I'm Not So Sure about Women's Ordination Anymore


#1

So I used to be pretty adamant that women should be able to become priests. I realized that it was a very nuanced issue, but I was very much in support of female priests' ordination, as quickly as possible.

But now I'm not so sure anymore. As I've learned more about the priesthood, I've thought that maybe it's not so terrible that ordination is for men alone.

I realize that much of the Women's Ordination movement is centered around the erroneous assumption that priesthood is about power and making decisions. I realized this was ******** when I went to a church in my town and realized, "Whoa, every administrative position at this church is held by a woman." Women were, in terms of administrative clout, more powerful than men in this particular parish.

I once heard the situation described like this: "Of course women should have power in the Church. But that's a completely different issue."

One of the only things that keeps me from becoming more orthodox in my views is the idea that doctrine is determined more or less wholly by ordained persons, and by extension men. In excluding women from the Magisterium, aren't we shutting out a lot of possible mouthpieces for God? He's spoken through non-ordained people before. Perhaps the Magesterium would benefit from being opened to qualified nuns (and monks)?


#2

Well, "magisterium" means 'the act of teaching' in Latin: it is the Church in her teaching role. Women teach in the church all the time: catechesis, RCIA, spiritual formation, university professors, theologians, even a couple Doctors of the Church, teachers of the faith par excellence.

Of course, any teaching, to be teaching of the church, must be in harmony with the teaching of the whole church, which is what we usually mean by Magisterium in English, which is by definition teaching that is in harmony with the Pope, the successor of Peter.

But it is absolutely wrong to think that this teaching is in any way from men, or in the hands of men--it is the Holy Spirit that protects the teaching of the Church from error, as Christ promised to Peter. The article of faith we hold as Catholics is that the Holy Spirit will protect the Church from error. The pope cannot, does not have the power to, change doctrine, or define it in any way that is untrue. The only 'power' he has in defining doctrine is the power to listen obediently to the Holy Spirit.

Reflecting on doctrine and its meaning, is the work of the theologian, whose work can and often is one of the vehicles the Holy Spirit uses to guide the teaching of the Church. And, as I've already mentioned, women can be theologians, and in fact some of the best theologians in history have been. And there have been prominent female theologians throughout the history of the Church--it is not a modern development: St. Catherine, Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Liseux, to name a few. (And insofar as the Magnificat is a theological text one could even argue that the greatest theologian in history was Our Lady).


#3

WO is not a "nuanced issue" at all. It is binary: either it happens or it doesn't. And Rome has said that it doesn't. That's all.

The office of priest, as you have deduced, is not about administration (which women can do). Nor is it really about teaching (women have always done that). It is about sacrifice. Father represents the sacrifice of Christ by being an "alter Christus.". Our LORD bring male, it doth behoove only males to represent HIM physically.

It's not about sexism (a very modem issue), it's about the historical Christ, a male human being.

ICXC NIKA


#4

The role of women in life is that of a nurturing presence. My girlfriend Suzanne brought this up the other day and I never realized the importance of this nor the impact it has on our everyday lives. Her ability to influence and guide me is awesome and the more I think about this the more I realize that this is Gods way of not only involving women in the role of the Church but in all areas of life as well.

Be it at home, work or in the parish women influence all that takes place around us. I know from personal observation that the influence that the parish secretary has with the priest is total. She guides him in the needs of the flock having a better and more intimate relationship with the everyday lives of those involved in parish life, in homes and in the workplace. Yes, I truly believe that the women in our lives have much more influence than we realize or give them credit for. Men were created to lead but it is and always has been the woman that leads with gentleness and wisdom....

If you don't believe me, ask your mother!!!!!
:thumbsup:


#5

Just a thought - while the Magisterium does make decisions and write encyclicals, etc. the Blessed JP II did start having women spread the message of the Magisterium especially on such issues as contraception. While the actual College of Cardinals is not made up of women to say that the Magisterium itself is never influenced by a female presence I think would be the same as overlooking the females in the administration in your Parish or the nuns that see to the needs of the Papacy.;)


#6

DJ,
You have discovered something that is extremely important and too often overlooked in the Church. That is the actual role of women as opposed to the perceived (by some) role.

