The Ordination of Women
Canon Heidt has made it very clear that he cannot accept the validity of orders conferred upon women--and you can find various reasons, such as they are, for Fort Worth's position. You will find, I think, heavy use made of the notion of a need to "act in the person of Christ" (p. 15), the relative novelty of "ontologically equal" sexes with "differing roles" (p. 12), the curiousity (p. 19) of "ontological sexual identity" and a real boner ("no asexual human nature"--implying men and women don't share a species; whoops). Disappointing: as if they rushed to carry whatever they dug up in the back yard into the living room so as to be able to say "Look--a reason!" For we find ourselves prima facie in the 21st century carrying around a tradtion--the denial of Orders to women--without a reason. How did it come to this?
Whence this still very popular belief, that women cannot be priests, much less bishops? Perhaps one key text comes from Aquinas:
I answer that, Certain things are required in the recipient of a sacrament as being requisite for the validity of the sacrament, and if such things be lacking, one can receive neither the sacrament nor the reality of the sacrament.
Other things, however, are required, not for the validity of the sacrament, but for its lawfulness, as being congruous to the sacrament; and without these one receives the sacrament, but not the reality of the sacrament.
Accordingly we must say that the male sex is required for receiving Orders not only in the second, but also in the first way. Wherefore even though a woman were made the object of all that is done in conferring Orders, she would not receive Orders, for since a sacrament is a sign, not only the thing, but the signification of the thing, is required in all sacramental actions; thus it was stated above (32, 2) that in Extreme Unction it is necessary to have a sick man, in order to signify the need of healing. Accordingly, since it is not possible in the female sex to signify eminence of degree, for a woman is in the state of subjection, it follows that she cannot receive the sacrament of Order.
The key point: women as such lack a measure of perfection; as women they bear an ontological defect--this is implied by their being "in a state of subjection." He means women are monstrosities, on the order of two-headed calves and dogs with eight legs:
If it were not for some [divine] power that wanted the feminine sex to exist, the birth of a woman would be just another accident, such as that of other monsters.
Nisi ergo esset aliqua virtus quae intenderet femineum sexum, generation feminae esset omnino a casu, sicut et aliorum monstrorum. De Veritate 5, 9, d. 9.
They wouldn't be around--God would not have created such degenerate life-forms, Aquinas is saying, if we didn't need to reproduce. He thinks this way in party because he has a lousy understanding of human reproduction, inherited from Aristotle; he thought women made no active contribution, but were like passive vessels for the motions of development initiated by male semen. I think everyone, even Canon Heidt and assorted like-minded denizens of Fort Worth, would reject that particular line of reasoning from Aquinas.
That leaves a question of course: Surely Canon Heidt and these other guys don't think women are monsters; but what about Akinola and the rest? If so, let's just come out and admit it in the open. If he is married, did he wed a freak of nature? No? "Of course not" Akinola would say.
Quick, what did we just learn? We saw the virtue of subjecting traditional beliefs--and there is a looooooooong tradition behind this sort of idiotic regard for women as defective(right up to Immanuel Kant even, and beyond)--to critique. We would not want to be fools carrying a bag of bricks over millennia for nothing.
But we also should be wary of treating traditions with a respect they do not deserve and did not earn. At least part of the long duration of the tradition behind denying women orders was simply void of sound reason. To count these years toward that tradition's favor seems perverse, a willing embrace of ignorance and false witness that can only be unnatural to human beings. Indeed, I wager much ancient and medieval thought about sexuality, gender and marriage is similarly afflicted. Doubt me? Browse through this stinker and get back to me.
What else does Aquinas have? Let's leave aside his "argument" from hair (seriously: The woman’s hair is a sign of her subjection, a man’s is not. Hence it is not proper for a woman to put aside her hair when doing penance, as it is for a man.” Summa Theologica Supplement , qu. 28, art. 3 ad 1). Women, you see, are fools by nature, incapable of manly rationality:
Subjection is twofold. One is servile, by virtue of which a superior makes use of a subject for his own benefit; and this kind of subjection began after sin. There is another kind of subjection which is called economic or civil, whereby the superior makes use of his subjects for their own benefit and good; and this kind of subjection existed even before sin. For good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates. Nor is inequality among men excluded by the state of innocence, as we shall prove (96, 3). Summa Theologica I, qu. 92, art. 1, ad 2
That, my gentle readers, is what Aquinas is referring to when he speaks of women being in a state of subjection--the comparative lack of "the discretion of reason" in women. The upshot is not everyone was equally made in the image of God:
The image of God, in its principal signification, namely the intellectual nature, is found both in man and in woman. Hence after the words, "To the image of God He created him," it is added, "Male and female He created them" (Gn. 1:27). Moreover it is said "them" in the plural, as Augustine (Gen. ad lit. iii, 22) remarks, lest it should be thought that both sexes were united in one individual. But in a secondary sense the image of God is found in man, and not in woman: for man is the beginning and end of woman; as God is the beginning and end of every creature. Summa Theologica I, qu. 93, art. 4 ad 1
This is embarassing; Scotus does little better:
Woman however possesses a [state of] natural subjection with respect to man. Therefore she ought to have no degree of eminence over any man, because as much by nature as by condition and nobility women are more ignoble than any man; whence after the fall, the Lord subjected her to the rule and power of the man. But if she were able to receive some [Holy] Order in the Church, she would be able to preside over and to have authority, which is contrary to her condition.
And hold your nose:
1. Timoth. 2. ‘Let the women learn in silence’, and ‘I do not permit them [women] to speak or to teach’, where a gloss [reads], ‘not only I but also the Lord does not permit it’;and this is so because of the weakness of their intellect, and the mutability of their emotions, which they commonly suffer more than men. For a Teacher ought to have a lively intellect in the recognition of truth, and stability of emotion in its confirmation.
Pathetic. But millions and millions of Christians are held in thrall to such "reasons" or ones no better--this dreck is celebrated all over the world and even, alas, in the Episcopal Church. You should stop by the pro-woman unofficial Roman Catholic site "Woman Priests" and see for yourself what kind of arguments Fort Worth and those similarly minded can muster.
I've concentrated on Aquinas and Scotus to show you how hollow the tradition behind denying women ordination truly was, even as represented in the thinking of Rome's best theologians. This is one strand of Anglo-catholicism that should finally die out. Dear indeed may be the hoary tradition hallowed by age, but dearer still, O brethren in Christ, is the Word and the Truth.