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Mother Pelican
Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature

Luis T. Gutiérrez
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Scripture, Tradition, and Understanding


These pages are meditations on the mysteries of the creation, the incarnation, and the redemption. They explore the Christian understanding that all men and women are consubstantial in one and the same human nature, and are consubstantial with Jesus Christ as to his humanity. The meditations are based on a layman's reading of the Sacred Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Theology of the Body as they pertain to the egalitarian complementarity of man and woman, which transcends the patriarchal binary of mutually exclusive male-female opposites. This understanding of the "unity in complementarity" of man and woman applies to all the sacraments, sheds light on the great nuptial mystery of Christ and the Church, and would seem to support the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood and the episcopate.


Working Draft - 29 July 2016

INDEX OF MEDITATIONS

Natural Unity of Man and Woman
     Natural Consubstantiality of Man and Woman
Patriarchal Disunity of Man and Woman
Natural Complementarity of Man and Woman
Sacramental Complementarity of Man and Woman
     Sacramental Homogeneity of Man and Woman
         Sacramental Consubstantiality of Man and Woman
             Sacramental Unity of Man and Woman
Apostolic Complementarity of Man and Woman
     Apostolic Consubstantiality of Man and Woman
     Apostolic Consubstantiality of Man and Woman ~ Theotokos
Reconstructing the Original Unity of Man and Woman Reconstructing the Original Harmony of Humanity and Nature
Here and Now: Laudato Si' and the Year of Mercy
Here and Now: Integral Humanism and Evangelization
Here and Now: Liturgical Body Language
     Body Language in the Church Family
     Eucharistic Body Language, Male and Female
     Apostolic Body Language, Masculine and Feminine
     One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic ~ Male and Female
     From the Creation to the Ascension ~ Male and Female
     From the Creation to Pentecost ~ Masculinity and Feminity
     Trinitarian Body Language ~ Communion of Persons
     Eucharistic Body Language ~ Corpus Christi
     Liturgical Body Language ~ The Anointing at Bethany
     Sacramental Body Language ~ New Creation in Christ
     Spousal Meaning of the Body ~ Humanae Vitae
     Spousal Meaning of the Body ~ Apostola Apostolorum
     Spousal Meaning of the Body ~ Domus Sanctae Marthae

SUPPORTING NOTES

St. Ignatius' First Principle and Foundation
Egalitarian Complementarity of Man and Woman
     An Adequate Anthropology for the Anthropocene
Gender Balance for Integral Humanism & Integral Ecology
     An Integral Ecology for the Anthropocene
Nuptial Complementarity in the Church Hierarchy
    On Discernment about Women in Sacramental Ministry
    On the Mysteries of the Beginning and the End
    On the Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption
    On the Nuptial Mystery of Christ and the Church
    On Religious Patriarchy and Social/Ecological Justice
    On the Marian Dogmas and the Pilgrim Church
    On the Encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Evagelium Vitae
    On Church History & Doctrinal Development
    On the Global Sense of the Faithful
Some Signs of Hope in the Catholic Church
Mapping of the Meditations to the Spiritual Exercises

ACRONYMS

CCC
CSD
TOB
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine
Theology of the Body

Egalitarian Complementarity of Man and Woman

Luis T. Gutiérrez
Working Draft - 11 March 2016

Summary

For all men and women of good will to effectively contribute to human development it is indispensable to sanitize human relations, as much as possible, from the inner disposition of rivalry that is generally manifested as domination/submission struggles. The most universal form of rivalry, succinctly summarized in Genesis 3:16, is the "patriarchal gender binary" of male domination and female submission. But the patriarchal culture, ancient as it is, was constructed by human hands and is not natural. The patriarchal era is passing away, as evidenced by families evolving from male headship to joint father-mother headship. This egalitarian complementarity of man and woman in the family is bound to gradually propagate to all human communities worldwide. Fostering this transition, away from patriarchy and toward the tripod foreseen in Galatians 3:28, is crucial for the future of human civilization.


adam_and_eve_and_the_leaf_rexmay.jpg
Copyright © Rex May
For all men and women of good will to effectively contribute to human development at any level (global, national, local) it is indispensable to sanitize human relations as much as possible from all manner of rivalry, an inner disposition that is triggered by mimetic desire and induces domination/submission struggles. This means going all the way back to the emergence of Homo sapiens; for the Agricultural Revolution, and more recently the Industrial Revolution and the Information Revolution, have but exacerbated symptoms of human misbehavior that are rooted in primitive human culture but are not intrinsic to human nature. The root cause of social and ecological human dysfunction is cultural, and therefore artificial, made by human hands; not natural.

The Book of Genesis provides a mythical account of human origins that sheds light on human nature. Specifically, Genesis 3:16 points to domination/submission as the most universal form of human struggle, one that affects all men and women. All other forms of human misbehavior encapsulate, and make manifest in different ways, this fundamental corruption of human relations. It is significant that rupturing the original communion of man and woman is revealed as the primary and most universal consequence of the fall from original innocence.

At a time when religious intolerance and slave ownership are disappearing (slowly, but surely) from human civilization, gender equality is the new horizon for human development. This step forward, dimly envisioned by successive waves of feminism starting in the late 19th century, and more recently fostered by the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, requires a profound cultural transition from the "patriarchal binary" of male domination, and female subordination, to practical recognition, in families and all other human institutions, of the "egalitarian complementarity" of man and woman.

Complementarity of Man and Woman

Patriarchal gender ideology is based on the "gender binary" of male/female opposities. It fails to recognize that the only essential difference between man and woman is genital. It segregates men and women in every dimension of human life according to the culture of male domination and female subordination that emerged from original sin (Genesis 3:16).

Complementarity.Man-Woman.png

The patriarchal gender binary is not natural. It is a distortion of natural law and a major obstacle to integral human development. What goes around comes around. The patriarchal binary harms men as much as women. The redemption of humanity, male and female, radically overcomes the patriarchal order of things (Galatians 3:28).

Theological Anthropology

A comprehensive exegesis of biblical texts on man and woman, and their unity in one and the same human nature, was developed by Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body (TOB). It provides a solid basis for solving the most pressing issues of human sexuality, both in families and in the Church as the family of God, including the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The TOB endorses neither radical patriarchy nor radical feminism, and provides a vision of marriage, and gender relations in general, that can be summarized as unity in diversity ("original unity of man and woman"), individuality in community ("communion of persons") and equality in mutuality ("spousal meaning of the body"). The complementarity of man and woman is for reciprocity and mutual enrichment, not mutual exclusion.

It is noteworthy that, in the TOB, the "male or female" descriptor is always used in reference to the human being as a body, while "male and female" is always used in reference to the human being as a person. The human person is a body, but is more than a body (Genesis 2:7). The body is a sacrament of the entire person, but is not the entire person. Furthermore, being a body is more fundamental to the structure of the personal subject than being somatically male or female (TOB 3:2, 8:1, 21:6). In other words, bodiliness and sexuality are not simply identical:

HUMAN BODILINESS & SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION

"Corporality and sexuality are not completely identified. Although the human body in its normal constitution, bears within it the signs of sex and is by its nature male or female, the fact, however, that man is a "body" belongs to the structure of the personal subject more deeply than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female. Therefore, the meaning of "original solitude," which can be referred simply to "man," is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity. The latter is based on masculinity and femininity, as if on two different "incarnations," that is, on two ways of "being a body" of the same human being created "in the image of God" (Gn 1:27)."

HUMAN NATURE & SOMATIC HOMOGENEITY

"The woman is made "with the rib" that God-Yahweh had taken from the man. Considering the archaic, metaphorical and figurative way of expressing the thought, we can establish that it is a question here of homogeneity of the whole being of both. This homogeneity concerns above all the body, the somatic structure. It is also confirmed by the man's first words to the woman who has been created: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gn 2:23).(15) Yet the words quoted refer also to the humanity of the male. They must be read in the context of the affirmations made before the creation of the woman, in which, although the "incarnation" of the man does not yet exist, she is defined as "a helper fit for him" (cf. Gn 2:18 and 2:20). In this way, therefore, the woman is created, in a sense, on the basis of the same humanity."

