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SSPX Bp. Williamson opposed to female “Doctors of the Church”: are his reasons good?
WDTPRS ^ | October 14, 2007 | Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Posted on 10/17/2007 10:44:40 AM PDT by NYer

The SSPX’s rather odd Bp. Richard Williamsom, excommunicated in 1988 for having received episcopal consecration from the late Archbp. Lefebvre without pontifical mandate, has something to say about naming a woman as Doctor of the Church.


You might know that the Church has called three women "Doctor".  To be named a Doctor of the Church, you must be a saint and your life and writings or preaching must reflect something of the Church in her God-given teaching mandate.

 

Let’s read what Williamson has to say. 

My emphases and comments.

A few days ago I met in Rome a gracious Roman lady who asked me why in
a sermon several years ago I had been opposed to the papal declaration
of St. Catherine of Sienna
as a Doctor of the Church. The problem, I
replied, lies in the confusion of roles.

Recent Popes have
declared three women Saints to be Doctors of the Church: Catherine of
Sienna, Theresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux. Now no Catholic in his
right mind would call in question either the orthodoxy or the great
usefulness of each of their writings.
We have only to thank God for
their inspired and intuitive wisdom. Nevertheless for the Pope to
declare them Doctors, i.e. teachers, is to encourage Catholic women to
set up in public as teachers. St. Thomas Aquinas (IIa IIae, 177, art 2)
has three reasons against this. 
[He seems to be basing his ideas on the writings of the Angelic Doctor]

Firstly he quotes St. Paul (II
Tim II, 12): “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over
the man: but to be in silence.
” St. Thomas distinguishes here public
from private teaching: in the home a mother must teach her children, in
a quasi-domestic setting a woman may well teach, especially girls and
little boys.  [A pretty strong argument, since it comes from St. Paul.]

Secondly, any woman set up in public view is liable to arouse unclean desire in men.  [This is not really a very strong argument.]

Thirdly, “women in general are not so perfect in wisdom as to be entrusted with public teaching.” [This also is not a very strong argument.]

What
is in question here is the whole design of God for man and woman as
complementary head and heart of the family.
Teaching of a public kind
is a function primarily of the reason, or head, just as teaching in the
home is as much a function of the heart.
[Ehem.] True, modern times are
destroying home and family, leaving woman frustrated, with little
alternative but to go out in public, where she does not belong and
where she often – bless her!—does not want to be.
But by giving to
women, even Saints, the title of “Doctor”, the modern Popes are giving
way to such modern times, instead of resisting them.

St. Thomas
Aquinas’ three reasons may look old-fashioned, but the question is
whether our new-fashioned world can survive, with women in authority,
making themselves constantly as attractive as possible, and still,
generally, “not perfect in wisdom”. O Lord, grant us some men! Kyrie
Eleison.

Bishop Richard Williamson
La Reja, Argentina


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: sspx; williamson

UPDATE: SSPX Bp. Williamson vs. female Doctors of the Church

CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULUM — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 10:11 am

I posted an entry the other day about statements made by the excommunicated SSPX bishop Williamson in which he takes exception to the naming of females as Doctors of the Church.

I closed down the comments on that entry when I saw that some people just weren’t getting the point.

However, after closing down the combox, more than one person sent me a really interesting tidbit of information.  Here is just one of the notes I got on the same subject:

I found something
today that I thought you might find interesting. And you closed the comments on
Bishop Williamson’s opposition to female Doctors of the Church before I could
post it.




In the Roman Catholic Daily Missal by Angelus Press the little blurb on St.
Teresa of Avila before the Propers of the Mass (page 1454) states in part:


"On account of her invaluable works on mystical Theology, she may be
considered one of the greatest Doctors of the Church."




I certainly found that interesting considering Bishop Williamson’s beliefs and
the connection between Angelus Press and the SSPX.



1 posted on 10/17/2007 10:44:43 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Does he approve of women saints?


2 posted on 10/17/2007 10:46:17 AM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
Does he approve of women saints?

LOL! I would guess he would, otherwise he would have to expunge several saints, the greatest of all being Our Lady, from the Canon of the Mass! ;-)

3 posted on 10/17/2007 10:51:34 AM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: Pyro7480; NYer
Saints in the Canon of the Mass, as of the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum, which is used by the SSPX. The women saints are in bold.

Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ; blessed Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul; Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, and Thaddeus; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian

John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia

4 posted on 10/17/2007 10:57:32 AM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: Pyro7480

I would wonder also if he has any kind of devotion to our Blessed Mother. But since he’s excommunicated, I don’t really think anything he has to say is of much value.


