The National Catholic Review

A retired Catholic bishop in California is speaking publicly for the first time about his support for the ordination of women, saying he found “liberation” when Pope Francis encouraged bishops at the extraordinary synod last October to “speak boldly and listen humbly” about issues facing the church.

Bishop Emeritus Francis A. Quinn, who served as the bishop of Sacramento from 1980 to 1994 and gained a reputation for his pastoral nature, outreach to the poor and empowerment of lay leadership in the church, said in an interview with America on Sept. 16 that Pope Francis made it clear that bishops should not censor their opinions based on what they think the pope wants to hear.

“So I figured: Well, O.K.,” he explained.

On Saturday, just days before Pope Francis arrives in the United States for a three-city apostolic visit, Bishop Quinn said in an op-ed in the New York Times that the Catholic Church should consider optional celibacy for priests, the ordination of women, and allowing Catholics who are divorced and remarried (without an annulment) to receive Communion.

In the interview with America, Bishop Quinn said, “I personally think the Spirit is calling women to be deacons and priests, but the Spirit hasn’t yet communicated it to the teaching church.

“I can’t see any reason why women shouldn’t be priests,” he said. “The church would benefit greatly.”

Bishop Quinn said he had “personal ideas” about the ordination of women for decades, but in the past he “would never preach about it or say it publicly,” since Pope John Paul II had taken it “off the table.”

In 1994, John Paul II declared in an apostolic letter to Catholic bishops 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.” The late pontiff said this teaching is based on Scripture—Jesus chose only men as apostles—and “the constant and universal Tradition of the Church.”

Pope Francis has confirmed this teaching in both interviews and magisterial documents. In the apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” he wrote, “The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion.”

Bishop Quinn responds to these papal statements with a question: “Might we hope someday that the Holy Spirit will inspire the church to interpret the Bible differently? The Holy Spirit has inspired the church to change some very significant things in history.

“I don’t want to bypass what the popes are saying at this point, but I think it’s going in that direction,” he said. “It’s not here, but it’s going in that direction.”

In a 2014 Univision poll of more than 12,000 Catholics across five continents and 12 countries, majorities of Catholics in France (83 percent), Spain (78), Argentina (60), Italy (59), the United States (59) and Brazil (54) supported the ordination of women. Even in countries with lower levels of support, like Poland (38 percent), Mexico (35), the Philippines (21), the data revealed that opposition to a change in church teaching is far from monolithic.

This weekend, 500 Catholics from 19 countries and five continents are meeting in Philadelphia to urge Pope Francis to support the equality of women in church leadership and ministry. It is the third international gathering of Women’s Ordination Worldwide, a coalition of largely Catholic groups from 10 countries.

The conference organizers say they hope to draw connections between global injustice against women and their exclusion from ordination in the Catholic Church.

“We call out sexism when we see it in our schools, the workplace, and in politics, but when it comes to the Catholic Church, far too many look the other way,” Erin Saiz Hanna, organizer and co-executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, said in a statement. “Women’s leadership is integral to all aspects of church and society and it is long overdue that our church opens the door to the ordination of women.”

In the New York Times op-ed, Bishop Quinn said he loves the church but worries about its future. He is concerned that an increasing number of young people belong to no church, are agnostic, or have an individualist spirituality without understanding the need for community.

In this context, Bishop Quinn said his “brother bishop” Pope Francis should consider convening a Third Vatican Council, in order to “slow or reverse the flow of the faithful out of the church” and to “stimulate a new conversation about God.” He hopes such a Council would address issues like the spiritual life of clergy and lay people, the morality of global economies, peace and war, human sexuality and the poor and the suffering.

“The main challenge facing the church today is not simply to resolve questions like celibacy,” he wrote, “but to relearn how to communicate a deeper, more intelligent, more relevant religion that leads to a life of acceptance and love.”

Bishop Quinn acknowledged in the interview with America that the church has not yet fully appropriated and implemented the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, so he said Vatican III “could come down the road.”

Bishop Quinn said he believes the bishops are evenly divided on making celibacy optional in the Latin Church, but he had no way of knowing for sure. On the situation of Catholics in a second marriage without an annulment, he thinks the bishops “in principle” would like to allow these people to receive Communion, since these people “particularly need the nourishment and healing of the Eucharist.”

On the ordination of women, Bishop Quinn said there is less support among bishops because of the statements of recent popes. However, he has the impression that many bishops would support the possibility of women deacons, since it is an open question in the church and the bishops “need the help” in their dioceses.

