Two stories, one theme:  women, feminist theology and the American Catholic Church  
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Charlene Ozanick

Two stories, one theme:  women, feminist theology and the

American Catholic Church

Part 1

The Current Issue

In the last week of March, many people were struck by two stories dealing with the status of women in the American Catholic Church. First, we heard of the fact that Fr. Roy Bourgeois was placed on notice of dismissal from the Maryknoll Religious Community (a missionary order for priests, brothers, and sisters). Fr. Roy, founder of SOA (School of the Americas) Watch at Fort Benning, GA, has not only been supportive of women’s ordination as priests, but attended and gave assistance at a women’s ordination ceremony on August 9, 2008. He was subsequently threatened with excommunication from the Catholic Church.

The second bombshell occurred later in the week, when NCRonline published on March 31 that Sister of St. Joseph Elizabeth Johnson’s book of theology which she had written 4 years ago was blasted by the Committee on Doctrine of the U.S. bishops’ conference. 

Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a distinguished professor of systematic theology at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York, published “Quest for the Living God” in 2007. The bishops contend that Johnson’s book “completely undermines the Gospel and the faith of those who believe in the Gospel.” In response, Sister Elizabeth stated, “I would have been glad to enter into conversation to clarify critical points, but was never invited to do so. This book was discussed and finally assessed by the Committee before I knew any discussion had taken place. (The bishops) radically misinterpret what I think and what I in fact wrote.”

Here are two stories with one theme---and it is the place of women and feminist theology in the American Catholic Church. How did we ever get to this place of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and drastic penalties? How have women been viewed throughout the history of the church? To do so we must take a trip back into the history of the early Christian Church.

Judeo-Christian Roots

In the Jewish religious world, women held a second-class status. Because women were not circumcised, they were not personally part of the Covenant. The Jewish belief was that God created man first and fully in the image of God. But woman was created for man, from man. She was made only partly in God’s image. Women could not present their own sacrifices. They were forbidden to teach in synagogues, or even say the blessing at family meals. Women were subject to men in both religious and secular affairs. 

Although Jesus was a Law-observant Jew, he was unique in his dealings with women. He met regularly with women, called them into his following and ate with them. We have the story of Mary of Bethany, who sat at Jesus’ feet as a disciple.  And Jesus commends her to her sister, Martha, as having chosen “the better part.”  With Mary Magdalene (Magdalene means high tower in Greek), we see her as not only as a disciple, but a close friend of Jesus, who was present with Mary the Mother of Jesus, John, and a few other women at the foot of the cross. Mary Magdalene was the first to proclaim the resurrection and became a high tower of strength in the early Jesus movement. Her role in the early proclamation of the gospel is most likely greater than our extant records represent. Other women who played important roles in the ministry of Christ were Susanna and Joanna who, along with Mary Magdalene, were not only benefactors of Jesus and the other Apostles, but also had a place of prominence in their company. Also, the upper room belonging to Mary, the mother of John Mark (evangelist), became the site of the Last Supper as well as the meeting place of the Apostles and Disciples. This would indicate that Mark’s family members were disciples of the Lord as well.

Women in the early centuries of Christianity

We see strong evidence of women taking a lead in early Christian communities. Not having buildings dedicated for worship, the Christians gathered together for “the Meal” in private homes, with women serving as hostess and presiders at the Eucharistic celebrations. Paul designates Junia as an apostle, while Prisca (and her husband Aquila---but she’s always named first) and Chloe are similarly viewed as leaders of churches in Rome and Corinth. Phoebe, of Cenchreae, had the unique distinction of be called a “deacon” which later would become an official office within the church.

Women continued to minister as presiders (presbyters) in the early Christian communities during the centuries of persecution (as early as 64 C.E. to 311 C.E.). In 311 C.E., Emperor Galerius issued an edict tolerating the Christians (Edict of Milan).  In 312 C.E., Constantine became emperor after a bloody battle where “he saw in a dream that the Cross of Christ would be a sign of his victory.” He made Christianity the favored religion of the Empire. But it was only in 380 C.E., that Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the ‘official’ religion of the empire.

