The making of Eve.




On March 25, 1999, I sponsored on the Georgetown University campus a debate between Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, and Sr. Maureen Fiedler, SL, on the question "Can a woman receive the Sacrament of Order?"

The debate itself lasted only an hour and I do not think either side really addressed the core issue of "can."

I would like, therefore, to set down here, systematically, the specific reasons why, I think, that the Church must teach that women cannot receive the Sacrament of Order.

A Sacrament is an outward / visible sign / symbol personally instituted by Jesus Christ for conveying to recipients sanctifying grace ex opere operato.

Both the Roman Catholic (RC) and the Eastern Orthodox (EO) Churches so define "Sacrament" (The Latin term; the Greek equivalent is "Mystery"), and both also teach that Jesus, soon before or soon after His Crucifixion, instituted for His Church seven, and only seven, such Sacraments.

For each of these Seven Sacraments, Jesus freely, and sovereignly, chose the specific signs / symbols.

By definition, all seven of these signs / symbols, just by virtue of their being signs / symbols, must have universal meanings, i.e., meanings clearly understandable, regardless of time or place, and pertinent to the nature of the Sacrament.

For example, the RC and EO Churches both teach that the purpose, and the effect, of the Sacrament of Baptism is the cleansing of original and all other sin. Baptism is thus the saving Sacrament, the one that can cleans us of all our sins. Without such cleansing no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

A new-born baby dying without having received Baptism dies in Original Sin and thus is not saved.

A new-born baby dying a moment after receiving Baptism dies in a state of Sanctifying Grace and thus is assuredly saved.

What better sign / symbol, therefore, could there be for such a cleansing Sacrament than a washing with water, symbolizing the cleansing from sin which Baptism accomplishess ?

But, someone might object, cannot some other sign / symbol represent "cleansing" just as well? And, in an emergency, in the absence of water, could not the Sacrament of Baptism be administered under such other sign / symbol?

Would not, for example, silicate abrasives or liquid detergents clean even better than mere water? Could not, therfore, a rubbing of a catechumate's forehead with sandpaper, or a pouring onto a catechumate's head of some liquid detergent, be every bit as effective a sign / symbol of cleansing as a washing with water? Why, in the absence of water, could not a rite using such an alternative sign / symbol for cleansing be as equally valid, in administering the Sacrament of Baptism, as a washing with water?

The RC and EO Churches would both say no.

Baptism is Jesus's Sacrament. He, and only He, determines the sacramental sign and, no matter what our situation may be, His choice was / is water.

The situation is the same with the other Sacraments, particularly with the Sacrament of Order?

Why is it that the RC and EO Churches say that the required sign(s) of the Sacrament of Order is / are 1) the laying of a bishop's hands upon 2) the head of a (baptized) human male?

Or, more to the point, why is it that the RC and EO Churches (in fact, all of the "Apostolic Churches" as opposed to the so-called "Reformation Churches" - which, technically, in RC and EO parlance, are not churches at all, but just "ecclesial communities") teach that no woman *can* possibly receive the Sacrament of Order?

The concise answer is: "Women cannot be priests because women cannot be fathers."

That is, women cannot be priests because women cannot beget or engender (as opposed to bear or deliver) children, sons and daughters. Only men can do that..

The ability to be / become a father is, therefore, the essential sign / symbol necessary for valid reception of the Sacrament of Order.

This is as good a place as any for me to pause to re-capitulate.

Jesus personally instituted Seven Sacraments, seven outward signs / symbols by which we can assuredly receive sanctifying grace. Each Sacrament has its distinctive, divinely determined, sign / symbol.

The ability to become a father is the / an essential sign of the Sacrament of Order.

In other words, I am arguing that gender or sex is an essential for the valid confection of one Sacrament (actually two, Matrimony is the other - only a male / female couple, never any same-sex couple, can marry).

In arguing my position, I must first acknowledge the poverty of our English language.

Unlike Greek and Latin, our English, in several instances, has to make one word serve for two very different purposes. Our English word"Priest", for example, covers both the Greek / Latin "hiereus / sacerdos" and also the Greek / Latin "presbyteros / senior". More on this later.

In this part of my essay, though, it is the English word "man" that causes us trouble.

In English, "man" means both "a human being" and a "male human being". Greek, on the other hand, has two utterly distinct words, "anthropos" and "aner", for the two concepts. And Latin likewise has two distinct words, "homo" and "vir".

So, to begin. Does Revelation make it important that Jesus was a male?

An amazing thing that I have found in studying the Bible is that, in the entire New Testament, the word "aner" ("vir") is used for Jesus only only three occasions. Only three! In all of the New Testament. Every other time the word used for Him is "anthropos" ("homo").

In other words, if one adds to these three passages using "aner" ("vir") the passage in the New Testament saying that the newly-born Jesus was circumcised, we have, in all of the Bible, only four times in which the human "male-ness" of Jesus is atated, explicitly and unambiguously.

Only four, out of scores and scores of passages in which the humanity, as opposed to the maleness, of Jesus is explicitly cited. Does that tell us that Revelation considers the maleness of our Redeemer to be of little or no importance?

Upon closer examination, however, we see that these "three or four times" are given absolutely fundamental, and pivotal, placement in our Salvation History. They are:

1) Jesus's Incarnation;

2) Jesus's Announcement as The Messiah
(at His Baptism by John and His Annointing by the Holy Ghost at the River Jordan);

3) Jesus's Resurrection Appearances;

4) Peter's Pentecost Proclamation.


1. The First Occasion when the NT
explicitly states Jesus's human male-ness.

Luke 2:21 concludes his Gospel account of the Incarnation with a description of the circumcision of the eight-day old Jesus.

In other words, right at the outset of the history of our Redemption there is emphasis placed on the fact that God was incarnate not just as a true "anthropos / homo," but also a true "aner / vir".


2. The Second Occasion when the NT
explicitly states Jesus's human male-ness.

The next time that the Gospels focus on the male-ness of Jesus is at John 1:25-34, where the Evangelist describes the scene at the River Jordan when Jesus is baptized by John and annointed by the Holy Ghost.

This is the first time ever in Jesus's life that the NT uses the word "aner" ("vir") in reference to Him.

