Jesus’ choice of the Twelve or from his exclusion of Mary from the Twelve. The apostolic communities first permitted and then restricted the ministerial activity of women: baptism favoured it whilst the cultural situation and the adoption of the household codes excluded it. This exclusion does not seem to result from the conscious duty of being faithful “to the example of the Lord”. Legrand asks whether if Jesus had lived in a society in which the cultural status of the two sexes had differed from that of his own time, he would not have made a different choice. ‘A choice that was already beginning to show itself in the completely new approach which he adopted toward women in a patriarchal society.’ (151)Whilst this argument can be no more than supposition, Jesus’ favourable attitude towards women does lend it some credibility.
The fact that Mary was not chosen as one of the apostles is a question which is entirely irrelevant for Doyle.(152) He writes that her role in salvation history was quite different and that ‘her fiat belongs to official, public saving history in the divine economy. She is presented in the gospel of St Luke in the line of fulfilment of the promise made to Abraham [and] she is depicted by the most venerable and ancient tradition as image and archetype of the church and she was the object of theological reflection long before she was an object of devotion in the church.’ (153) So, concludes Doyle, ‘what point precisely is being made by those who emphasize that Mary was not ordained to the priesthood is never made clear.'(154)
The priesthood, being a ministry of service, would have been entirely inappropriate for Mary. Her role within the church, as Doyle points out, is much more significant; for Mary, the only perfectly redeemed human being, is the prototype of the church and model for all humanity. Mary as the Mother of God introduced the salvation of all into the world and she therefore belongs to the official representation of the church. She is hailed as a ‘pre-eminent and wholly unique member of the church’ (155) and her decisive role for humanity did not require ordination to the priesthood for its fulfilment.
The Argument from the Order of Creation *
Opponents of the priestly ordination of women also contend that ordaining women would violate the order of creation and redemption. This argument, known as the anthropological argument, is principally based on Gen 2:18-25 (the story of woman’s creation) and states that whilst there is no question of women’s inferiority here, the sexes do have different roles based on their biological differences. Their point is that the Word of God became a man and it is the priest’s role to represent the presence and saving activity of Christ. It is claimed that a woman could not be an alter Christus since she cannot assume such a representative role or perform such an iconic function.(156) ‘To ordain women to the priesthood would have disastrous effects at those depths of the human psyche where it corresponds to religious symbolism.'(157)
Yet, states Doyle, even if this text from Genesis is taken literally and the findings of exegesis and biblical theology are put to one side, it may be seen that the text is primarily concerned with marriage. Doyle quotes G. von Rad who points out that the text is entirely aetiological.(158) Similarly the text of Ephesians 5:21-23, also often used in support of this argument, is treating of the relationship between husband and wife and also often used to describe the relationship of the church to Christ. This text along with 1 Cor 11:2-16, 1 Cor 14:33-35 and 1 Tim 2:11-15 are all almost certainly concerned with married women. No mention is made of single, celibate women. They cannot ask their husbands at home about things they wish to know, and what of those women who do not bear children? Will they not be saved?
So Doyle writes: ‘Even if we accept a literal interpretation of these Pauline texts on the relationship of husband and wife (though such interpretation is by no means certain and beyond question), we may still legitimately ask whether single women, women religious and celibate women are debarred from ordination to the priesthood. The fact that married women and married men have different functions based on biological differences is self-evident and completely irrelevant to the question of the ordination of women’.(159)
A similar conclusion can be arrived at from an examination of 1 Cor 12 in which Paul discusses the variety of the Spirit’s gifts and the analogy of the church to the body and its many parts. Paul stresses that just as the human body needs different members, so the church needs a diversity of spiritual gifts, each one making a specific contribution. It could be argued that just as an eye cannot be a foot, so a woman cannot be a priest, but nowhere does Paul make a distinction between male and female functions; all members appear equal and have their own part to play. Even in v.28 when Paul discusses apostles, prophets and teachers, he gives no indication that any of these roles should be reserved for men. So, on this basis Doyle argues correctly that though there are biological differences between men and women, this does not necessarily bar women from the priesthood.
Turning to the incarnation Doyle asks whether too much has been made of the fact that the Word of God became a man. ‘The formal element’, he writes ‘in belief in the incarnation of the Logos is that the Son of God became man.’ (160) The Prologue of St John’s Gospel proclaims that the Word became flesh; the creed of Nicaea in 325 declared that Jesus Christ was made man: homo not vir; and the Council of Chalcedon defined him as perfect in humanity. ‘It is not formally as of the male sex that Jesus Christ is our Mediator but as true member of our race. This is not to argue that it is irrelevant that he is male; the fact is he is a man. But he is also a Jew of the near eastern world. These facts, however, do not justify the conclusion that no woman can become a priest. The church has never been formally preoccupied with his sexuality.'(161)
With reference to the anthropological argument and the lack of a comment in the Declaration, Rahner summarizes the views of critics eloquently. He writes:
Moreover, if it is assumed that Jesus and the apostles had different and more substantial reasons for their action than the existing cultural and sociological situation, then it should be explained more precisely and in detail in what these other reasons consist; otherwise their attitude would appear to be based on an arbitrary decision. But in this respect the declaration is completely silent. The mere fact that Jesus was of the male sex is no answer here, since it is not clear that a person acting with Christ’s mandate and in that sense in persona Christi must at the same time represent Christ precisely in his maleness. But if we were to appeal to the “divine order of creation” in order to find and try to develop such reasons, then it would certainly be difficult (as is evident from the mistaken arguments of the Fathers of the Church and the medieval theologians) to avoid appealing to an anthropology which would again threaten what the Declaration recognizes as the equal dignity and equal rights of women.’ (162)
It is unfortunate that the Declaration did not address what is implicitly one of the central arguments in its case against the ordination of women. A response to the question of the precise role of women in the church would help to answer the concerns of those who see the Declaration’s silence as wholly inadequate. Furthermore, Boressen has argued that:
The whole doctrine of the nature and role of woman has been evolved from an exclusively andocentric point of view. The foundation of this doctrine is in the equation, man equals human being. Man, that is the male, is the exemplar of human being, and woman is considered as being different from him. With Augustine and Thomas, the motive of subordination is linked to the fact of itself, and woman is thus distinguished from man…. The andocentric structure of their particular civilization leads them to an interpretation of scripture, which identifies this relation of the sexes with the order of creation itself.’ (163)
Indeed, it could be argued that the CDF’s response has been constructed from an entirely andocentric standpoint, and that the presence of female scholars within the magisterium would help to address this issue.
In Persona Christi
Because of the decisive significance which Inter insigniores attributes to the phrase in persona Christi, and the stated desire in the document that more light be shed on the more symbolic aspects of the question, Doyle investigated the axiom further in a 1984 article entitled ‘The Question of Women Priests and the Argument In Persona Christi‘.(164) He examines the argument against the ordination of women, which the Declaration derives from a particular interpretation of the phrase in persona Christi.(165) The passages to which Doyle refers are contained in section five of the Declaration.(166)
At first sight the argument, says Doyle, seems straightforward and convincing enough. On reflection, however, a crucial question arises. ‘Does the minister of the sacraments represent Christ the male or Christ the Mediator of saving grace? The question concerns the formal element in the representation, not what may be described as the material image in the representation. Is a woman barred from being a priest because the ministry of the eucharist in persona Christi concerns more the maleness of Christ than the ministry of baptising and anointing the sick in persona Christi? Does the priest represent more Christ the male when he says Mass than when he baptizes?'(167)
In order to examine these questions Doyle first considers the unity of the sacramental system. With reference to a number of Vatican II documents he reminds the reader that there is a fundamental unity among the seven sacraments, which derives from Christ and the church. Doyle writes:
In celebrating the sacraments the church realizes her inmost nature and fulfils her God-willed mission as the ever-present instrument of grace in the world. Christ himself is ‘the sacrament of encounter with God’,(168) and the ‘reality and sign, sacramentum and res sacramenti of the redemptive grace of God’.(169) He is the source of the church’s sacramental life, ‘for it was from the side of Christ that there came forth “the wondrous sacrament of the whole church…” By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes it is really Christ himself who baptizes.'(170) [Thus it was that Christ founded his church as the universal sacrament of salvation.] Christ as Mediator is the sacrament of God, and the church, as a unity by God’s grace, is the sacrament of salvation. The essential element in Christ’s mediatorship is that he shares divine nature and human nature. He is the God-Human without confusion or separation. His maleness is not formally relevant to his mediatorship.
Doyle concludes that nowhere in the formal structure of the church’s sacramental system does maleness or femaleness have a role to play, except in the case of marriage where both are essential to its structure. Doyle’s inclusion of this important element in the discussion on women’s ordination appears to be missing from current debate(172) and, given its importance, certainly deserves to be considered again, especially by those in authority.
Doyle continues by highlighting the well-known fact that, according to the teaching of the church, anyone with the use of reason, having the right intention and employing due matter and form can baptize and does so in persona Christi. In the sacrament of matrimony the ministers are the partners themselves and in the words of St Augustine: ‘When a man marries, it is Christ who marries;when a woman marries, it is Christ who marries.’ (174) Thus Doyle argues, that on the basis of the fundamental unity of the sacraments, the minister formally represents Christ the Mediator. In the sacraments of baptism and marriage a woman acts in persona Christi. For Doyle, the question that arises is whether the maleness of Christ, and, therefore, of the priest, enters the formal structure of the sacrament of the eucharist. Inter insigniores states: ‘The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols imprinted upon the human psychology: “Sacramental signs”, says Saint Thomas, “represent what they signify by natural resemblance”. The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ’s role in the eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this “natural resemblance” which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ.'(175) Doyle proceeds to apply Inter insigniores‘ argument about natural signs to baptism and shows that the matter of the sacrament is water, whilst the sacramental grace of baptism ‘communicates the divine life and destroys sin.'(176) He writes:
There is indeed a natural resemblance here, as is always the case in a true symbol. But we need to be careful not to confuse physical likeness or photographic reproduction with natural resemblance. If therefore the same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things in the sacrament of baptism, and since women can be ministers of this sacrament, then the natural resemblance here must be between the woman as human being and Christ the Mediator whose very humanity is the instrument of our salvation. (177)
Doyle clearly shows how in two of the sacraments a woman as minister has a natural resemblance to Christ the Mediator because she represents him in her humanity. The Declaration’s statement that it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ, clearly does not obtain in the case of baptism and marriage. Why, it may be asked, should this be a difficulty in the eucharist, where again the natural resemblance of the minister, acting in persona Christi, is between our humanity and Christ the Mediator?
In footnote 17 of Inter insigniores there is a reference to St Thomas which Doyle examines in some detail. Summa Theologiae III, q.83, art.1, ad 3 states:
It is to be said that (just as the celebration of this sacrament is the representative image of Christ’s cross: ibid ad 2), for the same reason the priest also enacts the image of Christ in whose person and by whose power he pronounces the words of consecration.’ (178)
Doyle comments, that from the comparison which the Declaration makes here, it seems clear that ‘the notion of “image” is being understood in two quite different senses, the one symbolic and the other physical or material.’ He proceeds to look at the texts separately. He writes:
First, Summa Theologiae III, q.83, art.1, ad 2: ‘As the celebration of this sacrament is an image representing (imago repraesentiva) Christ’s Passion, so does the altar represent the cross (altare est repraesentativum crucis ipsius) on which Christ was sacrificed in his own proper form and figure (in propria specie)'(180). The celebration of the eucharist and the altar are both symbols. St Thomas plainly distinguishes on the one hand between imago repraesentativa and the altar as repraesentativum of the cross and, on the other, Christ’s sacrifice in propria specie. Secondly, the same question and article, ad 3: ‘And for the same reason the priest also bears Christ’s image (gerit imaginem Christi), in whose person and by whose power he pronounces the words of consecration as we have shown. And so in a measure the priest and the victim are the same’.(181) The Declaration wishes to conclude from the comparison of ad 3 and ad 2 that the priest must be male. But this, in fact, is the one conclusion which cannot be drawn from the comparison. Indeed, if ad 3: gerit imaginem Christi does not refer to Christ’s mediatorship, the parallel with ad 2 is rendered ridiculous.
