John Wijngaards is a priest, theologian and writer.
He obtained a Master’s in Scriptural Studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (LSS) and a Doctorate in Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome.
He taught at St John’s Major Seminary in Hyderabad, India (1963 – 1976). After a spell as Vicar General of the Mill Hill Missionaries (1976 – 1982), he lectured at the Missionary Institute London which was affiliated to Louvain and Middlesex Universities (1983 – 1998).
At the same time he founded Housetop Centre for Faith Formation which later developed into the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.
From early on he demonstrated that there are no valid arguments from Scripture or Tradition to exclude women from the ordained ministries. When Pope John Paul II declared definitively against the ordination of women in 1994, he resigned from the priestly ministry in protest. He founded www.womencanbepriests.org to publish his findings online. Read a summary of John Wijngaards’ life story here.
Because of the enormous need for ordinary Catholics to get to know Sacred Scripture better, he then specialised on pastoral books. Some became educational best-sellers for seminaries, noviciates and colleges, like Background to the Gospels. Other books reached out to those at work in the biblical apostolate. Other books again provided an introduction to biblical spirituality.
As time went on the question of women’s place in the Church loomed large. In this context John Wijngaards published classics such as Did Christ Rule out Women Priests? and The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church.
Many of these books are now available online. See John Wijngaards’ publications here.
He was a regular contributor to various weeklies and magazines. While working in India he ran a weekly column on Sacred Scripture in the national Catholic weekly the New Leader. For four years he wrote the Scripture column in the English quarterly Mission Today which at the time had a circulation of over 100,000 readers. During his ministry in England regular articles from his hand appeared in the influential weekly The Tablet over more than thirty years.
An overview of John Wijngaards’ articles can be found here.
In total six were recorded. All of them concern the question of women’s ordination. What to make of the arguments of St Thomas Aquinas, the famous medieval theologian, who thought women were incapable of ordination? Why did Jesus only choose men to serve among his twelve apostles? Does it prove he thereby excluded women from the priesthood for all time to come?
And what can we learn from the age-old devotion to Mary Priest? For nineteen centuries many Catholics had firmly believed that Jesus’ mother shared in his priesthood. But if Mary could, then other women can . . .