How to Defend the Church's Position on Women's Ordination


#1

I am looking for some reasoned rebuttals/arguments/aplogia in response to questions posed by people supporting women in the priesthood.

Let me preface this discussion by saying: I understand that this is a non-negotiable issue. The Church has spoken definitively on the subject and the purpose of this thread is not to convince others that the Church must change its position.

I only want reasoned responses to their objections to Church teaching (a reasoned response is NOT: “because the Church says so!” This will never convince a pro-priestess advocate to examine and change her position).

Some arguments supporters of priestesses have posited:

[list]
*]If only men can be priests because the priest is a bridegroom, why can men be members of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ? Shouldn’t it follow then that men cannot be part of the Bride of Christ? It seems disingenuous to say:
*Priest= Bridegroom (must be Male) *
Church= Bride (can be both Male and Female).
[/list]
[list]
*]If only men can be priests because Jesus only ordained men, why not follow other characteristics/permutations of the original apostles? Why focus only on their gender?
example: Let’s say that Christ chose 3 left handed, 2 only-children, 1 diabetic, 3 married, and 2 bilingual men for his apostles. Why must the Church not follow this example?

[/list]Thanks,

monina


#2

[quote=monina]I am looking for some reasoned rebuttals/arguments/aplogia in response to questions posed by people supporting women in the priesthood.

Let me preface this discussion by saying: I understand that this is a non-negotiable issue. The Church has spoken definitively on the subject and the purpose of this thread is not to convince others that the Church must change its position.

I only want reasoned responses to their objections to Church teaching (a reasoned response is NOT: “because the Church says so!” This will never convince a pro-priestess advocate to examine and change her position).

Some arguments supporters of priestesses have posited:
[list]
*]If only men can be priests because the priest is a bridegroom, why can men be members of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ? Shouldn’t it follow then that men cannot be part of the Bride of Christ? It seems disingenuous to say:
*Priest= Bridegroom (must be Male) *
Church= Bride (can be both Male and Female).
[/list]
[list]
*]If only men can be priests because Jesus only ordained men, why not follow other characteristics/permutations of the original apostles? Why focus only on their gender?
example: Let’s say that Christ chose 3 left handed, 2 only-children, 1 diabetic, 3 married, and 2 bilingual men for his apostles. Why must the Church not follow this example?
[/list]Thanks,

monina
[/quote]

I’ll take a run at this. As much as anything the issue has to do with the way God made nature.

We know that God is love. And the way He wired us is that love craves unity, this is how we get life - the unity of man and woman. The tradition of identifying the Church with woman goes deep into the old testament. God is bridegroom, his people are the bride. Heaven is spoken of as a heavenly marriage banquet, and of course Ephesian chapter 5 says it all and while I won’t quote all the Bible passages, believe me, they’re there.

When a Priest consecrates the Eucharist he’s does it ‘Persona Christi’ - in the person of Christ. He’s offering up sacrifice (himself) for his bride the Church. It’s a union, like the union of a man and woman. Thats how we get new life - the Eucharist. It takes the union of a male, the priest in the person of Christ “pouring” out himself for his Church, all of us, to make the Eucharist. It’s the way God made us !!!

The minute a woman tries to consecrate bread and wine, it ***HAS ***to become a symbol since a woman to woman union **CANNOT produce new life. It’s about nature and the way God made the world. **Think of it as woman+man, Christ+Church = NEW LIFE, Human life, Divine life.

Now we can change it for the sake of political correctness or because some other churches have woman ministers, but the minute we do, this thing stops being the Roman Catholic Church and I don’t want any part of it.

Hope that helps.


#3

Most of the reasons given and I don’t recall them all can be rationalized away by any intelligent person who believes women should be ordainable. You have demonstrated that with your two examples. When push comes to shove Pope John Paul II said he could not do it and Tradition (big T) seems to agree with that. Hasn’t validly happened before in the history of the Church and those who have the power to ordain priests just ain’t gonna do it and whining and grumbling and rationalizing ain’t gonna make it so. It is a waste of time in my opinion trying to defend the “churchs position” because those who try to keep the ball in play aren’t going to accept the reasons anyway. If I sound short and nasty I don’t mean to be.


