On July 14, 2014, the Church of England voted to allow women to become bishops. “Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years ago with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result,” said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans. (Reuters)
Roman Catholic Church leaders have criticized the Church of England’s historic vote. “The decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate therefore sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us,” read a statement by Archbishop Bernard Longley, Chairman of the Department of Dialogue and Unity, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. (Christian Post)
Many Catholics, as well as conservative members of the Anglican Communion, maintain that women should not serve as priests and/or bishops, since Jesus Christ selected only males to serve as his apostles. (Christian Post)
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Reality check, what about Mary Magdalene? She is usually thought of as the second-most important woman in the New Testament after Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She was present at Jesus’ two most important moments: the crucifixion and the resurrection. Within the four Gospels, the oldest historical record mentioning her name, she is named more than most of the apostles. The Gospel references describe her as courageous, brave enough to stand by Jesus in his hours of suffering, death and beyond. (Wikipedia)
Mary was most prominent during Jesus’ last days. When Jesus was crucified by the Romans, Mary Magdalene was there supporting him in his final moments and mourning his death. She stayed with him at the cross after the other disciples (except John) had fled. She was at his burial, and she is the only person that all four Gospels say was first to realize that Jesus had risen and to testify to that central teaching of faith. John and Mark specifically name her as the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection. Indeed, she was the “Apostle to the Apostles”, an honorific bestowed upon her by fourth-century orthodox theologian St. Augustine, among others before him. (Wikipedia)
Yet, the Roman Catholic Church has the following eloquent explanation sealed by the Pope’s infallibility:
In his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis (1994), the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, declared that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” This definitive statement leaves no “wiggle room” for those who would like to continue debating the question. As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made clear in 1995, the statement that the Church has no authority to ordain women as priests, is not merely a matter of Church discipline (which can be changed), but belongs to the deposit of faith (which cannot). “This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Concerning the Teaching Contained in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis).
This Apostolic Letter alludes to the reasons given in the Declaration Inter Insignores, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1976. They include, in addition to the testimony of Scripture and Tradition, the example of Christ, who though counter-cultural in many respects, continued Israel’s tradition of a male priesthood in reserving the Office of Apostle to men. That the Apostles did not regard this as a divine oversight is evident from the fact that they themselves ordained only men. And so the Church has continued this Sacred Tradition down to the present. (EWTN)
What a crock of highfalutin bull-shit that conveniently ignores and disregards the example of Christ and Mary Magdalene. More importantly, even in the hypothetical absence of Mary Magdalene in the Scriptures, the Roman Catholic Church’s position to continue a tradition of male priesthood over 2000 years ago as “belonging to the deposit of the faith” is so utterly incongruous in light of the advancement of social mores in the global community, including more progressive views and attitudes toward the roles of men and women in society, over the past couple of millennia.
The following pictures of Muslim women completely covered in burqas are prime examples of a repressive and oppressive religious practice that may have been commonplace 2000 years ago but clearly has no place in our society today—much the same way the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to allow women priests and bishops clearly has no place in our society today. In the words of British Prime Minister William Gladstone when he publicly attacked the dogma of papal infallibility conjured at the First Vatican Council nearly 150 years ago, “arbitrary tyranny” and “a crime against liberty hidden beneath a suffocating cloud of incense.”