From the ongoing battle of Christianity against egalitarianism . . . .
A friend referred me to an article where once again the familiar argument for women’s ordination had been made by what I referred to in my response to her on purely functionalist grounds: women can perform all the necessary actions of ordained ministry as well as men--a point fully agreed to by C. S. Lewis, by the way, in "Priestesses in the Church?"--so it is irrational to deny them ordination. What term, my friend asked, should we use as the orthodox antithesis to “functionalism,” particularly with regard to the preaching and teaching office we understand as peculiar to men?There is a form of prophesying the New Testament shows to be among the gifts of women. What we are dealing with here is a distinctively male apostolic office that has to do primarily with authoritative teaching, from whatever platform. To refer to this is to refer to a tradition that reaches back to the Lord and his apostles. I have always believed it could have been otherwise, that these offices could have been chartered on the basis of the equality in Christ of men and women, and the exalted place--I do not hesitate to define it as sacerdotal, as the highest exemplar of the priestly office of women--of Mary as the principal (!) giver, under Christ himself, of the Lord to men, rather than along (equally valid) male-female hierarchical lines.
(I will say parenthetically here that Protestants who ascribe no authority to catholic tradition are throwing away the most decisive part of their panoply in the struggle against egalitarianism--a strong word about how the Church has traditionally interpreted the Bible. Of course this opens a floodgate of disturbing and potentially destructive questions about why, then, their denominations do not follow Tradition on other matters--but still, this point has to be made. It is this Lerintian Canon that needs to be placed down against the wildly improbable interpretations of the biblical seats of doctrine set forward by egalitarianism on the basis of a higher scholars' gnosis: What they are teaching is a novelty: no one except perhaps a few of the oddest sects believed or taught it until the recent egalitarian enlightenment. This places the burden of proof where it belongs.)
But to return: The Lord chose men only for these offices, and with this, I believe, presumptively validates many if not most of the reasons given, some of them by St. Paul, for their distinctive "maleness," and his choice along this line has been followed by the Church from the apostolic era forward. (As Fr. Reardon and others have demonstrated, the attempts to show otherwise have been boldly but less than ingeniously cut from whole cloth.) If the arguments that oppose women's ordination have been accepted, it follows that those which advocate it, as logically unexceptional as they may be from the standpoint of the (true) doctrine of women's equality with men, are to be rejected as, at the very least, irrelevant to the case.
One recalls the wording of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, that "the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination upon women"-- which does not indicate, as some believe, that such ordination is impossible and unnatural--only that authority for this change, authority, that is, to institute women's ordination to the offices of authority along lines of their equality with men--would have to come from Christ himself. I am among those who cannot see that this has happened, particularly in light of (1) the ecumenical rejection of the change, (2) its acceptance and promulgation by the most deracinated and heresy-addled segments of Christendom, (3) its advocacy in the latter by gross exegetical and historical dishonesty, and (4) the ecclesially destructive quality of the witness of its supporters--even if women more orthodox than the radical feminists are borne in the egalitarian train. This looks like the devil's work, not that of the Holy Spirit.
So, what opposes "pure functionalism" is an overriding dominical choice and the apostolic tradition that follows it--in brief, functionality is opposed by apostolicity. That women can function as well as men in the tasks of ordained office, reason can readily stipulate. That they have been chosen for it is what we doubt, and with this doubt goes acceptance of a pattern of reasoning that submits to the Lord’s choice and rejects all reasons proffered against it, as "reasonable" as they may appear. This includes the argument from functional parity.