Doyle explains that the celebration of the eucharist is the imago repraesentativa of Christ’s passion and the altar represents the cross.
Neither the double consecration nor the altar is a physical likeness or a photographic reproduction of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, as true symbols they have a natural resemblance to what is represented. In the eucharist the sacrifice of Christ is sacramental, it is in genere signi, it is symbolic. If, then, the priest enacts the image of Christ (gerit imaginem Christi) ‘just as the celebration of this sacrament is the representative image of Christ’s cross’ [St Thomas says ‘passion’] as the Declaration has it, then it cannot be a matter of physical likeness but of natural resemblance, that is, of symbolic representation of Christ the Mediator. St Thomas has not changed his notion of “imago” in the text of ad 3 and given it a different meaning, as the Declaration seems to be saying.'(183) So it is that the celebration of the Mass is not a mimeograph of the Last Supper or of Calvary. Doyle continues:
If the natural resemblance between the minister of the eucharist and Christ formally concerned the maleness of Christ, then strictly speaking everything would have to be done to make the priest today resemble as closely as possible what we gather a Jew of the first century looked like. This is not being flippant; it is the logical corollary of the Declaration’s argument. If natural resemblance means physical likeness, then for the sake of making the image more perfect the priest ought to dress at Mass as a first century Jew dressed. As it is the priest at Mass dons vestments which serve to hide his very maleness and to highlight his ministry as representative image or symbol in his humanity of Christ the Mediator. Hence what the Declaration says about the eucharist may be said of all the sacraments: ‘the priest…acts…in persona Christi, taking the role of Christ, to the point of being his very image, when he pronounces the words of consecration’. One can also say of a woman minister of baptism: she acts in persona Christi, taking the role of Christ, to the point of being his very image, when she pronounces the words of baptism.
Doyle considers another of St. Thomas’ points, taken up by Inter insigniores, to reject the ordination of women. St Thomas states: ‘For since a sacrament is a sign, there is required in the things that are done in the sacraments not only the “res” but the signification of the “res”.’ The question Thomas was answering was: Whether the female sex is impeded from receiving orders? Doyle notes, that Thomas replies that there are certain conditions required in the recipient by the nature of some sacraments and other conditions required by law. If the conditions required by the nature of the sacrament are lacking, then neither the sacrament nor the ‘res’ is received. Since it is not possible to signify eminence of grade in a woman because she is in a state of subjection, she cannot receive the sacrament of orders. So Doyle rightly concludes:
According to St Thomas, therefore, the significatio rei in this case is not formally maleness (that the priest represents Christ the Male), but the eminentia gradus. The Declaration gives the impression that St Thomas’ argument is about maleness as such. But that is not the case. The argument rests on the assumption of the natural superiority of male to female and it is that superiority which endows the male with the significatio rei to receive the dignity of the sacrament of orders.
The point that Doyle is at pains to emphasize is that Thomas’ argument is not that maleness is the significatio rei but the superiority of the male. Nowhere is the issue precisely about the maleness of Christ, but rather that the male has a natural superiority. As such he is capable of acting in persona Christi not, according to the mind of St Thomas, ‘as his physical image, but as his representative by being endowed with the dignity of priesthood.'(185) Doyle continues:
All one need do to dispose of these arguments of St Thomas against ordaining women to the ministerial priesthood, is to show that women are not naturally in subjection to men and that men are not superior to women or more eminent, but simply different from women and equal to them.
This point has, of course, already been conceded in the Declaration, yet its reasoning, as Doyle has clearly demonstrated, is flawed in its reading of St Thomas. Thus Doyle can conclude, that the priest acting in persona Christi at the eucharist is essentially the same as in all the other sacraments. (186)Christ’s maleness, he tells us, cannot, of course, be ignored but ‘it tells us nothing either way about the question of who is a suitable minister of the eucharist.’ (187)
The Psychological Argument *
At the time that Doyle was writing he challenged a view which had some currency, that only the male could adequately represent both male and female in society. He quotes V.A. Demant, who in 1966 wrote:
A male priest represents both sexes in a way which a woman does not in organized society and church…. Woman can be regarded as nature’s priest, while man is a priest of the church. The logic of it is this. Man more easily detaches his relation to his fellows of both sexes from personalities; there is an impersonal universal element in his outlook which makes possible this detachment… Further, representation is a role men exercise more naturally than women, for it requires a degree of abstraction and generalisation foreign to her feminine wisdom. Representation is a masculine idea; so is equality; so is democracy. Woman represents nobody [my emphasis]; she is herself and her relationships are personal, concrete, direct…. Lastly men and women on the whole will not value women as representatives; they estimate women in their own personal right.'(188)
Times have certainly changed since that was written, at least in the Western world, and there can be few people, men or women, who would agree with those sentiments today. As Doyle points out, one wonders why this argument is any more relevant to the question of women priests than it was to the question of women doctors, lawyers, or any other number of professions. In fact he makes an interesting and valid point: ‘If we can speak of psychological differences between the sexes as of universal application, then these very differences may be invoked as an argument in favour of the ordination of women. The argument that women are different from men anatomically, physiologically and psychologically merely emphasizes that women would be women priests and not limp copies or pale imitations of men priests.'(189)
Ecumenical Considerations *
When Doyle wrote his paper in 1975, women had not yet been ordained as priests in the Anglican Communion, and as has been seen from the Versailles Commission, there was much discussion concerning the damage that would be caused to Christian unity if any of the churches were to act unilaterally. Certainly Doyle recognized the inherent problems and that ‘some strain on ecumenical relations’ would occur, but he did not consider the problems to be insuperable. He had advocated the ‘setting up of an international, interconfessional commission to study the question from all sides and at every level and to present its findings to the respective authorities of each Church and Ecclesial Communion.’ In addition he had suggested that discussion be initiated in the church ‘in every parish and religious community and the views expressed and attitudes manifested should be passed on to a central organizing body in every diocese in the church and thence sent on to the appropriate higher authorities.’ Thus a true picture of the state of the question would emerge in the church, and as Legrand has stated: ‘The Holy Spirit is at work in the whole people of God made up of women and men. In this, as in everything else which concerns faith and morals, he must be given the opportunity to speak.'(191)
Sadly, the optimism of the 70s has now given way to uncertainty as regards the reconciliation of the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. Some might argue that that optimism was misplaced and that we now have a more realistic approach. Pope John Paul II has spoken about ‘an increasingly serious obstacle’ to the progress of reconciliation, brought about by the ordination of women in the Anglican Communion. (193) Nevertheless, if Doyle’s suggestion of discussions, as outlined above, were indeed to be carried out, it would at least keep the ecumenical door open, as well as providing the hierarchy with a clearer picture of the sensus fidelium. This in turn might assist the magisterium in the preparation of some of its documents and so inspire more confidence in some of its decisions.
Further arguments *
There have been claims that the movement for the ordination of women is the outcome of feminist pressure for equal rights and as such not so much the result of a pastoral concern as a desire to ‘wrench the priesthood from its straight jacket of male monopoly’.(194) Doyle agrees that it belongs to the wider movement for the emancipation of women in the church and society but, he writes;
The movement for women’s emancipation is a locus theologicus particularizing the grace of freedom and equality brought to humankind through the gospel of God. The locus deserves serious and attentive study. The Church, therefore, is obliged to listen carefully and to discern to the best of her ability what the Holy Spirit is saying to her in the women’s emancipation movement and especially in the discussion about women priests. She must remain open to the possibility that it is the will of God that women be ordained to the priesthood and that He has given the grace of vocation to the priesthood to women as well as men…. Can it be held with dogmatic certitude that it is ontologically impossible for a woman to have the grace of a vocation to the priesthood?'(195)
Doyle is correct in stating that the question of women’s ordination is not merely a sociological argument based on an anthropology which esteem’s power, but a serious theological question. The fact that many women feel they may have a vocation to the priesthood might be the work of the Holy Spirit and should not be dismissed lightly. Thus the question deserves further considered study by the church, especially since it is by no means dogmatically certain that women cannot receive such a vocation.
Doyle emphasizes (as Inter insigniores did a year later) that the priesthood is not a right. He states:
Men do not have a right to be ordained; they are called by God’s grace and are set apart to proclaim the truth of the gospel and to serve and lead the people of God. Thus the question of the ordination of women must not be reduced to a sordid issue about equal rights. The issue of equal rights is applicable to other questions, but not to this. This does not mean that in our view the question of the ordination of women is to be separated from the general movement of women’s emancipation – theology does not pursue its task in a vacuum and women’s emancipation is not only a movement about rights but also about grace.
So, Doyle rightly points out that the question, then, is not whether women have the right to be ordained, but whether they can be ordained or whether they can receive the grace of vocation to the priesthood. (196)
God and the Feminine *
For Doyle the question about the ordination of women to the priesthood is intimately bound up with the theological issue of the source of the feminine in God. He writes:
It cannot be overemphasized that God is the source of womanhood and motherhood. God is neither male nor female; therefore the terms “Father” and “Son” indicate that the perfections of fatherhood and sonship are to be found pre-eminently in God. The terms “Mother” and “Daughter” may also be used of God to indicate that the perfections of motherhood and daughterhood are to be found pre-eminently in God. All that Mary, the Mother of God, is by nature and by grace has its source in the God who created and chose her. This is reason enough to encourage the use of feminine terms of God alongside the masculine ones with which we are so familiar.(197)
This theology can serve to remind one of the essential equality of the sexes before God and, above all, ‘will safeguard us from rhapsodizing woman away under those lovely but often doubtfully applied attributes: receptivity and passivity.’ (198) From this Doyle concludes that:
If we can take seriously that God is the source of femininity, then it is legitimate to ask what is the theological reason behind the assertion of canon 968.1 of the code of canon law…. Finally since there are some grounds for tracing back womanhood and motherhood to God, it would seem desirable and fitting that these aspects of the divine life be manifested in the priestly ministry of the church. (199)
In his paper Doyle identified and discussed the issues pertinent to the question of the ordination of women, taking seriously all the objections raised by opponents to women’s ordination and examining them objectively in some depth. (200) These arguments, Doyle says, deserve respect and merit serious consideration. ‘It is not helpful just to dismiss them as no more than the outcome of prejudice, male chauvinism, misogynism and as the products of a social and cultural conditioning.’ He continues:
We are now bound to ask, however, whether these arguments, even when taken together, provide sufficient grounds for a doctrinal position which holds it to be in virtue of divine law made known in the revelation of God through the practice of Jesus Christ that a woman cannot be ordained to the priesthood and never will be able to be ordained throughout the entire future history of the church?
It is Doyle’s opinion the these arguments are neither sufficient grounds nor adequate justification for so definitive a doctrinal position. He writes:
To justify so radical a conclusion would require far more positive evidence than the mere facts that women were not included in the apostolic college and that women priests have thus far never been accepted in the orthodox and catholic tradition of the church. Furthermore, it is of some significance that Christ is not recorded in the scriptures to have excluded positively and formally women from the priesthood.
It is clear, then, that Doyle believes that there are no theological or scriptural arguments which hold up under scrutiny, which would forever bar women from the priesthood. He is convinced that their non-ordination belongs to the accidentals of the church and that the matter is not de jure divino.