#4

The Church already has a reasoned, official response to this, and it’s not just “Because the Church says so”:

ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html


#5

[quote=monina]If only men can be priests because the priest is a bridegroom, why can men be members of the Church, which is the Bride of Christ? Shouldn’t it follow then that men cannot be part of the Bride of Christ? It seems disingenuous to say:
*Priest= Bridegroom (must be Male) *
Church= Bride (can be both Male and Female).
[list]
*]If only men can be priests because Jesus only ordained men, why not follow other characteristics/permutations of the original apostles? Why focus only on their gender?
example: Let’s say that Christ chose 3 left handed, 2 only-children, 1 diabetic, 3 married, and 2 bilingual men for his apostles. Why must the Church not follow this example?
[/list]Thanks,

monina
[/quote]

The concept here is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What is it? It is the Sacrifice of Calvary.

In order to have the Sacrifice of Calvary present on our altars, it has to be “Jesus Christ” who offers Himself to the Holy Trinity.

The priest at the Mass is acting “in persona christi” and “Christi” is a male person.

There is no way around that- cannot possibly be. A female person cannot be “alter christus” because Christ Jesus is a male person. It is the same way that we men cannot possibly give birth to offspring.

Ken


#6

I think one of the most telling arguments is this: our Lord, when He walked on earth, didn’t seem to shrink away from controversy or the upsetting of social order. Women priestesses were not unheard of in the time of His earthly ministry (ie, the fertility cults, the Vestal Virgins, etc.). While the Aaronic priesthood had not included women, there had been female prophetesses (Anna and I think Miriam also may have been reckoned a prophet) and at least one female judge of Israel (the lady Deborah). If it had been our Lord’s intent to institute a priesthood with women, then why didn’t He simply do it? Why did He not simply include women among His Apostles? They were certainly numbered among His disciples, but not to those to whom He entrusted the powers of binding and loosening, not to those to whom He entrusted the power of absolution. All images aside (and I certainly believe that the priest acts in persona Christi) the argument for me has to be two-fold: He didn’t do it and the Church says that she cannot do it for that reason.


#7

[quote=monina]I am looking for some reasoned rebuttals/arguments/aplogia in response to questions posed by people supporting women in the priesthood.


Thanks,

monina
[/quote]

Have you seen the Catholic Answer’s tract on this?

catholic.com/library/Women_and_the_Priesthood.asp

I would also add that ANYONE who thinks that they are entitled to the office of priesthood is completely unworthy for it.


#8

Hi Monina! Glad to see you started your thread. I hope you get some good answers.

On the Bride-Bridegroom, members of the Church one:

The Church members are the *family. *It is said in Catholic theology that the Church structure is founded on the family. It must have a father, mother, and children. You see those folks who want to make the priesthood optional to anyone consider the Church as the sum of its parts. They confuse members with The Church. The Church is a stand-alone entity.

Jesus is the Bridegoom. The Church is the Bride. While I am female and a member of the Church, I am not the Bride. I am one of Her children. We as members of The Church are often called “adopted sons and daughters.” The confusion you refer to comes from those who confuse “church”- a loosely organized body of believers, with “Church”-the Bride of Christ.

I hope that helps.


#9

Maybe a liltte perspective may help, too. I quote this from a seminarian:

The reason for calling God Father is twofold. 1. Beause Jesus reveals God and He called Him Father. That’s the short and sweet version. 2. The more detailed version: God is present to the world in transcendence and immanence. Transcendence is a reference to His superiority over the world, His standing over and above His creation.
Immanence refers to God’s closeness to creation, His being a part of it. Now God is both transcendent and immanent with His creation but clearly His transcendence is greater. You wouldn’t want to emphasize His immanence because that would basically lead to paganism. We emphasize God’s transcendence because He is much, much greater than His creation and in fact cannot be compared to it. When we look at masculine and feminine we note that the masculine transcends his creation. The Father gives his seed and then stands back over and above and separate from his creation, i.e., the child. The feminine stands with her creation, she is immanent with the child. The child grows in her. Therefore when you emphasize transcendence you must refer to the masculine. This is why God must be called Father. Note how pagan religions always have priestesses. Its not a coincidence that those who emphasize God’s immanence always end up in paganism with priestesses.


#10

[quote=LittleDeb]While I am female and a member of the Church, I am not the Bride. I am one of Her children. We as members of The Church are often called “adopted sons and daughters.” The confusion you refer to comes from those who confuse “church”- a loosely organized body of believers, with “Church”-the Bride of Christ.