In spite of the socio-cultural and religious changes occurring in both the Roman empire and in the Christian church, women served as priests. Dr. Giorgio Otranto, Director of the Institute for Classical and Christian Studies at the University of Bari, Italy, discovered iconographic evidence of women presiding over the Eucharist in ancient catacomb frescos. Otranto also cites a letter from 5th century Pope Gelasius I in which he scolds the bishops in southern Italy for allowing women “to officiate at the sacred altars, and to take part in all matters imputed to the offices of the male sex….” In another letter, Dr. Otranto cites the comments of a ninth century Italian bishop, Atto of Vercelli, emphasizing the use of the word ‘presbytera’ to refer to women priests. But drastic changes within the church and in society in general were changing the status of women in the Church.

The Tide against Women’s Role in the Church

In coping with many heresies that began to flood the early Church, leaders and teachers in the church adopted the philosophical concepts of the classical Greek writers, such as Plato (and later in the writings of Thomas Aquinas, the writings of the philosopher Aristotle were Christianized). 

The church was no longer just centralized in Jerusalem, but in other major areas of learning such as in Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Rome. The majority of Christians now were no longer Jewish converts, but Gentile and coming from large cross-sections of society. In attempting to define WHAT constituted the beliefs of the Christian faith, the Church relied very much on the writings of highly educated men called the Fathers of the Church. (No, there was never a group of women called ‘Mothers of the Church.’) 

One teacher in the church, Tertullian, wrote that women are the second Eve, and are  gateways to hell. St. Augustine stated that women have souls---but that their bodies are not in the image of God (if God, the Creator is pure spirit---God has no body, male or female). St. Thomas Aquinas, writing some centuries later, believed that women were conceived when an “evil East wind blew, and therefore were defective males.” And several Church Fathers such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine all wrote in their works that the ordination of women was impossible.

The teachings of the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church became what is called “the Deposit of Faith” that the Church regards as dogma and doctrine. After centuries of  centering its beliefs in many of these erroneous concepts about women, the official Church would never consider the ordination of women.

The Official Church View Today

What does the Church teach today about women and their ordination as priests, presiders of the Eucharist? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “only a baptized man can validly receive sacred ordination.” The Church, relying upon its consistent teachings, states that the requirements needed are a matter of divine law and are thus doctrinal (doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions that are part of the belief system). The Vatican contends that Jesus did not call any woman to be part of the Twelve Apostles and therefore he established a permanent norm of a male priesthood. 

In his Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (On Ordination to the Priesthood), Pope John Paul II quoted Pope Paul VI, writing: ” (The Church) holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing only men; and her (the Church’s) living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.”

Furthering its arguments against the ordination of women, the Magisterium (the official teachers of the Church) state that only man, through his natural resemblance to Christ can express sacramentally the role of Jesus Christ himself in the Eucharist.  In other words, the priest must have a male sexual organ---a penis. Just as in the Old Testament teaching of the Jews, a woman could not be a teacher (a rabbi), nor a priest to offer sacrifices---because she did not have a penis and was not circumcised. 

Are there any arguments to this seemingly dead-end rationale? Yes, and in Part 2 we will examine them as well as look at what constitutes feminist theology.


Two stories, one theme:  women, feminist theology and the

American catholic church

Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at the official teachings of the Church today concerning the ordination of women. According to the Catechism, the Catholic Church sees the male and female genders as two different realities in expressing humanity. While many functions are interchangeable between men and women, some are not, because the essences of being male or female are not interchangeable. The Church teaches that when the priest acts “in the person of Christ” (and since Christ was a man) only a male priest can signify Christ at the Eucharist.

The Church has defined certain ‘matter’ that must be present for the sacraments to be valid. Water, the Church teaches, is necessary for a valid baptism. Because Christ used or authorized it, only wheaten bread and grape wine are necessary for a valid Eucharist. And only men can be validly ordained, regardless of any issues of equality. 

Therefore, in the traditional teaching of the Church, no bishop or even the pope, may validly ordain a woman, because her gender renders her ‘improper’ matter for ordination. And her ordination would not be valid. We see an example of this in the story of Ludmilla Javorova. In the early 1970’s the situation of the Church in Czechoslovakia was at a critical point. A Bishop Felix M. Davidek ordained a number of married men and women as priests to meet the needs of the underground church.  Single men would cause too much attention, so married men were preferred, and women were needed to minister to Catholic women in prison. Ludmilla Javorova was one of the women who were ordained during this dangerous time. She told reporters of ‘The Table’ (11/11/95) that she had written to Pope John Paul II explaining all the circumstances of her ordination. John Paul II died in 2005, after having never responded to Javorova.

