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For a Lady Pope

The true reasons for prohibiting the ordination of women

In order to explain the fact that the Church prohibits women from being ordained, it argues that Jesus only chose men as apostles and that the Church is merely continuing this tradition. This thesis is explained on this site in an article entitled "Why ban the ordination of women."
It is worth looking beyond this type of communication and investigating at some length the real causes of this ancient ostracism.


The role of women in the Jewish religion

We need to accept that in the West it took centuries for women in civil society to have the same rights as those granted to men. For centuries, the Catholic Church has taught that women are inferior to men. Simply refering to the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor (d. 1274) shows proof of this.

But let’s go back to the inferiority of women, an inferiority imposed by the habits and customs in place at the time of Christ.

Only male children receive "the sign of the covenant" with God through circumcision performed on the eighth day after birth. Only boys were allowed to learn Hebrew, the language of the sacred texts. Only men could become rabbis.

Why were women separated from Jewish rituals?

 

The periodic impurity of women

In the Jewish religion, the prohibition of women from being involved in affairs of the altar is explained not only by their inferiority but more fundamentally by of their periodic impurity. In Leviticus 15, 19-24, it is written: “When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening. If a man lies with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean”.


Other bans similarly condemn women to isolation after childbirth (Lev, 12, 2-5). "If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean.  And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days."

How then can we imagine that women could possibly have access to the same functions as men? A woman who lost her blood was impure, no one could approach her. To touch or be touched by her was prohibited.


Under these conditions, it is normal that Jesus chose only men as apostles to proclaim the Good News. These men had to speak in public and this was conduct then prohibited to women in Palestine. If Jesus had chosen women as apostles, they wouldn’t have been able to do anything in the Jewish environment. The Gospels report that a group of women followed Jesus and listened to his speeches, just like the other disciples, but they couldn’t speak in a synagogue.

 

And yet Jesus fought against these bans


We know that Jesus thought that it wasn’t necessary to follow Jewish law to the letter. He touched lepers, he touched women during impurity (when menstruating), he ate without washing his hands ... didn’t he also say (Mt 15, 11) that it is not what enters the mouth of man which is unclean, but the words coming out of it? In St Mark 7, 18-20, it is even more explicit: " Do you not perceive, that whatever thing from without enters into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it enters not into his heart, but into the belly, and goes out into the draught, purging all meats? It is that which comes out of the man, that defiles the man."


Regarding the issue of the Sabbath, the Pharisees accused Jesus' disciples of picking corn on the Sabbath. Again, Jesus rejected the literal and fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. He denied their accusations and claimed that (12.8 Mt and Mk 2:27) "The Sabbath was made ​​for man, not man for the Sabbath."


The Pharisees saw another violation of the law in the healings that Jesus performed on the Sabbath,. (Luke 14, 1-24) “On one occasion when Jesuswas going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.  Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?”  But they were silent. So Jesustook him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If one of you has a childor an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” And they could not reply to this."

 

But there were impassable limits


Although Jesus challenged many of the interdictions, he couldn’t put himself in an impossible situation and so he only chose men as apostles of the Jews, men who were circumcised according to Jewish tradition. If he had chosen uncircumcised apostles, they would not have been allowed to eat with the other disciples as Jewish law forbade a Jew to eat at the same table as the uncircumcised.


Even if Jesus was the Son of God, he had to bow down to the constraints of Jewish society. His parents had had him circumcised, he spoke the local language and not Greek, he practised the Sabbath, he celebrated Passover, he went to the temple...


As a result, his apostles had to be men and not women. 

If Aramaic was the language of Jesus, it was not the language used to convey the Gospel to the world because the circumstances of the day meant that other languages were used. The apostles were circumcised Jews but this requirement was not necessary to spread the Good News in the pagan world.


Now that women have become equal to men, nothing prevents them from having access to the same functions of worship than those attributed to men. Everything evolves.


Who would dare claim that sociological elements represent the divine will? If the answer is positive, then the Church should have continued to only have Jews as Christians, men who are circumcised, speak Aramaic, apply Jewish law, eat kosher...

 

Conclusion


It is up to everyone to make objective criticism of the merits found in removing women from all ecclesiastical power.
Is it really acceptable that what caused the separation of women from worship at the time of Jesus Christ - periodic impurity - can still have an influence in today’s 21st century? The fact that the Catholic Church continues to uphold such a thesis is quite simply unbelievable.

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