I hope that helps.
[/quote]

Yes, it helped immensely! Thank you.

I have one question, though: According to Peter Kreeft’s defense of Church doctrine on this issue he claims that “Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is his bride. This makes us all feminine in relation to God. Women need not become like men when they approach God, but men must become like women, spiritually**.**” (bold is my emphasis, not Kreeft’s) www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/sexual -symbolism.htm

So, if men can become like women spiritually, why can’t women become like men spiritually? That is, why can’t they be masculine and act as Persona Christi on the altar?


#11

[quote=JKirkLVNV]. If it had been our Lord’s intent to institute a priesthood with women, then why didn’t He simply do it? Why did He not simply include women among His Apostles? QUOTE]

Yes, I agree–this is indeed one of the most telling arguments against women’s ordination. Thank you for your helpful response.

monina
[/quote]


#12

The core reason why women cannot be ordained has less to do with who Jesus chose to represent him as it has to do with why Jesus chose them. While ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS goes into the who it really doesn’t address the why in depth. So, I’ll attempt it, within a few short paragraphs (although the topic deserves to be addressed as a book).

It all has to do with Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind. Within Judaic-Christian understanding of the authority of men and women in relation to God and to one another we find the key to this issue.

In the creation accounts of Genesis Adam was created first and Eve created to be his helpmate. This does not mean that Eve is less than Adam in dignity or is less human in any way. I cite this, for our purposes, to show that within God’s plan the husband has authority over his wife and children.

Paul addresses this point, as well, when he tells wives to be obedient to their husbands. He also, and most importantly to our discussion here, tells husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the Church and gave his life for it” (cf. Eph. 5:22-28). This is the key I spoke of above.

Adam, as the husband of Eve, had the duty to protect her and to do what was best for her. He failed miserably when she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and he ate too, knowing full well what he was doing. He should have corrected her and gone to the Lord to plead her case, willing to make propitiation for her, but he didn’t. He took the low road and joined her in sin, instead.

Jesus is the Second Adam who came to be the propitiation for our sins. He has taken the place of Adam in redeeming Adam and Eve and all their descendants. As the Husband of us all, he has made good with his own life the dishonor of our race. Since it was Adam’s responsibility to do this, it was up to a male descendant of Adam to set it straight. This was the duty of the husband, the male side of humanity to do, which is why the Aaronic priesthood were all males.

So offering this sacrifice of Christ is still the duty of the husband, the male. It is a matter of responsibility and honor not of who is fit to lead or to give counseling or any other such thing, all of which women have done and still do. The sacramental aspect of the faith is the duty of men because it was a man who brought sin and death into the world and a Man who corrected it.


#13

These arguments are all addressed in Inter insigniores, a declaration on the ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood by Pope Paul VI. It’s on the Vatican web site. Nine single-spaced pages.

As for the “Particular characteristics” you mention – or left-handedness – none of those characteristics is essential to the human condition. But human beings come in two genders only, and gender is essential to our human nature. Yes, there is a spectrum, but hermaphroditism and gender identity disorders are just that: disorders.


#14

I’m not sure I see how creating Adam first shows his authority.
In fact, by creating Eve last it may show female authority! How so? Because of the order of creation–first the fish, then the birds, then the reptiles, etc etc–seems to show a developing intelligence and progression of life forms. Women were created last, so we must be the most advanced!

(I am saying this tongue-in-cheek, of course! This thread is definitely NOT about who is superior, male or female. All human life is precious in God’s eyes and worthy of God’s eternal gifts.)

monina


#15

[quote=monina]Yes, it helped immensely! Thank you.

I have one question, though: According to Peter Kreeft’s defense of Church doctrine on this issue he claims that “Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is his bride. This makes us all feminine in relation to God. Women need not become like men when they approach God, but men must become like women, spiritually**.**” (bold is my emphasis, not Kreeft’s) www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/sexual -symbolism.htm

So, if men can become like women spiritually, why can’t women become like men spiritually? That is, why can’t they be masculine and act as Persona Christi on the altar?
[/quote]

If you read early into Kreeft’s article peterkreeft.com/topics-more/sexual-symbolism.htm you will see that he makes a distinction between male and female vs. masculine and feminine. What he is discussing is complementarity. You see, by nature males are physical (more sexually driven) and females are spiritual (more emotionally driven.) So within nature the physical is usually represented in a masculine form and the spiritual is represented in the feminine form.

