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Published Date: April 30, 2010

Published Date: April 30, 2010

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In the Name of Jesus

Not long after I was confirmed as an Anglican, my then rector uttered words that have proven, and may yet prove, to be prophetic. He said, “The Anglican Communion is going to split: first, over the issue of homosexuality and, second, over the issue of women in ministry.” While the first of his predictions has clearly come true, my sincere hope is that the second will not become a wedge that separates otherwise orthodox, Nicaea- and Chalcedon-affirming Anglicans from living and ministering in unbroken fellowship. So it is in a spirit of hope tempered by fear that I offer the following reflections. And though they apply most directly to the Anglican context, they may also bear important implications for the larger evangelical debate over this issue.

In this article, I wish to address the question of women’s ordination to the Anglican priesthood, a practice already in place in parts of the Anglican Communion but which is hotly contested in others, especially among evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans. While a comprehensive treatment of this question rightly entails a consideration of all pertinent passages of Scripture, such texts do not fall within the purview of this article. Instead, I will focus exclusively on a sacramental theology of the priesthood as it pertains to the question of gender—and I do so for two basic reasons. First, every theological tradition that has retained a sacramental understanding of the role of the priest or presbyter does so on the basis of more than a strictly biblical analysis. Instead, tradition is principally in view here and, therefore, requires a theological approach that engages the question on the same grounds. Second, it is my conviction that many of the interpretive assumptions brought to bear upon the biblical texts most pertinent to the issue of women in ministry are, in fact, deeply shaped by the Western tradition of male priesthood. Consequently, an examination of that tradition may help to disclose operative assumptions that might otherwise remain concealed.

Male priesthood—a theological tradition

In the year 2000, the largely evangelical Anglican Mission in America1 was established by the Anglican Archbishops of Southeast Asia and Rwanda in response to the crisis in the Episcopal Church. That same year, the newly formed Anglican Mission initiated a study2 of the issue of women’s ordination, signaling its recognition of the significance of this issue within the American Anglican context. The study, released in 2003, outlines positions both supporting and opposing the ordination of women which, in true Anglican theological fashion, argue from Scripture, tradition, and reason. In the tradition section of its argument against women’s ordination, the opposing position states:

[T]he ordained priest/presbyter and bishop through their ministry of Word, Sacrament and governance necessarily represent God to His People. The ordained ministry is, therefore, inescapably symbolic of the God it represents. This reaches a high point sacramentally in the celebration of the Eucharist when the priest/presbyter expounds the Word of God written and takes the words of Christ, the Son of God incarnate, on his lips in the consecration and distribution of the elements to the faithful. This symbolic character of the priestly ministry is inevitable. It is fitting, therefore, that the priest/presbyter representing [Christ] be male. . . . Even when [an] ordained woman is orthodox in faith and not a theological feminist, by being a woman serving as a priest/presbyter or bishop, she has imported a contrary symbolism into the representative ordained ministry. Such symbolism will inevitably push matters in the wrong direction in the Church.3

This quotation is telling for several reasons, but principally because it appeals to a sacramental theological understanding of male priesthood, which has a venerable legacy within the Western, principally Roman Catholic, tradition—an understanding shared by many Anglicans, especially those within the Anglo-Catholic wing of our tradition. The Anglican Mission’s evangelical ethos notwithstanding, this argument is by all appearances a direct descendant of that view, articulated by Pope Paul VI in his 1976 papal Declaration Inter Insigniores (or in English, “On the Question of Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood”) and reaffirmed by both John Paul II in 1994 and Benedict XVI in 2009. Says Pope Paul:

The Christian priesthood is . . . of a sacramental nature: the priest is a sign, the supernatural effectiveness of which comes from the ordination received, but a sign that must be perceptible and which the faithful must be able to recognise with ease. The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols imprinted on the human psychology: “Sacramental signs,” says St. Thomas, “represent what they signify by natural resemblance.” The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ’s role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this “natural resemblance” which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man.4

Now, there are three other principal arguments that Roman and Anglo-Catholics typically adduce to bolster the tradition of male priesthood, which may be found in both Inter Insigniores and the Anglican Mission study. The first points to the fact that Jesus selected only men to form the apostolic foundation of the church; the second underscores St. Paul’s proscriptions against female authority in the church; and the third, which cannot be underestimated for those who prize Christian tradition, is the sheer fact that an exclusively male priesthood has stood at the center of that tradition from its inception—or at least for the past 1,500 years, depending upon whom you’re talking to—and has been affirmed as such by the Magisterium.

