When my daughter whispered to me, “I wish girls could be priests,” I didn’t know what to say.
The rites of the annual paschal triduum fascinate and inspire me more than almost anything else that the church’s liturgy has to offer, and I know I am not alone. Like many other Catholics, I find myself drawn in and moved, year after year, during those three great days. So I probably should not have been surprised to realize last year that they were also moving my 9-year-old daughter.
Our family had attended the liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday together, and now we were at the Easter Vigil. Our pastor was blessing the waters of the baptismal font, an evocative moment in a liturgy laden with them. As he solemnly dipped the massive new Easter candle into the font, once, twice, three times, while calling down the Holy Spirit upon the water, Abigail, the youngest of our seven children, leaned over to me. I bent my head close to hear her whisper: “I wish girls could be priests.”
Abigail’s words tripped me up and distracted me from much of what followed. The fact is, they stirred up in me the profound ambivalence I feel about this topic. I do not mind doctrine that is challenging or countercultural—seven kids, remember?—and I understand what the church teaches on a male-only priesthood, the authority with which it has been presented and the reasons offered to support it. Indeed, I have repeated all of it from time to time, respectfully and confidently, both in parish faith formation settings and in personal interactions.
At the same time, I am uncomfortable with the possibility that the teaching might be more rooted in cultural norms and less in the will of God than many who lead the church realize. How can I raise my five daughters to reject the limitations our society might put on them as women, while also teaching them to understand and embrace the one imposed on them on the same basis by the church we love?
‘No Authority Whatsoever’
I realize it is possible that church teaching on women’s ordination might “develop” to the point of looking very much like the correction or even contradiction of what it previously was. It would not be the first instance of such evolution. Throughout the three years I spent researching and writing about John Courtney Murray’s contribution to Catholic teaching on religious freedom, I was continually struck by the certainty with which the Jesuit theologian’s powerful and highly regarded opponents condemned his thinking as contrary to church doctrine. And why not? In 1832 Pope Gregory XVI had dismissed the idea of religious freedom as “absurd,” and Pope Pius IX had included it in the famous “Syllabus of Errors” in 1864. Murray’s greatness lies in his success at constructing an argument that allowed the Second Vatican Council to recognize religious freedom as a fundamental demand of human dignity without having to explicitly reject the previous teaching in its own historical context. Since then, the council’s teaching has been reasserted in the strongest terms by St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. It is easy now to see this as a legitimate development of doctrine. But for many in Murray’s day, especially those who were the most self-consciously “orthodox,” it was not clearly so until an ecumenical council of the church said it was. Murray’s thinking did not go from false to true in December 1965; rather, the negative judgment of many theologians and bishops was newly understood to be mistaken.
We could multiply examples to make the same point. I might quickly mention the ancient doctrine “outside the church there is no salvation,” which the great 20th-century theologian Avery Dulles, S.J., once said “has been so drastically reinterpreted by Vatican II that the meaning is almost the opposite of what the words seem to say.”
I also realize that the undeniable impact of cultural factors on what the church has taught about women in the past makes it reasonable to approach its teaching today with, at the very least, a fair amount of skepticism and scrutiny. After all, Pope Leo XIII insisted in “Rerum Novarum” (1891) that “woman is by nature fitted for home-work, and it is that which is best adapted at once to preserve her modesty and to promote the good bringing up of children and the well-being of the family.” That message came just a century before St. John Paul II wrote, in his “Letter to Women” (1995):
Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life—social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery,” to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.
With all that as background, one might find it easy to dismiss the Vatican’s document “Inter Insigniores” (1976), which reaffirmed that only men can be ordained priests, relying heavily on the symbolic significance of the fact that Jesus was a man. It was, after all, not a papal document but a curial one. But then there is St. John Paul II’s “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” (1994). In that document, the pope reaffirms the church’s inability to ordain women in language that is stark and clear and strikingly authoritative. Rejecting any suggestion that the question is “open to debate” or that the teaching possesses “merely disciplinary force,” John Paul proclaims:
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.
