ORDINATION OF WOMEN
H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III
ORDINATION OF WOMEN
H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III
Two Lectures by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
First Edition Published by:
Coptic Orthodox Publishers Association
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Tel: 01-622 0166
Copyright © the author, 1993
ISBN 1 871646 04 9
H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 117th Pope of
Alexandria and the See of St. Mark
The Holiness of the Church
Homosexuality Is Against Nature
Homosexuals Shall Not Enter the Kingdom of Heaven
Homosexuals Were Punished By Death
Homosexuality Condemned in the New Testament
Homosexuality Is Against Health
Homosexuality Is Against the Holy Sacraments
Rights For Homosexuals
Homosexuality and Love
Homosexual by Nature
The Spiritual Way of Pleasing Others
The Way to Repentance
The Authority of Clergymen
The Grave Responsibility of the Clergy
The Ordination of Women
Our Respect to the Holy Bible
Women in the Coptic Church
Women in the Holy Bible
Priesthood in the Holy Bible
Priesthood in Church Tradition
Who Is the Head of the Church?
Virgin Mary and Priesthood
Deaconesses and Serving the Altar
Women and Priest's Work
Church Sacraments Delivered to Men
Responsibilities of Women
The authentic views of the Coptic Orthodox Church on the two
controversial subjects of 'The Ordination of Women' and
'Homosexuality' have been clearly and authoritatively expressed
by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III in two lectures given on the
26th of November 1990. A great number of clergymen from
various churches heard His Holiness give evidence from the
Holy Bible and from tradition relating these two subjects, to
which the Orthodox Church is gravely opposed..
Fuad H. Megally, PhD.
I am very glad to have the opportunity to speak to the ministers
of the Church of England. I mean, to speak to the angels of the
Church and the ministers of our Lord; those who were
mentioned in the Book of Revelation as stars in the right hand
of our Lord.
I thank God that He has given me the opportunity to speak to
those to whom the Lord said: "You shall be witnesses to Me."
(Acts 1:8). `Witnesses to Me', that means, witnesses to the
truth; to the Holy Bible; to the commandments of God; and to
what the Holy Spirit has passed on to the Churches.
I want to speak to you about numerous things, and if you would
like a discussion about a particular issue, I am willing to discuss
it with you.
The Holiness Of The Church
The first matter is the holiness of the Church. In the holy
Creed we say: "We believe in one holy Church". This holy
Church is Apostolic and Universal. In the Apostolic age, all
believers were called saints. A believer in the teachings of the
Bible means a saint, because we are sanctified with faith,
sanctified in baptism, sanctified in the holy Chrism, and
sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
We are not merely human beings, we are temples of the Holy
Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is abiding in us, as it is written in the
First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters 3 and 6. As temples of
the Holy Spirit, we should have communion with the Holy
Spirit. The work of a believer is not simply the work of an
individual, but rather the work of the Holy Spirit itself in that
person, who is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
We are also the image of God, and we project to the world
the image of God. The world sees in our conduct and in our
behaviour what demonstrates that we are really children of God.
At the beginning of the Epistles of Saint Paul to the Romans, he
writes: "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an
Apostle, separated to the gospel of God.. to all who are in
Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" (Rom. 1: 1,7).
Also, in another Epistle, he writes: "To the church of God
which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints" (1Cor. 1: 2). Further still, in the Second
Epistle, he says: "To the church of God which is at Corinth,
with all the saints who are in all Achaia " (2Cor. 1: 1).
When he writes to Ephesus, he sends his greetings to all the
saints in Ephesus, and to the Philippians he does the same.
Again, when he writes to the Hebrews, for example, in chapter
3, he writes to those who are called to the Divine Call, who are
If we are supposed to be saints, then how must we behave,
and, more importantly, how can we convey that holy
Image to the world?
In the Apostolic age, not everyone was allowed to enter the
Church. Only those who were worthy could attend the holy
Eucharist and partake in the Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus
Christ. This holy life is what we are called to, because we are
the children of a holy Father. Saint Peter speaks about this
point and says: "...as obedient children, not conforming
yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He
who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy '" (1Pet. 1: 14-16),
and this was written in Leviticus (Lev. 11: 44).
Holy people do not live in the lust of the flesh, but they
behave according to the Spirit.
A holy person has two characteristics. The first is that his flesh
is guided by the spirit; by his human spirit. And the second is
that his spirit, his human spirit, is guided by the Spirit of God.
So the Spirit of God is guiding the whole person; guiding both
the spirit and the body, and hence that person should be holy in
spirit and in body.
Let me read some verses from chapter 8 of the Epistle of Saint
Paul to the Romans about the body and the spirit. The holy
Apostle says: "There is therefore now no condemnation to
those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to
the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8: 1). And in
verse 5, he says: "For those who live according to the flesh set
their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live
according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be
carnal minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and
peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is
not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Rom. 8: 5-
7). And then he says: "... if Christ is in you, the body is dead
because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness "
(Rom. 8: 10). Then he says: "Therefore, brethren, we are
debtors- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if
you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit
you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as
many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God"
(Rom. 8:12-14). Here, Saint Paul depicts the sons of God as
those who are led by the Spirit of the Lord.
Let me now venture to speak about a subject that is rather
contentious, and is currently quite outspread, and that needs the
grace of our Lord to be overcome; this subject of
homosexuality. I am sorry to even have to speak about this
issue, it should not be a matter of discussion.
Homosexuality Is Against Nature
Homosexuality is against nature because sexual relations are
permitted only within the confines of marriage, and marriage is
only permitted between a man and a woman, male and female.
Hence, any sexual conduct outside these confines can only be
described as an abnormality; an act against nature.
When our Lord Jesus Christ discussed the issue of
Homosexuality with the scribes and Pharisees, as written in the
Gospel of Saint Matthew chapter 19 and the Gospel of Saint
Mark chapter 10, He said: "From the beginning.. God 'made
them male and female '", man and woman. This is the proper
way of nature and the will of our Lord form the beginning of
But when people behaved according to the lust of the flesh in
the Old Testament, they received severe punishment from God,
as at the time of the Flood when only the pure, the eight people
in Noah's Ark, were saved, and all others perished. Also the
people of Sodom, who were unclean, were burned with fire.
They also behaved according to the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the body; they were unclean in their spirit.
Homosexuals Shall Not Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven
Carnal people cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. We read
this in the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, where it speaks
about the heavenly Jerusalem and says: "But there shall by no
means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination"
(Rev. 21: 27).
