Premise A: Of the 36 Doctors of the Church, four are women
Premise B: “Doctor” is Latin for “teacher”
Conclusion with Logical Certainty: Women can be teachers in the Church
Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Therese of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen were not sinful in daring to teach. They were not gravely in violation of 1 Tim 2:12 in real time, during their lifetimes, only to be exonerated centuries later by a declaration of the Church. Not only were their actions NOT sinful in real time, their actions were eminently meritorious.
Now, as Doctors of the Church, their teachings are literally part of the Magisterium.
It’s helpful if we take a look at some of the words used to describe the lives and works of these women. For today, I will limit myself to two. Let’s start with Saint Hildegard of Bingen, 12th Century mystic and visionary, named Doctor of the Universal Church on 7 October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI just five months after her Canonization. Here are the words of Pope Benedict from the proclamation, emphasis mine:
A “light for her people and her time”: in these words Blessed John Paul II, my Venerable Predecessor, described Saint Hildegard of Bingen in 1979, on the occasion of the eight-hundredth anniversary of the death of this German mystic. This great woman truly stands out crystal clear against the horizon of history for her holiness of life and the originality of her teaching. And, as with every authentic human and theological experience, her authority reaches far beyond the confines of a single epoch or society; despite the distance of time and culture, her thought has proven to be of lasting relevance.
One of the salient points of Hildegard’s magisterium was her heartfelt exhortation to a virtuous life addressed to consecrated men and women. Her understanding of the consecrated life is a true “theological metaphysics”, because it is firmly rooted in the theological virtue of faith, which is the source and constant impulse to full commitment in obedience, poverty and chastity…
Hildegard’s eminent doctrine echoes the teaching of the Apostles, the Fathers and writings of her own day, while it finds a constant point of reference in the Rule of Saint Benedict. The monastic liturgy and the interiorization of sacred Scripture are central to her thought which, focusing on the mystery of the Incarnation, is expressed in a profound unity of style and inner content that runs through all her writings.
The teaching of the holy Benedictine nun stands as a beacon… HERE
Teaching, authority, magisterium, eminent doctrine, and praise of her exhortations to consecrated men.
How about that.
Next, let’s turn to Saint Catherine of Siena, 14th Century mystic and healer of schism. Her masterpiece, The Dialogue, is available online HERE. Much to her dismay, she was called to teach and instruct out in the real world, when all she wanted to do was be alone to contemplate our Lord. Among other things, it was left to her to publicly rebuke a bunch of scheming traitorous Cardinals who had invalidly faux “elected” an antipope after invalidly convoking a faux conclave while the throne was already occupied.
The Life of Catherine of Siena, written by her confessor and spiritual director, Blessed Raymund of Capua, reveals how Catherine discovered that she was to have a teaching role:
The virgin, lying prostrate at the feet of the Lord, had spoken more by way of tears than with her lips, He would reply: “Be quiet, sweetest daughter; it is necessary for you to fulfill your every duty, so that with my grace you may assist others as well as yourself. I have no intention of cutting you off from me; on the contrary, I wish to bind you more closely to myself, by means of love of the neighbour…
What is there to be astonished at or to lament about if I lead you to do what in infancy you desired to do?” And Catherine, somewhat comforted by this reply, would say, as once Blessed Mary had said, “How shall this thing be?” And the Lord: “According as my goodness shall ordain.” And Catherine, like a good disciple imitating her Master, would answer: “Let your will, not mine, be done in all things, Lord, for I am darkness and you are light; I am not, whereas you are He who is; I most ignorant, and you the wisdom of God the Father. But I beg you, O Lord—if it is not too presumptuous of me—how can what you have just said come about; that is to say, how can I, wretched and frail as I am, be of use to souls? My sex, as you know, is against it in many ways, both because it is not highly considered by men, and also because it is not good, for decency’s sake, for a woman to mix with men.”
To these words the Lord would reply, as once the Archangel Gabriel had replied, that nothing is impossible to God, for He said: “Am not I He who created the human race, and divided it into male and female? I spread abroad the grace of my spirit where I will. In my eyes there is neither male nor female, rich nor poor, but all are equal, for I can do all things with equal ease. It is as easy for me to create an Angel as an ant, and to create all the heavens is as easy for me as to create the merest worm. It is written of me that I made whatever I willed to make, for nothing is impossible to me. (Psalm 113). “Do you still remain doubtful? Do you imagine that I am unable to find ways of achieving whatever I have determined and predetermined on? However, I realize that you do not speak thus from lack of faith but from humility. Therefore you must know that in these latter days there has been such an upsurge of pride, especially in the case of men who imagine themselves to be learned or wise, that my justice cannot endure them any longer, without delivering a just chastisement upon them that will bring them to confusion. But since my mercy transcends all else I do, I shall first give them a salutary lesson, to see whether they will come to their senses and humble themselves; as I did with the Jews and the Gentiles, when I sent amongst them idiots whom I had filled with divine wisdom. To confound their arrogance, I will raise up women ignorant and frail by nature but endowed with strength and divine wisdom. Then, if they will come to their senses and humble themselves, I will behave with the utmost mercy towards them, that is to say, towards those who, according to the grace given them, receive my doctrine, offered to them in fragile but specially chosen vessels, and follow it reverently. Those who will not accept this salutary lesson, I shall with perfect justice reduce to such confusion that the world will look upon them as objects of contempt and derision.
The Life of Saint Catherine of Siena, Part Two, Chapter One HERE
By the way, Saint Catherine was a laywoman.
Did I mention that?