Hi, guys —
- What reasoning does the Catholic Church have for preventing women priests?
What reasoning does the Catholic Church have for preventing women priests? }
Hi, Charles —
It's two-fold. First, every sacrament
Christ left us has what is called
a form and a matter.
Matter is the stuff of which to
work with, like bread for the Eucharist,
water for baptism, the priest in
Confession, etc. Form is the way
or the formula by which the stuff
is performed, such as:
- the words in Consecration
is my Body. . . ),
- the Trinitarian formula in Baptism
(I baptize you in the name
of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit), etc.
The Church can not change the proper
form or matter that Christ gave us
to administer the sacraments. If
that happens they are not valid.
We continue His Mission, we don't
create our own.
When it comes to the sacrament of
Holy Orders, or the ordination of
priests, the matter that Christ chose
for the priesthood was maleness or Men.
He had no problem bucking the
system with many other things
during His Mission and could have
made females priests if it was the
right thing to do, but He didn't.
Christ ordained only males to follow
Him in this particular priestly ministry,
and when He does something there
is a perfect reason. So we can not
change it; if we did it would be
like the Church deciding it's okay
to consecrate steak or french fries
into Christ's body at Mass because
it has become a popular food.
A more philosophical approach to
the question can be found in the
difference in maleness and femaleness.
Although our culture today, for various reasons caused by sin,
tends to play down the differences,
masculinity and femininity are essentially
different and complementary. They
have their Source in God as Trinity
and in humans; it is reflected in
the dichotomy of male and female.
St. Paul in Ephesians points out
beginning in chapter five verse 21 that the male is head and woman the
body in the mystical person that
is marriage, which is a reflection
of the ultimate marriage which is
Christ and Church. Pope Pius XI in Casti
Conubii offers the angle of man
being head and woman being heart.
This can be said to reflect the eternal
Lover/Beloved relationship between
the Father and the Son, imaged in
man as Eve begotten from the side
of (one could say the heart of) Adam.
As Pius XI states, he has primacy
of authority while she has primacy
in love; two sides of God, if you
The priest when performing the sacraments
takes the place of Christ. The Church
calls him another Christ when doing
so. We, as Church, are Christ's bride
in this love relationship. At Mass then, you have the priest and his
bride in the interplay of (Lover and beloved
If a woman were to act as priest
you would have a priestess and her
bride. Such a dynamic would:
- contradict truth and nature
- not reflect the Trinity as life-giving
- would literally lead to a fruitless
There's a lot here that flies in
the face of modern culture, so feel
free to follow up.
Hi, Charles —
To underscore what my colleague Paul
said, the family —
- the husband
who gives his life
- the woman who receives the husband's
- the children who are the
natural fruit of that life-giving love
— are an icon
of Christ and the Church (Ephesians
Christ is the bridegroom. He gives his life to the Church,
his Bride, who bears fruit in eternal
life. The priest is the icon of Christ,
and is, in a sense, married to the
Church. Through the priest, Christ
gives his divine life to His bride
in the Eucharist, where we become
one flesh, one blood with Christ
in his Body and Blood. Thus, only
a man can be a priest (otherwise
it would do violence to the sign).
Moreover, despite, as Paul said,
Jesus's penchant for challenging
tradition and doing shocking things,
He only chose twelve men to be his
Apostles. Throughout the years until
now, no one in the Church even thought
of ordaining women — ordaining
men has been the constant practice.
That very fact bears witness to the
infallible character of this teaching.
Another source of information is Inter
Insigniores and Ordinatio
Sacerdotalis which are the
documents the Holy See issued
to explain the subject.
This posting from our knowledge base
may help as well:
Hi, Charles —
I'd like to briefly add to what has
been said; and like Eric, I would underscore
a point that Paul made:
The Church doesn't just make stuff
up as it goes along.
She can only do what Christ has given
Her the authority to do. Since Christ
only ordained men, in
the Sacrament of Holy Orders,
the Church can only ordain men. When
Holy Orders is conferred, the man's
soul is configured to Christ in a
Were a bishop to
attempt to confer Holy Orders on a woman,
nothing would happen because the
bishop and the Church don't have
the authority to do so.