However, I would argue that none of these, even when taken together, rivals the social and psychological impact of the sacramental argument. The fact that Jesus did not choose a woman as one of the Twelve is an argument from silence that may be as coherently defended in terms of Jesus’ concern to accommodate and maintain continuity with Israel’s history and prophetic/liturgical tradition as it can be by appealing to any inherent principle of male primacy. And Paul’s proscriptions can be explained in a similar historical-contextual manner, as has been ably demonstrated by New Testament scholars. As for the argument from tradition, no thoughtful Protestant, it seems to me, should be prepared to grant it on the grounds of the sheer weight of tradition alone, magisterial or otherwise. Insofar as Anglicanism remains a Protestant tradition, it remains committed to the Reformation principle of the supremacy of Scripture in all matters of faith and doctrine, including our theology of priesthood.

In short, none of these arguments—with the possible exception of Paul’s argument from authority—offers its own self-
evident explanation as to why things must be this way. In each case, a rationale must be inferred from other sources in order to grant the argument theological coherence. The sacramental argument, by contrast, answers the why question with apparent directness and simplicity: because “Christ himself was and remains a man.” Furthermore, the sacramental argument is a living argument, a de facto argument tangibly embodied in every eucharistic service celebrated by a male priest. Through the combined power of symbol and socialization, it bolsters, reinforces, and embodies the tradition of male priesthood. In effect, the sacramental argument subsumes the other three principally theological arguments into the service of a powerful, socially and symbolically constructed argument that reinforces its own theological assumptions at the most basic level of Christian life and thought: in Christian worship. Given the massive social and psychological force of this tradition, it should come as no surprise that the suggestion of women’s ordination to the priesthood might be perceived by some as a dire threat to be repelled at all costs.

Unpacking the sacramental argument

For all these reasons, and for the sake of the future of the Anglican Communion, it is imperative that we consider the central theological assumptions that inhere within the sacramental argument for male priesthood. And it seems to me that the following are the salient points for consideration.

First, the sacramental argument—at least, as presented in these two documents—asserts that the priest (or bishop) is inherently a sign or symbol of Christ to the rest of the church. The Anglican Mission version of the sacramental argument states that the ordained ministry is “inescapably symbolic” and “necessarily represents God to His People.” And Inter Insigniores states that the priest is a sacramental sign within a “sacramental economy” of signs naturally “imprinted on human psychology,” thereby bearing a “natural resemblance” to Christ.

Second, and subsequently, the sacramental argument asserts that the inherent characteristic upon which the relation of natural resemblance or fittingness between the priest and Christ is predicated is that of being male. In other words, all other things being equal, the distinguishing characteristic that would render a male priest sacramentally “fitting” to represent Christ (according to the Anglican Mission study) or “naturally resembling” Christ (according to Inter Insigniores)—the lack of which would conversely render a female priest sacramentally unfit and unnatural to represent Christ—is nothing more or less than his gender.

While the Anglican Mission position opposing women’s ordination does not offer a more explicit sacramental rationale for this argument, Inter Insigniores does so by invoking the Roman Catholic understanding of the priest (or bishop) as functioning in persona Christi—in the place and person of Christ. And, since many Anglicans who defend male priesthood also invoke this doctrine, it is important that we attend to it here. Says Pope Paul VI:

The Church’s constant teaching . . . declares that the bishop or the priest in the exercise of his ministry does not act in his own [person], in persona propria: he represents Christ, who acts through him: “the priest truly acts in the place of Christ,” as St. Cyprian already wrote in the third century. . . . The supreme expression of this representation is found in the altogether special form it assumes in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the source and centre of the Church’s unity, the sacrificial meal in which the People of God are associated in the sacrifice of Christ: the priest, who alone has the power to perform it, then acts not only through the effective power conferred on him by Christ, but in persona Christi, taking the role of Christ, to the point of being his very image, when he pronounces the words of consecration.5