John the Baptist, in these verses, not only identifies Jesus as being the man ("aner" / "vir") Who is the Messiah; he does so immediately before witnessing Jesus's being annointed by the Holy Ghost as the Messiah.

"25. And they [the pharisees] asked him [John the Baptist],
and said to him, Why then dost thou baptize,
if thou be not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?

26. John answered them, saying: I baptize with water;
but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not.

27. The same is he that shall come after me,
who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.

28. These things were done at Bethania, beyond the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

29. The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith:
Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.

30. This is he, of whom I said: After me cometh a man
[N.B., aner / vir; not anthropos / homo],
who is preferred before me: because he was before me.

31. And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel,
therefore am I come baptizing with water.

32. And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit coming down,
as a dove from heaven, and he remained upon him.

33. And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me:
He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending,
and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

34. And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God."


3. The Third Occasion when the NT
explicitly states Jesus's human male-ness.

The second time in which the NT uses the word "aner" ("vir"), as opposed to "anthropos" ("homo"), for Jesus is in Luke 24:13-21, where on that very first Easter Sunday Jesus appears on the road to Emmaus to the two dispirited disciples and reveals Himself. In this instance, the two disciples use the word "aner" ("vir"), in a conversation with Jesus Himself, to describe Jesus.

Amazingly, hardly any of the English language translations of this particular NT passage even bother to translate the word "aner" that is found there in the original Greek.

"13. And behold, two of them went, the same day, to a town
which was sixty furlongs from Jerusalem, named Emmaus.

14. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15. And it came to pass, that while they talked and reasoned with themselves,
Jesus himself also drawing near, went with them.

16. But their eyes were held, that they should not know him.
"17. And he said to them, What are these discourses
that you hold one with another as you walk, and are sad?
"18. And the one of them, whose name was Cleophas, answering,
said to him: Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem,
and hast not known the things that have been done there in these days?
"19. To whom he said: What things?
And they said: Concerning Jesus of Nazareth,
[a man
(N.B., aner / vir; not anthropos / homo)]
who was a prophet, mighty in work and word before God and all the people.
"20. And how our chief priests and princes delivered him to be condemned to death,
and crucified him.
"21. But we hoped, that it was he that should have redeemed Israel:
and now besides all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done."


4. The Fourth, and Final, Occasion when the NT
explicitly states Jesus's human male-ness.

The last time in which the NT uses the word "aner" ("vir"), as opposed to "anthropos" ("homo"), for Jesus is in Acts 2:14-22, where, on the very first Pentecost Sunday, immediately following the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the assembled male and female disciples, an emboldened Peter leads those first, by then confirmed, Christians out into the streets of Jerusalem and, for the first time, the Church proclaims Jesus to be the redeemer of the world.

"14. But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke to them:
Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem,
be this known to you, and with your ears hear my words.
15. For these are not drunk, as you suppose,
seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16. But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel:
17. And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (saith the Lord),
I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy,
and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
18. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids,
will I pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophecy.
19. And I shall show wonders in the heaven above, and signs on earth beneath:
blood and fire, and vapour of smoke.
20. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
before the great and manifest day of the Lord come.
21. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord,
shall be saved.
22.Ye men of Israel, hear these words:
Jesus of Nazareth,
a man [N.B., aner / vir; not anthropos / homo]
approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs,
which God did by him, in the midst of you, as you also know:
23-35.........{Do read in your Bible the entire Proclamation}
36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly,
that God hath made both Lord and Christ,
this same Jesus, whom you have crucified."


In other words, on only three specific occasions does the NT un-ambiguously declare the human male-ness, as opposed to simply the human-ness, of Jesus by using the word "aner" ("vir"); but these three occasions (plus the equivalent passage that recounts the circumcision of Jesus) coincide with the four most critical occasions of Jesus's Revelation of Himself to the world.



Continuing with my attempt to set forth, systematically, the specific reasons why, I think, that the RC Church must teach that only human males can receive the Sacrament of Order, let me re-capitulate:

I have argued that Divine Revelation (= the NT) tells us, with certainty:

I.) that ca. 2000 years ago God Almighty became

A) a human (homo),

B) a male (vir), and

C) a Jew (Israelitus), and

II.) that, with all three of these revelations, God conveyed to us
something important regarding His plan for our Redemption / Salvation.

Please note, however, what I am not saying:

I'm not just saying that ca. 2000 years ago there lived a human, a man, a Jew (named Jesus).

Nor am I just saying that we, or scholars, can establish from the NT, with scientific near certainty, that this Jesus Who lived ca. 2000 years ago was a human, a male, a Jew.

Just as much could be, and has been, said about John the Baptist, Caiaphus, and any number of other persons mentioned in the NT.

And I'm not even just saying that modern-day NT scholars would / must conclude, from the NT, that the NT itself declares or contends that ca. 2000 years ago God Almighty became a human, a male, a Jew (or, more technically, that the human writers of the NT and its first readers wrote, or read, the NT to mean that ca. 2000 years ago God became a human, a male, a Jew).

All these contentions concerning Jesus (that He was a human, a male, a Jew) and concerning the intent and meaning of the NT and its writers, are within the purview of academe, and - as such - can, by scientific means alone, be established - to varying degrees of certainty - as "facts", using such purely rational techniques as the "historical-critical method".

Let's face it, no one, nowadays at least, seriously doubts: 1) that Jesus of Nazareth existed, nor 2) that He was a human, a male, and a Jew.

Nor nowadays does anyone seriously doubt: 1) that the NT writers intentionally presented Jesus as a human, a male, a Jew or even 2) that the NT writers, or at least its early readers, intentionally claimed that this human, male, Jewish Jesus was / is God.

What, however, neither modern science nor Scripture studies, no matter the method, ever can establish, is 1) whether ca. 2000 years ago a Jewish human male was / is God Almighty, or 2) whether, in the NT, God really did / does"reveal" to us such"facts".

Only Theology can attempt to do that.

But Theology is "Faith seeking understanding using natural reason".

In Theology, in other words, the Faith must be there first.

Yet, having said this, I also doubt that any RC, or that even most Christians in general, doubt that ca. 2000 years ago God Almighty: 1) became a human and a Jew and 2) then, by means of the NT, "revealed" to us that those two facts (= that God Almighty become a human and a Jew) were / are important parts of His plan for accomplishing our Redemption / Salvation.

