*Below is an email exchange I’ve had with a professor of Theology. It is interesting that while she has not proof for it, she believes that women assisted at the Eucharist and led Churches in the early Church. *
Sorry for the format. It’s the best I could do.
J: I think that the Catholic Church is sexist and devalues women. The Church says that it is not sexist and that it appreciates the full personhood and dignity of women, but I don’t think that it follows through on statements of this type or that the words ring through. To allow women to stand at the altar in persona Christi would require a radical revision of Church teaching on ordination to the priesthood (and the diaconate). This radical revision will not occur under Benedict XVI, but it may some day in the future. People like myself, moral theologians and generalists, will have less to say about what church teaching becomes than historians and scripture scholars. I think that women presided at the eucharist and led communities of Christians during the first centuries of Christianity and that someday the Church will be presented with evidence of female leadership and then will change its practice. In the meantime, the familiar arguments of Paul VI and John Paul II against the ordination of women will hold Thanks for emailing and best regards, F.
Dr. F:Thank you for your prompt reply. I certainly appreciate your time and comments.Can you please refer me to the historical documents that show women presiding at the Eucharist and leading communities in the early Church? In addition, what books and/or articles can you recommend for further study on this issue.While researching I found this statement at the USCCB site. I am curious what this means to faithful Catholics who support women’s ordination? Again I appreciate your comments and your help.“What is the Catholic Church’s teaching on priestly ordination concerning women?In the apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that the Catholic Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. This teaching is to be held definitively by all the faithful as belonging to the deposit of faith. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified the authority of this teaching by stating that it is founded on the written Word of God, has been constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, and has been setforth infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium.”(usccb.org/comm/archives/1998/98-210a.shtml).
J:What you copy in your email is precisely the teaching of the RCC “In the apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that the Catholic Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. This teaching is to be held definitively by all the faithful as belonging to the deposit of faith.” My opinion is simply that, an opinion. I wish that I could provide a list of articles and books to support my opinion that women presided at the eucharist in the early Christian churches but I have not assembled such a bibliography and I think that a good deal of the research remainsto be done. My opinion, such as it is, is based on various and disparate sources that I have read over a period of maybe thirty years.
Best wishes. F