The Struggle to Serve: The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church

The Struggle to Serve: The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church

by Simone M. St. Pierre
     
 

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Appointed by Pope Paul IV to examine the role of women in the Bible, the Pontifical Biblical Commission found, in part, that the will of Christ would not be disobeyed if the Roman Catholic Church ordained women. The Commission reported; "The New Testament does not settle in a clear way...whether women can be ordained priests, scripture grounds alone are not grounds

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Overview

Appointed by Pope Paul IV to examine the role of women in the Bible, the Pontifical Biblical Commission found, in part, that the will of Christ would not be disobeyed if the Roman Catholic Church ordained women. The Commission reported; "The New Testament does not settle in a clear way...whether women can be ordained priests, scripture grounds alone are not grounds enough to exclude the possibility of ordaining women [and] Christ's plan would not be transgressed by permitting the ordination of women."

Further, it is attested among biblical scholars that although the Bible was written in a patriarchal culture, Jesus is predominantly portrayed as one who promoted the equality of women and men. Yet the Church has continued to exclude women for twenty centuries primarily on the basis of the precedent of twelve male apostles at the Last Supper.

It is clear that women will be needed, and in elevated roles, if a declining Church is to grow and prosper in the coming century. Catholicism is faced with a precipitous drop in the number of priests, portending 21st-century parishes without pastoral care—unless women are ordained. Addressed here are the conflicts and questions surrounding the struggle by women to serve the Roman Catholic Church and receive full equality within the church hierarchy.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
highly relevant and insightful.... An essential purchase
Choice
clear, concise, yet broad in scope.... Undergraduate (all levels)
School Library Journal
In this tightly argued, well-researched volume, St. Pierre explores the exclusion of women from ministerial priesthood in Roman Catholicism. Originally presented as her M.A. thesis, the book first examines the significant role of women in the ministry of Jesus and within the early church. St. Pierre then lucidly critiques recent arguments for and against ordaining women and argues that ``not only are women being unjustly treated, [but] ...their exclusion has dire implications for the Church's salvific mission.'' Her research is obviously germane to Roman Catholicism, particularly in Canada, where the current shortage of priests has opened the doors to extensive participation in ministry by laywomen. Furthermore, the broader Christian community will find the issues she addresses and the contemporary scholarship she uses to be highly relevant and insightful. An essential purchase for theological and women's studies collections.-Cynthia Widmer, Downington, Pa.
Mary Deeley
Coming on the heels of the pope's latest statement on the question of women's ordination, this book is both timely and well thought out. St. Pierre looks at the arguments against ordination first and then moves through a historical overview of women in the New Testament and early church. She rightfully examines the problem of lay-clergy dualism, discusses women in the contemporary Catholic Church from a variety of perspectives, and finally asks the important question, What are the spiritual effects of excluding women from ordination? Although the historical overview can be found in many other books on the subject, this is written competently and would be a good first reading on the subject. St. Pierre's strength is in her contemporary overview, particularly in the last section, where she presents both official and "unofficial" Catholic viewpoints. The book could not be more welcome as this issue becomes increasingly a sore point for many Catholics. An excellent annotated bibliography will give direction to those interested in pursuing the topic.
Booklist
"both timely and well thought out.... The book could not be more welcome"

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780899509013
Publisher:
McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date:
05/01/1994
Edition description:
2nd ed
Pages:
215

Meet the Author

Simone M. St. Pierre lives in Manitobia, Canada.

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