Maura A. Ryan


Much has been written on the question of ordaining women in the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic scholars of all stripes have debated issues such as the biblical sources for a theology of ordination; the relationship between sacramental and non-sacramental ministries; the limits of papal authority and the development of doctrine; and, more recently, the relationship between the elevation of an all-male, celibate clergy and the failure of Catholic bishops to address reported sexual abuse by priests. This essay focuses on the ethical implications of barring women from the priesthood. Although my references are to Catholic or Christian practices primarily, I explore two issues which have the potential to cut across denominational or creedal lines: the morality of sex-specific roles and the symbolic character of ordination.

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