Women can do everything that a man can do except those specific things that are reserved to the ordained priesthood such as hear confession and say Mass.
Women can and DO hold much authority within the Church, especially at the grass roots level. As you say they often hold many of the leadership posts at parish level. Pastors might come and go but Miss and Mrs "Run-it-all" remain.

As to the larger picture, I think you might be overlooking the theologian as a force in the Church. Highly educated women theologians can and do provide great insight and perspective within the Church. History is replete with Strong women who effected the Church at very high levels.

Of course all of this misses the very important fact that very few men can be priests. We are simply not called to it. We are called to a different vocation. Service in a different way.

Christ tells us that the one who is greatest in the kingdom is the one who is the servant of the others...I'd say that there are a great many very great and important women in heaven for they have served wonderfully here on earth.

Peace
James


#7

[quote="JRKH, post:6, topic:251143"]
Of course all of this misses the very important fact that very few men can be priests. We are simply not called to it.

[/quote]

That is a very good point! It really isn't "men can become priests and women can't"--not at all--rather, God calls a select number of men to be priests, and calls the rest of us to other duties.

But we all have the potential to become saints.


#8

[quote="GEddie, post:3, topic:251143"]
WO is not a "nuanced issue" at all. It is binary: either it happens or it doesn't. And Rome has said that it doesn't. That's all.

The office of priest, as you have deduced, is not about administration (which women can do). Nor is it really about teaching (women have always done that). It is about sacrifice. Father represents the sacrifice of Christ by being an "alter Christus.". Our LORD bring male, it doth behoove only males to represent HIM physically.

It's not about sexism (a very modem issue), it's about the historical Christ, a male human being.

ICXC NIKA

[/quote]

If that was true then they should all be jewish too


#9

[quote="Irishgal49, post:8, topic:251143"]
If that was true then they should all be jewish too

[/quote]

And bearded. And dark-skinned. And from Nazareth.


#10
  1. Why doesn’t the Church allow women to be priests? I know plenty of women who could give a more moving homily and be more understanding in the confessional.

There aren’t many issues within apologetics that require as much sensitivity as this one. In a culture where opening the door for a woman can be seen as an act of misogyny, it’s no surprise that male-only ordination strikes some as sexist on the Church’s behalf.

It can’t be denied that there are women who could be more moving orators than some priests and provide more consolation within the confessional. But the debate over ordination is not over who could be a better priest but over who could be a priest at all.

So, if a woman’s abilities are not in question, what’s keeping the Church from ordaining her? For one, it should be noted that Jesus did not ordain any women. He selected all of his apostles, and none were women.

Some say that he was bound by the cultural norms of his era to suppress the roles of women, but no one has been able to prove that this was his motive. Furthermore, this accuses Jesus of sexism and it paints an inaccurate portrait of Christ, who had no qualms about shattering the cultural norms regarding interaction with women (Matt. 9:20; Luke 7:37; John 4:27). The idea of priestesses was not unknown to him, since it was a common practice in religions of his time and culture, though not Judaism. (If Jesus had wanted women as priestesses, he would have had the ideal candidate in Mary. Here was a woman who could have spoken the words of consecration literally: "This is my body. This is my blood.")

There were other roles that Christ had in mind for women. For example, they played a key role in the spread of the Gospel, being the first to spread the news of the risen Christ. They were also allowed to pray and prophecy in church (1 Cor. 11:1–16), but they were not to assume the function of teaching in the Christian assembly (1Cor. 14:34–38; 1 Tim. 2:1–14), which was restricted to the clergy.

**Two thousand years later, no one—including the pope—has the authority to change the designs of the Church that Christ instituted. **Specifically, the Church is unable to change the substance of a sacrament. For example, a person cannot be baptized in wine, nor may a substance other than bread be used for the consecration at Mass. If invalid matter is used, then the sacrament does not take place. Likewise, since the priest acts in the person of Christ, the Church has no authority to confer the sacrament on those who are unable to represent the male Jesus Christ.

Not happening


#11

It amazes me how some people talk about women's ordination as if it is an open question. It is not. Blessed John Paul II closed the book on this issue when he issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Simply put, women's ordination cannot happen and will never happen. It is impossible.


#12

Precisely. So much for all the "nuances"; they are not there.

ICXC NIKA


#13

[quote="Irishgal49, post:8, topic:251143"]
If that was true then they should all be jewish too

[/quote]

Actually, the New Covenant priesthood is not the same as the Jewish priesthood, going right back to our LORD, who was not a descendant of Levi, but Judah.