Homosexuals Were Punished By Death
We read that homosexuality is a kind of abomination which in
the Old Testament was punishable by death. If we, for example,
read Leviticus, chapter 18, verse 22, God says: "You shall not
lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." And
also in the Book of Leviticus, chapter 20, verse 13, "If a man
lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have
committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death.
Their blood shall be upon them."
Homosexuality Condemned In The New Testament
Of course, the New Testament is no less pure than the Old
Testament. So we find at least four examples against
homosexuality. In Romans chapter one, in the First Epistle to
the Corinthians chapter 6, in the Epistle of Saint Jude, and in
the Epistle to Timothy. I will now read some of these verses to
remind us of the teachings of the Holy Bible.
In Romans chapter one, it is written: "For the wrath of God is
revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in
unrighteousness." How is the wrath of God revealed? Verse
24 says: "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in
the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among
themselves." `Gave them up', this means that the grace of God
has left them, that they were forsaken to their own uncleanness
to dishonour their bodies. In such abnormality they debase the
The honour of the body is to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
But if it is abused then it is a dishonour to the body. "For this
reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their
women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,
burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing
what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of
their error which was due" (Rom. 1: 26,27).
In his Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul also spoke about the
debased minds, and about things which are not fitting. So,
when he says: 'exchanged the natural use for what is against
nature', it means that homosexuality is against nature.
Furthermore, he says that it is an act of uncleanness, an act that
dishonours of the body and that is worthy of punishment. Thus,
according to the teachings of Saint Paul, homosexuality is not
only an act against nature, as was created by our Lord, it is
shameful and abominable.
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle
says: "Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites... will inherit
the kingdom of God" (1Cor. 6: 9). None of these will inherit
the kingdom of God.
As for living in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, he also
says: "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is
outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins
against his own body" (1Cor. 6: 18). What is meant by `his
own body'? It means that he is sinning against the temple of the
Holy Spirit. The Apostle says: "... do you not know that your
body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you
have from God, and you are not your own?" (1Cor. 6: 19).
Your body is not your own; your body is the temple of the Holy
When a person sins against his body, it means that he is
separating himself from the Holy Spirit. Light and darkness
cannot exist together in one place. From the beginning God
separated light from darkness (Gen. 1). Therefore, we cannot
have the Holy Spirit abiding in our body if we sin against it by
what is shameful.
The Apostle says: "...glorify God in your body and in your
spirit which are God's" (1Cor. 6: 20), meaning that both the
body and the spirit belong to God, and hence should be
glorified. Also, in chapter 3 he adds: "Do you not know that
you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in
you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy
him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are"
(1Cor. 3: 16,17).
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 6, the Apostle
also says: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of
Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them
members of a harlot? Certainly not!" (1Cor. 6: 15). We are
the members of Christ because we are His body and His bones.
Saint Paul says: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in
me" (Gal. 2: 20). So, if Christ lives in us, how can we abuse
our bodies in such ways, how can we defile the members of
Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit? How can we abuse
and dishonour the holy image of God by living in the lust of the
flesh? This is against holy life and against chastity.
In his Epistle, Saint Jude says: "...as Sodom and Gomorra, and
the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having
given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after
strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7).
In the First Epistle to Timothy, the Apostle says: "...knowing
this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the
lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for
the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and
murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for
sodomites" (1Tim. 1: 9,10). Saint Paul includes 'sodomites', or
homosexuals, among the murderers, the lawless and the
Hence, this sin was condemned in both the Old and the
New Testaments. So, can we disobey God in order to please
some sinners? Is it not better to show them the right way than
to let them lose their sanctity and be punished in eternal life? Or
let them depend on the Church making this matter lawful?
Homosexuality Is Against Health
I think that in our present day, our Lord God has given us a
grand warning in the form of AIDS. A warning to those who
subject their bodies to such defilement. Unfortunately people
are no longer fearful, even of such a dreadful disease.
Homosexuality Is Against ManHood
How can a person who is used as a woman be called a man?
He is deprived of his manhood and is not considered to be a
man any longer.
Homosexuality Is Against the Good Name of Christianity
What may be said of Christianity in its supreme ideology?
Christianity teaches the sublime ideas of spirituality. How can
other religions have any idea about this spiritual life if they
know that there is homosexuality in the Church and that the
Church is discussing whether it is wrong or right?
Church life should be a life of holiness. A holy person is a
member of the Church, but the unholy is not a member of the
Church at all. And this is what was mentioned in the Book of
Acts, chapter 2, verse 47, where it is written: "And the Lord
added to the church daily those who were being saved". The
Lord added to the Church those who were being saved because
the Church is a congregation of Saints; an abundance of
Homosexuality Is Against the Holy Sacraments
What can we say about the renewal of life in Christianity if such
defilement exists inside the Church? How can we say that we
received the new life? ... the renewal of life? ... the new birth?
What kind of new birth have we received if we have such
defilement among our members? What can we say about
salvation? What kind of salvation is it? About baptism, what
kind of baptism is it? What can we say about holy Chrism when
we are faced with such defilement?
Homosexuality is against the Sacrament of Marriage, and it is
also against self-control. People who suffer homosexuality
should be ashamed. If they knew the meaning of spiritual life,
they could not confess that they are homosexuals. It is quite
inconceivable that anyone can lose their sense of shame and
openly confess to being homosexuals. It is even more
unbelievable is that such people ask for their human rights as
Rights For Homosexuals
What rights are there for homosexuals? Their only right is to
be led to repentance. But to live in such defilement of the
body, in such dishonour of the body, in such abomination and
sin, and then ask for their so called human rights unthinkable!
Furthermore, being encouraged and defended by some of the
members of the Church, they ask to be ordained priesthood,
while still practising homosexuality, this is simply beyond belief!
What may members of the congregation say when they know
that their priest is homosexual, and that he holds the Body and
Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ?
How can a homosexual priest lead the congregation to holy life
without having repented, without having confessed, without
changing his life? If he cannot repent how can he guide others
to repentance? If he cannot control himself, how can he guide
others to such control? If he cannot enjoy the beauty of holy
life, how can he speak about holy life? If he leads a carnal
life, how can he guide others to live a spiritual life?
What will be said about the teachings of Christianity if such
abominations take place in the Church itself?
