138 – “The Church is woman. Women, in the Church, are more important than bishops and priests”

With Christ’s coming to the world, one of the most noteworthy changes witnessed by humanity was the elevation of women to a new and true dignity. It was Jesus himself who took up the defense of the repentant adulteress during the dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s house. When the Apostles tried to send away the mothers who brought their children to Our Lord, He reproached the Apostles, and not the mothers. Together with the disciples, Jesus also permitted the holy women to accompany him in his mission. But it is noteworthy that he did not place any one of these women in the position of official preaching, or of governing within the Church. Some might say that this was just a precaution to avoid confrontation with the customs of the time. We object. If Christ had already challenged so many norms, thus causing an uproar among the Pharisees, would he really be afraid to alter this prevalent standard? Does this not, rather, pertain to the plans of the uncreated Wisdom in relation to his Church? Or are we to believe that Christ the Lord acted out of vile caution on such an important question in determining the structure of His Church?

Christ had lovingly reserved a different mission for women from all eternity.

So many holy women throughout the History of the Church have revealed the luminous and irreplaceable – though discreet and abnegated – role of women in the Church, following the example of the Most Holy Virgin. Would Clovis and the Franks have converted if Saint Clotilde had not patiently encouraged her spouse? Would the Church today have a Doctor called Augustine, if it were not for the tears and prayers of Monica? How many orphans and abandoned individuals owe their lives to the care of abnegated woman? How many missionaries owe the success of their apostolate to a young woman who lived hidden in a Carmelite convent, under the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus? These humble women are heroines, and demonstrate their complete gift of self in a way that few soldiers on the battlefield do. Isn’t it a glory for women in the Church to know that their actions, though hidden from the eyes of mankind, are often decisive before the Throne of the Most High for the spreading of sanctity throughout the world?

Don’t certain queries recently brought up – queries, which are nothing more, nothing less than an echo of worldly maxims – end up taking away from women that which is theirs by right? Should the harmonious and ascending continuity of the past two thousand years now be brutally interrupted? Is it really necessary to redefine the role of the women within the Church? How did the Creator differentiate the roles of the men and women in the foundation of his Church? The answers to these questions will be of great use to our readers.

Francis

francismuj

The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because ‘the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace’ (CDS, 295) and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures. (Apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, no. 103, November 24. 2013)

Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion, but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general. It must be remembered that when we speak of sacramental power ‘we are in the realm of function, not that of dignity or holiness’ (Christifideles Laici). The ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people, yet our great dignity derives from baptism, which is accessible to all. The configuration of the priest to Christ the head – namely, as the principal source of grace – does not imply an exaltation which would set him above others. In the Church, functions ‘do not favour the superiority of some vis-à-vis the others’ (Christifideles Laici). Indeed, a woman, Mary, is more important than the bishops. Even when the function of ministerial priesthood is considered ‘hierarchical’, it must be remembered that ‘it is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members’ (Mulieris Dignitatem). Its key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people. This presents a great challenge for pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life. (Apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, no. 104, November 24. 2013)

Women are the most beautiful thing God has made. The Church is woman. Church is a feminine word. Theology can’t be made without this feminine dimension. […] I agree that there must be more reflection on the feminine question, otherwise the Church herself cannot be understood. (Interview with Il Messaggero, June 29, 2014)

And, as far as women’s ordination is concerned, the Church has spoken and said: ‘No’. John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That door is closed, but on this issue I want to tell you something. I have said it, but I repeat it. Our Lady, Mary, was more important than the Apostles, than bishops and deacons and priests. Women, in the Church, are more important than bishops and priests; how, this is something we have to try to explain better, because I believe that we lack a theological explanation of this. (On-flight press conference, Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013)

It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church. I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of ‘female machismo,’ because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo. Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church. (Interview with Antonio Spadaro, August 19, 2013)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

I – Which image best represents the nature of the Church?
II – The Church is a organism that is living, ordered and hierarchical
III – The role of the Most Holy Virgin in the Church is unique and non-transferable
IV – The role of women in the Church
V – Humility and obedience: virtues that shine the most in the Doctors of the Church, an example for all Christian women
VI – A faulty ecclesiology that degenerates into false and deranged demands


I – Which image best represents the nature of the Church?


Pius XII
– Nothing nobler to define and describe the true Church of Jesus Christ than the expression ‘the Mystical Body of Christ’

Leo XIII
– The Church is the body of Christ, living and energizing, because He guards and sustains it by the infusion of His power

John Paul II
– The Church has a supernatural beauty in which the beauty of God himself is reflected
– The Church is the choice vine; in it the Holy Spirit abides and works

Benedict XVI
– The heavenly Jerusalem is the icon of the Church utterly holy and glorious

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)
– The spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Virgin and mother, of lasting virginal integrity and incorrupt fruitfulness


II – The Church is a organism that is living, ordered and hierarchical


John XXIII
– In the Church there exists a clear distinction between the clergy and the people

John Paul II
– Without priests the Church would not be able to live

Benedict XVI
– Nothing will substitute the priestly ministry
– The priest does something which no human being can do of his own power
– Christ tends his flock through the pastors of the Church

Pius XII
– Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church for they have a special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)
– In the Church there is the divinely instituted power, by which it pertains to some to teach and govern, while others are without it

Clement I of Rome
– Let every one of you give thanks to God in his own order, not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him

Pius X
– The Church, a society comprising two categories: Pastors and flock

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)
– By the anointing of the Holy Spirit, priests are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest

Saint Alphonsus Liguori
– The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor as a single priest
– The priest is inferior only to God

Saint Catherine of Siena
– Not even the angels have the dignity of the ministers of Christ

Benedict XVI
– No man on his own, relying on his own power, can put another in touch with God; yet an essential part of the priest’s grace is the gift of creating this contact

Pius XII
– The enemies of the Church themselves well know the vital importance of the priesthood, for it is against it that they direct their attacks