Doyle concludes that:
it is not too outrageous to suggest that the practice of not ordaining women to the priesthood is no more than an accidental feature of the Christian religion. What is judged to be accidental in the history of the church’s self-understanding, is not thereby considered erroneous or without significance. At one time indeed accidentals may have been of the highest importance. But unlike what is essential, the accidental can become irrelevant and outmoded. To judge the exclusion of women from the priesthood as among the accidentals of the church’s self-understanding and practice does not imply that the apostles failed to divine or to implement the intention of Christ in this matter any more than they can be said to have failed to implement his teaching concerning the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This doctrine, as is well known, had a very stormy history. St Bernard and St Thomas were totally opposed to it for what seemed to be unassailable theological reasons. (202)
Returning to canon 968.1 Doyle states that whilst on a first reading it appears that the canon intends primarily to exclude women from the priesthood, after a theological investigation of the question by van der Meer,(203) the latter concluded that this canon is more concerned to emphasize the absolute necessity of baptism as a prerequisite for ordination, than to exclude women from the priesthood. In fact, the canonists base their case of diriment impediment on the civil law usage debarring women from political office.(204)
From the time that van der Meer had published his thesis in 1962 to the time that Doyle wrote his paper in 1975 a considerable amount of literature concerning the canonical position on the subject of orders had been written. Doyle was familiar with much of this and concludes that, whilst both positive and negative views had been expressed, by far the majority of the authors had shown themselves to be in favour of women’s ordination. He writes:(205)
These studies concerning canon 968.1 make us aware that the canonical position is by no means outside the area of question and discussion once the historical situation in which it originated and developed is submitted to critical study and research. The fact that a canonical provision grew up in a historical situation is not in itself, of course, a reason for rejecting it. Canon law, however, is based on theology and in particular on doctrinal and pastoral ecclesiology. When theology in any of its branches begins to undergo development, it has direct and immediate repercussions on the church’s law. Canon lawyers are then obliged to examine the sources and the presuppositions of their science in the respective areas in the light of new and perhaps unexpected developments.(206)
So, Doyle concludes that, whilst the official position of the church remains the same, it has been questioned at the theological and pastoral levels and ‘there is a growing body of theological opinion which maintains that there is no serious doctrinal argument against the ordination of women and that God did not exclude women from the priesthood.'(207) This view still prevails in many quarters despite the publication of Ordinatio sacerdotalis. Sullivan has offered some good advice with regard to the uncertainty surrounding this document. He writes:
The history of Catholic doctrine suggests the need of great caution in claiming that something has been taught infallibly by the ordinary universal magisterium, if there is reason to judge that a position on which there was a consensus in the past no longer enjoys such a consensus. In such a case, it would be wise to put off any peremptory declaration until it becomes clear whether a question has been raised that obliges the church to look at an old problem in a new light and perhaps come up with a better answer to it.'(208)
Rather than trying to silence discussion, this approach would allow the topic to be explored more fully by theologians, and provide an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to be heard.
Rahner reached the same conclusion as Doyle, and in his comments on Inter insigniores he writes: ‘The practice which the Catholic Church has of not ordaining women to the priesthood has no binding theological character…. The actual practice is not a dogma. It is purely and simply based on a human and historical reflection which was valid in the past in cultural and social conditions which are presently changing rapidly…. The fact should not be overlooked that, if its basic thesis is not assumed as a priori certain, the burden of proof evidently lies with the Declaration and not with its opponents. If then in any case there are cultural and sociological reasons for not making a woman leader of the congregation, it ought to be clearly proved that these reasons are not of themselves sufficient to explain the attitude of Jesus and the apostles. But the Declaration makes no attempt to provide such a proof.’ (209)
Following his conclusion that no serious doctrinal or theological arguments exist against the ordination of women, Doyle puts forward what he considers to be the most positive argument in favour of women’s ordination. He states that the priesthood is a specific form of the ministry of salvation of the church, and to emphasize the significance of this understanding of the priesthood, Doyle lists six points which, he says, should be borne in mind.’ (210) He writes:
1. The church is the sacrament of salvation and has been endowed with authority and spiritual power by God to bring salvation to the world.
2. Salvation is mediated in history in many ways, sacramental and non-sacramental. The church commissions people officially to participate in her ministry of salvation, sometimes in virtue of sacramental consecration, sometimes without sacramental consecration.
3. The ordained ministry is part of the broader ministerial activity of the people of God. ‘The theology of ordained ministry is therefore a derivative of ecclesiology and not vice versa’.
4. The ministerial priesthood is not exhaustively defined by its cultic and sacramental functions, though they are an essential part of it. It includes also as part of its structure: the preaching of the word, teaching, leading the community and consolidating its unity. Not every priest, however, is expected to fulfil every function the ministerial priesthood embraces.
5. ‘Charismatic’ qualities should be emphasized more than juridical requirements for the ministerial priesthood. This does not mean that the latter should be ignored, but they must take second place today.
6. The place of women in the life and mission of the church has already been influenced in theory and to a small extent in practice by the emancipation of women in society. The ministry of the church is undergoing a transformation which has already shown it to be necessary that the man/woman partnership should be integrated into the mission of the church in the modern world and that there is a distinct place for women in the priestly ministry.
Thus Doyle rightly concludes that: ‘If we dissociate the priesthood from all ideas of eminence and accept its clericalization as a historical conditioning, then we will not begin with the sex of the person as the first requisite condition for ordination, but with the religious, spiritual, intellectual and human gifts and qualities which are indispensable for the competent and fruitful exercise of this ministry in the person and name of Christ.'(212)
Inter insigniores‘ call for women to take a fuller role in the life of the church (213) seems as yet to have had little impact, despite the fact that it is nearly thirty years since its publication. Sadly the Declaration does not address the issue of women deacons, despite the well-documented evidence of their activity in the early church, and the fact that they were ordained by the imposition of hands by a bishop. Legrand maintains that this is evidence enough for a revision of the present form of canon 968.1 of the code of canon law,(214) and Doyle suggests that serious consideration should be given to ordaining nuns who are willing, to the diaconate, especially in boarding schools, who could preach, give spiritual direction and distribute holy communion.(215) Though there are fewer nuns in boarding education these days and Doyle’s example appears somewhat dated, the point remains valid and might equally be applied, for example, to parish sisters nowadays. Doyle also maintains that a greater involvement of women in the church’s life and mission at every level from the Roman Curia to the local parish is imperative. ‘More extensive and serious involvement of women in the daily life of the church will have the result of preparing us psychologically for a fully integrated female priesthood in the ministry of the church.’ (216)
Similarly, Rahner, in trying to see a way forward, emphasizes the necessity for all within the church to work together:
The common effort can bring about that cultural and religious situation in which the problem of the Declaration still remaining but at present insoluble in practice in the church can be left to await a solution acceptable to all sides. In other words, when woman has acquired practically and institutionally in the church that importance which as such she ought to have, which this Declaration also concedes to her in practice but which in fact she does not yet possess, then only are the vital presuppositions present for a solution satisfying to all sides of the main problem which occupied us here….. We can wait for all this with patience and confidence. Nevertheless, too many demands must not be imposed on this patience, for time presses and we cannot wait again for a hundred years for an analogous development without detriment to the church. (217)
It may be seen in conclusion, then, that Doyle’s arguments not only support but even justify the ordination of women to the priesthood. The fact that he was at the heart of official debates in the 70s, his incisive insights and arguments (which have merely been highlighted in this essay), and his considerable influence on other theologians all indicate that his work is worth looking at again. Since the debate on women’s ordination to the priesthood is as yet unresolved (though it may have been temporarily silenced), it is to be hoped that Doyle’s balanced and scholarly contribution, which is of lasting significance, will be considered again in future discussions.
The final word may be left to Doyle:
What is required of us is complete openness to the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God (1 Cor 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. …(218) 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.
Doyle, E., ‘The Ordination of Women: The State of the Question in the Roman Catholic Church’, 1975.
Doyle, E., ‘The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’ in Feminine in the Church, Monica Furlong (ed.), (SPCK 1984).
Doyle, E., ‘The Question of Women Priests and the Argument In Persona Christi’ in Irish Theological Quarterly 50, 1983/4, pp.212-221.
Doyle, E. Archival material held in the Archives of the Province of the Immaculate Conception in England, Canterbury. The following articles and documents are contained in the files. Many items are photocopies or have not been published and do not, therefore, have full bibliographical details. Where they are available they are given below.
Purdy, W., ‘The Ordination of Women and Anglican/Roman Catholic Relations’, known as A/RCCOW.
‘Ordination of Women to the Priesthood: Anglican Decisions and Reports, 1968-1977’, known as A/RCCOW1.
‘The Origins of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women’, known as A/RCCOW2.
The Minutes of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood, known as A/RCCOW 6.
Draft copy with amendments of the ‘Joint Report’ of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women, known as A/RCCOW 8.
‘Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood’, Crux Special, 1977.
Vatican Commentary on ‘Declaration on the Question of Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood, Crux Special, 1977.
A Letter from Bishop Ramon Torrella, Vice-President of the SPCU to Eric Doyle OFM, dated 10 May 1978, and Doyle’s reply dated 18 May 1978.
Two Letters (dated 14 July 1977 and 4 January 1978) from Mgr Purdy to Eric Doyle OFM inviting him to take part in the Versailles Commission.
‘Anglicans and Roman Catholics on the Ordination of Women: An American Report’. This is a report by John F. Hotchkin. Possibly 1978.
‘Theological Reflections on the Ordination of Women’, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1972.
Norgren, W., ‘Ecumenical Relations and Ordination of Women to the Priesthood in the Episcopal Church’ in Mid-Stream. Possibly 1978.
‘ARC Statement on the Ordination of Women’, 1975.
‘Statement by Archbishop Joseph Bernardin, President, NCCB, Concerning the Ordination of Women (October 7 1975)’.
‘Press Release by Archbishop Bernardin Concerning the Ordination of Women, November 20 1975)’.
Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, ‘Letter to the Apostolic Delegate’ and ‘Archbishop Jadot’s Response’ in Origins 6, (1977), no.42, pp.662-65.
Letter from the ‘Women’s Ordination Conference, Boston, Massachusetts’ to Archbishop Jadot.
Document of the Lambeth Conference 1978: LC.78, UKC105. ‘Ordination of Women to the Priesthood’. Text of the introductory speech by Canon J. Macquarrie.
Lambeth Conference 1978, ‘Roman Catholic Relations’, Henry Chadwick.
Lambeth Conference 1978, ‘The Theological Case for the Ordination of Women: A Letter to Members of the General Synod’, Diane Hampson.
Lambeth Conference 1978: LC.78, UKC 40. ‘Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission’, John Howe.
Lambeth Conference 1978: LC.78, UKC 37. ‘A Report of a Special Meeting of the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission’, being a report of the meeting held in Athens 13-18 July 1978.
Mitchell, N., ‘Ministry Today: Problems and Prospects’ in Worship 48, (1974), no.6.
National Coalition of American Nuns, ‘This Teaching Cannot be Infallible’.
Palmer, P., ‘Who can anoint the sick?’ in Worship 48, (1974), pp.81-92.
Brennan, I., ‘Women in the Kingdom of God’ in The Month, Dec. 1980
McNeil, B., ‘Women and the Eucharistic Presidency’ in New Blackfriars, October 1976.
Williams, C., ‘Women, Theology and the Eucharist’ in New Blackfriars, being a response to the above article.
Tennis, D., ‘Reflections on the Maleness of Jesus’ in Cross Currents, Summer 1978.
Saward, J., The Case Against the Ordination of Women, (The Church Union: London 1975).
Saward, J., Christ and his Bride, 1977.
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. Correspondence between Archbishop Robert Runcie and Pope John Paul II, 1984-1986. www.womenpriests.org/church/cant2.asp
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1. Haye van der Meer, SJ, Women Priests in the Catholic Church? A Theological-Historical Investigation, 1973, p.vii.
2. Inter insigniores, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 27 January 1977. As there are no paragraph numbers in the document, I have referred throughout this essay to the page numbers in The Order of Priesthood: Nine Commentaries on the Vatican Decree Inter Insigniores,1978. This contains the text of the ‘Declaration’ and the ‘Commentary Prepared at the Congregation’s Request by a Theologian Expert as well as the nine commentaries. Here p.3.
3. Eric Doyle OFM, ‘The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’ in Feminine in the Church, p.36. Hereafter ‘Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’.
4. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church, p.28. See also Karl Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’ in Theological Investigations XX. Addressing this issue he writes: ‘We are then, dealing here, with an authentic but in principle reformable declaration from which error is not certainly a priori excluded and not with a simple reference to an absolutely certain doctrine of faith which is clearly and irreformably binding for other reasons.’ p.38.
5. Sullivan explains the different levels of obsequium required to be given to the various types of documents issued by the magisterium and/or the Pope. The translation of obsequium varies, sometimes being ‘assent’, at other times ‘respect’. Sullivan describes it as an ‘attitude’. One of the more authoritative documents is an apostolic letter which demands a greater degree of obsequium than a declaration, as for example Inter insigniores. See Sullivan, Creative Fidelity, pp.21-24.
6. Diane Caplin, ‘Augmenting The Sacred Foundation: Authority and Ordination in the Roman Catholic Church’, www.msawomen.org/works/authority.asp, p.1.