The only deacon named in the New Testament is a woman, Phoebe.

Gary Macy, a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, provides historical evidence in Women Deacons: Past, Present and Future (2011) that women deacons existed in the church until the 12th century, when the diaconate became a transitional step toward priesthood and therefore excluded women.

“The permanent diaconate has worked out very well in this country,” Bishop Quinn added, suggesting that women should be added to the cohort of deacons serving the church.

After his retirement in 1994, Bishop Quinn moved to Arizona to work among Native Americans. While there, he wrote a “fictional memoir” titled, Behind Closed Doors: Conflicts in Today’s Church, about the lives of three priests. (Catholic News Service tells the story.) In 2007, Bishop Quinn returned to Sacramento, where he now lives in an assisted-living home.

“I don’t think I’m saying anything drastic in the [New York Times] op-ed, but I’ll hear from people,” he said.

Bishop Quinn said many people complained when he allowed a jazz Mass, women altar servers, and washed the feet of women during his time as bishop.

“Then,” he said with confidence, “all those things were approved later.”


Kate Gallagher | 9/23/2015 - 7:45am

I believe he was arch
bishop of San Francisco, not Sacramento.

Joseph OFFER | 9/24/2015 - 2:56am

Bishop Francis Quinn was a priest from San Francisco, and served as auxiliary bishop of San Francisco for a year. He was Bishop of Sacramento from 1979 until he retired in 1993, and then he went to work for 4 years as a traveling priest on Indian reservations in Arizona. Now he is 94 years old, living in a retirement home in Sacramento. He's frail now, but still as wise and good as he ever was. While he was our bishop, I had the feeling that we in the Sacramento diocese did things the right way, the way Jesus would want us to to. I guess I have to say that I had the feeling that our bishop was a saint - and he still is.
Yes, one can bring up all sorts of legalisms and doctrines to explain why women shouldn't be priests and divorced and remarried people shouldn''t receive communion - but can we look Jesus in the face and tell Him those same regulations and expect Him to approve?
I think the Catholic Church will eventually ordain women and married persons, and I think it will soon find a way to bring divorced Catholics back to communion; but the Church is held back by its need to please those who harbor the strongest prejudices, those for whom religion exists primarily as a reason to condemn the conduct of others.
I look forward to the day when the Church will heed the Master's call to welcome all into His sheepfold, as Jesus and Bishop Quinn have done.
[Note: Bishop John R. Quinn was Archbishop of San Francisco 1977-1995, so San Francisco had two Bishop Quinns for about a year.]

Tim O'Leary | 9/24/2015 - 11:10am

Joseph - you seem to want to follow an imaginary future Church and an imaginary Jesus rather than the one Who revealed Himself to us already. I imagine several proponents lecturing the Lord when they get to Judgment Day. But, it seems the opposite of following the Lord and His Mystical Body, the Church.

Mark Gotvald | 9/22/2015 - 6:19pm

In Scripture, Jesus only chose Jewish men to be apostles. How did the Church decide to go against that in allowing Gentiles to be apostles and change “the constant and universal Tradition of the Church?” The apostles met and because of a vision experienced by Peter the Church was opened to Gentiles. If such a change could so easily be made, then the successors of the apostles can decide women can also be priests.

Crystal Watson | 9/22/2015 - 8:11pm

Not to mention that most (all?) of those he picked as apostles were married, including Peter - so why the celibate priesthood?

Tim O'Leary | 9/23/2015 - 3:28pm

Crystal - the celibate priesthood is a discipline, not a doctrine.

Mark notes that Jesus picked only Jewish men, and I would have accepted it if the priesthood had been confined to Jewish men (like it was confined to one tribe in the OT - the Levites) - we should not crave clerical power.

Peter and Paul at least ordained Greeks and Romans and there is nothing in our Tradition confining the priesthood by tribe or race. Since it has always been confined by gender, we must conclude that gender is not just a cultural or genetic norm, but a distinction with major symbolic and sacramental meaning. Thankfully, we have a Church to make these important distinctions and don't have to make it up as we go - like the Protestants, or even the Dalai Lama (

Mark Gotvald | 9/23/2015 - 10:44pm

Tim, I can only assume you have severe issues with women. The tradition of Jesus, as you would argue, would be restricted to Jewish men in the same way it excluded any other men, or women. That the Apostles could change Jesus' choice of only Jewish men to allow, as you admit, Gentile, Greek and Roman ones, but you can't see the connection to allowing women to be ordained is non-sensical. I cannot begin to understand what you mean by your argument.

