Examine the theological arguments for and against the ordination of women to the priesthood.

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Introduction

Examine the theological arguments for and against the ordination of women to the priesthood " Women should be kept silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says .'' (Corinthians 14: 34-35.) Does St.Paul give an interpretation of the culturally conditioned views of his period, or that of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? This question emphasises the ongoing debate over women's ordination within the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox churches. 'A person ordained to act as a mediator between God and human-beings administering the sacraments and preaching' is the more simplified definition of a priest. For the purposes of this essay a far more complex understanding of the term 'priest' is required. In Catholicism the priest's ministry is associated firmly with the idea of the Mass as 'sacrifice'. As a result the Church has developed a three-fold conception of priestly ministry: bishop, priest and deacon. In the 21st century it still stands firm within Church dogma that women are not to be priests, despite nearly all other denominations having allowed women's ordination. This viewpoint has risen from theological support within the Bible and teachings from Jesus, God, St.Paul and the Tradition of the Church. Yet at the same time, semi-conclusive theological evidence has been found denoting that there is simply no reason why women should not be an intermediary between God and us. The traditional arguments that represent the view that women should not be ordained have stood since Roman times and only since human rights in the late 19th Century became apparent, counter arguments have been formulated supporting women priests. In perusing this examination of the arguments for and against the ordination of women, a final question begs to be asked: has the Church, perhaps unwittingly, developed a form of institutionalised misogyny? To theologically examine the arguments we have to understand the historical and theological Christ.

Middle

But he chose twelve men. This is the overriding fact, which St.Paul, being centrally responsible for Christianity, appreciated, and understood Jesus was acting according to scriptural authority. This is a very fervent argument represented throughout all of St.Paul's letters, where much of the Scriptural support for either side of this issue comes from. The fundamental problem with this debate is the basic interpretation of God, Jesus' and St.Paul's words. So far we can already notice how Catholic teaching chooses to be slightly selective over what scripture it will read from and what it will ignore such as 1Peter 2:9 "the entire people of God are priestly." The empowerment given to a minister is to perform religious acts such as the permanence of the Eucharist sacrifice. These offerings may resemble Jesus' blood and body yet why does a male have to act as the mediator between this and God. Most other liberal forms of Christianity accept women can do the job just as well. The symbolism of a male priesthood has no real meaning in the wake of the true doctrine between Priests and the Ministry. For example, Mary Murray Charles relates this to incarnation: "In the incarnation the symbol is the humanity of Christ and the symbolic reality is the whole of humanity united to God through the incarnate world." Many scholars would argue that the Biblical evidence Jesus left indicated his wishes within the Church. Firstly, the choice of men as the Apostles, and during the Last Supper only to the twelve men concerning the Eucharist sacrifice did he say "Do this in remembrance of me" (1Cor 11:24) It is also believed by exegetes that Jesus' choice of men was determined by the symbolic role as "patriarchs" of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. We can see Catholic theologians seem to be careful over suitable scripture to use in their arguments. They ignore 1 Peter 2:9, which reminds us that all ministry has its exemplar in Christ, regardless of, gender.

Conclusion

St.Bonaventure had a liturgical argument said the impossibility of women being priests is due to the nature of the priestly function i.e. natural resemblance. This is a sound case and therefore according to Pope Paul VI the church "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." Catholic credo still appears to be discriminatory over which material it basis its laws on. All of St.Paul's letters should be considered, but passages like "we are ambassadors for Christ" (II Corinthians 5:20) are not as important to neither Anglican nor Catholic as credible ones like Luke 22:14-20 at the Last Supper. But maybe Catholicism and Orthodox Churches are right in accepting and taking their doctrines from these 'famous' passages and taking little consideration to other verses, which are quite irrelevant within the fundamentals in Christianity. Jesus left the future of Christianity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to make decisions concerning authority. It is doubtful that he intended to express a preference regarding the gender of future Priests. Christian denominations that forbid the ordination of women do have understandable arguments: they echo how Jesus chose twelve male apostles and only these men sat with them at the significant last supper. Yet objections do arise and much dispute against certain Roman Catholic doctrines has been formulated: many believe Catholicism has a possibly sexist view that women can't naturally resemble Jesus. It is also argued that St.Paul's teachings have no definitive stance on the matter and considering God made us all equal an open mind on the matter should be cast. In our time the basic need to secure equal opportunities changed the outlook on the Anglican Church as early as 1967. It only seems that time and human progression will be the decider on the future of women's ordination within the Catholic and Orthodox churches. This only mirrors what the majority of the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded in 1976: "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.

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