Ordination of Women in the Sacramental Churches

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Luis T. Gutierrez
Working Paper, 7 February 2015

A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. In the sacramental churches, the main obstacle to the ordination of women is the idea that the masculinity of Jesus requires the priest to resemble him as a male. But this is a fallacy which is rooted in the patriarchal norm of the father as head of the family and not on divine revelation.

“This is my body.” What matters for the sacramental economy, and for the priest to be a visible sign of the acting presence of Christ, is not that Jesus is male but that in him the eternal Word assumed human nature in a human body, and “became flesh.” The proper matter for the sacrament is “flesh,” not “maleness.” Therefore, the necessary and sufficient condition for outward resemblance is the human body, whether male or female. The advent of women priests and bishops is also required to make the church hierarchy a complete image of Jesus Christ as a divine Person who became incarnate and abides in the Trinity. All the sacraments are nuptial. None of the sacraments was instituted by Christ to be gender-exclusive.

The choice of the 12 male apostles by Jesus is a particularity of his earthly mission to the people of Israel and should not remain normative as the church becomes incarnate in post-patriarchal cultures. Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate would be in perfect continuity with apostolic tradition.

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