Being a priest is not just a matter
of having the right qualifications.
It's not a job;
it's a vocation and calling. When
a man becomes a priest, he is called
to a particular sacrifice and service. In a sense, he becomes Christ in persona
capo — that is, Christ
the Head — where the rest of
us are Christ in the Body.
Finally, don't forget that each Christian,
man or woman, shares in the Priesthood
of Christ through their Baptism so (you [assuming you're baptized] and I) are also priests but not as the
Head, rather as the Body. The lay faithful have a share in a universal priesthood through their Baptism while priests have a sacerdotal character on their soul so they share in the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Many times, when women contemplate the
priesthood, because it is denied
to them, they perceive it as a position
of honor, power, privilege, and authority.
they don't see is that it's really
about service and sacrifice.
A point I like to make is that only
a woman can be a mother.
No one complains about or says
that it is unfair that
men can't be mothers. They have their
pride of place in the economy of
It's only fair that men have the
sole right to be spiritual Fathers.
I see your point and I'd say
your right, however, I wouldn't even
go down that path because then we
begin to twist the Gospel. Jesus
came to save us from sin and death.
He calls us into a covenant relationship
with the Holy Trinity and offers
us His Divine Life. He did not come
to empower this group or another group.
He didn't come to make things fair
or to make us feel
good about our place in the economy
of salvation. We should be elated
at whatever role He asks us to play.
Heck, we were on our way to Hell
and He died in order that we could
be saved! If we could only keep that
perspective, all this other gobbledygook
and feel good mumbo jumbo wouldn't
even come into the picture.
our focus should be bringing people
to Jesus Christ. If a woman really
believes she's called to be a priest,
let her spend all her free time evangelizing
She'll either fall in love with her
personal apostolate or she'll soon
get sick of it and lose any interest
in the priesthood. Either way, she'd
realize she's not called to be a
Actually Eric stated a point I meant
to include but forgot. Priesthood
is a spiritual fatherhood. That's
why we call a priest, Father.
The masculine nature of priesthood
includes the role of father as well
as the role of groom.
While we seem to acknowledge the
difference in father and mother on
many today have a difficult time
seeing that difference in the order
I am humbled and grateful at the
excellent and informed discussion
my question inspired. I am not yet
sure that I can convince my female
relatives who are outraged at the punitive language of the Vatican's
Although I would like to see women
priests, I will,
of course, submit the Vatican but my opinion is they
do have the authority to loose
on earth this stricture. In
a similar instance, the Pope
created the stricture of unmarried
priests around 1000 A.D. The image
of the Church as bride and Christ
as bridegroom is surpassingly lovely
and convincing in the essential way
parables are convincing.
The details of the parable of the Good Samaritan
parable are not binding, the principles
it illustrates are. In Vatican II,
the Church altered the text of the
Sacrament of the Mass (which
had a poor effect in my estimation). The
substance of the Mass was unaffected.
Truthfully, these rationales seem
rather academic to me. I understand
Christ's wisdom in creating a patriarchal
Church in a patriarchal zeitgeist.
Since then, the Church has done more
for the status of women than any
other force in history.
God bless you.
Hi, Charles —
First of all, the Vatican used no
punitive language. Secondly, your
opinion is heresy albeit material.
The issue of ordaining married men has always been understood to be
a matter of practice. The issue of a male priesthood is not a practice;
it has to do with Sacramental Theology and is a matter of faith and morals.
It comes under the category of Church Teaching or doctrine.
every Catholic must assent
to it with divine faith, because
the Pope has stated that this is
a definitive Teaching. The Church
has no authority to ordain women.
Period — end of story
— exclamation point!
change because it is an infallible,
and therefore immutable and irreformable,
matter of faith and morals. Catholics
are not free to hold a contrary opinion
without falling into heresy.
This nonsense about a patriarchal
society, is just that. It's heretical
gibberish spewed by people who don't
understand the nature of (Scripture,
Tradition, and the Magisterium).
it is the language adopted by those
who think the Church and the Gospel
are meant to empower groups.
Thanks for the positive comments.
I also would like to comment on your
presumption that the subject of women
priests is simply a matter of Church
With married priests you have a point;
that is a Church discipline which
by its very nature can change at
the discretion of the authority that
Christ gave His Church.
