Women in Ministry: Protestant Vs. Catholic Views

Just an observation:

Conservative Protestants will allow women to do very little when it comes to ministry. They definitely can’t preach or teach the Word of God when men are in the room. Some will not even let them lead ministries in the church, regardless of whether teaching is involved. The reason for the prohibition is Scripture such as 1 Tim. 2:11-15.

I think the reason for this is that Protestants in the non-Anglican traditions (Baptists, Presbyterians, etc.) do not consider presbyters (Titus 1:5-6) to be priests in the sense that Catholics think of them as priests. Instead, they think of them as pastor-teachers. Therefore, since women cannot be presbyters, they cannot teach Scripture in any way that would be construed as having authority over a man.

While I applaud these conservative Protestants for wanting to be faithful to the biblical text, I think they take their argument too far. There are clear examples in the New Testament of women exercising some kind of ministry role–perhaps even a leadership role–though never a priestly role.

Catholics, however, because of their different ecclesiology, do not run into this problem. Priests are different from teachers. Women can’t be priests, but they can teach Scripture, even when men are present, as in the case of Mother Angelica’s T.V. show.

Not only is the Catholic view more biblically faithful, it is also more charitable to women. In some Protestant churches, women can do next to nothing–and are almost treated as second-class citizens. I do not see such behavior in Catholicism–only a biblical prohibition against Women presbyters (priests) and overseers (bishops) based not on a negative view of women, but rather an incarnational theology that takes into account the gender of our Lord and High Priest, Jesus.

(Please correct me if I am off-base. I just wanted to process some things publicly).


This is an excellent defence of the Priesthood, and why woman can’t become priests! Thank you for this and God Bless :signofcross::byzsoc:

I read nothing off base. Think our Blessed Mother? She was not griping about “equal” rights or not being able to be a priest and so on.

Your interpretation of the Catholic position looks quite accurate to me.

I don’t think you will find a single “Protestant” consensus, as there’s too much variety within Protestantism.

At one extreme end of the scale there are some who consider themselves protestant who question or reject everything up to and including the Divinity of God the Father Himself. - yet still consider themselves Christian.

At the other extreme end of the scale you have the Pure Biblical Literalists who insist that every word in the bible is Pure Scientific Historical fact - and any evidence to the contrary is set by God to test our faith. - no matter how strong that evidence is.(typified by Young Earth Creationism)

Do those women think of themselves as “second class citizens”?

The problem with the Catholic position is that some nuns want to be Catholic priests. In the LC-MS, we have women that are ordained deaconess. They are teachers in parochial schools. In my church the pastors do a the teaching of adults, but the women teach the children in Sunday School under pastoral direction. In our Mass the pastors do all the Scripture readings. The women do not feel like second class citizens.

I think your comments fail to consider that there are many Protestants that would be considered “theological conservatives” who believe that women can preach and minister to men. Most Pentecostal churches fall into this category. These churches are also usually conservative on social issues (i.e. they do not advocate feminism), they just see evidence in the New Testament and subsequent church history where women have been involved in ministerial roles such as deacons and presbyters.

The thing is there is no problem with the Catholic position. However, there is a problem with the position of those nuns. It’s not about what they want…it’s about what Christ wants.

And I think it should be noted that the Orthodox do not have female priests either, so it’s not just the Catholic position.

Just adding to hn’s post, the LCMS is, by all accounts, conservative in the American Lutheran tradition.
We make a distinction between what can be called the general priesthood of all believers and the ordained ministerial priesthood, though our pastors are part of the former. Only he preaches from the pulpit and administers the sacraments, as the confessions and scripture require. Additionally, as part of his team that looks after the spiritual health of the congregation, the Board of Elders are also only men.
Women, however, play a important role in the ministry team. My daughter, for example, is a called teacher in a Lutheran school. And women can serve on the parish’s church council. Also, one very important group in the life of the parish and synod is the LWML, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.

So, as is often the case, one cant accurately make a general statement about protestant communions, simply because protestantism is not a distinct monolith, but instead a very general term, in some ways an archaic one, to describe western non-Catholic christian communions.



I would just add, that the CC considers the priesthood a sacrament…it is a sacramental priesthood. And for women, the CC also has holy orders of nuns…founded by our greatest saints…like the Carmelites, the Poor Claires…

Hmmm…pardon me, but where did you get this idea that there are nuns who want to become priests?

ARCWP Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests:eek::confused:

I found this in ten seconds on google. No doubt there are more misguided among them. Pray for them and those to whom they minister.

I also have sort of a correction to make about your statements about Protestant churches that don’t let women be pastors or preachers. I don’t know of any of these churches where women “can do next to nothing.” Even in churches where they can’t pastor or preach, women are the ones most active in Sunday school and mercy and charitable ministries. You must be talking about extremely fundamentalist churches.

Our parish has made the decision not to have a church council, but a voter’s assembly and only males can vote and serve on the board of elders. The thought being it will force men to be active in the parish. The women are fine with this arrangement. Our parish is one of the more conserative ones in our district.

I’d say! lol

This may be the case in some Protestant churches. I don’t have the impression it is commonly or even frequently true that women can do next to nothing. But I’m sure there are extreme examples. As for a comparison we’d have to look at Catholicism across cultures and time. The Catholic experience in modern America and Europe might not be what was always so.

Coming from an ELCA parish to this parish was quite a change. I was on that church council and the council was at least 60% women, but we made the change fine.

This sounds very much like the WELS church I was raised in. In the LC-MS, if it was possible our synods could once more be in communion, I would give up my congregational vote in a heartbeat.

In the Church of Christ, probably one of the most conservative of denominations (not to be confused with the United Church of Christ which is one of the most liberal), women can teach Sunday School classes, usually for children and women’s groups. COCs are independent with no ruling body, so each church makes their own decisions about the role of women in their congregations. In our church the children’s minister is a woman and women can be youth ministers, though it is usually a man. Women don’t serve as deacons or elders, but any elder or deacon who doesn’t discuss church decisions with his wife probably isn’t smart enough to be in church leadership. By the way, what man wants to be married to a second class citizen or be involved in a religion that marginalizes his daughters?
Although women don’t preach, a preacher’s wife is an indispensable asset for a church. Just because a woman doesn’t preach in front of a congregation doesn’t mean she is unimportant.
Women served ministry roles in the early church because men and women didn’t mix back then. A man would never sit in a room with a group of women he was unrealted to and instruct them, let alone attend to a sick or pregnant woman. A lady in our church recently went through a high-risk pregnancy. She began having contractions at about 7 months and went to the hospital. The minister and I (an elder) went to pray with and annoint her. Hospital policy only allowed one visitor in the room at a time. While this is ok today it would have been unthinkable in the first-century church.
In closing, there are multiple Scritpures that instruct us to serve each other, consider others before ourselves; but there are none telling us to demand equal rights.

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