The Debate Over Women in the Catholic Church
The question of the ordination of women to the priesthood has moved to the forefront of theological controversy in recent years, prompting a swamping of books, and religious opinions. This controversial issue stems not only from the renewed interest of the Catholic Church in the nature of its priesthood, but also, and perhaps predominantly, from the efforts of women to achieve a new and deeper understanding of their religion. The question, should women be ordained as ministers in the church immediately implies many questions. What difference could female priests make to the church? Did Jesus allow for women to be priests? What has been the result of many centuries of male priesthood?
However the first question you always have to ask when one has a controversial issue like this is what was Jesus' view on the topic? Jesus, nowhere in the bible stated anything about women being subservient or lesser people to men. As a matter of fact from the beginning women were part of his disciples and according to the bible Luke stated that a lot of women supported his ministry. When religious based questions are asked the greatest source of information is the Bible. The Bible itself states on many occasions that women held religion as one of the highest priorities in their lives. To add to this, women participated in some of the most important roles in the church community such as Eucharistic ministers etc.
The Catholic Church in the past centuries has been very male dominated. Male priests, male archbishops, male deacons, male popes. In fact in the Catholic Church most women have never held a higher perspective than a Eucharistic minister. This seems very odd, since these days women have exactly the same rights as any man. Why then, if a woman can get any job that a man can get, can manage a large company and can fight in a war, are they not allowed to become ordained in the priesthood? There is ample evidence in Scripture for women's leadership in the early church. Such leadership became increasingly prohibited as the church became a public institution, as it was not considered proper for women to hold leadership positions in public places. As the world has come to see the equality of women holding leadership positions in the civil public world; so it would be right for them to be church leaders today. This would signal the church's real belief in the equality of women and men.
The Old Testament states on many occasions that women are not allowed to be priests. These statements are based on the fact that men were born first therefore they are automatically capable of doing a better job. The Old Testament tends to hold a very biased opinion in that they did not even state that women participated in church life.
The New Testament does, however, give a precedent for the ordination of deaconesses (I Tim. 3:8-11, Rom. 16:1). The Bible states that Aquila and Priscilla, who served under Paul's...