But most Christians to-day seem to feel differently about the third"fact"(= that God Almighty became a male), not believing that this third fact is also an important part of His plan for our Redemption / Salvation?

Why are some among us even vexed at acknowledging God "became a male".

Inasmuch as there are no participants in the women's ordination debate (at least none whom I know) coming from the angelic orders or from the animal kingdom, there is no one in this debate who feeling"put out" by having to acknowledge that God became a human.

In short, no one in our WO debate is claiming victimization from the unquestioned fact that only humans can be ordained.

Furthermore, with respect to God's having become a Jew, while the Nazis and their kind may not have liked the idea, we thankfully are not these days, at least in the WO debate, hearing much from such people.

No one is feeling threatened by the fact that God became a Jew. Most likely because no one to-day says that only Jews can be ordained. (We know that non-Jews can be ordained because the NT itself describes non-Jews being ordained in the early Church).

God's becoming a Jew is, though, an essential part of His plan for our redemption / salvation, because the same Scriptures that tell us that God Almighty became a a human also tell us that He became a Jew.

And those Scriptures explain that the Jews were meant to be the light for all nations, that while salvation is for all peoples, it was to come from the Jews, and that God's Kingdom was meant to include first Jews , then gentiles.

Right from the beginning, in other words, the NT shows the Church busy in baptizing, in ordaining, in doing everything, to and for Jews and gentiles indiscrimunately.

In short, confessing that Revelation shows that God chose to become a human and to become a Jew concedes nothing that could, these days, risk denying anything to anyone. No potential for claims of victimization.

Not so, however, with confessing that Revelation shows that God chose to become a male.

Upon hearing this, many people become defensive, wondering "What's the hidden agenda of whoever is propounding this?"

The Vatican calls this the "hermeneutics of suspicion." ["Hermeneutics" means "interpretation," particularly interpretation of readings out from Scriptures (exegesis)]

But, whatever the consequences, what the NT says is what the NT says.

The question, therefore, for all of us, regardless of consequences, is whether the NT has purposefully"revealed" that God became (= that Jesus is) a male, as opposed just reveraling that He became (= that He is) a human and a Jew?

And, if so, to determine what could be the significance of such a revelation?

Here I'd like to introduce a technical word, "numinosity." It means "the supernatural power of a symbol, thing or person."

Needless to say, Jungians love the term. But Christians use it too, even in the WO context (See "The Priest as an Icon of Christ: A Thomist Concept" by John Saward. THE PRIEST 50 (1994): 37-47.

The NT tells us very, very few "facts" about Jesus.

We are, for example, not told what He looked like, not even what language(s) He spoke, certainly not what politics, economics, or other interests, He had.

In fact, from what the NT tells us about Him, only the briefest of entries in any Who's Who could ever be given for Jesus.

The very few specific facts that we are given are usually immediately accompanied by a polemic ("quotation-from-the-OT") explanation behind our being told such facts (e.g., why He was born in Bethlehem, why He was taken as a child to Egypt, why He was raised in Galilee).

Low-grade numinosity. Just to prove He fulfilled some OT prophecy.

Is that, therefore, also all that there is to the NT's revelation that Jesus was / is a male? Just to prove that He fulfilled some OT prophecies made in terms of the Messiah's being a male?

Or is the fact/truth of the NT's revealation that God became a male ca. 2000 years ago of much more significance? High-grade numinosity?

Feminists are of two minds on the issue of Jesus's maleness. Some, like Patricia Wilson-Kastner ("Who is the Christ?" in FAITH, FEMINISM, AND THE CHRIST (Fortress, 1983) deprecate entirely any quest for "the Jesus of history" and prefer instead to emphasize, not the Person Jesus, but the "values" offered us by "the Christ figure," values that transcend all "dualism."

Other feminists prefer to speak of a "Whole Christ," a risen, purely spiritual Christ , or of a "Cosmic Christ," who has existed from the beginning and is Sophia, Wisdom, become incarnate for but a short time as Jesus.

Most RC feminists, though, remain mainstream and acknowledge as Saviour the male Jesus of Nazareth as being both God and human.

Some Christian feminists can even see a numinosity in God's having chosen to become incarnate as a male,

The feminist writer Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, in CONSIDER JESUS: WAVES OF RENEWAL IN CHRISTOLOGY (Crossroad, 1990) argued: "On the cross Jesus symbolizes the exact opposite of male dominating power. Rather on the cross power is poured out in self-sacrificing love. The cross is the kenosis [emptying] of patriarchy. Looking at the cross, some feminists have reflected sociologically it was probably better that the incarnation happened in a male human being; for if a woman had preached and enacted compassion and given the gift of self even unto death -- is not this the way women are supposed to do anyway? -- but for a man to live and die this way in a world of male privilege is to challenge the patriarchal idea of the dominating male at the root."

Feminist though Sr. Johnson may be, and maddeningly clumsy in her theologival vocabulary and capitalizations though she certainly is, she zeroed right in on one way in which the sex of God-made-human Jesus is forever significant.

Feminists correctly point out the universality, throughout all time and cultures, of the injustices that have been wantonly inflicted by men upon women {calling such oppression "patriarchy").

Some feminists realize that a female incarnation, assuming it were possible, would not have for all times challenged such injustice. What lesson would there have been to male chauvinists in having a woman redeemer publicly treating fellow women with respect? What lesson would there have been in a woman redeemer being meek and humble of heart? In a woman redeemer giving her life for others? The male chauvinists of the world would just have taken that as something to be expected and might even have used such "signs" to perpetuate their injustices to women.

To wrap up, I hope all are still with me so far, in agreeing 1) that the NT does indeed reveal God Incarnate (Jesus) to be / have been a male, as well as a human and a Jew and 2) that there may be / could be a distinct meaning and import in such a revelation.



My epistolary contribution to the WO debate now approaches some of the issue's critical point.

Let me present an overview.

I have contended elsewhere that all arguments *for* women's ordination are reducible to just two:

1) a "males-only" restriction on who *can* be ordained is a restriction physically impossible for humans to enforce (= there is no real distinction between men and women, just a continuum on which all men and women can be found) and, therefore, the rquirement to abide by such an impossible restriction is something an omniscient God could never have decreed; and

2) a "males-only" restriction on who can be ordained is a restriction morally impossible for humans to enforce and, therefore, something a just God could never have decreed.