Homosexuality and Love
It is claimed that homosexuality is simply love between man and
man. No, my brothers, love should be spiritual and pure. We
love others in purity. We love others in the Spirit. And loving
others should not be against our love for God, because our
Lord Jesus Christ said `He who loves father, son, wife, sister, or
brother, more than Me, is not worthy of me, is not worthy to be
My disciple.' We cannot love any other person more than our
Lord Jesus Christ. Every love which we have should be love in
the Lord. We love in the Lord, not outside, not against.
It is not love, but lust, and there is a great difference
between love and lust. The word 'love' is not suitable for such
a relation, because in the Gospel, we say `God is love.' How
can we say `Homosexuality is love'? It is not love, it is a
physical lust, lust of the flesh, and a lust which should be
If a man loves another man, can he abuse the man whom he
loves? Is this love or destruction? If a man really loves another
man, can he lead this man to lose his eternity and be punished in
eternal life? Is it love to make another lose his image, the image
Homosexual by Nature
Another excuse given is that such a person is born that
way. If he is born that way, we need to heal him, to purge
him, to correct him, to pray for him, to guide him to repentance,
to cure him medically and spiritually. But not to say to him:
"Alright, we accept you as a member of the Church and give
you the Body and Blood of our Lord." It cannot be said that a
person is homosexual by nature. Surely, it is the result of a
traumatic experience in life, and this can be corrected.
We have in the history of the Church many saints who were
fornicators before being saints, before repentance, and they
were corrected. They were not homosexuals, but they were
fornicators; the same sin but not abnormal. Saint Augustine is a
good example. Saint Moses the Black is another example.
Saint Pelagia is another example, and there are many others,
and through the grace of God, through the work of pastoral
care, they were corrected. We cannot accept homosexuality,
for if we do, it means that we allow such an abomination, it
means that we permit that person to remain in sin and not
repent. Moreover, it means that homosexuals have rights, one
of which is to be ordained as priests.
The Spiritual Way of Pleasing Others
We cannot flatter people at the expense of the
commandment of God. May I read you one or two verses
from the First Epistle to the Galatians: "For do I now persuade
men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still
pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Gal. 1:
10). If 1 go on pleasing men in contradiction with the
commandment of God, then I will not be the servant of Christ.
If I want to please men in a correct way, then I should
guide them to repentance. This is the spiritual way of
pleasing others, not to let them stay in sin and perish.
What is the benefit in pleasing other if such pleasure leads
to condemnation? In the heavenly kingdom, in the kingdom of
God, no person who lives in defilement is allowed to enter. No
fornicators, nor sodomites, may enter the kingdom of our Lord,
as is clearly expressed in the teachings of Saint Paul, Saint Jude,
Saint Peter, and many others?
Once I read a book written by one of the clergymen -I do not
want to say, one of the bishops- defending homosexuality. He
began to attack Saint Paul and say that he is abnormal. Can we
please men to the extent where we speak against Apostles?
Against a person that was elected by God Himself in a
miraculous apparition, and chosen to be the Apostle for the
Gentiles; to be our Apostle, for we were Gentiles. Is it
acceptable that we try to please men, even if it means going
against the teachings of the Lord?
I now return to the first words I said to you. I said I am happy,
I am glad, to be among the persons who are chosen to witness
to the Lord. Our Lord said: "But you shall receive power when
the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses
to Me." As for homosexuals, He said that without repentance,
they will perish. This judgement of our Lord was repeated
twice in the chapter of Saint Luke's Gospel, chapter 13, verses 3
and 5. It is written: "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you
will all likewise perish" (v. 3), and in verse 5: "I tell you, no;
but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
So, can we say to such sinners, to whom our Lord said:
"...unless you repent you will all likewise perish", `no, no, no,
we will find excuses for you. The Church loves you and wants
to search for excuses, so that you may remain in sin and not
perish?' It is not within our power, I repeat, it is not within our
power to justify sins, or to please sinners. Instead, we should
be trying to guide them to repentance.
The Way to Repentance
Initially, a person who sins may be embarrassed, and cannot
confess to this abomination. However, if that person openly
declares his homosexuality, and begins to seek his rights as a
homosexual, without seeking repentance, and even goes so far
as to ask to be ordained priesthood, then this is an outrage.
However, if we make it clear to that person that such actions
are sinful and against the will of God, then perhaps his
conscience may act against him, always condemning him and
reproaching him: `You should repent. You must change your
The Authority Of Clergymen
In the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 18, our Lord Jesus
Christ gave His servants, the Apostles, the priests, authority,
saying: "I say to you whatever you bind on earth will be bound
in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in
heaven" (Matt. 18: 18). Whatever you bind or loose should be
according to the Bible, in harmony with the teachings of the
Bible, in obedience to the commandments of God, but whatever
you bind or loose against the Bible will not be accepted. How?
If we read the Epistle to the Galatians, chapter 1, verses 8 and
9, we find some very fearful words. It is written: "But even if
we (the Apostles), or an angel from heaven, preach any other
Gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be
accursed' (Gal 1:8). This is also repeated in verse 9, "If anyone
preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received,
let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:9).
Our duty as Clergymen is to guide people through the
commandments of God. We have no power, nor any
authority, to give declare laws against the laws of God. So,
why did our Lord give us authority, and how can this authority
to bind and loose be explained? Perhaps we can find an
explanation in what was written in the prophecy of Malachi,
chapter 2, verse 7: "For the lips of a priest should keep
knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for
he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts" (Mal 2:7). People
take the law of the Lord from the priest's mouth because, when
it comes to God's teachings, he is more knowledgeable than any
other member of the congregation. He is the teacher; the guide.
So he binds according to the law of God which he knows quite
well, and he looses according to the law of God, and never in
contradiction, as Saint Paul said: "If we, or an angel from
heaven..." As Saint Basil of Caesaria Cappadocia said: "Saint
Paul dared to anathematize angels."
The Grave Responsibility Of The Clergy
What then should we say to people? There is a commandment
given by God in the Old Testament. It is repeated twice in the
same prophecy of Ezekiel, in chapter 3, and again in chapter 33.
May I read you some of the words said by God to Ezekiel: "Son
of man, I have made you a watchman (to watch people) for the
house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give
them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall
surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the
wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked
man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will require at
your hand" (Ezek. 3: 17,18).
We are pastors. How can we suffer that the blood of these
wicked persons who will perish be required from us? We
should warn them and say to them: "This way leads you to
destruction". And at the same time God says: "Yet, if you warn
the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from
his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have
delivered your soul' (Ezek. 3: 19).
The same words are also mentioned in chapter 33, because our
Lord God wants to emphasise this point. "So you, son of man:
I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel, therefore
you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.