III – The role of the Most Holy Virgin in the Church is unique and non-transferable


Saint Albert the Great
– The Blessed Virgin is not chosen by the Lord for the ministry
– The Most Holy Virgin is above all orders

John Paul II
– The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation, She is the most noble member of the Church
– The profound link which exists between the Mother of Christ and the Church

Benedict XVI
– Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world
– The maternal vocation of the Virgin towards those who believe in Christ began when Jesus said to her: ‘Woman, behold your son!’
– Only the Virgin Mary is the Mother of that mystery of unity which Christ and the Church signify

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– The Mother of Jesus is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Mary was chosen to be the one from whom Salvation would come to the human race

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
– Mary is an invitation to the Church to root her very being in listening and receiving the Word of God

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
– Jesus Christ is the Head; Mary is as the neck through which graces pass to the members


IV – The role of women in the Church


John Paul II
– Many women, following the example of Mary, have served and continue to serve in the Church in humble and valuable service

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
– Women play a role of showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers

John Paul II
– Women often fulfill lowly and hidden functions, but not for this reason are they any less decisive to the growth and the holiness of the Church

Origen
– The prophetesses did not speak in the assemblies

John Paul II
– Women find in Mary the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement
– The full sense of the dignity of the lay faithful, men or women: the vocation to holiness, that is, the perfection of charity
– Christ became a promoter of women’s true dignity and of the vocation corresponding to this dignity

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
– The only better gift which can and must be desired is love

Sacred Scripture
– A woman must receive instruction silently


V – Humility and obedience: virtues that shine the most in the Doctors of the Church, an example for all Christian women


Benedict XVI
– Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions: by leading a very simple and hidden life she lived to the full the grace of Baptism
– Through contemplative prayer Saint Thérèse of Lisieux lived an authentic missionary spirit in her own way

John Paul II
– Saint Catherine of Siena cultivated a profound union with the divine Spouse in the midst of overwhelming occupations

Benedict XVI
– Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church, shone through obedience, simplicity, charity and hospitality

Paul VI
– Doctor of the Church is not a title that comports hierarchical functions; rather it means that one knew how to confess the faith received by God through the Church

John Paul II
– Saint Teresa of Avila, an exceptional woman ‘shrouded with humility, penance and simplicity’


VI – A faulty ecclesiology that degenerates into false and deranged demands


John Paul II
– A faulty ecclesiology can easily lead to presenting false demands and raising false hopes
– The vocation of women should be considered from Christ’s perspective
– It is false to assume that Christ called men to be apostles in order to conform with the mentality of his times
– The Gospels show that Jesus designated the Apostles for certain functions: He never sent the woman on preaching missions
– With her vision illumined by faith, a woman should distinguish what truly responds to her dignity as a person and to her vocation

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
– Not even Christ’s Mother was invested with the apostolic ministry
– The Apostle forbids women from the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly

Pius X
– Modernist ‘reformers’ insist that authority should be decentralized in the Church


I – Which image best represents the nature of the Church?


Pius XII

  • Nothing nobler to define and describe the true Church of Jesus Christ than the expression ‘the Mystical Body of Christ’

If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ – which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church – we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression ‘the Mystical Body of Christ’, an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, no. 13, June 29, 1943)

Leo XIII         

  • The Church is the body of Christ, living and energizing, because He guards and sustains it by the infusion of His power

For this reason the Church is so often called in Holy Writ a body, and even the body of Christ – ‘Now you are the body of Christ’ (1 Cor. 12:27) – and precisely because it is a body is the Church visible: and because it is the body of Christ is it living and energizing, because by the infusion of His power Christ guards and sustains it, just as the vine gives nourishment and renders fruitful the branches united to it. And as in animals the vital principle is unseen and invisible, and is evidenced and manifested by the movements and action of the members, so the principle of supernatural life in the Church is clearly shown in that which is done by it. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Satis cognitum, no. 3, June 29, 1896)

John Paul II

  • The Church has a supernatural beauty in which the beauty of God himself is reflected

Sanctity constitutes the profound identity of the Church as the Body of Christ, vivified and participant of his Spirit. Sanctity gives spiritual health to the Body. Sanctity also determines its spiritual beauty: that beauty that surpasses all the beauty of nature and art; a supernatural beauty, in which the beauty of God himself is reflected, in a more essential and direct way than all of the beauty of creation, precisely because it is the Corpus Christi. (John Paul II. General audience, no. 5, November 28, 1990)

  • The Church is the choice vine; in it the Holy Spirit abides and works

[The Church]: she is the choice vine, whose branches live and grow with the same holy and life-giving energies that come from Christ; she is the Mystical Body, whose members share in the same life of holiness of the Head who is Christ; she is the Beloved Spouse of the Lord Jesus, who delivered himself up for her sanctification (cf. Eph 5:25 ff.). The Spirit that sanctified the human nature of Jesus in Mary’s virginal womb (cf. Lk 1:35) is the same Spirit that is abiding and working in the Church to communicate to her the holiness of the Son of God made man. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici, no. 16, December 30, 1988)

Benedict XVI

  • The heavenly Jerusalem is the icon of the Church utterly holy and glorious

The heavenly Jerusalem is the icon of the Church, utterly holy and glorious, without spot or wrinkle (cf. Eph 5:27), permeated at her heart and in every part of her by the presence of the God who is Love. She is called a ‘bride’, ‘the bride of the Lamb’ (Rev 20:9), because in her is fulfilled the nuptial figure which pervades biblical revelation from beginning to end. The City and Bride is the locus of God’s full communion with humanity; she has no need of a temple or of any external source of light, because the indwelling presence of God and of the Lamb illuminates her from within. (Benedict XVI. Holy Mass for the inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, May 13, 2007)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

