More than fifteen years have passed since the original publication of Women and the Priesthood. This new edition presents the essays of the authors who are no longer with us, Fathers Alexander Schmemann and Nicholas Afanasiev, and Prof. Georges Barrois, together with the editor's reflections on the debate at that time. The living contributors to the first edition have all written new essays. An article by Dr. Nonna Verna Harrison is also now included.
The authors search for explanations and reason why the Orthodox Church has never in its history ordained women to serve as bishops and priests. All agree that the Church has women deacons, and that careful consideration must be given to this office as it existed in the past and as it may once again exist in the Orthodox Church.
No author in the present volume calls for the ordination of women as bishops and priests. All authors agree, however, that the greatest care much be exercised in dealing with this complicated and delicate issue. The Orthodox Church has no infallible magisterium. Church leaders and theologians may be wrong. The Holy Spirit acts within the whole body of believers bringing to remembrance what Christ teaches and guiding the faithful into all truth. If but one member of the Church is inspired to argue from the Bible and Church Tradition that certain women may be qualified to serve as bishops and priests, he or she must be heard with dignity and respect. Those who believe that only certain believing men are qualified for these ordained ministries must be heard in the same manner and spirit. Whatever one thinks of the thoughts of the contributors, this new edition of Women and the Priesthood serves as a model for the debate among the Orthodox.