5 posted on 10/17/2007 11:02:08 AM PDT by SaintDismas (.)
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To: NYer
Secondly, any woman set up in public view is liable to arouse unclean desire in men.

He thinks men are going to feel unclean desire for St. Catherine of Siena? How weird.

6 posted on 10/17/2007 11:24:44 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("For is he not of noble birth? The first child born above the Earth!")
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“I closed down the comments on that entry when I saw that some people just weren’t getting the point.”

I’m not sure I get Fr. Z’s point, myself.


7 posted on 10/17/2007 11:26:01 AM PDT by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: sitetest; Pyro7480; Tax-chick
I think he's in error here: "What is in question here is the whole design of God for man and woman as complementary head and heart of the family. Teaching of a public kind is a function primarily of the reason, or head, just as teaching in the home is as much a function of the heart."

This man=head woman=heart thing is not Christian; it's Victorian. There are some intellective and emotional tendencies which are typical of men and woman (the most markedly "masculine" types are more analytical, the most markedly "feminine" types more empathetic); but, that said, the majority of men and woman are much more like each other than they are to the extremes on the bell-curve of their own sex.

God gave both sexes heads and hearts, after all. It's not like we were different species.

And I do think Our Lord's parable of the talents applies here: if you've got a talent, woe to you if you bury it. Your Master expects you to make something of it.

BTW, I love the women Doctors and hope they will add St. Edith Stein (Teresia Benedicta a Cruce.).

8 posted on 10/17/2007 12:06:16 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Do not accept a "truth" that comes without love, or a "love" that comes without truth. Edith Stein)
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To: NYer

Oy! That the Catholic Church needed to do a few things to properly conform itself to the realities of the modern world (even while not caving in to it) is clearly demonstrated by the scratchings of this man clinging so tenaciously to antediluvian sensibilities.

His opinions regarding the relative abilities of male and female cognition are just opinions, even if they derive somewhat from Aquinas, yet he nearly enshrines them as Scriptural in their authority. Aquinas was not inspired. He was spot-on in essentially all matters doctrinal, but his views on psychology were limited by the times he lived in. To say that women are incapable of the higher thought necessary to teach with wisdom, as he does, in fact, assert, is utter nonsense. I doubt that Aquinas would baldly assert such a thing, either. The bishop comes across as total fool when it comes to this topic, at least. He would rather excise all the writings of the great female saints from public availability for the people’s Godly edification, simply because of a tradition - that no one has ever claimed could be infallible - on the matter of female wisdom? Oy, again!

And I say all these things as a Traditionalist, myself.


9 posted on 10/17/2007 12:25:33 PM PDT by magisterium
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To: NYer
“Secondly, any woman set up in public view is liable to arouse unclean desire in men.” This is silly. I read a biography that St. Teresa of Avila had a noticeable, black mustache. I’m not being petty; I’m just pointing out that many women do not “arouse unclean desires in men”. Most women — and most men, for that matter — are just average looking, especially once they hit middle age. When Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, I doubt many British men fantasized about her.
10 posted on 10/17/2007 2:03:48 PM PDT by utahagen
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To: NYer

Too late now, isn’t it. What a maroon.


11 posted on 10/17/2007 2:54:26 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I think you’re right about his views on male and female roles’ not originating in Catholic tradition.

St. Catherine of Siena admonished the Pope. So if it is wrong for her be elevated to a “teaching” position by being declared a Doctor of the Church, wasn’t it wrong for her to instruct the Church heirarchy of her time?

But she’s a saint ... so whassup with that?


12 posted on 10/17/2007 3:10:15 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("For is he not of noble birth? The first child born above the Earth!")
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I totally agree with you about the parable of the talents, I think there is a special beauty in elevating St. Theresa of the Little Flower to the position of Doctor of the Church, reminding us all, especially moms at home with little children, that everything can be a great gift to God.

Of all the legitimate things to harp on, the three female Doctors of the Church ain’t on the list. But then again, it does go to show you when you separate yourself from the Truth, you go off the deep end. I do have to wonder what Williamson’s hang up with women is, he wrote a hilarious letter about the education of women a few years back. Then again, I am feeling rather feisty and not at all capable of stirring any sort of desire in a man as I waddle around the house, eight and a half months pregnant.


13 posted on 10/17/2007 7:08:01 PM PDT by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: Pyro7480; Canticle_of_Deborah; vox_freedom
Audio Interview with Bishop Williamson on Women Doctors of The Church
14 posted on 10/18/2007 3:46:27 AM PDT by murphE (These are days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed but his own. --G.K. Chesterton)
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To: mockingbyrd
Ha! Your husband probably has the same burning desire that you do: So have that baby, already!