That the priest or bishop acts in persona Christi—preeminently at the Eucharist, but not only there—sets him apart in a dramatic way from the rest of the body of Christ, including deacons and laity, who are understood to act only in nomine Christi, in the name of Christ. Thus, while Christ may be represented in name through lay and diaconal ministries, he may only be represented sacramentally in his person by male priests or bishops by virtue of their ordination and their gender. And while this distinct symbolic function has been understood historically to correspond primarily to the enacting of Christ’s role in the Eucharist, it has come to be seen, especially since Vatican II, as constitutive of the priest’s entire ordained ministry—indeed, of his very person—such that John Paul II could speak in his 1992 “Apostolic Exhortation on the Formation of Priests” (Pastores Dobo Vobis) of “the specific ontological bond which unites the priesthood to Christ the high priest and good shepherd,”6 explaining, “The priest finds the full truth of his identity in being a derivation, a specific participation in and continuation of Christ himself, the one high priest of the new and eternal covenant. The priest is a living and transparent image of Christ the priest.”7

Whether or not the drafters of the Anglican Mission position opposing women’s ordination would subscribe to such an understanding of the nature of priestly ordination, I do not know. However, in order to maintain the criterion of “fittingness” for priestly function, it seems that they must at least accept something amounting to a distinction between the deacons and laity in the church who act in nomine Christi and the exclusively male priests and bishops who act in persona Christi, even if this distinction is only understood to be functional or representational. And insofar as they do, then it seems to me very hard to avoid the implication that men, simply by virtue of their gender, have an innate capacity (a) to identify and be identified with Christ, and (b) to participate in the ministry of Christ in a manner and to a degree that women do not.

Objections to the sacramental argument

Several fundamental theological problems with these arguments immediately come into view. First and foremost, if we grant the notion that the priest does in some sense represent Christ—whether at the Eucharist or in a more general sense—we must ask what, in fact, is being represented? And, sacramentally speaking, the answer surely is that the priest is understood to represent and participate in Christ’s own great high priesthood as seen in the Epistle to the Hebrews (4:14–10:22): his eternal ongoing high priesthood in which, by virtue of his resurrection and ascension, he ever stands within the Godhead as representative, intercessor, and mediator of the reconciliation that he has accomplished once for all and eternally between God and humanity. This, it seems to me, all orthodox Anglicans would affirm.

Assuming this is the case, we must also ask: Whom does Jesus Christ represent to God in his place as eternal high priest and mediator? The answer is clearly that Jesus, as our one mediator between God and humanity, represents both God to redeemed humanity and redeemed humanity to God. As such, he represents both men and women before God, intercedes on behalf of both men and women, and represents God to both men and women.

If we affirm the truth of these statements, and I think all orthodox Christians must, then I fail to see how it can be the case that Jesus’ gender is somehow integral to the reality of his eternal mediation as high priest on our behalf. Yes, Christ was and may yet be male, though the truth is that we are not privy to the nature of his resurrected body as it pertains to gender. But even if it is the case that Christ is eternally male, it simply cannot be the case, it seems to me, that his gender is essential to his role as mediator and high priest. Rather, it is in his humanity that he represents humanity to God and God to humanity, precisely because in his incarnation he has assumed our humanity. Yes, he became male—in Greek, anēr—but first and foremost he became “man” or human—in Greek, anthropos. In this respect, we do well to heed the words of T. F. Torrance:

In thinking and speaking of the incarnation it is important for us to keep close to the biblical witness that in becoming man (i.e., anthropos, not anērhomo, not vir) the Word was made flesh, not just male flesh. All human flesh was assumed in Christ, the Son of God, the Creator Word become man, so that now all men and women alike live and move and have their being in him. We must not forget that our Lord regularly identified himself as “Son of Man” (ho huios tou anthropou), which clearly had divine and final import. . . . The Being of Jesus, the Son of the Virgin Mary, [is] not just male being but divine-human Being with universal import as the Savior of all humankind.8

Torrance continues:

Hence, it would be a grave biblical and theological mistake to bracket the incarnation with the gender or sex of Jesus in such a way that everything in his incarnate life and work depended on his maleness, for that would seriously call in question the salvation of female human being and detract from the incarnation as the assumption of complete human being and the redemptive recapitulation (anakephalaiosis) in Christ of the whole human race of men and women. After all, the Greek term for incarnation adopted by orthodox Christian theology from the beginning, in line with the biblical witness, was enanthropesis, i.e. inhomination.9

What, then, can we say of the representative and symbolic character of the human priest, whether in Christian worship or in general? It seems clear that gender cannot be a precondition of the priest’s capacity to serve as an image of Christ. For, if Christ’s own eternal representation of humanity to God is predicated upon his humanity and not his gender, then to make gender a prerequisite for human priesthood would be to distort the true character of Christ’s high priestly office. Indeed, one could argue that, because Christ represents all of humanity to God, both male and female, it is imperative that both men and women stand as representatives of Christ in Christian worship. What is clear is that the only precondition for priesthood from this perspective is that the priest is human and has been set apart and consecrated for just such a service by the church.

