Female Ordination in the Catholic Church. The Peeing while Standing Hypothesis

Academic Paper, 2021

29 Pages, Grade: 1.0


Table of content

1. Introduction

2. A Catholic Priest enters a Women’s Public Toilet

3. The Toilet-Seat Up or Down Debate

4. Constructivism, Epistemology and Phenomenology and a Deficient Female

5. My Point of Departure

6. Peeing While Standing or Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes Hypothesis

7. Female Ordination in the Catholic Church: Banging on a Closed Door

8. The Pontifical Biblical Commission and Ordination of Women

9. Absurdity of the Female Exclusion Criterion

10. Catholic Female Ordination: When Complementarians meet Egalitarians

11. The Danube Seven: It is not for lack of trying on the part of women

12. Conclusion

13. References

1. Introduction

This article is conceived as a theoretical and literature framework summarising the state of play regarding the Catholic magisterial position on female ordination in the Catholic Church. This article accompanies a currently ongoing six-month research project, “Female Catholic Ordination to the Diaconate, Priesthood and Episcopate: A Constructivist-Epistemological-Phenomenological Inquiry,” a post-doctoral research project submitted to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Kabwe, Zambia and the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa. A summary of the project reads as follows.

This research proposal examines the question of the non-admission of women to Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. This question has been around for 2000-plus years in one shape or form, despite ordination being a post-Second Testament phenomenon and the witness of many of the Reformed Tradition who have allowed the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood since the reformation in the 16th century. This is despite the scholarly consensus that none of the early apostles were ordained as priests for obvious reasons. Sacramental Christian priesthood is a post-Second Testament invention. What is at the centre of the research problem being explored is that the female exclusion criterion became set in stone almost right from the beginning despite the witness of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE showing or giving canonical guidelines for the ordination of women to the diaconate. Like celibacy, the requirement of male gender for ordinationi became the primary litmus test and conditio sine qua non for admission to the Catholic priesthood. The legend of ascertaining the male gender of a Pope in the middle ages by the duos testiculos habet et bene pendentes [he has two testicles and they hung well] putative ceremony could well have been invented for the Catholic priesthood. This research presents the key magisterial texts barring Catholic women from ordination and invites respondents to speak to them in order to establish which of the two principal schools of thought they subscribe to: the complementarian or egalitarian schools of thought.

First, a caveat and an apology that is really a non-apology. The peeing while standing metaphor for the non-admission of women to the Catholic diaconate, presbyterate and episcopate is meant to peeve those who insist on male gender for Catholic ordination in the Catholic Church. It is as ludicrous as saying that women cannot be ordained because they cannot pee while standing. It’s even more ludicrous that the Magisterium justifies it with reasons as porous as a watering can with a huge hole at the bottom. I can understand if the Magisterium would take a little truth serum and just admit that there is no good reason to bar women from ordination today, except for fear of schism of protestant reformation proportions. Pope Francis’ conundrum is compounded further by an ultra-conservative emeritus Pope with no pastoral nous in his DNA as his inconvenient neighbour not quite ready to meet his maker, supported by an equally ecclesiastical African Neanderthal with the keys to the valves of sacramental grace as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Robert Sarah. For readers of a sensitive disposition but who support female ordination in the Catholic Church, I beg your indulgence. I intend to make the case for female ordination by taking no prisoners.

Second, a reader alert and clerical joke to follow shortly, equally in bad taste, underscores the nonsensical tradition of barring women from holy orders. In a reversal of the joke, it is a sad day at the office, if all we can ever come up with after 2,000-plus years of Christianity is that “even, especially ordination, is for men” as if it was especially designed for them and that women are anatomically excluded for having the wrong urinary contraption. We then work our way backwards to the Bible and prove that “The Bible tells me so” as in the title of the 1955 gospel pop hit by the same name written by Dale Evans as if the Bible fell out of heaven by a process of divine verbal dictation and therefore cannot be critiqued. As Daniel Dei and Robert Osei-Bonsu, cited below opine, this is not good enough.