All other pro-WO arguments that one might hear are , I contend, actually just counter-arguments to the various positions advanced by con-WO partisans who contend that the "males-only" restriction: 1) is founded in Scripture, 2) is consistent with uninterrupted Tradition, and/or 3) has always and everywhere been definitively taught by the Church's ordinary universal magisterium.

Some may dispute me in this, thinking I've over-simplified.

So, let me first set forth the principal substantive theological works published to date, both pro and con, and then, after doing so, summarize the arguments being made by the pro-WO side.



1) Ida Frederike Goerres, "Women as Priests,"

HERDER CORRESPONDENCE 3 (1966): 205-211.


2) -----, "The Order of Priesthood:

Nine Commentaries on the Vatican Decree 'Inter Insigniores.'"

Taken from L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO. (1978; Our Sunday Visitor Press).


3) L. Ligier, "Women and the Ministerial Priesthood."

ORIGINS 7 (20 April 1978): 694-702.


4) Louis Bouyer, of The Oratory, "WOMEN IN THE CHURCH."

(1979: Ignatius Press {i.e., Fr. Fessio's]).

The book includes an epilogue by Hans Urs von Balthasar

and an essay by C.S. Lewis.




(1988: Ignatius Press [i.e., Fr. Fessio's]).



(1988: Ignatius Press [i.e., fr. Fessio's]).

The book includes essays by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Walter Kasper,

and Cardinal Ratzinger.




(1990: Alba House).


There are also two other major works con-WO, but not (yet) available in English:

- -) Hans Urs von Balthasar, "Frauenpriestertum."

NEUES KLARSTELLUNGEN. (1979: Johannes Verlag).


- -) Janine Hourcade, "La Femme dans l'Eglise" (1986: Tequi).




(1983: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press).



1) George Tavard,


(1973: U. of Notre Dame Press).


2) Haye van der Meer,



(1973: Temple University Press).


3) Ida Raming,



(1976: Scarecrow Press).


4) Arlene and Leonard Swidler, eds.,


(1977: Paulist Press).


5) Joseph Komonchak, SJ,

"Theological Questions on the Ordination of Women."

CATHOLIC MIND 75 (January 1977).


6) Carroll Stuhlmueller, CP, ed.,


(1978: Liturgical Press).


7) Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza,


(1983: Crossroad).


8) Elizabeth Schuessler-Fiorenza, IN MEMORY OF HER:


(1984: Crossroad).


9) Sr. Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ,


(1990: Crossroad)


10) Sr. Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ,


(1993: Crossroad).


11) Karen Jo Torjesen, WHEN WOMEN WERE PRIESTS:



(1993: HarperCollins).


12) Lavinia Byrne, WOMAN AT THE ALTAR:


(1996: Continuum).



Unmasking a Cuckoo's Egg Tradition..

(2001: Continuum).


And there is also an important, essentially pro-WO work not (yet) available in English:

--) Karl Rahner, SJ, "Priestertum der Frau."

STIMMEN DER ZEIT 195 (January 1977): 291-301.



--) Elizabeth Behr-Siegel, LE MINISTERE DE LA FEMME DANS l'EGLISE.

(1987: Editions du Cerf).


A reading of all these works shows that the following arguments (listed in no particular order) are thos being made for WO:

1) SCRIPTURAL: The New Testament not only does not explicitly restrict

ordination to males, it contains evidence that in the early Church women

exercised important ministerial roles that later have required ordination.


2) CULTURE-BOUND: The real source of the "males-only tradition" is the

"patriachalism" of the Jewish and pagan peoples, and that its subsequent

history is based on the discredited seemingly theological, but really

cultural, notion of woman's natural inferiority and subordination to man.


3) EUCHARISTIC FAMINE: In our times (at least in Europe and the Americas)

it seems impossible for the Church to satisfy the faithful's "right to the

Eucharist" if ordination is restricted to males.


4) WOMEN TESTIFY OF HAVING BEEN CALLED: Women report experiencing the call

from God to be priests and to deny them ordination is to frustrate a divine



5) QUALIFICATIONS: Women are just as competent as men to teach, to preach,

to administer the Sacraments, to provide counsel.


6) DISCIPLESHIP OF EQUALS: Both men and women are equally created in God's

image; all the baptized are one in Christ. No patriarchy, no hierarchy.

Priests are to serve, not to rule.


7) JUSTICE: Women have the equal right with men to participate in

decision-making in the Church and, therefore, have a right to equal access

to all offices and roles in the Church.


Lastly, in this particular section of my argument, allow me to state the WO "issue" in the most neutral manner that I can:

Is the nature of the priesthood such that, for ordination to it, maleness constitutes a necessary qualification?

If not, then the argued inconclusiveness of the Scriptural data, the suggestion that cultural conditioning is behind the males-only tradition, and the need of the Church in these days to inculturate herself into democratic society, would (to-day) make the case for WO to be more probable to theologians.

For all RCs, though, there is a major doctrinal contraint when approaching this issue. We must accept, as de fide, that Jesus personally instituted the Sacrament of Order at the Last Supper.

If so, then a Sacrament established by Christ must be one receiving its validity from Him, and only from, Him. In short, it is certain that the Church has no power or authority to change, in its essentials, the Sacrament of Order (or any other Sacrament that Jesus Himself instituted).

Of course, everyone knows that not everything contained in the present rites for the various Sacraments is "essential."

Water, for example, is essential, a sine qua non, for a valid Baptism. But the Church has gone from total immersion to sprinkling. So how the water is applied is not essential.

Could it be that the males-only rule for Order is not an essential, like the absolute necessity of water for Baptism, but instead a non-esential, something comparable to the various ways that water may be applied in Baptism?

First of all, everyone needs to remember that the debate over WO is one that has only began in recent decades.

As the Vatican's "Inter Insigniores" so trenchantly put it: "As we are dealing with a debate which classical theology scarcely touched upon, the current argumentation runs the risk of neglecting essential elements."

No Roman Catholic can treat lightly the possibility. that by ordaining women the hierarchy might be going against a positive command of Jesus solely so that we might be politically correct in the 2000s.

