Should Catholic women preach at Mass? Here’s a better question.


Catholics who have sat through enough bad homilies can find it difficult to understand why the church does not allow women (or laymen) to preach about the good news at Mass. We all know women who are knowledgeable in the Catholic faith and who could probably give a more engaging homily than Father who is struggling through his fourth Mass of the weekend. Besides, other Christian denominations allow women to preach in a ministerial role, and they do a fine job of it, bringing many souls to a greater love of God.

There is also the obvious reality that the church has been enriched by the witness of many brilliant women, above all Mary the Mother of God. And it is no accident that the risen Lord sent Mary Magdalene to tell the apostles of his resurrection. Because of this unique mission, St. Thomas Aquinas called her the apostle to the apostles (apostola apostolarum). The Samaritan woman at the well becomes a proto-evangelist when she goes back to her town to invite others to come to see Jesus. The past two millennia have seen women doctors of the church, women saints and countless holy women.


Catholics who have sat through enough bad homilies can find it difficult to understand why the church does not allow women to preach about the good news at Mass.

To be clear, the Catholic Church does allow women and non-ordained men to preach at the discretion of the local bishop. Laypeople may preach at retreats, offer reflections and so on, as clearly stated in Canon Law (No. 766). Nevertheless, Canon Law also specifies that the homily is a particular type of preaching, part of the liturgy of the Mass, and is reserved for the ordained—deacons and priests (No. 767). The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has further clarified that Canon No. 766 cannot be used in the space reserved for the homily during the Mass. In 2004, the Vatican also issued the instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” which reiterates this continued teaching and practice, underscoring that wherever the practice has been changed it must be returned to the consistent teaching of the church (No. 64-66, 74 and 161).

We live in a culture that views and values persons in terms of their function—what they can do. And in the United States today, women and men can do most of the same things. Frequently, women surpass men with their abilities and academic accomplishments, making it all the more difficult to understand why a woman who could certainly write and deliver a better homily than a particular priest would not be allowed to do so.

Herein lies a significant challenge to understanding the situation. We have to move beyond our functional world to a more metaphysical world. In other words, we have to shift the conversation from doing to being. This is all the more difficult when our surrounding cultural norms maintain sexual differentiation as something fluid and not definitive.

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We have to move beyond our functional world to a more metaphysical world. We have to shift the conversation from doing to being.

When it comes to the priesthood, the priest stands in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) in relation to the faithful, particularly in the Mass and in the sacrament of reconciliation. By virtue of his ordination, the church teaches that his soul has been indelibly marked. An ontological change has taken place. In effect, this means that no matter how wonderful or how terrible the priest may be, when he says the words of the consecration, he is able to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, by virtue of his ordination, not his moral character. So, too, with the words of absolution, the priest is able to forgive our sins. He is truly another Christ and able to do the things that only Christ could do. What he does is inextricably tied to who he is.

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While some may be quick to identify this as a form of clericalism, I would offer that it is a grace and a mercy. If the priesthood depended on the character of the priest, history suggests that humanity would be found sorely lacking in acceptable candidates. Most of us, lay and cleric alike, have a long way to go in our personal sanctification.

The reality of the priest in persona Christi also has to do with Christ’s relationship to the church, namely that of the bridegroom to the bride, a specific image that points to a reality. In a 2015 interview, Pope Francis returned to this 2,000-year teaching when answering a question about the possibility of women’s ordination. “[It’s] not because women don’t have the capacity. Look, in the church, women are more important than men, because the church is a woman. It is ‘la’ church, not ‘il’ church. The church is the bride of Jesus Christ.”

In our marriages, we crave the same intimacy and love that exists between Christ and his church.

Countless works of art depicting Christ as the bridegroom, frequently with his mother representing the church as his bride, underscore a tradition and teaching that arguably predate the birth of Christ. The Old Testament introduces the idea of a marriage between God and his people and builds up the expectation of its fulfillment in the New Testament, both in Christ’s sacrifice and in the coming into being of the church.

Given our experiences of marriage, this teaching can be all the more challenging to grasp. But it can help to look to St. Thomas Aquinas, who identifies it as the perfect spousal relationship. In other words, our human experience is analogous. In our marriages, we crave the same intimacy and love that exists between Christ and his church, between God and his people, but our human imperfection will limit even the best marriages.