When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man, you shall surely die!'
and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that
wicked man shall die in his iniquity,. but his blood I will
require at your hand" (Ezek. 33: 7,8).
We must fear such condemnation. We must warn the wicked
and say to them: `This is the way of death. If you walk
according to the flesh you will die; you should obey the
commandments of God.' If we love our children in a spiritual
way we should guide them to repentance; we should try to
purge them, to cleanse them, to heal them, to save them, not to
justify their sins. This is not good for them nor for us. They
will perish and their blood will be required at our hands.
The following are some of the questions asked by members of
the congregation and the answers given by His Holiness:
We repeat in the Nicene Creed, I believe in one holy
Catholic Apostolic Church". As the Catholic and Apostolic
Church is divided, how can we claim it to be holy? How
can holiness and division go together?
Of course this is a tragedy, and for this reason we are trying to
work toward Christian unity. We are trying to be one in faith,
and one in theology and in doctrine. Our Lord God does not
accept this division because in the Gospel of Saint John chapter
10, which we call the chapter of the Good Shepherd, it is clear
that He wants the Church to be one flock, for One Shepherd,
and this Shepherd is our Lord Jesus Christ. And also in Saint
John's Gospel, chapter 17, He asks the Father for His disciples,
for the whole Church, to be one, saying: "...that they may be
one just as We are one." There is no unity more mystical than
the unity between the Father and the Son. Of course,
separation and division is not a holy matter and for this reason,
we are working for the unity of the Church.
While we are alive, is it not possible to enjoy bodily
pleasures without hurting others, while striving for spiritual
For this reason we said that this bodily pleasure, according to
your expression, is enjoyed in marriage and between male and
female, but not against nature, not against the commandment of
God. As we enjoy bodily pleasures in eating food and
delicacies, and control ourselves in the days of fasting, a person
may also enjoy bodily pleasures to a certain extent, not to be
against his spirit, not to be against the commandment of God,
not to be against nature, not to be against purity of heart, and
many pleasures are given to us, but not abnormal pleasures.
How can we bring healing to people of homosexual
tendency who wish to be healed of that tendency and to
walk the way of holiness? How may we help them?
The first point on which I spoke was that the Church cannot say
that their wrong way is acceptable, this is against the essence of
the teachings the Bible. We cannot pass their acts as acceptable
behaviour, and excuse them for supposedly being born that way.
Sin is sin, whatever the reasons are.
In order to help them, firstly say to them: "This is a sin. This is
an abomination", and then let them enjoy the spiritual life. A
person who tastes the sweetness of spiritual life may leave such
a way of abomination. Because people are always occupied
with worldly matters, they do not give time for prayer, for
contemplation, for spiritual songs, for reading the Bible, for
reading spiritual books, so their spirits become very weak, and
such weak spirits cannot resist temptation. If we try to
strengthen their spirits, to let them practise spiritual ways, as I
said, they get better.
Also, we must pray for them, fast for them, celebrate Holy
Masses for them, we must try to help them by using all spiritual
means. If there is a situation that requires medical treatment,
then let them try it. But, whatever the circumstances, we
cannot justify their sins. It is not within our authority as
clergymen or pastors.
Does the Church see the sexual desire in marriage between
husband and wife as lust or good appetite?
Saint Augustine said that it is something attractive from nature
to help the act. First marriage was for giving birth to children
and to let the world continue, but if there is nothing attractive in
such a matter, perhaps people will not have sexual intercourse.
As with food, if food is not delicious and of good appetite (I
may use appetite here for food), people will not eat and they
will die. So God put something attractive in the nature of these
matters in order that the act may be completed. But some
people who have full love for God may not practise such
matters very frequently.
There is something said by Saint Paul in the seventh chapter of
the first Epistle to the Corinthians, he said: "Do not deprive one
another except with consent for a time, that you may give
yourselves to fasting and prayer, and come together again so
that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-
control" (1Cor. 7: 5). And at the beginning he said that when
we practise fasting we need self-control to abstain from food.
At the same time, if a person, if a husband or wife, can be away
from the other partner, in order to practise fasting and prayer in
a useful way for the spirit, it should be in consent. The two
should approve of the matter, if not, we cannot cause offence
for the other partner; this will not be "with consent".
You cannot take everything that your body craves. Solomon,
the wisest person, said that he gave himself all kinds of pleasure,
and what was the conclusion? I will read what Solomon said:
"Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not
withhold my heart from any pleasure" (Eccl. 2: 10). And what
was the end? It was against him and he found that "all was
vanity and grasping for the wind" (Eccl. 2: 11). A person may
take from the pleasures of the world to a certain extent, yet self-
control from time to time.
How should we relate our Lord's assurance that the wheat
and tares will continue together until the end, to the stress
on all members of the Church being called to be saints?
Of course, the tares are not members in the Church. The wheat
are the elect and the tares are the work of the devil, as our Lord
God explained this parable in the thirteenth chapter of Saint
Matthew's Gospel, saying that the wheat is the work of God
and the tares the work of the devil.
There is sin and there is holy life. Of course, we cannot say that
the kingdom of God covers the whole world, but the work of
the Church is to have plenty of wheat and to guide the tares to
be wheat if possible. This is our duty; to correct others. But of
course our Lord Jesus Christ spoke about the tares in this
parable as the persons who will perish (not to be corrected).
But in the Church we have only wheat.
The Church in its identity is a group of saints worshipping God
together. They are holy vessels in which the Holy Spirit works.
The definition of the Church is people who are the image of
God, who are the true sons of God, who always keep the image
of God, have communion with the Holy Spirit, and lead holy
lives. These are the true members of the Church; tares are not
the true members of the Church.
Can we suggest that different branches of one whole may
not be evil but that they may all be partakers of God's
Of course we should distinguish between evil and good. There
are many kinds of good ways, as for example, marriage and
virginity. They are two holy ways which guide to God. But we
cannot say that chastity and fornication are two ways which
guide to God. Of course not. There may be a kind of variety
but inside holiness and not outside holiness, and this is
For this reason we have different branches in the holy Church,
as for example when Saint Paul spoke about the gifts of the
Holy Spirit in chapter 12 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
He said there are different gifts but the Spirit is one. In the
Church there are Apostles, there are teachers, there are priests,
there are prophets, there are ordinary persons. All these may be
different in rank, but all of them are holy.
