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

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Appointed by Pope Paul IV to examine the role of women in the Bible, the Pontifical Biblical Commission found, in part, that the will of Christ would not be disobeyed if the Roman Catholic Church ordained women. The Commission reported; The New Testament does not settle in a clear way...whether women can be ordained priests, scripture grounds alone are not grounds enough to exclude the possibility of ordaining women [and] Christ's plan would not be transgressed by permitting the ordination of women. Further, it is attested among biblical scholars that although the Bible was written in a patriarchal culture, Jesus is predominantly portrayed as one who promoted the equality of women and men. Yet the Church has continued to exclude women for twenty centuries primarily on the basis of the precedent of twelve male apostles at the Last Supper. It is clear that women will be needed, and in elevated roles, if a declining Church is to grow and prosper in the coming century. Catholicism is faced with a precipitous drop in the number of priests, portending 21st-century parishes without pastoral care--unless women are ordained. Addressed here are the conflicts and questions surrounding the struggle by women to serve the Roman Catholic Church and receive full equality within the church hierarchy.