This is part V of the Aquinasblog Dialog that was started here.
Hello [Aquinasblog author],
Thanks for writing back. I won't keep writing you back indefinitely, but I think there's still something to the discussion.
As I understand you, you believe that cultural forces are the reasons for the Church's stance on woman ordination. In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ( http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html ), JPII brings up this point (asterisks and [ ] added by me):
... "To these fundamental reasons the document [by Paul VI] adds other theological reasons [for the Church's stance on woman ordination] which illustrate the appropriateness of the divine provision, and it also shows clearly that Christ's way of acting did not proceed from ***sociological or cultural motives peculiar to his time***. As Paul VI later explained: 'The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology-thereafter always followed by the Church's Tradition- Christ established things in this way.'
"In the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, I myself wrote in this regard: 'In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, ***without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time***.' ...
"Furthermore, the fact that the ***Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination*** cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them." ...
So, JPII did positively note in his Apostolic Letter (not Papal Encyclical, BTW) that cultural dicta did not influence Christ's call to men only for the ministerial priesthood.
I agree that the Holy Spirit moves and guides the Church to all Truth; that is why I believe that JPII and the constant Tradition of the Church all the way back to Jesus himself has concluded that ministerial priesthood is to be for men only.
You wrote, "That's where we have to look for evidence, not just in a trail of encyclicals." (a) In general, what specific "evidence" are you looking for? (b) Where are you specifically looking for this evidence? (a) and (b) for woman ordination?
As an aside, St. Aquinas' understanding of the Sacred Sacraments can help show that only men are to be ordained priests whose main function is to consecrate the host in persona Christi. The matter (of his "substance and matter" in all Sacraments (if I remember right)) for the sacrament of Holy Orders is a man since Christ was bodily a man. So when the priest says, "This is my body/blood." the host truly becomes Christ's body and blood that was of masculine essence.
St. Aquinas was giving theological reasons for the Truth of what is happening. I don't think he would conclude that a man was not necessary since Christ ordained or called men to do what he commanded at the Last Supper ("Do this in memory of me.").
As far as the cultural approval of slavery, see http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/julyweb-only/7-14-53.0.html (from an Evangelical magazine), _The Truth About the Catholic Church and Slavery_, "The problem wasn't that the leadership was silent. It was that almost nobody listened." The Church was against slavery since at least the 7th century (also against gladiator fighting; gladiators were slaves).
Thanks again for the discussion,
The fact that John Paul II said that the church's stand on the ordination of women did not arise from cultural forces does not make it so. I think that's where we differ; you consider that sufficient authority and I do not.
I look at the whole of history, in which women were treated as chattel until the 20th century in the West (and in many other places on the globe, still are), and find it impossible to imagine that this did not affect the attitude of the people in the Church thru time towards women's ordination.