Select Bibliography:
On the Ordination of Women
to the Ministerial Priesthood
by Francine Costantini(1)
9 December 1996

Baker, John Austin, Bp. "Eucharistic Presidency and Women's Ordination." Theology 88 (S 1985) 350-357.
Discusses the tradition of women in the Church. B's main argument is that Christ alone acts in the sacrament of the Eucharist and the priest is only instrumental. Thus, there is no basis for the Church's position that women cannot fill that role.

Beauchesne, Richard J. "Scriptural/Theological Argument against Women's Ordination (Simply Stated) and Responses." Journal of Ecumenical Studies 32 (Wint 1995) 107-114.
Good article on the problems with the Church's stance on women's ordination. B. argues that the nuptial imagery of Christ as bridegroom and Church as bride is flawed.

Carr, Anne E. Transforming Grace: Christian Tradition and Women's Experience. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.
A general overview of feminist theology. Re: women's ordination, C. argues that the Church is denying the full personhood of women in its ban on their ordination. In Christology it is the humanity of Jesus that is important, not his maleness.

Dinter, Paul E. "Christ's Body as Male and Female." [A biblical dissent on Catholic ban on women's ordination.] Cross Currents. 44 (Fall 1994) 390-399.
D. heavily criticizes the Magisterium for its narrow perspective on this issue. The Church has ignored Scripture and its symbolism in order to emphasize a static tradition. Stresses the importance of Paul's metaphor of the body of Christ. At times D. does not explain his ideas very well.

Donahue, John R. "Women, Priesthood and the Vatican." America 136,13 (April 2, 1977): 285-289.
The arguments of tradition and theology that are presented in Inter insigniores are both faulty. D. is particularly critical of the biblical scholarship of the Church document. The only way for the priesthood to truly represent the Church is for it to be both male and female.

Ferrara, Dennis Michael. "Representation or Self-Effacement: The Axiom In Persona Christi in St. Thomas and the Magisterium." Theological Studies 55, 2 (June 1994).
F. thinks the Magisterium's theological argument shows a poor understanding of what St. Thomas meant by in persona Christi; he actually meant that the priest steps aside completely and lets Christ do all the work in the Eucharistic prayer. The priest is simply quoting Christ. Gender is not an issue, for the priest is not playing Jesus as in a dramatic act, so does not need to physically resemble him. Very technical.

_________. "The Ordination of Women: Tradition and Meaning." Theological Studies 55, 4 (Dec. 1994).
A further argument that takes into consideration Pope John Paul II's Ordinatio sacerdotalis which came out as F's earlier article was being published. States that the Magisterium is trying to argue that the theological arguments of past Church scholars were not all based on women's inferior status, but this is clearly the case. He quotes the Scholastic doctors who are cited in Inter insigniores in detail, showing that they make no distinction between an argument that only males can be priests and that women are inferior and incapable of Church leadership.

Heyer, Robert J., ed. Women and Orders. New York: Paulist, 1974.
A collection of essays which approach the topic from slightly different angles. The first half of the essays concentrate on the theological anthropology that is implied in the Church's teaching on women's ordination. The remainder question the very order of the priesthood in the manner it is practiced by the Church.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. She Who Is. New York: Crossroad, 1992.
A general feminist theology. Re: anthropology and Christology, J. states that woman as well as man was created in the image of God and Christ. Jesus' maleness is irrelevant to theological discussion; in fact, to stress it is heretical.

Keefe, Donald J. "Sacramental sexuality and the ordination of women." Communio (US) 5 (Fall 1978) 228-251.
K. relies greatly on the symbolism of the nuptial union of Christ and the Church, arguing that the priest must be male to represent Christ as bridegroom. He fails to recognize that this is a symbol, the implications of which are that therefore only females can be lay people and non-ordained men have no place in the Church.

Maguire, Daniel C. "The Exclusion of Women from Orders: A Moral Evaluation." Cross Currents 34, 2 (Summer 1984) 141-152.
A scathing criticism of the Church for its role in misogyny by prohibiting the ordination of women. M. argues that the Church's position is immoral, unjust and sacrilegious. Well-written and defended.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. Boston: Beacon, 1983.
A general feminist theology. One chapter specifically deals with women and ministry, beginning with an historical analysis. R. argues that the hierarchical structure of the priesthood is faulty and women should only strive to join it if it is fundamentally altered.

Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Inter Insigniores on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood. Rome, 1977.
This declaration states the Magisterium's position against women's ordination. This document spurred most of these other books and articles in response.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elizabeth. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. New York: Crossroad, 1994.
A wonderful book which examines Early Christianity from the viewpoint of feminist biblical scholarship. An attempt to extract the historical place of women during a period from which we have only androcentric texts.

Sheets, John R. "Ordination of women." Communio (US). 3:3-15 (Spr 1976).
S. is strongly against women's ordination. His arguments in defense of his position range from the tenuous to the absurd.

Swindler, Leonard and Arlene, eds. Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration. New York: Paulist, 1977.
An excellent collection of short essays by well-known scholars, all of whom strive to make clear the negative implications of Inter insigniores. Also includes a copy of the Declaration, its commentary, and the report of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Thompson, Ross. "Male and female in Christ's priestly dance." Theology. 87 (Mr 1984) 95-101.
Argues that the Church needs women priests in order to "liberate the priesthood" (96). T. asserts that the maleness of Jesus has no more (or even less) impact than his Jewishness. Having women in the priesthood is necessary to enable us to recognize that God is not restricted to the dominant male images.

Untener, Kenneth (Bp.). "Forum--The Ordination of Women: Can the Horizons Widen?" Worship 65 (Jan 1991): 50-59.
Good article on misuse of the phrase in persona Christi. Traces its origins to St. Thomas. Points out that this previously uncommon phrase has become quite prevalent in this century, but it is based upon a mistranslation of 2 Cor. 2:10. Argues that the Church needs to be open to new horizons. U's work is easy to read, geared toward a general audience.

1. Edited by Sheila E. McGinn, 3 February 1998.