Source: Original Unity of Man and Woman, Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 7 November 1979. The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, Pauline Books, 1997, pages 43-44; and EWTN. See also pages 157 (section 8:1) and 160 (section 8:4) in the 2006 edition, translation by Michael Waldstein.

According to this translation, there was a human being in "original solitude" before sexual differentiation. This is the first human being created from the dust (Genesis 2:7) before sexual differentiation provides a "helper" of the other sex (Genesis 2:18-23). This key text is translated a bit differently in the 2006 edition, but includes the original emphasis in italics for a key phrase, and the same key point is made that embodied human nature (in complete body-soul integrity) precedes humans embodied as male or female:

"Bodiliness and sexuality are not simply identical. Although in its normal constitution, the human body carries within itself the signs of sex and is by its nature male or female, the fact that man is a "body" belongs more deeply to the structure of the personal subject than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female. For this reason, the meaning of "original solitude," which can be referred simply to "man," is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity; the latter is based on masculinity and femininity, which are, as it were, two different "incarnations," that is, two ways in which the same human being, created "in the image of God" (Gen 1:27), "is a body."" The Meaning of Original Unity, Pope John Paul II, 7 November 1979 (Source: Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Pauline Books, 2006, page 157. See also note 12 in page 158.

Furthermore, the somatic homogeneity of man and woman (TOB 8:4) shows that sexual differentiation, while undoubtedly being a gift, is also a limitation of embodied human nature. A man is bodily a man, and a woman is bodily a woman, but they are both equal in human personhood because they are both "body-persons" (i.e., "body-souls"). The entire TOB is a deconstruction of the patriarchal binary:

  • Having a body is more personal than being male or female (TOB 8:1)
  • Man and Woman are fully homogeneous in their "whole being" (TOB 8:4)
  • Bodiliness, not sex, is the foundation of the primordial sacrament (TOB 19:5)
  • Imbalance of male domination/female submission must be corrected (TOB 31:2)
  • The spousal meaning of the body is not limited to patriarchal analogies (TOB 33:3)
  • The spousal bond of Christ-Head and Church-Body transcends patriarchy (TOB 91:1)
  • The language of the body, male and female, is the language of the liturgy (TOB 117:5)

The TOB correlates with the CCC:

  • The human being, male and female, is a "body-soul," a living being composed of body and soul (CCC 362; TOB 2:4, 4:2)
  • The complementarity of man and woman does not cancel their equality as human persons (CCC 369; TOB 3:2)
  • All human beings are consubstantial, share one and the same human nature (CCC 371; TOB 3:3)
  • Having a body is more fundamental for human personhood than being male or female (CCC 372; TOB 8:1)
  • The human nature of man and woman are fully homogeneous, somatically and in their "whole being" (CCC 372; TOB 8:4)
  • The egalitarian complementarity of man and woman is ordered to the communion of persons (CCC 383; TOB 9:2)

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology is the comparative study of human societies and cultures and their development. Cultures develop by imitation, learning, and socialization. There are cultural variations that are local or regional, and lead to ethnical cultures. We are dealing here with primitive cultural development that gradually propagated worldwide but is still artificial (made by human hands) and not intrinsic to the natural lkaw.

In the patriarchal culture, the male or female "incarnations" of human persons are understood as practically constituting two different human natures. In theory, both men and women fully share one and the same human nature but, in practice, the biblical curse of male rule and female submission prevails in most cultures worldwide. This is visibly manifested, via body language, in all dimensions of human relations. The "male gaze" and the "female gaze" are symptomatic of this reality, and not only in cinematography but in families and both social and religious institutions.

Surely, men and women are different. But it is a difference in equality, an equality that is not only a matter of equal dignity but a full equality in embodied personhood, both men and women fundamentally being "body-persons." It is an "egalitarian complementarity" in which differences are for reciprocity and mutual enrichment, not arbitrary exclusion. Humanity is "male and female," not "male or female." This has crucial repercussions for social and ecological justice, as evidenced by the feminization of poverty and the feminization of nature, both tightly coupled to the current ecological crisis.

Humanity and the Human Habitat

Reconstructing the natural mutuality of man and woman has enormous implications for integral human development and social-ecological justice. There is by now an overwhelming consensus that "human development, if not engendered, is fatally endangered."

The ancient Old Testament exemplifies patriarchal bias in many ways, notably by the metaphor of woman coming out of man. This is corrected in the New Testament, notably by making the explicit statement that God became incarnate from a woman. Not insignificantly, this seemingly innocuous clarification follows the summary of the cultural progression that is now attainable, but yet to be fully attained, in human history: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Objective evidence confirms that the patriarchal binary is an oversimplification of reality. From reproductive biology we know that, at the instant of conception, the human body is one androgynous, sexually undifferentiated cell (zygote), and subsequent sexual differentiation happens via inactivation of one X chromosome, resulting in a cell with XX (female) or XY (male) chromosomes. From modern psychology we know that there is woman in man (anima) and man in woman (animus), so female and male polarities are invisible partners in every man and every woman during their entire life. Critical analysis of biblical texts reveals a progression from male dominance in the Old Testament to male-female partnership in the New Testament as the intended divine plan for human relations.

Natural Consubstantiality of Man and Woman

From the begining, the human person, man and woman, was created as a "body-soul" reality that subsumes the "body-gender" reality, which in turn subsumes the "biophysical body" reality, which in turn subsumes many other realities such as biological sex, the five senses, the color of the skin, etc. All men and women are made of the same created dust, the same created flesh, animated by the same kind of created soul. All men and women are naturally consubstantial, with unity in diversity in the image of the Trinity. That the second person of the Trinity became incarnate as a male means that God assumed all the limitations of the human condition ("like us in all things but sin") without in any way ceasing to be a divine person.

TOB.VENN.DIAGRAMS.jpg
Colors: Grey = Biblical "Flesh" (Human Nature), Beige = Body, Pink = Female, Blue = Male, Purple = Intersex. NB: The grey (biblical "flesh," i.e., human nature) subsists under the other colors for all humans. Christ is 100% human and 100% divine. Each person is distinct (solid borders), but all human beings are made of the same flesh.

This diagram, like all models, is a simplification of reality, but attempts to deconstruct the oversimplistic sex/gender binary of the patriarchal culture. Basically, it means that each human being is a body animated by a soul (gray circle). All men and women are fully homogeneous, made of the same dust, of the same substance, of the same flesh; and share one and the same human nature (brown circle). The body of each person is sexually differentiated, and is male *or* female *or* intersex (pink, blue, and purple circles). So, again, the body is a visible sacrament of the entire person, but is not the entire person. The physical body makes visible the invisible metaphysical person, but is not the entire person.

Sex is biophysical. Gender (gradient pink-blue circle) is psychosomatic, a personal synthesis of somatic constitution and cultural conditioning. Sex and gender are constitutive of the human person more deeply that other, more superficial attributes such as skin color, height, and weight; but all men and women are homogeneously constituted of the same flesh in one and the same human nature. The sexual complementarity of man and woman does not limit them to mutually exclusive roles except when they come together to share the gift of love and the gift of life. Modern science (biology, psychology, neurology) has shown ancient cultural stereotypes to be unnatural. In contrast to the patriarchal mindset of male domination and female subordination, a healthy complementarity of man and woman actually requires their joint participation in most human activities and the reconstruction of their interpersonal communion as fully equal partners in the nuclear family, and in the Church as the family of God, including apostolic succession.