This leads to a second concern regarding the claim made in both the Anglican Mission document and Inter Insigniores that the priest “necessarily represents God to His People” and bears a “natural resemblance” to Christ by virtue of his gender. Both documents use language that explicitly claims an inherent, necessary, and natural correspondence of symbolic representation between the male priest and God. However, if pressed for an explanation as to why this is the case, it seems to me that the proponents of this view will be left with the following three options: First, some might wish to claim that there is something essentially male about the character or being of God, such that men correspond to him in a way that women simply do not. However, such a position immediately runs afoul of Scripture’s assertion (Gen. 1:27) and the overwhelming consensus of Christian tradition that men and women alike are fully and equally created in God’s image, not to mention raising a host of undesirable theological implications in regard to God’s nature such as anthropomorphism, metaphysical dualism, etc.—implications that have been rejected by the church from its inception as tantamount to paganism.

Second, some may claim that God has, in fact, created and ordered the world in such a way that men more aptly represent him than women. However, this assertion not only begs the question—to wit: We know that only men can represent God because God has made the world in such a way that only men can represent God—but is without scriptural warrant. While there may be historical precedent for this argument from Christian tradition, note that any such argument is inevitably based upon extrabiblical (usually Platonic) sources that serve as bases for inferring normative male primacy from the text of Scripture. While Scripture certainly acknowledges male primacy, it is an open question as to whether it is should be understood as a descriptive or prescriptive acknowledgment, and whether such primacy is God-ordained or fall-caused (i.e., Gen. 3). And while God undeniably established the Levitical priesthood as an exclusively male one, this can equally be explained in terms of God’s accommodation to the fallen conditions of human existence as it can by an appeal to a created correspondence between males and God.

Third, the notion of a “natural resemblance” between Christ and the priest is ultimately grounded in the very symbolic argument regarding the gender of Christ that we have been considering and have already found wanting. In other words, the assertion of a “necessary” or “natural resemblance” between Christ and the priest is based upon a correspondence between their shared maleness rather than between their shared humanity. However, in light of our consideration of Christ’s own high priestly mediation, we can see that the priest’s humanity, not gender, is the material precondition for sacramental participation and representation of Christ.

None of these options, then, serves as sufficient basis for asserting a necessary and natural correspondence of symbolic representation between the male priest and God. However, beyond these objections to the sacramental argument lies a more fundamental one: If it is indeed the case that men inherently possess by virtue of their gender a necessary or natural symbolic correspondence to Christ such that they have the capacity to represent him in worship and participate in his ministry in a way that women do not, then it strikes me that this view is nothing short of a kind of sacramental or liturgical Pelagianism.10 That is, if by virtue of their birth alone, men possess a natural capacity to participate in the ministry and worship of Christ, then the male priest serves and represents Christ in Christian worship not as one whose service as such is “all of grace,” but rather as one who serves in at least one essential respect entirely out of his own natural capacity without the need of God’s grace.11 I would argue that, to the degree that this is the case, the priest, not Christ, becomes the focus of Christian worship. Rather than acting as Christ’s representative in complete dependence and deference to Christ as both the object and mediator of worship, the priest becomes the focal point of Christian worship precisely because he stands “in the place of Christ” (in persona Christi) by virtue of his “natural resemblance” to Christ. While defenders of the sacramental argument may object that the priest need not be seen in this way, the history of the rise and development of the medieval Catholic understanding of the priest as an essential mediator between God and humanity indicates otherwise. Indeed, the very heart of the Reformation insistence upon solus Christus—“Christ alone”—was a direct response to the intrinsically mediatorial role of the priesthood in the medieval Catholic understanding of the economy of grace.