The Magisterium, in short, simply cannot permit a change in its sacramental practice for Order, until and unless it has absolutely assured itself that the validity of the Sacrament would be conserved.

The hierarchy has to be at least as careful as we would want the FDA to be in evaluating any new "miracle drug."

People who say that they fear the power of our hierarchy "to run their lives" ought to be be very glad when shown, as we are here, that our hierarchy is actually always so very slow to change anything.

Or would anyone on the pro-WO side prefer having a hierarchy that is able and willing, arbitrarily, to change things at whim?


An Intermission Story.

Here, to interrupt my sequence of missives on the subject of women's ordination, is a short story.

Once there was a very important person. Let's call him XP. He was the largest employer in the region.

And all his life, he was well known as "the Philanthropist."

Immensly wealthy and generous beyond compare, XP. showed such great favor to all his employees that they soon came to realize that XP. was really providing for all their needs, not just for their housing, for their food, for their education, but for everything.

He did this for everyone and anyone coming in contact with him.

One day, though, shortly before his death (a tragic one, but that's another story), XP. called together several of the employees who had known him the longest.

This small group had another thing in common, every last one of them shared the same birthday (December 25).

XP. broke the news to them that he would soon be leaving the area. He told them he would miss their company (but said that he had provided for his best friend to come look after all of them in his absence).

XP. consoled them by saying he had good news that he wanted to impart to them, which he insisted they must pass on to everyone else they know.

XP. said that he had established, out of all that he owned, a huge trust fund, and that all his employees were to become its beneficiaries.

XP. told these dozen (let's call them the) december-twenty-fifthers that he personally had picked them, out of all his many employess, to be the fund's trustees. He emphasized, though, that they were not to see themselves as any kind "CEO types" but as being entirely, totally in service to everyone else.

The trust fund must never be of any more benefit to them than to anyone else.

XP. instructed them to go out and to tell everyone that, from now on, all of their debts were to be paid off out of this trust fund and that, from now on, all their living expenses were to be covered by this trust fund.

Good news indeed.

All those in XP.'s employ would thereafter, all of their working days, get all that they would ever need in life, and - best of all, - were also promised that, upon retirement, they would thereafter get everything that they might possibly desire.

XP. actually, right then and there, started the ball rolling by forgiving all twelve of the december-twenty-fifthers present all of their debts and commencing covering paying of all of their living expenses.

He went on to demonstrate exactly how, in the future, they were to make this happen for all the other employees, in such a way that no beneficiary would ever feel treated as an inferior charity case or would ever think that any trustee was putting on airs..

XP. announced that the trust fund was so big that it would last a long, long time. Forever, in fact.

He told his guests that, therefore, they would have to make provision for recruiting others to carry on as trustees after them.

XP. asked these first trustees to commemorate in a unique way both him and his father (from whom he had obtained all this great wealth). He specified that, in the future, they pick as their successor trustees only worthy employees also born on December 25. That way, whenever anyone thought of the Trust or saw any trustee, that person would be reminded not only of XP., but also of his father.

By doing this, XP. said, that as long as the trust lasted, every time that anyone ever got their debt forgiven or ever got their living expenses covered, even if that happened centuries after that evening, every recipient should think of both XP. the Philanthopist, who had made it all possible, and of of XP.'s father, who had amassed the trust fund's wealth in the first place, reminded first of all by the coincidence that all the successor trustees had/has the same birthday as XP.

A little thing, to be sure, this simple "shared-birthdate" tradition. Actually, merely a way of commemorating XP.'s origin from his father.

But, in time, this little thing somehow became a source of discontent.

XP. did die, and his first december-twenty-fifther friends (all but one, that is) did indeed go out and faithfully carry out XP.'s will.

And, before long, in fact, many millions of people benefitted from XP.'s trust.

Yet soon some people started grumbling.

Sure, they had gotten their debts all paid off and, sure, they had gotten their living expenses covered. And, sure, they were all equally promised that upon retirement they would get everything that their hearts' desired.

But it irritated some of the beneficiaries that XP. had initially only personally confided all this good news to just some of his oldest employees, and, in fact, to just those few of them born on December 25, and that everyone else had been left to learn the good news second-hand, from other employees.

And it really rankled them that XP. had specified that, forever after, only december-twenty-fifthers could be made trustees.

Yes, they knew that those first trustees had followed XP.'s instructions and faithfully told all the other employees everything, without exception, that XP. had confided to them at that evening meal; and, yes, they knew that no one had ever held back from anyone anything that XP. had said about the trust or about how one might get to be a full beneficiary.

But the disgruntled still didn't like (what, according to them, was) the unfairness of it all.

Weren't those born on other days just as good employees?

Weren't they every bit as competent to serve as trustees?

Hadn't XP. so many times shown his respect and high regard for everyone, regardless of his or her birthday?

Certainly XP. was born on December 25. And all the first trustees. They all agreed on that (Well, not all; a few have recently suggested that that date isn't certain).

But, they contended, were there not many other things about XP. to remember (his height, his complexion, etc.)? Yet no one would say they must be prerequisites to serving as a trustee? Why must his birthday be so critical? Would not these other things do just as well, if not better, in serving to remind all the recipients down the years of the great Philanthropist and of his father?

The leaders of the successor december-twenty-fifther trustees responded by remonstrating that everyone, both trustees and non-trustees, benefit absolutely equally from the trust, that the very trust agreement that XP. created makes impossible any trustee's getting any more benefits out of the the trust than any non-trustee employee and, in fact, that XP. specified that the trustees are duty-bound to spend their time zealously serving not themselves or each other, but the non-trustees.

How, they asked, can any non-trustee claim that an injustice has been done to them by XP, or by any trustee, when, in founding this trust to benefit each and every employee with all one might ever desire, XP. asked only that the future dispensers of the trust fund commemorate him by being from those employees sharing his same birthday, so as to remind every beneficiary of XP's sonship and heirship from the one person who had created the trust moneys in the first place?



As I wrote at the outset, in only three passages in Scripture is there an explicit assertion that Jesus Christ was / is a human male ["aner" / "vir"].