Tim O'Leary | 9/24/2015 - 12:13pm

Mark - your assumption is incorrect. Might it not be that you have a severe gender confusion problem, that prevents you from seeing the import of gender? I follow the Church's teaching as best as I see it, and not some future anticipation, especially when it is driven by some Johnny-come-lately secular ideology.

You might recall the story in Acts 10 about Cornelius, where it took a vision to Peter to get him over his desire to keep following the Jewish law re Gentiles. He never had a vision about priestesses that I know of. Neither did any pope. I just try to follow the Church as it actually teaches, not as I might like it to teach.

I think the gender confusion today results from a denial of the unique spiritual gifts and roles given to men and women. You might ask yourself why you are so tied to a clerical solution and why you cannot accept the Church's interpretation of Jesus's decisions over your own. Clericalism is rampant in this issue.

Molly Roach | 9/21/2015 - 5:00pm

“I personally think the Spirit is calling women to be deacons and priests, but the Spirit hasn’t yet communicated it to the teaching church.
I have to disagree with Bishop Quinn's assessment here: this has certainly been communicated to the teaching church. The teaching church has declined to take it under serious consideration.

Tim O'Leary | 9/21/2015 - 5:17pm

I think Molly is declaring herself infallible here. Welcome to the protestant church.

alan macdonald | 9/21/2015 - 4:17pm

Good for you Bishop Emeritus Quinn! Start the slide, just like the Episcopalian/Anglicans did, into irrelevancy. They wanted to become everything to everybody, instead became nothing to nobody. But good luck in your reformation, even though most know the result. Schism and apostasy.

Vince Killoran | 9/21/2015 - 12:55pm

It's not an infallible teaching.

Tim O'Leary | 9/21/2015 - 1:25pm

Vince - Are you certain about that? Maybe you could be in error about what it takes to be infallible? is it any less infallible than the Creed's understanding of the divinity of Jesus?

The declaration of Pope Paul VI (Inter Insigniores) was definitively confirmed by St. John Paul II (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). The latter's wording certainly appears like a definitive statement. Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that it was infallible when he was head of the CDF ((Responsum ad Dubium, 1995). Pope Francis agreed this case was closed. For a quick summary

Crystal Watson | 9/21/2015 - 2:36pm

There are only two infallible teachings, both about Mary - the immaculate conception and the assumption.

Tim O'Leary | 9/21/2015 - 3:19pm

So, you think it is not infallible that Jesus was God? Or that He rose from the Dead? Or that murder is wrong? What a terribly small part of the faith you can be certain of?

The Catechism disagrees with you on what infallibility means (see 890-892). See especially what follows from this statement: "To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms. St. JP II used the first method "when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a DEFINITIVE act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals..."

Tim O'Leary | 9/21/2015 - 5:15pm

Crystal - I read the short article you linked to. But, just because NWU prof. Robert McClory says something doesn't mean it is true. He has no God-given religious authority when he decides to contradict the popes, the Councils and the Catechism? And you still haven't answered why the Church has a charism of infallibility only for the two doctrines on Mary and everything else is in doubt. Again, can Catholics be certain that the teaching about Jesus being divine is infallible?

Crystal Watson | 9/21/2015 - 6:06pm

Tim, everything we're discussing is opinion and assumption. There is no infallible teaching, no perfectly true catechism, and though every pope and every Council has made the best decisions they could, they're just human beings who can make mistakes. The opinions we choose to endorse say something important about us, but they don't necessarily define God's intentions.

Tim O'Leary | 9/21/2015 - 7:07pm

Crystal - you said above there were two doctrines that were infallible and now you say there is no infallible teaching. Did you mean to be contradicting yourself? But, if you don't believe the Catholic Church has an authority to teach Real True doctrine, why bother to campaign for the Church to change its doctrine? It all seems a game of politics and pressure groups and not an honest search for the Truth and the True Church.

Crystal Watson | 9/21/2015 - 7:35pm

I meant that officially, there are 2 infallible teachings, but I think the idea of infallibility is questionable at best. The fact that I don't believe in all the official teachings doesn't mean I don't want to be a Catholic or that I don't believe in much that is taught. I think you would be hard pressed to find many Catholics who do believe everything the church teaches. The surveys the Vatican sent out around the world before the synod show that a large percentage of Catholics disagree with church teaching on many issues, like women priests, married priests, sex before marriage, sam-sex marriage, divorce, contraception, etc. Most Catholics try to discern for themselves what the truth is.

