The Roman Catholic Church's opposition to the ordination of women is rooted in theology and not likely to end soon, said the Most Rev. William Weigand, bishop of the church's Utah Diocese.
"It would be wrong to say that we think there's any change on the horizon and I would say it would be premature at this time to even try to guess at this point whether this could be worked out theologically," he said during a panel discussion.The discussion Tuesday followed a lecture by the Rev. Owen Cummings, a deacon and director of religious education at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City.
The Church of England recently decided to ordain women. Last week, a bishops' council reaffirmed the Catholic position against ordination of women.
Cummings said the position keys on "spousal imagery," such as references to Christ as the bridegroom and the church as the bride.
He said that in the Eucharist, the bishop or priest takes on the role and image of Christ and there must therefore be a natural resemblance to Christ.
Cummings said an opposing view holds that mentions of spousal imagery in the Bible are few and are conspicuously absent from Eucharistic prayers.
Weigand said he talked about ordination of women with Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon, who retired as archbishop of Canterbury in 1990 and visited Utah in August.
"He said he would have to honestly say that his own church and churches have gone to women's ordination with some theological basis but probably for more sociological reasons than for theological," Weigand said.
"But he also said, `Frankly, if we'd gone ahead more for sociological than theological reasons, . . . I think it can be worked out in due course and with the help of the Holy Spirit, theologically,' " Weigand said.
The Right Rev. Wayne Weissenbuehler, bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America of Denver, said the Lutheran Church respects the fact that there are churches that do not ordain women "because there are Lutheran Churches in this world, with whom we are in full communion, that do not ordain women."
Weissenbuehler, whose wife is an ordained pastor, said his experience shows the ordination of women is an "ecumenical gift" the Lutheran Church would like to share with others.