The question of women's ordination was not explicitly discussed at Vatican II. Despite this, the Council's documents make clear several things:
- a recognition of rights within the Church
- a rising awareness of a new sense of women in the Church and in the world.
Some relevant excerpts from the Encyclical, Pacem in Terris are here.
[Note: Highlighting of text is our's.]
PACEM IN TERRIS
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN XXIII
ON ESTABLISHING UNIVERSAL PEACE IN TRUTH,
JUSTICE, CHARITY, AND LIBERTY
APRIL 11, 1963
15. Human beings have also the right to choose for themselves the kind of life which appeals to them: whether it is to found a family—in the founding of which both the man and the woman enjoy equal rights and duties—or to embrace the priesthood or the religious life.(12)
Characteristics of the Present Day
39. There are three things which characterize our modern age.
40. In the first place we notice a progressive improvement in the economic and social condition of working men. They began by claiming their rights principally in the economic and social spheres, and then proceeded to lay claim to their political rights as well. Finally, they have turned their attention to acquiring the more cultural benefits of society.
Today, therefore, working men all over the world are loud in their demands that they shall in no circumstances be subjected to arbitrary treatment, as though devoid of intelligence and freedom. They insist on being treated as human beings, with a share in every sector of human society: in the socio-economic sphere, in government, and in the realm of learning and culture.
41. Secondly, the part that women are now playing in political life is everywhere evident. This is a development that is perhaps of swifter growth among Christian nations, but it is also happening extensively, if more slowly, among nations that are heirs to different traditions and imbued with a different culture. Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons.
42. Finally, we are confronted in this modern age with a form of society which is evolving on entirely new social and political lines. Since all peoples have either attained political independence or are on the way to attaining it, soon no nation will rule over another and none will be subject to an alien power.