Other than genitally, the complementarity of man and woman does not mean mutually exclusive roles. Such mutual exclusion of gender roles is a heritage from radical patriarchy, not divine revelation. All humans are consubstantial in one and the same human nature. Jesus Christ is consubstantial with all humans in his humanity. The Eucharist is the flesh and blood of Christ. Metaphysical "transubstantiation" happens when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, but is really consummated in the flesh when the person who receives the Eucharist becomes "eucharist" in sacrificial service to others.

Natural Complementarity of Man and Woman

Complementarity.Triptych.600.jpg

Conclusion

As long as the patriarchal binary prevails, subjective human development remains defective, with pervasive repercussions in human relations as well as human-nature relations. There can be no fully integral human development as long as both the objective and subjective dimensions of the body-person are not taken into account. There can be no fully integral ecology as long as humanity behaves as the dominant male and treats nature as a submissive female. There can be no lasting social justice, and there can be no lasting ecological justice, as long as human behavior is driven by the patriarchal mindset. For more on integral humanism and integral ecology in light of the Judeo-Christian tradition, click here

Gender Balance for Integral Humanism & Integral Ecology

Luis T. Gutiérrez
Working Draft - 22 December 2015

Summary

Jesus Christ - one divine person in divine and human natures
Human nature, male and female, is one and indivisible
Human persons, men and women, are mutually complemetary but fully homogeneous
Sexual differentiation is both a gift and a limit of the human condition
Sexual differentiation is an organic limitation, not a vocational limitation
Integral human development entails the mediation and fostering of all vocations
Integral means both objective and subjective and both individual and relational
Patriarchal gender ideology precludes the renewal of human relations
Signs of the times: The end of patriarchy & the ecological crisis
From patriarchy to egalitarian complementarity


The patriarchal binary of male domination and female subordination induces many social aberrations. The following is a good summary of gender relations under the patriarchal system which still prevails in many regions of the world:

Gender.Pyramid.jpg
Source: David Hayward, Patheos, 25 January 2014

Reconstructing the natural mutuality of man and woman has enormous implications for integral human development and social-ecological justice. There is by now an overwhelming consensus that "human development, if not engendered, is fatally endangered."

COP21Cartoon500.jpg
COP21, Climate Change, and Mother Earth
Cartoon by David Hayward, 22 December 2015

The ancient Old Testament exemplies patriarchal bias in many ways, notably by the metaphor of woman coming out of man. This is corrected in the New Testament, notably by making the explicit statement that God became incarnate from a woman. Not insignificantly, this seemingly innocuous clarification follows the summary of the cultural progression that is now attainable, but yet to be fully attained, in human history: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Biblical Revelation & Modern Science

Critical analysis of biblical texts reveal a progression from male dominance in the Old Testament to male-female partnership in the New Testament as the intended divine plan for human relations. In addition, scientific evidence confirms that the patriarchal binary is an oversimplification of reality:

  • From reproductive biology we know that, at the instant of conception, the human body is one androgynous, sexually undifferentiated cell (zygote), and subsequent sexual differentiation happens via inactivation of one X chromosome, resulting in a cell with XX (female) or XY (male) chromosomes.
  • From modern psychology we know that there is woman in man (anima) and man in woman (animus), so female and male polarities are invisible partners in every man and every woman during their entire life.
  • From neurology we know that "regardless of the cause of observed sex/gender differences in brain and behavior (nature or nurture), human brains cannot be categorized into two distinct classes: male brain/female brain" (Sex beyond the genitalia: The human brain mosaic).

In brief, Genesis 2 reveals, the Theology of the Body explains, and modern science confirms, that the patriarchal gender binary is an artificial ideology and is no longer credible as natural law.

Integral Humanism

Catholic social doctrine recognizes that an adequate theological anthropology is required for social/ecological justice, but shows an ambivalent admixture of natural law and patriarchal ideology:

146. “Male” and “female” differentiate two individuals of equal dignity, which does not however reflect a static equality, because the specificity of the female is different from the specificity of the male, and this difference in equality is enriching and indispensable for the harmony of life in society: “The condition that will assure the rightful presence of woman in the Church and in society is a more penetrating and accurate consideration of the anthropological foundation for masculinity and femininity with the intent of clarifying woman's personal identity in relation to man, that is, a diversity yet mutual complementarily, not only as it concerns roles to be held and functions to be performed, but also, and more deeply, as it concerns her make-up and meaning as a person”.

147. Woman is the complement of man, as man is the complement of woman: man and woman complete each other mutually, not only from a physical and psychological point of view, but also ontologically. It is only because of the duality of “male” and “female” that the “human” being becomes a full reality. It is the “unity of the two”, or in other words a relational “uni-duality”, that allows each person to experience the interpersonal and reciprocal relationship as a gift that at the same time is a mission: “to this ‘unity of the two' God has entrusted not only the work of procreation and family life, but the creation of history itself”. “The woman is ‘a helper' for the man, just as the man is ‘a helper' for the woman!”: in the encounter of man and woman a unitary conception of the human person is brought about, based not on the logic of self-centredness and self-affirmation, but on that of love and solidarity.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Vatican, 2004

Integral Ecology

If man and woman complete each other in both Church and society, why is patriarchal male headship still enshrined in the Church hierarchy, given that man and woman are fully homogeneous in their "whole being"? The patriarchal ideology of male domination and female submission, which is a consequence of original sin (Genesis 3:16, TOB 31), is an obstacle to integral human development, integral humanism, and integral ecology. The fundamental issue is whether the Church makes decisions based on cultural conditioning or an ever deepening understanding of natural law and the deposit of faith. This is not about what women (or men) want. This is about discerning what Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God and the good of souls, in light of an adequate theological anthropology.

Conclusion

As long as the patriarchal binary prevails, subjective human development remains defective, with pervasive repercussions in human relations as well as human-nature relations. There can be no fully integral human development as long as both the objective and subjective dimensions of the body-person are not taken into account. There can be no fully integral ecology as long as humanity behaves as the dominant male and treats nature as a submissive female. There can be no lasting social justice, and there can be no lasting ecological justice, as long as human behavior is driven by the patriarchal mindset.

Nuptial Complementarity in the Church Hierarchy

Luis T. Gutiérrez
Working Draft - 8 December 2015

Summary

In the sacramental churches, every conceivable rationalization is being used to resist the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate. Essentially, a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. One of the main obstacles to the ordination of women is the idea that the masculinity of Jesus requires the priest to resemble him as a male. However, this idea is rooted in the patriarchal norm of the father as head of the family and not on divine revelation.

"This is my body." What matters for the sacramental economy, and for the priest to be a visible sign of the acting presence of Christ, is not that Jesus is male but that in him the eternal Word assumed human nature in a human "body," and became "flesh;" thus the proper rite for the sacrament is the imposition of hands made of "flesh" (not "maleness") on a baptized person, male or female. The sacraments are not human rights but free gifts, fruits of the redemption. Ordination is not contingent on holiness or any human trait other than our fundamental human nature as rational animals made of body and soul. All the sacraments are nuptial, and none was instituted by Christ to be gender-exclusive.

It is wrong, and lamentably obfuscates the issue, to hide behind either patriarchal or feminist ideologies to advocate either perpetuating the patriarchal priesthood or discarding the mediation of the Church for apostolic succession. In can be shown, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Theology of the Body, and careful analysis of other pertinent Church documents (Ecumenical Councils, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) that there is no such thing as an infallibly defined dogma that the male-only priesthood is a timeless, divine law.

Jesus Christ, a divine Person, is the one and only Priest of the New Law. His priesthood is by no means contingent on the masculinity of Jesus of Nazareth. For the sacramental economy, rooted in the mysteries of the incarnation and the redemption, the masculinity of the historical Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes. With regard to Mary of Nazareth, she preceded the sacramental economy by embracing her unique and unrepeatable vocation as Mother of the Redeemer, and she is much more than an ordained priest or bishop.