While the argument that this teaching is offered infallibly is hard to sustain—despite the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (fallible) judgment that it is—there seems to me to be little getting around it without conceding quite a lot about the fallibility of papal teaching and the willingness of God to permit error in important and authoritative doctrine. Precisely because of the points I made above, I do not doubt the good will or the faithfulness of my fellow Catholics who vocally reject the doctrine. But doing the same is a bridge that I am not so far able, in conscience, to cross. May God—and my daughters—forgive my lack of courage and good judgment if I am wrong.
A Matter of Evangelization
Wherever you stand on the matter, it should be clear to all of us that the doctrine represents a problem for evangelization. Even if the teaching is not unjust—even if it is not the result of the church’s failure to fully appreciate the dignity and equality of women—the perception by many, if not most people in the United States today is that it is. And the very perception of an unjust church handicaps its ability to witness effectively to the world. By way of analogy, if rumors circulate throughout town about a particular restaurant having a filthy kitchen, then no matter how clean the kitchen actually is or how good the food is, no one will care what is on the menu.
If evangelization is the central priority that we say so often it is, then even the most self-consciously orthodox among us, even those convinced no woman ever should or will be ordained a priest, should be intensely concerned with ensuring that the church is absolutely and obviously committed to the equality and dignity of women. Given this, efforts to expand the role of women in the church should not be a source of conflict among the faithful at different places along the theological spectrum but a point of contact and cooperation. How might we join together around this issue? Here are a few ideas:
1. We should cry out together for greater roles for women in church administration and leadership at all levels. The gift of being a good leader is not a grace of the sacrament of orders. And since many women today are not only theologically trained but have reached levels of theological accomplishment that far surpass those of most priests, there is no reason that women should not serve as officials at all ecclesial levels, from the Roman Curia on down. There is also no theological reason faithful women who have attained the highest accomplishments in church, business, social services and other areas could not be named cardinals.
The gift of being a good leader is not a grace of the Sacrament of Orders.
2. Bishops, priests and deacons of all stripes should strive to be more attentive in their preaching to the dignity of women. That will mean becoming more familiar with feminist scriptural commentary and theology. It will mean lamenting the absence of many of the most important Scripture passages about women from the Sunday lectionary cycle—how is it possible that Mary’s Magnificat is never proclaimed on any Sunday of the three-year cycle?—and for that reason making sure to preach on the passages about women that are there. Be sure, for example, to use the longer version of the Gospel on the Sunday after Christmas, Year B, since the shorter version excludes the passage about the prophetess Anna. Similarly, proclaim the longer form of the Gospel on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year B, since the woman with a hemorrhage is excised from the shorter form.
3. We must also take as seriously as possible the question of the ordination of women to the diaconate, recently raised again by Pope Francis. After all, the strongest conclusion that could be reached on the topic in 2002 by the International Theological Commission, following a five-year study of Scripture, doctrine, theology and linguistics, was that the evidence, in the words of its general secretary, “tend[s] to support the exclusion of this possibility.” From a Vatican-appointed, (then) all-male group of scholars, that’s practically resounding support for women deacons. Given the cultural biases that mark our history and our present, the reasons for excluding women from any role should have to be blindingly clear and obvious.
Bishops, priests and deacons of all stripes should strive to be more attentive in their preaching to the dignity of women.
We certainly need to dismiss the argument against women deacons that says it is unworkable, because it would only encourage those who wish to see women priests. Current canon law—as revised under Pope Benedict XVI—makes clear the theological distinctions between the diaconate and the priesthood. If women can be ordained deacons, then it is just too bad if someone gets the wrong idea about women priests; we will either have to have a good explanation about why the two are very different or admit we cannot explain why they are and accept the consequences of that.
Who knows whether my daughter Abigail, as she moves into adulthood 10 or 15 years from now, will still wish she could be a priest. Even if she does not, she will be—if she grows into the smart, self-confident and faithful Catholic that I hope she does—at least a bit uncomfortable with her church’s teaching on the ordination of women. As she struggles with that discomfort, I hope that one conclusion that will be nearly impossible for her, thanks to the life and witness of the church at that time, will be to dismiss the teaching as a sign of patriarchal attitudes that lie at the heart of the church’s structures and its message.
