The following is a response to some (not recent) criticisms of my argument against the “Catholic” position that women cannot be ordained because only a male priest can represent Christ. To get to my actual response, you’ll need to read past the list of argumentative propositions.
In the most recent post in my series on women’s ordination, I addressed the definitive new Catholic argument against women’s ordination, which can be summarized as follows:
(a) the priest represents Christ in celebrating the eucharist (acts in persona Christ),
(b) the priest must be male
(c) Jesus Christ is male
(d) only a male priest can represent a male Christ.
(di) a woman priest cannot represent a male Christ.
(ai) the priest does represent Christ in celebrating the eucharist (acts in persona Christi);
(dii) a woman cannot be a priest.
Note that in order for the argument to work, each one of the above propositions must be true. However:
(a) it is not the case that a priest exclusively or necessarily represents Christ in celebrating the eucharist
(d) it is not the case that only a male priest can represent Jesus Christ
(c) what is important in representing Christ is something besides his masculinity;
(dii) it does not follow that a woman cannot be a priest.
My response to the new Catholic argument can be summarized as follows:
(a) the priest does not necessarily or at least exclusively represent Christ in celebrating the eucharist
(ai) on the Eastern model (which has increasingly been adopted in recent ecumenical discussion and revised eucharistic rites), the priest represents the church and so acts in persona ecclesiae.
(ai) the priest represents the church
(b) the priest must be female
(c) as the bride of Christ, the church is feminine
(d) only a female priest can represent the female bride of Christ;
(di) a male priest cannot represent a female church.
(di) it is possible for a male priest to represent the female bride of Christ
(dii) it must be equally possible for a female priest to represent a male Christ
(ci) what is important about representing either Christ or the church must be something besides the sexual identity of the priest
(di) is false.
Or, if sexual identity is still crucial, then
(diii) both men and women should be ordained
(div) insofar as the priest represents both Christ and the church, men best represent the male Christ and women best represent the female bride of Christ.
As the argument stands, it is valid. (more…)