Joe Kash | 9/21/2015 - 10:16pm

"What is truth?"

“You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

ed gleason | 9/20/2015 - 4:35pm

It was 1984 at Grace cathedral {Episcopal } in San Francisco during the Democratic convention at a peace rally. Jesse Jackson spoke, followed by other great Protestant speakers. Then came Bp. Francis Quinn.of Sacramento He out did them all. My reaction was why haven't we heard this guy more often and.... now we have.

Tim O'Leary | 9/20/2015 - 2:52pm

When a Catholic thinks the Church is wrong on some definitive teaching, the problem usually lies in an unconscious or unreflected error in a more fundamental doctrine. It seems to me that a desire for women priests is an apparent superficial dissent that masks something far more fundamental - Christian understanding of God and of deep Christian anthropology. We know from Holy Scripture and continuous Church teaching that God has revealed Himself to us in patriarchal language and actions. He designed the Jewish society as a patriarchal society. The Holy Spirit played the paternal role in the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb. The Son of God incarnated as a man. Jesus always and only referred to God as "Father." And, notwithstanding His radical teaching, He choose only men to be His apostles and Bishops, to act "in persona Christi" in the Eucharist. And the Holy Spirit inspired St. JP II to reiterate this teaching in a definitive way. Clearly, God is teaching us that gender is far more than accidental, and certainly not interchangeable.

If we judge God by the world's standards, we can think a modern understanding of equality (= sameness, interchangeability, etc.) trumps the Lord's words. But, if we judge the world by God's standards, then we must interpret equality in a way that does intellectual and moral justice to patriarchy. The complementarity language in most recent Church documents seems to get it right (just as transubstantiation solved the philosophical dispute on the Real Presence).

Luis Gutierrez | 9/20/2015 - 5:43pm

It is time for the Church to outgrow patriarchal gender theory. The language about male/female complementarity is about mutual enrichment within one and the same human nature. It is not that there are two different human natures, one male and one female, that complement each other. According to John Paul II's Theology of the Body, being a body-person is more fundamental than being a body-male or a body-female, i.e., being a body-soul precedes sexual differentiation. Even after sexual differentiation, there is complete homogeneity between man and woman, somatically and in their whole being. See this:

"Corporality and sexuality are not completely identified. Although the human body in its normal constitution, bears within it the signs of sex and is by its nature male or female, the fact, however, that man is a "body" belongs to the structure of the personal subject more deeply than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female." John Paul II, Theology of the Body, 7 November 1979. Source: (see also section 8:1, page 157 in the 2006 edition)

"The woman is made "with the rib" that God-Yahweh had taken from the man. Considering the archaic, metaphorical and figurative way of expressing the thought, we can establish that it is a question here of homogeneity of the whole being of both. This homogeneity concerns above all the body, the somatic structure." John Paul II, Theology of the Body, 7 November 1979. Source: (see also section 8:4, page 160 in the 2006 edition)

Since what is not assumed is not redeemed, women could not be baptized unless this fundamental unity in humanity is recognized. The Theology of the Body does not support the simplistic patriarchal "male or female" binary. On the contrary, it makes clear that men and women are different but share *one and the same* human nature. The complementarity of man and woman is about reciprocity and mutual enrichment, not about mutual exclusion. This has important implications for all the sacraments, including Holy Orders.

Are we to believe that "God the Father" is exclusively male? The mysteries of the faith should not be reduced to the limitations of human language. Isolated biblical texts should not be interpreted in a literalist manner. To act "in persona Christi" is to act in a divine Person. What matters for the redemption is that, in Jesus of Nazareth, God assumed the concrete totality of human nature, including a sexually differentiated body. For the sacrament of Holy Orders, the masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes.

This is not to say that the Church is wrong. It is simply to admit that we have more to learn.

Tim O'Leary | 9/21/2015 - 9:24am

Luis - I of course agree that man and woman have the same human nature and that that nature is more fundamental than our sexual gender. But gender is far more significant, biologically (every cell in our bodies) and sacramentally than eye or skin color, in the mission of salvation. We are not masters of the sacraments. They have been given to us in a specific form and structure and we cannot comprehend their full meaning and significance. There is indeed more we can learn about their full meaning. But, it would be arrogant and irresponsible to replace the bread and wine in the Eucharist with some other food and drink, or to think that water was obsolete for Baptism. In the same way with Holy Orders, the "Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women."