Of course, many other verses in the Bible strongly imply, or suggest, that Jesus of Nazareth was / is a human male. I doubt that any neutral reader of the NT could come away from it thinking that anyone but a human male is described therein.

But the fact remains that in only three NT passages does the Bible *say* so explicitly.

Coincidentally, there also are only three passages in all of Scripture which explicitly assert that Jesus Chist is God.

At least that is the conclusion of Fr. Raymond E. Brown, SS, in his JESUS GOD AND MAN.

The three passages that Fr. Brown has said constitute the *only* explicit Scriptural assertions that Jesus Christ is God are:

The Gospel according to St. John. 1:1-18

"1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2.....3. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.4.....11. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.13.....14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.15.....17. For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18. No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

The Gospel according to St. John. 20:27-29

"27. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing. 28. Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. 29. Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed."

St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews. 1:1-8

"1. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, 2. In these days hath spoken to us by the Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. 3. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high. 4. Better made so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they. 5. For to which of the angels hath he said at any time, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6. And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. 7. And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8. But to the Son he saith: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom."

Despite the fact that only as few as just three NT passages explicitly say that Jesus was / is God, almost everyone, including Fr. Brown, concedes that the overall thrust of the NT is the revelation that Jesus Christ is God.

But the fact remains the NT says it explicitly only three times.

This is quite a remarkable coincidence, I would say.

Three times the NT explicitly says Jesus was / is a male human. Three times the NT explicitly says Jesus was / is God.

So, to those who would ascribe inconsequentiality (in Salvation history) to the fact that Jesus is explicitly revealed as truly male (because of the infrequent attention the NT gives to this fact = only three explicit mentionings), they must considered the paradox that the NT also gives absolutely no more explicit attention to the fact that Jesus is truly God (again, only three explicit mentionings).

[N.B. Fr. Brown points to several additional (but only four) passages in the NT that Fr. Brown says "stongly imply" that Jesus is God. There are, of course, many others passages than imply this, but not strongly. Here are Fr. Brown's four:

St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. 9:3-5

"2. That I have a great sadness, and continual sorrow in my heart. 3. For I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren, who are mu kinsmen according to the flesh, 4. Who are Israelites, to whom belongeth the adoption as of children, and the glory, and the testament, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises: 5. Whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever. Amen."

St. Paul's Epistle to Titus. 2:11-13

"11. For the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, 12. Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, 13. Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

The First Epistle of St. John. 5:20

"20. And we know that the Son of God is come: and he hath given us understanding that we may know the true God, and may be in his true Son. This is the true God, and life eternal."

The Second Epistle of St. Peter. 1:1-3

"1. Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained equal faith with us in the justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2. Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord. 3. As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue"



I have written that women cannot be priests because women cannot be fathers.

This thesis is, essentially, a refinement of the "ikon' theory advanced by the Vatican in 1976 in the Declaration "Inter Insigniores."

There are two other grounds for maintaining that women cannot be ordained: 1) the "subjection" thesis and 2) the "inferiority" thesis. More about these later (The Vatican, evidently intimidated by feminists, has in recent decades chosen to downplay these theses).

The ikon thesis (i.e., "women can't be fathers") presumes, of course, we all have a common understanding of the terms "priests," "men," "women," "fathers," and "mothers" (and, probably, also share a common understanding of the words "can" and "cannot").

The words "can / cannot" will, for purposes here, keep their simple dictionary meanings.

And, notwithstanding the great variety of meanings these days being given the word "priest," even among baptized RCs, I'll postpone until later attempting to give to that term a specific definition that all can accept. .

Anyway, for the meantime, I think that, for the sake of the WO argument, only the understanding of "priest" and "priesthood" used by ultra-Tridentine and super-Baroque Roman Catholics matters.

After all, the most fervent anti-WO partisans among the RCs (and among the EOs) wouldn't care one bit if only Protestants and other groups (e.g., the New Agers, the progressive Christians, the modernists) want to have women partake in their organizations' various "ministries" (i.e., partaking in all those functions that orthodox RCs and EOs would see as having been established by humans, for humans).

All of the most ardent pro-WO advocates are naturally most focussed on securing acceptance of women's ordination from the traditionalists.

Pro-WOs will not, cannot, be satisfied until women become ordainable in Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome, on Mount Athos, Greece, and at Ecône, Switzerland, whether or not the Pro-WOs share the theologies of the traditionalists inhabiting such places..

At any rate, to discuss my thesis now, it is critical to note the particular word pairings that I use (men / fathers and women / mothers).

It is axiomatic that men cannot be women (and vice versa) and fathers cannot be mothers (and vice versa).

I hope I don't have to argue this point.

Underlying my thesis (= only those able to be fathers can be priests) is the fact that Christ instituted the so-called "priesthood of the new covenant" in the course of His Last Supper, during that magnificent sermon He gave on "His Father" (all set out in the Gospel according to John).

The Apostle Philip, you remember, early on in this sermon, interrupted Him and asked of Jesus "Shew us the Father, and it is enough for us."

And Jesus replied: "Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Father? Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" John 14:8-10

As I have already written, on only three occasions does the NT explicitly state that Jesus was / is a male. And on only three occasions does the NT explicitly state that Jesus was / is God.

Someone wrote back to me privately that whether the Bible calls Jesus a male zero times, three times or three thousand times is irrelevent. Even if He was / is male, what possibly could be the theological significance of His being male?

The significance is that only men can be fathers.

Which, of course, invites the demand: What's the significance of that truism?

What's the significance of fatherhood vis-a-vis Jesus, our Redemption, the Sacrament of Order?

First, what is being a male?

In the recent Fessio / Fiedler debate ("Can a woman receive the Sacrament of Order?"), Sr. Fiedler acknowledged there is a real difference between men and women. She phrased it as follows: "Men cannot become pregnant and women cannot be sperm donors."

She proceded, however, to dismiss this very real difference as being but a "reproductive" difference, one utterly irrelevant to issues such as whom God might call to the priesthood.

(I must be turning sensitive, or something, in my old age; but I detected a subtle [I'm sure unintended] male chauvinism in Sr. Fiedler's choice of words. Women "get" pregnant, while men are sperm "DONORS." How altruistic of men not to be seeking anything for themselves when having sex." Ergo, I would have thought "sperm depositer" better phrasing, from the feminist standpoint, than "sperm donor.")