  • The spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb

The Church, further, ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ is also called ‘our mother’ (Gal 4:26; cf. Rev 12:17). It is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb (Rev 19:7; 21:2 and 9; 22:17), whom Christ ‘loved and for whom He delivered Himself up that He might sanctify her’(Eph 5:26), whom He unites to Himself by an unbreakable covenant, and whom He unceasingly ‘nourishes and cherishes’(Eph 5:29), and whom, once purified, He willed to be cleansed and joined to Himself, subject to Him in love and fidelity (cf. Eph 5:24), and whom, finally, He filled with heavenly gifts for all eternity, in order that we may know the love of God and of Christ for us, a love which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Eph 3:19). (Vatican Council II. Dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, no. 6, November 21, 1964)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Virgin and mother, of lasting virginal integrity and incorrupt fruitfulness

[Our Lord Jesus Christ] is the most beautiful of the sons of man, son of Holy Mary, spouse of the Holy Church, which he transformed into similarity with his Mother. In effect, for us he made her Mother, and for himself he conserved her as Virgin. It is to her the apostle refers when he wrote: ‘He has united her to only one man to present her to Christ as a chaste virgin.’ Referring to her, he also says that our mother is not a slave, but free, the abandoned one that had more children than the married one. Also the Church, as Mary, remains always integral and fruitful while always remaining incorrupt. That which Mary deserved to have in the flesh, the Church conserved in the heart; but with one difference: Mary gave birth to one Son alone; the Church gives birth to many, that are nonetheless to be gathered in unity by that only Son of Mary. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Sermon 195, no. 2)


II – The Church is a organism that is living, ordered and hierarchical


John XXIII

  • In the Church there exists a clear distinction between the clergy and the people

The Holy Church of Christ is a perfect society in which each of the members that makes it up partakes in all of the benefits, all of the spiritual treasures of its sacred patrimony of doctrine and grace. And since all this refers to a living organism, everything in it is designed with such skill and ordering of the elements and instruments in such a way as to correspond to supernatural ends, which touch earthly things while adhering to the eternal heavens. This entails a clear distinction between the clergy and the people, distinction but not a separation. To the clergy pertains the function of direction and sanctification of the entire social body, for which it receives a calling, a divine vocation, a consecration. Also the Christian people are invited to the same participation of divine grace. But the distribution of this grace was confided by the

Lord Jesus, Word of God, made Man for the salvation of the entire world, to the priesthood, to the priestly order instituted specifically to exercise this most high function of mediation between heaven and earth, for the good and sanctification of the people that took their name from Christ. (John XXIII. Address for the solemn inauguration of the First Diocesan Synod of Rome, January 24, 1960)

John Paul II

  • Without priests the Church would not be able to live

Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19) and ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Lk 22:19; cf. 1Cor 11:24), i.e:, an obedience to the command to announce the Gospel and to renew daily the sacrifice of the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood for the life of the world. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, no. 1, March 25, 1992)

Benedict XVI

  • Nothing will substitute the priestly ministry

Nothing will ever substitute the ministry of priests in the life of the Church. (Benedict XVI. Greetings to the Portuguese speaking priests at the end of the Eucaristic celebration at the Conclusion of the year for priests, June 11, 2010)

  • The priest does something which no human being can do of his own power

The priest is not a mere office-holder, like those which every society needs in order to carry out certain functions. Instead, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, which are words of transubstantiation – words which make Christ himself present, the Risen One, his Body and Blood – words which thus transform the elements of the world, which open the world to God and unite it to him. (Benedict XVI. Homily at the conclusion of the Year for Priests, June 11, 2010)

  • Christ tends his flock through the pastors of the Church

Christ tends his flock through the Pastor of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter and the priests, their most precious collaborators, to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community (Benedict XVI. General audience, May 26, 2010)

Pius XII

  • Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church for they have a special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body

Consequently, Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church, for they are united by a very special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body and so are rightly called ‘principal parts of the members of the Lord’ (St. Gregory the Great, Moral., XIV, 35, 43); moreover, as far as his own diocese is concerned, each one as a true Shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of Christ (cf. Vat. Council, Const. de Eccl., Cap. 3) Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff. (Pius XII. Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, no. 42, June 29, 1943)

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)

  • In the Church there is the divinely instituted power, by which it pertains to some to teach and govern, while others are without it

The Church of Christ is not a community of equals, as if in which all the faithful have the same rights, but it is truly a society of unequals; and this is not only because among the faithful some are clerics and others are lay, but because, above all, in the Church there is the divinely instituted power, by which it pertains to some to sanctify, teach and govern, while others are without it. (Vatican Council I. First draft of the Constitution De Ecclesia Christi, Ch. X: De Ecclesiae Potestate – Mansi, vol. 51)

Clement I of Rome

  • Let every one of you give thanks to God in his own order, not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him

For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Livetes. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to the laymen. Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. (Clement I of Rome. Letter to the Corinthians, 40-41)

Pius X

  • The Church, a society comprising two categories: Pastors and flock

It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of per sons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors. (Pius X. Encyclical Vehementer nos, February 11, 1906)

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

  • By the anointing of the Holy Spirit, priests are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest

The office of priests, since it is connected with the episcopal order, also, in its own degree, shares the authority by which Christ builds up, sanctifies and rules his Body. Wherefore the priesthood, while indeed it presupposes the sacraments of Christian initiation, is conferred by that special sacrament; through it priests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head. (Lumen Gentium, no. 10) (Vatican Council II. Decree Presbyterorum ordinis, no. 2, December 7, 1965)

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

  • The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor as a single priest

A priest is a minister destined by God to be a public ambassador of the whole Church, to honor him, and to obtain his graces for all the faithful. The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor, nor obtain so many graces, as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Dignity and Duties of a priest, Ch. I, no. 2 – pg. 24)

Francis’ words: “Women, in the Church, are more important than bishops and priests”