The Christ-Church mystery is about a communion of persons in the image of the Trinity. The bridegroom-bride analogy, beautiful as it is, does not exhaust the Christ-Church mystery. The choice of the 12 male apostles by Jesus is a particularity of his earthly mission to the people of Israel and should not remain normative. Apostolic succession is not contingent on masculinity. The ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate would be in perfect continuity with apostolic tradition. In light of Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae, it can be argued that the male-only practice is an artificial contraceptive of female priestly vocations, because the Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" (and therefore hierarchical) but not essentially patriarchal. Now that the patriarchal era is passing away in the domestic church, the hierarchical Church would be enormously enriched by male-female nuptial complementarity.

At the end, some key references are listed (with links to online resources) followed by additional notes for further reflection:

Note 1: On Discernment about Women in Sacramental Ministry
Note 2: On the Mysteries of the Beginning and the End
Note 3: On the Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption
Note 4: On the Nuptial Mystery of Christ and the Church
Note 5: On Religious Patriarchy and Social/Ecological Justice
Note 6: On the Marian Dogmas and the Pilgrim Church
Note 7: On the Encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Evagelium Vitae
Note 8: On Church History & Doctrinal Development
Note 9: On the Global Sense of the Faithful

Acronyms

CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church
CIC Code of Canon Law
TOB Theology of the Body


"I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church." Nicene Creed

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic. These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities." CCC # 811 (see also # 812, 857-869)


The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but is it also patriarchal? The thesis developed in this paper is that the answer is a resounding NO, because to be apostolic it is not necessary for the Church to be patriarchal. Likewise, apostolic succession is not contingent on masculinity. Since the male-only priesthood is NOT an essential feature of the Church, it can be reformed to allow the ordination of baptized women.

We need to reconsider the Church as a family and recognize that the patriarchal church hierarchy is becoming an obstacle to evangelization as we enter the transition to a post-patriarchal society. Hierarchy is not the problem. Patriarchy is the problem. According to the dictionary, patriarchy is basically the rule of the father as head of the nuclear family, which extrapolates to all other social and religious institutions. In its radical form, it becomes the culture of male domination and control -- of women by men, of nature by humans.

"This is my body"
01.15.BASIC.243x280.jpg
The priesthood of the New Law is not essentially patriarchal
The exclusively male hierarchy is becoming stale as a symbol of the Christ-Church mystery. Granted that ordination to the priesthood is not a "human right" (for either men or women), Christ should be allowed to call those he wants here and now. Why should we keep the Church frozen in the patriarchal culture Jesus had to deal with during his earthly mission to the people of Israel? Would Jesus, in today's world, select 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel? If Mary was called to divine motherhood, why is it that baptized women cannot be called to sacramental motherhood?

Theology of the Body

St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body (TOB) may provide a solid basis for solving the most pressing issues of human sexuality, both in families and in the Church as the family of God, including the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The TOB endorses neither radical patriarchy nor radical feminism, and provides a vision of marriage, and gender relations in general, that can be summarized as unity in diversity ("original unity of man and woman"), individuality in community ("communion of persons") and equality in mutuality ("spousal meaning of the body"). The complementarity of man and woman is for reciprocity and mutual enrichment, not mutual exclusion.

The TOB is not about radical feminism. It is not about radical patriarchy either, past or present. It should be noted that the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994), which is not a dogmatic definition of revealed truth, is entirely written in past and present tense, and says nothing about what the Church can or cannot do in the future. The term "definitive," as used in this document with regard to the male-only priesthood, therefore applies to the past and the present, not the future, since the document says nothing about the future. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is a "definitive" but fallible judgment about the infallibility of a doctrine that has never been infallibly defined as a divinely revealed dogma.

Nothing essential (dogmatic) of the Catholic faith would have to change in order to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopate. There is one (embodied) human nature and having a "body" is more fundamental to the structure of the personal subject than being somatically male or female (TOB 3:2, 8:1, 21:6). In other words, bodiliness and sexuality are not simply identical. This is a key point of that must be taken into account in sacramental theology:

HUMAN BODILINESS & SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION

"Corporality and sexuality are not completely identified. Although the human body in its normal constitution, bears within it the signs of sex and is by its nature male or female, the fact, however, that man is a "body" belongs to the structure of the personal subject more deeply than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female. Therefore, the meaning of "original solitude," which can be referred simply to "man," is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity. The latter is based on masculinity and femininity, as if on two different "incarnations," that is, on two ways of "being a body" of the same human being created "in the image of God" (Gn 1:27)."

HUMAN NATURE & SOMATIC HOMOGENEITY

"The woman is made "with the rib" that God-Yahweh had taken from the man. Considering the archaic, metaphorical and figurative way of expressing the thought, we can establish that it is a question here of homogeneity of the whole being of both. This homogeneity concerns above all the body, the somatic structure. It is also confirmed by the man's first words to the woman who has been created: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gn 2:23).(15) Yet the words quoted refer also to the humanity of the male. They must be read in the context of the affirmations made before the creation of the woman, in which, although the "incarnation" of the man does not yet exist, she is defined as "a helper fit for him" (cf. Gn 2:18 and 2:20). In this way, therefore, the woman is created, in a sense, on the basis of the same humanity."

Source: Original Unity of Man and Woman, Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 7 November 1979. The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, Pauline Books, 1997, pages 43-44; and EWTN. See also pages 157 (section 8:1) and 160 (section 8:4) in the 2006 edition, translation by Michael Waldstein.

According to this translation, there was a human being in "original solitude" before sexual differentiation. This is the first human being created from the dust (Genesis 2:2) before sexual differentiation provides a "helper" of the other sex (Genesis 2:18-23). This key text is translated a bit differently in the 2006 edition, but includes the original emphasis in italics for a key phrase, and the same key point is made that embodied human nature (in complete body-soul integrity) precedes humans embodied as male or female:

"Bodiliness and sexuality are not simply identical. Although in its normal constitution, the human body carries within itself the signs of sex and is by its nature male or female, the fact that man is a "body" belongs more deeply to the structure of the personal subject than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female. For this reason, the meaning of "original solitude," which can be referred simply to "man," is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity; the latter is based on masculinity and femininity, which are, as it were, two different "incarnations," that is, two ways in which the same human being, created "in the image of God" (Gen 1:27), "is a body."" The Meaning of Original Unity, Pope John Paul II, 7 November 1979 (Source: Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Pauline Books, 2006, page 157. See also note 12 in page 158.

Furthermore, the somatic homogeneity of man and woman (TOB 8:4) shows that sexual differentiation, while undoubtedly being a gift, is also a limitation of embodied human nature. A man is bodily a man, and a woman is bodily a woman, but they are both equally human. It follows, that what matters for the sacramental economy is that we are body-persons, not that we are body-males or body-females. What matters for the sacrament of Holy Orders, and for the priest to be a visible sign of the acting presence of Christ, is not that Jesus is male but that in him the eternal Word assumed a human body, in the "flesh." Our Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church because he is a body-Person and our Redeemer, not because he is a body-male; and the Blessed Virgin Mary is the typus (exemplary realization) of the Church because she brought the eternal Word to the world, not because she is a body-female.

The sacramentality of the human body, male and female, is further explained as follows:

"The sacrament or the sacramentality—in the more general sense of this term—meets with the body and presupposes the theology of the body. According to the generally known meaning, the sacrament is a visible sign. The body also signifies that which is visible. It signifies the visibility of the world and of man. Therefore, in some way, even if in the most general way, the body enters the definition of sacrament, being "a visible sign of an invisible reality," that is, of the spiritual, transcendent, divine reality. In this sign—and through this sign—God gives himself to man in his transcendent truth and in his love. The sacrament is a sign of grace, and it is an efficacious sign. Not only does the sacrament indicate grace and express it in a visible way, but it also produces it. The sacrament effectively contributes to having grace become part of man, and to realizing and fulfilling in him the work of salvation, the work begun by God from all eternity and fully revealed in Jesus Christ." Body enters into definition of sacrament, Pope John Paul II, Pope John Paul II, 28 July 1982. Source: The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, Pauline Books, 1997, pages 305-306; and EWTN. See also page 468 (section 87:5) in the 2006 edition, translation by Michael Waldstein.

