By John Wijngaards
Published by Catholics for a Changing Church, London, 2007
The Catholic Church has moved on since the day, on 29 July 1904, when Pope Pius X instructed the bishops of Italy not to trust the intelligence or reliability of women.
Francis opens his treatment of complementarity with a generic description, which "refers to situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other," importantly adding that complementarity "is much more than that."
He provides four nuances for us to think theologically about that "more."
Can women be ordained to the priesthood? This is a question which provokes much debate in our modern world, but it is one to which the Church has always answered "No." The basis for the Church’s teaching on ordination is found in the New Testament as well as in the writings of the Church Fathers.
The only barriers are what are known as 'merely ecclesiastical laws,' laws that regulate the running of the Catholic Church, but are not related to dogma or doctrine. In short, the laws that keep women from being cardinal deacons are laws until the pope decides to change them.
I think having women deacons is really a recovery of a historical reality and it's also something that points towards the future in terms of enabling women to have more participation in the liturgical life of the Church and therefore more participation in leadership.
The question of the priesthood in its relation to sexuality a question usually posed more simply as "Why can there not be women priests?" has now been answered in a definitive way. There is no longer any doubt that reserving Holy Orders to males is part of the deposit of faith. While Catholics are not to question the teaching of the Magisterium on this matter, the time is ripe for all interested to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Church's teaching.
Twenty years ago, Anglicans in Australia and England independently passed legislation to allow for the ordination of women as priests.
Now the Anglican Church of Australia has just appointed its fourth female bishop, while the Church of England has narrowly failed to adopt legislation that would allow for the country’s first female bishops.
Up until the haskalah, the Jewish enlightenment, the idea of women rabbis would have seemed farfetched. Women did play an important role in Jewish life prior to modern times. But only in the last few decades, have we seen an increasing number of women graduating from rabbinical schools.