You seem to have happily learned much from St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body. What a great blessing that we have the author of that great work also assist us in grasping the true intention of the Holy Spirit in the correct form of Holy Orders - since he was acting in his official Magisterial role as Pope: "Wherefore, 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."

A definitive teaching on a controversial issue is truly liberating, as it frees us from wasting our time chasing down erroneous theological paths. By contemplating the truth of both works of Pope St. JP II, and accepting them both, we can better get to God's understanding of gender equality - not that of a secular world that has largely turned it's back on God and has strayed far away from His intention of creating us male and female.

Luis Gutierrez | 9/21/2015 - 3:32pm

It is noted that you did not offer a considered response to the texts from the Theology of the Body, which clearly imply that the proper "matter" for the rite of ordination by the imposition of hands is human "flesh," whether male or female, since men and women share complete "homogeneity" of their "whole being." Sorry to see that you keep pushing Ordinatio Sacerdotalis down my throat. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is a definitive "judgment" about the infallibility of a doctrine that has never been infallibly defined to be revealed truth. It is not a definitive teaching, let alone an infallible definition of a divinely revealed dogma. It is addressed to the bishops - not the entire Church - ordering them to have a hiatus on further official discussion of the issue. It is a legitimate papal decision to buy time for the Church, but it is by no means "liberating" in the sense that nothing remains to be done. On the contrary, it is a challenge to discern whether or not we have already exhausted all correct understanding of biblical texts related to Holy Orders. Read the Council of Trent's dogmatic definition on the institution of the priesthood. Does it mention a masculinity requirement for apostolic succession? NO. Therefore, this remains to be clarified. We have a lot of work to do, and it is NOT a waste of time to keep chasing down a doctrinal clarification that is crucial for the mission of the Church. As the Pope said in Cuba yesterday, "Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people." Why should the sacramental priesthood be constrained by patriarchal gender ideology?

Tim O'Leary | 9/21/2015 - 5:03pm

Luis - you quote Pope Francis that "Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people." But, you do not seem to realize that the whole push for women priests is nothing but an ideological grasp for a false power, a form of neo-clericalism. It is not about service, but about a perceived inequality in power.

You might ask yourself -if Jesus appeared to you and reiterated the teaching on a male priesthood, would you gladly accept it or reject it? If you would accept it, then know that the Magisterium brings you the same authority, per Christ's promise in Matt 16 to Peter.

There are many roles that women can have in and outside the Church that do not depart from the sacramental decisions of Christ or His Church, and I support women in all those roles. For example, I would support and welcome Carly Fiorina for President, should she continue to show her readiness for such a leadership role. But, when it comes to the Church, it should not be about power but about following Christ. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Mt 6:33

Luis Gutierrez | 9/21/2015 - 7:12pm

How do you know that "the whole push for women priests is nothing but an ideological grasp for a false power"? How do you know that "it is not about service, but about a perceived inequality in power?" Can I suggest that you kindly allow God to make such judgments?

Actually, it is not about a "perceived" inequality of power. It is about a *very real* inequality of sacramental power that is required for sacramental ministry.

If we believe in the power of the keys, given to Peter, then how can we say that the Church has no authority to ordain women? This is true if, and only if, a patriarchal understanding of the masculinity of Jesus, and the masculinity of the apostles, is taken as a divinely revealed dogma. When was that dogma definitively defined, in the proper manner, per CCC 892?

There is no need for Christ to appear again until he returns. As you say, he has given full authority to the Church (Mt 16:19, 18:18). To say that the Church has no authority to ordain women makes some sense as long as the sacramental theology of the Church is constrained by patriarchal gender ideology. As soon as this is not the case, to say that the Church has no authority would be a cop out, plain and simple.

Sure, both men and women can help in many lay ministries, but this is about enabling women with sacramental power to consecrate the Eucharist, hear confessions, etc. This is about being fully pro-life in the sacramental life of the Church.

I have offered two specific excerpts from the Theology of the Body, a very specific question about the Council of Trent's definition on the sacramental priesthood, and CCC 892 about specific requirements for a teaching of the Magisterium to be infallible. Replying with glittering generalities that presuppose patriarchy to be divine law is not very helpful.

Indeed, let's keep in mind Mt 6:33, but let's also keep in mind Mt 13:52, "because the faith is always the same yet the source of ever new light." (Fidei Depositum, 2).