But Pope John Paul II, in his encyclicals, supported the absolute moral norms taught by the hierarchical magisterium. These norms are based upon a neoscholastic approach to natural law. In refusing to see the Church’s social doctrine as ideology, but as moral theology, John Paul II defends and employs the theory of natural law.  The concepts of natural law are “universally binding” and “unchanging”; they are “universal and permanent laws.” The precepts of natural law are universally valid without exception. (John Paul II, “Veritatis splendor,” 1993, p. 52)

This neoscholastic understanding regard natural law as based on the eternal plan of God for the world, employs a deductive methodology, and insists on the absolute certitude and unchanging character of particular laws belonging to natural law. And of course the ordination of women would fall in this category. 

However, further studies in biblical scholarship, particularly the gospels, and a new ethical methodology, that does not focus upon the eternal, the universal, the immutable, and the unchanging elements of the neoscholastic tradition, developed after Vatican Council II. We will look at these elements.

The Priesthood and Discipleship---Other Viewpoints from the Gospels

Christ’s actions made the ordination of women possible when he revoked the Old Covenant priesthood of Aaron and brought both men and women into a New Covenant, Jesus’ Covenant. This new covenant with a new priesthood replaces the old priesthood that one was born into (tribe of Levi), and is based on the grace from the sacrament of baptism. Baptism is the same whether for a man or a woman. Each woman who is baptized becomes another Christ, sharing in his death, burial and resurrection, just as every man is. Paul tell us: “All of you are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you, who have been baptized in Christ, have clothed yourselves in Christ. Thus there is no longer Jew nor Greek, free nor slave, male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28)

The Gospel of Matthew strongly emphasizes and enforces the concept of a hierarchical vision of authority, with Peter being given the ‘keys of the kingdom,’ and assured absolute authority on earth. As the Christian communities moved into emphasizing the primacy of Peter (and his successors) with the concomitant ‘monarchical model of leadership’---the Church depended heavily upon Matthew’s Gospel.

But this view is hardly historical as neither Paul nor the other Gospel writers recognize the sole authority of Peter, or a hierarchical method of governance. It is significant that the Gospel of John suggests that the apostolic circle followed a ‘communal’ model of authority that eschewed any notion of Petrine primacy. In reading carefully the Gospel of John and those letters attributed to him, it appears that the community strongly emphasized equality among its members. No hierarchy of power or authority structure is laid down. The emphasis in the Fourth Gospel is on the relation of the individual community member to Jesus. The sense of the community is expressed in such metaphors as the vine and its branches and the shepherd and his sheep. This stress on a communal model of authority in John is linked to the strong awareness of divine inspiration. This awareness is expressed via an emphasis on the work of the Spirit, a view that also permeates Luke’s account of the apostolic community, whose life of prayer and teaching is Spirit-directed. 

In both Luke and John, the source of direction in the community lies not in a structured hierarchy, but in the divine indwelling of the Spirit. In John, the Spirit both replaces Jesus and makes him present. In the post-resurrection Christophanies in the Fourth Gospel, it is the community as a whole that is granted the “power to forgive sins.” This happens only after the risen Jesus has breathed his Spirit upon them. It is the Spirit who leads the community and not any individual disciple. And as with Luke, Peter’s role is a pastoral one, rather than an executive one. In fact the title ‘apostle’ never appears in the Gospel of John. John certainly knew of the “Twelve” but the distinguishing mark that determines authority in the Johannine Church is not apostleship, but discipleship.

This vision is aptly captured in the Johannine version of the Last Supper, where Jesus “gives all an example” of leadership in the form of self-sacrificial and self-giving act of washing the feet of his disciples. Moreover, Peter’s position at the table is subordinate to that of the “Beloved Disciple”. In John’s Gospel, Peter cannot speak directly to Jesus at the supper banquet of love. He can only address Jesus through the intermediary of the Beloved Disciple, who is not the leader of the community, but its model. 

