16. In the Pauline Letters, exegetes of authority have
noted a difference between two formulas used by the Apostle: he writes
indiscriminately My fellow workers (Rom. 16:3; Phil. 4:2-3) when
referring to men and women helping him in his apostolate in one way or another,
but he reserves the title 'Gods fellow workers (1 Cor. 3:9; cf. 1
Thess. 3:2) to Apollos Timothy and, himself, thus designated because they are
directly set apart for the apostolic ministry and the preaching of the Word of
God. [Does this distinction really hold up
scrutiny?] In spite of the so important role played by women on the day
of the Resurrection, their collaboration was not extended by Saint Paul to the
official and public proclamation of the message, since this proclamation
belongs exclusively to the apostolic mission. [But
what about the tradition that women did proclaim the message with the
Note 37. St Bonaventure, In IV Sent., Dist. 25, art.
2, q. 1, ed. Quaracchi, t. 4, p.650: Omnes consentiant quod promoveri
non debent, sed utrum possint, dubium est (the doubt arises from the case
of the deaconesses); he concludes: secundum saniorem opinionem et
prudentiorum doctorum non solum non debent vel non possunt de jure, verum etiam
non possnt de facto.
Note 38. This canon deals with deaconesses. At the word
ordinari, Johannes Teutonicus states: respondeo quod mulieres non
recipient characterem, impediente sexu et constitutione Ecclesiae: unde nec
officium ordinum exercere possunt . . . nec ord inatur haec: sed fundebatur
super eam forte aliqua benedictio, ex qua consequebatur aliquod officium
speciale, forte legendo homilias vel evangelium ad matutinas quod non licebat
aliis. Alii dicunt quod si monialis ordinetur, bene recipit characterem, quia
ordinari facti est et post baptismum quilibet potest ordinare.
57. In spite of this, the apostles did not entrust to women
the strictly apostolic ministry, although Hellenistic civilization did not have
the same prejudices against them as did Judaism. [Were the prejudices in
Hellenistic society, both on account of Greek
thinking and Roman law, not as bad as in
Judaism?] It is rather a ministry which is of another order, as may perhaps
also be gathered from Pauls vocabulary, in which a difference seems to be
implied between my fellow workers (synergoi mou) and
Gods fellow workers (Theou synergoi).(41) [Can such a difference really be demonstrated
from the scriptural text?]
Note 41. I. De La Potterie, Titres missionnaires du
chrétien dans le Nouveau Testament (Rapports de la XXXIème
semaine de Missiologie, Louvain, 1966). Paris, Desclée de Brouwer, 1966,
p.29-46, cf. pp.44-45.
73. Its validity therefore does not require the baptismal
character still less that of ordination. This point is affirmed by practice and
by theologians. It is an example of this necessary discernment in the
Churchs teaching and practice, a discernment whose only guarantee is the
76. Examples of participation by women in ecclesiastical
jurisdiction are found in the Middle Ages: some abbesses (not abbesses in
general, as is sometimes said in popularizing articles) performed acts normally
reserved to bishops, such as the nomination of parish priests or confessors.
These customs have been more or less reproved by the Holy See at different
periods: the letter of Pope Innocent III quoted earlier was intended as a
reprimand to the Abbess of Las Heulgas.
77. But we must not forget that feudal lords arrogated to
themselves similar rights. Canonists also admitted the possibility of
separating jurisdiction from order. The Second Vatican Council has tried to
determine better the relationship between the two; the Councils doctrinal
vision will doubtless have effects on discipline.