But, anyway, the bottom line is still pretty much as Sister put it. The only substantive difference between men and women is in species reproduction.

I would disagree, though, with Sr. Fiedler on whether the different reproductive rôles of the sexes must be regarded as utterly irrelevant to issues like WO. At least the issue is not beyond dispute.

First, I see those roles as having both a biologic and an anthropologic aspect.

Moreover, for each sex, the anthropologic must include the biologic.

The male can generate offspring naturally (the biologic aspect), but must thereupon personally choose to be a father to his off-spring (the anthropologic aspect). A female also can generate offspring naturally (the biologic aspect), but thereupon must personally choose to be a mother to her offspring (the anthropologic aspect).

Actually, that word "choose" doesn't say enough. "Commit" is closer to the truth. Parenthood is not a simple once-made,-over-and-done-with choice.

It's a long-term engagement.

This isn't true, of course, for all living species, or even always true for both sexes in particular living species.

Sometimes, as with guppies, the female will give birth and then go on her merry way, not thinking twice of the living offspring she just delivered. Sometimes, as with alley cats, the male will have his moments of pleasure and then go on his merry way, not thinking twice about the female, or the litter of kittens that he has left her to carry to term and then for weeks to nurse to maturity,.

With humans, it could have been the same as with alley cats. Total male un-involvement once the copulating has finished.

Or for humans it could have been as it appears to be with all other primates, where evidently the males live socially with the females, but play no rôle whatsoever in the rearing of their offspring. (albeit in a few of the primate species, the males might occasionally hold a baby, or even play with it; there is no primate species other than homo sapiens where the males ever seem to partake in the feeding or the educating of the young.)

In short, being a generator and being a parent are two very different things.

One usually, of course, must first be a generator in order to be a parent, but one's being a generator does not necessitate one's then "committing" to being a parent.

Some feminist writers have argued that the supreme evolutionary moment for homo sapiens was the accomplishment, surely brought about by the females of the species, of the "domesticating" of heretofore ferral human males: somehow getting them to participate in child-rearing, in family life. (Obviously, a transformation that is still in process)

Be that as it may, the point I am trying to make is that, while fatherhood always presupposes maleness, maleness does not always mean fatherhood. Plenty of males generate offspring, even to-day among our very own species, yet never make any "fatherhood" commitment to the offspring they generate.

So, for starters, one might ask, what does "generating" offspring involve, for human males and for human females, and, secondly, what does "parenthood" involve, for human males and for human females?

And here I will get to answering a professor of genetics, who has recently wrote:

>I have been asking Terry, et al., for a year and half now
>for a definition of male. and I have yet to get one.
>If we can't define male satisfactorily, how can we ever
>insist on explaining the significance of being male?

The professor rightly objects to any definition such as "a male is one who is not a female." That's so circular only a modern logician could approve of it.

In the past, this professor has also objected to definitions such as "men are those humans with XY chromozome patterns; females are those with XX."

While that definition is quite true; I'll admit it's not very satisfying.

But then, neither would anyone wanting a definition of bread or wine be satisfied if merely handed the chemical molecular descriptions of bread or wine.

Someone arguing, say, for permitting a broader list of possible valid matters for the Eucharist (i.e., not having to be limited to just baked wheat dough and fermented grape juice, but maybe also allowing baked rye dough or fermented blackberry juice, etc., etc.) would not want to hear, in response to the question "What's so special about wheat, as opposed to rye, what're so special about grapes, as opposed to blackberries?," someone replying with molecular formulae.

Chemical formulae, while quite true descriptions, wouldn't address the questioners' real conerns. Significance.

So, here goes: here is how I would define "the human male", "human maleness".

Conceptually, it is simply the fact that "males are those designed to get females pregnant," While "women are those designed to be gotten pregnant by men."

The essence of each, i.e., of males and of females, is their connection with pregnancy. Pregnancy-wise, males being the active / acting agents; women the acted upon / patient agents.

The male, in short, is the parent that has impregnated the female. The female does not impregante the male. The male cannot be impregnated. And the female cannot impregnate herself.

A male outsider must enter the female for pregnancy to occur.

In other words, biologically speaking, the male role (a/k/a "begetting") is utterly different from the female role (a/k/a "bearing").

This difference is not only "a fact;" it is also a fact of univerally acknowledged significance.

Hence the part it plays in Revelation about God, the Trinity, our Redemption.

As Aristotle put it: "Male is what we call an animal that generates into another; female that which generates within itself. That is why in the universe as a whole the earth's nature is thought of as female and matter [N.B., matter = mater, mother], while the sky and the sun or such other heavenly things are called begetters and fathers." GENERATION OF ANIMALS, Loeb Classical Library, I.2.716a14.

Or, as Mary and Leon J. Podles write in "The Emasculation of God," AMERICA MAGAZINE 161 (Nov. 25, 1989): "Maleness is a symbol of transcendence because the fundamental male experience, that of fatherhood, of reproduction through ejaculation, is one of separation, while the fundamental female experience is one of prolonged and intimate union with the offspring through the long months of gestation and nursing. The male experience of the world is 'either / or,' 'this, and not that,' or of separation."

In plain English: the male deposits semen and departs. The female receives, conserves, nourishes, bears, delivers.

Even Elizabeth Schuessler-Fiorenza, in "You Are Not To Be Called Father," CROSS-CURRENTS, fall 1979, claimed that women's sense of being treated as not godlike has preserved in women, much more than in men, the sense of God's complete "otherness" and uncontrollability.

I should be clear here that, up to now, I have not described anything in maleness, or the male's role in generation, that can be "properly analogized" to God the Father's begetting of God the Son, or to God's creation of the universe, or to God's creating our souls, or to God's making us to be His children.

Certainly, the sex roles I've been describing can be used as metaphors for what God does in all those things. For example, a metaphor of His transcendence, of His complete otherness. But it cannot be used for a "proper analogy" because God begets eternally and God creates ex nihilo, not out of anyone or anything, or out of nothing. Not least because there is no female counterpart to God.

This is so because impregnation is intrinsic to human males, but is not to God. Again, impregnation is at best useful as metaphor, not as analogy.

