Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 14, No. 3, March 2018
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Resilience of Religious Patriarchalism
in the Judeo-Christian Tradition

Luis T. Gutiérrez

8 March 2018
International Women's Day

This timeline analysis emerged in conjunction with a series of 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 consubstantial 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. The timeline is an annotated chronology of events pertaining to the current process of discernment in the Christian churches and, more specifically, the liturgical churches.

The patriarchal phase of human history is passing away, and religious patriarchalism is becoming obsolete. The following is a summary of the currently unfolding process of discernment pursuant to the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate in the liturgical churches within the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Fundamental Question

Should the patriarchal priesthood of the Old Law, restricted to males, still be normative for the sacramental priesthood of the New Law?

The Great Mystery of Christ and the Church
One Sacred Community by Mary Southard, CSJ
Courtesy of Ministry of the Arts

Chronology of Key Events

  • Original sin -- The original "unity in diversity" of man and woman became an impaired communion of domination/subordination -- Cf. Genesis 3:16
  • Emergence of the patriarchal culture -- starting at least 10,000 years or so, in conjunction with the agricultural revolution
  • Patriarchal covenant of the Old Law -- starting 1000 BC or so... primitive, artificial, phallogocentric, takes for granted the impaired communion of man and woman, derived from original sin, as "divine law"
  • Patriarchal culture of classical Greece -- "woman is a defective male" (Aristotle, later "mitigated" but not fundamentally refuted by Aquinas)
  • Patriarchal culture of the Roman Empire -- Even the language is patriarchal... "virtue" comes from the Latin "vir"

    Within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, the early Christian Church eventually coalesced into five patriarchates: Jerusalem, Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch.
  • Sacramental covenant of the New Law -- The dogmatic definition of priestly ordination as a sacrament (Council of Trent, 1563) does not mention maleness or masculinity as a requirement for apostolic succession
  • "Scandal" of women priests in the Anglican Communion -- Florence Li Tim-Oi ordained in Hong Kong, 1944
  • Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis about "what is required for validity in conferring of Sacred Orders" -- No mention of a maleness or masculinity requirement for ordination (Pius XII, 1947)

    About the rite of ordination: "If it was at one time necessary even for validity by the will and command of the Church, every one knows that the Church has the power to change and abrogate what she herself has established."
  • Vatican II, Lumen Gentium -- "viri probati" can be ordained as deacons
  • "Scandal" of women priests in the Episcopal Church USA -- starting 1974 (approved 1976)
  • New doctrinal rationalization, Inter Insegniores, a literalist interpretation of the 12 male apostles chosen by Jesus under the Old Law to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1976)

    After the resurrection and the ascension, the Church elected Matthias to replace Judas, and has since elected all successors to the apostles. Why is it that Matthias was chosen by the Church to be an apostle, and not Mary Magdalene? Because the witness of Mary Magdalene, or any other woman, was considered worthless.

    After the resurrection, under the New Law, the Church is given full authority to mediate all vocations. By the power of the keys, the Church can ordain women at any time, without waiting for the Lord to return and give permission. It doesn't make sense to say that the Church is not authorized to ordain women.

  • New biblical exegesis -- Theology of the Body (TOB) on the sacramentality of the human body, human flesh, male and female -- John Paul II, 1979-1984
    About the original unity of man and woman in one and the same human nature: "Bodiliness and sexuality are not simply identical... 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... it is a question here of homogeneity of the whole being of both." (TOB 8)

    About complementarity in unity: The "complementarity" of man and woman is for natural reciprocity and interpersonal communion, not for artificial separation of social/sacramental roles based on cultural gender stereotypes. The sacramentality of a female human body is equivalent to the sacramentality of a male human body. The obvious implication is that any baptized person, man or woman, can be ordained to act in persona Christi... (TOB 13, 19, 33, 89, 96...)

  • "It's a long way to Tipperary", John Paul II's visit to the USA, 1981, referring to the ordination of women to the sacramental priesthood
  • Publication of the Code of Canon Law, #1024, John Paul II, 1983
    "A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly."
  • Recognition of the equal dignity of men and women, but only males can be ordained -- John Paul II, Mulieres Dignitatem, 1988
  • "Scandal" of women bishops in the Anglican Communion -- Barbara Harris in Boston, USA, and Penny Jamieson in Dunedin, New Zealand, 1989
  • "Scandal" of women priests in the Church of England -- approved 1992, started 1994

    For more info: Ordination of women in the Anglican Communion
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1577 (same as Inter Insegniores) and #1598 (under the New Law, the male-only priesthood is a choice made by the Church, not by Christ), John Paul II, 1994

    • Lamentably, #1577 elevates the pre-Easter choice of the 12 male apostles to a patriarchal post-Easter doctrine (but not a dogma!)
    • Thankfully, #1598 recognizes that the the male-only priesthood is a choice made by the Church (first sentence) and who can make the choice (second sentence)
    • Again, the choice is made by the Church, not by Christ personally; so what about allowing the Risen Lord to call women, and see what happens?
    • Canon 1024 is, in effect, an artificial contraceptive (if not an outright abortifacient!) of female vocations to the sacramental priesthood
  • Pontifical "executive order" to stop further discussion on women priests and bishops ~ Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II, 1994