7. The text reads: ‘Dubium: Whether the teaching that the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis is to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith. Responsum: In the affirmative. This teaching requires definitive assent since, founded on the written word of God and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the tradition of the church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’, Lumen Gentium n.25 & n.2). Thus, in present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere and by all as belonging to the deposit of faith.’
8.Caplin, ‘Augmenting the Sacred Foundation, p.2.
9. Francis A. Sullivan SJ, Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium, 1996, pp.106-7.
10.Sullivan, Creative Fidelity, p.182. He continues: ‘When a doctrine has been infallibly defined, or when it is absolutely certain that it has been infallibly taught, it is irreversible. Further development can clarify the meaning of such a doctrine, and can lead to its being better expressed, but cannot reverse it. On the other hand, the history of Catholic doctrine provides some examples of propositions which, up to a certain point in time, seemed to be the unanimous teaching of the whole episcopate, and yet, as a result of further development of doctrine, are no longer the teaching of the church. To give an example: the bishops gathered at the Council of Florence in 1442 no doubt expressed the common teaching of the whole episcopate at that time when they said that all pagans and Jews would certainly go to hell if they did not become Catholics before they died. This is certainly not the doctrine of the modern Catholic Church. Other examples of doctrines that had a long tradition but were subsequently reversed concerned the morality of owning slaves and exploiting labour, and the obligation requiring rulers of Catholic nations to prevent the propagation of protestantism in their territories. Such examples suggest that appeal to a long-standing tradition of the past might not suffice as proof that a doctrine has been taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.’ p.183.
11. Sullivan, Creative Fidelity, p.183. This evidently cannot be demonstrated since it is common knowledge that there are bishops in favour of women’s ordination. Hervé-Marie Legrand OP lists a number of bishops, who, in 1975 at least, were openly discussing the question. See his ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’ in Origins, vol.6, no.29, p.461. Hereafter ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’. A comment by Matthieu Wagemaker would seem to indicate that bishops’ views on the ordination of women influences their potential appointment. See his Two Trains Running: The Reception of the Understanding of Authority by ARCIC 1 Related to the Debates on the Ordination of Women, 1999, p.112. ‘The declaration Inter insigniores did not lack clarity about the course the Catholic Church would take as was emphasized by the address of Bishop C. Daly to the Lambeth Conference in 1978. N. Lüdecke seems to know that from that moment future bishops were screened on their opinions about the issue.’ The reference is to N. Lüdecke, ‘Also doch ein Dogma?’ p.208.
12. Sullivan, Creative Fidelity, p.183. Sullivan refers the reader to Evangelium vitae n.62.
13. Sullivan, Creative Fidelity, p.183. See DS 2879. Clearly this is not so, as is evident from the vast amount of literature favouring women’s ordination and contesting the infallibility of Ordinatio sacerdotalis. Hervé-Marie Legrand OP (a participant in the Working Group in Assisi) states that different individual and well-known theologians have explicitly stated and written that they see no dogmatic obstacle to the ordination of women. These include K. Rahner, H. Küng, B. Häring, F. Klostermann, J. Daniélou, Th. Maertens, Professors R. Metz and J.M. Aubert of the University of Strasbourg and the Spanish Dominican J.L. Acebal. Y. Congar is in favour of the ordination of women deacons.
14.Sullivan, Creative Fidelity, p.183.
15. Sullivan points out that the changes in church doctrine that have actually taken place in the course of history show that a tradition could hold firm until advances in human knowledge or culture obliged the church to look at the question in a new light. He writes: ‘Through honest re-examination of its tradition in this new light, the church has sometimes come to see that the reasons for holding to its previous position were not decisive at all. There is no denying the fact that many of the reasons given in the past to justify the exclusion of women from the priesthood are such as one would be embarrassed to offer today. No doubt, better reasons than those have been presented in the recent documents of the Holy See.’ Creative Fidelity, p.184.
16. Sullivan, Creative Fidelity, pp.183-4.
17.One indication that the debate is not yet over came in a very recent article in The Daily Telegraph, (28 August 2003). It has been suggested by Bishop Vincent Malone, auxiliary bishop of Liverpool, that lay women might hear confessions and grant absolution. In his contribution to Healing Priesthood: Women’s Voices Worldwide, the bishop said that the church should consider choosing lay women to be confessors because some people might prefer disclosing their sins to a woman rather than a man. As the liaison between the English and Welsh Bishops’ Conference and the National Board of Catholic Women, Bishop’s Malone’s comments will be of some significance. Whilst his intention is not to reignite the debate over the question of women priests, he is trying to find a solution to the ‘complaint that women can’t do anything’ in the church, a problem which Inter insigniores did nothing to address. The bishop’s stance does, of course, raise a serious question about the role of the ordained ministry, but this latest intervention by a bishop on women’s role within the Catholic Church clearly shows that the issue of women’s ministry is far from settled. See Healing Priesthood: Women’s Voices Worldwide, (DLT Ltd 2003).
18. Now enjoying close connections with the University of Kent, it is the House of Studies for the English Province of the Franciscan Order. It has also become an international centre of studies for many overseas members of the Order, many of whom come for one year.
19. The spring 1985 volume of ‘The Teilhard Review and Journal of Creative Evolution‘ was subsequently issued as a tribute to him.
20. Eric Doyle OFM, The Disciple and the Master, 1983. See comments by Zachary Hayes (himself the foremost scholar on St Bonaventure today) in the ‘Foreword’ to the book, pp.xii-xiii. Doyle’s dissertation entitled ‘William Woodford, OFM (c.1330-c.1400): His Life and Works together with a Study and Edition of his “Responsiones contra Wiclevum et Lollardos”‘ was originally written in Latin. Doyle submitted it to the Franciscan Institute in New York for printing just two weeks before his death. He had been waiting to find one other copy of Woodford’s Responsiones besides that conserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, but had never been able to do so. William Woodford had been foremost in opposing John Wycliff in the fourteenth century whose works were eventually formally condemned by the Council of Constance (1414-17).
22. Eric Doyle OFM, Saint Francis and the Song of Brotherhood, 1980. Foreword, p.i. This book has now been translated into quite a number of different languages.
23. In the course of my research for this dissertation I have corresponded with a number of people, all of whom have commented on their affection for Doyle, the impression he has left on them and the help he has extended them in their personal lives. Poems have been written in his memory and music composed.
24. Dr 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; Fr Hervé-Marie Legrand OP and Fr Eric Doyle OFM both presented theological reflections from the Roman Catholic side. The latter two were both present at the invitation of the SPCU. All the papers, together with a note appended by Canon Dessain, were edited and published by Peter Staples as The Assisi Report 1975, The Inter-university Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Research, Utrecht 1975. It had been thought that the paper had remained unpublished, and that the only extant copy was my personal copy, given to me by Doyle in 1975. I am most grateful to Dr Staples for his lengthy and most helpful correspondence with me, in which he explained the origins and function of the Working Group. It was originally a semi-private initiative on the part of Joseph Dessain, Ecumenical Officer of the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel (then Cardinal Suenens), who was the nephew of Cardinal Mercier’s personal chaplain at the time of the Malines Conversations in the 1920s. There were several attempts to officialize the proceedings on the part of the Roman Catholics, but the group never became fully official. Dr Staples himself took the organizers to see Cardinal Willebrands in Utrecht when he was Archbishop there and head of the SPCU in Rome, but nothing much seems to have come from that initiative. Thus the precise status of the group was always in doubt, even though Christopher Hill, now the Assistant Bishop of Stafford and the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ecumenical Officer, was usually present. At the time of Vatican II France was regarded as ‘progressive’. Dr Staples describes how the banner of progressivity moved north to Belgium during the time of Cardinal Suenens, and in the seventies moved even further north into Holland. He writes: ‘This explains why (some of) the Dutch also wanted a piece of the action. So the group rode (as it were) on the back of the progressive movement which – on the ecumenical front – was strengthened by the foundation of the SPCU (under Cardinal Bea, and later under Cardinal Willebrands) and the publication of the first ARCIC document (Windsor).’
25. The paper, running to around 15,000 words, is divided into five parts. The first part describes the context in which the question is to be understood; the second presents the canonical position as found in the Codex Iuris Canonici; the third examines some of the theological, biblical, anthropological, psychological and ecumenical arguments against the ordination of women; the fourth presents Doyle’s theological reflections on the previous arguments and section five forms the conclusion.
26.This evident from a letter which Doyle wrote to his Provincial of that time requesting permission to attend the later debate in Versailles in 1978. In a letter dated 19th February 1978 he writes: ‘I have been asked to take part in this consultation by the Secretariat for Unity in Rome. The Secretariat know my views as they have copies of all the papers that were given at the meeting in Assisi in 1975.’
27.Hereafter to be referred to as the Versailles Commission. In the letter mentioned above Doyle continues: ‘They feel that there must be someone, who represents the opinion that women can be ordained, present at the meeting on the Roman Catholic side.’
28. Interestingly, the correspondence between Mgr Purdy of the SPCU and Doyle shows that he initially turned down the invitation in July 1977 to serve on this Commission. A second request from Mgr Purdy in December of that year led to a change of mind on Doyle’s part. In a letter dated 4th January 1978, Mgr Purdy wrote: ‘I got a telephone call from Alan Clark giving me the glad news that you had agreed to reconsider your decision about the ‘Ordination of Women’ meeting….I am delighted and grateful.’
29.Legrand resides and lectures at the Institut Catholique in Paris.
William Purdy, ‘The Ordination of Women and Anglican/Roman Catholic Relations’ pp.5-6. Hereafter A/RCCOW. This is an unpublished document contained in Doyle’s archives in Canterbury. Evidently it was Purdy’s contribution, or at least a part of it, at the Versailles Commission. This paper looks at the history of the debate on the ordination of women to the priesthood in an ecumenical context. Prior to the publication of Inter insigniores, there had been some correspondence between Rome and Canterbury concerning the issue. In his paper Purdy commented on the fact that there was concern among some Anglicans that there should be no unilateral action in the matter of ordaining women. He wrote: ‘The debate revealed for the first time that high-level discussions had opened with Rome. The bishop of Chelmsford read a letter addressed by Cardinal Willebrands to Archbishop Coggan… which revealed that at last the question was beginning to arouse interest in Rome.’ The monsignor continues: ‘The archbishop acted promptly enough on the Synod’s recommendation, addressing the first of his letters to Paul VI less than a week later (July 9th).’ The letter reads: ‘The central authorities of the Anglican Communion have therefore called for common counsel in this matter, as has the General Synod of the Church of England. A glance at A/RCCOW 1 (‘Ordination of Women to the Priesthood: Anglican Decisions and Reports, 1968-1977′) will show that this call for common counsel was now relevant in rather varying degrees. In some cases it looked like calling for locking the stable door after the horse had bolted. Before the Pope replied, November 30th 1975, there was modest common counsel in the shape of the first of the informal talks organised by Bishop Howe with the Secretariat (to which talks the Pope referred approvingly in his reply).’ In his second letter to the Pope, dated February 10th 1976 and formally delivered personally by Bishop Howe in an audience, the Archbishop began by mentioning the imminence of the tenth anniversary of Archbishop Ramsey’s visit to Rome. He identified himself strongly with the commitments then made, but also raised the question whether the issue of the ordination of women was one of ‘legitimate diversity’ or not. He finally looked forward to the day when he might meet the Pope. The Pope’s first reaction to this letter came in the conversation during the audience at which it was delivered. This is clear from the Pope’s reply (March 23rd). In this the Pope expressed still more feelingly his sadness at “so grave a new obstacle and threat” but did not modify his earlier assertion that “obstacles do not destroy mutual commitment to a search for reconciliation” – indeed, he said more eloquently that “it is no part of corresponding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to fail in the virtue of hope”. He made no allusion to the question about “legitimate diversity” raised by the Archbishop.
31.These were the three statements on Eucharist, Ministry and Authority.
