Female Ordination: Why There is No Such Thing as Women Priests

Without women the Catholic Church would be in even much more trouble than it already is today. And although the role of women in the Church is a necessity, it is also essential to know and understand that there cannot ever be women priests or female ordination in the Catholic Church. Here are a few reasons why.
Photo from Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac

Photo from Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac

Men & Women: Equal But Different

Some of the most common arguments in favor of female ordination in the Catholic Church are: equality of the sexes and emotions. Women and men are different. We are both human, but although we seek to be treated equally, recalling our human dignity, this is not to say that there are not qualitative differences in the sexes. Some would say that it’s not fair that women cannot be priests. Why is it not fair?

“The fact that a woman cannot exercise the priesthood does not make her less than the man. Morever, in our understanding the Virgin Mary is greater than the apostles.”

~ Pope Francis, On Heaven and Earth

As much as a man desires to be a mother—to bear inside of himself the life of another and to give birth and to nurse that child—it will never happen. It is just not the way God has set it up.

“God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

~ Genesis 1:27

God made us different for a reason, to compliment each other. Would anyone say that it’s not fair to be a woman? Would you say it’s not fair she can be a mother and he cannot? Of course not. A man has the gift of being a father and a woman has the gift of being a mother. A man can never be a mother and a woman can never be a father—even if in certain cases they feel they are filling both roles, like in the case of single parent households. I would never want to usurp the role of mother from my wife. I am the father of my children and that is my role. We are both parents, but our roles are different.

“In Christianity the High Priest is Jesus, a male. In the theologically grounded tradition the priesthood passes through man. The woman has another function in Christianity, reflected in the figure of Mary… The woman has the gift of maternity, of tenderness…”

~ Pope Francis, On Heaven and Earth

So if only men can be fathers, then only men can be priests, for their vocation, their calling is to be shepherds of souls, spiritual fathers to the children of God. This is not to say that women cannot be spiritual leaders, but that the role of a priest is different.

A priest stands in persona christi (in the person of Christ) for Christ is the one true high priest (Heb 9:11). Christ is a man, not a woman. We refer to the Church in the feminine because we are the bride of Christ.

The Role of a Priest

When we are talking about priests here, we are talking about the ministerial priesthood, not the priesthood of believers. For it is true that in baptism we are all anointed as priest, prophet, and king. In this sense we are called to pray for each other and offer sacrifices, but not to administer the sacraments as in the ministerial priesthood.

Jesus Christ went against the cultural norms of his time when it came to women. He interacted with them in public and even had female disciples. Yet when it came to appointing apostles, leaders of the Church, He chose only men. He could’ve chosen women from among His female followers who included Mary of Nazareth and Mary Magdalen. But He didn’t. It’s not that He didn’t value them or think they were capable, but there was a role for them apart from the ministerial priesthood.

I personally thank God for the women who have helped the Church to carry on over these past 2000 years. It is the women we must thank for teaching the faith to our children, for serving in the Church, for bearing witness to the love of Christ in the family and in the world. The Church needs women and holds them in special regard. However, the ministerial priesthood is reserved only for men and this will not ever change because it is the way Jesus Christ set it up in accordance with God’s plan for the Church.

Blessed Pope John Paul II declared this in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis “On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone”.

“In order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

~ Blessed Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 4

Case closed.

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  • Kevin Klinger

    I understand that there are no female priests because it says so in the Bible. I can accept this, I suppose. But why? Why does the Bible dictate no female priests in the first place? What is the underlying reason? Maybe you could speak to this?

  • http://leadersthatfollow.com/ Ricky Jones

    Kevin, thanks for your interest in this topic and for reading the blog. Well going back to the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) we see that the men of the family as husbands and fathers were responsible for making sacrifices. (Look at people like Abraham) This was manly work which involved slaughtering and cutting up animals.

    Additionally, God chose to reveal Himself as a warrior, protector, and Father (among other images). These are all male images. Of course, God has no sex, but He chose for us to call Him a “He”. And a priest stands both as a representative of God and as a mediator between God and His people.

    Anthropologically, if God is the male, we are the female. Think of the parts entailed. After the Fall, we contain a void within us, a God-shaped void, that can only be filled with God. So the people are always seen as female, needing to open up and allow God in. The priest helps to facilitate this exchange in the Old Covenant through animal sacrifice and in the New Covenant through the eternal Holy Sacrifice of Christ that we celebrate in the Mass.

    I hope this helps. Again, it’s not to say that women are inferior or incapable of doing what priests do in a biological, physiological sense, but that God created two sexes with two roles, male and female, mother and father. They are different, yet complimentary by design.

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