Mr. Hudock, this is a theologically well balanced and nuanced article! Your reflections manifests that very evangelization you call for. I'm confident this process of family evangeliztion will underscore the infinite dignity of each person in that universal Christian priesthood that St. Peter stresses (1Peter 2:9) and that St. Paul implies when he says that before God there is neither male nor female, slave or free, gentile or Jew (Gal.3:28). Circumstances may prevent us from receiving particular gifts and ministries of God that touch our hearts (St. Theresa loved the missions but could not go.) but the spirit of those gifts are never denied us and are within God's providence.
Until lay men and women and priests and nuns stand up against the grave sin, hatred, and abuse of sexism in our church and demand same treatment for all women called to priesthood as men we will continue to decrease as a people. This is God's Justice and the earned result and answer to our lack of action against evil in our church.
Sexism like racism is always sin and always hate. Your comment merely makes you complicit with all the damage against women's human dignity that this bias spews forth. How very sad that Catholics have completely become anti-gospel in their treatment of women. Jesus commanded we treat all people the same always, and told us to hold this dictate of how to behave toward each other, above all other laws, stating it is as important as the command to Love God First. Apparently, some Catholics believe the Pope is higher than Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit of God Almighty.
God has already shown me, in prayer, that God is going to change this rule against women's equal treatment and equal sacraments in our church, and very soon. I stand on this promise every day and pray today is that day. Still how very sad these comments are, as so many show how far away we have withdrawn from the truth Christ taught us to keep and pass on.
For the record, there is nothing in any gospel leading anyone to believe Jesus did not want women ordained priests, bishops, consecrated cardinals and even consecrated and anointed as Popes. Absolutely nothing.
I too found the article very clearly written. I understand your resistance to move beyond what Pope St. John Paul II declared. However, what concerns me about the Pope's statement is that it sounded so authoritarian and that is often the way he spoke and wrote. I do not think we will hear anything from Pope Francis sounding like that. Peace!
Thank you Barry.
Mr. Hudock, Thank you so much for this article. I remain hopeful that postive progress can be made in opening permanent diaconal ordination to women. As a permanent deacon and as a father like you I have often pondered the reality raised by your daughter's missive. Often while serving at Mass and looking into the eyes of the young women who serve with me I wonder how I would respond to their question "Why can't I do what you are doing now?" I have read extensively on the matter and pondered long and hard on that question. I can say that while there are reasons offered for not ordaining women to the permanent diaconate, I do not find them, in the end, ultimately persuasive for me on the matter, especialy in light of all the positive possibilities for the People of God it offers. At present not responding positively to the opportunity offered by Francis' initiative in this matter will further hinder our possibilities for evangelization and strengthening our people in their faith in the face of an increasingly hostile ambient culture. Many women have great gifts to offer to God and the Church through such diaconal ordination. We should be open to this for the good of the Church and the recognition of these truths. Period.
Again, we should not put stumbling blocks against any person God calls to any ministry based on how they are born. So there is equally no reason to keep women from priesthood or being made bishops, cardinals and popes.
It is deacons like you, too worried about losing what they have that they didn't stand up for their sisters, wives and daughters to be deacons in the past when it might have mattered and still don't stand up for their equal treatment and ordination and equal human dignity now that prove to me how needless it is for us to have any permanent deacons whatsoever. I believe this ministry is nonsense. It is sexist, clerical, racist, it supports ethnic and wealth disparity and it has done so for all of its past 50 years. Even now, globally, it comprises of 90% white, western, wealthy men while it stunts the growth of parishes by keeping laity from roles they could fulfill instead.
There is a visceral quality to his daughter's comment. It reminds me of a story Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told in a speech in the early 1960s: he was walking with one of his young daughters and she wanted to get a cheeseburger and milkshake at a local restaurant.. He didn't know how to explain to her that she--that they--couldn't eat at the lunch counter. How do you explain to a child, he asked, that they didn't enjoy full citizenship?
Thank you for this comment!
O my word! Thank you Vincent! I was honestly beginning to get sick to my stomach from all the fakey commenters supporting unequal treatment of women but just in new and exciting ways.