Kreeft basically says that the hardest people to explain that to are English speakers because our nouns are not expressed as masculine or feminine, like nearly every other language does. What he is saying is that since we are members of the Church and the Church is feminine our spiritual lives are more important than our physical lives. He is saying that by our very nature women are more in tune spiritually and men need to approach God in that manner.

This, BTW, is another example of why only men can consecrate. Consecration is a physical act. It involves the Real Presence. The physical presence of Jesus. This article was helpful to me because I have been doing research for years and years about the nature of men and women. I have been told time and again (even by Catholics!) that men and women approach things like the marital act the same way. I totally disagree!

Males by their nature approach everything in a physical (or sexual) manner first with a spiritual to follow. Females approach everything with a spiritual (or emotional) manner first with the physical to follow. Those are our masculine and feminine natures. Kreeft’s point is to approach God spiritually first with physical to follow.


#16

I understand. What Kreeft is saying is that males must transcend their masculine nature in order to be receptive (a feminine trait) to God.

But then the question remains: why cannot women transcend their nature and become Persona Christi?

I think I’m starting to understand a bit better how to convey this teaching to pro women’s ordination people…but I’m still not getting the part where men can be feminine/receptive and the spouse of the Divine Husband (without it being a spiritually homosexual relationship) yet women cannot become like men spiritually. Kreeft maintains that women priestesses are “spiritual lesbians” instead of brides. ([If If")](“http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/sexual-symbolism.htm”) so then men must be spiritual homosexuals in the nuptial marriage.[/font]


#17

[quote=monina]I understand. What Kreeft is saying is that males must transcend their masculine nature in order to be receptive (a feminine trait) to God.

But then the question remains: why cannot women transcend their nature and become Persona Christi?

I think I’m starting to understand a bit better how to convey this teaching to pro women’s ordination people…but I’m still not getting the part where men can be feminine/receptive and the spouse of the Divine Husband (without it being a spiritually homosexual relationship) yet women cannot become like men spiritually. Kreeft maintains that women priestesses are “spiritual lesbians” instead of brides. ([[font=Century Gothic]If")](“http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/sexual-symbolism.htm”)) If so then men must be spiritual homosexuals in the nuptial marriage.[/font]
[/quote]

I can see your confusion. Again, it is a confusion of male/female vs. masculine/feminine. Priests are not male because of their masculine nature. Priests are male because of their maleness. This gets into the impregnate vs. be impregnated aspect that Kreeft is discussing. (BTW, another example of why those with strong Same Sex Attraction disorder cannot be in the priesthood. In being attracted to the same sex the connection to impregnating is severed.)

So many people get annoyed that the Catholic Church seems to “make everything about sex!” It is God who made everything about sex. The Church is just teaching what she is told to teach. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body is a concise explanation of 2,000 years of teaching. The ability to impregnate and be impregnated are the closest we can get to God in His ability to create.


#18

I think the Church is missing out on a lot by not allowing women to be priests. (And not allowing married people to be priests.) I think women would bring into the Church 50% of human experience that men do not have simply because they are men.

As a woman, I would prefer to discuss my life with a female priest who would understand me as a woman.

If I were married, I would prefer to discuss my married life with a married man or a married woman, not a celibate man who doesn’t have any first hand undestanding of marriage/love.

I think the Church would be spiritually richer if women were allowed to be priests/bishops/popes etc. Essentially if they were allowed to develop doctrine.

I think that eventually women will be priests.


#19

[quote=svoboda]I think the Church is missing out on a lot by not allowing women to be priests. (And not allowing married people to be priests.) I think women would bring into the Church 50% of human experience that men do not have simply because they are men.

As a woman, I would prefer to discuss my life with a female priest who would understand me as a woman.

If I were married, I would prefer to discuss my married life with a married man or a married woman, not a celibate man who doesn’t have any first hand undestanding of marriage/love.

I think the Church would be spiritually richer if women were allowed to be priests/bishops/popes etc. Essentially if they were allowed to develop doctrine.

I think that eventually women will be priests.
[/quote]

I don’t have time to really respond to this, but in a nutshell: YOU’RE WRONG. :wink:


#20

[quote=JSmitty2005]I don’t have time to really respond to this, but in a nutshell: YOU’RE WRONG. :wink:
[/quote]

I know good priests who agree with me.


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