Concerning Female Ordination


Hi all,

I have friends, all Protestant theologians, who are part of a strong Protestant movement to enable women in clerical positions. They all argue from scripture and church history.

Question: I would like to know how Catholicism answers both the Biblical arguments and historical arguments like the one’s below:

A big leadership figure in this movement is Dr Philip B. Payne, author of “Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters” ( Other such books preceded his, but his seems to be the one that is most decisive in arguing in favor of female clergy particularly from St. Paul’s letters.

Also, a book titled “Junia: The First Woman Apostle” ( by Eldon Jay Epp, is presumed to be an important work in showing that the early church endorsed female clergy.

The Biblical arguments from Payne, combined with historical work such as that by Epp, makes for a pretty compelling argument and is having increasing wide and far reaching impact among Protestants.



Hi, I can’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of the matter, however regarding biblical passages;

1 Corinthians 14:34 states that women are to remain quiet.
1 Timothy 2:12 states that women have no authority to teach.

Jesus chose 12 men to be his apostles. There were many devout women but He chose men. I understand that Pope John Paul II has previously stated that the Church has no authority to ordain women priests. Women do have roles to play, however, and are highly valued.

I was under the impression that Protestants often focus on St Paul’s writings, so it’s interesting to see that they are picking and choosing which passages to agree with.


They happen to have responses to all the passages you mentioned, as well as to the fact that the 12 apostles were male.

it’s been a while, i’ll have to go check the original arguments… there’s a podcast where the main gist of responses to “male only ordination” are given (an interview with P.B. Payne himself). I think if I can get the gist of those and post them here we can get a good discussion going.



I’m not sure how much more I have to add to this discussion. My opinion will always remain in accordance with Church teaching. From a personal standpoint, I really don’t need to know other people’s take on what the Scriptures means, as it says in 2 Peter 1:20-21 ‘At the same time, we must recognise that the interpretation of scriptural prophecy is never a matter for the individual. For no prophecy ever came from human initiative. When people spoke for God it was the Holy Spirit that moved them.’

I do know that the Priests represent Christ when performing their duties - Eucharistic, Confessional etc. I’d prefer to stick with what it says in the bible, and following God’s teaching is what we’re all here to do. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us. It seems that these days, some people are always looking to change things, or break down the Church teachings in some way. Love is not about self, and what we desire. We’re here to love God and to love one another. That’s all there really is to it.
Look at Matthew 12:25 ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin.’ It seems that everyone is looking for division, some differing idea of what it all means. I don’t wish to play any part in that.


The Catholic priest is “another” Christ; a Catholic priest must be male if he is to truly offer the Sacraments. Also, the Church in scripture is often referred to as the Bride of Christ; so if the Church is the Bride then the groom must be male (Jesus and/or the priest who represents Jesus).


There is not the slightest evidence of female clergy in the Bible or the early Church.


This issue goes to the heart of sacramental theology and of the nature of sacrament and of the nature of ministry. It speaks to the role of the ordained acting in persona Christi and precisely to the relationship of the priest acting in person Christi to His Bride, the Church.

You should read the document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to help you better understand:


as will mine :slight_smile: but since some people entertain ideas contrary to the church’s teaching, it’s prudent to remain knowledgeable about what arguments they put forth so we can respond faithfully and thoughtfully.

many are referred to as deaconesses, and the fact that one of Israel’s best judges was Deborah, a female, are some of the responses in terms of the Biblical data.

Then, Junia is clearly female which is found in the Biblical data, and Eldon Jay Epp wrote the book “Junia: The first woman apostle” - something that I’d love to hear a catholic response on.

The counter logic is that even though Jesus was incarnated as a male, and even though we refer to God the Father with male terminology, God is actually gender-less or gender-neutral.

I will do that, thank you very much :slight_smile:


I agree, the Catholic Church has Christ’s Authority to Teach, Sanctify and Govern for all humanity. Trust the Holy Spirit in guiding His Church till the end of time. God Bless, Memaw


As an aside, in post-Reformation times which the Protestant interpretation of Scripture doesn’t legislate for, the Protestant ecclesiastical communities are somewhat separated from the Catholic Church anyway so their stipulations needn’t be regarded as having to be applied to the Catholic Church. Let them run whose affairs they want to run - which presumably doesn’t include ours? I’m arguing in their own terms, taking them at face value for exactly what they are worth.