32. Purdy, A/RCCOW, p.14.
33. Purdy, A/RCCOW, p.15. Purdy continued: ‘Nevertheless, Cardinal Willebrands had vigorously affirmed that dialogue on the subject should continue, and should be extended to the fundamental questions of Christian anthropology which lie behind the opposed attitude to the ordination of women.’ He also writes that one may recall that the Cardinal, in his conversation with the group of ECUSA bishops in Rome, stated that the anthropological arguments against the ordination of women are weak and ought not to be pursued. Nevertheless, this has remained a central argument for some theologians, notably Louis Bouyer, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Gustave Martelet.
34. Doyle, ‘The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’ p.37.
35. These were the Rt Revd Donald Cameron, Assistant Bishop of Sydney; the Revd Professor Edward Fasholé-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.
36.In addition to Doyle, the members on the Roman Catholic side were Fr Yves Congar OP; 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, SPCU, who also acted as co-secretary.
37. These are contained in public archives of the Franciscan Order and are documented as A/RCCOW 6, (Anglican/Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women, document 6.)
38. A/RCCOW 6. Amongst some of the comments made by members of the Commission are the following. Mgr Purdy noted the Anglican insistence at the Chichester meeting of ARCIC that the ordination of women did not imply departure from the Agreed Statement on the Ministry. His paper also stressed the disparity between the structures of the Anglican Communion and that of the Roman Catholic Church. He also points out that the “Commentary” to Inter insigniores attempts to stretch matters and suggest that the ‘whole meaning’ of Pope Paul’s letters to Dr Coggan is that the Church has already decided that the ordination of women is not a matter for legitimate pluralism. ‘If this were so,’ he states, ‘there would be little point in our being here.’ Bishop Cameron stressed the divergence between the picture of ministry presented in the Declaration and the Canterbury Statement. Bishop Valentine also felt that the ARCIC document on the Ministry seemed to be unknown to the CDF. Doyle noted a contradiction between recent Roman Catholic teaching on the role of women e.g. Gaudium et Spes (I can only surmise that he may have been referring to any one of the following: n.9, 12, 29 and/or 60) and Inter insigniores. It appeared that the doctrine of the ministry was not susceptible to development. He also noted the novelty of the presentation of the ministry in persona Christi. Congar stated that the question of the ordination of women was not a clear one, but there was no evidence that a male priesthood was de jure divino. He also noted the disparity of the arguments used in the Declaration. Tradition was the conclusive argument, yet even this was strange because of its negative nature. Hotchkin drew attention to Karl Rahner’s finding the Statement an authentic declaration of the Roman magisterium, but contesting that the conclusions can be drawn from the arguments. Duprey did not think the Declaration merely signified a disciplinary decision. The Roman Catholic Church deemed the ordination of women inadmissible not merely for secondary or cultural reasons. It was more that the Roman Catholic Church did not feel it could take the risk of possibly going against the will of Christ. Doyle asked who believed it was not possible to ordain women: Jesus, theologians, or the church? The Declaration was inopportune and dioceses and parishes should still be consulted. He agreed that at the pastoral level the question was probably premature for Roman Catholics. Duprey agreed that it was not de jure divino that women could not be ordained and Doyle saw new sources for the discovery of doctrinal development in ecumenical discussion. He reaffirmed that the ministry could be re-defined. He also drew attention to Phoebe in Romans XVI. Whatever Timothy was, she was. Revd. C. Hill noted that the Declaration’s silence on the issue of women deacons was relevant to the debate. Doyle saw both Churches as in the midst of a development of doctrine. Congar was not sure of the character of the decision that had been made. It was based on canon law and a certain tradition. It was very important to keep a distance between the Roman statement and the concept of de jure divino. The church had not decided definitively but it was bound for the present. Professor Griffiss commented that many positions thought to be academic before Vatican II were now pastoral practice and Congar in agreement stated that there had been a deep underground movement. He thought that this was the way the question might mature for the church in France.
39. Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood, ‘The Report’, One in Christ 4, (1978), pp.389-392. It is apparent from correspondence in Doyle’s archives that he was one of those in favour of women’s ordination. In May 1978 Doyle had received a letter from Bishop Ramon Torrella, Vice-President of the SPCU, acknowledging that the findings in the report were only those of the participants. But, he wrote: ‘the wish of the organizers of the Lambeth Conference to have the paper distributed at the Lambeth Conference of next July (which would certainly involve its becoming public) might result in an exaggerated view of its status and hence, if it appeared in its present form, aggravate the difficulties facing us in connection with Anglican/RC relations. None of us wants this, and I feel that if you would agree to the appending of the suggested note by the Catholic participants anxieties might be allayed’. Congar, it was noted had been absent at the drafting of the final report and had some reservations about paragraph 6. Doyle, however, was not prepared to put his name to the suggested note. In a two-page reply he wrote: ‘With regard to the reference to de jure divino in the Versailles report, it should be stressed that this is hardly revolutionary. It was noted by many people at the time Inter insigniores was published that nowhere does the Declaration say that women are excluded from the ministerial priesthood de jure divino nor that men alone de jure divino can be ordained to the ministerial priesthood…. I do not share Fr Congar’s difficulties nor do I concur with his judgment that there is a certain inconsistency in the report. For this reason, I beg with respect, my Lord Bishop, to disagree totally with the suggestion to include the note: “The undersigned Catholic participants…” Fr Congar’s representations appear to me to attribute to the document from Versailles an authority which it does not possess. From the final sentence of your letter, my Lord, it would seem that the authorities at the Secretariat share Fr Congar’s difficulties and judgment: “It would be a pity if the alternative were to be that Father Congar felt obliged to dissent from the document, or that some much heavier official disclaimer should be necessary”…. I would suggest that if the Secretariat is uneasy about any interpretation that may be put on the text of the report, then it may preface any proposed publication of the report with a reminder that this is not in any way an official document. This would offend no one, for it is the simple truth of the matter’. It is perhaps an interesting point to reflect on that Mgr Purdy had persisted in persuading Doyle to take part in the Commission, especially since the latter’s views were already well known to him.
40.The text of the document was published in The Tablet (5 August 1978), pp.762-3 as well as being appended to the ‘Report’, One in Christ 4, (1978), pp.392-3.
41.Doyle, ‘The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’, p.38. Bishop’s address, One in Christ, pp.392-3 and The Tablet, p.762.
42. From ‘The Letter of Pope John Paul II to Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, 20 December 1984’.
43. In October 1976 1,340 delegates representing 152 dioceses and 92 national Catholic organizations met at a national convocation in Detroit. This “Call to Action” conference was convened on the initiative of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. One of the resolutions passed was ‘that the NCCB initiate dialogue with Rome to change the present discipline in the western rite of the Roman Catholic Church to allow women to be ordained to the diaconate and priesthood.’ In ‘Anglicans and Roman Catholics on the Ordination of Women: An American Report’, p.3 contained in Doyle’s archives.
44. Hereafter to be called the Commentary.
45. From the Commentary in The Order of Priesthood, p.23.
46.Twenty-three of the twenty-six theologians there added their signatures to an open letter, delivered to the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Jadot, in Washington, by Rev. James Connor SJ, president of the American Jesuit Conference, on 16 March 1977. Hereafter ‘Letter of the Jesuit School of Theology’.
47. Origins 6, no.42, (1977), pp.662-5. Some of the other comments made include the following statements. ‘It is simply not evident to us that fidelity to the example of Jesus, who incorporated the human race into a unity within himself, would demand that women be excluded because of their sex from the sacramental and governing functions within the church forever and on principle…. But the thrust of the Declaration is not in terms of organic and historical developments, but in terms of dogmatic impossibility. The foundations of its arguments are laid in sacred scripture, the Fathers of the church, the unaltered tradition of the past 2,000 years, and the nature of the sacramental sign. It is our judgment that none of these, either individually or collectively can bear the weight assigned…. The Declaration fails to acknowledge that it is disagreeing with the Pontifical Biblical Commission and to provide adequate grounds for so doing.’
48. From Inter insigniores in The Order of Priesthood, p5.
49. Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’, pp.36.
50. Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’, p.37
51. Purdy, A/RCCOW, p.7. He continues: ‘the first thing that strikes one as odd is that the only conclusion drawn from the statement “we are dealing with a debate which classical theology scarcely touched upon” should be that “the current argumentation runs the risk of neglecting essential elements”. Might not the premise equally yield the conclusion that “the current argumentation might introduce important new elements?”‘
52. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’, p.30.
53. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’, p.33. This quotation is taken from Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’, pp.37 & 45.
54. I am indebted to Doyle for some of the subtitles employed throughout this section of my essay, which I have retained from his paper. They are marked *. The remaining headings cover the areas he discusses in his paper.
55. Doyle, ‘The Ordination of Women: The State of the Question in the Roman Catholic Church’ in The Assisi Report, 1975. Page numbering is from my personal copy of the paper, p.39. Hereafter ‘Ordination of Women’.
56 Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, pp.39-42. He cannot therefore agree with Professor Demant who, writing to defend the exclusion of women from the priesthood, argued that ‘the absence in the tradition of any positive justification of an exclusively male priesthood is in itself a strong reason for regarding it as an essential element. Justifying arguments often imply suspicion of doubt….It is therefore quite legitimate to say that the exclusion of women from Holy Orders is just part of the nature of things, in this case of the nature of the Christian Church.’ (From V.A. Demant, ‘Why the Christian Priesthood is Male’ in Women and Holy Orders, p.97.) Doyle notes, in the tradition positive justification was in fact given for the exclusion of women from the priesthood and it was apparently acceptable at the time it was given. Tertullian, for example, forbids women to be ordained on the authority of 1 Cor 11 and 1 Tim 2. These same texts were cited as the basis of St Bonaventure’s chief arguments against the ordination of women. Can one, therefore, he asks, conclude that these imply suspicion of doubt? ‘It seems to be a very slippery way out to recognize theological arguments as weak and unconvincing and, at the same time, to maintain that they are not really necessary.’ p.42.
57. From the Commentary to Inter insigniores in The Order of Priesthood, p.46.
58. See, for example, Gaudium et Spes, ns.9, 12, 29, 60 in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, A. Flannery (ed.), 1988.
59.Tradition is understood here to be ‘the rule of faith of a church in continuity with the apostles’. See A. Nichols OP, The Shape of Catholic Theology, (T&T Clark, Edinburgh), 1995, p.169.
60. Doyle points out that St Bonaventure uses the word homo here, not vir.
61. Doyle, ‘The Ordination of Women’, pp.31-32. From Doctoris Serarhici S. Bonaventurae…Opera Omnia, Tomus IV, Ad Claras Aquas 1889, pp.649-50. After a short discussion of the Scholastics, the Commentary states: ‘So it is no surprise that until the modern period the theologians and canonists who dealt with the question have been almost unanimous in considering this exclusion to be absolute and having a divine origin.’ The Order of Priesthood, p.28.
62. In a footnote Doyle refers to Supplementum Tertiae Partis, q.39, a.1, in Doctoris Angelici Divi Thomae Aquinatis…Opera Omnia...VI, Parisiis 1873 (Vivès), 40b-41b.
63. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.32.
64. Legrand, ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.465. He writes: ‘St Thomas uses it as his authority. He interprets: “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men” as the exclusion of juridical power and the exercise of ministry. Legrand comments that the arguments put forward by Thomas are interesting because they are not based on any of the Lord’s precepts, nor on his example, but on an exegesis which held sway until very recently: that woman was created after man and that she was primarily responsible for original sin (vv 13 & 14).
65.Doyle refers here to Lib. IV Sent. d.25, q.2, 4 in Joannis Duns Scoti…Opera Omnia XIX, Parisiis 1894 (Vivès), 140a-b. Hereafter Joannis Duns Scoti.
66. Joannis Duns Scoti, 140a
67.Joannis Duns Scoti, 140a.
68.Joannis Duns Scoti, 140b.
69. The Latin from which this is translated reads: Sacram ordinationem valide recipit solus vir baptizatus. This canonical position was stated to be in virtue of divine law and was based on a number of scriptural texts and the argument from the constant tradition of the church. These arguments, says Doyle, ‘cannot be brushed aside merely by saying that the authors involved – back to Paul the Apostle – were men of their time conditioned totally by the thought patterns and outlook of their age.’ This argument is too superficial and not in the least satisfactory to those who are opposed to the ordination of women. Doyle therefore makes a brief assessment of the scriptural and traditional data cited by these authors ‘in order to judge the force of the reasoning on which the canonical position has been based.’ See Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, pp.15-16.
