Why it cannot be required of any Catholic to take the pope’s declaration as the last word on women’s ordination
The question that needs to be asked in regard to John Paul II’s declaration 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” is – what theological note is to be attached to this declaration? Is it, and can it be, any stronger than “theologically certain” (a quaint way of saying that it is not so certain that it cannot be discussed and reconsidered!)? I doubt it because the fact of the matter is that never before, in the history of the Church, has the question been raised (on the very few occasions that it has been raised at all) in the context of an assumed social equality of men and women. It is, therefore, a new question and none of us (John Paul II included) know the answer to a new question until we have considered it. Therefore, in spite of John Paul II’s “definitive tenendam”, it cannot be required of any Catholic that they take the pope’s declaration as the last word on the matter.
January 29th, 2013