However, women priestesses is a radically
different question. John Paul II
used the authority Christ gave the
papacy to authoritatively proclaim
that women can never be priests — not
because he doesn't want them to be,
— but because it is not possible.
Again, it's like saying women can
be fathers. It makes no sense. Jesus
instituted an all-male priesthood
because spiritual fathers, like physical
fathers, must be male.
Women can act like fathers to a certain
degree, but they can never be fathers.
Priesthood as a vocation, is essentially
a being, not a doing. God cannot
contradict Himself; even He cannot
make a square circle or a married
bachelor. Nor could He make a female
father or a woman priest but don't
trust us on this, trust the divine
authority Christ gave John Paul II
in his proclaiming this truth in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
I now understand that the Vatican
simply does not have the authority
to change the matter in question.
I should have given my citation of
the punitive Vatican
language, that is, language concerning
punishment. This is the text to which
my relatives objected. The following
is a cut and pasted from the referenced Substantive Norms, Article 5:
The more grave delict of the attempted
sacred ordination of a woman is
also reserved to the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith:
1° With due regard for canon
1378 of the Code of Canon Law,
both the one who attempts to confer
sacred ordination on a woman,
and she who attempts to receive
sacred ordination, incurs a latae
reserved to the Apostolic See.
2° If the one attempting to
confer sacred ordination, or the
woman who attempts to receive
sacred ordination, is a member
of the Christian faithful subject
to the Code of Canons of the Eastern
Churches, with due regard for Canon 1443 of that Code, he or she is to be punished by
major excommunication reserved
to the Apostolic See.
3° If the guilty party is
a cleric he may be punished by
dismissal or deposition.
You can see that it is punitive
may link to it here:
Thank you for the attention you have
given my question.
Hi, Charles —
As for the language, your relatives
can object all they want. A person
attempting to ordain a woman is committing
an act of heresy, which ultimately
leads to a false ministry which deceives
Therefore it is an attack on the
Church and what She teaches. Hence,
excommunication is required to protect
faithful Catholics from following
this error. This is not some incidental
or material heresy. It is formal
heresy and crime under Canon Law.
Excommunication is also for the benefit
of the heretic, in the hopes that
the sinner, once separated from the
community, will repent. While it seems
extreme, it is required, given the
gravity of this heresy and crime.
I quite agree that someone actually
ordaining a woman should be excommunicated.
Like legal statutes that sound severe,
out of context, the language of the
above norms sound severe (out of context).
It is obviously directed at some
past or threatened action. This text
is being widely distributed by feminists
to defame the Church. They see it
We need to break through the present,
huge, anti-Catholic campaign with
graceful but hard-hitting diplomacy.
Oh, for another Bishop Sheen!
On the side, I don't think Patriarchy is
a pejorative term. It is the default
organizational structure throughout
history and has achieved much good.
In some organizations, we are experimenting
with variants in a noble attempt
to be equitable.
- Any conclusions and results? <Not
Have a blessed Sunday.
Sacraments are the deeds of Christ
made present. It is Him acting upon
us through the minister. They are
extensions of His Will. Woman cannot (not 'may not') be
priests for two reasons:
- First, Christ's Will was to ordain
men and act through men. He did
not give all the disciples, male and female, the power to be
priests, but only the Twelve Apostles.
a sacrament is literally constituted
by the Will of Christ, it is impossible
to prescind from His Will.
- Second, the priest is conformed to
Christ as Spouse, Bridegroom, of
the Church. As such, He must be male.
Hi, Charles —
Again, the purpose of the Church
is not to worry about what feminists
want. The Church exists to preach
the Gospel and to be the Sacrament
of Salvation to the world. It does
not exist to preach liberation of
any kind aside from the liberation
from sin and death which comes to
us, in and, through the Incarnation
and which we access by grace through
We preach Jesus, nothing else.
God so loved the world that He gave
His only Begotten Son, so that whosoever
would believe in Him will have Eternal
Life." (John 3:16)
point of the Gospel. No where in
the Gospels do I see Our Lord satisfying
the whims of feminists or any other
special interest groups.
politics is not part of the Mission of the