In the liturgy of the Mass, the priest stands not only as Christ but as Christ in relation to the church. Every part of the Mass reserved to a priest or deacon corresponds with an action that Jesus himself engaged in as the bridegroom of the church. That is why the Gospel cannot be read by a non-ordained person. And while many women and men are involved in the teaching of the Gospel in myriad ways, the specific form of the homily in the context of the Mass is about Christ’s spousal relationship to his church.

We have to advance the conversation beyond one that limits women to emulating male models but instead understands women and men in relation to one another.

This reality should serve to encourage our priests and deacons to prepare with the utmost care for the homily. As the priest is called to offer himself in persona Christi in the eucharistic sacrifice, he must do the same in his preaching. This sometimes means that he must preach a difficult message and be prepared to be persecuted as a result, just as Jesus was persecuted for his preaching, particularly his challenges to corrupt powers and authorities.

But the fact that some priests do not do homilies well or that some women could write and deliver them better does not change the reality of the spousal relationship of Christ and, in turn, the priest, to the church.

When Pope Francis gave his answer above, he also rearticulated the need for the development of a theology of women. I continue to maintain that we have to advance the conversation beyond one that limits women to emulating male models but instead understands women and men in relation to one another. We have already proven that women and men can do many of the same things. Now we need to advance the conversation to one of being. Specifically, how does the reality of being a specific sexually differentiated human person—a woman or a man—impact what a person does? Maybe the first question we need to ask is: Does being a woman or a man affect what I do?

Judging from our cultural perceptions of men, which limit in harmful ways what is considered to be properly masculine, we need to do this work as it relates to both women and men. Maybe even together.

Lucas Crossland
6 days 16 hours ago

I understand the basic argument, but the author still does not answer the question at large. Yes, according to Roman Catholic theology, the priest does act in persona Christi and has the same authority when speaking the words of consecration or absolution, but what about preaching? Those are not scripted words. Why does this part of the Mass have to represent the spousal relationship? If lay people can preach in a myriad of ways outside the church with their lives and words, why can't that ministry be extended to the ambo? The Holy Spirit speaks through all of us, and who are we to stop Her from speaking through you, me, or any other person?

Tom Dunne
5 days 10 hours ago

This well written article highlights why intelligent and educated women are leaving the church in droves. This is purely male articulated misogynistic reasoning to keep women in their place presented by a paid church spokeswoman. All of these regulations are written by men and can be changed. The author of this article has sold out women.

Tim O'Leary
5 days 10 hours ago

Tom - I don't know if you are Catholic but, if you claim to be, your absence of faith in the Magisterium's charism is astounding. Also, your dismissal of Pia de Solenni's views as just those of a "paid church spokeswoman" is itself misogynist. I have always thought that feminists (male and female) do not really value women as women per se, but more as almost men who need to be more like men.

Tom Dunne
5 days 9 hours ago

Tim, I speak as a former cleric who Is privileged to have seen the church from the inside. It is run as a business with a great marketing department that has obviously sold you a bill of goods wrapped in sublime terminology. It’s fine that it works for you. Fortunately most American Catholics can see through the nonsense and found other ways to develop their spirituality that do not treat women as inferior.

Nora Bolcon
5 days 8 hours ago

How true. It is amazing to see Christ's complaint against the Jewish leaders of his day could so aptly be placed against ours. Christ claimed they lifted up praise to God publicly but how quickly put aside God's commandments to uphold and replace them with the canons and laws of men.

Tim would likely follow Church teaching instead of Christ's teachings even if Christ himself stood in front of him offering the choice. This is why he never offers Gospel based arguments - He can't -the Gospels do not back him or this discrimination against women.

The Gospel of Christ is a shield and sword only for those who believe in its truths.

Tim O'Leary
4 days 21 hours ago

Nora, begorra - even in Jesus' most severe tirade against the hypocritical Pharisees, he tells us to do what they teach, even if they do not. See the opening lines of Matthew 23 "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 'The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.' (Mt 23:2-3).

So, don't rail against the Catechism just because many priests and bishops fail to live up to it. let God judge them and worry about following Church teaching yourself. And, don't be a misogynist! Your insulting dismissal of this writer (below) is atrocious.

Nora Bolcon
4 days 21 hours ago

Hi Tim, For the record, my last name is Bolcon not begora but I realize you have literacy weaknesses.
Again, you desperately need to purchase a dictionary or point out any misogynistic statement supported in any of my comments thus far which you have continually failed to do or enjoy remaining in error.

Criticizing racism does not make the critic racist so when someone criticizes a sexist article that does not make the critic sexist. It merely makes the critic accurate.