The figure of the “Beloved Disciple” should stand as a reminder to the Roman Magisterium, that they do not have all the answers. The Spirit moves throughout the Church, stirring minds and hearts of all of Jesus’ disciples. Back in 1959, theologian Karl Rahner penned an important message for the leaders of the Church on the eve of the Second Vatican Council.  “Public opinion is one of the means whereby the Church’s official leaders, who need human help as well as the divine, get to know something about the actual situation within which and taking account of which, they are to lead and guide the people. They need to know how people are thinking and feeling, what they have set their hearts and wishes on, what their problems are, what they find difficult, in what respects their feeling have changed, where they find the traditional answers of rulings insufficient, what they would like to see changed…and so on.” (Rahner, Karl, “Freedom of Speech in the Church”, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1959, p. 22)

New Voices, New Vistas

In the years following Vatican Council II, a shift appeared in the neoscholastic (or classical) method of viewing the human condition. This new method is called historical consciousness gives more importance to the particular, the contingent, the historical and the changing. Historical consciousness strives to be a middle position between the neoscholastic (classicism) and existentialism.  Where classicism has the virtue of being universal and applicable to all; its weakness is failure to give sufficient attention to history, individuality, diversity, and particularity. On the other hand, existentalism emphasizes the particular and the individual to such an extent that it has no place for continuity or any universality.

The shift to historical consciousness appears especially in the broader world of catholic social ethics, especially in liberationist and feminist ethics. Liberation theology first appeared in the Latin American context not as a new area of theology by as a new method. This new approach took root in the soil first plowed by Vatican II. Liberation theology maintains that the Gospel message of liberation affects not only the religious level but also the social, cultural, political, and economic levels of human existence. The Gospel calls for liberation from all forms oppression.  Liberation theology begins with the perspective and experience of poor and oppressed people. It is a theology and ethics from the underside and the bottom up.  It rejects the so-called universal, objective and neutral perspective of the Catholic neoclassical version of social teaching. 

Its main emphasis is that one comes to understand the truth by being involved in the struggle for liberation, not by solving logical syllogisms that have a fixed answer.

Catholic feminist thought in ethics came to the fore, especially in the United States, as a form of liberation. Feminism begins with a particular experience of oppressed women, not from an objective, neutral, or pretended universalist perspective.  Women historically have suffered because of a patriarchal mentality that often claimed to be an objective, neutral, value-free starting point. Catholic feminists, however---in keeping with their Catholic self-understanding---do not want to abandon some universality in ethics. They promote the welfare and well being of all human beings and the planet, not just the welfare of women. 

The questions that feminist theologians considered in putting forth their works were:

1) What actually comprises theology? How do we go about creating systems of thought, and can we reinterpret those systems of thought? Personal experience is deemed just as important an element of insight into the divine as are sacred texts or tradition.

2) Who is God and how do we go about describing God? Feminist theologians support the use of non-gendered or multi-gendered language for God. Language is seen as a powerful engine to impact belief about the behavior and essence of God.

3) Who and where are women in religious history? Feminist historical theologians study the roles of women in periods throughout history that impacted religion---the Biblical period (Old and New Testaments), the early Christian era, medieval Europe.  They study individual women who influenced religion or whose religious faith led them to influence their culture. The work of these scholars has helped feminist theologians claim historical figures as their forerunners in feminist theology. And example of this is seen in Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, when she pointed out, “And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part?”

Feminist theology has developed in three distinct phases over the decades. First, there was a critique of the past that  reviewed the ways that women have been oppressed. Secondly, an alternative biblical, and extra-biblical traditions were sought that supported the ideals that the feminists were trying to advance. And finally, the feminists set forth their own unique method of theology, which includes the revisioning of Christian/Catholic categories.

Two Pioneers in Feminist Theology

Christian/Catholic feminists seek to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, spiritually, socially, and in leadership positions from a Christian perspective. It is important to see the evolving development of thought that has progressed to the 21st Century. Two authors whose works are vital to an understanding of feminist theology are Mary Daly and Rosemary Radford Ruether.

Mary Daly came from an Irish Catholic family, and attended Catholic schools all of her early life. She earned both a bachelor and master of arts in English and then went on to earn three doctorates in theology (no easy feat for a woman in the 1950’s). Daly began teaching at Boston College in 1966 and her career there ended after an acrimonious settlement with the College in 2001, when she retired at the age of 72 years of age. She burst onto the growing woman’s movement with her first book, “The Church and the Second Sex,” published in 1968 and then “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Woman’s Liberation” in 1973. 

Her contributions to feminist theology were explosive. She was described as a great trained philosopher, theologian, and poet, and she used all of those tools to demolish patriarchy---or any idea that domination is natural---in its most defended place, which is religion. James Carroll, an author and columnist for the Boston Globe’s opinion pages (and a former Catholic priest) stated that Daly’s book “The Church and the Second Sex’ was every bit as important in the Catholic world as Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique.”