You say "may all be partakers of God's truth". Partakers of
God's truth inside holiness and not outside holiness. Our Lord
God said that the good earth may give thirty, sixty and one
hundred. These are degrees, but all of them are fruitful and
good, although they vary. But as for the plants which were
surrounded by thorns and withered away, we cannot say they
were good, nor was the land from which the seeds were taken
If a homosexual goes to the church and repents and
abstains from homosexual activity, how is he viewed in the
eyes of God if desires about men remain?
I want to say that sometimes repentance may take steps. The
first step of repentance is to abstain from the action of sin.
Sometimes the person abstains from the action of sin and at the
same time still has the desire. He is now clean in flesh but not
clean in spirit.
The second step is to change his mind and change his desires.
In the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 12, the Apostle says: "I
beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that
you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to
God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be
conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of
your mind" (Rom. 12: 1). A person may have another concept,
another idea, another way of thinking about the world. He does
not look at sin as pleasure but as defilement. He may change
his mind, and in changing his mind he may change his desires
also. It may take steps.
The first step of repentance is to leave sin, not to do it. But
the perfection of repentance is to hate sin, and sin will not
be suitable for the person's new nature in our Lord Jesus
Our great teacher Saint John the Apostle said that the son of
God cannot sin: cannot, because he is the son of God. His
nature has changed. This is the renewal of life. As pastors,
our work is to guide people toward the renewal of their life,
to stress on a new point, to give them practice in spiritual life.
Day by day they find spiritual life not only acceptable but also
favourable and they find their pleasure in God, their
pleasure in spiritual life.
Does the Coptic Church have a view on the use of artificial
Yes, we accept it if it is not a way of abortion. This means if it
is used to avoid, rather than terminate, a pregnancy. However,
once a pregnancy has occurred, than it is a sin to abort the baby,
even if its age is only one hour. So, it is acceptable only to
THE SECOND LECTURE
THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN
The first point on which I want to speak to you is our respect to
the Holy Bible. Of course, everyone may say that they respect
the Holy Bible, but in practice this is not always the case.
Our Respect to the Holy Bible
Many people depend on their minds more than they depend on
the verses of the Bible. They depend on their intelligence, on
their own understanding, not on the Bible. We are ready to
have the Bible as the basis of our dogma, the basis of our
theology, and see what the Bible says. If we read for example
the Book of Proverbs, chapter 3, verse 5, it is written: "Trust in
the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your
understanding." (Pro 3:5).
People may differ in their understanding, therefore, we may find
many dogmas and many different concepts of theology. This
warning is repeated in chapter 14, verse 12: "There is a way
that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death"
(Pro 14:12) and the same verse is found in chapter 16, verse 25:
"There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way
of death." (Pro. 16:25).
A person may think that his mind is sound, that his
understanding of theology is suitable for him, but this may at a
certain times, be in contradiction with Biblical teachings. We
should respect the Bible more than our minds. This was the
commandment of God since the beginning.
For example, if we read what our Lord God said to Joshua, the
disciple of Moses, who came after him, we find Him saying:
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but
you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to
do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make
your way prosperous, and then you will have good success"
(Josh. 1: 8).
And it is mentioned many times that Moses did according to
what the Lord had commanded him. And in the Sermon on the
Mount, in Saint Matthew's Gospel, chapter 5, verse 17, our
Lord Jesus Christ commanded us not to add and not to omit,
and gave a punishment for this. And as I said in my first
lecture, quoting from the Epistle to the Galatians, chapter 1,
verses 8 and 9, the holy Apostle says: "But even if we (the
Apostles), or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel
to you than what we have preached to you, let him be
accursed" (Gal. 1:8-9) (and in other translations, "let him be
We have to respect the Bible and its teaching. I say this
because once I heard some scholars saying: "Oh, the first eleven
chapters of the Book of Genesis are mythology. The story of
Jonah the Prophet is mythology. Some of the prophecies of
Ezekiel are mythology". People began to subject the Holy
Bible to their minds instead of subjecting their minds to the
Holy Bible. What they accept will be alright. If not, they will
not respect what they do not accept in the Holy Bible. So their
respect to the Holy Bible is not as it should be.
Some people may say: "Oh, this is written in the Old Testament.
We do not accept it. We accept only what is written in the New
Testament". How can we refuse the words of God in the Old
Once I was discussing some points with one of the hierarchies
of the church, and I quoted verses from Saint Paul, he said to
me: "Oh, this is what was said by Saint Paul and not by our
Lord Jesus Christ". Then I asked him: "Are the words of Saint
Paul inspired or not?" He thought and said: "Yes, they are
inspired". Then I said: "Then these are the words of God
inspired by the Holy Spirit".
Let us read two verses which may be useful to us. In the
Second Epistle to Timothy, chapter 3, verses 15 and 16, it is
written: "...and that from childhood you have known the Holy
Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation
through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2Ti 3:15-16)
And also Saint Peter said that these Books of the Scriptures are
spoken by holy men led by the Holy Spirit.
Dogmas and theology need a spirit of humility. The humble
person does not put himself higher than the Holy Scripture. To
accept or not to accept, to omit or not to omit, is not humility.
As I said earlier, some people, when they notice that the Holy
Scriptures are against homosexuals, they attack the Holy
Scriptures in order to defend homosexuality. If they see that
the Holy Scriptures do not allow ordination of women, they are
ready to attack the teachings of the Bible in order to please
Now I would like to deal with the subject of the ordination of
women. First, as an introduction, I want to say that women are
our mothers, our sisters, and to us, our spiritual daughters.
We respect them, we love them, we pray for them, and we
give them responsibilities in the Church.
Women In The Coptic Church
In the Coptic Church we have thousands of women as Sunday
School teachers. In Cairo alone we have between ten to fifteen
thousand females as Sunday School teachers. In our Seminary
and Coptic Institute we have four ladies teaching in the
Seminary: one teaches the Old Testament, another the Hebrew
Language, and two teach the history of the Church. In every
church we have women organising and supervising social
activities. We also have women in many of the councils of
churches. They have many responsibilities.
Women In The Holy Bible
The responsibilities of women were given to them from the
beginning. We can mention many prophetesses. Miriam the
sister of Moses was a prophetess. Deborah the Judge of Israel
was a prophetess, Huldah was a prophetess. Anna, at the time
of the birth of our Lord, was a prophetess. They may be
prophetesses, no problem. They may be queens, such as Esther
who was a queen and she was a saviour for a whole nation.