Jesus was not discussing the Roman Catholic hierarchy or its laws and Canons of which many things are differently stated than in our church's laws. We know Jesus was definitely not referring to Roman Catholic Church laws because the RC Church did not exist yet, so we know that for a fact.

Jesus was explaining to his followers, in the scripture you have referenced, that when the Pharisees teach you to do what is right, according to the law of Moses, not Roman Catholic Church Laws, they should follow what the leaders are teaching even though the Pharisees may be acting as hypocrites and are not following the law of Moses themselves.

Jesus is not excusing or protecting the Pharisees but is instructing his followers to not become like the the Pharisees so God will not condemn them as unfaithful, as many of the Pharisees will likely be judged by God as unfaithful servants in the end.

This is why Jesus told you, and all of us, to read scripture with an open heart. Otherwise, as you have done Tim, you miss the point of the teaching completely, and turn it into a lesson on how to blindly follow all Church leaders no matter what atrocity they command you to do.

Jesus told you and our Church leaders how to treat women. He commanded they treat them the same way as they wished to be treated themselves because women are a part of the group of people Jesus refers to as "others" when he commands all followers of Christ, including the apostles, to treat all others the same as they wish to be treated.

These truths are really only hard for faithless people to grasp Tim. Sexism is evil period. I suggest you judge yourself and your clearly sexism afflicted heart and repent of this hatred of women so there is no need for God to correct you for not doing so later in your life.

Tim O'Leary
4 days 21 hours ago

Tom - as a former cleric, I guess you no longer believe in the promise of Jesus Christ to preserve the Church. Perhaps, this is because your vocation wasn't preserved, and you are projecting that failing on the Holy Spirit or the Church. Well, good luck on your own solo fide journey - but please don't be a misogynist.

Nora Bolcon
4 days 21 hours ago

Yes she definitely sold out women which is undoubtedly how she got her job advising a bishop. We will hire you Pia as advisor as long as you always advise us bishops to act with total bias against all women. It just looks so much better when a women publicly advises religious leaders to be sexist instead of a man.

Tim O'Leary
4 days 17 hours ago

Nora, Nora, Nora - There you go again: "she definitely sold out women" and below "some sad woman they dug out of some traditionalist hole." You may think this a normal way to describe another woman who disagrees with you but I assure you it is worse than sexist - it is misogynist to its core. You need to go back to civility class. Why is it that feminists hate women so much? Is it because they are not men? Such self-loathing! Anybody can see that a church built on your ideas would be an exclusionary church - where only heterodox women would be accepted.

Nora Bolcon
4 days 10 hours ago

There you go again Tim, making no sense at all.

Since you refuse to purchase a dictionary, I will tell you the accepted definition of sexism according to the most accepted English dictionaries definitions.

Sexism only means to treat one sex differently and often less based solely on their sex. Sexism is a bias most commonly used to discriminate against women and girls by men. However, there are times men have been victims of sexism and there are women who have discriminated against women simply because of their gender.

Again, to criticize an article full of biased suggestions, based solely on sex, because the suggestions are definitely sexist, by definition of their content, and since she isn't stating men should also be ever restricted from the things she is stating we should all accept women be excluded from, makes my criticism of her sexism appropriate and accurate.

Again, since I would have suggested any black man, who degraded publicly all black people, as not being equally representative of Christ because they are not white and Jesus was white as racist and self loathing too, this means I am not sexist in my criticism since I would treat both men and women in the same situation the same way. Are you beginning to understand now?

For the record feminists merely seek same treatment as men and no better. How are you and sad Pia not sexist since clearly the words that stand for mere equality are so upsetting to you that you feel the need to attempt to demonize them and make crazy statements suggesting women who want the same treatment want to be men, rather than just be treated fairly?

Those who seek to demonize Justice will end up seeking to demonize the author of Justice who is God.

Pia degrades the value of women when she teaches the church should continue the abuse of sexism in our church with its unbalanced ordination practices. People who degrade their own group usually do so because they believe the abuse is somehow deserved even though it isn't. I did not make Pia write a self deprecating and female deprecating article. She chose to do this. That indicates self loathing since she is female and she shows forth the desire for women to be oppressed. This loathing of women in general equates to misogyny which is defined as hatred, disdain and disrespect of the female sex often leading to oppressive and abusive treatment of members of the female sex or the support of said abuse.