    • The letter is addressed to the bishops, not to the entire Church
    • It does not say it is a dogmatic definition, so it is not infallible as either extraordinary teaching (Pope ex cathedra) or ordinary teaching (Pope and bishops together have never taught infallibly that women cannot be ordained to the sacramental priesthood)
    • It is entirely written in past and present tense
    • It says nothing about what the Church can or cannot do in the future, so it is "definitive" for the the past and the present, but cannot possibly be "definitive" for the future, since it says nothing about the future
  • Pontifical "fake news" dubiously elevating the male-only priesthood to infallible teaching ~ Responsum ad Propositum Dubium, CDF 1995
  • It is hard to understand how Ordinatio Sacerdotalis can be made to be infallible, retroactively, by invoking a doctrine (Lumen Gentium, section 25) that was never infallibly proclaimed.

  • "The door is closed" -- Francis, interview, 2013
  • Women cannot be ordained to the priesthood in order to preserve the image of Christ as sacrificial bridegroom and the Church as bride. -- Francis, Evangelii Gaudium #104, 2013
  • Thankfully, the ludicrous argument about the pre-Easter 12 male apostles is not repeated. However, a rigidly patriarchal interpretation of the bridegroom-bride analogy (Ephesians 5:22-33) effectively reduces the mysteriun magnum to a benign patriarchal covenant. In reality, the Christ-Church nuptial covenant is a great mystery; and the Church is metaphorically a woman, but it is more than a woman with a male head. This conflation of patriarchal gender ideology with the truth revealed in Christ Jesus is a tragedy that is becoming a travesty.

  • Detour about climate change and integral ecology -- Francis, Laudato Si', 2015

    Laudato Si' is a wake up call on the reality of the ecological crisis. It is the best guidance we have at the intersection of Catholic social doctrine and human ecology. However, patriarchy as a cultural driver of population/consumption growth is not mentioned. Social inequities, capitalist greed, consumerism and the idolatry of technology are thoroughly analyzed, but anthropogenic climate change is overstated and the population growth issue is grossly understated. Population and consumption issues can be distinguished, but cannot be separated.
  • John Paul II was "pointing in that direction" -- Francis, interview, 2016
  • Another commission about women deacons -- Francis, meeting, 2016
  • Another remark about "viri probati" -- Francis, interview, 2016
    Why only "viri probati"? Why not also "feminae probatae"?
    The Church celebrates "Corpus Christi," not "vir Christi"!
  • Recognition that patriarchy has often been abusive in family and society -- Francis, Amoris Laetitia #54 & #154, 2016

    About gender ideologies (#56): "It needs to be emphasized that "biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated." Is this still the patriarchal gender binary? Can a human person be exclusively maculine or exclusively feminine? The body is normally male or female, but personal subjects are always masculine and feminine, because there is a feminine dimension in man and a masculine dimension in woman (Genesis 2). There is a "feminine genius" in Jesus, just as there is a "masculine genius" in Mary. Is the Church still constrained by patriarchal gender ideology?

  • Integral human development dicastery -- Francis, 2017 (human persons are spirited bodies, "body-souls," not just bodies, thus requiring integral development of the spiritual and corporal, subjective and objective, masculine and feminine dimensions)
  • The body is a sacrament of the entire person, but is not the entire person. Questions: Why is it then, that only persons with male bodies can be tested for ordination to the sacramental priesthood? Since priests and bishops are ordained to act in the person of Christ, and only males are ordained, how can they make visible the feminine genius in Christ? Why is it that the patriarchal priesthood of the Old Law is still normative for the sacramental priesthood of the New Law? To be a model of integral human development, the hierarchy of the Church needs male-female INTEGRATION.

    Note on the Unique Vocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    The Blessed Virgin Mary's unique vocation as Mother of God utterly transcends all choices made by the Church for apostolic succession after the resurrection, so it is a absurd to assume that women cannot be apostles under the New Law just because Mary was not chosen to be an apostle under the Old Law.


    Should the patriarchal priesthood of the Old Law, restricted to males, still be normative for the sacramental priesthood of the New Law?

    All men and women share one and the same human nature, the same biblical flesh. For the redemption, and the sacramental economy, the masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes. The sacramental priesthood of the New Law is ministerial, not patriarchal. The exclusively male priesthood conceals the divine feminine in the Incarnate Word. The presence of Mary in the Christian community is not a sacramentally suitable substitute for the presence of Christ in the priest when acting in persona Christi. For this reason, women should be ordained to the priesthood and the episcopate, for the glory of God and the good of souls.


    "Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Predecessor of the Apostles, pray for us."


    Religious Patriarchy in the Judeo-Christian Tradition

    Patriarcado Religioso en la Tradición Judeocristiana

    Patriarcato Religioso nella Tradizione Giudeo-Cristiana

    Patriarcat Religieux dans la Tradition Judéo-Chrétienne

    Patriarcado Religioso na Tradição Judaico-Cristã

    Religiöses Patriarchat in der Jüdisch-Christlichen Tradition

    Patriarchat Religijny w Tradycji Judeo-Chrzescijanskiej




    Luis T. Gutiérrez is the editor of the Mother Pelican Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability.

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    "If the fire in our heart is strong enough, it will
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