This is all right, a wise woman who could save her nation. We
know that Mary Magdalene was delegated by our Lord Jesus
Christ to announce the happy news of the Resurrection to the
Many women gave their houses to be churches in the
Apostolic Age. Among them was Saint Mary the mother of
Saint Mark the Evangelist. Her house became a church. This is
mentioned in the Book of Acts (Acts 12: 12). Also the house
of Aquila and Priscilla and Lydia as is mentioned in chapter 16
of the Epistle to the Romans.
Many women ministered to the Lord. They served Him,
and some of these women were mentioned in the eighth chapter
of Saint Luke's Gospel: "Now it came to pass, afterward, that
He went through every city and village, preaching and
bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the
twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed
of evil spirits and infirmities - Mary called Magdalene, out of
whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza,
Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided
for Him from their substance" (Luke. 8: 1-3).
They were servants of God. Beside the Cross of our Lord,
women were the majority, there was only one man, Saint John
the Evangelist, and the rest were women.
Priesthood In The Holy Bible
Women may be full of love and emotion, and if they devote
their love and emotion to Christ they can be very helpful. But
in spite of this we cannot find in the whole Bible one single
example of a woman being a priest. Perhaps God called
women for other responsibilities. Priesthood is a Divine call
and it is quite obvious in the Holy Bible that women were called
for many, many responsibilities, but not for priesthood.
The first priesthood was the priesthood of the great patriarchs
of the church: Father Abraham, Father Noah, Father Isaac,
Father Jacob. All these were men. The second kind of
priesthood was the priesthood of Melchizedek, who was
mentioned in Genesis, chapter 14, and in Hebrews chapter 7,
and the priesthood of Aaron and his sons. All of them were
men. There was not a single woman priest in all of the Old
Testament. If God had wanted it, all right. Who can prevent
The firstborn children who were sanctified to God before
choosing the priesthood of Moses, Aaron and the sons of
Aaron- were all men. When the Lord Jesus Christ chose the
twelve Apostles to be the first priests or archpriests, or the first
bishops or ecumenical bishops, they were all men. And the first
bishops consecrated by them were also men.
Priesthood in Church Tradition
Throughout history there is not one example of a female
priest. Not one example in Bible, nor in Tradition, and we
have to trace and follow the teaching of the Bible, because the
Christian life is a life handed down from one generation to
another generation. For example, in the first Epistle to the
Corinthians chapter 11, when Saint Paul spoke about the
Eucharist, he said: "For I received from the Lord that which I
also delivered to you" (1Cor. 11: 23).
God delivered dogmas, theology and rites to the Apostles,
and the Apostles delivered them to their disciples, to the
first bishops, and they delivered them to another
generation, until these dogmas reached our day. For this
reason, Saint Paul said to his disciple Timothy, who was the
Bishop of Ephesus, "And the things that you have heard from
me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who
will be able to teach others also" (2Tim. 2: 2). Teaching was
handed down from Saint Paul to Timothy, and from Timothy to
faithful men, and from these faithful men to others.
This is the Tradition, the Apostolic Tradition, which we
received from the age of the Apostles, throughout all ages, till
now. And, of course, if God had wanted to call women for
priesthood, He would have done so, in the same way as He
called women to be prophetesses.
The Church is a collection of the members of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Every member performs a certain duty. We
cannot say that all members are the same. Every member in the
Body of our Lord has its dignity, its respect, its work, its
importance. We cannot say that all members may be heads, all
may be eyes, may be arms, may be hearts! We cannot say this.
If a woman is not called to be the head, perhaps she is
called to be the heart, and no difference.
Every member has its own work in the Church, and this also
is what was said by the Apostle when he was speaking about
the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We may read the First Epistle to the
Corinthians, chapter 12: "But now indeed there are many
members, yet one body. And God has appointed these in the
church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after
that miracles, then gifts of hearings, helps, administrations,
varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are
all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of
hearings?" (1Cor. 12: 20, 28-30). But God gave every
member its own work.
Men and women cannot be rivals in a certain responsibility.
Women can perform many duties which are useful in the
church, but they were not called for priesthood. We are not to
be blamed for this because this is not our teaching, it is the
Biblical teaching. If you can find one single example in the
Bible, whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament,
we are ready to accept it. We are not against the words of
God. We accept the words of God. But we cannot add new
Who Is The Head?
Then, who does the New Testament say is the head, man or
woman? This is mentioned in Ephesus, chapter 5, and many
times in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. "I want you to know
that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is
man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor
was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For
this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on
her head, because of the angels" (1Cor. 11: 3, 8-10).
Man and woman co-operate together, but man is the head
of woman. If woman is headed by man in the house, can she be
the head of all the congregation in the church, among whom is
her husband who is her head? Or may she say to him: `You are
my head in the house, but I am your head in the church?' I do
not know how to find a solution for this problem.
Also, the priest represents our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Virgin Mary And Priesthood
If women were called to priesthood, the first woman in the
world would have been the Virgin Mary. No woman in the
world is more holy than Saint Mary. And no woman in the
whole world is more worthy- if it is a matter of worthiness- than
the Virgin Mary. And Saint Mary the Virgin did not claim to be
a priest. She was the spiritual mother of all the Apostles, but
she did not claim to be a priest.
Deaconesses and Serving the Altar
Not only is this concerning priesthood, but also the work of
deacons in serving the altar. When the Apostles consecrated
the seven first deacons, what did they say? They said:
"Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of
good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we
may appoint over this business" (Acts 6: 3). In the history of
the Church, we may find some Deaconesses, not for the service
of the altar, but for social service or educational service or for
discipline or for helping the priest in matters concerning women
in the holy Sacraments, but not for serving the altar, not for the
Holy Eucharist, not to baptise, nothing of the sort.
In the First Epistle to Timothy, chapter 2, verses 11-15, Saint
Paul does not permit women to teach men in the church. In
the Coptic Church we let women teach children or other women
or girls in Sunday School, but they do not teach men.
I am sorry, I do not want women to be displeased, but this is
the Holy Bible. It is not a problem: it is how to give certain
gifts to certain people. It is not being against women, but it
is a matter of classifying the gifts of God.
Now I return to Romans, chapter 12, regarding this matter, to
read and see what the Holy Bible says to us: "For I say,
through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you,
not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but
to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of
faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the
members do not have the same function, so we, being many,
are one body in Christ, and individually members of one
another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace
that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy
in the proportion to our faith; or ministry..." (Rom. 12: 3-6),
and then it goes on to describe every kind of ministry. Of
course women have ministries in the church, not priesthood, but
many other kinds of work and responsibilities.