Sister Joan Chittister, a feminist author and a number of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA, said that Dr. Daly “literally turned the standard theological concepts upside down. Mary played with language in such a way that you simply had to stop and think…. You couldn’t use old words in the old ways.” Daly’s great ability as a wordsmith and her Irish wit could move the situation from the playful to sly suggestion to savage cuts quickly. Mary Daly believed in language and the way that it shapes a sense of self. 

Daly who died at the age of 81 on January 5, 2010, was seen as a central figure for the feminist movement in the 20th Century and beyond. According to Robin Morgan, who edited: “Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From the Woman’s Liberation Movement.” Mary ‘had a fierce intellect and an uncompromising soul that sometimes gave even her most loving friends indigestion, but it was worth it. She redefined the parameters of philosophy. She called herself a feminist philosopher, and she really was----she was the first.”

Another pioneer is Rosemary Radford Ruether, an American feminist scholar and theologian. Married and a mother of three, Ruether is currently a Visiting Professor of Feminist Theology at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University.

Ruether describes herself as an “ecofeminst” and has referred to God in the feminine as “Gaia” (however, she noted that a critic “accused me of teaching that ‘God is Gaia,’ a view which I do not take”). She has for thirty years been considered a pioneer in the area of feminist theology in North America, with a particular focus in modern feminist theology and liberation theology, especially in Palestine and Latin America. She has also been an outspoken critic of war since the Vietnam era and continues this work today.

She has written several books including, “The Church Against Itself,” (1967), “Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology” (1993), “In Our Own Voices: Four Centuries of American Women’s Religious Writing” (ed. with Rosemary Skinner Keller, 1996), and “Goddess and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History” (2005).

To Dialogue with Science

Into this presentation of “Two Stories, One Theme: Women, Feminist Theology and the American Catholic Church” it is crucial to introduce the importance of science. In the February, 2011 issue of U.S. Catholic (in a section of the magazine entitled Soundingboard), Fr. Richard G. Mallory, S.J. wrote the article “Let’s get a big bang out of science.” His subtitle to this article was ‘far from being a threat to faith, modern science is an invitation to get better acquainted with the force behind the universe.’  For centuries, there had and has been a conflict between science and religion.  Religion looked upon scientists as agnostics and atheists who seek to destroy religion. And scientists often see religion as a series of impossible to prove ‘hokum.’  Those who resist science are not defending our faith. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council in ‘Gaudium at Spes’ affirmed the ‘rightful independence of science,” warning against the attitude “that faith and science are mutually opposed.”

The two areas of science and theology answer different questions for the modern world. Science answers the questions “what” and “how” and theology answers “why” and “what does it all mean?” In our 21st century, we need good, accurate scientific and theological knowledge to work together. Because of the discoveries of science we now know that not only is the universe expanding but that it is accelerating.

A number of theologians, including feminist theologians, have had a strong background in science as well as in theology. They incorporate the understandings of science into their theology inquiry. Science is constantly being revised and modified as additional data and knowledge come to light. Many people don’t appreciate that this revisionism is at the core of science as a guiding principle. In addition to the changing panorama of science, an expanding sense of the cosmos is seen as an expression of God’s love.

One theologian, Sister Ilia Delio, O.S.F. continues to try to engage science and theology in dialogue/study to mitigate the mutual disregard of religion and science for each other. In an article in AMERICA Magazine, April 4, 2011, pp. 14-19, Sister Ilia aired her frustration that religious education institutions (at any level) do not provide a learning forum that seeks the coming together of religious /scientific truths.

Delio writes, “In the late 20th century theology entered into dialogue with the cultural pluralities of gender, race, history and philosophy. It nonetheless settled into the university system as an academic silo, just as the sciences sequestered themselves into specialized disciplines. Religion and science grew more estranged… Few Catholic theologians are grappling with the sciences on their own terms as a means of theological reflection….”

Even the study of scientific terminology and religious jargon is a new language, and it certainly reveals a new worldview. Letting jargon get in the way of truth is a hazard to health and sanity. An example of this stumbling over jargon comes with the term “panentheism.” Sister Ilio Delio utilizes this term (as well as Sister Elizabeth Johnson, who has  a strong scientific background as well as one in theology). Panentheism means that God is in all things, and all things are in God, but God is more than all things. God is greater than the sum of everything because God is incomprehensible.  You can’t conflate the uncreated and the created. Pantheism is the belief that God is all things and all things are God (heresy).