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

  • The priest is inferior only to God

The priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities […] the priest of God is exalted above all earthly sovereignties, and above all celestial heights he is inferior only to God. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Duties and Dignity of a priest, part I, ch. I, 1 – (pg. 24))

Saint Catherine of Siena

  • Not even the angels have the dignity of the ministers of Christ

I have told you all this, dearest daughter, that you may the better recognize the dignity to which I have called My ministers, so that your grief at their miseries may be more intense. […] no greater dignity exists in this life. They are My anointed ones, and I call them My Christs, because I have given them the office of administering Me to you, and have placed them like fragrant flowers in the mystical body of the holy Church. The angel himself has no such dignity, for I have given it to those men whom I have chosen for My ministers, and whom I have appointed as earthly angels in this life. (Saint Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, Dialogue 9, Ch. 118)

Benedict XVI

  • No man on his own, relying on his own power, can put another in touch with God; yet an essential part of the priest’s grace is the gift of creating this contact

No man on his own, relying on his own power, can put another in touch with God. An essential part of the priest’s grace is the gift, the task of creating this contact. This is achieved in the proclamation of God’s word in which his light comes to meet us. It is achieved in a particularly concentrated manner in the Sacraments. Immersion in the Paschal Mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ takes place in Baptism, is reinforced in Confirmation and Reconciliation and is nourished by the Eucharist, a sacrament that builds the Church as the People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. John Paul II, Pastores Gregis, no. 32). Thus it is Christ himself who makes us holy, that is, who draws us into God’s sphere. However, as an act of his infinite mercy, he calls some ‘to be’ with him (cf. Mk 3:14) and to become, through the Sacrament of Orders, despite their human poverty, sharers in his own priesthood, ministers of this sanctification, stewards of his mysteries, ‘bridges’ to the encounter with him and of his mediation between God and man and between man and God (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 5). (Benedict XVI. General audience, May 5, 2010)

Pius XII

  • The enemies of the Church themselves well know the vital importance of the priesthood, for it is against it that they direct their attacks

The enemies of the Church themselves well know the vital importance of the priesthood; for against the priesthood in particular […] they direct the point of their attacks. It is the priesthood they desire to be rid of; that they may clear the way for that destruction of the Church, which has been so often attempted yet never achieved. (Pius XII. Encyclical Ad catholici saserdotii, no. 7, December 20, 1935)


III – The role of the Most Holy Virgin in the Church is unique and non-transferable


Saint Albert the Great

  • The Blessed Virgin is not chosen by the Lord for the ministry

The Blessed Virgin is not, however, chosen by the Lord for the ministry, but rather to be his partner and associate, according to what is written: ‘Let us make him a helper suited to him’ (Gen 2:18). But, if this is so, she did not need to receive any Orders. For the greatest of the orders of the Church is that of the Pope, who is the Vicar of Christ. But the Most Holy Virgin is not vicaress, but rather aid and companion. She participates in reigning, who participated in the Passion [which her Son suffered] for the whole human race, when alone, all the disciples and ministers having fled, she stood firmly at the foot of the Cross, and received in her heart the wound that Christ received in his body; it was then that the sword pierced her soul. (Saint Albert the Great. Volume 37: Mariale, sive Quaestiones super Evangelium, Missus Est Angelus Gabriel, Etc., q. 42, ad 5 – Jammy, v.20, no.40)

  • The Most Holy Virgin is above all orders

The Most Holy Virgin is presently above all the orders of the Angels of the Church Triumphant. Therefore here [on earth] she was above all the orders of the Church militant. (Saint Albert the Great. Volume 37: Mariale, sive Quaestiones super Evangelium, Missus est Angelus etc., q. 42, ad 4 – Jammy, v.20, no.40)

John Paul II

  • The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation, She is the most noble member of the Church

The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation, for ‘when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father’! (Gal 4:4-6). With these words of the Apostle Paul, which the Second Vatican Council takes up at the beginning of its treatment of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I too wish to begin my reflection on the role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and on her active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church. […] In the liturgy the Church salutes Mary of Nazareth as the Church’s own beginning, for in the event of the Immaculate Conception the Church sees projected, and anticipated in her most noble member, the saving grace of Easter. And above all, in the Incarnation she encounters Christ and Mary indissolubly joined: he who is the Church’s Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church’s condition as spouse and mother. (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris mater, no. 1, March 25, 1987)

  • The profound link which exists between the Mother of Christ and the Church

This cult is altogether special: it bears in itself and expresses the profound link which exists between the Mother of Christ and the Church. As Virgin and Mother, Mary remains for the Church a ‘permanent model.’ It can therefore be said that especially under this aspect, namely as a model, or rather as a ‘figure,’ Mary, present in the mystery of Christ, remains constantly present also in the mystery of the Church. For the Church too is ‘called mother and virgin’, and these names have a profound biblical and theological justification. (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris mater, no. 42, March 25, 1987)

Benedict XVI

  • Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world

The first to be swept up by this blessing was Mary the virgin, the spouse of Joseph, chosen by God from the first moment of her existence to be the mother of his incarnate Son. She is the ‘blessed among women’ (Lk 1:42) – in the words of Saint Elizabeth’s greeting. Her whole life was spent in the light of the Lord, within the radius of his name and of the face of God incarnate in Jesus, the ‘blessed fruit of her womb’. […] Mary is the mother and model of the Church, who receives the divine Word in faith and offers herself to God as the ‘good soil’ in which he can continue to accomplish his mystery of salvation. The Church also participates in the mystery of divine motherhood, through preaching, which sows the seed of the Gospel throughout the world, and through the sacraments, which communicate grace and divine life to men. The Church exercises her motherhood especially in the sacrament of Baptism, when she generates God’s children from water and the Holy Spirit, who cries out in each of them: ‘Abba, Father!’ (Gal 4:6). Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it in bearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world, of itself, cannot give, and which it needs always, at least as much as bread. (Benedict XVI. Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, January 1, 2012)

  • The maternal vocation of the Virgin towards those who believe in Christ began when Jesus said to her: ‘Woman, behold your son!’