Tim O'Leary | 9/22/2015 - 9:06am

Luis - I am glad you brought up the Catechism, that outlines the ways we can be certain a doctrine is infallible (True). I think you will agree that God cannot contradict Himself, so if one of these methods is used, it cannot be reversed.

CCC 891: "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals." - Note the phrase "Definitive Act"

CCC 891: The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council. - this method covers the many teachings from the Councils. Pope Paul VI used the teaching of Vatican Council II "in persona Christi" in his Inter Insigniores as part of his explanation why priests must be male.

CCC 892. Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals.
This is the method used by the Magisterium to give us certainty that the teaching of Humanae Vitae is True, etc.

You argue that the "power of the keys" and "full authority to the Church" are ways a future Pope could reverse this teaching, but that is not a correct understanding of the idea of Truth or infallibility. A Pope cannot reverse any definitive teaching of the Church, as Pope Francis said, for the Vicar of Christ would then be contradicting the Holy Spirit. This is how I know the push for women's ordination is a grasp for a clerical power!

You say: "Can I suggest that you kindly allow God to make such judgments?" Well the Holy Spirit has spoken, through the Magisterium. Definitively. You just do not accept His teaching. As St. Augustine and Pope Francis said: Roma locuta est, causa finita est. Time to leave denial behind, move on and build on what we already know is True.

Luis Gutierrez | 9/22/2015 - 10:44pm

What is a "definitive act"? What is required for a teaching to be given in a "definitive manner"? Just to use the word "definitive" in a document addressed to the bishops (not to the entire Church), in reference to a "judgment" and without saying that this is a "definition" of revealed truth? As far as I know, the last time a dogma of the faith was infallibly defined was 1 November 1950. Not even the dogmatic constitutions of Vatican II contain any *definition* of a previously *undefined* dogma. Surely, God cannot contradict H**self, but humans can and the Church has contradicted herself many times. A Pope cannot reverse a definitive teaching, but he can reverse a definitive judgment. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis says that it is a judgment about an old teaching, not a definition that the old teaching is revealed truth. As a reiteration of an old teaching, it is ambiguous and can be interpreted in many differet ways, so further clarification is in order. There are also many ambiguities in the CCC. Consider, for example, CCC 1598. The first sentence literally says that the male-only priesthood is a choice that the Church makes, and the second sentence says, more specifically, who can make the choice. Sorry but, in this case, "Roma locuta est, causa confusa est." :-)

Tim O'Leary | 9/23/2015 - 12:04pm

Luis - while I don't accept your interpretation of what infallibility means, I am happy that you and so many others will accept the Church teaching on this and a host of moral teachings if the Magisterium just re-states this teaching with ex cathedra wording. The Pope should take notice so he can unite the Church.

Your interpretation of CCC 1598 is incorrect. Here is the wording: The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men (viri), whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. (CCC 1598).

As is clear from the wording, the Church has freedom only to decide which men many be ordained. This means that a man who feels he is called to the priesthood must also have that call confirmed by the Church. It's not a vocation unless it is confirmed by the Church.

Luis Gutierrez | 9/23/2015 - 4:10pm

Not every doctrine that the Church teaches is infallible. To be infallible, a doctrine must be explicitly defined as such, either by the Pope (extraordinary magisterium) or by all the bishops in union with the Pope (ordinary magisterium). Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is NOT infallible either way. Needless to say, the CDF is never infallible and, therefore, is not infallible when it says that the Pope was infallible even though the Pope didn't say so.

My interpretation of CCC 1598 may or may not be right, but the literal meaning of the first sentence is that it is a choice made by the Church. Of course, the Church must mediate all vocations, but that is not the question here. The question is, why is it that the Church is willing to mediate only *male* vocations for Holy Orders?

The answer is CCC 1577, which admits that the understanding of the Church is still constrained by a patriarchal interpretation of the masculinity of Jesus and his selection of the 12 male apostles. This begs another question: Would Jesus, in today's world, appoint 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel? If the answer is NO, the Theology of the Body provides a very reasonable basis for clarification of this doctrine. If the answer is YES, it would mean that man-made patriarchy is revealed truth, which is irrational; and let's keep in mind that faith transcends reason, but true faith cannot be irrational.

:-) Therefore, as soon as I am elected Pope, I will edit CIC 1024 as follows: "A baptized *person* alone receives sacred ordination validly." I also will edit CCC 1598 to read as follows: "The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized *persons,* whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders."