Do you see now Tim how both you and Pia by your actions and words fit the definitions of sexist and misogynistic? If you can't, I don't believe I am capable of breaking it down any further than I have.

I don't think any sane person would have difficulty understanding that a church led by me would lead to a church whose leaders are chosen by evidence of God's calling them to lead by showing forth proper talents as evangelists or homilists, pastors, teachers, counselors, and sacramental providers of all sacraments regardless of gender, sex, gay or not, race, ethnicity, wealth, etc.

J Jones
3 days 13 hours ago

Nora, I generally agree with you. I disagree, however, with your insistence that the author is "self-loathing" and "misogynistic".

Is she sexist? Absolutely. Her side notes about women's intelligence, academic achievements, writing and preaching skills, etc. , do not change the fact that she has for the second time in a few months published in America Magazine this argument that boils down to an attempt to convince Catholic women (and herself?) that gender discrimination in the Church is God's wish, desire, plan and command.

Is she "self-loathing"?

I don't think so.

She's just standing on her head to convince women that a rule which excludes them (and her) is founded on something other than "because the men said so".

I don't think that isn't self-loathing or misogynistic.

That is nothing more than cultic obedience, which tends to blind people to the objective harms of their cult leaders and cultic teachings

That is not to say that a lot of others who push this nonsense aren't misogynistic.

I just don't think that is what is going on here.

I think this author is standing on her head to justify a sexist, misogynistic teaching because she values obedience to the RCC. I imagine her head hurts a LOT.

Nora Bolcon
2 days 19 hours ago

I appreciate your different take than mine but I can't agree.

I often hear people explain away sexual bias in church as not hatred because it comes from ignorance or cultural demands. However, I would argue that all discrimination comes from these things and we seem to have no problem calling racism, and ethnic hatred, also based on ignorance and cultural norms, as racism and/or hatred no matter who espouses the statements.

I can tell you also that it has taken decades of counseling and enormous amounts of time in prayer to come to the point where I believe I and all other women are equally valuable to God as men.

Our church's misogynistic and oppressive culture and laws, and its demand of obedience that all members accept this misogyny as some form of just discrimination does create self-loathing women. Women who support this culture rather than fight it are perpetuating its continuous damage to themselves and all women. Women who support sexism give men the impression that this discrimination is not hurtful and deeply damaging. This is a false and extremely destructive belief and such women and men need to be dealt with according to the harm they are promoting.

Religious sexism cause the greatest global damage, compared to any other form of sexism, as it creates a zealous version of sexism made to appear moral by the religions honoring this evil. These are some of the fully proven global damages caused by religious sexism: war, murder, rape, poverty, disease, forced marriage, forced polygamy, terrorism, slavery, sexual assault of children, teens and women, genital mutilation, and over-population thru oppressive denial of basic birth control measures which is one of, if not the largest, reason supporting global warming and climate change. We need to stop schmoosing over what religious sexism actually is, and what it truly results in, and effects in our world.

This issue is one I am obviously passionate about but I don't believe I am in error in any way in my criticism of this woman and what she wrote.

J Jones
2 days 15 hours ago

Nora, I agree 100% that this article is sexist (as was the original version published here a few months ago.)

And, having listened to "the roots of feminism", an excerpt of a talk she gave at Franciscan U's Steubenville, I am willing to go with "misogynistic" as well. Google it. It's a mess, just like this article (and the earlier version here).

Her thinking on feminism is shallow and reductive. She engages in the "new feminism" trope that feminist writings always begin with the author recounting a personal experience of a man behaving badly, an experience which the feminist author then turns into a universal truth about men. Her thinking boils down to this: feminism is a response to men behaving badly. If men didn't behave badly, women would instead focus on being good women rather than on equal rights so they can make bad men be good men; if men were good men, women could be fulfilled by being good women instead of what has happened which is "women behaving like men behaving badly especially in the area of sexual mores".

Having heard THAT circular absurdity, I am with you: this is all misogyny. In de Solenni's worldview, women wouldn't have been susceptible to the universal/global trend toward democracy and autonomy and freedom and dignity in every sphere of life if men had just treated them better. She boils down the Suffrage movement to women pissed about the way their husbands were treating them at home. You know. If those men had been better masters... It is the sexist parallel to the racist argument that brutal overseers and rapist-plantation owners ruined slavery for everyone.

Her "new feminist" argument boils down to "bad men made uppity power-hungry sl*ts out of good women who now want to give homilies when all God ever wanted was good men, good women and male priests."

