Women Bishops … and women priests

General Synod of the Church of England has just voted overwhelmingly to move forward on ordaining women to the Episcopate. This after the fiasco a year ago when conservatives were able to muster enough votes to prevent it.

Torn Bread is powerful essay from Kaya Oakes that provides some background. An active Roman Catholic laywoman, she recently attended an Episcopal service and ponders the significance of receiving communion from the female priest:

When I took the bread from the female priest, I wondered about the ontological difference. What difference did it make that her hands were female? That the breath she used to push out the sacred words was female? That her female soul had brought God into being in the yeast and wheat? Did she look into my eyes and see a Catholic woman who hears Catholic women suffering because women don’t hand them transformed bread?

She looks at me and she turns to the next person and I chew and swallow. And in that moment I realize believing in transformed bread is not just believing that the person who performs the act is somehow different from the recipient. It is not about the gender of the person who performs the act: it’s about the act. It’s about the recipient. It’s the gift. It’s the food. Whatever church we walk into, whoever says the words that make it shift, we hold out our hands, and we are given bread.

1 thought on “Women Bishops … and women priests

  1. I liked this essay. Though I would be on the conservative side in the discussion on women priests and bishops, I find a good amount of arguments on both sides to be highly unconvincing. Re-thinking the meaning of the eucharist is an interesting subject (at least in terms of who it’s about–priest or person receiving the eucharist or just simply Jesus in general). I would like to point out though that more Traditionalist Catholics (and potentially Orthodox Christians as well) are going to have a problem with receiving the eucharist in the hands of the laity though as for some, the eucharist is much too holy for the laity themselves to touch.

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