This article offers a summary of the debate that informs a post-doctoral research to be carried out between February and July 2021 in which I have targeted Catholic lecturers and Catholic students in institutions of higher learning. My aim is to test what I have referred to as the “Peeing while standing” hypothesis in regard to the non-ordination of women to the Catholic diaconate, priesthood and episcopate. My hypothesis is that both those who support and those who are against the ordination of women is a win-win situation. The key issue is what Ettore Ferrari has referred to as “an idolatry of [heterosexual] maleness,”ii or objection to it, both consciously and unconsciously. Even for a researcher, when it comes to the female ordination/non-ordination debate in the Catholic Church, there is no sitting on the fence. Like Marian Ronan “I continue to believe that the exclusion of Roman Catholic women from the priesthood is wrong” (Ronan 2007: 149). The post-doctoral research that this article accompanies or informs is not about arguing my case which has been crystal clear since my 20s and well-established in the literature and even recent media. It is about finding out where my fellow Catholic professionals and their students stand on this debate and why. This article reiterates my opposition to Catholic magisterial thinking on the issue. Unlike Marian Ronan who “immersed” herself “in the emerging discourses of feminist theology and spirituality to better understand women’s ordination and related questions” (Ronan 2007: 149), I have immersed myself in discourses on male-gendered clericalism and patriarchy and their perniciousness in society and religion and have argued that debunking and dismantling male-gendered clericalism and patriarchy will advance the cause of Catholic female ordination and egalitarianism immeasurably (Mukuka 2021). The egalitarianism we aspire to is not a matter of human rights. It is our inheritance as brothers and sisters of Jesus. And now, what happens when an inebriated Catholic priest enters a women’s public toilet brandishing his crown jewels?

2. A Catholic Priest enters a Women’s Public Toilet

A Catholic priest enters a women’s public toilet at a watering hole. A woman screams, “This is for women!” The priest replies, with slurred speech while holding his membrum virile, ready to pee while standing, “Even this is for women.” The War of the Sexes (Seabright 2012) manifests itself in many ways. To take two anatomically-related daily functions, women cannot pee while standing and whether the toilet-seat must be left down or up but neither of these are of seismic importance. So, what if a man or a woman pees standing or seated? The toilet-seat up or down tradition, at least has hygienic consequences. Most men cannot shoot straight, especially at their local watering hole where they are usually put out of their misery by the beloved urinal. Men use the standing while peeing ablution tradition as a gender badge of honour to shore up their supposed superiority. I have argued elsewhere that “I think this elitist mindset must go back at least as far back as patriarchal religion, when men appropriated the original worship of earth mother goddess. The ensuing specialisation in the cult by men began to be used as an instrument of power” (Mukuka 2020a: 5).

3. The Toilet-Seat Up or Down Debate

In the toilet-seat up or down stakes, almost always men end up winners, as they have done elsewhere, sadly including in my own bedroom toilet. My wife has taken it stoically, as women usually do, and from time to time it enables her to ascertain how much sugar is in my diabetic pee due to its viscosity. Do you detect a pattern here? I do. It is called patriarchy and male-gendered superiority. My former student Chisenga Phiri, with his legal lens on, reminded me of the following in a recent reply to a Facebook post. “My own interest in patriarchy stems from my reading of Roman Law. To be specific, the period between The Twelve Tables [451‒450 BCE, the earliest attempt by the Romans to create a Code of Law] and Justinian [11 May 482 – 14 November 565]. Here, the concept of the Paterfamilias emerges which assigns to a man nearly absolute legal power over his household [Table IV]. This includes the notion of imperium, that is, power over life and death in his family. The entire edifice of western law seems to rest on this transition from wild tribes to a more sedentary, property holding and rights vested agrarian and mercantile European populace. And the rest of the world seems to have inherited this as the universal notion of law” (Facebook, 4 January 2021). According to the Avalon Project of Yale Law School, the following content is found in Table IV, pertinent to patriarchy.

i. A notably deformed child shall be killed immediately.
ii. To a father shall be given over a son the power of life and death.
iii. If a father thrice surrenders a son for sale the son shall be free from the father.
iv. To repudiate his wife, her husband shall order her to have her own property for herself, shall take the keys, shall expel her.
v. A child born within ten months of the father’s death shall enter into the inheritance.iii

According to John Paul Adams “The Twelve Tables [ Duodecim Tabularum ] give the student of Roman culture a chance to look into the workings of a society which is still quite agrarian in outlook and operations, and in which the main bonds which hold the society together and allow it to operate are: the clan (genos, gens), patronage (patron/client), and the inherent (and inherited) right of the patricians to leadership (in war, religion, law, and government).”iv He also provides the following content of the twelve tables.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

