Where the Catholic Church Draws the Line: Mary Ward vs. the Catholic Priesthood

  • Lisa McClain
Part of the Histories of the Sacred and Secular, 1700-2000 book series (HISASE)


This chapter uses the lessons gleaned throughout the book from the intersections of religion and gender to confront the conundrum raised in the introduction: Mary Ward’s harsh treatment by the papacy considering the good work the English Ladies were doing to bolster Catholicism in the British Isles. By focusing upon the language contained in critiques of Ward, the prominence of Catholic concerns about women—and, indeed, any layperson—assuming apostolic and priestly activities come to light. The Church drew the line at compromising its core doctrine of apostolic succession, protecting the clergy’s sacramental powers. Such issues are then integrated into contemporary discussions not only about gender but about the nature and limits of divine authority itself and to whom it gets given, including women’s ordination to the Catholic priesthood and greater roles for laymen and women in liturgy and sacrament.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa McClain
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryBoise State UniversityBoiseUSA

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