Since all human bodies, male and female, are somatically homogenous (TOB 8:4) and constitute visible signs of an invisible grace (TOB 87:5), it is hard to see why only male human bodies constitute proper "matter" for the sacrament of Holy Orders. The sacramentality of the human body, male and female, transcends the patriarchal binary, so what is needed is to clarify our sacramental theology to separate patriarchal ideology from revealed truth. It is disgraceful to keep viewing the human body through a patriarchal lens.

It is noteworthy that Jesus never identified himself as a patriarch. The Holy Family was a not a patriarchy. The Trinity is not a patriarchy. The spousal, sacramental love of Christ for the Church is not intrinsically patriarchal (as the TOB exegesis of the Ephesians 5 bridegroom-bride analogy clearly shows; see, e.g., TOB 97:2, 102:1), and Jesus Christ is head of the Church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer in the flesh, not because he is a human male. All the sacraments are nuptial, and none was instituted by Christ to be gender-exclusive.

The fallacy of the traditional (with lower case "t") argument that only males can be ordained to act in persona Christi, because Christ is male, is that in persona Christi refers to a divine Person, not a human person. The second person of the Trinity was not a male before the incarnation. This divine Person became human as a male, but this was part of embracing all the limitations of the human condition ("like us in all things but sin"). Even after the incarnation and the redemption, Jesus Christ is one divine Person in two natures, divine and human. The Christ who transubstantiates the bread and wine into his own body and blood is a divine Person, not a human person. The body is like a sacrament of the whole person, but is not the whole person. This applies for human persons, and even more so for a divine Person. The ordained priest acts in place of a divine Person who became human, not in place of an idolatrous male.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The sacraments are efficacious channels of divine grace ex opere operato, i.e., their efficacy is not dependent on the holiness or any other human quality of the ordained minister. Why should they depend on the minister's gender? To act in persona Christi Capitis means to act in place of a divine Person. Neither men nor women are divine persons. Any baptized human person, male or female, can be ordained to act in persona Christi Capitis. "This is my body." From a sacramental perspective, having a human body is the necessary and sufficient condition for making the acting Christ outwardly visible. From a vocational perspective, all ministries, including ordained ministries, should be mediated by the Church but must be based on vocational discernment and should be gift-based, not gender-based.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church plainly states that the exclusively male priesthood is a choice, not a dogma (CCC 1598). The lesser doctrine that the choice of the 12 male apostles is normative (CCC 1577) is not proposed as a divinely revealed dogma, even though this choice is still prescribed by church law (CIC 1024). The door is closed at the moment, but it is not locked. The Church does have the authority (by the "power of the keys") to ordain women to the priesthood as soon as the Pope, as the successor of Peter, decides that doing so is the will of Christ in today's world, for the glory of God and the good of souls. Such a decision would be in perfect continuity with apostolic tradition (Acts 10:48, 15:28).

See also CCC 811, 865, 889-892, 2035, 2051. To reiterate, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was not published in the "definitive manner" specified in CCC 892, for any of the following reasons: (1) it is addressed to the bishops and not to the entire Church; (2) it doesn't say it is a dogmatic definition; (3) it was published as an apostolic letter, which is the lowest level of papal teaching; (4) it is entirely written in past and present tense, and says nothing about what the Church can or cannot do in the future; (5) it didn't make clear it is an infallible definition at the time of publication, and a Vatican dicastery subsequently claiming it was doesn't make so. In brief, it is authoritative and requires the assent of acceptance ("religious assent") by Roman Catholics but does not require the assent of faith. This may sound like splitting hairs, but it is the kind of thing that can happen (CCC 937) when the supremacy of the Petrine office is challenged by belligerent demands for change and the Pope decides that the Church is not ready for the change. For some reason, this erudite Pope decided that the fundamentalist argument in CCC 1577 is the best we have at the moment to justify the male-only priesthood, but see also the "more essential" doctrine in CCC 1598. The first sentence simply states that the male-only priesthood is a choice, and says nothing about this choice being a dogma of the faith; but the second sentence makes clear who can make the choice, because the Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" (CCC 811, 865). The "apostolic" mark is essential, and means that the Church is under the authority of the apostles and their successors; however, "apostolic" does not necessarily mean "male-apostolic."

From cover to cover, the Catechism of the Catholic Church mostly uses "man" to refer to humans, male and female. The words "body" and "flesh" (rather than "male" or "masculine") are invariably used to explain the mysteries of the incarnation and the redemption. The word "patriarchy" is never used, and it is clearly stated (239, 370, 2779) that "God transcends the human distinctions between the sexes" and cannot be reduced to human categories such as "father," "mother," "husband," "wife." Human beings are made in God's image, not the other way around. The eternal Word became "flesh" (John 1:14), the maleness of Jesus being a particularity of God becoming embodied and "like us in all sins but sin." Likewise, the choice of the 12 male apostles by Jesus is a particularity of his earthly mission to the people of Israel and, except for the very unpersuasive "reason" given in 1577, no justification is given for making that choice normative as the Church becomes incarnate in post-patriarchal cultures.

Equality & Difference

Also from cover to cover, the Theology of the Body is focused on human beings, male and female, as images of God that fully share one and the same human nature as "body-persons." The entire book is devoted to show that Trinitarian communion becomes more clearly visible when man and woman, being of the same flesh, live in communion with each other and become "one flesh," either in marriage by sharing the gift of love and the gift of life, or in celibacy by sharing the same gifts spiritually "for the sake of the kingdom." Then the bridegroom-bride analogy really makes sense when referring to the Christ-Church mystery. It has nothing to do with patriarchal conditioning about man being the "head" of woman, or fathers being the "head" of the family, or "husbands" dominating "wives." The nuptial covenant is about subjection to one another in reciprocity, not one-sided domination.

Literalist patriarchal interpretations of the bridegroom-bride analogy in Ephesians 5:21-33 ignore that analogies are about similarities and dissimilarities: Christ is the "head" of the Church because he is a divine body-Person, not because he is a "husband" and the Church is his "wife" as understood in patriarchal cultures. This nuptial meaning of the Christ-Church mystery as a communion of persons, in the image of the Trinity, applies to all the sacraments. The advent of women priests and bishops is required to make the church hierarchy a complete image of Jesus Christ as a divine Person who became incarnate, becomes "one flesh" with the Church, grows as the "whole Christ" (Christus totus), and abides in the Trinity.

In other words, man is a "giver-receiver" and woman is a "receiver-giver." The "complementarity" of man and woman is a matter of emphasis within the unity of one and the same human nature. This is the same human nature that the eternal Word assumed at the Incarnation, and becoming "flesh" as a male ("giver-receiver") and not as a female ("receiver-giver") is part of a divine Person assuming all the limitations of the human condition ("like us in all things but sin"). The real difference is between being a divine Person-Redeemer and being a redeemed human person. This real difference should be taken into account, and always kept in mind, when referring to the Bridegroom-Bride analogy about the mystery of Christ and the Church. When this real difference is noted, the male-only priesthood becomes an absurdity rooted in the patriarchal "binary," not in the deposit of faith. Christ is the "head" of the Church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer, not because he is a "giver-receiver" rather than a "receiver-giver." We cannot reduce the mysteries of the life of Christ to human categories. What about the anointing in Bethany? In this case, it seems to me that the woman was the "giver-receiver" and Jesus was the "receiver-giver." So, in the sacramental economy, it is absurd to reduce the Christ-Church mystery to the patriarchal "binary."