70.Gratian was a 12th century Italian Jurist. Around 1140 he completed his Concordia Discordantium Canonun, also known as the Decretum. This compilation of nearly 4000 canonical rulings quickly became the standard canon law textbook and continued in use until the church’s legal reforms of 1917.
71. Joan Range ASC, ‘Legal Exclusion of Women from Church Office’ in The Jurist, 1974, p.113.
72.Lucy Vasquez OP, ‘The Position of Women according to the Code’ in The Jurist, 1974, p.129. In her article Vasquez refers to a significant number of canons which show that women were regarded as less than full adults on a par with men. She writes: ‘They are to be protected, separated, observed, supervised, and, at least on occasion, even mistrusted. The inequality, in fact, becomes so apparent at times, that a woman reading the canons has to walk away from them in order to regain her objectivity.’ p.142.
73. Range, ‘Legal Exclusion of Women from Church Office’, pp.114-121. The development of the requirement for clerical celibacy meant that the proximity of women to the clergy was undesirable. Joan Range, in her study of this canon writes: ‘The difficulty of maintaining clerical celibacy if there are no women living in close proximity to clerics is an obvious one and one to which the church’s law still addresses itself. If these women also share in the clerical ministry, the difficulty is compounded. An obvious solution is to eliminate the presence of women; this involves their exclusion from a share in the ministry, if they so share.’ Another aspect of the tradition inherited by Gratian is that the schism between East and West resulted in his not taking into consideration those traditions which belonged to the East. In addition, the nature of the sources he used meant that they could not be submitted to critical and contextual examination as they can be today. Lastly comes the fluid understanding of the sacraments at that time. ‘Gradually, against the background of the Hildebrandine Reform, the Investiture Struggle and the relationship of the sacerdotium to the imperium, “church power in both its administrative and its sacramental dimension became clericalized”.’ The exclusion of women from power in the church, then, was derivative from the exclusion of non-clergy and was based on the lay/cleric distinction rather more than on the man/woman distinction. Along with the general view of the time, it is also important to remember Gratian’s belief that women were unequal to men because woman was naturally subject to man and was guilty of having introduced sin into the world.
74 Haye van der Meer, Women Priests in the Catholic Church? p.xxiii.
75. From Inter insigniores in The Order of Priesthood, p.26.
76. John H. Wright SJ, ‘Patristic Testimony on Women’s Ordination in Inter insigniores‘ in Theological Studies 58, no.3, (1977), pp.516-526. Hereafter ‘Patristic Testimony’.
77. Irenaeus, Ádversus Haereses 1.13.2.
78.Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony‘, p.518.
79.Tertullian, De praescriptione haereticorum 41.5. ‘All [the heretics] are puffed up, all promise knowledge. Their catechumens are perfect before they are fully instructed. The very women of these heretics, how insolent they are! They dare to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to offer cures – perhaps even to baptize. Their ordinations are thoughtless, capricious, unstable… For even on laymen they enjoin priestly functions.’ Wright’s translation based on the critical edition found in Sources Chrétiennes 46, ed. R.F. Refoulé, OP (Paris: Cerf, 1957) pp.147-48.
80.Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.518.
81. Cyprian, Letter 75, 10.2-5 and 11.1, in Sancti Cypriani Epistularium, G.F. Diercks, ed. (Turnhout: Brepols, 1976) 590-93.
82.Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.519.
83.Origen’s commentary may be found in The Montanist Oracles and Testimonia, Ronald E. Heine, ed. (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University; Leuven: Peeters, 1989), p.99.
84.Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.521.
85. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis 49.2-3, 78.23 and 79.2-4. Frank Williams trans. (New York: Brill, 1987).
86.Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.522.
87. Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.526.
88. In defence of this statement Wright quotes: ‘Where they have not yet won it, women claim for themselves equality with men before the law and in fact.’ (Gaudium et spes, n.9; see also n.12). ‘Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, colour, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent. For in truth it must still be regretted that fundamental personal rights are not yet being universally honoured. Such is the case of a woman who is denied the right and freedom to choose a husband, to embrace a state of life, or to acquire an education or cultural benefits equal to those recognized for men’ (ibid. n.29; see also n.60). And in speaking of the work of the laity, the council taught: ‘Since in our times women have an ever more active share in the whole life of society, it is very important that they participate more widely also in the various fields of the church’s apostolate’ (Apostolicam actuositatem 9). All translations from The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott SJ, ed. (New York: Guild, 1966).
89.Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.526. A similar opinion is voiced in the open letter to the apostolic delegate from the theologians of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. They write: ‘If the most important and persuasive patristic passages have been referred to by the Declaration, then the patristic argument is too weak to be of any importance. We are certainly not confronted with the “unanimous consent of the Fathers” which is generally required for the establishment of a theological position.’ Origins 6, no.42, (1977), p.663.
90. Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’, p.44.
91.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.29. In a footnote Doyle quotes Tertullian as an example. Tertulliani De cultu foeminarum, Lib.I, c.1, PL1, 1305: ‘Tu es diaboli janua, tu es arboris illius resignatrix, tu es divinae legis prima desertrix, tu es quae eum persuasisti quem diabolus aggredi non valuit’.
92. H. Martin in his article ‘The Injustice of not Ordaining Women: A Problem for Medieval Theologians’ has explored the medieval theologians’ treatment of the question of women’s priestly ordination, which did indeed occupy them before the now standard answers became well-known. Martin writes that the theologians reasoned that: ‘If non-ordination of women was only of ecclesiastical origin, then there was a theoretical possibility that a woman could be ordained, perhaps even should be ordained. Would it not be an injustice, some began to argue, to exclude them?’ Theological Studies 48, no.2, (1987), p.304.
93. According to James D.G. Dunn the term is diakonos, i.e. ‘deacon’ not ‘deaconess’. The Theology of Paul the Apostle, (T & T Clark Ltd 1998), p.587, footnote 110.
94. C.H. Dodd, The Epistle to the Romans, (London: 1949), p.235 as cited in Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.17.
95.Franz J. Leenhardt, The Epistle to the Romans: A Commentary, (London: 1964), p.379 as cited in Doyle, ‘The Ordination of Women’, p.17.
96.J.B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, (London 1903), pp.56-7 as cited by Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.17.
97. C.K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, (London:1973), p.249 as cited by Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.17.
98.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.18. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary states: ‘Deacons are also part of the structure, subject to most of the same requirements; yet we are not clear what deacons did as distinct from presbyters. As for women, seemingly there were women deacons (not simply the wives of male deacons: 1 Tim 3:11). It is not clear whether there were women presbyters. 2000, p.1345.
99.M.D. Hooker, ‘Authority on her head: An Examination of 1 Cor XI,10’. in New Testament Studies 10, no.3, (1964), pp.415-6 cited in Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’ p.18.
100. This passage reads: ‘As in all the churches of God’s holy people, women are to remain quiet in the assemblies, since they have no permission to speak: theirs is a subordinate part, as the Law itself says. If there is anything they want to know, they should ask their husbands at home: it is shameful for a woman to speak in the assembly.’
101.Doyle cites C.K. Barrett, H. Conzelmann and Allo in support of this statement. Legrand also comments that these verses are today considered by the majority of exegetes to be an interpolation, probably a late one, since they were never cited before Origen, when their role would have been decisive in the Montanist controversy. See Legrand, ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.464 and footnote 30.
102. As examples Doyle gives Schmiedel, Bousset, J. Weiss; see J. Huby SJ, Saint Paul. Première Epitre aux Corinthiens, (Paris: 1944), pp.344-5.
103.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.20.
104.Barrett, First Corinthians, pp.331-2 cited by Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.20.
105 Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.20.
106. According to Legrand this is also an interpolation. See ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.464.
107. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.21.
108. M. Boucher, ‘Some Unexplored Parallels to 1 Cor 11:11-12 and Gal 3:28: The New Testament on the Role of Women’ in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 1, no.1, (1969), pp.50-8.
109. According to Boucher this is be found in Col 3:18; 1 Pet 3:1-6; Tit 2:4-5; Eph 5: 22-24.
110. Again, according to Boucher, this is found in 1 Cor 11:3-16; 1 Cor 14:33-35; 1 Tim 2:11-15.
111.Boucher mentions 1 Pet 3:7; 1 Cor 11:11-12; Gal 3:28.
112. Quoted by Boucher in ‘Some Unexplored Parallels’, p.51 and Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.46. Stendahl, The Bible and the Role of Women, p.40 quoted by Doyle in ‘Ordination of Women’, p.46.
113.Stendahl, The Bible and the Role of Women, p.40 quoted by Doyle in ‘Ordination of Women’, pp.46-7.
114. See Gaudium et spes, n9: ‘Where they have not yet won it, women claim for themselves equality with men before the law and in fact’. See also n.12: ‘…as in the case of a woman who is denied the right and freedom to choose a husband, to embrace a state of life, or to acquire an education or cultural benefits equal to those recognized for men.’
115.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’ p.47.
116.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.47.
117. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.22.
118. Raymond E. Brown comments on the name ‘Junia’. He writes: ‘It has caught modern attention that Andronicus and Junia (preferable to “Junias”) are “outstanding among the apostles” (Rom 16:7). Junia/Junias is most likely a woman’s name, and she may have been the wife of Andronicus. This identity would mean that Paul could apply the term “apostle” to a woman. The verse is a problem chiefly for those who, contrary to the New Testament evidence, confine apostolate to the Twelve. (Since only anachronistically can every apostle be thought of as an ordained priest, the verse is not decisive in the modern debate as to whether women can or should be ordained eucharistic priests.’ In a footnote Brown says: ‘ “Apostle” has many meanings, and for Paul a common meaning is one who saw the risen Jesus and became a preacher of the gospel. Since more than 500 saw the risen Lord at one time (1 Cor 15:6), it would be rather surprising if there were not women apostles in this sense.’ See An Introduction to the New Testament, (Doubleday 1999), pp.574-5. James D.G. Dunn has also commented on the name ‘Junia’. ‘Prosopographical studies have shown that ‘Junia’ was a common female name, but have produced no example of the male name ‘Junias’. Until the Middle Ages the reading ‘Junia’ was largely unquestioned. Fitzmyer, Romans 737-38, notes that the first to take the name as masculine is said to have been Giles of Rome (1247-1316) though there seems to be evidence that it was used by Epiphanius, see Index of Disciples 125.1920 (Junias, bishop of Apameia in Syria), and Origen in Rufinus (Migne, PG 14.1289). See The Theology of Paul the Apostle, p.587.
119.Legrand, ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.464.
120. He states that for every text pointing in one direction there is usually a countertext. He writes: ‘If Eph 5:24 states that wives must be subject in everything to their husbands, Eph 5:21 introduces that section by commanding “Be subject to one another.” If 1 Cor 11:7 says that the man is the image and glory of God, while woman is the glory of man, Gen 1:27 states that both man and woman are in the image of God. If 1 Cor 14:34 rules that women should keep silence in the churches, 1 Cor 11:5 recognizes the custom that women pray and prophesy – and prophecy is the charism ranking second after apostleship (1 Cor 12:38), to the extent that Eph 2:20 has the church, the household of God, built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets.’ Raymond Brown, ‘Roles of Women in the Fourth Gospel’ in Theological Studies 36 (1975), p.688.
121. Brown, ‘Roles of Women’, p.696. In footnote 2 Brown writes: ‘Another proof that women could be intimate disciples of Jesus is found in chapter 20. In the allegorical parable of the Good Shepherd John compares the disciples of Jesus to sheep who know their shepherd’s voice when he calls them by name (10:3-5). This description is fulfilled in the appearance of the risen Jesus to Mary Magdalene as she recognizes him when he calls her by her name “Mary” (20:16). The point that Mary can belong to Jesus’ sheep is all the more important since in 10:3-5 the sheep are twice identified as “his own,” the almost technical expression used at the beginning of the Last Supper: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (13:1). On the analogy of the Synoptic Gospels, conservative scholars have argued that the participants in the Johannine Last Supper scene were the Twelve. Be that as it may, it is clear that John has no hesitation in placing a woman in the same category of relationship to Jesus as the Twelve would be placed if they are meant by “his own” in 13:1.’ p.671.