The Catholic Church has yet to admit to this Imperium Romanum legacy to which the Catholic Church owes its ubiquity, power and even popularity. Matthias von Hellfeld nails this moment to Emperor Theodosius I, almost to the year, month, day (27 February 380).v The result is that since then, the Catholic Church has been married to both patriarchy and male-gendered superiority or what Ettore Ferrari refers to as “an idolatry of [heterosexual] maleness,” for better or for worse, for rich or poor, in sickness and in health till eternity do us part. After studying the issue of the ordination of women in the Catholic Church since my 20s, the only “reasonable” [read unreasonable] explanation I can come up with is “the peeing while standing” or the “Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes” [he has two testicles and well-hung ones] (De Souza 2007: 16) hypothesis. Men use this anthropological engineering and evolutionary contraption as evidence of their one-upmanship in their theological War of the Sexes (Seabright 2012).

The research which this article accompanies sets out to examine whether my “Peeing while standing hypothesis” has any merit. On the male side, the bar for ordination has been set so incredibly low that all you needed to be ordained are valid baptism and male gender or better, what I refer to as “Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes” [he has two testicles and well-hung ones]. The irony is that once certified as “Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes,”vi the candidate then proceeds to make a promise that henceforth he would never use his membrum virile except for urinary and nocturnal emission purposes. It is no surprise that the Catholic celibate priesthood has been riddled with crisis, at least since the end of Vatican II, with sexual abuse galore as the recent McCarrick Report (2020) lays bare and children of the ordained in pandemic proportions to boot as revealed by Vincent Doyle (Doyle 2020). It is surprising that Vincent Doyle’s Our Fathers: A Phenomenon of Children of Catholic Priests and Religious received warm reception from the President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. In a 21 December 2020 letter addressed to Vincent Doyle, Monsignor Bernard Ardura told him, “Vous avez eu l’amabilité de me faire connaître votre projet de publier un volume sous le titreOur Fathers: A Phenomenon of Children of Catholic Priests and Religious.” Je vous en remercie. À ma connaissance, c’est la première fois qu’un ouvrage est spécifiquement et exclusivement consacré à ce sujet” [You were kind enough to let me know of your plan to publish a volume under the title “Our Fathers: A Phenomenon of Children of Catholic Priests and Religious.” Thank you. To my knowledge, this is the first time that a book has been specifically and exclusively devoted to this subject].vii But the real issue is what episcopal conferences are doing about this humanitarian crisis. I do not see anything being done by my own episcopal conference, the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops. They would probably remind me that I was one of the priests who increased the world population of children of Catholic priests by one, forgetting that I resigned from the Catholic ministerial priesthood precisely for that reason — albeit ten years too late. I have dealt with this and owned up as truthfully as I was able to in a newspaper interview for the Sunday Mail in Zambia of 22 December 2019 with the now infamous title “I’m your father, but don’t call me dad.”viii

This article debunks the Magisterium of the Catholic Church’s logic-defying position on the non-ordination of women in the Catholic Church. This position has disregarded the witness of a majority of Christian traditions from at least the 16th century by holding on to the patriarchal and male-gendered prohibition of women to be ordained as deacons, priests or bishops. For my post-doctoral research, I proposed the peeing while standing or “Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentesix hypothesis to test it out among Catholic lecturers and students. This hypothesis is a parody of Catholic Magisterial teaching. It is framed in such a ludicrous manner to help unmask how ludicrous the Catholic position is in the first place. As a Catholic theologian, the pronouncement made by Pope Paul VI in 1976 and ratchetted up by Pope John Paul II in 1994, confirmed by Benedict XVI and Pope Francis sounds about as reasonable as saying that women cannot be ordained to the Catholic diaconate, priesthood or episcopate because they cannot pee while standing or that they have no balls. Hence the significance of the peeing while standing or “Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes” hypothesis. Catholic Scripture scholar Sandra Schneiders has the following to say on the logic of the prohibition of female ordination in the Catholic Church.

The assertion that the attitude of Jesus and the apostles provides a permanent norm excluding women from ordained priestly ministry in the Church presents difficulties of both a theoretical and historical kind. The most serious logical difficulty lies in the claim that the source for such a norm is the intention of Jesus. Only a conscious theological decision could provide a clear imperative; but it cannot be shown that a theological decision was made to exclude women from priestly ministry. All that is known is that there were no women, Gentiles, Samaritans, or, evidently, slaves among the Twelve; it is not possible to deduce from that fact a conscious intention rather than unconscious social and cultural motivation. That becomes clear when we pose the question whether in choosing the Twelve, Jesus intended to establish a criterion for office in respect to sex, but not in respect to race, ethnic identity, or social status (Schneiders 1979: 611).

