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