Mr Hudock walks right up to the line that it is ok for women be Priests and balks at taking the step over it basically because... St John-Paul said so. Sorry, but to say to your lovely daughter "Honey you can be anything in this world you want, just not a Roman Catholic Priest" is hypocritical. Of course, all of us have strengths and weaknesses and not all of us can or should be Priests. But to say to someone that you can not do something because you are female is textbook sexism, even if we cloak it in bible verse. From there the call for better evangelization around this idea rings false. There is no good or better way to present a bad idea. All of us, male and female, will be enriched by women's voices being heard through out the Body of Christ, including the pulpit.
John - it is not so much St. John-Paul said so, It is because he said so authoritatively. Reversing an authoritative Papal decree would take some incredibly creative canonical lawyers and theologians. It is very close to saying the Holy Spirit got it wrong.
So here is the deal, sometimes being Catholic is hard. And sometimes being Catholic is in opposition to our worldly view of fair. So what you are left with is - is your faith in the teachings of the Church strong enough to follow them in spite of being difficult of seemingly unfair. Is your faith strong enough to trust that you the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit may have reasons that we do not need to understand.
Amen and with women bishops and popes!
To paraphrase a statement that I once read, "Failing to include women in liturgical and authoritative positions within the Church, equal to men. is like the body trying to breathe with just one lung." Women provide a different perspective spiritually, theologically and practically on issues affecting the entire Christian community. We are simply a less well rounded and complete faith community without significant input from women in all aspects of our faith.
Also, all faith communities would benefit greatly by having women deliver homilies within our liturgies. Apart from a different perspective, it would provide a needed diversity in homiletic style and substance.
There are several statements Mr. Hudock makes that inspire questions:
"I am uncomfortable with the possibility that the teaching [of an exclusively male priesthood] might be more rooted in cultural norms, and less in the will of God, than many who lead the church realize."
One could make the same statement in the opposite direction: "I am uncomfortable with the possibility that the current movement to ordain women to the Catholic priesthood might be more rooted in cultural norms, and less in the will of God, than many who lead the movement realize." Mr. Hudock's statement seems to mark a great lack of confidence in the revealed teaching of Christ and in the movement of the Holy Spirit in the early Church and in the centuries that followed.
"While the argument that this teaching is offered infallibly is hard to sustain—despite the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (fallible) judgment that it is ..."
Is the argument hard to sustain? Why? Mr, Hudock doesn't say. He simply lays it out there as if the judgment is a matter of course. If he really believes that the argument that the doctrine is infallible is hard to sustain, he should explain why to those of us who don't see why it is at all hard to sustain. Pope St. John Paul II promulgated “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” specifically for the purpose of putting to rest the debate on this question. Mr. Hudock, on the basis of his own discomfort and his inability to explain the Church's doctrine to his daughter, seems to want to keep it perpetually open.
"Wherever you stand on the matter, it should be clear to all of us that the doctrine represents a problem for evangelization."
While Mr. Hudock at least makes an attempt to argue why the doctrine is a problem for evangelization, it's rather dismissive of him to say it should be clear to all of us that it is. In fact, it's not clear at all why the doctrine represents a problem for evangelization. Mr. Hudock assumes that all people are obsessed with a definition of equality as "everyone possessing the same measure of power in society or in any particular institution." While I agree that this is a definition of equality held by many in the West, it is not at all clear that it is held by all around the globe, or even by all in the West. Neither is it at all clear that it ought to be a definition of equality that should inspire Church teaching. Finally, even in the West, it cannot be seriously argued that those faith communities that have opened their doors of ordination to women have experienced anything close to a renaissance of evangelization. Why do people keep using the argument that, "the Church must adopt the cultural norms of the West in order to remain relevant and successful in keeping and attracting new members," when that argument has been proved spectacularly false over and over again?
"One could make the same statement in the opposite direction: "I am uncomfortable with the possibility that the current movement to ordain women to the Catholic priesthood might be more rooted in cultural norms, and less in the will of God, than many who lead the movement realize."
For the record Bob, and all folks who make this silly argument that treating others the same and the way you wish to be treated is a Western Idea, it actually isn't. This commandment is in the Gospels spoken by Christ so that makes it Middle Eastern from the Christian's perspective. The West teaches to treat women the same as men because this commandment was brought over to the West from the East from the Gospels because the large majority of westerners are or were Christians.