Marian Dimension

In the sacramental churches, Mary of Nazareth is a basic point of reference for dialogue on the ordination of women. She accepted a *unique* and *unrepeatable* ministerial vocation that makes her much more than a priest or a bishop in the sacramental economy. She was "ordained" directly by the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation, presided when the Eucharist was first celebrated in the flesh (Incarnation, Nativity), stood presiding when the Redemption was consummated at Calvary, and presided when the Church was visibly born (Pentecost). The Marian dimension of the Church precedes the Petrine (CCC 773). Her collaboration with the divine plan in salvation history and the sacramental economy is entirely *unique and unrepeatable* and continues everywhere in the life of the Church (CCC 973). This is confirmed by the Marian dogmas about her divine motherhood (431 AD), immaculate conception (1854 AD) and assumption body and soul to heaven (1950 AD). She is Mother of God, Mother of the Redeemer, and Mother of the Church (Lumen Gentium, 53). The idea that a woman cannot be a priest, just because Mary was not sacramentally ordained by a bishop, is rooted in patriarchal ideology, not divine revelation. In her body, the entire sacramental economy was engendered!

Vocational Discernment & Human Ecology

The proper "matter" for the sacrament of Holy Orders is "flesh," not "maleness." In other words, the proper "matter" for the sacrament is the laying on of hands on a baptized body-person, male or female. In the sacramental churches, and specifically in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the ordination of baptized women would be fully consistent with the deposit of faith, and apostolic succession would remain intact. Visceral patriarchy aside, there is no dogmatic obstacle to changing the choice from "baptized males" to "baptized persons." Viscerally conflating patriarchal ideology and revealed truth may be the most pervasive psychological problem in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. In the Anglican Communion, the advent of women priests and bishops has been traumatic for some people. What is the best way to help people overcome visceral patriarchy?

It is not to ordain more married men, as doing so would reinforce the patriarchal mindset even more. It is suggested that qualified, vocation-tested celibate women be ordained first. With so many celibate women (including nuns!) who clearly have the "signs of the priesthood," it is lamentable that they cannot be ordained for cultural reasons that have nothing to do with divine revelation. Ordaining celibate women to the priesthood would be the right response to the "signs of the times" and the most sensible response to the shortage of priests. Furthermore, the ordination of qualified celibate women to the priesthood and the episcopate would be instrumental for integral human development and fostering social and ecological justice. It has been said that "human development, if not engendered, is endangered." Likewise, human ecology without gender balance is endangered. As long as women are excluded from sacramental ministry, can we really say that the church is like a sacrament of Christ's presence in our ecologically deteriorating world?

Gender equality is about human solidarity for the good of humanity. The Catholic Church, with 1.2 billion members, could have a decisive influence for good by exemplifying gender equality in the hierarchy of persons with sacramental power to sanctify, teach, and govern in the person of Christ and in the name of the Church. This is the fundamental option that must be reconsidered (CCC 1598). It should be made clear that this is not about what women (or men) want. It is about discerning what Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God and the good of souls. It is reasonable to think that Christ wants the Church to do what is good for humanity and the entire community of creation. Would Jesus, in today's world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel?

Key Points for Reflection & Dialogue

For continued dialogue about the ordination of women, the essential point of reference is Jesus Christ, a divine Person who became human and is the one and only Priest of the New Law. His becoming human is essential, since "what is not assumed is not redeemed;" but his priesthood is of divine origin and by no means contingent on his masculinity. Mary of Nazareth is also an important point of reference. She was called to an entirely unique and unrepeatable ministerial vocation, and is much more than a sacramentally ordained priest, so the fact that she was never "ordained" is of no consequence for the sacramentality of holy orders. Beyond these two fundamental presuppositions, the following series of key points is suggested to support continuing dialogue about the ordination of women:

1. Based on CIC 1024, CCE 1598, and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the exclusively male priesthood is NOT a timeless, divinely revealed dogma of the Catholic faith.

2. Human beings are rational animals composed of body and soul ("body-souls"), i.e., "body" precedes sexual differentiation (TOB 8:1), men and women share one and the same human nature, are somatically homogeneous (TOB 8:4), sexually different but equally human, mutually complementary but not mutually exclusive.

3. What matters for the mysteries of the incarnation and the redemption, and for the entire sacramental economy, is that the eternal Word became human (in the "flesh," in a human "body"), not that Jesus is male (TOB 87:5).

4. The proper "matter" for the Sacrament of Holy Orders is human flesh (i.e., bodily matter), either male or female, because men and women one and the same human nature with complete somatic homogeneity.

5. By analogy with marriage, which is a covenant of mutual submission between husband and wife (TOB 89), the nuptial meaning of the Christ-Church mystery is also one of mutual submission: the Church should submit to Christ, her "bridegroom", who has already submitted to the Church, his "bride" (cf. Matthew 16:19, 18:18).

6. Based on Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae, life is sacred at every point on the path from conception to natural death, and the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10) includes being able to follow one's vocation.

7. CIC 1024 prevents Christ to call women to the ministerial priesthood, and by analogy is an artificial contraceptive of female vocations to sacramental ministry; morally reasonable in a patriarchal culture, but not anymore.

CIC 1024 states:

"A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly."

Concluding questions:

According to the Nicene Creed, is the Church essentially patriarchal?

Is it really Christ's choice to call only males in today's Church?

Isn't it time for the Church to allow Christ to call women?

Isn't it time to ordain baptized women to the priesthood?

Proposed clarification of current Catholic doctrine:

The priesthood of the New Law is not intrinsically patriarchal

References

Dogmatic Definition on the Institution of the Priesthood of the New Law, Council of Trent, 23rd Session, 1563. TEXT ONLINE

Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, Canon Law Society of America, edited by James Coriden et al, Paulist Press, 1985. Text online at the VATICAN WEBSITE.

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Apostolic Letter of John Paul II to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone, 22 May 1994. Text online at the VATICAN WEBSITE.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Liguori Publications, 1994. Text online at the VATICAN WEBSITE.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 29 June 2004. Text online at the VATICAN WEBSITE.

Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, John Paul II, translation by Michael Waldstein, Pauline Books, 2006. The 1997 translation is available online at the EWTN WEBSITE.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, translation by Louis Puhl, SJ, Newman Press, 1951, reprinted 2010. Text online at the LOYOLA WEBSITE.

Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' on the Care of our Common Home, Pope Francis, 24 May 2015. Text online at the VATICAN WEBSITE.

Note 1: On Discernment about Women in Sacramental Ministry

The following are some points that may be useful for meditation and discernment in a sacramental context:

  • The sacraments are what they are by divine institution (CCC 1076ff)
  • The Church has the authority to choose the ministers of the sacraments (CCC 1598)
  • The Church chooses only baptized males because Jesus Christ is male and chose only males (CCC 1577)
  • But Christ is the head of the Church because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer, not because the eternal Word incarnated as a male
  • And, all baptized persons have redeemed human bodies made of flesh, which is more fundamental for human nature than being male and female (TOB, e.g., 8:1-4)
  • And, what matters for the mysteries of the incarnation and the redemption, and for the entire sacramental economy, is that the eternal Word became human (in the "flesh," in a human "body"), not that Jesus is male (TOB 87:5)
  • And, assuming that Christ has common sense, for the evangelization of today's world he would not choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel
  • Therefore, as soon as the Church decides that Christ still has common sense, the Church will have the authority to choose women as ministers of the sacraments
  • However, the Church cannot decide that Christ still has common sense as long as she remains attached to a patriarchal mindset, like the apostles were (John 4:27, Mark 16:11, etc.)
  • Therefore, let's pray and work for the Church to reach the point of deciding that the decision of Acts 15:28, by removing the need for male circumcision, also removed the need to choose only males for the sacrament of Holy Orders

In the Catholic and Orthodox churches, this is a visceral issue that cannot be resolved by reason alone. Prayerful discernment will be required in order to separate divine revelation from deeply entrenched patriarchal ideology. Specifically, it will be helpful to meditate on the Paschal mystery and the Christ-Church mystery, using methods such as the Spiritual Exercises (St. Ignatius Loyola) and the Theology of the Body (St. John Paul II).

