A female theologian has blasted bishops opposed to women’s ordination, telling them to “venture out into the world and learn to question your rigidity”.

– “Same old moth-eaten” arguments against women deacons, priests and bishops “far from convincing”

Among those opposed to women deacons, priests and bishops “again and again the same old moth-eaten arguments are pushed through, therefore they are far from convincing”, Julia Enxing, a professor of systematic theology at the Institute for Catholic Theology of the Dresden University of Technology, wrote in an essay October 16 in the online theological journal feinschwarz.net.

Enxing analysed two of the most common objections to opening up Holy Orders to all those beyond the male sex, which she said consist of appeals to the “unity” of a “universal” Church.

– Church “unity” a red herring

The theologian summed up the first objection to women’s ordination thus: “We want to preserve the unity of the Church: many believers are against the women’s diaconate and/or women’s priesthood; a division must be prevented at all costs”.

But Enxing questioned why the “many” Catholics opposed to women’s ordination should be given precedence, and why the even greater number of believers who have already left the Church “because of the structural discrimination of women… are so little ‘on the agenda'”.

“Are the many emancipated women who are on the verge of collective exodus really that irrelevant to this Church, which has made unity its essential feature?”, the theologian asked in that sense.

Also on the subject of alleging Church “unity” as an excuse not to ordain women, Enxing also argued that “even if the Church tradition is interpreted in such a way that so far only male bishops have stood in the apostolic succession, can then… ‘apostolicity’ be played off against ‘unity’ and ‘catholicity’ (in the sense of ‘all-encompassing’)?”

“Shouldn’t it be precisely for the sake of unity that it be a matter of allowing greater plurality and giving all who constitute unity the right to be adequately represented at all levels?”, the theoogian insisted.

– Objections to women’s ordination from Church “universality” a “miserable… pseudo-argument”

Turning to the second common objection to women’s ordination – that of appeals to moving as a “universal” Church – Enxing summarised the argument in this way: “Women and men around the world are by no means everywhere as emancipated and equal as here in Germany. On the African and Latin American continents it would be very strange to imagine women in the role of a deacon or priest”.

But the theologian criticised that objection as concealing “Eurocentric tunnel vision” in its claim to speak for all “women”.

In Enxing’s opinion, appeals to the universality of the Church to stop women deacons, priests and bishops are therefore a “miserable… pseudo-argument” and nothing more than a desperate “attempt to save the last bastion of patriarchy”.

– An appeal to Church authorities: “Ask women what they think. Just ask them”

Enxing closed her essay by recalling that while all the major religions of the world – Judaism, Islam and Protestant Christianity – all have female rabbis, imams and pastors, the Catholic Church is still lagging behind.

While many non-Catholics around the world – religious and otherwise – are “on the forward march” with respect to installing women as leaders of their communities, the Catholic Church – though appealing to that same idea of “world” where women’s equality is consolidating itself more and more – “calls the recognition of equal rights for women and men a divisive idea”, Enxing lamented.

The theologian concluded with a powerful appeal to Catholic bishops to “ask the ‘women of the universal Church’ whether they would really mind if the Catholic Church had female deacons and priests. Just ask them”.

Enxing continued, still appealing to the Church’s male prelates:

“Talk to young people around the world and find out about all those areas where the non-masculine helps to shape the world. Be guests in the house churches in the Amazon, where women preside over worship. Be guests of queer communities and learn from them. Venture out into the world of religions and learn to question your rigidity”.

On Novena, more calls for women’s ordination:

“Cold comfort”: Female priest accuses Pope of paying only lip service to women’s equality in Catholicism

Female theologian denounces: “In the Church we women are still being pushed to the side, hidden, silenced”

Catholic women tell Pope ‘Fratelli tutti’ “a step in the right direction” on inclusion in Church, “but a step too small”

Special to Novena: Gender identity should be no obstacle to priestly ordination


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.