I just want to add a brief comment that the video on Catholic Women on Work and Faith was superb! These women are an inspiration to all who are in the struggle to balance work and faith and to have our faith impact our work. I don't know if America regularly offers these types of films demonstrating how people make the faith impact on the regular lives, but bravo for this effort and let's have more!
Of course, children often ask questions that adults find hard to answer. Children will ask why they can't go up to the alter for communion or why they have to go to confession, or how could the Eucharist be the body of Christ, etc.. Just like questions on a male priesthood, these should not be the hard ones for educated faithful Catholics. Why anyone suffers or why did Jesus have to suffer for our sins, or why are there different Christian denominations or even different religions are surely much tougher questions for children than the uniquely modern question of why Jesus chose only men to be priests. For nineteen centuries, this last question would not even have reached any top ten list.
Also, the location of the infallible teaching in the mind of St. John Paul II misses the point of our faith in the Petrine ministry. It is the Holy Spirit who is the infallible one behind the teaching. The Pope is purely the medium through which God preserves the true faith. We have the teaching and now we have to understand it. Its truth is beyond doubt for a faithful Catholic, just as much as the Immaculate Conception or many other teachings of the Church.
I think it has become a problematic question for the modern age and western world because our western culture is deeply confused about gender today, but also because it has not managed to understand that equality and diversity (complementarity) are not in opposition. God could have made us unisex, or multisex, or asexual. But, He did not.
Here is how I would begin to answer the question for my daughter or son:
1. Our Catholic faith has always understood the spiritual significance of the decision by God to make us male and female. You wouldn't have a father and a mother if it wasn't so important.
2. Jesus chose to be incarnated as a male in the womb of a female. He was perfect in all ways and He instructed us to call our Creator Father. We should follow His example.
3. Jesus was way ahead of His culture in the treatment of women, so His decision to choose only men for His priesthood was not an accident, and has never been interpreted as an accident by His Church. It is our duty to accept His decisions, and love them, even if we don't understand them.
4. Mary is higher than all other created beings, not only popes and priests, but even the angels! Men and boys have to accept that choice of God.
5. She is Queen of heaven. She could not have been if she hadn't been a woman. She said a perfect yes to God. She is also the mother of our Catholic Church.
6. No created man has a royal leadership position in heaven. It was reserved for a woman. No man was saved at her conception. Only Mary.
7. If we lost the unique charisms of the male Petrine ministry and the female Marian ministry, Our Lady would have to abdicate. You wouldn't want that, would you?
Excellent post, Mr. O'Leary!
And here is a whole bunch nonsense Jesus never supported in any gospel. Jesus never created anything but the Royal Priesthood which included all believers according to our first pope St. Peter. Jesus did not pick 12 Israelite Men to be priests but instead to be Apostles who represent judges for the 12 tribes of Israel and that is why they had to be male and contain Abraham's blood. None of our current and 99% of our past clergy could be an original apostle because they were of gentile blood. Women don't generally represent lineage which to fulfill the promise to Abraham and found the Church in his lineage, the Apostles had to represent his lineage and bloodline. Again no women or gentiles but this had nothing to do with who could rule in the church, lead the church, what sacraments people could receive, etc. Women were among the early church's presbyters, deacons, elders and even Apostles and the original 12 apostles did not scold them but lauded their work.
Saying that women can only lead in heaven is a cop out for supporting misogyny which is hatred and sin.
I appreciate the author's thoughtful approach on the subject of feminine ordination. I am reminded of a church luncheon for older Catholic adults that I attended a few years ago. I sat at a table of mostly women, like me. We were all in our 70's and 80's. The subject of priests came up. I semi-jokingly said "wouldn't it be nice if women could be priests!" EVERY woman replied "yes," "you bet," "it's ridiculous that we're not allowed!" I also remember a nun telling me that every convent is filled with women who received God's call to be a priest....but the women had no choice but to become a nun.
I think the bigger question here is simple.....why hasn't the Catholic Church recognized that God is calling women. The Church is absolutely wrong in blocking this call. I see no reason to delay...women are already getting ordained surreptitiously.
Could not put the truth out there better!
