1976: No women need apply!

A little history is in order here following yesterday’s post on Cardinal Collins’ lame justification for excluding females from the priesthood.

In 1976 Pope Paul Vl requested that the Pontifical Biblical Commission, a permanent Vatican body of twenty biblical experts, study the scriptural evidence for and against women’s ordination. David Stanley SJ was one of these experts.

The Commission’s report was unanimous in finding,”the New Testament by itself alone will not permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate priesthood.” Furthermore the Commission voted 12-5 in favour of women priests with one abstention and two absentees. The Bible, especially the New Testament, teaches very clearly the equality of man and woman in the spiritual domain (relationships with God) and in the moral area (relationships with other human beings). But the problem of the social condition of woman is a sociological problem that must be treated as such.”

That problem of course has been solved in enlightened jurisdictions. Few can defend female marginalization or exclusion given the powerful “sign of the time” which has exploded in our era—feminism! Women are equal: full stop,

The ultimate answer could only come from the ”living tradition” and that must include the sensus fidelium how the baptized  are discerning. And then the bombshell, Humanae Vitae, the birth control encyclical  which sadly sealed the reputation of a very good man, Pope Paul Vl. He simply got  caught between the demands of living  tradition and rancid traditionalism.The Commission’s overwhelming support for change was deep-sixed. The Church has never been the same. Poor Paul never wrote another encyclical. History has been cruel toa very good shepherd who guided the church through the post Vatican ll years. Sadly, he should have listened to Cardinal Newman :To live is to change and to live well is to change often.

Inter Insigniores the Vatican’s response was given in Rome a few months later: No women need apply. Even at this time, huge numbers rejected the conclusion. David Stanley resigned in disgust. He accused the authors of “flagrant disregard” for the evidence of the New Testament. And that was the end of Stanley’s job teaching scripture at the Jesuit run Gregorianum. Stanley would not be the first scholar thrown under the Vatican train. Under John Paul ll and his enforcer Josef Ratzinger  many more would be sacrificed.The Grand Inquisitor had returned.


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