In the First Epistle to Timothy, the Apostle says: "Let a woman
learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a
woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in
silence" (1Tim 2: 11,12). That means that the work of prayer
in the Liturgy is the work of the priest. She may attend silently
and not teach men or have authority over men.
Women And The Priest's Work
There are many things in the work of the priest which may
not be suitable for women, for example, baptising men.
How can a woman baptise men? It is not easy. If she is a
bishop and ordains priests, that means that these priests will be
subordinate to her, under her authority, under her hierarchy or
jurisdiction. This is contradictory to the teaching of the
Holy Bible. The Holy Anointment, how can she anoint men?
How about the periods in which a woman cannot enter the
church, or it is not easy for her to work, if she is a priest and
pregnant in the ninth month or eighth month, or when she gives
birth and must stay at home. I do not want to enter into such
detail, but many other points concerning women may not help
her work constantly in the church.
Church Sacraments Delivered To Men
When our Lord Jesus Christ delivered the Sacraments of the
Church, He did not deliver these Sacraments to women.
For example, when He delivered Priesthood, as is mentioned in
Saint John's Gospel, chapter 20, verses 21 to 23, He gave this
authority to the eleven Apostles: "Then Jesus said to them (to
the eleven Apostles) again, `Peace to you! As the Father has
sent Me, I also send you.' And when He had said this, He
breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you
retain the sins of any, they are retained.'" (John 20:21-23) He
gave this to the Apostles, to the Eleven, not to any women.
When He gave them the Sacrament of Baptism, if we read
for example Saint Matthew's Gospel, chapter 28, verse 16:
"Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the
mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. And when they
saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus
came and spoke to them, saying, `All authority has been given
to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make
disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to
observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am
with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matt. 28: 16-
20). He gave the authority of baptising and teaching to the
Eleven. He did not call all the women- although many women
were very holy and were serving Him, as mentioned in Luke
chapter 8, and those who followed Him to the Cross. But He
said this to the Eleven.
And also of the Eucharist, Saint Paul said: "For I received
from the Lord that which I also delivered to you" (1Cor. 11:
23). He received this Sacrament from the Lord. This
Sacrament was also given by the Lord to the Eleven after the
departure of Judas. He said to them, "Do this in remembrance
of Me." He said to them: "... teaching them to observe all
things that I have commanded you", meaning what they were
taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, and this also was for the
Eleven. And He appeared to them for forty days and spoke to
them about the mysteries of the kingdom of God, about all
things concerning the kingdom of God, this also was to the
I think it is better for a woman to remain a woman, to work
in services, and handle responsibilities which are more
suitable for a woman. A bird may sing a sweet song on a tree
and a lion may roar in the forest. If the bird tries to be a lion, it
is not suitable. It is more beautiful for the bird, for the sparrow
or the pigeon, to sing a sweet song and than to roar like a lion.
And if the lion tries to sing like the bird it will not be acceptable.
Let women be in the service of women, and man in the
service of man.
Responsibilities of Women
A woman has great responsibilities. Among these
responsibilities, I may mention, is having pastoral care for
children in order to prepare a new generation for the
Church. One of our problems is that women have no time to
care for their children.
I can mention a holy woman in history and that is Jochebed the
mother of Moses. Due to the teaching given by this holy
woman to her son Moses -Moses lived in the palace of Pharaoh
when he was three, four or five years old and lived the rest of
the 40 years among many pharaonic worships and many idols-
Moses became not only a man of faith but a hero of faith.
How? Because of the teaching of his holy mother who
instilled faith in him during his childhood.
If women take care of their children they prepare for us the
priests of the Church. The priests of the Church of course
were once children, and if children are well prepared, well
taught and well instructed in religious teachings, by their
mothers, then women will have prepared priests without
being themselves priests.
The following are some of the questions asked by members of
the congregation and the answers given by His Holiness:
In the Church, what is the status of a bishop who ordains
women? Is he still a true bishop?
In our Church no bishops ordain women. I think in all the
Orthodox Churches no bishops ordain women, and I think also
in the Catholic Church no bishops ordain women. I am only
speaking about what we are taught from the Bible.
I also wish to say that ordaining women caused a kind of
division and separation here in the Church. What benefit could
the Church take from ordaining women; only conflict among the
priests and bishops. Many dioceses refused to ordain women or
to accept women ordained by other bishops.
There is another point I wish to mention very frankly and very
openly. I am sorry to say these words, but please excuse me.
The Church may try to please women by ordaining them as
priests, and this is what happened here. After this, being a
priest was no longer sufficient for women, they wanted to be
bishops. After being ordained as bishops, it was still
insufficient. Then, women began to ask the question: Is God a
Man or a Woman? Of course gender is not found in Divinity.
But they began to say: "Why do we say: `Our Father who art in
heaven?' Why do we not say `Our Mother?'" And this was a
problem in many meetings of the World Council of Churches,
and some tried to compromise and say `Our Parent who art in
heaven'. If we try to trace all the verses in which God is
mentioned as Father in the Bible, we'll find so many! This
suggestion means that we have to change the Bible!
If we change the Bible, what will be said of us by other
religions? They will say that this Book is not the Book of God;
you are trying to make alterations, and these are not the words
inspired by the Holy Spirit in the Holy Bible!
What advice would you give to an Anglican priest should
the General Synod agree to ordain women to priesthood?
I wish and pray that this may not happen. That is what I can
say. We are friends of the Anglican Church and we do not want
to have any division or separation in the Church for the sake of
the good of the Church. We pray that this may not happen.
Nowadays many people question the exact inspiration of
certain parts of the Bible. What do you say against this?
I want to say openly that criticisms of Biblical teachings have had
many defects. Let me give you an example, and I say this
because we live in non-Christian countries and know the
impression which takes place:a professor in a theological
college may teach the Gospels, he begins to teach the Gospel of
Saint John, and in his study he may say: "Oh, who was the
author of Saint John's Gospel? Was he one of the disciples of
the Lord Jesus Christ or another John who lived in the second
century?" and finally he may conclude that it was another John.
Then it may be said to us: "You do not know your Bible:
whether it was written by God, by the Holy Spirit, by Jesus
Christ, by the disciples or by other people in the second
century..." These points of criticism may be used against
Christianity and published on a large scale. You know for
example, that Dedacht, who had a great discussion in America
with a Christian priest, took nearly all his points from this style
of biblical criticism. Many points are taken to attack
Christianity. If you say that some parts of the Bible are
mythology, non-Christians may take this point and say: `Here is
a witness from the Christians, from the leaders of Christianity,
from the priests, that this is mythology.'