Yet, in the criticism of Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s book, “Quest for the Living God:  Mapping the Frontiers in the Theology of God,” the bishops fail to take science, especially evolution seriously. They constantly cite her for defending pantheism (she does not) and for claiming that God cares about the suffering of not only human beings, but of all living things (she does defend that point). 

Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM Cap, (THE theologian on the Bishops Committee on Doctrine) illustrates that he and the bishops harbor a distorted understanding of panentheism. They are careless in mixing it with pantheism. They have a definite objection to new ways of imaging, thinking, and talking about God that is consistent with a theological decision to protect God from too close a contact with any human experience---especially in the suffering of life. This is particularly troubling, since we celebrate Jesus’ life where he touched the sick and suffering to heal them. Christ, rather than running from suffering and death, embraced it with both arms and with his whole heart. Jesus, who perfectly reflected God the Creator, and moved as directed by the Holy Spirit, displayed to us a God who touches the world in order to heal it.

A Final Reflection

How can any committee project itself up as THE body for judging theological teaching within the Catholic Church in America---when it fails to understand the new language of science and religion or fails to understand a God who is dynamic and open to this universe of ours and we who dwell within it? Unfortunately, the parameters within which the American Bishops Committee on Doctrine function are the result of the actions of Pope John Paul II, who suppressed theological discussion and muted academic freedoms during his pontificate. He failed to build bridges among the elements of the Catholic intellectual community, but left a vastly polarized church. 

Pope Benedict XVI has taken the polarization even further. In writing an article The Early Fathers of the Church in 1969, Joseph Ratzinger saw the priesthood as cultic and separate from the “faithful.” The core of the Church is Episcopal, sacramental, and liturgical. He sees the role of the bishops as that of ‘watchdog’ protecting the faithful. In a homily in 1979, when he defended the silencing of Hans Kung, Ratzinger stated that ‘the Christian believer is a simple person: bishops should protect the faith of these little people against the power of intellectuals.”

The Bishops Committee on Doctrine in obeying its Vatican master, to “defend the simple faith of the little people in America “ has added nothing but a theological rigidity and the element of exclusion of women.  

The issues of Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Sister Elizabeth Johnson are separate but joined in one theme----Women in the Church. Can the Church believe that women are created in God’s image and continue to argue against their ordination in the Church? And can it continue to hold up its shabby theological constructs (as seen in the criticism of the Bishops Committee on Doctrine) to the brilliance of one of America’s best theologians---Elizabeth A. Johnson?

Sr. Charlene Ozanick


Het wijden van vrouwen is geen katholiek-theologisch probleem maar een kerkrechtelijk ingenomen standpunt van de rooms-katholieke kerk. We moeten ons serieus gaan afvragen is de r.-k. kerk nog wel katholiek of is zij meer een roomse kerk geworden, los van het katholicisme. In meerdere katholieke kerken kennen we reeds vrouwen in het ambt. Pater Edward Schillebeeckx verwoord het zo: "De r.-k. kerk heeft zich historisch zo ontwikkeld, dat zij nu een macht is geworden tegenover het evangelie. Maar dat kerkgebeuren staat onder de kritiek van het evangelie, zoals Israël onder de kritiek stond van de profeten. De kerkelijke hiërarchie, als macht, wordt geoordeeld door allen die het evangelie leven".
Wim van den Hoek, pastor - Lemmer

In de jaren 84/85 van de vorige eeuw, volgde ik de cursus - Vrouw-Kerk-Geloof - In het Kontakt der Kontinenten te Soesterberg. Geïnspireerd door Tine Halkes en Wil Bus studeerden we hard op de posititie van de vrouw in de kerk en hoe die zo heeft kunnen ontstaan. We dachten nu gaat het roer om en zal er eindelijk naar de vrouw worden geluisterd. Hoe hadden we dat kunnen denken, van al die cursisten is nog een enkeling praktizerend katholiek die de strijd niet willen opgeven. Ook ik hoop het vol te kunnen houden. Vrouwen hebben in de R.-K. Kerk nog steeds geen stem. Er wordt niet eens met Zr. Elisabeth Johnson gediscusieerd over haar boek, het krijgt meteen een vernietigend oordeel. Hoelang gaat dit zo door?
Mariette van den Boogaard-Koolen - De Meern

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