122. The President of the Commission was Franjo Cardinal Seper, Prefect of the SCDF and the Secretary was Mgr Albert Deschamps. Members of the Commission were: Rev Jose Alonso-Diaz SJ, Rev Jean-Dominique Barthelemy OP, Rev Pierre Benoit OP, Rev Raymond Brown PSS, Rev Henri Cazelles PSS, Mgr Alfons Deissler, Rev Ignace de la Pitterie SJ, Rev Jacques Dupont OSB, Msgr Savatore Garofalo, Rev Joachim Gnilka, Rev Pierre Grelot, Rev Alexander Kerrigan OFM, Rev Lucien Legrand MEP, Rev Stanislas Lyonnet SJ, Rev Carlo Martini SJ, Rev Antonio Moreno Casamitjana, Rev Ceslas Spicq OP, Rev David Stanley SJ, Rev Benjamin Wambacq OPraem. Technical Secretary was Rev Marino Maccarelli OSM.
123.Biblical Commission Report p.8. www.members.aol.com/mfgardner/bcr_prst.asp
124.’Letter of the Jesuit School of Theology’, p.665.
125. ‘Letter of the Jesuit School of Theology’, p.663.
126.The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, p.721. v.48. ‘This commission is addressed to a larger group than the Eleven (see Lk 24:9,33). The Lucan context would also indicate that women were included.’
127. John Wijngaards, No Women in Holy Orders? The Women Deacons of the Early Church, (Canterbury Press: Norwich 2002).
128.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’ p.23. The Leofric Missal, used at Exeter in the second half of the eleventh century contains the following prayer: ‘Ad diaconissam faciendam: Exaudi, domine, preces nostras, et super hanc famulam tuam.ill. spiritum tuae benedictionis emitte, ut caeleste munere ditata et tuae gratiam possit maiestatis adquirere, et bene uiuendi aliis exemplum praebere.’
129.Wijngaards has traced many of the original sources containing the ordination rite for women which he has subsequently translated and provided in his book, No Women in Holy Orders? See pp.156-205.
130.Doyle’s reference is C.J. Hefele, Histoire des Conciles II, 2 Partie. Trans. H. Leclercq, Paris 1908, pp.803-4. Wijngaards cites the whole text from canon 15. See No Women in Holy Orders? p.182.
131. Doyle cites two texts to prove this. In the Apostolic Canons we read: ‘Thou shalt lay thy hands upon her in the presence of the presbyters, the deacons, and the deaconesses, saying, “Thou who didst fill Deborah, Hannah and Huldah with the Holy Spirit, thou who in the Temple didst appoint women to keep the holy doors, Look upon thy servant chosen for the ministry, and give to her the Holy Spirit that she may worthily perform the office committed unto her. (In J. Daniélou, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, p.22). The second text from the Constitutiones apostolorum reads: ‘Concerning a deaconess, I Bartholomew make this constitution: O bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon her in the presence of the presbytery, and of the deacons and deaconesses, and shalt say: O Eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and of woman, who didst replenish with the Spirit Miriam, and Deborah, and Anna, and Huldah; who didst not disdain that thy only begotten Son should be born of a woman; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony, and in the temple, didst ordain women to be keepers of thy holy gates – do thou now also look down upon this servant, who is to be ordained to the office of deaconess, and grant her thy Holy Spirit, and “cleanse her from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,” that she may worthily discharge the work which is committed to her to thy glory, and the praise of thy Christ, with whom glory and adoration be to thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen’. (In Ante-Nicene Christian Library, A. Roberts and J. Donaldson (eds), vol.XVII, Edinburgh 1870, p.239). See also Wijngaards, No Women in Holy Orders? pp.174-5.
132. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.25.
133. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.26.
134. Doyle refers to Daniélou, The Ministry of Women, p.25 where he quotes Epiphanius. ‘Who are they that teach such things, apart from women? In very truth, women are a feeble race, untrustworthy and of mediocre intelligence. Once again we see that the devil knows how to make women spew forth ridiculous teachings, as he has just succeeded in doing in the case of Quintilla, Maxima and Priscilla’.
135. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.27.
136 Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.27.
137.Didascalia Apostolorum, trans. R. Hugh Connolly (Oxford: Clarendon, 1929) 3.6.133.
138. Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.523.
Book III, c.9 states: ‘Now, as to a woman baptizing, we assure you there is no small danger to women who undertake this…. For if the “man is the head of the woman,” and is appointed for the priesthood, it is not just to set aside the act of creation, and leaving the principal to come to the last part of the body. For the woman is the body of the man, taken from his side, and subject to him, from whom she was separated for the bearing of children. For he says, “He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16). For the ruler of the woman is the man, as being her head. But if in what we wrote earlier we have not permitted them to teach, how will anyone allow them, contrary to nature, to hold the office of a priest? For this is a sin of ignorant godless gentiles, to ordain women priests for the female deities, not a command of Christ. For if baptism were to be administered by women, certainly our Lord would have been baptized by his own mother, and not by John; or when he sent us to baptize, he would have sent women along with us for this purpose. But, as it is, nowhere did he either prescribe this or hand it on in writing, knowing as he did what nature requires and what decency demands, since he is both the creator of nature, and the lawgiver of the cosmos.’ Wright’s translation from the Greek critical edition Constitutiones Apostolorum, ed. Paul A. de Lagarde (Osnabrück: Otto Zeller, 1966), pp.100-1.
140. Chrysostum writes: ‘The other things I have mentioned could easily be carried out by many of those under authority, women as well as men. But when someone has to preside over the church and be entrusted with the care of so many souls, then let all womankind give way before the magnitude of the task – and indeed most men. Bring before us those who far excel all others and are as much above the rest in spiritual stature as Saul was above the whole nation of the Hebrews in bodily stature – or rather, far more.’ In Six Books on the Priesthood, trans. Graham Neville (London: SPCK, 1964), p.54.
141. Wright, ‘Patristic Testimony’, p.525.
142. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.30.
143.Legrand, ‘Traditio perpetuo servata? Tradition or Simply an Historical Fact?’ in Worship 65, (1991), p.482.
144. Legrand continues: ‘One has only to recall … how many unanimous and universal traditions maintained for so long by the teaching authority of the church have already been abandoned. For example: the impossibility of a second reconciliation through penance in the early church; the paying of interest authorized after 18 centuries of having been forbidden; or, again, slavery, which was forbidden only in the last century. Formal unanimity is not the guarantee of tradition because tradition does not lie in the letter, but is guided by the Spirit of Christ.’ Legrand, ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.467.
145. Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’, p.46.
146. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.44.
147. Doyle refers here to The Significance of the Message of the Resurrection for Faith in Jesus, (SCM Press Ltd 1970), p.9 and to Raymond Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, (London/Dublin 1973), p.122, n.204.
148. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, pp.44-45.
149. The Order of Priesthood, p.6. ‘They could therefore have envisaged conferring ordination on women, if they had not been convinced of their duty of fidelity to the Lord on this point.’
150. Legrand, Traditio perpetuo servata? p.488.
151. Legrand, ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.463.
152. Legrand argues along similar lines. ‘For, who would have been more worthy in soul than Mary? This is a form of reasoning that is not at all convincing to the modern spirit, which sees no fittingness whatsoever in the notion that Mary should have been a priest.’ In ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.465.
153.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.28.
154. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.45.
155. Lumen Gentium, n.53.
156. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.34. For Bouyer, Balthasar and Martelet amongst others, the anthropological argument is however a valid one. Balthasar has paraphrased their position as follows: ‘The man, as sexual being, merely represents what he is not and transmits what he does not really possess and so is simultaneously more and less than himself. The woman, however, reposes in herself and is entirely her own being, namely, the total reality of a created being facing God as his partner, receiving, retaining, and nurturing his seed and his Spirit…. the difference is so profound that to the woman is assigned not representation, but being, and to the man, the task to represent.’ Cf. H Urs von Balthasar in H. Moll, ed., The Church and Women. A Compendium (San Francisco 1988), pp.153-60. See also ‘The Uninterrupted Tradition of the Church’ by H. Urs von Balthasar and ‘The Mystery of the Covenant and Its Connection with the Nature of the Ministerial Priesthood’ in The Order of Priesthood. Legrand comments: ‘Beyond the arbitrariness of this, such talk seems to us to have little methodological foundation. First of all, how can one attribute quasi-metaphysical “being” to the woman and “representation” to the man, based on a certain vision of their respective roles in reproduction? Moreover, is sexuality reducible to reproduction? Does sexual differentiation, certainly present everywhere, bring about such a rupture between what is human in human beings?’ In Traditio perpetuo servata? p.501.
157. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.34.
158. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.48. G. von Rad writes: ‘The story is entirely aetiological, i.e. it was told to answer a quite definite question. A fact needs explanation, namely, the extremely powerful drive of the sexes to each other. Whence comes this love “strong as death” (S.of Sol 8.6) and stronger than the ties to one’s own parents, whence this inner clinging to each other, this drive towards each other which does rest until it again becomes one flesh in the child? It comes from the fact that God took woman from man, that they actually were originally one flesh. Therefore they must come together again and thus by destiny they belong to each other. The recognition of this narrative as aetiological is theologically important. Its point of departure, the thing to be explained, is for the narrator something in existence, present, not something “paradisiacal” and thus lost!’ Genesis: A Commentary, (SCM Press 1972), p.82.
159. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.49.
160. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.49.
161. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.50.
162. Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’, p.43.
163. Cited in Legrand, ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, pp.464-5. Legrand also asks the question: ‘Supposing that Christ made no pronouncements on the matter: can we glean from scripture an anthropology of women and men which would indicate that women could not exercise the pastoral office without betraying the order of creation and, therefore, that God-given vocation which is proper to them?’ In Traditio perpetuo servata? p.483. It has been stated that because pastoral ministry necessarily implies being at the head of the church and representing it, women cannot accede to it without betraying the order of creation in which man takes first place and woman the second. This subordination of women to men is the major argument barring women from ordination. ‘There would have to be, then, a nature which is proper to woman, and different from that of man, such that sexual identity determines, in large measure, the vocation of each person. We must now ask ourselves if there exists a kind of revealed biblical anthropology which would challenge that anthropology which is more and more prevalent in contemporary Western culture according to which men and women are seen as partners, equal in dignity and equal in responsibility. If one could answer yes, then we would not need to know whether this ideal of a partnership is actually lived out, but we would need to denounce it as an error causing a great deal of harm both to men and to women…. Given all of this, what is the task of the church? Is it to evangelize this new type of partnership? This would not be too difficult if we were to think back to the example of Jesus or Paul. Or is it to ask women to consider themselves subordinate to men by the will of the creator? By enforcing arbitrarily such a subordination, we would surely contribute to estranging women from Christian life and promoting their secularization. Neither St Paul nor Genesis propose a revealed anthropology concerning the man-woman relationship. St Paul was simply explaining the love of Christ for the church by using the example of marriage as it was lived at that time…. In the creational model of the subordination of women, the fact that men assume nearly all the roles of authority and power, is seen as revealed. But is not this differentiation of sexes due to sociocultural conditions and to andocentric cultures from which we ourselves have barely emerged? Is there not an attempt to deduce a divine model (therefore, immutable) which can then be imposed on different societies from what is really an historically contingent situation?’ Traditio perpetuo servata? p.497.
164. In Irish Theological Quarterly 50, (1984), pp.212-221. This work does not appear on the bibliography of Doyle’s works but I traced the article via the manuscript which was contained in the archives in Canterbury. Attached was a postcard addressed to the Irish Theological Quarterly asking whether they might be interested in publishing the article. Hereafter ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘.
165. Dennis M. Ferrara, ‘Representation or Self-Effacement? The Axiom In Persona Christi in St Thomas and the Magisterium’ in Theological Studies 55, (1994), p.197, n5. Ferrara makes an interesting observation: ‘The attempt to link “representation of Christ” in general and in persona Christi in particular with Christ’s maleness is a completely contemporary phenomenon, directly occasioned by the woman priest question and finding expression in the invocation, historically unprecedented in the present context, of the nuptial image. The sole argument against the ordination of women known to pre-Vatican II tradition is the subordinationist argument from woman’s “state of subjection,” as in the case of St Thomas. This subordinationism constitutes the real meaning of the “tradition” invoked by Inter insigniores as witness to the “mind of Christ.” It is precisely because this real meaning can no longer be invoked that it becomes necessary to invent new arguments – in effect inaugurate a new tradition – against the ordination of women. Such a tradition is, of course, by definition not the tradition of the last 2000 years.’
