Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Revolutionary appointments

Today at Rome noon, the Holy Father appointed the new International Theological Commission. Its members include 5 women, bringing the total representation of women on the theological commission to 16 percent.

As a longtime theology student, I find this news extremely welcome, particularly when considered along with the recent appointment of the first woman rector of a Roman pontifical university. While far short of true parity, these are giant steps towards equal ecclesial recognition for the contributions of women scholars.

Intelligence and letters among Catholic women are not new: one might well debate which of Saints Teresa of Avila and Hildegard shone brighter, each in her own way, not to mention the first-order mind of St. Edith Stein. This excellence seems to have slumbered now for some 60 years. It wasn't always so. Browsing the dissertations in the library stacks at Catholic University,  it's easy to see that in the pre-conciliar years, there was a flood of feminine scholarship.

One of the many benefits of this new open-ceiling policy is a reorientation of questions surrounding ordination. There is no parity there and there never will be, and that is fine. Parity in other areas, however, can be achieved and should be sought. Ordination is not a sign of expertise or political power, but of being set aside, and changed, for service. Thankfully many excellent young men are taking up this challenging role.

It seems to me that the further apart these two discussions are kept, the more easily the best contributions of all can be brought forward for the good of everyone.