However, the first section of the Congregation’s Declaration Inter insigniores on the ordination of women, issued October 15, ,2 presented a sampling of the . Circumstances and origin of the Declaration ‘Inter Insigniores’. 1. The question of the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood seems. Inter Insigniores. Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the question of the admission of women to the.

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Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the question of the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood.

For another publication insigniofes the text, click here. Numbering of the paragraphs by John Wijngaards. See note about numbering. The role of women in modern society and the Church. This is a development that is perhaps of swifter growth among Christian nations, but it is also happening extensively, if more slowly, among nations that are heirs to different traditions and imbued with a different culture.

In the life of the Church herself, as history shows us, women have played a decisive role and accomplished tasks of outstanding value. One has only to think of the foundresses infer the great religious families, such as Saint Clare and Saint Teresa of Avila. The latter, moreover, and Saint Catherine of Siena, have left writings so rich in spiritual doctrine that Pope Paul VI has included them among the Doctors of the Church.

Nor could one forget the great number of women who intwr consecrated themselves to the Lord for the exercise of charity or for the missions, and the Christian wives who have had a profound insigmiores on their families, particularly for the passing on of the faith to their children.

Oh no, there’s been an error

But our age gives rise to increased demands: But as Pope Paul VI also remarked, 5 a very large number of Christian communities insigniore already benefiting from the apostolic commitment of women. Some of these women are called to take part in councils set up for pastoral reflection, at the diocesan or parish level; and the Apostolic See has brought women into some of its working bodies.

For some years now various Christian communities stemming from the sixteenth-century Reformation or of later origin have been admitting women to the pastoral office on a par with men. This initiative has led to petitions and writings by members of these communities and isnigniores groups, directed towards making this admission a general thing; it has also led to contrary reactions.

This therefore constitutes an ecumenical problem, and the Catholic Church must make her thinking known on it, all the more because in various sectors of opinion the question has been asked whether she too could not modify her discipline and admit women to priestly ordination.

Insigniodes number of Catholic theologians have even posed this question publicly, evoking studies not only in the sphere of exegesis, patrology and Church history but also in the field of the history of institutions and customs, of sociology and of psychology.

The various arguments capable of clarifying this important problem have been submitted to a critical examination. As we are dealing with a debate which classical theology scarcely touched upon, the current argumentation runs the risk of neglecting essential elements.

For these reasons, in execution of a mandate received from the Holy Father and echoing the declaration which he himself made in his letter of 30 November 6the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges it necessary to recall that the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, insignioers not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination. The Sacred Congregation deems it opportune at the present juncture to explain this position of the Church.

It is a position which will perhaps cause pain but whose positive value will become apparent in the long run, since it can be of help in deepening understanding of the respective roles of men and of women. The Catholic Church has insignires felt that priestly or episcopal ordination can be validly conferred on women. A few heretical sects in the first centuries, especially Gnostic ones, entrusted the exercise of the priestly ministry to women: But over and above considerations inspired by the spirit of the times, one finds expressed-especially in the canonical documents of the Antiochian and Egyptian traditions-this essential reason namely, that by calling only men to the priestly Order and ministry in its true sense, the Church intends to remain faithful to the type of ordained ministry willed by the Lord Jesus Christ and carefully maintained by the Apostles.

Since that period and up to our own time, it can be said that the question has not been raised again, for the practice has enjoyed peaceful and universal acceptance. The same tradition has been faithfully safeguarded by the Churches of the East. Their unanimity on imsigniores point is all the more remarkable since in many other questions their discipline admits of a great diversity.

At the present time these same Churches refuse to associate themselves with requests directed towards securing the accession of women to priestlv ordination. Jesus Christ did not call any woman to become part of the Twelve. If he acted in this way, it was not niter order to conform to the customs insiggniores his time, for his attitude towards women was quite different from that of his milieu, and he deliberately and courageously broke with it.


For example, to the great astonishment of his own disciples Jesus converses publicly with the Samaritan woman cf. He does not hesitate to depart from the Mosaic Law in order to affirm the equality of the rights intfr duties of men and women with regard to insignores marriage bond cf. In his itinerant ministry Jesus was accompanied not only by the Twelve but also by a group of women: Contrary to the Jewish mentality, which did not accord great value to the testimony of women, as Jewish law attests, it was nevertheless women who were the first inher have the privilege of seeing the risen Lord, and it was they who were charged by Jesus to take the first paschal message to the Apostles themselves cf.

It is true that these facts do not make the matter immediately obvious. This is no surprise, for the questions that the Word of God brings before us go beyond the obvious.

In order to reach the ultimate meaning of the mission of Jesus and the ultimate meaning of Scripture, a purely historical exegesis of the texts cannot suffice. But it must be recognized that we have here a number of convergent indications that make all the more remarkable the fact that Jesus did not entrust the apostolic charge 10 to women.

Even his Mother, who was so closely associated with the mystery of her Son, and whose incomparable role is emphasized by the Gospels of Luke and John, was not invested with the apostolic ministry. The apostolic community remained faithful to the attitude of Jesus towards women. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled them all, men and women cf. When they and Paul went beyond the confines of the Jewish world, the preaching of the Gospel and the Christian life innsigniores the Greco-Roman civilization impelled them to break with Mosaic practices, sometimes regretfully.

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. In the Hellenistic world, the cult of ihter number of pagan divinities was entrusted to priestesses. In fact the Greeks did not share the ideas of the Jews: In fact we know from the book of Acts and from the Letters of St Paul that certain women worked with the Apostle for the Gospel cf.