ICXC NIKA


#14

[quote="DJ_Pius_X, post:9, topic:251143"]
And bearded. And dark-skinned. And from Nazareth.

[/quote]

We don't in fact know that HE had dark skin; there are many light-complected persons living in the Middle East

In any case, these factors are the minutiae of human life, whereas gender is not.

It's moot anyhow, as HH JP2 has closed the issue.

ICXC NIKA


#15

Gender cannot be lumped into the same category as nationality or race. If I, who am caucasian, woke up black, I would still essentially be the same person. If I woke up a man, however, I would not be. More separates men and women than simply our sexual organs. Our bodies, our hormones, our very minds are effected by our gender. Gender permeates to the deepest part of our identity, in a way that no other personal characteristic does. Jesus did not simply become human, He became a male human. To ordain women priests would be to reduce the Incarnation to “Jesus became human”, weakening its theology.

Further, being a father isn’t limited to Jewish males. The priest is to stand in the place of Christ (acting “in Persona Christi Capitas” - “In the Person of Christ the Head”), and so preside over the Body (the Church) as its Sacramental Head (Christ’s Sacramental vicar). To do this, the priest must image Christ the Bridegroom, i.e., be a physical sign of Christ the Bridegroom, and to relate this way to the Church, which, collectively, is Christ’s Bride - His own Body (see Eph. 5:25-32); and in order to do this, the priest must be a male. Intimately connected to this is the origin of the word “priest” itself, which in the Greek of Scripture is “presbyteros” (e.g. Acts 14:23) often translated literally as “presbyter” or “elder,” but what it really means in Greek is “senior” or “patriarch”, i.e., the father of the community.

This, of course, is the origin of the Catholic custom of calling a priest “father” (see 1 Cor. 4:15); and this is a continuity of our Jewish roots, for it was the father (and not the mother) who presided at the Passover Meal, and so over our New Passover Meal, the Eucharist. It was also the father or elder of the family, tribe, or clan which offered animal sacrifices on behalf of the family, tribe, or clan before the institution of the Jewish Levitical priesthood under Moses (e.g. Gen 8:20-21, Gen 15:9-18, Gen 26:25, etc.). Christ’s New Covenant was a restoration of this privilege to the fathers of the entire community (the Ordination of presbyters/priests: Acts 14:23), rather than limiting it to the Levitical caste alone (as Moses had done after the rebellion of the Golden Calf). A woman, of course, is incapable of being a father, just as a man is incapable of being a mother.

The Catholic Church, by the Lord’s own design is a Family - a Household (Eph. 2:19-20, 1 Tim. 3:15), and thus a patriarchy by nature.


#16

Surely you can’t be suggesting that women make inferior fathers to men, wait…


#17

[quote="Dakota_Roberts, post:16, topic:251143"]
Surely you can't be suggesting that women make inferior fathers to men, wait...

[/quote]

Only until the federal government legislates it otherwise. ;)


#18

Priests lead the parish organization.

It's pretty clear that there are plenty, perhaps most, parishes in which the active life of the parish is managed by women.

It's a mistake to think the Church is just made up of the priests in it. There are friars, monks, brothers, sisters, nuns, and there are also laymen.

Me, perhaps this is a reflection of my generation, I wonder why women always keep grasping for whatever bit or chaff of power they can find. Why so desperately unhappy? If you want real power, run a corporation.


#19

[quote="Dempsey1919, post:11, topic:251143"]
It amazes me how some people talk about women's ordination as if it is an open question. It is not. Blessed John Paul II closed the book on this issue when he issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Simply put, women's ordination cannot happen and will never happen. It is impossible.

[/quote]

See, the priest at my parish said almost the opposite. He said that since there has been no ex cathedra statement about it, the question is still open, and may change in the future. Discussion is still a possibility.


#20

[quote="DJ_Pius_X, post:19, topic:251143"]
See, the priest at my parish said almost the opposite. He said that since there has been no ex cathedra statement about it, the question is still open, and may change in the future. Discussion is still a possibility.

[/quote]

A statement need not be an XC pronouncement to be in the "deposit of faith" and therefore binding, according to the statement on New Advent on this issue after OS was released. OS, they said, is infallible.

ICXC NIKA


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.