ethische non-monogamie / ethical non-monogamy

Male domination in Church “a question of power” [Switzerland]

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by Eveline Kobler

The insistence of the Roman Catholic Church that priests have to be male reflects the power of men and not Christian theology, says Swiss theologian Doris Strahm.

Strahm is co-author of a recent study into women in leadership roles in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths.

We may all be equal before God, but the study by the Inter-religious Think-Tank shows that this is not the case in certain religious communities.
The study looks at three branches of Judaism, the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches and the Islamic community in Switzerland. In liberal Jewish communities and in the Protestant church, women can hold leading clerical roles.

swissinfo.ch: The study shows that many women work for the Catholic Church but they are not allowed to serve as priests. Why?

Doris Strahm: The Catholic Church justifies this on the grounds that Jesus only called men as his apostles and on Catholic tradition. But this is an untenable argument, as Jesus was a Jew and he did not found a church. The office of priest only goes back to the fifth century.
Even the papal Bible commission, when it debated this issue in 1976, came to the conclusion that the Bible could not be understood to exempt women from the office of priest.
Until the 1980s the ban on women’s ordination was justified by reference to the sacramental character of the office of priest: the priest in his priestly functions represented Christ, who was a man, and therefore the priest had to be male.

swissinfo.ch: What criteria still apply – apart from gender?

D.S.: There are no other special criteria apart from gender. The priests have the same theological training as women theologians.
The fact that the male sex is so important is, in my view, to do with the patriarchal nature of our culture and in particular of Christian theology, with its male images of God as father, lord, creator, judge and a redeemer who was a man.
The man was seen as the standard form of humankind and as the image of God and there was the idea that woman was subservient to man as a created being – these things helped consolidate the view that men are closer than women to God. The church leaders, who have the last word, seem to see it still in the same way. It’s simply a question of power.


swissinfo.ch: Do you think there is a chance that the Roman Catholic Church will move in the direction of equality?

D.S.: I don’t see this development coming from above, from the official Church. If anything does change, it will come from below. The local churches need the courage to go in new directions and to break through the centralised structures.

swissinfo.ch, 13 juni 2011


Written by lovingmore

juni 14, 2011 bij 9:28 pm

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