4. Constructivism, Epistemology and Phenomenology and a Deficient Female

The post-doctoral research informed by this article was originally conceived as a literature-based desktop type of research but at the eleventh hour I thought better of it and decided to carry out a phenomenological survey of opinions of my Catholic colleagues in universities in Kabwe, Kalulushi and Lusaka. My hunch was that this constituency of Catholics has not been canvassed for their opinion. They are laity after all. What do they know about Thomistic, anthropology, metaphysics and ontology? My research has assumed a constructivist-epistemological-phenomenological approach to meaning-making where there are no right or wrong answers. What is important for me as a researcher is where the answers of my informants will come from and possibly how they will be constructed as part of the meaning-making of my respondents and whether my respondents can confirm or deny my peeing while standing hypothesis. I am hoping that my research aim will turn out to be a win-win situation as I have mentioned. My hypothesis turns on the assumption that those who support the Magisterium will confirm patriarchal and male-gendered clericalism as their main reason for objecting to the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. Their support of the Magisterium buys into the essentialist or ontological argument of the Magisterium which effectively agrees with Thomas Aquinas that a woman is “deficiens et occasionatus” [deficient and misbegotten]. Those who oppose the Magisterium effectively depart from a non-essentialist, non-ontological but rather phenomenological approach to reality. It is hoped that they will be able to cite “other social and cultural differences, including femaleness”x and the non-acceptability of male-gendered clericalism as archaic and out of date. I think that this objection to the Magisterium suffices. There is no need to resort to Dennis Michael Ferrara’s contrived “apophatic” interpretation that when Thomas Aquinas describes the priest’s action in the celebration of the Eucharist with the formula in persona Christi he means that the priest effaces himself before Christ.xi As Sara Butler understands Dennis Michael Ferrara, “The non-representational, ministerial, and ‘apophatic’ meaning of in persona Christi, not its hierarchical meaning, he claims, is primary, original, and normative for St. Thomas.”xii Thomas Aquinas got this one wrong. There is no need to rehabilitate him as he does and as Peter Kwasniewski does.xiii

Lest we take the name of Thomas Aquinas in vain, here he is telling us why women cannot be ordained priests. “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.” So far so good. But what Thomas Aquinas says next is totally unexpected. “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” (Summa Theologiae Suppl. Qn. 39 art. 1). Wow, where did that come from? If this is not a male-gendered argumentum ad absurdum, then I don’t know what is. In hindsight, in my own vocational journey, I never for one moment considered being a Dominican, in part thanks to Thomas Aquinas. I studied Thomism because he was the preferred theologian for sacramentology in a Catholic Church married to baptised Aristotelianism and ontology. I really did not like him just as I never quite warmed up to Aristotle. I am not sure how I could preach Thomas Aquinas’ sexism if not misogyny, if I joined the company associated with him. However present-day Dominicans spin one of their Dominican friars’ misogynism, they need to own up that according to his Aristotelian anthropology and metaphysics “femina est deficiens et occasionatus” [A woman is defective and misbegotten] (Summa Theologiae 1a Qn.92, art.1, obj. 1) and that this should now be dead and buried with him. And I couldn’t care what century he lived in as a mitigating factor. There were scholars who plied their trade in the thirteenth century who did not share his misogyny.

5. My Point of Departure

My point of departure has been since my 20s that the Catholic Church has got the wrong end of the theological stick on the ordination of women debate. I make no bones about this. In modern terms, the magisterial position is archaic, sexist, if not misogynist, at least that is what research has established (Maher et al 2007). My question is, where do we go from here? An admission of doctrinal error on the part of the Magisterium or even admission of fear of schism may not be a bad start even if the error was made in good faith, which cannot be guaranteed, or simply unfounded fear. I think Daniel Dei and Robert Osei-Bonsu hit the nail on the head when they make the following conclusion, worth citing at length.

