Sunday, October 6, 2019
Why Women Cannot be Doctors of the Church

The title of "Doctor of the Church" is bestowed on certain individuals not only for their faith but for their skillful defense of it. The first saints given this title on September 20, 1295, by Boniface XIII included Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, & Saint Gregory the Great. The next added was St. Thomas Aquinas and since then has grown to include thirty-three saints.

In the post Vatican II Church, the attacks on Traditional Catholic views and beliefs include far more than just the Tridentine Mass. While it is praiseworthy to see more and more people seeking out and supporting the Traditional Latin Mass, it is disheartening to still see many of these groups believing some or many of the novelties that came after Vatican II.

What are these novelties? 

  • The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary are one. They were invented by John Paul II in an attempt to change the Rosary which had been given in its 3 set of mystery format directly from the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
  • Other novelties include the drastic change in the canonization process in 1983 that cause reasonably doubt on the infallibly of modern canonizations, especially those of liberal popes like Paul VI who did all he could to abolish the Tridentine Mass.  
  • Another such novelty is the 1983 Code of Canon Law which reduced the Eucharistic Fast to only one hour, another change that Traditionalists need to reject.
But one novelty that few Traditionalists seem to care about is the addition of female saints to the list of Doctors of the Church. St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Hildegard of Bingen were added to this list post Vatican II. And while their writings and work are certainly praiseworthy they cannot be called Doctors of the Church. To do so would be a violation directly against apostolic teaching attested to by St. Paul and recorded in Sacred Scripture.

An explanation on this was some years ago penned by Bishop Richard Williamson on why recent Popes' actions to declare some women saints as Doctors of the Church is to be rejected against Catholic Tradition. I quote:
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. 
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. 
Secondly, any woman set up in public view is liable to arouse unclean desire in men.
Thirdly, “women in general are not so perfect in wisdom as to be entrusted with public teaching.”

I hope more Traditionalists will seek to live an authentic Traditional Catholic life which is not focused merely on the exteriors of the Mass but on the Faith itself. And that Traditional Faith is still under assault even from priests in the FSSP, Institute of Christ the King, SSPX, or other Traditional groups. Reject the Luminous Mysteries, reject the modernized fasts enshrined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and reject the title of Doctor of the Church being given to female saints. 

Seek to live out the Catholic Faith in the same manner (i.e. the Mass) but also with the same beliefs as our grandfathers and their grandfathers. The Catholic Faith cannot change because God does not change. What was true in the past must be true now. And if St. Paul's teachings were true in the past, they must be true now. We cannot change what is of apostolic origin.

4 comment(s):

del_button October 7, 2019 at 3:38 PM
Matthew said...

Traditionally Doctors are a specific category of Confessors given to them to honor their unique contributions to defending the Church through their writings. It is a label we assign them. But in the same way that in the Office and the Mass we have categories of saints honored as virgins, we have others that are Confessors, Martyrs, Doctors, Apostles, etc.

The problem comes with the increasing confusion in society on gender. There are plenty of virgin male saints but we do not honor them with the prayers from the common of virgins. That title and category of saints is given only to female virgin saints. And in the same way, there are great female saints who defended the Church in written words but they are not Doctors. What we see here is a continued attempt to blur gender lines. This only advances the false idea of women deacons, women priests, or conversely male nuns.

del_button October 8, 2019 at 10:57 AM
Unknown said...

Perhaps it is a generational difference in perspective, or maybe a different view of the labeling? I am kind of have a; If it looks,walks, and quacks like a duck school of thought. A proper labeling of function facilitates understanding. A priest is a priest because he has a particular charism, function, and sphere, with sex/gender intrinsic to that calling.

While a Doctor of the Church may be male and may be a Confessor those do not seem to be the intrinsic qualities of that title. In the same way a PhD may be a male or a priest, but not all PhDs are priests or male. Doctor of the church has to do with being a person whose catechesis expands the the church's understanding of doctrine and facilitates the ability of of the faithful to follow doctrine/God's will through the excellence and clarity of their teaching. Learning and teaching of doctrine has never been a male only charism in the Catholic church.

Labeling someone as a doctor of the church does not blur gender lines, it simply provides the faithful with a list of solid references when they go looking for excellence in learning, and disseminating the faith.

del_button April 25, 2024 at 11:29 AM
Anonymous said...

“Learning and teaching of doctrine has never been a male only charism in the Catholic church.” This is false and needs correction. The Church has always taught that women do not have the authority to teach over men. “Doctor of the Church” is not just a label, it is a title of teaching authority. To give female saints this title does in fact blur the lines of gender roles, to think any differently is demonic and comes from modernism, liberalism, and heresy.

del_button June 5, 2024 at 9:49 AM
Anonymous said...

If a woman cannot have authority over a man and cannot teach a man, why then do you consider yourselves slave and servants of Mary?

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