The social structure in Jesus' day is not what we have today. Women had much less status then--although some did have considerable influence, such as Mary Magdalene. Some recent biblical scholars see her as the first and foremost apostle, with men eventually supplanting her, writing her out of the apostolic or ministerial picture.
Jesus' ways were too radical for widespread acceptance then. They shouldn't be today. We have more equality. Except in the Catholic church. I don't think that if Jesus returned he would be pleased that we are still stuck in the ancient inequality and with a whole new book of rules rather than the commandment of love--and that we are reluctant to pool and share our wealth so that all needs are met before wants are satisfied.
I suggest attending a church service where they have a woman priest or minister to see if it isn't somehow more complete, more welcoming, more inspiring, more whole, more a part of life, more helpful to us in following Jesus.
Jim - your phrase "if Jesus returned" suggests to me you think our religion was an historical event that is past. But, Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans" (Jn 14:16-18). From Matt 16: 18-19, He said: "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
This could not be clearer. The Holy Spirit preserves the faith in the Catholic Church, forever! Neither Hell, nor any opposition, can overcome it. Jesus also said the world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. This is the secular world today. Same as it ever was. There is no evidence from the Gospels that Jesus was constrained in any way by His culture to modify or weaken His teaching. When a person from modern times resists an infallible teaching from the Holy Spirit because they think some other principle should overrule it, they should ask themselves if they might be more likely constrained by this culture than our perfect divine Lord might have been by His?
Fascinating that you should quote the very text that gives the Church the authority to CHANGE the "teaching" that only me should be priests: "... whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven"!
Robert - fascinating that the Church looks at this scripture and sees it as the Holy Spirit preserving the truth, whereas you see it as the power to make up any truth they want - a power grab to do whatever they want. This reminds me of the different meanings of truth in the garden of Eden.
Well Tim, St Peter never claimed be ordained a priest nor did he claim to ordain anyone else a priest. Neither did he teach others to ordain any men or women priests and neither did any of the other original apostles. The only priesthood St. Peter claimed Jesus created was the Royal Priesthood to which all of us believers are equally a part. Feel free to look it up. He did speak about being a presbyter which is the ministry that included presiding over Eucharist and leading parishes and absolving sins but women were also presbyters during this time and did the same functions with the knowledge and approval of the Apostles.
Jesus only ever told all of us to treat each other the same as we wished to be treated or we sin. He gave no exceptions to this rule and told us to uphold it above all other rules of men along with the command to love God completely and First. The Gospels are supposedly Church Doctrine and even a form of High Dogma. So the Holy Spirit did speak and told us that nothing shall be impossible with God and that if a bishop treats a women differently than he would want to have been treated by the bishop that ordained him a priest, then that bishop sins first against God and secondly against the women he judged as less worthy than himself for ordination based only on her body.
Also this doctrine or tradition banning women from equal sacraments is not an infallible dogma and Pope JPII was told he had no grounds to make it one and that is why he didn't make it one.
I simply cannot understand that type of article. It begs the question, in an emotional away: "why girls couldn't be priest?".
The way the author treats doctrine is puzzling. The main aspect of Catholicism is Eucharist, which is offered only by those who are valid ordained (men only). Scripture is clear that women may not be ordained and offer us Eucharist, and Tradition more vehemently follows that rule.
So how could we change that doctrine without having any doubts that we might be destroying the foundation of having valid Eucharist? How could we be so sure that we wouldn't be committing the sin of idolatry while having "Eucharist" from a woman priest, that would be, in fact, just bread and wine?
The fact is that almost certainly women cannot be priests. And because of the lack of probability, we shouldn't ordain women, so we may have Eucharist without fear.
Do you think conservative and traditionalist groups would accept the ordination of women under these conditions? Do you think they will go after women priests for communion and confession, when they are not certain that these women might give those sacraments validly? That would just ruin Church's communion.
The fact is that the author's daughter feelings does not matter in this subject.
And that is the sad fact - the author's daughter's feelings do not matter. That is why women leave the Catholic Church - because what they say and think does not matter.
And that's why men leave the Church: because "feelings" matter more than reason and fair explanation of doctrine.