It is a mess. A condescending, reductive, misogynistic mess.

***I am unsure about "self-loathing" as you apply it here, Nora, I am aware that I had an immediate negative response to that term because of your earlier and now-removed comments. I will think more about that term as it might apply here.

Nora Bolcon
2 days 14 hours ago

Thanks J
Especially for your thoughtful response. I am grateful you read and considered my point of view and comment. I don't require that you agree Pia is self-loathing to be appreciative of your points. It is also true and it would be humorous (were it not so harmful) what you have stated about this new weird version of "fundamentalist-type supposed feminism" It is much like the "right to work" legislation and arguments which amount to the right to attack unions' strength so all the worker is left with is the right to work for far less money, protections, and benefits than if you had a strong union. Huh?! God's Peace and Blessings to You J!

J Jones
2 days 13 hours ago

This "new feminism" nonsense is also brilliant. These women, and the men working with and approving them (because these RCC hierarchy-supported women are only getting that support because they are being obedient), have evolved enough that they can no longer get away with victim-blaming. They cannot blame victims for refusing to be victims. They ave evolved enough that they can no longer stomach the blatant sinfulness of blaming human beings for demanding systemic justice and an end to the systems that create and allow abuse. So now their strategy for achieving their end goal - the continued holding of power in the Church by men - is to blame the misuse of men's systemic and exclusionary power. Their argument is that if male systemic and exclusionary power had been used in a benevolent way, those subject to their systemic and exclusionary power wouldn't have to defend themselves against the injustice of bad treatment by those who hold power over them.

They hope & pray Catholics are not smart enough to notice that their "new feminism" is focused *strictly* on the SECONDARY injustice of corruption.
They hope & pray Catholics are not smart enough to notice and to remain focused on the PRIMARY injustice of the exclusionary system.
They hope & pray Catholics are not smart enough to notice that FOUNDATIONAL EXCLUSION is the FOUNDATIONAL SOURCE of the systemic corruption.

Again, it is brilliant. It avoids victim-blaming while preserving the system which is founded on exclusive power and corrupting privileges of creating the definitions and the narrative and controlling that narrative and controlling information and controlling the human beings who are excluded which always has the secondary effect of creating and sustaini g and protecting exploitation, abuse and degradation of the human experience.

It is also constructive of extraordinary harm when the context is the individual and collective human relationship with God.

It is amazing that that this disempowering, sexist article sits here on America Magazine's website along an article about the teaching a liberating Christ-and Gospel-centered theology to Native American and first-generation Latino students, children who are living firsthand the harms caused by the historic and current systemic exclusions of their families and communities.

J Jones
2 days 10 hours ago

Then there is this evasion in which she argues the Church is small potatoes and these silly women focused on equality in this small potatoes church should have the good sense to be aiming higher.

J Jones
2 days 10 hours ago

Here is the "roots of feminism".

Tim O'Leary
1 day 7 hours ago

JJ - Jesus warned us about this in Mt 7:15-16 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them." The chief fruit of feminism is millions of children aborted. The fruit of feminism is murder and death. No wonder you and Nora and Luis can't stand real women.

J Jones
3 days 13 hours ago


Judith Jordan
1 day 2 hours ago

Tim O'Leary---

“Why is it that feminists hate women so much? Is it because they are not men?”

They hate men. They want to be men. They are self-loathing women. It goes on and on. These are old canards used against women whenever they struggle for equality. The suffragettes were pelted with these reactionary remarks as they were dragged off to jail.

Individuals who make such claims demonstrate that they have not gone to the original sources and read what feminists have written about feminism. Instead, they read what anti-feminists say about feminism. It is like trying to learn about the Catholic Church by reading material written by anti-Catholic bigots.

A woman wanting to be a man is the extreme opposite of feminism which says women should have equality. They should be recognized and respected for the abilities and talents they can bring to the table. Further, supporting women’s equality embraces the values of the Declaration of Independence.

One of my favorite examples of an anti-feminist was Phyllis Schlafly. She travelled all over the country telling other women they should stay in the home. Her children were raised by nannies as she went forth to “save” the family. We always laughed and said we hoped our daughters married a Mr. Schlafly since he was obviously opened to his wife doing whatever she damned well pleased.

I am 76 years old and the vast majority of feminists I have known are wives and mothers who are involved with their churches, temples, PTAs, and communities. I am a feminist who adored my father, loved my husband, and am happily devoted to my son and grandson.

