My 15 yo daughter has a real problem with the church not allowing women priest. She thinks it’s sexist and the church is run by all men. I really, really want to give her a good answer but cannot come up with anything in my searches other than Jesus picked men for apostles and Jesus himself was a man… Is there a response that would satisfy someone who believes that not allowing women as priest is sexist?
Not really. There’s devout Catholic women I know who still feel like they didn’t get a good answer.
It’s an issue that requires more dialogue instead of a quick and simple answer to appease her tbh.
She might like to watch this.
Start with this article, it also has many resources linked:
(FemCatholic is an excellent resource)
Search in the forum for “women priests” and you will have lots of posts showing up. It is one of the most frequent topics and it seems like every month there is a post about “Why can’t women become priests in the Catholic Church?”.
Dr David Anders on “Called to Communion” on EWTN has one of the best answers I have heard and read.
The priest is a representation of Christ. Women in the church can be altar servers,a lector,sacristans or a pastoral associate. So that would mean the church is not run by all men.
It seems that the simplest answer is that a woman cannot be a priest because she is not a man. If that seems unfair, it is like saying a man cannot be a mother because he is not a woman. A man cannot be a mother, a woman cannot be a father, in the ordained sense.
Right. Thing is, people will say that a priest’s work is ‘just’ that, a set of tasks, all of which theoretically a woman could do just as well as a man.
And if priesthood were simply a ‘secular job’, they’d be right.
But it isn’t.
And that’s where it’s so important to bring up John Paul 2’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. . .the fact that the Church 'has no authority to ordain women. IOW, this is something that is beyond ‘human rules’.
Now we can speculate as to why God decided that only men could be priests. It could be for many reasons. Apparently this is one of the things, like eating His Body and Drinking His blood, using wheat bread and grape wine, that He expects us to take on faith, as Divine teaching, not being able to say with 100% authority, "We do this because science X’ or whatever, but, “Thy (God’s) will be done”.
Sometimes we have to remember that we are the created, not the Creator.
When I used to say that to my mom, she’d say, “Honey, I don’t think the world is ready for that.”
If God wanted women as priests, he would make it happen.
He hasn’t, so it’s not his will.
Lesson #1 with God is you don’t get your own way all the time. I’d have liked to be a priest too but God didn’t want it. He wanted me to do something else, so I did. God knows best.
Frankly the seminaries seem to have been so awful back when I was young, God probably did me a solid by keeping me out of there.
The priest is acting in persona Christi. When the host is consecrated he says “This is my body” and “This is my blood.”
Jesus Christ was a man because that’s how he chose to embody himself. If anyone says the Church is sexist then they might as well accuse God of the same. He could have embodied himself a woman and chose women disciples.
The Church’s rejection of clericalism is one of the best feminist arguments for a male-only priesthood imo.
If we say that the Priesthood is the most important vocation of course that would make it seem unfair that women are rejected from it. Luckily women have an inherent dignity and worth without needing the Priesthood. The FemCatholic article words it better than me… haha
It’s not sexist. The priest is in persona Christi when celebrating the sacraments, so a woman cannot take his place. It’s a metaphysical impossibility. Christ is the Head of His Church, who is His Spouse. A woman cannot serve in the Church the way a man can. She does not serve, but rather is served, because of her dignity. The prohibition on women priests is not sexist discrimination, but a protection of the woman’s dignity, given her proper function and role in the life of the Church, whom we refer to also as “she”, our Mother Church. Just as a man cannot become a spouse of Our Lord, a woman cannot become a priest.
Although I don’t personally see very good reasons why females can’t be priests, I did once hear a fantastic response to this question, given by Fr Robert Barron.
He argues that the greatest influence and power in the church is the saints, period. It’s not the clergy, nor even the all-male magisterium. It’s the saints who have moved mountains in the church. It’s the Blessed Mother, it’s St Therese of Lisieux, it’s Mother Theresa, Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila, Edith Stein, St Bernadette…
In other words, to be the greatest in the church is to be a saint. No clericalism required. It’s a really great point, even for those who can’t see why a female can’t be Catholic clergy.
I will look for that specific article. I have seen many that talk about women priest but nothing that would help with the argument that it is not sexist.
Just thinking out loud here, although I share your daughter’s misgivings about the gender-specificity of Catholic clergy, it seems that the reasons offered by the church are fairly weak and suggest nothing inferior about females (or superior about males). The reasons we hear are things like:
- Christ was a man and the priest stands in persona christi (so needs to be a man, for some reason).
- Christ chose only males as his original disciples…
But, reasons are not offered that imply that males are superior to females.
Is a superiority claim necessary for sexism to occur? I don’t know the answer. Just wondering out loud.
Here’s a different angle. A married woman friend I know was asked if she cut the grass in the summer. She replied that if she cut the grass she would be doing everything. Her husband has that job and he can do it.
Women are great organizers, multi-taskers, who can be very good at a great number of things. We can let the men have this one.
Another example is when a couple have people come over for a bbq. Usually it’s the woman that plans it all out, talks to everyone, does the grocery shopping, cleans the house, gets everything ready. Then everyone fawns over the husband who takes the bbq stuff, that the wife bought earlier, prepared and put on a plate, and they call him ‘the Chef’. Well. Let him have that.
Feminism, in some cases, is a supremacy movement. Think about it. Do everything a man can, have all of his masculine authority and retain feminine traits and abilities at the same time. That is not equality - it is supremacy. (hate mail to follow)
Amen sister. I always saw the fact that woman can’t be priest as a gift. Almost like God decided to spare women such a hard life
I use to work with a man who would tell me ‘My daugther is of a different generation. She just doesn’t understand why men can’t be priest’ And I would joke 'It’s because us women are sick of you men falling down on the job and having to do it for you
Other that the whole communion thing, I don’t the Church has any really great tenets to stand on here. The Bible was written in a time where women were basically one step above property. Much of Christian theology comes from this time and few here would consider that social order just. Also if the Priest is taking the place of Jesus and Jesus is literally the bread and wine, what gives?