Please note that I changed only one word, and everything else remains the same! :-)

Tim O'Leary | 9/23/2015 - 4:48pm

You say you are only changing one word. But history tells us we don't even need a word change to enter into heresy. Recall that Arianism was just a change of the iota, the smallest letter in the Greek Alphabet: homoiousios (similar) vs. homoousios (the same substance). Oh, and only 2 letters changes infallibility to fallibility.

Luis Gutierrez | 9/23/2015 - 10:31pm

Indeed, what a difference one word makes! So much ink has been wasted defending the male-only priesthood, and rationalizing patriarchal gender ideology as if it were revealed truth, when the whole issue can be resolved by clarifying the doctrine with one word and without changing anything essential.

PLEASE! Go back to the quotations given above on the Theology of the Body: note that "body" precedes sexual differentiation, man and woman are "homogeneous" in their "whole being." Let's see, what is the Greek word for "homogeneous"? According to Google (sorry, I am no Greek scholar), it is "omoiogení̱s" which means either similar or of the same nature or substance, so the intended meaning depends on the context. Which one do you think is the meaning intended by John Paul II in the Theology of the Body?

Please keep going, we are getting there... :-)

Tim O'Leary | 9/24/2015 - 10:48am

Luis - You might go back to the Arian controversy and see how those debates went. There is a parallel, in that then the theological error rested on how 2 natures could exist in the one person. Now it is how the single human nature could have two unique and complementary genders, each with their own symbolic and sacramental roles and duties. You have already misinterpreted the catechism above, so it is not surprising you might also misinterpret the writing of St. JPII.

Luis Gutierrez | 9/24/2015 - 11:32am

The question is not about two genders in one person. The question is about whether or not men and women share one and the same human nature. Please answer that question, yes or no.

Tim O'Leary | 9/24/2015 - 12:28pm

Now you're just repeating your questions. To quote my answer above. "Luis - I of course agree that man and woman have the same human nature and that that nature is more fundamental than our sexual gender." So, Yes. Maybe, you can also agree that the human nature has two genders, male and female? Yes or No.

Luis Gutierrez | 9/24/2015 - 1:20pm

OK, so we are on the same page on the unity of man and woman in one and the same human nature. And YES, we also agree that human nature has two genders, male and female.

Next question: is this singular human nature the same human nature that the Eternal Word assumed at the incarnation? Yes or No?

Tim O'Leary | 9/24/2015 - 3:41pm

Yes. It is even more specific. Jesus, has 2 natures (divine and human), is one person (one will, one intellect) and one gender. By the Lord's design, He assumed the human nature as a male, or as the Nicene Creed says: "by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man." By the Lord's design and choice, He chose bread and wine as the outward form of His sacramental body, and the male gender to represent Him in persona Christi, primarily for the Eucharist.

A question for you - would you think the Pope has the freedom to replace the bread and wine of communion with other food (say meat and water) and still have an efficacious sacrament? If not, why not? if there is any doubt, wouldn't it be wrong to depart from the Lord's choice?

Another question: why are you so motivated to change part of the Eucharistic sacrament and why do you hate (you say repugnant) the patriarchial system the Lord set up, first in His formation of the Jews and secondly, the priesthood of the Church? Is it ever a good thing to be motivated by hate?

Luis Gutierrez | 9/24/2015 - 5:16pm

My faith is that what really matters for the redemption is that the Eternal Word became human, like us in all things but sin. This necessarily included assuming all the concrete limitations of the human condition, including gender; but does not mean that one gender excludes the other in the sacramental economy. Go back and read again the quotations from the Theology of the Body. Also, the "body" in "this is my body" means human flesh, which is somatically homogeneous for men and women, so gender does not make any difference when it comes to the substance of eucharistic bread and wine, or for the proper "matter" of any sacrament, including Holy Orders. For the redemption, the gender of Jesus is as incidental as his ethnicity, or his height and weight, or the color of his eyes. This is my faith, and there is nothing in the Creed, or in any revealed truth infallibly defined as such by the Church, that superimposes patriarchal gender ideology (and language) as a precondition for understanding our faith. Are we to believe that "God the Father" is exclusively male?

