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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Women Ministers

1 Corinthians 14:34: As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, even as the law says.

This is one of the verses that made the new disciplines regarding women readers, servers, and extraordinary ministers so problematical. Even now, officially installed Lectors and Acolytes must be men. It may have been that women were taking over leadership positions in Corinth or that there was some tie to the nonsensical babble that pagan women and goddess worship employed. In any case, the priesthood was then and now reserved to men. While disciplines can change regarding the lesser ministries; the Holy Father has affirmed the tradition that ONLY men can be ordained to holy orders. Unlike Protestant churches, they cannot be true pastors or ministers over congregations. It should be noted that Catholic law prohibits them from proclaiming the Gospel at Mass and from liturgical preaching. This reservation is no incrimination upon their human dignity; rather, it is a guarded imitation of the pattern given us by our Lord and the apostolic community. Gender is not seen as an accidental of personhood, but as a constitutive component of our identity. As such the maleness of the priest resonates in harmony with that of Christ to whom he has been sacramentally configured through ordination. He can thus function in the person of Christ, the head of the Church. He is a true icon of Christ. He signifies Christ the bridegroom at the marriage banquet of the Mass to his bride, the Church. Women priests in this context would imply a sort of sacramental lesbianism.

For more such reading, contact me about getting my book, DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC FAITH.

4 Responses

  1. This subject I have to speak out of both sides of the mouth. The strength that Catholic women have proved in church history is extraordinary, I’m referring to the sisters that have chosen a religious life. their work and life brings credit to the church their ministry has been teach, to pray, to aid the sick, and the dying. that is the simplistic roll. I have all ways been honored to walk along side these women. As for the Priesthood No, The Priest is head of house hold, the church, the sisters are the bides of Jesus nurturing Mankind to his side.

  2. “In his image created He them, male and female” says Genesis. Is this scripture not saying that together male and female are the image of God? I believe that a Church lead only by men would not reflect the image of God so much as a church lead by both male and female.

    In the context of 1 Corinthians 14 women were not being addressed as prophets or teachers but as questioners. It does not seem apparent in the text that men are allowed to question during church meeting anymore than women. There was obviously an explicit reason why Paul wrote than concerning women.

    Thanks for posting Father Joe.

    FATHER JOE:

    The Church certainly teaches that men and women alike are made in the image of God. Our ability to know and to love God and one another is reflective of God who knows everything as the source and whose love brought us into existence. Just as we are all made in God’s image, the redemptive work of Christ restores us to his “likeness” in grace. In other words, we are offered the gift of eternal life, literally a share in Christ’s divine life (salvation). Our participation in the image and likeness of God does not mandate that men and women have the same roles or that there is a mathematical equivalence between the genders. We are equal in terms of human dignity and our capacity to share in holiness. But just as the apostles made distinctions about the role of men and women in the family, similarly they give us a pattern for ministry. The late Pope John Paul II said that we are bound to follow that pattern as there is no real indication that anything else would express God’s revealed plan. Otherwise, there is a danger that the priesthood would be compromised and an authentic Eucharist could be lost. Certainly there are complementarities in the roles of men and women, and the history of the faith includes a list of magnificent women saints and doctors of the Church. Indeed, the greatest human being ever to live apart from Christ who was a divine Person, was the Blessed Virgin Mary— a woman. But even Mary was not an apostle, bishop or priest.

    As for 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is giving a pattern for the order of worship or meeting for a charismatic Christian community. The assembly has members who pray in tongues and prophets who speak God’s truths. Men are indeed contributing to the dialogue but for some reason women are silenced. It has been speculated that certain women were entering trances and literally uttering long prophecies, not unlike the oracles of Delphi where frenzied females supposedly became the mouthpieces for the pagan deities. We know of one instance where such phenomenon was regarded by Paul as demonic possession and he angered a woman’s handlers by liberating her from bondage and ending her prophetic utterances. It is also possible that women were slowly taking over the meetings and the apostle put an end to it, not only for doctrinal reasons but for cultural ones.

    We read (verses 26-40), “So what is to be done, brothers? When you assemble, one has a psalm, another an instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything should be done for building up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let it be two or at most three, and each in turn, and one should interpret. But if there is no interpreter, the person should keep silent in the church and speak to himself and to God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others discern. But if a revelation is given to another person sitting there, the first one should be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prophets’ control, since he is not the God of disorder but of peace. As in all the churches of the holy ones, women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church. Did the word of God go forth from you? Or has it come to you alone? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or a spiritual person, he should recognize that what I am writing to you is a commandment of the Lord. If anyone does not acknowledge this, he is not acknowledged. So, (my) brothers, strive eagerly to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues, but everything must be done properly and in order.”

    Just as women were silent and not a part of the Jewish synagogue service, Paul is imposing something of the same order upon the Christian converts from the pagan religions where there was previously a greater liberality in this regard.

  3. I would be less opposed to married priests than female priests.

  4. Women run parish offices, function as directors of religious education, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, catechists, consecrated religious, volunteer on altar guilds, pay the bills, etc. They make a big difference! From the workplace to motherhood in the home, they are at the heart of the Church.

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