Note 2: On the Mysteries of the Beginning and the End

Between the beginning and the end times, human history unfolds over time. Jesus Christ is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus Christ is the Last Adam, God becoming human to fulfill the promise made to the First Adam, male and female, at the inception of "salvation history" (Genesis 3:15). The mysteries of the life of Christ are the threshold between the Old Law, or the age of patriarchy that started with "original sin" (Genesis 3:16), and the New Law that pertains to the age of the Church as a divine-human communion (John 3:16, 8:32, 17:22) undergoing a process of "divinization" that, starting with Mary of Nazareth, will continue until it is completed at the end of time (Revelation 12:1). These mysteries come to us written in human (patriarchal) language but utterly transcend cultural constraints. This is the framework for a Christian understanding of integral human development and other issues of social and ecological justice. The current ecological crisis is a "sign of the times" and a turning point in the process of outgrowing the age of patriarchy in preparation for a new age of global solidarity and sustainability.

Note 3: On the Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption

The mystery of the incarnation is about God assuming human nature, i.e., the eternal Word becoming "flesh." The mystery of the redemption is about this embodied divine Person's suffering, death, and resurrection. Since the beginning, the human person is flesh–body–heart–soul–spirit, much more than just a psychosomatic male or female object. If this applies to all human persons, even more so to Jesus Christ, who is a divine Person. In other words, the body is like a sacrament of the whole person, but is not the whole person. Given the somatic homogeneity of men and women, to be a male is not essential to "naturally" resemble Jesus Christ in his humanity. The human *body* is what indistinctly makes visible the full personhood of both men and women. The human *body* of a baptized person is like a sacrament of Christ's presence, regardless of gender. Any baptized person, male or female, can be tested for vocation to the ministerial priesthood. References: Genesis 2:7, John 1:14, CCC 704, TOB 8:4. See also Pope Francis, General Audience, Vatican, 22 April 2015.

Note 4: On the Nuptial Mystery of Christ and the Church

The nefarious repercussions of conflating patriarchal ideology with biblical revelation are evident in rigid masculinist interpretations of the Bridegroom-Bride analogy. Such interpretations tend to reinforce a mindset of male hegemony that is contrary to the mutual submission that is proper between husband and wife and intrinsic to the mystery of Christ and the Church.

Jesus Christ is head of his body, which is the Church, because he is a divine Person and our Redeemer, not because he is male. In giving the power of the keys to Peter, he also submits himself to the Church even in the present age. The male-only Church hierarchy obscures our vision of the nuptial mystery of Christ as Giver-Receiver and the Church as Receiver-Giver. It obscures the Church as the family of God, a communion of persons in the image of the Trinity. It also serves to exacerbate antiquated patriarchal norms of male hegemony in Christian families. References: Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:21-33, CCC 796, TOB 93:6.

Specifically on the Church as a family, it is noteworthy that nuclear families are currently evolving from the traditional patriarchal structure (with the father as head of the family) to joint male-female (father-mother) headship. This is a sign of the times, and hopefully the structure of the Church, while remaining properly hierarchical (i.e., "apostolic") can evolve in the same direction by ordaining women to the diaconate, the priesthood, and the episcopate. If men and women are mutually complementary in the domestic church, and they are homogeneous in their whole being (TOB 8:4), and they are both homogeneus with Jesus Christ in his humanity, why should baptized women be excluded from ordination to act in persona Christi capitis and serve in sacramental ministry? Now that the patriarchal era is passing away in the domestic church, the hierarchical Church would be enormously enriched by male-female nuptial complementarity.

Note 5: On Religious Patriarchy and Social/Ecological Justice

The reason that ordaining women to the priesthood and the episcopate is instrumental for social and ecological justice is that patriarchy, as a mindset of male domination in the family, translates to a mindset of human domination of the human habitat. This mindset of domination is further exacerbated by religious patriarchy, whereby God is imaged in exclusively male terminology.

In the sacramental churches, this idolatrous male is manifested by allowing only males to be ordained as ministers of the sacraments, thereby also excluding women from roles of headship in ecclesial communities. Given that there is no dogmatic imperative to perpetuate the conflation of patriarchal ideology and divine revelation, why the vexing refusal to ordain women? Is it "pastoral prudence"? If not dogma or prudence, what else? Untying this knot may be the task of the 3rd millennium of the Christian era, except that the ecological crisis (undoubtedly a "sign of the times") may not grant the churches time to proceed at such a glacial pace.

Catholic social doctrine recognizes that an adequate theological anthropology is required for social/ecological justice, but shows an ambivalent admixture of natural law and patriarchal ideology:

146. “Male” and “female” differentiate two individuals of equal dignity, which does not however reflect a static equality, because the specificity of the female is different from the specificity of the male, and this difference in equality is enriching and indispensable for the harmony of life in society: “The condition that will assure the rightful presence of woman in the Church and in society is a more penetrating and accurate consideration of the anthropological foundation for masculinity and femininity with the intent of clarifying woman's personal identity in relation to man, that is, a diversity yet mutual complementarily, not only as it concerns roles to be held and functions to be performed, but also, and more deeply, as it concerns her make-up and meaning as a person”.

147. Woman is the complement of man, as man is the complement of woman: man and woman complete each other mutually, not only from a physical and psychological point of view, but also ontologically. It is only because of the duality of “male” and “female” that the “human” being becomes a full reality. It is the “unity of the two”, or in other words a relational “uni-duality”, that allows each person to experience the interpersonal and reciprocal relationship as a gift that at the same time is a mission: “to this ‘unity of the two' God has entrusted not only the work of procreation and family life, but the creation of history itself”. “The woman is ‘a helper' for the man, just as the man is ‘a helper' for the woman!”: in the encounter of man and woman a unitary conception of the human person is brought about, based not on the logic of self-centredness and self-affirmation, but on that of love and solidarity.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Vatican, 2004

If man and woman complete each other in both Church and society, why is patriarchal male headship still enshrined in the Church hierarchy, given that man and woman are fully homogeneous in their "whole being"? The patriarchal ideology of male domination and female submission, which is a consequence of original sin (Genesis 3:16, TOB 31), is an obstacle to integral human development, integral humanism, and integral ecology. The fundamental issue is whether the Church makes decisions based on cultural conditioning or an ever deepening understanding of natural law and the deposit of faith. This is not about what women (or men) want. This is about discerning what Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God and the good of souls, in light of an adequate theological anthropology.

Would Jesus, in today's globalized world, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel? After 6000 years or so, patriarchy is an era that is passing away. Neoliberal capitalism is the economic manifestation of patriarchy, communism being nothing but capitalism turned inside out; both are based on domination of the weak by the strong, i.e., domination of the female by the male, domination of nature by humans. The exclusively male priesthood is the ecclesiastical manifestation of patriarchy. To the extent that "respect for creation" is for the glory of God and the common good of humanity, it is hard to envision that the Church should remain patriarchal much longer.

FIRST PRINCIPLE AND FOUNDATION
St. Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 23

"Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.

"Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.

"Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.

"Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created."

