Thursday, June 29, 2006

KJS+ on the role of women in the church

More from Diane Rehm's interview with Presiding Bishop Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori.

It's a girl!

(Click the image above for a new t-shirt design Demetrius made today.)

Katharine Jefferts Schori: There are only 9 provinces of the 38 that don't ordain women at all. Several of the others are in process to ordain women to all orders of ministry. But the reality is that women are leaders as baptized persons everywhere in the communion, and they always have been.

Diane Rehm: I thought it was interesting to hear that Bishop Desmond Tutu shouted "Whoopee!" when he learned of your selection. He went on to say, "When you think we used to say 'What? A woman doctor?!' 'What? A woman engineer?!' 'What? A woman prime minister?!' And now we have, for the first time, a woman Presiding Bishop Elect of the Episcopal Church.

...there are three diocese in the U.S. that still restrict women's access to the priesthood. Do you expect that to change?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: Well, the reality is that it is the bishops of those three dioceses who object to the ordaination of women to the priesthood. There are certainly laypeople and clergy in all of those dioceses who affirm that possibility.

One of the interesting pieces of Christian history is that there's very good evidence that in the early church, women did exercise ordained leadership. And when the church began to be enculturated under Constantine, that possibility was removed. Women were slowly excluded from public leaderhip in the church. So we're returning to our roots, in some sense.

Diane Rehm: Why do you think they were excluded by the bishop of Constantine?

Katharine Jefferts Schori: I think that exclusion happened gradually because it was uncomforable for the culture around the Christian church to see women in public roles. In the Roman tradition it was unusual to see women in public. One might point to similar cultural norms in other parts of the world today, especially in the Islamic world. It's very uncomfortable in some Islamic cultures to see women in public roles.

Alternate link for comments