Subject: What about CBQ on Women as Priests?

Those who opposing women as ministers misread not only the Bible, but also failed to read some top biblical scholars, including some top Roman Catholic scholars. *The Catholic Biblical Quarterly*, (CBQ) is the authoritative journal of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, the association of leading biblical scholars teaching in Catholic colleges, universities and seminaries. Nearly twenty years ago, in the 1979, volume 41, *CBQ* included a report titled "Women and Priestly Ministry: The New Testament Evidence" by the Executive Board of Catholic Biblical Association's Task Force on the Role of Women in Early Christianity:

"An examination of the biblical evidence shows the following: that there is positive evidence in the New Testament that ministries were shared by various groups and that women did in fact exercise roles and functions later associated with priestly ministry; that the arguments against the admission of women to priestly ministry based on the praxis of Jesus and the apostles, disciplinary regulations, and the created order cannot be sustained. The conclusion we draw, then, is that the New Testament evidence, while not decisive by itself, points toward the admission of women to priestly ministry." (pp. 612-613).

Another quote from that same excellent Bible study: "The assertion that the attitude of Jesus and the apostles provides a permanent norm excluding women from ordained priestly ministry in the Church presents difficulties of both a theoretical and historical kind. The most serious logical difficulty lies in the claim that the source for such a norm is the intention of Jesus. Only a conscious theological decision could provide clear imperative; but it cannot be shown that a theological decision was made to exclude women from priestly ministry. All that is known is that there were no women, Gentiles, Samaritans, or, evidently, slaves among the Twelve; it is not possible to deduce from that a conscious intention rather than unconscious social and cultural motivation. That becomes clear when we pose the question whether choosing the Twelve Jesus intended to establish a criterion for office in respect to sex, but not in respect to race, ethnic identity, or social status... In historical roles which individual members of the Twelve exercised, during Jesus' ministry and in leadership positions of the earliest Church, they were always part of a wider circle not restricted to males. In Jesus' ministry, the Twelve were among the followers, or disciples, of Jesus who included both women and men (Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3) and who, after the resurrection, formed the nucleus of the primitive Church and provided its leadership" (pp. 610-611).

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua has been rightly praised for his clear theological condemnation of racism. Racism is discrimination based on the color of skin. Sexism is the discrimination based on the shape of skin. The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians that all forms of discrimination need to be overcome in the Christian faith: "there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

This Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. God chose women to be the first witnesses to this central event of our faith. May we continue to be open to their faithful witness today by allowing those gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve in all offices of Christ's Church.

Grace and Peace, Bruce Gillette

Bruce & Carolyn Gillette, Co-Pastors, First Presbyterian Church, Pitman, NJ Personal Internet Address: Home Phone: 609-589-8444


Dear Bruce,

Thanks for taking the time to write. I would not consider myself trained enough to respond to a task force of the Executive Board of Catholic Biblical Association. In my article on Why Women can Never be Priests I began with an acceptance of the pope's statement and its subsequent clarification. For Catholics that must be the starting point. Otherwise we wind up with a split magisterium: one of the bishops and the other of scholars. As Jesus said, "A house divided..."

Having said that I do believe there are good biblical reasons for maintaining the two thousand year tradition. Our American culture makes it difficult for us to appreciate them. That in itself should cause us go slow because really so much is at stake.

As far as women in ministry and in leadership: yes, yes, yes. I could certainly point to many examples in the parish where I'm pastor. I appreciate & deeply value them all. As a Catholic I am proud of the accomplishments of women like Mother Angelica, Elizabeth Seton, Catherine of Siena, etc.

I assume you and Carolyn would agree that "shape of skin" is a pretty inadequate way of describing the difference between a man and woman. And that you would interpet the quote from Galatians with some help from Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, not to mention Titus 2?

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom


A Different View of the Priest Shortage

Mercy vs. Tolerance: A Reflection on the Priest Shortage.

For more on the struggle between watered down Christianity (dissent) and its full-bodied version (orthodoxy) see my review of Flawed Expectations.

For a beautiful presentation of the theme of the divine nuptials (complete with pictures from Christian art) please see The Bridegroom Web. It is part of the Catholic Page for Lovers.

CIN's Fr. Mateo gives a more concise explanation why there cannot be women priests (Also explains why we call the priest "father.")

Exchange of Letters with Luis T. Gutierrez and Diarmuid

Letter from Chas Walker

Letter from Ruth Dupre

Papal Quotes re Women

Women and the Priesthood What Early Christian Writers Say

Vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life

From Karen: An argument for women priests and an American Catholic Church

Letter from an Anglican Priest

Hitler's Pope: Comic Book Approach to Church History

If you have any comments, pro or con, I will glady post them.

Germaine Greer on Birth Control