John, the only one of the Apostles to remain at Golgotha with the Mother of Jesus and the other women. Mary’s motherhood, which began with her fiat in Nazareth, is fulfilled at the foot of the Cross. Although it is true – as Saint Anselm says – that ‘from the moment of her fiat Mary began to carry all of us in her womb’, the maternal vocation and mission of the Virgin towards those who believe in Christ actually began when Jesus said to her: ‘Woman, behold your son!’ (Jn 19:26). […] The Son of God thus fulfilled his mission: born of the Virgin in order to share our human condition in everything but sin, at his return to the Father he left behind in the world the sacrament of the unity of the human race (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1): the family ‘brought into unity from the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’ (Saint Cyprian, De Orat. Dom., 23:), at whose heart is this new bond between the Mother and the disciple. Mary’s divine motherhood and her ecclesial motherhood are thus inseparably united. (Benedict XVI. Homily before the shrine of Meryem Ana Evì, Ephesus, November 29, 2006)

  • Only the Virgin Mary is the Mother of that mystery of unity which Christ and the Church signify

Like Christ himself, the Church is not only the instrument of unity, but also its efficacious sign. And the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, is the Mother of that mystery of unity which Christ and the Church inseparably signify and build up, in the world and throughout history. (Benedict XVI. Homily before the shrine of Meryem Ana Evì, Ephesus, November 29, 2006)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • The Mother of Jesus is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come

After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own ‘pilgrimage of faith,’ and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There, ‘in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity,’ ‘in the communion of all the saints,’ (Lumen Gentium, no. 69) The Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother. ‘In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God’ (LG, no. 68). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 972)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Mary was chosen to be the one from whom Salvation would come to the human race

Didn’t the Virgin Mary do the will of the Father? I mean, she believed by faith, she conceived by faith, she was chosen to be the one from whom salvation in the very midst of the human race would be born for us, she was created by Christ before Christ was created in her. Yes, of course, holy Mary did the will of the Father. And therefore it means more for Mary to have been a disciple of Christ than to have been the mother of Christ. It means more for her, an altogether greater blessing, to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been Christ’s mother. That is why Mary was blessed, because even before she gave him birth, she bore her teacher in her womb. Just see if it isn’t as I say. While the Lord was passing by, performing divine miracles, with the crowds following him, a woman said: Fortunate is the womb that bore you. And how did the Lord answer, to show that good fortune is not really to be sought in mere family ties? Rather blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it (Lk 11:27-28). So that is why Mary, too, is blessed, because she heard the word of God and kept it. She kept truth safe in her mind even better than she kept flesh safe in her womb. Christ is truth, Christ is flesh; Christ as truth was in Mary’s mind, Christ as flesh in Mary’s womb; that which is in the mind is greater than what is carried in the womb. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Sermon 72 A, no. 7)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • Mary is an invitation to the Church to root her very being in listening and receiving the Word of God

The existence of Mary is an invitation to the Church to root her very being in listening and receiving the Word of God, because faith is not so much the search for God on the part of human beings, as the recognition by men and women that God comes to us; he visits us and speaks to us. This faith, which believes that ‘nothing is impossible for God’ (cf. Gn18:14; Lk 1:37), lives and becomes deeper through the humble and loving obedience by which the Church can say to the Father:Let it be done to me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). Faith continually makes reference to Jesus: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (Jn 2:5) and accompanies Jesus on his way, even to the foot of the Cross. Mary, in the hour of darkness, perseveres courageously in faithfulness, with the sole certainty of trust in the Word of God. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world, July 31, 2004)

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

  • Jesus Christ is the Head; Mary is as the neck through which graces pass to the members

Saint Jerome confers us in the same sentiment or, as some persons think, another ancient author of a sermon upon the Assumption which is inserted among the works of Saint Jerome), when he says, that in Jesus Christ was the fullness of graces as in the head, whence descend to the members, which we are, all the vital spirits, that is, the divine aids for attaining eternal salvation: in Mary likewise was fullness as in the neck, through which those vital spirits pass to the members. This is confirmed by Saint Bernardine of Sienna, who more clearly unfolded hits thought, saying that through Mary are transmitted to the faithful, who are the mystic body of Jesus Christ, all the graces of the spiritual life, which descends upon them from Jesus their head. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The Glories of Mary, Ch. V)


IV – The role of women in the Church


John Paul II

  • Many women, following the example of Mary, have served and continue to serve in the Church in humble and valuable service

Here, the highest model of responsible collaboration of the woman unfolds in the redemption of man – of all of man that constitutes the transcendent reference for all affirmations regarding the role and the woman’s function in history. Mary, in employing this form of such sublime cooperation, also indicates the way in which a woman should concretely fulfill her mission. Faced with the announcing of the angel, the Virgin did not manifest an attitude of proud assertion, nor did she seek to satisfy personal ambitions. Saint Luke presents her to us as a person that only desired to offer her humble service with total and confided openness to the divine plan of salvation. This is the meaning of the response: ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). In effect, it was not a purely passive acceptance, for she gives her consent only after having manifested the difficulty that arises from her intent of virginity, inspired by her desire to belong more completely to the Lord. After having received the response of the angel, Mary immediately expresses her readiness, conserving an attitude of humble service. This is the humble and valuable service that so many women, following the example of Mary, have rendered and continue to render in the Church for the spreading of the kingdom of Christ. (John Paul II. General audience no. 1.2, December 6, 1995)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • Women play a role of showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers

Regardless of conditions, states of life, different vocations with or without public responsibilities, they are an essential aspect of Christian life. While these traits should be characteristic of every baptized person, women in fact live them with particular intensity and naturalness. In this way, women play a role of maximum importance in the Church’s life by recalling these dispositions to all the baptized and contributing in a unique way to showing the true face of the Church, spouse of Christ and mother of believers. In this perspective one understands how the reservation of priestly ordination solely to men does not hamper in any way women’s access to the heart of Christian life. Women are called to be unique examples and witnesses for all Christians of how the Bride is to respond in love to the love of the Bridegroom. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and woman in the Church and in the world, July 31, 2004)

John Paul II

  • Women often fulfill lowly and hidden functions, but not for this reason are they any less decisive to the growth and the holiness of the Church

Though not called to the apostolate of the Twelve, and thereby, to the ministerial priesthood, many women, nevertheless, accompanied Jesus in his ministry and assisted the group of Apostles (cf. Lk 8:2-3), were present at the foot of the Cross (cf. Lk 23:49), assisted at the burial of Christ (cf. Lk 23:55) received and transmitted the message of resurrection on Easter morn (cf. Lk 24:1-10), and prayed with the apostles in the Cenacle awaiting Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:14). From the evidence of the Gospel, the Church at its origin detached herself from the culture of the time and called women to tasks connected with spreading the gospel. In his letters the Apostle Paul even cites by name a great number of women for their various functions in service of the primitive Christian community (cf. Rom 16:1-15; Phil 4:2-3; Col 4:15 and 1Cor 11:5; 1Tim 5:16). […] Both in her earliest days and in her successive development the Church, albeit in different ways and with diverse emphases, has always known women who have exercised an oftentimes decisive role in the Church herself and accomplished tasks of considerable value on her behalf. History is marked by grand works, quite often lowly and hidden, but not for this reason any less decisive to the growth and the holiness of the Church. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Christifidelis laici, no. 49, December 30, 1988)

Origen

  • The prophetesses did not speak in the assemblies

Philip the evangelist, had four virgin daughters and they prophesized (cf. Acts 21:8-9). If they prophesized, what is wrong about our prophetesses (ours, as they say) also prophesying? If the daughters of Philip prophesied, at least they did not speak in the assemblies; for we do not find this fact in evidence in the Acts of the Apostles. Much less in the Old Testament. It is said that Deborah was a prophetess (Judg 4:4). There is no evidence that Deborah delivered speeches to the people, as did Jeremiah and Isaiah. Huldah, who was a prophetess (cf. 2Kgs 22:14; 2Chron 34: 22), did not speak to the people, but only to a man, who consulted her at home. (Origen. Fragments of the First Letter to the Corinthians, English translation in ‘The Ministry of Women in the Early Church’, by Roger Gryson; tr. Jean Laporte and Mary Louise Hall (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1976))

John Paul II

  • Women find in Mary the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement

This Marian dimension of Christian life takes on special importance in relation to women and their status. […] It can thus be said that women, by looking to Mary, find in her the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement. In the light of Mary, the Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-offering totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement. (John Paul II. Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, no. 46, March 25, 1987)

The full sense of the dignity of the lay faithful, men or women: the vocation to holiness, that is, the perfection of charity

We come to a full sense of the dignity of the lay faithful if we consider the prime and fundamental vocation that the Father assigns to each of them in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit: the vocation to holiness, that is, the perfection of charity. Holiness is the greatest testimony of the dignity conferred on a disciple of Christ. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici, no. 16, December 30, 1988)

  • Christ became a promoter of women’s true dignity and of the vocation corresponding to this dignity

It is universally admitted – even by people with a critical attitude towards the Christian message – that in the eyes of his contemporaries Christ became a promoter of women’s true dignity and of the vocation corresponding to this dignity. […] In all of Jesus’ teaching, as well as in his behaviour, one can find nothing which reflects the discrimination against women prevalent in his day. On the contrary, his words and works always express the respect and honour due to women. […] This way of speaking to and about women, as well as his manner of treating them, clearly constitutes an ‘innovation’ with respect to the prevailing custom at that time. (John Paul II. Apostolic letter Mulieris dignitatem, no. 12-13, August 15, 1988)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • The only better gift which can and must be desired is love

It therefore remains for us to meditate more deeply on the nature of the real equality of the baptized which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity; equality is in no way identity, for the Church is a differentiated body, in which each individual has his or her role. The roles are distinct, and must not be confused; they do not favour the superiority of some vis-a-vis the others, nor do they provide an excuse for jealousy; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (1Cor 12-13). The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Inter insigniores, On the question of admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, October 15, 1976)

Sacred Scripture

  • A woman must receive instruction silently

A woman must receive instruction silently and under complete control. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet. (1Tim 2:11-12)


V – Humility and obedience: virtues that shine the most in the Doctors of the Church, an example for all Christian women


Benedict XVI

  • Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions: by leading a very simple and hidden life she lived to the full the grace of Baptism

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, who lived in this world for only 24 years, at the end of the 19th century, leading a very simple and hidden life but who, after her death and the publication of her writings, became one of the best-known and best-loved saints. ‘Little Thérèse’ has never stopped helping the simplest souls, the little, the poor and the suffering who pray to her. However, she has also illumined the whole Church with her profound spiritual doctrine to the point that Venerable Pope John Paul II chose, in 1997, to give her the title ‘Doctor of the Church’, in addition to that of Patroness of Missions, which Pius XI had already attributed to her in 1939. My beloved Predecessor described her as an ‘expert in the scientia amoris’ (Novo Millennio Ineunte, no. 42). […] Thus Thérèse points out to us all that Christian life consists in living to the full the grace of Baptism in the total gift of self to the Love of the Father, in order to live like Christ, in the fire of the Holy Spirit, his same love for all the others. (Benedict XVI. General audience, April 6, 2011)

  • Through contemplative prayer St Thérèse of Lisieux lived an authentic missionary spirit in her own way