Saint Paul lists their names with gratitude in the final salutations of the Letters. Some of them often exercised an important influence on conversions: Priscilla, Lydia and others; especially Priscilla, who took it on herself to complete the instruction of Apollos cf. All these facts manifest within the Apostolic Church a considerable evolution vis-a-vis the customs of Judaism. Nevertheless at no time was there a question of conferring ordination on these women. 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 apos tolic mission.

Could the Church today depart from this attitude of Jesus and the Apostles, which has been considered as normative by the whole of tradition up to our own day?

Various arguments have been put forward in favour of a positive reply to this question and these must now be examined. It has been claimed in particular that the attitude of Jesus and the Apostles is explained by the influence of their milieu and their times. It is said that, if Jesus did not entrust to women and not even to his Mother a ministry assimilating them to the Twelve, this was because historical circumstances did not permit him to do so.

No one however has ever proved-and it is clearly impossible to prove-that this attitude is inspired only by social and cultural reasons. As we have seen, an examination of the Gospels shows on the contrary that Jesus broke with the prejudices of his time, by widely contravening the discriminations practised with regard to women.

One therefore cannot maintain that, by not calling women to enter the group of the Apostles, Jesus was simply letting himself be guided by reasons of expediency.

For all the more reason, social and cultural conditioning did not hold back the Apostles working in the Greek milieu, where the same forms of discrimination did not exist.

Another objection is based upon the transitory character that one claims to see today in some of the prescriptions of Saint Paul concerning women, and upon the difficulties that some aspects of his teaching raise in this regard.

But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed ijter women to wear a veil on the head 1 Cor. Paul in no way opposes the right, which he elsewhere recognizes as possessed by women, to prophesy in the assembly cf.

examining “inter insigniores” – Molly’s Portfolio

For Saint Jnter this prescription is bound up with the divine plan of creation cf. Nor should it be forgotten that we owe to Saint Paul one of the most vigorous texts in the New Testament on the fundamental equality of men and women, as children of God in Christ cf.


Therefore there is no reason for accusing him of prejudices against women, when we note the trust that he shows towards them and the collaboration that he asks of them in his apostolate. It has been noted, in our day especially, to what extent the Church is conscious of possessing a certain power over the sacraments, even though they were instituted by Christ.

She has used this power down the centuries in order to determine their signs and the conditions of their administration: Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the sacramental signs are not conventional ones. Not only is it true that, in many respects, they insignioees natural signs because they respond to the deep symbolism of actions and things, but they are more than this: Again, the priestly ministry is not just a pastoral service; it ensures the continuity of the functions entrusted by Christ to the Apostles and the continuity of the powers related to those functions.

Adaptation to civilizations and times therefore cannot abolish, on essential points, the sacramental reference to constitutive events of Christianity and to Christ himself. In the final analysis it is the Church, through the voice of her Magisterium, that, in these various domains, decides what can change and what must remain immutable.

Her attitude, despite appearances, is therefore not one of archaism but of fidelity: This practice of the Church therefore has a normative character: It is not a question here of bringing forward a demonstrative argument, but of clarifying this teaching by the analogy of faith. The Christian priesthood is therefore of a sacramental nature: The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols imprinted upon the human psychology: For Christ himself was and remains a man.

Christ is of course the firstborn of all humanity, of women as well as men: Nevertheless, the incarnation of the Word took place according to the male sex: For the salvation offered by God to men and women, the union with him to which they are called, insigniorfs short the Covenant, took on, from the Old Testament Prophets onwards, the privileged form of a nuptial mystery: Both Jewish and Christian tradition has discovered the depth of this intimacy of love by reading and rereading the Song of Songs; the divine Bridegroom will remain faithful even when the Bride betrays his love, when Israel is unfaithful to God cf.

At that time there is fully and eternally accomplished the nuptial mystery proclaimed and hymned in the Old Testament: Christ imter the Bridegroom. This nuptial theme, which is developed from the Letters of Saint Paul onwards cf. It is through this Scriptural language, all interwoven with symbols, and which expresses and affects man and woman in their profound identity, that there is revealed to us the mystery of God and Christ, a mystery which of itself is unfathomable.

That is why we can never ignore the fact that Christ is a man. And therefore, unless one is to disregard the importance of this symbolism for the economy of Revelation, it must be admitted that, in actions which demand the character of ordination and in which Christ himself, the author of the Covenant, the Bridegroom and Head of the Church, is represented, exercising his ministry of salvation-which is in the highest degree the case of the Eucharist-his role this insitniores the original sense of the word persona insigniors be taken by a man.

This does not stem from any personal superiority of the latter in the order of values, but only from a difference of fact on the level of functions and service.

INTER INSIGNIORES – Women Can Be Priests

But this text does not mean that the distinction between man and woman, insofar as it determines the identity proper to the person, is suppressed in the glorified state; what holds for us holds also for Christ. It is indeed evident that in human beings the difference of sex exercises an important influence, much deeper than, for example, ethnic differences: However, it will perhaps be further objected that the priest, especially when he presides at the liturgical and sacramental functions, equally represents the Church: In this sense, the theologians of the Middle Ages said that the minister also acts in persona Ecclesiae, that is to say, in the name of the whole Church and in order to represent her.

And in fact, leaving aside the question of the participation of the faithful unter a liturgical action, it is indeed in the name of the whole Church that the action is celebrated by the priest: In the new Passover, the Church, under visible signs, immolates Christ through the ministry of the priest.

It is true that the priest represents the Church, which is the Body of Christ. But if he does so, it is precisely because he first represents Christ himself, who is the Head insugniores the Shepherd of the Church.