In welcome news, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has revealed in a newspaper interview that at Pope Francis’ request, there will soon be more women on the International Theological Commission: the numbers will go from two, to “five or six”. To put this into context, out of a full complement of 30, that’s only 20% at best. The reason is simple: with a commission heavily dominated by an all – male clergy, there cannot be more realistic representation of women, until there the representation of priests goes down. We need more lay people, of either gender, and religious women.
Buried inside the report on increasing female representation on the commission, are some observations by Muller which have startling implications, taken to their logical conclusion: that far from excluding women from the priesthood, only women should qualify for ordination.
Müller underlined that the female presence in the Church needed to be recognized within its own specific context, it should not be an imitation of the male model.
That seems innocuous enough, echoing some sentiments of Pope Francis himself. But look at what comes next:
He stressed that the Church needs to be like a mother, not an institution, because an institution cannot love but a mother can.
If women in church should not be in imitation of men, then by symmetry, it must also follow that men in the church should not attempt to imitate women. And yet – the Church must be “like a mother”. If men should not attempt to imitate women, and the only people who truly can be like a mother a the women, then it must surely follow that the people best qualified to take the key roles in the Church, as priests, bishops, cardinals and pope – are the women.
That is obviously not what Müller intended to say – but it’s the logical conclusion from his two propositions.