Canon 1024 is clearly a prohibition to ordain women. It is a prohibition that must be accepted until it is lifted by legitimate Church authority. But is this a dogmatic prohibition or a culturally conditioned compromise rooted in original sin (Genesis 3:16) and 6000 years of patriarchal domination/subordination ideologies? Is this prohibition helpful or a hindrance for integral human development? Is it conducive to social and ecological justice? Is it really based on divine revelation or just an inordinate attachment to patriarchal norms that are passing away? More specifically:

Is our Lord's choice of 12 male apostles a divine "prohibition" to ordain women or a pre-Easter choice contingent on his earthly mission to the people of Israel?

Would Jesus, in today's globalized world ravaged by patriarchal ideologies, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel?

Granted that what is "best" can be the enemy of what is "good," what is it that is *most* conducive to the glory of God, and the good of souls, in the 21st century of the Christian era?

Actually, the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate is "simply" a matter of extending the apostolic decision to discontinue the Old Law practice of male circumcision (Acts 15:28) to the sacrament of Holy Orders under the New Law. It may not be easy because for many it is still a visceral issue, but it is radically simple: CCC 1577 notwithstanding, CCC 1598 clearly states that choosing only males as ministers of the sacraments is an option, not a dogma. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will enable the Church to overcome her inordinate attachment to patriarchal norms that no longer serve the cause of God's reign. Reference: CIC 1024, CCC 1577, CCC 1598, SE 23 (Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola, 23)

Note 6: On the Marian Dogmas and the Pilgrim Church

The Marian dimension of the Church precedes the Petrine dimension (CCC 773). Mary is Mother of God and Mother of the Church. At the Annunciation, she accepted a *unique and unrepeatable* ministerial vocation that makes her much more than a priest or a bishop in the sacramental economy. The ministerial vocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is crucial for the women's ordination issue. She was "ordained" directly by the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation, presided when the Eucharist was first celebrated in the flesh (Incarnation, Nativity), stood presiding when the Redemption was consummated at Calvary, presided when the Church was visibly born (Pentecost). Her collaboration with the divine plan in salvation history and the sacramental economy is entirely *unique and unrepeatable* and continues everywhere in the life of the Church (CCC 973). This is confirmed by the Marian dogmas about her divine motherhood (431 AD), immaculate conception (1854 AD) and assumption body and soul to heaven (1950 AD). She is Mother of God, Mother of the Redeemer, and Mother of the Church (Lumen Gentium, 53). The idea that a woman cannot be a priest, just because Mary was not sacramentally ordained by a bishop, is rooted in patriarchal ideology, not divine revelation. In her body, the entire sacramental economy was engendered!

Mary, Untier of Knots, pray for us

Note 7: On the Encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Evagelium Vitae

The encyclical Humanae Vitae explains the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, and explains why the conjugal act should be open (as conscience dictates) to procreation. The encyclical Evagelium Vitae further expands this teaching and makes clear that each point along the path that goes from conception to natural death should be open (as conscience dictates) to the *abundant life* that Christ personifies and brings about (John 10:10). Discerning the *vocation* of each baptized person is a crucial point on this path and requires the mediation of the Church, but should not be impeded by obstacles made by human hands.

Once it is recognized that the choice of the 12 male apostles was contingent on Jesus's earthly mission to the people of Israel, it behooves the collective conscience of the Church, albeit subject to apostolic authority, to remove any canonical obstacle (i.e., Canon 1024) that is, in fact, an artificial contraceptive to female vocations to the ministerial priesthood. Christ has submitted to the Church (Matthew 16:19, 18:18) and the Church must submit to Christ (as conscience dictates) by allowing him to call women to the priesthood if and when he chooses. Would Jesus, in today's global Church, still choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel?

Note 8: On Church History & Doctrinal Development

A summary of doctrinal development on the ministerial priesthood is as follows:

  • 33 AD - During his public ministry (i.e., *before* his passion and resurrection) Jesus selected 12 male apostles to be his witnesses and, symbolically, represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • 325 AD - Nicean Creed. The Church is defined as "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but no masculinity requirement is specified for the Church to be "apostolic."
  • 1563 AD - Council of Trent. Ordination to the ministerial priesthood is defined as one of the seven sacraments, but no masculinity requirement for ordination and/or apostolic succession is mentioned.
  • 1976 AD - CDF, Inter Insigniores formulates a patriarchal rationalization of the male-only priesthood.
  • 1994 AD - The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1577) and the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis elevate Inter Insigniores to provisional doctrine (albeit not "more essential" doctrine as in CCC 1598).
  • Since 1994, enforced hiatus in official (public) discussion of the issue by bishops, with much divisive confusion about whether or not the male-only priesthood is a dogma of the Catholic faith.

Note 9: On the Global Sense of the Faithful

2014UnivisionSurvey.jpg

According to current data, a global consensus (among Roman Catholics) on female priests and bishops has not yet been reached. However, the traditional "patriarchal" consensus is gradually eroding in proportion to cultural evolution away from patriarchy. See the Univision Global Survey of Roman Catholics, published February 2014.

Executive Summary

Global Survey

The Pope decides, but the Pope cannot decide in isolation from the entire Church (sensus fidelium, securus iudicat orbis terrarum).

Some Signs of Hope in the Catholic Church

Luis T. Gutiérrez
Working Draft - 21 January 2016

Christ&Church.jpg
Christ submits to the Church (Ephesians 5:21-33)
Cf. Theology of the Body 8:1-4, 87:5

Pope urges 'more widespread and incisive female presence' in Church
Vatican Radio, 8 February 2015

Anger and Reverence
International Women's Day at the Vatican, 8 March 2015

GOING BEYOND PATRIARCHAL GENDER IDEOLOGY
IN THE FAMILY, SOCIETY, AND CHURCH


"The very way Jesus considered women in a context less favourable than ours, because women in those times were relegated to second place. Jesus considered her in a way which gives off a powerful light, which enlightens a path that leads afar, of which we have only covered a small stretch. We have not yet understood in depth what the feminine genius can give us, what woman can give to society and also to us. Maybe women see things in a way that complements the thoughts of men. It is a path to follow with greater creativity and courage."
Pope Francis, General Audience, Vatican, 15 April 2015

"Woman is not a replica of man; she comes directly from the creative act of God. The image of the “rib” in no way expresses inferiority or subordination, but, on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complimentary and that they also have this reciprocity. And the fact that — also in that parable — God moulds woman while man sleeps means precisely that she is in no way man’s creation, but God’s."
Pope Francis, General Audience, Vatican, 22 April 2015

Church needs women's voices, input, experiences
Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, 18 May 2015

Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' on the Care of our Common Home
Inclusive language used for the first time in a papal encyclical
Pope Francis, Vatican, 24 May 2015 (published 18 June 2015)

Editorial: We need fearless discussion on women's ordination
National Catholic Reporter, 13 November 2015

The Pope decrees that not only men may be chosen
for the washing of the feet in the Liturgy of Holy Thursday

Vatican Information Service, 21 January 2016

Francis to create commission to study female deacons in Catholic church
National Catholic Reporter, 12 May 2016


The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic,"
but not essentially patriarchal

In other words,

The structure of the Catholic Church is hierarchical,
but not essentially patriarchal

Mapping of the Meditations to the Spiritual Exercises
TITLE

Natural Unity of Man and Woman
Patriarchal Disunity of Man and Woman
Egalitarian Complementarity of Man and Woman
Sacramental Complementarity of Man and Woman
Apostolic Complementarity of Man and Woman
Reconstructing the Original Unity of Man and Woman Reconstructing the Original Harmony of Humanity and Nature
Here and Now: Laudato Si' and the Year of Mercy
Here and Now: Integral Humanism and Evangelization
Here and Now: Liturgical Body Language

KEYWORD

Humanity
Patriarchy
Flesh
Sacraments
Church
Solidarity
Sustainability
Mercy
Evangelization
Divinization

WEEK

First Week
First Week
Second Week
Second Week
Second Week
Third Week
Third Week
Fourth Week
Fourth Week
Fourth Week


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