Progressive Catholic 101: Women’s Equality and Ordination

Post-Vatican II church reform has a rich history — and many of the young Catholics who read this blog may not know it all. The CTA 20/30 Leadership Team sure didn’t. That’s why we are excited to offer a series of Progressive Catholic 101 posts, recommended resource lists on some of the topics of interest to progressive Catholics. The first syllabus comes to us from Kate Conmy, Assistant Director of the Women’s Ordination Conference.
Ordination of women would correct an injustice
This 2012 National Catholic Reporter editorial is a brief and simple introduction to some arguments in favor of the ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood.

Background on Women’s Ordination:
This website run by Dr. John Wijngaards, a former priest who resigned from ministry in protest against Pope John Paul II’s “Ordinaio Sacerdotalis” and “Ad Tuendam Fidem” which forbid further discussion on the ordination of women. The website is a clunky, but the content is really unparalleled online. Resources there include a a useful overview, a listing of Rome’s statements on the ordination of women, and a rundown of major scholars’ positions in favor of and against women’s ordination.

Pink Smoke Over the Vatican
This feature-length film is now staple in the women’s ordination movement. The film is critiqued as somewhat biased, but gives a solid background to the lived experiences of many of the first Roman Catholic Women Priests. (A Fr. Roy Bourgeois favorite.)

Passing the Baton: Victoria Rue at TEDxFillmore
This video features woman priest and lecturer at San Jose State, Victoria Rue. She answers the question, “What does a 21st century Roman Catholic Woman Priest look like?”

WATERtalks: Feminist Conversations in Religion
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)’s teleconferences are informal mini-lessons, featuring feminist theologians and groupies. Peruse their whole collection, or start with “Mary Daly: a feminist’s feminist,” and “Conscience and Calling: Ethical Reflections on Catholic Women’s Vocations, with Anne E. Patrick.”

“Ordain a Lady”
Just for fun. This parody music video created by Women’s Ordination Conference went viral, thanks to many conservative bloggers. Read the Women’s Ordination Conference blog post answering some questions and concerns about “Ordain a Lady.”

Women in Theology
For your weekly (or as needed) feminist booster shot, this blog offers young feminist theologians’ reflections on church and society — not specifically about women’s ordination, but balancing academic and personal reflections on sexism at large.

“Cardinal O’ Malley, how long will you champion the inferiority of women in the church?”
Fr. John Shea, O.S.A. wrote this beautiful and passionate open letter to Cardinal O’Malley and U.S. bishops in early 2014.

Tina Beattie. “The Female Body and the Sacramental Priesthood in neo-orthodox Catholic Theology.” God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate. A Gynocentric Refiguration of Marian Symbolism in Engagement with Luce Irigaray. University of Bristol, 1999. pp. 56 – 66

Mary Jeremy Daigler. Incompatible with God’s Design: A History of the Women’s Ordination Movement in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. Lanham, MA: Scarecrow Press, 2012.
“The women’s ordination movement owes a great debt of gratitude to Mary Jeremy Daigler for this magnum opus. She has put in writing the definitive story that needed to be told.”

Other recommended reading includes some classics: Elizabeth Johnson’s She Who Is; Mary Daly’s Beyond God the Father; Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza’s In Memory of Her; and Rosemary Radford Ruether’s Sexism and God Talk.


Want some women’s ordination “inside baseball?” Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) held its Second International Conference: “Breaking Silence, Breaking Bread: Christ Calls Women to Lead” in Ottawa, Canada July 22 – 24, 2005. This was a turning point for the women’s ordination movement in the U.S., where conversations about even the goal of working toward ordination (“ordination is subordination” was coined here) dominated the mood. Read keynote addresses from Dr. Mary E. Hunt, Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether and Dr. Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza here.

Want even more feminist theology extra credit? Kate’s more extensive feminist theology reading list is attached.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s