There is no departure from the Lord's choice in ordaining women; to continue the exclusion of women is the Church's choice, and the Lord submits to the Church's choice, but it is the Church's choice to abide by patriarchal gender exclusions. I am not questioning the Pope's authority to say anything he wants to buy time for the Church. My recommendation is to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Theology of the Body, and try to avoid doing so through a lens biased by any human ideology, patriarchal or feminist or otherwise. Beyond this, I find much of the recent theological mumbo jumbo about "complementarity" as unhelpful as sociological feminist claims that the Church hierarchy is intentionally misogynist; but you may want to read the recent lessons by Pope Francis at the general audience (15 and 22 April, 2015). With regard to my "repugnance," I am no saint, but I was sharing a visceral feeling, not a hateful choice. Can we agree to keep the discussion at the doctrinal level, without loaded personal questions about good or bad intentions?

For your convenience:

Luis Gutierrez | 9/20/2015 - 2:14am

Good to hear a bishop mention the unmentionable. The Church is hierarchical, but not necessarily patriarchal. It is not just a matter of numbers. In today's world, the witness given by embracing celibacy for the sake of the kingdom is very salutary. On the other hand, the exclusively male hierarchy sends a signal of inordinate attachment to a patriarchal culture that is passing away, and for me it is becoming increasingly repugnant.

Crystal Watson | 9/19/2015 - 9:36pm

Women as deacons but not priests will not solve the problem ... that women are being called by God to be priests and that the church is not allowing it. And anyway, when the idea of a separate kind of "deaconess" (non-ordained) was brought up a few years ago by Cardinal Kasper, it was shot down by Cardinal Marx.

Alfred Chavez | 9/19/2015 - 6:34pm

If women deacons are allowed, I think it would be a good thing, but not for one of the reasons Bishop Quinn gives. I'm sure there are cases where the diaconate has worked well and that there are excellent deacons serving in that role. But my personal experience has not been all that good. I brace myself on Sundays that are "deacon preach" in our parish. The most recent homily I heard a couple of weeks ago was poorly prepared and badly delivered. It seems to me that preparation for the lay permanent diaconate leaves much to be desired.

My hope would be that many of the outstanding sisters who already serve the church after years of formation would be called to the diaconate. My bet is their homilies would be more memorable than the proverbial ruler across the knuckles.

The current situation is certainly not all bad; one deacon I knew gave me a good laugh presiding at benediction. When it came time to do the blessing, he lifted the monstrance vertically three times toward each direction in the church then swept across all three directions the way we crossed three Ts in a word in grade school. The Lord absolutely has a sense of humor.

Tim O'Leary | 9/19/2015 - 1:21pm

"Bishop Quinn said, “I personally think the Spirit is calling women to be deacons and priests, but the Spirit hasn’t yet communicated it to the teaching church."

What an amazing statement for a Bishop - the Spirit has communicated to Bishop Quinn that the Catholic Church's infallible teaching is wrong, and kept the popes in the dark about this new Revelation? And how imprudent for a bishop to raise his own religious doubts - would he be OK with other bishops saying the same thing about abortion or euthanasia or gay sex or divorce?

The 2014 Univision Poll did not distinguish practicing from nominal/cultural Catholics, and had large majorities in support of divorce (58%), abortion (66%), and Gay sex/marriage (30%). So, how exactly is that relevant to what the True Doctrine of Christ is?

In the 4th-6th centuries, many bishops proclaimed that the Church's teaching on the divinity of Jesus was wrong (the Arian heresy). It was a very persistent heresy and took centuries to completely overcome. Unfortunately, many individual bishops departed from the Magisterium in favor of the politically dominant heresy. If the heretics had won, humanity would forever have been separated from the True revelation of Christ. I believe the gender heresies of the 20-21st centuries are as pervasive and persistent today. Given the consistent teaching (Scripture, Councils, Creeds, Catechism, Popes) on gender, if the Church is wrong on these many moral teachings, then it cannot be the Church Christ founded.

Crystal Watson | 9/18/2015 - 10:16pm

Good for Bishop Quinn. So many in the church who feel women should be able to be priests keep quiet out of fear of reprisals (example - Fr. Roy Bourgeois).

Phil Tanny | 9/22/2015 - 7:55am

It's clear Jesus chose only men as apostles, which we can presume would have been the only socially acceptable procedure 2,000 years ago. But did Jesus ever actually say, "Only men should be apostles/priests forever?" I admit I don't know the answer and would welcome further education on this.

Unless Jesus specifically forbid women serving as priests, it seems insane for the Church to discard such a large pool of talent at a time when it appears fewer men wish to serve as priests. Our world is racing headlong towards a historic crisis, all hands on deck seems the wisest policy in such a situation.

Recently by Luke Hansen, S.J.