Gender Equality In Religion

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Religion has become a fundamental aspect of human lives with 85% of the world population being religious. 83.4% of women and 79.9% of men worldwide identify themselves as a religious individual2. Hence, it is no wonder issues over gender equality in the religions are discussed and debated over endlessly. One of the significant issues proposed is the lack of women in religious leadership roles and the limitations women face for these opportunities. Judaism and Christianity are two of the major religions that identify with this problem. While both religions constantly debate over the ordination of women, Judaism has seen improvement and change in several branches to include women in serving as rabbis whereas most of Christianity is still struggling…show more content…
Especially in the recent times, as the call for female priesthood grew louder, the Catholic Church, the largest Christian denomination, have responded continuously, clearly stating view and reasons for not allowing the ordination of women. In 1976, the Vatican released the Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This document stated that “The Church does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination”. The Church argues that a priest is a substitute for Jesus in performing the Eucharist, and because Jesus was a male, a female is simply inappropriate and unqualified to become a priest. Other reasons included the Church’s responsibility of adherence and continuation of its traditions which meant allowing female priesthood would oppose their beliefs and practices and question the fidelity of Christ’s wills. This is equal to the Orthodox views on prohibiting female rabbis, following the halakha. This declaration did not have much impact in diminishing the gender equality issue, leading to the release of another document, Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity of Women), an apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II in 1988. This included the argument that despite respecting and being inclusive of women in his teachings, Jesus himself did not include them amongst his Twelve Disciples, who are considered the first priests, hence the Church had no right to include women in the priesthood. “In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behaviour, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time.” A decree, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (On Priestly Ordination), was also released in 1994, again by Pope
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