St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church (one who endows significant advantage to the church) by Pope John Paul II. She was the third woman to receive this title, which has been conferred on 30 men. Less publicised is the fact that Thérèse felt a strong calling to the priesthood.
As told by her sister, Céline Martin:
In 1897, but before she was really ill, Sister Thérèse told me she expected to die that year. Here is the reason she gave me for this in June. When she realised that she had pulmonary tuberculosis, she said: ‘You see, God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest … If I could have been a priest, I would have been ordained at these June ordinations. So, what did God do? So that I would not be disappointed, he let me be sick: in that way I couldn’t have been there, and I would die before I could exercise my ministry.’ The sacrifice of not being able to be a priest was something she always felt deeply.
It is obvious that many women experience the call to ministry. It is patronising and abusive to insist that this call cannot be of Jesus. The Vatican Pontifical Biblical Commission ruled in 1976 that the New Testament had no admonitions against women as priests. Instead, it spoke of tradition, of the male sex as a sign of apostolic tradition and symbolic of Jesus as man (ref).
The LCA, however, which holds Scripture alone as reference, cannot claim to be guided by tradition. It therefore continues to cast doubt on the theology of the matter. The longer the Church continues its obstinate position on the matter, the longer the Word of hope is denied to women and men in congregations throughout Australia, and the weaker is our evangelical position within our communities.