This leads us to the heart of the matter concerning Christian worship. If we grant that the priest or bishop somehow represents Christ in Christian worship, yet wish to avoid liturgical Pelagianism, how are we to understand that representation? Here again, Torrance is helpful. He says in this rather long quotation:

Above all, . . . we must take into account what the celebration of the Eucharist means, as the sacrament of the atoning self-sacrifice of Christ made in our place, on our behalf and in our stead, for that governs absolutely the way in which we must think of the celebrant as representing Christ at the altar. We must also remember, as Athanasius expressed it, that the Lord Jesus is both the Dispenser and Receiver of God’s gifts, who ministers the things of God to us and the things of us to God (Con. Ar. 3.39f; 4.6f). In becoming man for us and for our salvation, he became one of us and united us to himself, really becoming what we are in order to be ourselves in our place in his identity as very God and very Man, in such a way that he acts for us and on our behalf in all our responses to God, even in our acts of belief and worship. . . . In fact, in a very basic sense Christ Jesus is himself our worship and it is as such that he is actively present with us and in us at the Eucharist. . . . It is strictly in accordance with this vicarious presence of Christ in the Eucharist that we must think of our part in its celebration whether as participants or celebrants. . . . At the Eucharist the celebrant ministers not in his own name, but in the name of Christ, acting through him, with him, and in him, and thus in such a way that he yields place to Christ, lets Christ take his place, never in such a way that he takes Christ’s place or acts in his stead. That is how his representation of Christ is to be understood, through a personal and liturgical inversion of his/her own role with the role of Christ who is the real Celebrant.12

Note that, while Torrance acknowledges with Inter Insigniores that the celebrant does not act in his own name, contrary to Inter Insigniores he rejects the notion of the priest acting in persona Christi. In light of our concern to avoid any Pelagian tendency to displace the absolute reality and centrality of Christ’s mediatorial presence, this quotation draws our attention back to the distinction discussed earlier between the priest or bishop, who is said to act in persona Christi, and the rest of the church, who are said to act in nomine Christi. In light of all that we have considered, it should be evident that such a distinction is problematic. There is and can be only one persona Christi: our risen and ascended High Priest and Mediator, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Incarnate Word and Son of God, Jesus Christ. From this perspective, Jesus is both the giver and recipient of that worship of God in which we participate as redeemed human persons. As such, all Christian worship, ministry, and service offered by all members of the church regardless of ordination is undertaken in nomine Christi, in the name of Christ. For all our hymns and prayers, offerings and petitions, including our celebration of the Eucharist, are but a participation in that everlasting, perfect, and blessed worship that Christ even now offers up to the Father on our behalf. And we who are privileged to lead in that worship, as Torrance says, “bring to it no sacrifice or worship of our own, or if we do, we let our worship and sacrifice be replaced by the sole sufficient sacrifice of Christ, and it is through him, with him, and in him alone that we worship the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”


In considering the implications of this argument, my immediate concern is for the future and wellbeing of the Anglican Communion. The newly established Anglican Church of North America has fulfilled the hopes of many orthodox Anglicans in the U.S. and Canada for a new ecclesial home within our national borders. Unfortunately, many of these also see women’s ordination as the slippery slope that took the Episcopal Church in the wrong direction in the first place. However, two wrongs do not make a right even in theology, and my sincere hope is that renewed discussions regarding women’s ordination may prove fruitful. While many Anglo-Catholics will undoubtedly cling to the tradition of an all-male priesthood, my hope is that those evangelical Anglicans who might be tempted to import the sacramental argument as a way of bolstering their positions will have their eyes opened to the less-than-desirable implications of such a tactic.

The essential tension that exists within orthodox Anglicanism over the issue of women’s ordination is not so much a tension between theological conservatism and liberalism as it is the longstanding tension between Anglo-Protestants and Anglo-Catholics
concerning the principal locus of doctrinal and ecclesial authority—Scripture or tradition. My concern is that Protestant and evangelical Anglicans may be tempted to bolster their objections to women’s ordination by borrowing from essentially Catholic arguments that are, in fact, at odds with their own Protestant convictions. For those who embrace Anglicanism as a Reformation tradition, the cardinal Reformation principles of the primacy of Christ, authority of Scripture, sufficiency of grace, and priesthood of all believers call into serious question any notion of the priest (or bishop) acting in persona Christi. Of course, Anglo-Protestants
considering women’s ordination to the priesthood must still contend with biblical arguments both pro and con; however, in doing so, they should be mindful of the degree to which the longstanding tradition of all-male priesthood—and its attending assumptions—has shaped their own approach to Scripture.