After considering the arguments on both sides of the debate, the paper concludes that there is no valid biblical, theological, or traditional endorsement of the position either to exclude or to include women in the Gospel Ministry as ordained ministers. Yet the reality of excluding or including women in the ordained ministry in some Christian denominations cannot be ignored. Based on the conclusion reached by this article, it may not be appropriate to base such practice on the Bible, neither on accurate theological reflections nor longstanding Christian traditions. The implication is that other grounds such as social, cultural, political, or gender may be cited as the main factor determining the position Christian denominations or individuals may take on the issue of female ordination. In this regard, it would be appropriate for these grounds to be clearly identified and explained so as to encourage healthy conversations between individuals or Christian denominations holding opposing stances on the issue. Yet in approaching this issue, it would be probable that one understands the ministry of the Christian Church as well as the utilisation of all available resources, both human and non-human, of the Church towards attaining its divine mission (Dei and Osei-Bonsu 2015: 58).

In the words of Daniel Dei and Robert Osei-Bonsu, my starting point for the research that gave rise to this article was precisely that “other grounds such as social, cultural, political, or gender may be cited as the main factor determining the position Christian denominations or individuals may take on the issue of female ordination” (Dei and Osei-Bonsu 2015: 58) so that we can move on, knowing what cards our fellow players are keeping close to their chest. In my view, the Catholic Church’s trump card is the patriarchal and male-gendered clericalism card which is their main reason for objecting to the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. Increasingly, the Catholic Church’s magisterial position is becoming more difficult to uphold while keeping a straight face. I think future generations will lampoon our crass ignorance for defending the indefensible for so long.

6. Peeing While Standing or Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes Hypothesis

Just so that we are on the same page, this hypothesis is ludicrous. As I noted in my introduction, it was meant to peeve those who believe that there is something divine about excluding half the human race from Sequela Christi as ordained ministers. Perhaps that is why proponents of the non-ordination of women have not phrased this as peeing while standing. But I hasten to add that the peeing while standing or Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes hypothesis is a trope and metaphor and goes something like this. Men are stronger, more superior and more important in all walks of life except pregnancy and child-birth. This was brought home to me recently by a female colleague I was helping to finalise the topic for her doctoral research proposal. Another colleague told me she was a Catholic. “You’re not a Catholic by any chance,” I asked. “I was,” she replied matter of fact. “What happened?” I pressed her. “I got married and my husband asked me to convert to Pentecostalism,” she told me without batting an eyelid. “Why didn’t you ask him to convert to Catholicism?” I insisted. “Because he married me and he is the head of the house.” I was speechless. In short, she was unable to pee while standing and had balls. It is the lot of men to make decisions and to lead as the 25-year-old married female student told me with a straight face recently, “a man is the head of the house” and nature has conspired with men to give them the option to pee standing or seating and they chose the former because it was the only thing women could not do. Just as peeing while standing is quick and efficient, ordination of men works like clockwork. But ordaining those who pee while seating may even require architectural changes such as a second toilet. Men like their urinals. Ordination of women would be further complicated by pregnancy which would make a one-hour service challenging due to the need for frequent urination, not to mention throwing up and hopefully not the species! It has been ever thus and why fix something that is not broken. As I usually do, I resorted to pen and paper and came up with the article, “The Man as Head of the House: The Peeing while Standing Hypothesis”xiv and so was born “The Peeing while standing” hypothesis (Mukuka 2020c).

When applied to the ordination of Catholic deacons, priests or bishops, there is every likelihood that no woman has ever been validly and lawfully ordained in the Catholic Church in recent times. As a result, in the Catholic Church, this is now a closed argument as Pope John Paul II ruled magisterially (Pope John Paul II: 1994). There is a small loophole in the never have women been ordained to the priesthood in the evidence of women deacons in the second part of the Christian Bible and the ordination of women behind the iron curtain. Stalwart non-ordainers would probably argue that no laying on of hands is ever mentioned in their regard in the Bible or that the ordinations were simply invalid during the iron curtain days. Such denial is oblivious of canon 15 of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 which stipulated that women be ordained deacons after the age of forty. Those who claim that no laying on of hands took place remind me of the situation in my own diocese of Ndola in Zambia during the 1980s when extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist were being introduced. As time went on, they were being referred to as Ba Dikoni [deacons], which ironically, they were. Just not canonically. Their usual name was bakafwa [helpers]. This argument forgets one important fact. Jesus did not ordain any Christian deacons, priests or bishops. He couldn’t. There was no Christianity then. His followers were Jews which had its levitical priesthood, which not even Jesus was qualified to claim. He did not even try to. There were simply no Christian priests in the Second Testament. Holy Thursday, I hate to disappoint those who celebrate it as the day the Lord Jesus instituted the priesthood, is about a farewell Agape meal or love- fest, whatever spin later practice has put on it. It is about “Do this in remembrance of me” not about a special presider. He was the presider. No laying on of hands is mentioned here and when it is mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles, there is no mention of the Eucharist when it comes to giving the job description of the presbyteros [elder] or the episkopos [overseer], both secular and non-sacerdotal titles of the community leader. The early presiders over the Eucharist in the household Churches were never ordained. They were lay people, much like in the manner of the paterfamilias or presumably the materfamilias presiding over the Passover seder meal whose only qualification was that they were the head of the household, presumably that included women too. That is what qualified them to preside over the Eucharist, not their ordination or laying on of hands by one of the successors of the apostles. Female gender was not a positive exclusion criterion as in the present Canon Law of the Catholic Church.