166.This reads: ‘The Church’s constant teaching, repeated and clarified by the Second Vatican Council and again recalled by the 1971 Synod of Bishops and by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its Declaration of 24 June 1973, declares that the bishop or the priest, in the exercise of his ministry, does not act in his own name, in persona propria: he represents Christ, who acts through him: “the priest truly acts in the place of Christ”, as Saint Cyprian already wrote in the third century… The supreme expression of this representation is found in the altogether special form it assumes in the celebration of the eucharist, which is the source and centre of the church’s unity, the sacrificial meal in which the people of God are associated in the sacrifice of Christ: the priest, who alone has the power to perform it, then acts not only through the effective power conferred on him by Christ, but in persona Christi, taking the role of Christ, to the point of being his very image, when he pronounces the words of consecration. The Christian priesthood is therefore of a sacramental nature: the priest is a sign, the supernatural effectiveness of which comes from the ordination received, but a sign that must be perceptible and which the faithful must be able to recognize with ease. The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, in symbols imprinted upon the human psychology: Sacramental signs”, says Saint Thomas, “represent what they signify by natural resemblance.” The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ’s role in the eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this “natural resemblance” which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man.’ From Inter insigniores in The Order of Priesthood, pp.11-12.
167.Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, p.214.
168.Doyle refers the reader here to E. Schillebeeckx OP, Christ the Sacrament of Encounter with God, (London & New York 1963).
169.Doyle refers here to Rahner, The Church and the Sacraments, (London 1967), p.15.
170.Doyle’s reference here is to ‘The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy’, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.7 in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, A. Flannery OP, (ed.) (Tenbury Wells 1975).
171.Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi’, p.215.
172. There was little evidence of this topic in the research I undertook for this essay. Whilst it is prevalent in the works of Rahner and Schillebeeckx, the only other author to address this issue which I have encountered is Ferrara, in the two articles cited in the bibliography.
173.He also points out that some ancient sources, in fact, forbade women to baptize. The significance of these ancient views is ‘the testimony they bear that the church’s grasp of the revelation of God is subject to the vicissitudes of history.’ p.215.
174. Doyle cites In Iohannis Evangelium VI, in PL 35, p.1428.
175. The Order of Priesthood, p.12.
176. Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, p.216.
177. Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, p.216
178.. This is the translation provided by the Declaration in n.17. See The Order of Priesthood, p.12.
179.Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, p.217.
180.Here Doyle has used St Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae. Latin Text and English Translation, Blackfriars 1975, pp.136 &137.
181.St Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae, pp.136 &137.
182. Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, p.217.
183.Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, p.217.
184.Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, pp.217-8.
185.Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi‘, p.219.
186. Legrand has approached this question as well and concludes: ‘The fact is, that at the level of dogma the question is not insoluble. It is necessary to point out first of all the exact meaning of the phrase, “the priest acts in persona Christi.” This means that precisely Christ and not the priest is the real celebrant of the sacraments. Furthermore, the priest does not represent Christ immediately. He represents Christ only because he represents the church: first of all by the very fact of his ordination. This is the dogmatic basis of his representation; it is not the fact that he is of the same sex as Christ. To reason in this way would involve the danger of heresy because it is impossible to attribute a privileged role to sexuality in the hypostatic union. Ever since the time of the Cappadocian Fathers, Catholic doctrine has always insisted on the fact that the human nature was assumed prescinding from individual differences. Finally, a further point against the priest’s immediate representation of Christ is the fact that all sacraments are celebrated corporately in the communion of the Holy Spirit, the church gathered together being itself the total subject of their celebration. (Legrand refers here to Yves Congar. ‘L’Ecclesia ou communauté chrétienne, sujet integral de l’action liturgique,’ in La Liturgie après Vatican II [Unam Sanctam 66], Paris 1967, pp.241-282.). To hold otherwise would be to fall into christomonism.’ In ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.466.
187. Doyle, ‘Argument In Persona Christi’, p.220.
188. V.A. Demant, ‘Why the Christian Priesthood is Male’ in Women and Holy Orders. This was the Report of a Commission appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Church Information Office, London 1966, pp.110-11.
189. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.51. In fact, Doyle continues, it has become increasingly difficult to define precisely what is ‘typically feminine’ at the psychological level and there is now a good amount of literature to show how such vague generalisations as those of Professor Demant can be brought into question. Whilst Doyle stressed that women would be women priests (and not merely copies of male priests), Bishop Vincent Malone is suggesting that it is precisely these female qualities that are lacking in the ministry in the church at present, and that the balance needs to be addressed. He writes: ‘It is not difficult to conceive circumstances in which a female minister could more appropriately than a man be the receiver of the humble confession that opens a soul to hear the glad words of the Lord’s forgiveness. Common practice in our society today would expect equal access in many professions to either a man or a woman at the client’s choice. It would be an unusal medical group practice which did not have both male and female practitioners, similarly with a firm of solicitors or a team of counsellors. Has the time come to expect a similar availability in even more sacred areas of our lives?’ In The Catholic Herald, 29 August 2003.
190. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.54.
191. Legrand, ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.467. Legrand expresses the optimism and hope of the 1970s thus:p.462. ‘By each of us exploring the other’s difficulties, we open the way to a better understanding of each other; and, as a consequence, we will be probably better equipped to remove from the middle of the path an obstacle which we can only ignore at the risk of slowing down our progress towards unity. Perhaps, on the contrary, at the end of this encounter we might widen the road.’ See p.462. He also writes: ‘If a basic discussion could be organized sometime in which questions and solutions could be shared, I believe that the question of the ordination of women, far from being a cause of crisis, would be rather an occasion of progress along the road towards unity. And, as we have seen, this question is part of a concatenation of other theological questions which the ecumenical movement has led us to reconsider together.’ p.468.
192. Pope John Paul II, ‘Letter to Archbishop R. Runcie, 20 December 1984’, in FOAG Supplementary Report on BEM and ARCIC, p.30.
193. One must also bear in mind the different understanding of eucharist and priesthood in the two churches.
194.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.36.
195. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.55.
196. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, pp.13-14. That the priesthood is not a right is also mentioned in the Declaration. See The Order of Priesthood, pp.16-17 and also the Commentary, p.45. Speaking at Versailles, Mgr Purdy, referring to the passage in the Declaration which states “to consider the ministerial priesthood as a human right would be to misjudge its nature completely”, comments: ‘Of course – no one, male or female, has a right to ordination, but it is appropriate to talk of a right to present oneself and have one’s vocation tested – unless one is, as the scholastics say “radically incapable” of ordination. This is the crucial question about women…. On the Catholic doctrine of vocation the Declaration is right in saying that no conclusive argument can be drawn from the fact that women claim to feel a vocation. A vocation is something that the church attests.’ Legrand argues similarly and also points out that it would be unjust if it could be proved that women could be ordained and the church then failed to carry it out. See ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, pp.462-3.
197. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.53. Doyle also points out that quite a number of theologians and mystics refer to the persons of the Godhead in feminine terms. Clement of Alexandria states that God became a mother from all eternity, in having given birth to the eternal Logos. St Ephraem speaks of the Holy Spirit as mother in God, the eternal woman in God. St Anselm explicitly calls Jesus our Mother, who gathers us together as a hen gathers her chicks around her. (The inspiration for this text came from Luke 13:34.) The motherhood of Jesus is also found in a number of Franciscan sources, but of course, Lady Julian of Norwich is perhaps most well-known as the one who has expounded on this theme. So Doyle writes: ‘God the origin of all creation is both Father and Mother; God the Word through whom all things were made, is both Son and Daughter; God the Spirit, who renews the face of the earth is Eternal Masculine and Eternal Feminine.’ Bringing Forth Christ: Five Feasts of the Child Jesus, St Bonaventure, translated and edited by Eric Doyle, (SLG Press 1984), pp.x-xi.
198.Doyle, ‘God and the Feminine’ in Clergy Review 56, Nov. 1971, p.867.
199.Doyle, ‘God and the Feminine’ pp.876-7. This theme has been pursued by many writers subsequently, one of whom is Sonya Quitslund. She writes: ‘Christ did not hesitate to compare God to a woman looking for a lost coin, nor himself to a mother hen (Mt 23:37). God contrasted his own love for us to that of a mother for her child, and added that even if a mother should forget her child, he would never forget us (Is 49:15).’ See ‘In the Image of Christ’ in Women Priests? p.268.
200. It is evident from Doyle’s paper that he was very familiar with all aspects of the arguments and that space did not allow him to pursue them further in his paper.
201. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, pp.37-8. Indeed one has to consider exactly what tradition is being upheld. Non-ordination of women certainly, but if subordinationism as the only real argument has held sway for almost two centuries, then the appeal to tradition is questionable and the question is indeed a new one which deserves to be examined more closely.
202.Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.57.
203. Haye van der Meer’s doctoral thesis was completed in 1969 and written under the direction of Karl Rahner. Originally entitled Priestertum der Frau? Eine Theologische Untersuchung, the English translation was subsequently published as Women Priests in the Catholic Church?
204. Doyle refers here to van der Meer’s thesis.
205. At this point in his paper Fr Doyle cites 18 articles in a footnote, giving a summary of each author’s position on various aspects of the question.
206. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.60.
207. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.60.
208. Sullivan, ‘Recent Theological Observations on Magisterial Documents and Public Dissent’ in Theological Studies, 1997, vol.58, no.3, p..515.
209.Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’ p.43. Legrand is obviously of the same opinion. In his correspondence with me he wrote: ‘Mon hypothèse concernant l’attitude du magistère catholique est celle-ci: d’une question culturelle (que l’on a pas bien comprise en tant que telle), on fait indûment une question dogmatique. Cela exprime l’incapacité du magistère de voir de quelle façon toute question théologique est culturelle et toute question culturelle ressort à la théologie.’
210. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.61.
211. Doyle refers here to Nathan Mitchell, ‘Ministry Today: Problems and Prospects’ in Worship 48, no.6, (1974), p.337.
212. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, pp.61-62.
213.The Declaration states: ‘The church desires that Christian women should become fully aware of the greatness of their mission: today their role is of capital importance, both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the church.’ See The Order of Priesthood, p.17.
214. Legrand states that the sacramental character of this diaconate was well attested by Catholic theologians. See ‘Views on the Ordination of Women’, p.464.
215. Doyle, ‘God and the Feminine’, p.877.
216. Doyle, ‘Ordination of Women’, p.53. In this respect there is still a long way to go and the church needs to facilitate this greater involvement of women as a matter of some urgency, if it is to demonstrate its belief that women need to play a fuller role in the church.
217.Rahner, ‘Women and the Priesthood’, pp.46-7.
218.It may be recalled that he had already stated that the theology of the ordained ministry is a derivative of ecclesiology and not vice versa. Ferrara, in agreement, writes: ‘Indeed, in my view, the ultimate theological importance of the woman priest question, beyond the more obvious issues of intraecclesial social justice and pastoral need is to serve as a catalyst for rethinking, in the light of Vatican II, the nature of the priesthood, and of the church itself, on the deepest, most transcendental level of its being.’ See ‘Representation or Self-Effacement?’ p.197.
219. Doyle, ‘The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church’, p.34.
Other Important Readings by and about Eric Doyle OFM
- Eric Doyle OFM, The Ordination of Women: The State of the Question in the Roman Catholic Church, 1975 (paper submitted to ACICC work group at Assisi).
- Eric Doyle OFM, His work in the context of Church Politics
- Eric Doyle OFM, God and the Feminine, Clergy Review 56 (1971) pp. 866-877.
- Eric Doyle OFM, The Question of Women Priests and the argument In Persona Christi, Irish Theological Quarterly, 50 (1983 – 84) pp. 212-221.
- Eric Doyle OFM, The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church, in Feminine in the Church Chapter Two, London 1984.
- Page of Honour for Eric Doyle OFM
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