Tim O'Leary
20 hours 50 min ago

Judith - there is a big difference between wanting fairness and justice for women and being an ideological feminist. The suffragettes were great and were pro-life and for strong families. They believed in the complementarity of men and women. They were totally different from the bra-burning, abortion-promoting, mother-demeaning, family-breaking, sex-promiscuous, Church-hating feminists of today.

I see Margaret Sanger as a key turning point - with her anti-Catholic, anti-family, racist and eugenicist agenda. She is still praised by most feminists. I want fairness and justice and recognition for all women, and that is sometimes but not always expressed by mathematical equality. But, more relevant to this blog, I want them saved. Only the Church has the authority, from the Holy Spirit, to interpret the Scriptures faithfully. One cannot be Catholic and deny the infallible teaching of the Church.

Finally, I come back to abortion. It is the key human rights issue of our time, like slavery was in the past. Not to oppose abortion is to be complicit in it. Feminists are the key opponents of any protections for the unborn, even when the majority at risk are girls, to the tune of hundreds of millions more killed than boys. - As Scripture warns: "By their fruit you will recognize them."

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 days 16 hours ago

“She definitely sold out women”. .....Way To go Nora, creating a new Feminine Judas with every disagreement ! Always so definitively intemperate!

Nora Bolcon
2 days 19 hours ago

That is absolutely correct! I will never be found temperate with female Judas' or male ones . Since Jesus condemned Judas Iscariot to hell, I guess I am in the best of company!

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 day 13 hours ago

I read with interest your exchange of theological- psycho babble with J Jones above and at the risk of engaging in such inappropriate conduct I suggest that your acting out your own internal, conflicts and dissatisfaction by name calling and labeling is an exercise in grossly immature conduct. Perhaps you could provide us with some credentials of your own which justify your ability to intelligently critique Ms. Solenni’s personality and theological argument.
I particular note your “self deification” by comparing your personal condemnation of Ms Solenni to Christ’s supposed condemnation of Judas.

Carol Brenner Webster
14 hours 52 min ago

Tom, Thank you for this brief but well articulated comment. I am very disappointed that America has published this article. It implies that they agree with it, but I can't imagine that most of their readers do.

Luis Gutierrez
6 days 15 hours ago

This article is yet another ideological rationalization of the exclusive male priesthood that we inherited from the Old Testament and the patriarchal culture of the Greco-Roman world. The "impedimentum sexus" of patriarchal theology (Aquinas) is obsolete. The nuptial complementarity of man and woman does not cancel their unity in one and the same flesh, one and the same human nature, the human nature assumed by God at the incarnation. It is time for the Church to renounce the crutch of religious patriarchy. The Theology of the Body makes religious patriarchy obsolete by showing that human nature is not reduced to sexual anatomy. The nuptial Christ-Church mystery should not be reduced to a patriarchal covenant. Baptized women can be ordained to act "in persona Christi." It is time to ordain celibate women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

Nora Bolcon
6 days 12 hours ago

Amen Luis!

Tim O'Leary
5 days 10 hours ago

Luis - when are you going to listen to a woman's argument without demeaning it as "yet another ideological rationalization?" Your campaign against the patriarchial culture established by God in the Old Testament and continued in the New by Jesus (always referring to God as His Father, and the Lord's prayer) seems irrational. God the Father is the ultimate Patriarch. So, try to think of how patriarchy can be good as well as bad. Otherwise, you will be abandoning the teaching of Jesus Christ, our only Savior.

Nora Bolcon
5 days 7 hours ago

Nope Tim, God is all and all so God is all that is male and all that is female too. Father is only one name for God and Creator or even Mother would not be false since God's names represent characteristics of God. Adam and Eve were equals and none had rulership over the other until sin corrupted man. Since Christ absolves all sin there can no longer be discrimination justly practiced against women by any genuinely Christian man. This is why Christ commanded all his followers treat all people the same and same as self or they sin.

Tim O'Leary
4 days 21 hours ago

Nora - you claim to read the Scriptures. Read the opening of Luke 11
"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” - He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come..." Please don't impose your own interpretation on Jesus' words.

Nora Bolcon
2 days 18 hours ago

I didn't. God has many names and titles. Here are some others aside from Father below. If I refer to Christ as merely Christ that does not mean that Jesus is not a valid title or name for Jesus Christ. God the Father is one name for God but not the only one by far.