7. Female Ordination in the Catholic Church: Banging on a Closed Door

The most up to date authoritative magisterial statement on this question is as recent as the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994) in which John Paul II declared, “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22.32), I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 1994: par 4). If not the Church, who? Presumably, we have to wait for the second coming by which time ordination will be obsolete. This declaration was in keeping with Pope John Paul II’s predecessor, Pope Paul VI who declared in 1975 that “She [the Roman Catholic Church] holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church” (Pope Paul VI 1975, AAS 68 (1976): 599). As to who decides what is “in accordance with God’s plan for his Church,” the Magisterium would be excused for reminding us, ad nauseam, “It’s the Magisterium stupid!”

Both Pope Paul VI’s letter and Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter were quite short. A much more detailed statement is to be found in the declaration Inter Insigniores (1976). Issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under its powerful prefect and theological watchdog, Cardinal Franjo Šeper, this was as authoritative dogmatically as they come. The declaration opens its argument by declaring that “The Catholic Church has never felt that priestly or episcopal ordination can be validly conferred on women” (Inter Insigniores 1976: section 1). Did the document say, “never felt” as in feeling like? So, this is a matter of affectivity rather than rationality or divine revelation? Understood in this sense, this sounds like a typographical error when it should have read “never considered.” Section 2 opens with what has come down to be the Magisterium’s pièce de resistance which I have referred to as the female exclusion criterion. “Jesus Christ did not call any women to become part of the Twelve. If he acted in this way, it was not in order to conform to the customs of his time, for his attitude towards women was quite different from that of his milieu, and he deliberately and courageously broke with it” (Inter Insigniores 1976: section 2). What else could he have conformed to, if not “the customs of his time?” As I have pointed out, there is a yawning fallacy here. Women were not the only class excluded from Jesus’ inner cabinet. There were many other groups not included such as gentiles, gay people, blind people, one-eyed people, Samaritans, lame people, black people, dwarfs, elves, Romans, leprechauns, pygmies, Greeks, Chinese people, Khoisan, Occitans etc. If the penny has not yet dropped, I write half in jest. To continue my hypothesis metaphor, I am taking the piss. There was an obvious reason why Jesus did not appoint any women among the twelve. He was sensibly conforming “to the customs of his time.” The early disciples were to go out on mission and it would have been culturally inconceivable for a woman to do that at the time, whether married or not. Ever the maverick he was, it surely must have crossed Jesus’ mind. Today we would say that Jesus was being pragmatic rather than ideological. A slight reinterpretation of Luke 8.1‒3 may give us some insight in that direction.


iSacram ordinationem valide recipit solus vir baptizatus” [A baptised male only receives sacred ordination validly] (Can. 1024).

ii Ettore Ferrari (10 June 2019), “Women priests could help the Catholic Church restore its integrity. It’s time to embrace them,” The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/women-priests-could-help-the-catholic-church-restore-its-integrity-its-time-to-embrace-them-118115 (Accessed on 21.12.2020)

iii Source: Allan Chester Johnson, Paul Robinson Coleman-Norton and Frank Card Bourne (1961), Ancient Roman statutes: Translation with Introduction, Commentary, Glossary and Index, Austin TX: University of Texas Press, https://avalon.law.yale.edu/ancient/twelve_tables.asp (Accessed on 05.01.2021)