To both you and Lisa - and you would think the path to eternal life with God in heaven would be a good enough reason to stay in the Church
Actually, per recent stats on the subject both men and women are leaving our church and faith and becoming NONES and one of the top reasons both give for leaving is our misogynistic unfair ordination practices.
Pedro, you need to actually pick up scripture. There is no verse in scripture stating women can't be ordained priests. In the early church there were no ordained priests and both men and women who led parishes in their homes presided over Holy Eucharist. The church is actually teaching against what the Gospels teach on how we should treat all people and teaching against its earliest and most basic history.
I am struck by several assumptions made in the article and by most of the commentators:
Why should/how could the Catholic Church go ahead and (re)-create
Women Deacons without asking the Orthodox Church what they think
and might do, likewise for women Priests and Bishops.
Vatican II would have done far more for ecumenicalism if it had reached out to the Orthodox far, far more.
Changing and simplifying the liturgy in order that our "separated bretheren" - the Protestants might come home - has not produced the
results so naively imagined.
If Progressives with to follow the Anglican Church into ruin by
ignoring the traditions of the Orthodox Church - why don't they
just go to an Anglican Church instead of bringing even greater separation between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
If I had a daughter who wanted to be a priest I would advise her to leave the Catholic church. This "reforming" pope has stated women can *never* be priests and the majority of priests and lay people are so apathetic that they don't care enough to make a stink about the situation.
There have been many scholarly rebuttals to the idea that only men can be priests, from the report of the Vatican's 1978 Pontifical Biblical Commission to articles by Jesuits like Robert Egan, so let's stop pretending Jesus doesn't want women to be priests and admit that sexism is the reason the pope won't budge on this.
Crystal - one has already left the Church if one no longer believes in its infallible doctrine. The scholarly rebuttals you like have no standing when it comes to the Holy Spirit's protection. But, a further reason to doubt those scholars is that they are wrong on many other doctrines as well, including abortion, homosexuality, the authority of Holy Scripture and the Magisterium.
I presume one is not an Episcopalian today is because one doesn't believe they are the true Church. Well, to join them just because they are giving out clerical freebies seems a pretty base motive in the spiritual realm. Not to be too harsh on our separated brethren, but, from a grace calculation, it is a massive loss to become a priest in a denomination with no valid priesthood, and purely symbolic sacraments.
I don't think there is a "true" church, although I do like some better than others. If I had the energy to switch, I might try the Quakers.
Crystal - You might find that even more frustrating. The Quakers won't let women be priests either, for the simple reason they do not believe in any holy orders, or indeed in any sacraments, include baptism.
If you believe in "Apostolic Succession," then the orders of the Anglican priesthood ARE "valid," because they descend from individuals who were validly consecrated as Catholic bishops.
Robert - you do not seem to have kept up with the Church pronouncements on this. Pope Leo's bull Apostolicae Curae (1896), explicitly confirmed the breach occurred during the reign of King Edward VI (mid-1500s), and the CDF under the future Pope Benedict XVI, in 1998, commenting on St. JPII's document Professio Fidei, reaffirmed that this was "to be held definitively." So, the sacraments other than baptism are invalid (i.e. do not work) in the Anglican/Episcopalian Church, whereas the sacraments in the orthodox Churches are valid.
Thanks for pointing out the truth that our unfair ordination practices are founded on sexism and nothing more, despite all of our leaders great babblings. However, I ask you and hope you and your daughter will stay in Catholicism and fight for her to become the Just church for all her members that God designed her to be in Christ. This is my mission in faith, to work till I drop, if necessary to make her the church the world so desperately needs and Christ needs to be there for his followers to worship within.
St. Paul assures the Church (all the Baptized) that, "Eye has not seen, or has ear heard" the wonders to come in the Land of the Living, heaven. A long time ago discussing with a priest what heaven would be like he said that whatever is necessary to make you completely happy even if it means allowing your loving dog a share in everlasting life romping with you across the heavenly terrain, you will have it!" I believe that and wonder if by extension those who long for priestly ordination women and men, will get it completing their happiness? We are told the whole Church is priestly including women, all sharing the Eternal Priesthood of Christ. I believe the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass continues in heaven, the "banquet" of which Scripture speaks, linked to Jesus' words at the First Eucharist often call the Last Supper, that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until he does so again in the Kingdom of heaven.
