Should Catholic Women Teach Men? YES!

Should Catholic Women Teach Men? YES! January 28, 2021

From the Coming Home Network forum. Someone asked, initially:
An evangelical friend asked me what I thought of 1 Timothy 2:12 ‘I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man.’ So what to think? We have women at all kinds of staff positions, including various teaching roles in our parish and diocese. In my parish, all but one staff position is a woman (plus the priest makes two).
For the roles and vocation of women, I would strongly recommend anyone reading Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) from 15 August 1988.
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Some of the statements from St. Paul about women have an immediate cultural context, which means they aren’t binding for all time (and the Church has obviously interpreted them as such). Women can’t be priests, because Christ designated that as a male-only vocation, but they have many prominent roles in the Church. This is especially, obviously true in the case of saints like St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Hildegard of Bingen, and St. Catherine of Siena (the last four being Doctors of the Church). The Blessed Virgin Mary is the very highest creature God ever made: far higher than any created man.
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So I think  women teachers at a parish (not to mention lector or acolyte) is no sweat for God. Women do most of the lay work on a parish level because men are too selfish and lazy to do it.
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The magisterium is all men (popes, bishops, and both in council), but that doesn’t exhaust the teaching capacity in the Church at all. It only exhausts the “official” or “dogmatic” teaching capacity. We still have female nuns, teachers, DRI’s, Bible study leaders, prayer group leaders, professors of theology, apologists and catechists, authors, administrative positions, etc., let alone saints and doctors of the Church. How could a Doctor of the Church not teach a man???!!! 
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Not to mention what we dense men who are married learn from our wives practically every day . . . 
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A woman on the Coming Home board asked:
At the same time, as someone said, I would not have the ability to supersede whatever the real teachers, a member of the priesthood (all male) say in matters of doctrine (a fancy word for teaching). Nor would I want to.
If your priest or bishop spoke that which was clearly, undeniably heresy and contrary to the teaching of the Church, you would have as much right as any man to rebuke them, according to Church teaching. You not only can do that, but should (and should want to). Now, be sure to have everything you are contending documented to a tee, and let it be an extremely rare occurrence, and show the utmost respect and deference to the offices and persons involved, but rest assured that you or any layperson can do this.
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St. Catherine of Siena was known to give popes an earful. St. Joan of Arc called a spade a spade, too, didn’t she?, which is why she is so universally admired, even by non-Catholic skeptics like Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw.
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Of course you can’t change what is truly Catholic dogma, but no man can, either, so that is a moot point in this discussion of “women as teachers.” All laypeople, male or female, are in the same submission to official, dogmatic Church teaching.
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The same woman wondered what it “means in terms of man and woman being created in the image of God. What is my place in all this, as a woman?” I replied:
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You’re created in the image of God, just as a man is. I think it is interesting that God has revealed Himself “anthropopathically” in feminine, motherly terms also:
Isaiah 42:13-14 (RSV) The LORD goes forth like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his fury; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in travail, I will gasp and pant.
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Isaiah 46:3-4 “Hearken to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. (cf. Jer 3:19-20; 2 Cor 6:18)
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Isaiah 49:14-15 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (cf. Matthew 23:37-38)
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Isaiah 66:13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (cf. Ps 131:2-3)
Technically, God (the Father) is neither male nor female, being a spirit. He has both aspects in His nature, which is why we both are made in His image and reflect Him. Even psychologists and those who talk about the four temperaments will say that a balanced person has both feminine and masculine characteristics in the right proportion, depending on their gender.
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Women tend to excel in certain characteristics and men do in others. But we both have to have some of what the opposite gender “specializes” in to be balanced, rounded human beings.
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That’s extremely evident in Jesus Himself. He could coddle children, weep over Lazarus’ death (even though He knew He was gonna raise Him shortly after), and express the utmost tenderness, and also furiously overturn the moneychangers’ tables and denounce the Pharisees in quite “masculine” fashion, and speak truth to power.
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I sure hope that I am nurturing and compassionate when my child comes to me, emotionally or physically hurt (in fact, my wife Judy always claims I am more of that sort than she is, which is quite debatable, but it’s true that I’m a much more “huggy” type). Yet we see that as a “feminine” characteristic. And I would hope my wife disciplines our children when they do something wrong, when I am not around (which we categorize as more of the father’s role: she does do so).
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Even the “God the Father” terminology is anthropopathic, in part, I believe (though these are very deep waters and I am not qualified to go down that road). In His relation to us He reveals Himself as a Father; also God the Father in relation to the Son. But God also possesses what we regard as typically “feminine” characteristics.
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Bottom line: no women priests, by the design of our Lord, but plenty of teaching opportunities for women in the Catholic Church, and the very highest, most exalted, venerated place for any creature is reserved for a woman: the Blessed Virgin Mary. The female saints (including four Doctors of the Church) have much to teach any man. If that is “anti-woman” just because we agree with Jesus that the priesthood is confined to men, then I confess I am out to sea as to the “reasoning” processes involved.
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(originally posted on 1-16-09)

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Photo credit: St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897): Doctor of the Church. [public domain]

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