iv John Paul Adams (10 June 2009), “The Twelve Tables [451‒450 BCE],” http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/12tables.html (Accessed on 05.01.2021)

v Matthias von Hellfeld (16 November 2009), “Christianity becomes the religion of the Roman Empire - February 27, 380,” Social Science Journal, Education, Humanities, https://www.dw.com/en/christianity-becomes-the-religion-of-the-roman-empire-february-27-380/a-4602728 (Accessed on 05.01.2021)

vi According to legend, the Roman Catholic Church once stipulated that anyone elected Pope should prove that his genitalia were intact. To this end a special chair was designed with a horseshoe-shaped seat. The Pope-to-be was asked to sit on the seat and the cardinals would file past, proclaiming: ‘ duos testiculos habet et bene pendentes ’ [two testicles he has and well-hung ones], New Internationalist (5 June 1993) https://newint.org/features/1993/06/05/curious#:~:text=The%20Roman%20Church%2C%20according%20to,that%20his%20genitalia%20were%20intact.&text=The%20Pope%20to%20be%20would,testiculos%20habet%20et%20bene%20pendentes’. (Accessed on 13.12.2020). Like all legends, the truth will never be known.

vii Bernard Ardura (21 December 2020), “Letter to Vincent Doyle,” Pontificio Comitato de Scienze Stroriche, Prot. No 319/2020

viii Jack Zimba (23 December 2019), “I’m your father, but don’t call me dad: The secret a Catholic priest could no longer keep,” Sunday Mail, http://jackjzimba.blogspot.com/2019/12/im-your-father-but-dont-call-me-dad.html (Accessed on 24.01.2021)

ix I found the following explanation for the legend on a French website in answer to the question, Pourquoi dit-on du pape queDuos habet et bene pendentes”? [Why do they say of the Pope: “Duos habet et bene pendentes”?]. Pauline Joseph answers, “Littéralement, ‘ il en a deux, et bien pendantes.’ Il s’agirait d’une vérification rituelle de la virilité des papes nouvellement élus. Un ecclésiastique serait censer palper les parties génitales du pape au travers d’une chaise percée réservée à cet effet [Literally, “He’s got two of them, and dangling well.” This was a ritual check on the virility of the newly elected Pope. A clergyman was supposed to palpate the genitals of the Pope through a holed chair reserved for this purpose]. https://paulinejoseph.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/pourquoi-dit-on-du-pape-que-duos-habet-et-bene-pendentes/ (Accessed on 20.12.2020).

x Ettore Ferrari (10 June 2019), “Women priests could help the Catholic Church restore its integrity. It’s time to embrace them,” The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/women-priests-could-help-the-catholic-church-restore-its-integrity-its-time-to-embrace-them-118115 (Accessed on 21.12.2020)

xi Dennis Michael Ferrara (1994), “Representation or Self-Effacement? The Axiom in Persona Christi in St. Thomas and the Magisterium,” Theological Studies 55: 195‒224

xii Sara Butler (1995), “Quaestio Disputatain Persona Christi.’ A Response to Dennis M. Ferrara,” Theological Studies 56: 61‒80

xiii Peter Kwasniewski (11 January 2021), “Far from the Spirit of the Lord: On the Pope’s New Motu Proprio,” Crisis Magazine, https://www.crisismagazine.com/2021/far-from-the-spirit-of-the-lord-on-the-popes-new-motu-proprio (Accessed on 16.01.2021) Peter Kwasniewski (11 January 2021), “Pope Francis’s inclusion of ‘female ministries’ continues his pattern of rupture,” LifeSite News, https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/pope-franciss-inclusion-of-female-ministries-continues-his-pattern-of-rupture (Accessed on 16.01.2021) Peter Kwasniewski (11 January 2021), “Incarnate Realism and the Catholic Priesthood,” 1 Peter 5, https://onepeterfive.com/incarnate-realism-and-the-catholic-priesthood/#_ednref2 (Accessed on 17.01.2021)

xiv Tarcisius Mukuka (2020), “The Man as Head of the House: The Peeing while Standing Hypothesis,” Munich: GRIN Verlag

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Female Ordination in the Catholic Church. The Peeing while Standing Hypothesis
Kwame Nkrumah University
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female, ordination, catholic, church, peeing, standing, hypothesis
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Dr Tarcisius Mukuka (Author), 2021, Female Ordination in the Catholic Church. The Peeing while Standing Hypothesis, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/990332


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