Women only: Do we need a theology that explains the importance of women in the Church?

On the possibility of the Catholic Church ordaining women priests, Pope Francis said, “the church has spoken and said, ‘no,’” and the form in which Blessed John Paul II declared that was “a definitive formula.” Blessed John Paul said that because Jesus chose only men as his disciples, the church was not able to ordain women.

However, Pope Francis said, the Catholic Church still has far to go in developing a real theology that explains the importance of women in the church and how it would be impossible for the church to live up to its role as mother and bride without the contribution of women.

“It is not enough to have altar girls, women readers or women as the president of Caritas,” he said. “Women in the church are more important than bishops and priests,” just like “Mary is more important than the apostles.”


I think that we could all benefit from having the work of a layperson laid out more clearly. Alot of people have lost sight of what a Christian is called to do in our messed up culture. On the other hand, I think that women have a tendancy to do alot of works of unconditional love without it being acknowleged as anything important or special, so people may be more likely to overlook the obvious and say, “What is a woman’s role in the Church.”

A few thoughts:

Honestly, I love Catholicism because it embraces Mary and she has a significant role in the church.

I feel a lot more accepted as a woman in the Catholic church than in Protestantism.

I’m not convinced that a specific theology has to be written down. I don’t see a problem with it, but I’m concerned that it’s more about people feeling warm/fuzzy than an actual need.

I don’t have to count the number of women helping with the service (cantor/lector, etc) to know that women serve an important role in the church.

Who exactly is the audience for this “theology”?

I think that the Church is good at respecting women and valuing their contributions. It’s certainly much better at it than my protestant churches were. I’m still growing out of their, IMO, restrictive ways of looking at gender. I’m very glad that the Catholic Church has places for women religious and allows women to speak up about faith and religion, and even lead discussions and teach on the radio or television (I don’t think this would be allowed in my previous churches, unless the audience was supposed to be only women).

I do think that there is a need to honor what women do. I think we take it for granted sometimes. I’m not sure that we need any new theology, but I think we do need to make it clear that women are needed. Since their roles are often quieter and less obvious, they are easier to forget than the priests and bishops. As long as we are aware of the contributions that women make, I think it’s OK.

To my mind, we already have a theology for women in The Church. A specific theology for women in The Church is something different although it would simply “explain better” and enlarge on the existing theology.

Depends on who one is reading I guess. This is what CNS had to say:

He noted that the existence of a male-only priesthood does not diminish the role of women, adding that the “Virgin Mary was more important than the apostles and bishops and deacons and priests,” and that the feminine Church, as the Bride of Christ “is more important than the bishops and priests.”

“This is what we should try to explain better,” Pope Francis said.

While I did not agree with everything in the article except what Pope Francis is reported as saying.

Not being in the USA, I don’t know if one article in a particular media outlet would be more reliable and sound than the other.

I think the biggest reason we need a theology of importance of women in the Church is simply because the clergy IS exclusionary. And it is clergy that are regarded as more important in the church than laypeople; we have a very strong “theology of clergy”. Clergy have the exclusive powers to make available the sacraments, which “keeps the church going”. Clergy have the ultimate authority to make decisions in the church, to ensure continuity and to initiate renewal. Therefore, as long as women are unable to be clergy, to share this sacramental and authoritative power, women can never be as important to the church as men. Any theology of the importance of women in the church that does not outright admit to this and present sound reasoning for it in light of the church TODAY will be absolutely worthless to the audience it seeks.

I really agree with VeritasLux’s response over in the same thread with the men-only poll. There are some things that I too really don’t want to hear in a theology of women.

Things like:

  • “Women are incapable of being ordained because they are materially different then men, and scripture shows that Christ only laid hands on 12 men. It’s just like why we can’t use rice crackers for communion because it’s not the same matter as wheat, see?” Anybody who takes Genesis seriously knows that Adam declared Eve “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!”; ergo, woman is most definitely the same material as man because they originated from the first human before he/she/it was cleaved. Women and men are not two different species as rice and wheat.

  • “But it’s okay and logical because only women can get pregnant and bear children, so to be fair God makes men only to be priests, see?” This is laughably illogical as both man and women are required, and donate exactly half the genetic material to create new life, and society still expects both man and woman to raise that child. It is a burden or blessing of nature (take your pick) that the female is designed to exclusively to care for that life until it is viable outside the womb, but we expect the male to be no less of a parent, to take no less responsibility to “keep it going”, and to have no less authority over its development.

Nope! Men and women, priests and laity, old and young, (add your favorite categories here…), We are all equally loved by Our Lord. Our ability to serve and worship Him is not limited by our gender.
May His name be ever praised. Amen.

Many popes have written an encylical or expounded on a topic introduced or discussed by a previous pope. JPII wrote MULIERIS DIGNITATEM and the entire Theology of the Body. I think it makes sense for Pope Francis - with the prospective of years - to expound on them on a fuller theology of the role of women.

I think that we have a theology of women, but it is scattered as it were here and there through many documents. “Explain better” would be a good move - or to condense the theology of women into the one specific papal document.

Oh, I would like to see that. I don’t think the Pope was saying we need to say anything really new, just that it would be good if there was more clarity and perhaps more explanation of the teachings about women’s place in the church. :slight_smile:

I didn’t think Pope Francis meant anything new either - “explain better” says it - and in Pope Francis’s usual normal everyday type of language, simple and concise - yet right to the point.
A document out of Rome on “Women & Their Role is The Church” or similar could gather all that scattered info (scattered, that is, to my mind) and condense it into the one document especially for women but for the whole Church as well.
When I addressed (as did other women) an assembly here in Australia (before I had a computer nor knew what a computer actually could do including the internet) and on “Women’s Role In The Church”, I really couldn’t see what all the fuss, song and dance by women, was about re women’s role in The Church - it seemed obvious to me from all that I had read … now I realize that by today’s standards it is possibly “scattered in various Church documents etc.”

I think the theology of women in the church is obvious, see the humility, love and obedience of our Holy Mother Mary and how she stands by Christ in his joys and sufferings.

I think if the Pope tries to identify/clarify a theology in some written encyclical it will just fuel some misguided feminist movement to scream foul…again…and again. I am perfectly happy having the roles we women have in the Church and most people already know what those roles are.

Pope Francis could be the one to consolidate on the beauty of women in the Church. Not just their role, but who they are. Maybe the Holy Spirit allowed BXVI to step down so that Pope Francis could expand on this task. :thumbsup:

Not being a feminist myself nor grasping their concepts really : sticks and stones to misguided feminist opinions!
It is much like the theology of celibate chaste lay people (or the committed ‘single life’ in service to The Gospel and The Church embracing Jesus in lay celibate chastity). We do have a theology for the single lay celibate chaste state in life, but it is scattered throughout Scripture and various Documents out of Rome. The onc concise document focusing on the subject would be very helpful for sure - to “explain it better”.

I think that Pope Francis has his maternal, nurturing and loving side highly developed - unite this to theology and what a Pope we have. The Lord continues to watch over us and our needs.

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