Gender equality has been debated throughout society, and in a more narrow sense, in the Roman Catholic Church. Men are the dominant gender when looking at the Roman Catholic religion, as they have the authority and power to hold a church session and women do not. Today, many women are fighting back and questioning the gender bias that is present within the Roman Catholic religion. Although women have come a long way in society, women seem to still have an inferior role in the church. The sacrament of Holy Orders is reserved only to men, Christ's twelve disciples are all men, and although the Catholic church promotes respect and equality for all, their teachings seem to be flawed.
The problem of gender equality in the Catholic church is deeply rooted in the history of the Christian religion. St. Augustine, the foundational thinker of Latin Christianity, believed that females were created ...view middle of the document...
This perspective changed in the nineteenth century because of feminism, and woman began to vote and gain rights to higher education. Modern feminism argued that Catholicism was hostile to women, and Catholic bishops stated that women belonged in the home and that voting and working outside of the home was a man's responsibility (Ruether).
These Catholic bishops quickly started to organize Catholic women to oppose feminism, and groups such as the National Council of Catholic Women started campaigning against divorce, contraception, and the Equal Rights Amendment. Then, in the 1960s, the “renewed feminist movement added a demand for sex education, birth control and legal abortion, equal education, employment, and political participation (Ruether)” The right for women being ordained also came into the picture.
Gender has always been a topic of concern in the church due to Holy Orders being reserved to men. The fact that women are not allowed to be deacons, priests, or bishops excludes them from high levels or Church service. In Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, he declared that “the Church does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination” (3). The early church created this rule because Christ chose twelve men to be his closest disciples and also the Church's living teaching authority has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church (Stewart). While some may oppose women's ordination for sexist reasons, others do so out of genuine conviction about the meaning of Scripture. As with many issues, the interpretation of the Bible is also at stake in the discussion of women’s ordination. Those who oppose women being allowed to be ordained read from passages from St. Paul’s letters in the New Testament, such as 1 Timothy 2:11, “Let the women learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent” (“Bible Gateway”).