“I AM that I AM… You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)

Ancient of Days Daniel 7:​9, 13, 22

Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

The Holy Spirit - which is commonly painted in ancient murals as a female angel

Jesus Christ

The Savior

El Shaddai - God is All Mighty

Jehovah The Supreme Being or God or God All Mighty or Creator

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev. 22:13

Rabbis have often described the star of David as a symbol of God's- All in All Omni-potency - by describing its components: It has an upside down triangle which depicts the most ancient icon of the feminine and combines this icon with the upright triangle which depicts the most ancient icon of masculinity, and combined the star points in all directions which exist in the universe: north, south, east, west, up and down.

So You see all these names, and many others, are accurately, and as accurately, descriptive of God as "Abba" Father is. Jesus picked, for the occasion you mentioned, Abba but that does not discount all of the other names Jesus could have used that are equally valid.

The problem with fundamentalist thinking, such as yours, is that it views every statement as a law in scripture, and views these words in a vacuum, allowing no concern for context or other legitimate possibilities of accurate translation and interpretation. Jesus likely picked Father because he wanted the relationship of prayer to feel intimate with God, as the disciples' creator, so a parental form of title is most appropriate for this purpose. Our Mother would not have been incorrect either because we could not be, if God had not birthed us from his own being which is comprised of Holy Spirit according to God's description of his own makeup in Scripture - Old and New. God AllMighty does not have genitals in any description given of himself by Scripture. Jesus is God not because of this flesh but because he was born like Adam and Eve, containing perfect Holy Spirit in his body. Jesus' body was comprised of the earth like everyone else's including Adam's but it is the Living Eternal Spirit that makes his flesh immortal not the flesh that makes his Spirit immortal. Just like scripture tells us God (Holy Spirit) came down from heaven and took on the appearance of man (flesh) (and not men, but "man" - all human flesh) in the creation of Jesus Christ.

Stuart Meisenzahl
21 hours 46 min ago

Thank you the Old Testament references to the various appellations applied to God and particularly to the ever startlingly wonderful, all encompassing Mosaic “ I AM WHO AM”. Yet when that Word was made Flesh and asked how to pray, He Himself chose the word Father (“Abba”in Aramaic / translated immediately in the original Greek Text to “Ho Pater”). The Christ did not, as you describe it, ...” took on the appearance of man (flesh)” , it is the cardinal belief of our common faith that He became True God and True Man. ....not a masquerading spirit! “This belief” is not a concept that can deconstructed and rationalized.....either you believe it or you do not
But more importantly you seem to feel so very compelled to try prove that what you describe as “Patriarchy” and “misogyny” was a later Church development that you must contradict the essence of faith ..Christ as true God and True Man.

Tim O'Leary
13 hours 54 min ago

My gosh, Nora! You say "Jesus picked, for this occasion," as if this was an occasional reference. Jesus ALWAYS referred to God as "Father," and never as mother or any other feminine name. Over 150 times in the Gospels, Jesus refers to His Father. He did it so much the Pharisees wanted to kill Him. For example: "For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." (Jn 5:18). He even said "I and the Father are One" (Jn 10:30). The whole bible is infused with the patriarchial design of the chosen people - this was no accident, but designed by Almighty God. It's amazing that you think you know the Scriptures and have missed this, like missing a log in your eye.

Luis Gutierrez
2 days 16 hours ago

Tim, my comment has nothing to do with the gender of the author. Patriarchy is unnatural, a consequence of original sin (Genesis 3:16). The Trinity is not a patriarchy (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 239, 370, 2779). Religious patriarchy is a cultural aberration, not revealed truth. There is no dogmatic impediment for the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

Tim O'Leary
1 day 7 hours ago

Luis - your are wrong on all points. God called Himself Father in multiple OT references as He created His chosen people - the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (a patriarch triad). Jesus recalled this in Matt 22: “have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?. Jesus called God Father, and never mother. Nowhere in the scriptures or in the Church is patriarchy called unnatural. It is only you and your other feminist allies who do so, again with no authoritative basis. And the reservation of the priesthood is an infallible teaching, binding on all Catholics.

Annette Magjuka
4 days 21 hours ago

Of course! YES!