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who never left her Carmel, through contemplative prayer and the correspondence she maintained with priests – the Abbé Bellière and Fr. Roulland – lived an authentic missionary spirit in her own way, accompanying every person in her Gospel service and giving the world a new spiritual orientation. Only 10 years ago, this obtained for her the title: ‘Doctor of the Church’. From Pius XI to our day, the Popes have not omitted to recall the connection between prayer, charity and action in the Church’s mission, so that, as the Second Vatican Council further emphasizes, ‘the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit’ (Lumen Gentium, no. 17). (Benedict XVI. Message for the 80th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux as Patroness of Missions, September 12, 2007)

John Paul II

  • Saint Catherine of Siena cultivated a profound union with the divine Spouse in the midst of overwhelming occupations

One of the two women, honored by Paul VI with the title of Doctor of the Church, together with Saint Teresa of Avila, is precisely she: Catherine of Siena. […] Catherine constantly cultivated a profound union with the divine Spouse, even in the midst of the overwhelming occupations of her busy life. She could, thanks to her ‘interior cell’, which she had constructed in her intimacy. ‘Make a cell in the mind, from which you may never leave’, she later counseled her disciples, basing herself on personal experience [Legenda maior, I, IV]. Effectively, in it ‘we find the angelic nourishment of the ardent desire of God toward us’ (Letter 26). (John Paul II. Homily during the pastoral visit to Siena, no. 2, September 1980)

Benedict XVI

  • Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church, shone through obedience, simplicity, charity and hospitality

In Saint Hildegard of Bingen there is a wonderful harmony between teaching and daily life. In her, the search for God’s will in the imitation of Christ was expressed in the constant practice of virtue, which she exercised with supreme generosity and which she nourished from biblical, liturgical and patristic roots in the light of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Her persevering practice of obedience, simplicity, charity and hospitality was especially visible. In her desire to belong completely to the Lord, this Benedictine Abbess was able to bring together rare human gifts, keen intelligence and an ability to penetrate heavenly realities. (Benedict XVI. Apostolic letter proclaiming Saint Hildegard of Bingen, professed nun of the Order of Saint Benedict, a Doctor of the Universal Church, no. 1, October 7, 2012)

Paul VI

  • Doctor of the Church is not a title that comports hierarchical functions; rather it means that one knew how to confess the faith received by God through the Church

This is, in synthesis, the message that Saint Teresa of Jesus, doctor and saint of the Church gives us. Let us hear and make it our own. We should add two observations that seem important. In the first place it is necessary to note that Saint Teresa of Avila is the first woman to whom the Church confers the title of doctor; and this without forgetting the severe words of Saint Paul: ‘women should keep silent in the churches’ (1Cor 14:34), which means that even today a woman is not destined to hold hierarchical functions of magisterium and ministry within the Church. Has the apostolic precept been violated then? We can respond with clarity: no. Really this is not regarding a title that comports hierarchical functions of the magisterium, but at the same time we should also emphasize that this fact does not suppose in any way the slightest despisal of the sublime mission of the woman in the heart of the People of God. On the contrary, she, in being incorporated in the Church through baptism, participates in the common priesthood of the faithful, that capacitates her and obliges her to ‘confess before all men the faith received by God through the Church’ (LG 2,11). (Paul VI. Homily proclaiming Saint Teresa of Jesus as Doctor of the Church, September 27, 1970)

John Paul II

  • Saint Teresa of Avila, an exceptional woman ‘shrouded with humility, penance and simplicity’

To honor, together with the Pope, Saint Teresa, this exceptional woman, Doctor of the Church, and yet ‘shrouded entirely with humility, penance and simplicity’, as my predecessor Paul VI had said (Homily, September 27, 1970). (John Paul II, Discourse to the cloistered religious of the Monastery of the Incarnation of Avila, November 1, 1982)


VI – A faulty ecclesiology that degenerates into false and deranged demands


John Paul II

  • A faulty ecclesiology can easily lead to presenting false demands and raising false hopes

Respect for women’s rights is without doubt an essential step towards a more just and mature society, and the Church cannot fail to make her own this worthy objective. […] However, in some circles there continues to exist a climate of dissatisfaction with the Church’s position, especially where the distinction between a person’s human and civil rights and the rights, duties, ministries and functions which individuals have or enjoy within the Church is not clearly understood. A faulty ecclesiology can easily lead to presenting false demands and raising false hopes. […] The equality of the baptized, which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity, exists in a differentiated body, in which men and women have roles which are not merely functional but are deeply rooted in Christian anthropology and sacramentology. The distinction of roles in no way favors the superiority of some over others; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (cf. 1Cor 12:13). In the Kingdom of Heaven the greatest are not the ministers but the saints (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, 6). (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of the United States of America on their ad limina visit, July 2, 1993)

  • The vocation of women should be considered from Christ’s perspective

The Church ‘holds that in her Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point, and the goal’ of man and ‘of all human history’, and she ‘maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever’ (Gaudium et spes, no.10). These words of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World show the path to be followed in undertaking the tasks connected with the dignity and vocation of women, against the background of the significant changes of our times. We can face these changes correctly and adequately only if we go back to the foundations which are to be found in Christ, to those ‘immutable’ truths and values of which he himself remains the ‘faithful witness’ (cf. Rev 1:5) and Teacher. A different way of acting would lead to doubtful, if not actually erroneous and deceptive results. (John Paul II. Apostolic letter Mulieris dignitatem, no. 28, August 15, 1988)

  • It is false to assume that Christ called men to be apostles in order to conform with the mentality of his times

In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behaviour, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time. Consequently, the assumption that he called men to be apostles in order to conform with the widespread mentality of his times, does not at all correspond to Christ’s way of acting. […] They are with Christ at the Last Supper. They alone receive the sacramental charge, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Lk 22:19; 1Cor 11:24), which is joined to the institution of the Eucharist. On Easter Sunday night they receive the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins: ‘Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained’ (Jn 20:23). (John Paul II. Apostolic letter Mulieris dignitatem, no. 26, August 15, 1988)

