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‘Decretals’ are letters from Popes that contain replies to questions of discipline referred to them.

Translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers. For a complete electronic copy, visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, the New Advent Library. Italics in the text by John Wijngaards.

Pope Gelasius I, 494 AD, on women serving at the altar

“Nevertheless we have heard with impatience that disrespect for sacred things have come to this level that even women are tolerated to administer at the sacred altars and that a sex which is not competent deals with all the matters which have been entrusted only to the service of men.”

Letter to the bishops of Lucania, in J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum consiliorum nova et amplissima collectio (Paris, 1901ff. ), vol. 8.44, cap. 26. Accordingly the liturgical ministry of women is considered to be disrespectful of divine, holy “things. ”

Pope Innocent III, 1210 AD, on abbesses

“Recently some news has come to our ears, which has caused no small amazement, namely that abbesses, resident in the dioceses of Burgos and Palencia (in Spain), bless their own nuns, hear their confessions on crimes, and reading the Gospel give public sermons. Since this is both incredible and absurd, and not to be tolerated by us, I am sending to your discretion, through these apostolic writings, the order to suppress this firmly with apostolic authority so that it does not happen again. For although the most blessed Virgin Mary was so much more worthy and excellent than all the Apostles, the Lord did not entrust to her, but to the Apostles, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

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

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

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