I should also acknowledge that there are some Anglo-Catholics who would embrace the tradition of the priest functioning in persona Christi, yet would interpret it in such a way as to understand the humanity of Christ as its basis rather than the gender of Christ, and would, therefore, be open to the ordination of women to the priesthood. In this regard, I recommend the work of the late Fr. Eric Doyle, OFM, and especially his article “The Question of Women Priests and the Argument in persona Christi.”13

As for evangelicals in general, whether Anglican or otherwise, it seems to me that at least the following implications can be derived from the preceding discussion. First, no Western Christian can underestimate the degree to which the tradition of an exclusively male priesthood has shaped the religious consciousness of Western Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant. While non-sacramental evangelicals may not always prize or acknowledge tradition, they are nonetheless shaped by it. And the massive inertia established by the Roman Catholic tradition of male priesthood, and its effective adoption and continuation by the Protestant reformers, simply cannot be underestimated. Nonetheless, if we hold to the Reformation principle of ecclesia semper reformanda—the church always reforming—then we are obliged to consider to what degree our interpretation of Scripture and personal inclinations are adversely influenced by that tradition, especially as it impinges on the issue of women’s ordination.

Second, my general impression is that many Christians, Anglican or otherwise, who do not embrace the sacramental argument nonetheless find the simple fact of Christ’s gender to be a sticking point when it comes to the issue of women’s ordination. The logic is simple: Jesus was and is a man, so it seems only fitting that the leaders of his church should also be men. To those who are inclined to view the question of women’s ordination this way, I would reiterate the points made above regarding the incarnation and stress the absolute necessity of rightly understanding the nature of Christ’s humanity in relation to Christ’s divinity. Of special importance here is the enhypostatic character of that relation, whereby the human nature of Christ was assumed into essential union with the divine Person of the Word of God and has no other personal center than that of God the Son. In other words, were it not for the incarnation, the man Jesus of Nazareth would never have existed. Thus, any consideration of Jesus apart from the incarnational unity of his divine person and, therefore, any consideration of his humanity apart from his divinity are categorically ruled out and the issue of his identity as a male is dramatically relativized.

Third, regarding the issue of liturgical Pelagianism, many implications could be adduced, but I will focus on one for the sake of brevity. It strikes me as theologically incoherent if not disingenuous when churches place women in positions of leadership in Christian worship—perhaps even to grant them titles such as “worship pastor” or “music minister”—but still refuse to ordain them on the grounds of their gender. This is nothing other than the converse of the problem we described above, wherein the priest’s male gender is seen to be an innate characteristic that qualifies him to lead in Christian worship. In this case, though she may have the gifts, calling, and confirmation of the congregation to lead in Christian worship, the female leader is nonetheless disqualified from ordination simply by virtue of her gender.

There are doubtless other implications we could derive; however, I hope that the arguments I have advanced and the implications I have identified are sufficient to demonstrate that the tradition of an exclusively male priesthood bears serious reconsideration. At the very least, regardless of the outcome, such consideration can only lead us more deeply into the knowledge and love of the One in whom we are, and ever shall be, one—our great High Priest and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Venite adoremus!


  1. Now renamed “The Anglican Mission in the Americas.”
  2. John H. Rodgers, et al., “A Report of the Study Concerning the Ordination of Women Undertaken by the Anglican Mission in America: A Survey of the Leading Theological Convictions” (July 2003:
  3. Rodgers, “Ordination of Women,” 31–32.
  4. Pope Paul VI, Inter Insigniores (Rome: Vatican, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), par. 27.
  5. Pope Paul VI, Inter Insigniores, sec. 5.
  6. Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis (Rome: Vatican, 1992), II.11.
  7. Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, II.12.
  8. Thomas F. Torrance, “The Ministry of Women,” Touchstone 5, no. 4 (Fall 1992): 8.
  9. Torrance, “The Ministry of Women,” 8.
  10. Pelagianism is a fifth-century Christian heresy attributed to the monk Pelagius, which insists that human beings have by nature an unimpaired moral ability to choose that which is spiritually good and possess the free will, ability, and capacity to do that which is spiritually good.
  11. If it is indeed the case that men bear a “natural resemblance” to Christ vis-à-vis sacramental representation, it is difficult not to infer that men in general have a natural capacity more fully to approximate the image of Christ in humanity than do women. This strikes me as fundamentally contrary to the New Testament expectation that all Christians would be conformed to the image of Christ (e.g., 2 Cor. 3:18, Gal. 4:19, Eph. 4:13).
  12. Torrance, “The Ministry of Women,” 11–12, italics added.