Women and only women nurture in their wombs priests, indeed the Priesthood itself as did Blessed Mary a dignity shared by all women in virtue of womanhood and may rightfully say with the Mother of Jesus, "This is my body, This is my blood!" Pope Leo in his "Rerum Novarum" did not include that reality in his teaching. Some. including women may have to wait for heaven before they are formally called, by Christ, ordained as priests. The Father sees things in heaven in a light uncommon naturally, so years ago another priest friend told me in heaven Dogmatically the Church will be right on target, but in disciplines and morality, 'way off the mark! There may be some humor in that remark, but its thrust may turn out surprisingly right! However, I for one accept the opinion of the Church regarding women as priest in the here-and -now. What is to come later? Perfect happiness!
Bruce, Jesus tells us in his prayer to God which he tells us to copy, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. All sexism like all racism is hatred. Our church owned black slaves less than 200 years ago so just because we allowed certain horrid abuses to happen in the past does not make it acceptable not to demand change now. It is our job to make the church a heavenly refuge on earth and when we refuse to stand up against injustice, and the abuse of human dignity our sisters have experienced thru rejection of their priesthood we sin and we fail God. There is nothing supporting this discrimination in any Gospel and Jesus condemned treating any person differently than you wish to be treated. Therefore we sin when we discriminate based on a person's body instead of their skills, and talents.
Don't let the devil trick you into acting with hatred because you are accountable for that hatred when you come before Christ in the end even if you pretend you didn't now better.
Where to begin? Mr. Hudock sexism is hate. We know this because Jesus Christ told us that if we treat anyone any differently than we want to be treated ourselves we are doing sin and wrong and harm to that person so therefore we must support treating all people the same, and all others treating all other people the same, regardless of how they are born and this includes all bishops and popes.
I was called to priesthood in my teens, by God, and that same God that gave the commandment for all of his believers to follow stated above. Jesus Christ told all his followers to hold this command above all other rules of men along with the command to love God with all of one's heart, soul, mind and strength.
The church had priests or presbyters in both genders, in the beginning, and later on after being corrupted by Greek and Roman Philosophy (300's AD) started refusing to ordain women when we started officially ordaining male presbyters as priests more abundantly.
You also need to understand our church's written history has enormous gaps in it, due to our church leaders, after the first hundred years or so, destroying anything in our history that they did not want to continue. Since female ordination is one of the things these leaders would have targeted for destruction it is actually more likely than not that we had ordained women priests and that the records were intentionally destroyed. This makes history a poor choice to decide future ordination practices on.
Our church is well aware there is no foundation anywhere in any gospel for discriminating against women for any sacrament including Holy Orders. The Church's argument is based on pure sexism and misogyny. This discrimination, like all other forms, such as racism, ethic hatred, etc. is a direct attack against the human dignity of the targeted group of people. I have never healed from the damage this rejection did to my heart and soul and it is has been 33 years since I was called to priesthood. Your daughter, if she too is called, will also know a deep pain, that is not easily described in words, and it can be crippling at times and it won't fully heal until justice is met in our church. This justice means same exact treatment, ordination opportunities, same exact sacraments, and advancement opportunities as the men in our church have automatically by baptism.
Whenever any group exaggerates the importance of the physical differences of another group, even when those differences would have no bearing on their capabilities to perform the tasks at hand, this is done to belittle and degrade the other group so that abuse seems justified. It is exactly how whites treated blacks, by calling the black race, a race suited for servitude, by nature, in order to justify slavery and discrimination.
All such bias is evil, extremely harmful to the other group's basic human dignity and is extreme and grave sin. Popes can't turn hate into love or sin into righteousness. They can only choose to stop the hating they are permitting in our church and the sin by acting against it and supporting Justice for all its members
This hate-filled bias must be done away with in all of its forms, and it must start now and with the ordination of women to same and equal priesthood.
If the writer cannot look his daughter in the eye & spout off the church talking points that say women cannot be priests in good conscience, that should tell the writer that something is wrong.
Yes - It really should. Amen.
Sometimes we lie to ourselves more than we do to anyone else.