Oh how I remember the beached-whale feeling ;o)

15 posted on 10/18/2007 6:27:07 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Cordially.)
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To: NYer
Nevertheless for the Pope to declare them Doctors, i.e. teachers, is to encourage Catholic women to set up in public as teachers.

Pure speculation.

He's on solid ground when he talks about St. Paul's views on women and also St. Thomas Aquinas but when he says that female doctors will encourage modernism he's simply stating an opinion. A personal opinion.

It's in keeping with his usual MO. Disputing papal action is a big part of Williamson's personality.

All three of the women were mystics and their writings were borne of a deep interior unity with Christ. Catherine of Siena was an adviser of Popes. I'm sure Williamson would have a problem with that, also.

16 posted on 10/18/2007 6:59:04 AM PDT by marshmallow
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To: Mrs. Don-o

this one’s a little boy, and from what I’ve heard they like to percalate for as long as possible before their grand entrance....we’ll see.

I have to wonder about the appropriateness of the St. Paul quote here. I think he says, two verses later, that women are saved through childbearing (which works out just fine for me). This certainly wouldn’t apply to these women, so I am left wondering if this circumstance is the appropriate application of St. Paul’s words.


17 posted on 10/18/2007 7:41:58 AM PDT by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: magisterium

I love St. Thomas and God most definitely blessed him with a tremendous intellect. That being said, there is something to be said about trying to read this 13th century philosopher with 21st century eyes. It’s not necessarily a shortcoming on St. Thomas’ part, but a misunderstanding or misapplication of what he was talking about. He didn’t know, biologically speaking and physiologically speaking, everything we know now and he was affected by the misunderstandings of the day.

I have had many a conversation those who take St. Thomas’ words super literally and end up in some weird places, especially when it comes to marriage. But the development of doctrine when it comes to sex and marriage can truly help you best understand what St. Thomas was most likely getting at.


18 posted on 10/18/2007 7:49:30 AM PDT by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: marshmallow
It's in keeping with his usual MO. Disputing papal action is a big part of Williamson's personality.

Catherine of Siena was an adviser of Popes. I'm sure Williamson would have a problem with that, also.

You should listen to the audio interview before you claim to be sure of what Bishop Williamson thinks on the topic. And you might actually want to meet him and speak to him before you pretend to know anything about his personality. However, to do that you may have to change your usual MO.

19 posted on 10/18/2007 5:27:36 PM PDT by murphE (These are days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed but his own. --G.K. Chesterton)
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To: murphE
His letters are a reasonable source of insight into the man, are they not?

He has his own ideas on how the Church should be run.

20 posted on 10/18/2007 7:15:59 PM PDT by marshmallow
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To: NYer

The admonitions of St. Paul and St. Thomas are against women publicly teaching in Church - i.e. preaching. They certainly did not oppose women teaching in general, i.e. nuns running a school, mothers teaching their children.

The last thing on the minds of Sts. Catherine, Teresa, and Therese when creating their works were to teach in the Church. Their great wisdom was composed for private purposes, and is all the stronger because of this humility.


21 posted on 10/18/2007 7:24:53 PM PDT by Andrew Byler
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To: marshmallow

my personal favorites....Girls at University and the Problem with the Sound of Music (hint, it’s virtually pornographic...his words, not mine)


22 posted on 10/18/2007 8:53:33 PM PDT by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: marshmallow
His letters are a reasonable source of insight into the man, are they not?

They might be, if you actually read and understood them, all of them, and not just carefully chosen quotes from them taken out of context. How many of them have you read in full? How many talks of his have you listened to? How many times have you met him and spoken to him? Discussed any of these issues in conversation? I'm guessing the answer to these questions is close to zero and yet you presume to know his personality, and present your ill informed opinion of his personality as a "statement of fact".

I have probably read more things that you have written than you have ever read by Bishop Williamson. Does this qualify me as someone who can make factual assessments of your personality?

23 posted on 10/19/2007 5:20:01 AM PDT by murphE (These are days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed but his own. --G.K. Chesterton)
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To: murphE
They might be, if you actually read and understood them, all of them, and not just carefully chosen quotes from them taken out of context.

Uh....I've read them. All of them.

Is there some deeper meaning to them that a person of average intelligence might miss?

I have probably read more things that you have written than you have ever read by Bishop Williamson. Does this qualify me as someone who can make factual assessments of your personality?

Yeah, I think it does.

What comes out of our mouth or off the end of our pen says something about who we are doesn't it?

24 posted on 10/19/2007 6:10:55 AM PDT by marshmallow
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