But if we abstract generation and fatherhood out of impregnation, then there nonetheless remains a proper analogy, because the "point of comparison" (active, not patient, agency) is essential and intrinsic both to every human father and to God the Father, although of very different types. See. Fr. Benedict M. Ashley, OP, THEOLOGIES OF THE BODY: HUMANIST AND CHRISTIAN (1985: Pope John Center).

What I have written so far, though, explicates what makes a male a male and not a female.

There are, however, two other biologic aspects of the human male's generative role that both 1) define his maleness and 2), as we shall see, can be used analogically of God.

The first is the fact that it is the human male's semen that *determines* the sex of the conceptus. The female provides only X chromosomes to every conception; while the male provides either an X or a Y. Whether, therefore, the child is to be male or female depends entirely on what is provided by the male generator.

Furthermore, at the risk over over-simplifying in trying to state this in plain English, there is evidence that something in or about the male's sperm, as it draws near to the female's ovum, activates that ovum to make a conception possible. Some energizing / activating / exciting agency provided by the male.

These two other aspects of maleness can, as I will argue, also make for a "proper analogy" with God.

Of course, this is just the beginning, because as I wrote at the outset, "generating" is but one part of the human procreation story. The "commitment to fatherhood" is a far more important part. And it is with the image of "God the Father," not with just "God the Begetter," that we find the supreme Revelation that Jesus gave us.

A Revelation carefully worded in terms of Father, begetting, generating, Son, Sons, children.

For, as I will explain, the human writers of the Bible knew the differences between the words / concepts "father" and "parent", between being "generated" / "begotten" and being "born" / "delivered", between "child" / "children" and "son(s)" and "daughter(s)".


The supreme Revelation of Jesus was that of the Fatherhood of God, Who so greatly loves all humanity..

John W. Miller, in "Depatriachalizing God in Biblical Interpretation: A Critique," CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY 48 (1986) quotes a study by Felix Donahue showing that God is called "Father" 21 times in the OT and 255 times in the NT.

Miller concludes, therefore, that the OT "pre-dicts" the NT not simply by presenting God as a masculine (or male) deity, but also by revealing Him as a father to His worshippers (which the name Jehovah or Yahweh itself may imply : "I am Who causes to be"):

"True, Yahweh is pictured occasionally as acting with tenderness and care that is mother-like. But nowhere is it ever said or suggested that he is mother. According to Jesus his very 'name' is father and the hallowing of that name is the focal point of religious devotion."

Raphael Patai, in THE HEBREW GODDESS (1967: KTAV Publishing House), has written that Yahweh's fatherhood is

"possibly the greatest such symbol and image conceived by man.... Nor can there be any doubt as to the psychological need answered by the image. This together with the great moral imperatives, was the unique contribution of prophetic Judaism to mankind."

Unique indeed. Of all the great religions, that (or those) of Abraham and his physical and spiritual descendants (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) alone are monotheistics, believing in a transcendant God utterly "other" from the universe.

All the other religions, even if they do have ruling male gods (like the Egyptians, Canaanites, Greeks, and Romans), see the universe as itself (herself) a great feminine, or female, originating deity and believe there is "nada" outside that feminine universe.

So, the original Revelation, to Abraham, of God's utter "otherness", is complete only alongside the concommittant Revelation of God's loving "fatherhood" to all humanity. (See especially the Book of Hosea).

Of course, the 21 instances of the OT's Revelation of God as Father only pre-sage those of the NT, where God is an amazing 255 times called 'Father".

Fr. Richard McBrien, in his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CATHOLICISM (1995: HarperCollins), says that Jesus Himself called God "Father" 170 of those 255 times (42 in Matthew; 4 in Mark; 15 in Luke; and 109 in John).

[N.B.: Only once in all the NT, though, is Jesus quoted as Himself calling God "Abba" ["Daddy"]. That one time was during His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemene, when He asked of His Father that "this cup" pass from Him). And, even then, Mark has Jesus crying out "Abba, Pater". All the other 169 times in which the NT quotes Jesus as saying "Father," it has Him just saying "Pater," with no "Abba"]

The NT writers knew fully well, and even used in various contexts, the different Greek words for "father" and for "parent," to say nothing of the Greek word for "mother."

God, however, is always called "Father," never just "Parent" and, most certainly, never "Mother".

A Revelation? Or just an incidental fact (e.g., like the fact that Jesus started His ministry when He was "about thirty").

This question, of course, immediately leads to the question: What is Revelation?

One fascinating outcome of the WO debate is that, over the last twenty-five years, its proponents have, as part of their theological argumentation, been forced to articulate what exactly are their positions on Revelation.

Some, like Mary Daly, have utterly repudiated any authority for the Bible because they deem it incorrigibly patriarchal.

Others, like Elizabeth Schuessler Fiorenza, accept "the memory" of the Bible, regarding it as historically important, but without authority independent of modern cleansing of meanings that our modern sensibilities show to be impossible to a just and moral order.

And still others, like Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, say that they accept the Bible as the Word of God, but in practice treat it as inerrant Word of God that has been written down in the words of very much errant humans, who, when all is said and done, are very fallible human attempting to express the inexpressible.

Needless to say, none of these positions can be squared with the many de fide. pronouncements of the RC Church on Revelation. [I do not think that any single topic in Theology has as many de fide. pronouncements as does Revelation].

In catechisms, even the Trinity is a topic more simply presented than Revelation.

We are here engaged, of course, in a debate on WO, rather than on Revelation, but accaptance or non-acceptance of the Church's position on WO inevitably leads one to accaptance or non-acceptance of the Church's position on the Revelation that is (allegedly) contained in the Scriptures.

[I suggest that those still with me read the chapters on Revelation contained in THE TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AS CONTAINED IN HER DOCUMENTS by Fr. Josef Neuner, SJ, and Fr. Heinrich ROOS, SJ, (1966) [This is the version edited by Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ]

My point is that, in these days, when people not only feel free to interpret as they please what is stated in the Bible, but also seem to think that they possess the right 1) to translate that Bible as they please (e.g., with inclusive language) and even have the right 2) to re-write the Bible as they please (e.g., dropping such politically incorrect imagery as God's being our Father or such troubling passages as the various hostile statements about "the Jews" by evangelists' or by Jesus').





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