(This doesn’t contradict the other arguments, it’s in addition, in case they aren’t regarded as compelling.)

The Reformation is a fact which God allowed to happen and it can’t honestly be conveniently ignored for half an argument and not the other half. It’s a situation which all our forbears landed us all (not just some) in and we have all (not just some) got to get to like it as it really is and for what it really is, not for what we would prefer it to be.


The book of Romans written by St Paul is the book in which Junia is mentioned and the one in which the argument is based upon. It is the same St Paul who clarified his position in those other writings I mentioned, and very likely others too. We are not to bend Scriptural verses in order to fit with our own desires.

The Pope made it clear that the Church has no authority to ordain women priests. The Church. guided by the Holy Spirit, has not been given any authority to make any changes regarding this.


I’ve known good lady catechists both Catholic and Protestant but I don’t think that alters the validity of what St Paul is saying. St Peter (I Pe 3) was anxious wives shouldn’t get so far ahead of unconverted husbands that they dismayed them. An analogy on the forum is in empathetically being where people are at in an issue rather than proving how much better than them we know (not very good at it myself yet) (and it’s in the Epistles as a typically unsuitable and typically commonplace situation) (I call it “megaphoning”).

Being clergy is not “something to be grasped” - we should heave a sigh of relief that we aren’t! As for power-weilding, that shouldn’t be done anyway. Women that want power over lay people are just as bad for lay people as men (both Protestant and Catholic) that want power over lay people. We might “as well” stick to tradition and live Christian lives. For Catholics, the act of not sticking to tradition introduces a different spirit anyway. If Protestants make “it” work for them - well they are them. Let the strength of the (better kind of) Protestant faith (in its variations) continue to be seen as time proceeds into times to come if it can be. Catholic likewise, in spite of bad apples in the barrel. God makes sons for Abraham out of stones!


The Church answers no.


Perhaps you could summarize, or even sketch out, their arguments, rather than requiring folks here to obtain and read their books, and then to come back in a couple of days or weeks to respond to them? :ehh:



Read Sara Butler’s excellent The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church for the Catholic ‘response’.


I agree, but an answer without an explanation isn’t helpful for our separated brethren :wink:

I already answered that by saying this:

of course, my idea was to see if others here were already aware of this protestant move, and familiar with the writings of this movement, in the hopes that those who are familiar with it may have ready answers :wink: since that is not the case, i will go and get the arguments/reasons/explanations as already stated.

now THAT sounds promising. I will do just that. :smiley:


The beauty of Sola Scritura is you can pick and choose what you believe and interptret to fit you agenda.


For a tradition that so criticizes the Church for not using the Bible, it’s ironic that they’ve moved in this direction.


The answer is that Jesus Christ, as God, selected only men. He was not influenced by any cultural situation or other things of His time. He acted in a free manner.

Pope John Paul II:

"1. Priestly ordination, which hands on the office entrusted by Christ to his Apostles of teaching, sanctifying and governing the faithful, has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone. This tradition has also been faithfully maintained by the Oriental Churches.

"When the question of the ordination of women arose in the Anglican Communion, Pope Paul VI, out of fidelity to his office of safeguarding the Apostolic Tradition, and also with a view to removing a new obstacle placed in the way of Christian unity, reminded Anglicans of the position of the Catholic Church: “She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.”(1)

"But since the question had also become the subject of debate among theologians and in certain Catholic circles, Paul VI directed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to set forth and expound the teaching of the Church on this matter. This was done through the Declaration Inter Insigniores, which the Supreme Pontiff approved and ordered to be published.(2)

"2. The Declaration recalls and explains the fundamental reasons for this teaching, reasons expounded by Paul VI, and concludes that the Church “does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.”(3) To these fundamental reasons the document adds other theological reasons which illustrate the appropriateness of the divine provision, and it also shows clearly that Christ’s way of acting did not proceed from sociological or cultural motives peculiar to his time. As Paul VI later explained: “The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology-thereafter always followed by the Church’s Tradition- Christ established things in this way.”(4)

"In the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, I myself wrote in this regard: “In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time.”(5)



And to add to the above, God also gave women very prominent roles in his earthly ministry, from being Mary the first notified of Jesus coming, to the first witnesses of the Resurrection, to Mary Magdalene anointing of Jesus etc.

God has decided that the roles of men and women are complimentary in all ways, including our roles in religious matters. Why is that so hard to a)believe b)accept?

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