My brothers, take great care when you publish such books and
put in your mind the effect, the impression and the reaction to
such things. Now they question the inspiration of some Books
of the Bible. This means that the matter is doubtful, because it
is a matter of argument whether it is inspired or not. This
means that the Tradition which we received from the Apostles
is under discussion: I mean the Tradition concerning the Holy
Books of the Bible which we received from the Ecumenical
Councils is also under discussion; not yet accepted. Is this good
for the faith of the common people? If it is accepted to a
certain extent for seminaries or students of theology, can this be
accepted by all common people to look at their Holy Bible as a
doubtful Book? What is the benefit?
Once a student said: "I was full of faith, and for this reason I
went to a seminary to be a scholar, and after some years I lost
my faith, because everything which I accepted in a spiritual way
began to be taken as a questionable matter, a matter of
criticism, whether to accept or not". And what happened?
Christianity began to be a kind of philosophy, not a simple
religion as Saint Paul said.
I want to read you some verses from Saint Paul's First Epistle
to the Corinthians. Although he was a great scholar at his time
and studied at the feet of Gamaliel the great professor of his
generation, what did Saint Paul say? He said: "And my speech
and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human
wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that
your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power
of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are
mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this
age, who are coming to nothing" (1Cor. 2: 4-6). And he also
says, in the same chapter: "These things we also speak, not in
words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit
teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1Cor. 2:
Saint Paul was the most educated Apostle at his time. But he
did not use the wisdom of the world. He used simplicity.
He used the words of the Holy Spirit. But now we are
trying to use the wisdom of the world or the wisdom of men.
What about the respect of the Bible? We try to criticise the
Bible. We try to subject the Bible to our minds, not to
surrender to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Once a person pointed at his head and said: "That was the fruit
from which Adam was forbidden to eat. It was the tree of
knowledge". Adam knew many things which were profitable to
him, but he wanted also to eat from the tree of knowledge of
good and evil. He knew only the knowledge of good, then he
began to know the knowledge of evil; to suspect everything, to
doubt everything. It is as if theology is philosophy, and not
good philosophy, but philosophy of doubts! In our seminaries,
should we give our people the spirit of the Bible, or stress on
criticism of the Bible?
In the Holy Eucharist, the priest takes the Holy Body and
Blood of Jesus in his hands. The Blessed Virgin Mary took
Jesus in her hands. Why should another woman not be
allowed to take the Body and Blood of Jesus?
Women are allowed to take the Body and Blood of Jesus in
their mouths, not only in their hands- inside them. And when
we say that the Virgin Mary was holding Jesus in her hand, this
was not a kind of Eucharist. This was motherhood. There
is great difference between motherhood and priesthood.
This is one thing and that is something else. A holy woman may
have our Lord Jesus Christ appearing to her, but this is not the
Eucharist. We should put an exact definition for everything.
When the Virgin Mary was holding our Lord Jesus Christ in her
hands, was she performing or officiating a matter of Priesthood
or Eucharist? As for the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus
Christ, all the congregation takes of the Body and Blood.
There is no discrimination between women and men. All of
them partake in the Holy Communion; no difference. The
Eucharist is how to pray that this Prosphora, this holy bread,
may be transubstantiated into the Body of Jesus Christ, and the
wine into His Blood. But this was not happening with our Lady
Saint Mary- it was something else.
How would you explain Saint Paul's words about woman
for man and not man for woman?
He is speaking about the story of creation, because man was
created first and then woman was created afterwards to help
him, to be a good helper equivalent to him, because man and
woman before God are equals. Man is not preferred nor
woman but the deeds of every person may put him first or last.
Before God, in their deeds, they are equal. But in their
properties, in their responsibilities, they are different. Men do
not ask: Why do we not give birth to children? Everyone is in
his own position.
Is there not a sense in which all Christians are priests?
How does this sort of priesthood differ from ordaining
We are all priests in the spiritual meaning, as David the Prophet
said: "...the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice"
(Ps. 14: 1). And it was said: "the sacrifice of thanksgiving, the
sacrifice of spiritual singing." This is a kind of spiritual
priesthood, not the priesthood of the Holy Mysteries. "Let my
prayer be set before You as incense" (Ps. 141: 2), is this
priesthood? This may be said by a woman or a man. This is the
spiritual meaning, not the literal meaning of priesthood, which is
serving the altar and officiating the Holy Mysteries of the
Why do some Churches refuse to give the Holy Eucharist to
Christian children under 13 years until they are confirmed?
In our Church we give Holy Communion to any child, and we
also give the holy Chrism to the child from the beginning of his
life, just after Baptism. I think this is only known in the
Catholic Church. We give the Body and Blood of our Lord to
the child from the very beginning of his life, after Baptism.
Thank you for listening, and I am happy to be among you. I am
in need for your prayers, all of you, to return to my country
safely and carry on my responsibilities.
My best wishes to the Anglican Church, its bishops and its
priests, wishing for this Church all prosperity.
In the name of the Father
and the Son and the Holy Spirit
One god Amen
The authentic views of the
Coptic Orthodox Church on
the two controversial
subjects of 'The Ordination
of Women' and
'Homosexuality' have been
clearly and authoritatively
expressed by His Holiness
Pope Shenouda III in two
lectures given on the 26th
of November 1990.
A great number of
various churches heard His
Holiness give evidence
from the Holy Bible and
from tradition relating these
two subjects, to which the
Orthodox Church is gravely
- BACK TO MAIN MENU
- The Holiness Of The Church
- Homosexuality Is Against Nature
- Homosexuals Shall Not Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven
- Homosexuals Were Punished By Death
- Homosexuality Condemned In The New Testament
- Homosexuality Is Against ManHood
- Homosexuality Is Against the Good Name of Christianity
- Homosexuality Is Against the Holy Sacraments
- Rights For Homosexuals
- Homosexual Priests
- Homosexuality and Love
- Homosexual by Nature
- The Spiritual Way of Pleasing Others
- The Way to Repentance
- The Authority Of Clergymen
- The Grave Responsibility Of The Clergy
- THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN
- Women In The Coptic Church
- Women In The Holy Bible
- Priesthood In The Holy Bible
- Priesthood in Church Tradition
- Who Is The Head?
- The Virgin Mary And Priesthood
- Deaconesses and Serving the Altar
- Women And The Priests Work
- Church Sacraments Delivered To Men
- Responsibilities of Women