am grateful to Mr. Brian Coffey, June 22, and to others for information and opinions on women priests. My purpose in asking for "genuine" theological reasons was to try to penetrate through the thick fog of emotion, prejudice and triviality which still surrounds this question.
As far as I can see, the only serious reason against is that Christ did not ordain women. In this connection, Fr. Casey's article of June 22 dealt with the question at root. But, with respect, I cannot follow him in agreeing that the reason a woman cannot become alter Christus is because her soul is fundamentally different from that of a man.
The Eternal God reflects both masculine and feminine qualities, which He created, and our souls are made in His image and likeness. Surely the difference of sex is only a temporary, earthly expedient to ensure the continuity of the human race — and there are no virtues or tendencies which are exclusively masculine or feminine, Christ Himself said that at the Resurrection "there is no marrying or giving in marriage; they are as the angels in heaven arc."
Furthermore, a priest's primary function is spiritual, and he is as a general rule bound to chastity — as would be a woman priest. Fr. Casey considers that if there is no fundamental difference of soul between a man and a woman, "the problem of woman's ordination would to my mind be solved immediately to her satisfaction."
I have been told personally on excellent priestly authority that there is no theological reason for women to be debarred from the priesthood, and that as a result of the shortage of priests, women may well be ordained in about ten years time in Latin America, and in about 20 here.
It is worth noting that most young people see no objection in women priests, and in fact usually actively support. the idea. I have heard young women
say that although they would not want to be nuns, they would consider becoming priests.
This change of attitude in a time of social change and female emancipation may have a direct bearing on the present vocations crisis. In 50 years time or less, if women are eventually ordained, women priests may be accepted without question, as women doctors are today — and a comparison with doctors can be made on some points.
Finally, as the Order of Deaconesses does not present any crucial question of theology, and is to be found in the early Church, is it too much to hope — despite the practical problems involved — that this Order can be restored without delay?
(Miss) Vivienne Lake 12 Cottesmore Gardens, London, W.B.
I was intrigued by Brian Coffey's comment in your issue of July 6, though 1 feel that phrases like "misunderstood Thomism" are not very satisfactory without giving reasons which stand on their own two feet, as it were, and not simply on St. Thomas's.
Let me summarise briefly the points leading up to the last sentence. Observations made on ideas lead one to the conclusion that all knowledge gained during life by using the senses is but a development of a single primary unit of knowledge the knowledge of what existence is.
It is the possession of this idea of existence that makes the soul intelligent, and with this primary idea the soul can, coupled with the impressions received through the senses, make judgments as to the real existence of things, and gradually form other ideas.
This idea of existence can't come from parents who, at fertilisation of the ovum, are responsible for the body and un-intelligent soul; but when God unites this soul with the idea of existence there is born in the soul a new mode of
being, and the soul has a new power, an intellect.
Now 1 see no intrinsic reason why there could not be a delay between fertilisation and the granting of intelligence, and current medical knowledge implies the possibility of intelligence being present only from implantation, in which case there would be present for a short while only a body and un-intelligent soul.
Such a soul is destined to be made intelligent whereas the soul of a beast is not, and it seems to me that for this reason, the un-intelligent soul we inherit from parents is not just the same as the soul of a beast. (Fr.) Kenneth Casey St. Joseph's Presbytery, New Zealand Road, Cardiff.
Discussion loses all interest for one participant when another fails in the most elementary respect for the texts he or she makes use of. Miss Morris (July 6) really does little justice to Aristotle whose biological researches have always enjoyed the admiration of other biologists, and she has apparently fallen into the trap of consulting the Summa Theologica in a hurry, seeing that she mistakes an objection for a main answer.
And surely Miss Morris should be referring to chromosomes rather than genes when she mentions those democratic 24. As for Guido, let's leave him where he belongs in library dust.
The question of the possibility of women priests is still a long way from being answered, and, if 1 may believe an atheist lady friend of mine, it is a question not worth answering. The best answer I have had so far was from the very gentle Catholic mother who said : "Haven't we got enough to do already without that?"
13 Elms Avenue, London, N,l0.