Women and the priesthood


A chara, – According to the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, women were indeed the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and played a key role in the formation of the early Christian community and in witnessing to the Risen Christ ever since and especially in the world today.

The exclusion of women from priesthood can no longer be justified by using the scriptures and by selective quotations from the Gospels, which were put together long after Jesus. The only basis for excluding women today is the tradition of the Catholic Church. That argument is now beginning to look threadbare, given that the modern world has begun to recognise the equality of women and also given the decline in male vocations.

The claim that Jesus ordained only males to the priesthood has no biblical basis. The fact is that Jesus never ordained anyone to the priesthood. That men only were ordained was a later development and a gradual development mainly in keeping with the Roman culture of the time. Nowhere in the Gospels does it state that men were the only ones to be ordained as priests. Presumably those disciples of Jesus who were present at the Last Supper were exclusively Jews and that could hardly be used as an argument that only Jews should be ordained.

Jesus went out of his way to include everyone in his new community.

A fundamentalist interpretation of scripture has done neither the church nor Jesus any service in creating a new and inclusive world or in building up the reign of God in the world. Outdated superficial interpretations of scripture are a real hindrance in furthering the message of Jesus of peace, love, forgiveness, truth and inclusion.

The Holy Spirit is calling on us to think again about this issue and to open up the discussion about ending the marginalisation of women in our world and in our church. – Is mise,




Co Fermanagh.

Sir, – If the issue of women and the priesthood is primarily about fairness and equality, then surely men should be allowed, indeed encouraged, to become nuns? It could be win-win all round, with women keen to be priests, and men nuns, as sadly both ranks are greatly depleted.

In the happy circumstance of this happening, I can foresee a time when a keen and ambitious young man rises through the ranks and eventually becomes mother superior of his order. Wouldn’t we have something to talk about then? – Yours, etc,


The Ninch,


Co Meath.

Sir, – Barry Walsh’s letter (June 28th) saying that Jesus apparently only chose male apostles is fine and reasonable as far as it goes, but why stop at the Twelve? In Luke, another “72” are appointed with no indication of either name or sex. In Romans, mention is made of one “Junia”, a female name. Not alone that but she is described as “outstanding among the apostles”! – Yours, etc,


Shamrock Avenue.