Jorge Rebasa
6 days 15 hours ago

I had never come across the name of Dr Pia de Solenni until reading this article, and as I read through it I was impressed as to how clear, deep and philosophically sound her thinking is. Later I learned, upon researching her name, that she served as Chancellor for the Diocese of Orange. Well with people like her, our Church has lots of hope! Thank you Dr Pia de Solenni! She has a website with various timely articles:

J Jones
6 days 11 hours ago

J, the author announced on August 1 "I have left my role with the Diocese of Orange. Back to being some form of Moral Theologian". (Di Solenni is not listed in the Diocesan online directory as Chancellor, nor is she listed as the Theological Consultant to the Bishop, a role which appeared to have been created for her.)

Jorge Rebasa
5 days 21 hours ago


J Jones
5 days 19 hours ago

The Roman Catholic priesthood is a worldwide centralized hierarchical institution which is a citystate with observer status at the UN, its own of legal system, extraordinary influence and wealth, and all of that means power is an inescapable, pervasive and determining reality in the Roman Catholic priesthood. Excluding more than half of humanity from participation in that power. structure is discriminatory, and that foundational discrimination makes the priesthood's power inescapably corrosive. A system built on exclusion is a system built on privilege and privilege in the spiritual realm poisons the individual and communal spiritual life. A little book called the New Testament has some insight...

I agree that the priesthood should be open to men and women who are called by the Holy Spirit. I believe celbacy is a gorgeous charism of self-giving in love and intimacy AND that it is fully on par with sexually intimate partnerships when it IS a charism rather than a job requirement. During the years I lived in community as a chastely celibate discerner, I lived the most passionate, intimate, joyful, lifegiving relationships of friendship and service of my life. (I just wasn't willing to sign on to telling LGBT people their lives are a sin. That would have been elevating the worth of MY life over the worth of another's life and that is the polar opposite of what Christian discipleship is supposed to be all about. So that was that for me.)

I know lots of priests (and sisters) who are happy, fulfilled, honest, celibate and hard-working who are also - because they are human - sometimes struggling.

Jorge Rebasa
5 days 11 hours ago

“a man for others” - Pedro Arrupe SJ

Tim O'Leary
4 days 17 hours ago

JJ - we disagree on a lot, but your description of celibacy as gorgeous when it is a "charism of self-giving in love" is a very fine way to put it. A hypersexualized world looks upon celibacy as a deficiency, even though Jesus Christ was celibate, as were many men and women down through the ages. I am open to married priests if, & only if, the Church decides on it, and not in response to any political or ideological campaign. But, celibacy, especially today, is a great witness to the current culture that is so much about demanding the fulfillment of every sexual desire. The Thomas More character in Man for all Seasons: “For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But for Wales!” - replace with sex "For sex, Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his sould for the whole world . . . But for sex?"

J. Calpezzo
6 days 12 hours ago

Of course women should preach at Mass. Isthis not the 21st Century? And women should be priests, and would be priests if not for the male ego.

Nora Bolcon
6 days 11 hours ago

It is amazing how refreshed a simple sane statement can make one feel when heard in an atmosphere of pure madness. Thank you.

J. Calpezzo
4 days 11 hours ago

Thank you Nora.

Frank Bergen
6 days 12 hours ago

I don't know where to begin. This article shouts out so much that is uninspired (theologically) and uninspiring (aesthetically) in the thinking of far too many in leadership positions in the Roman Church. I'm pretty sure that the homily is not one of the strictly sacramental elements of the celebration of the Eucharist. And forcing the 'Christ and bride' imagery into the argument of suitability to preach the Gospel is definitely not going to convince thinking 21st century Catholics. And while the church has long taught that the Eucharist is truly consecrated regardless of the spiritual state of the priest, I don't think it has ever considered that the listener is benefitted by sitting through a poorly written, poorly delivered, dreadfully inept homily.

America embarrasses this longtime subscriber, Episcopal priest and former Jesuit, old enough to have sat in classes 60 years ago where this kind of argument would have been challenged..... even by classmates who still live or have died as members of the Society of Jesus.

Nora Bolcon
6 days 11 hours ago

Thank you Frank! I am shocked myself, how America Magazine does not seem at all concerned how hurtful this nasty sexist article is to its many female readers. Would they support a similar racist article as even slightly legitimate or slightly Christian? I doubt it.

We need more of you men to stand up to this new sexism always being pushed by some sad woman they dug out of some traditionalist hole.

America seems to have forgotten its Civil Rights History. There were sadly always African American men and women, who having been demeaned for so long did not believe themselves, that Blacks deserved same rights as whites in America. That does not make the supporters of that viewpoint who pushed or enticed such sad people into writing against their own human dignity any less guilty of the sin of supporting racism.


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