  • The Gospels show that Jesus designated the Apostles for certain functions: He never sent the woman on preaching missions

The Gospels show that Jesus never sent the woman on preaching missions, as he did with the group of the Twelve, who were all men (cf. Lk 9:1-6), and also with the 72, among whom no women were mentioned (cf. Lk 10:1-20). Only to the Twelve did Jesus entrust the authority of the kingdom: ‘I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me’ (Lk 22:29). Only to the Twelve did he confer the mission and the power to celebrate the Eucharist in his name (cf. Lk 22:19), which is the essence of the priestly ministry. Only to the Apostles, after his resurrection, did he grant the power of pardoning sins (cf. Jn 20:22-23) and of undertaking the work of universal evangelization (cf. Mt 28:18-20 Mk 16:16-18). (John Paul II. General audience, no. 3, July 27, 1994)

  • With her vision illumined by faith, a woman should distinguish what truly responds to her dignity as a person and to her vocation

While she is to fulfill her duty to evangelize, woman is to feel more acutely her need to be evangelized. Thus, with her vision illumined by faith (cf. Eph 1:18), woman is to be able to distinguish what truly responds to her dignity as a person and to her vocation from all that, under the pretext of this ‘dignity’ and in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘progress’, militates against true values. On the contrary, these false values become responsible for the moral degradation of the person, the environment and society. This same ‘discernment’, made possible and demanded from Christian women’s participation in the prophetic mission of Christ and his Church, recurs with continued urgency throughout history. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici, no. 51, December 30, 1988)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • Not even Christ’s Mother was invested with the apostolic ministry

Jesus Christ did not call any women to become part of the Twelve. If he acted in this way, it was not in order to conform to the customs of his time, for his attitude towards women was quite different from that of his milieu, and he deliberately and courageously broke with it. […] Even his Mother, who was so closely associated with the mystery of her Son, and whose incomparable role is emphasized by the Gospels of Luke and John, was not invested with the apostolic ministry. This fact was to lead the Fathers to present her as an example of Christ’s will in this domain; as Pope Innocent III repeated later, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, ‘Although the Blessed Virgin Mary surpassed in dignity and in excellence all the Apostles, nevertheless it was not to her but to them that the Lord entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Pope Innocent III, Epist). The apostolic community remained faithful to the attitude of Jesus towards women. Although Mary occupied a privileged place in the little circle of those gathered in the Upper Room after the Lord’s Ascension (Acts 1:14), it was not she who was called to enter the College of the Twelve at the time of the election that resulted in the choice of Mathias: those who were put forward were two disciples whom the Gospels do not even mention. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled them all, men and women (Acts 2:1, 1:14), yet the proclamation of the fulfillment of the prophecies in Jesus was made only by ‘Peter and the Eleven’ (Acts 2:14). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Inter insigniores on the question of admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, no. 2-3, October 15, 1976)

  • The Apostle forbids women from the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly

Another objection is based upon the transitory character that one claims to see today in some of the prescriptions of Saint Paul concerning women, and upon the difficulties that some aspects of his teaching raise in this regard. But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value. However, the Apostle’s forbidding of women to speak in the assemblies (1Cor 14:34-35; 1Tim 2:12) is of a different nature, and exegetes define its meaning in this way: Paul in no way opposes the right, which he elsewhere recognises as possessed by women, to prophesy in the assembly (1Cor 11:15); the prohibition solely concerns the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly. For Saint Paul this prescription is bound up with the divine plan of creation (1Cor 11:7; Gen 2:18-24): it would be difficult to see in it the expression of a cultural fact. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Declaration Inter insigniores, On the question of admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, no.4, October 15, 1976)

Pius X

  • Modernist ‘reformers’ insist that authority should be decentralized in the Church

It remains for Us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. […] Ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts. Its spirit with the public conscience, which is not wholly for democracy; a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy, and even to the laity, and authority should be decentralised. (Pius X. Encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis, no. 38, September 8, 1907)


Discover another innovation:

confesoresIt is no longer necessary to declare one’s sins to a confessor to be pardoned?

3 thoughts on “138 – “The Church is woman. Women, in the Church, are more important than bishops and priests”

  1. Bergoglio is a Satanist at heart and there is nothing good to be expected of him, neither for the souls in his hands nor for Catholic Church. His blasphemies, sacrileges and heresies are leading the world to pay homage at the feet of Satan, while his smiles and pizzas for the poor are deceiving a humanity that cheers his perverse plans on. Please continue, brave Fathers, there are many souls looking to you for guidance.

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  2. “The Church is woman.” Yes, yes, yes the church is the Bride of Christ. Jesus is male, priests are male and represent Christ. Jesus said: “The Father is greater than I.” The Fatherhood and Maleness of God are, therefore, his main and important attributes that glorify him. And make no mistake about it, the Blessed Virgin in her Immaculate Conception, was a Queen, in her poverty in Nazareth she was a Queen, in the stable in Bethlehem with no crib for the Christchild, she was a Queen, and under the cross, Mary was a Queen, now she is Queen of Heaven and Earth, Queen of Angels, she knew her mission: the new Eve, full of Grace, full of the Holy Spirit, to serve Christ, in order to glorify HIM, and to bring about the salvation of humanity.

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  3. Francis is a protestant at heart. Feminism brought about destruction to society and took away all feminine dignity. The great women saints never thought the way Francis does. Mary and only Mary is above the hierarchy of the Church. No other women (or man) has the dignity of the Blessed Mother, “Blessed art thou among women”. Maybe the Hail Mary offends Francis’s friends and he has forgotten one of the most basic prayers of the Catholic Faithful. But what to expect from a protestant…

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