Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Donald Keefe

Second Advisor

Joseph Murphy

Third Advisor

Earl Muller

Fourth Advisor

Wanda Cizewski

Fifth Advisor

William Kurz


This dissertation examines, from within the context of the Catholic faith, the order and meaning of ecclesial authority as it exists within history and is sacramentally expressed by male and female sexuality. The idea for this dissertation is born from the present crisis within the Church regarding the meaning of authority and, more specifically, the role of women in the Church. The work provides a theological explanation of feminine ecclesial authority. The dissertation examines the order of Redemption itself as it exists in the Head/Body relation of Christ and the Church. As the world is saved through the covenant wrought by the sacrifice of Christ in union with His Church we are concerned then for the feminine responsibility for the Faith over and against the masculine headship of Christ and derivitively the Catholic priesthood. Redemption is not the result of a static Christo-monism in which the Church becomes Christ or becomes His extension. Our thesis asserts that Redemption exists in and is the result of the One Flesh unity of Christ and the Church rooted in the differentiated, maritally ordered religious symbol of male and female sexuality. Authority then exists within, and never apart from this One Flesh unity. Authority therefore is the power to effect life within this covenant according to the manner men and women exist as source of life for each other and for the world. In the covenant of Redemption male and female authority is equally necessary and constitutive of the covenant but is not to be confused with sameness or an arbitrary interchangeability that would efface the order of Creation. This dissertation examines feminine authority through an analysis of the Church's sacramental life and worship, primarily the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. I rely heavily upon the early Fathers of the Church who treat of Baptism as a maternal life-giving power in relation to the Fatherhood of God. An examination of the feminine nature of the Church's Eucharistic worship is also provided. The thesis of this work concludes that women are sacramentally, from within the inherent meaning of their sexuality, symbols of the Ecclesia Mater as the life-giving source of Christ's grace to the world. Without this sacramental symbol of feminine authority the covenant of salvation would not exist as female authority makes salvation intelligible and accessible in history.



Restricted Access Item

Having trouble?