Ordination of Women


#1

I was just browsing over this… and, well, I have to admit: It didn’t leave me very convinced: catholic.com/library/Women_and_the_Priesthood.asp

Most of the quotes from the Fathers seem to be misapplied and taken out of context. For instance, the last by St. Augustine is in response to the heresy that Christ was incarnated as a woman rather than a man (or perhaps that he has no definite sexuality). Of course he would reprimand two individuals promoting such false doctrine. Likewise, earlier quotes usually denounce the heresies promoted by women claiming ordination–rather than the ordination itself. And the first quote really has nothing to say about female ordination; it is only a condemnation of Marcus the Heretic, and talks about how he leads women astray. I hardly think the modern-day Church would want to base its rejection of priestly ordination for women on their intellectual incompetency.

In short, it hasn’t really convinced me. I used to be very strong in my opposition to this sort of thing… but I must confess, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes–and the more it seems inevitable in the near future. Perhaps even in my lifetime.

I understand the objections of the Church on this matter: Christ was incarnated as a man. He chose men as his apostles. Etc. Still, the incarnation isn’t about God affirming one gender over the other. It’s about the Divine becoming human, the Word becoming flesh–and lest we forget that he did this through the Holy Spirit and a Woman. As Sojourner Truth, after pointing this out, had to say: “What’s a man got to do with it?” St. Paul goes to great lengths to overcome his gender bias throughout his letters: “Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God.” (1 Cor. 11:11-12) “[T]here is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) Part of the Mystery of the Incarnation is that not only has spirit become flesh, but flesh spirit. The false distinctions we once clung to and thought contradictory (masculine, feminine, dark, light, flesh, spirit) are fading away and are proved illusory–or at least more compatible than before thought.

In a Church where All-holy Mary is venerated and praised, how can it be fitting that its patriarchs continue to suppress the dignity of women, whose femininity do the Mystery of the Divine no less justice–but in fact complement it? In the Sacraments, the form always complements the reality: Water in Baptism signifies cleansing, renewal, life; bread and wine signify the Body and Blood that are made Present; and Men and Women can signify the Incarnation together in various ways: Men, the Incarnate Christ who assumed the masculine gender, and women, the feminine figure the Holy Spirit represents and Mary’s participation in the event.

I guess I just can no longer see the Church’s stance on this matter as being legitimate. It is able to rationalize its sexist position, and is treating the matter with prudence, yes, but in a world where we are at last beginning to understand that the war between the sexes is a futile one–I just can’t help but think that we are maturing to a point where the ordination of people, regardless of gender (in greater loyalty to St. Paul’s great affirmation), is inevitable.

I know this is controversial and I’m not trying to start anything. I just really want to hear your opinions on this. I mean YOUR opinions. Really.

I don’t get much out of talking to people who don’t think for themselves. If you do, and take either side of this issue, I really, sincerely want to hear from you.

Please no bickering. Only dialogue.


#2

In light of your characterization of the Church as suppressing “the dignity of women” as part of rationalizing “its sexist position,” I think your claim to “not trying to start anything” is at least a bit ingenuous.

Since anyone adhering to the Church’s infallible doctrine regarding the Sacrament of Ordination is prejudged to be a sexist foe of women’s dignity, how can a dialogue occur?

– Mark L. Chance.


#3

Do you think that it is impossible for anyone who “thinks for themselves” to believe that it is right to believe that the Church is the singular authority to be fully obeyed in matters of faith and morals?

The most profound “reason” for accepting that Holy Orders are only for men is that Motherhood is only for women. But “reasons” are not required for the Catholic Faithful to believe that the Church is simply to BE BELIEVED about those things of which she has authority to state as truth.

A Father cannot be a Mother, and a Mother cannot be a Father! It’s really that simple.

Do you degrade Motherhood to a state of being less than Fatherhood, be it within a man/woman marriage or that of Holy Orders?


#4

As a Catholic woman I feel very honored and cherished by God’s plan just as it is… Men are tasked with being head of the household… teaching, supporting, leading… and women are tasked with new life and are to be “cherished” by their head of household… wow, I am honored by God and man!!! I have no feeling or need to be “head” of anything much less a parish… women are not below men because of any inferiority in women… God loves and cherishes us so much that he tasked man to care for us!

The Catholic church will not ordain women… if Jesus had wanted it so, he would have made his mother an apostle… after all, we do know that she was “full of grace” and the “favored one” of God right?

I am not mindless… I am anything but… however, I find my place in God’s plan very special and wonderful.


#5

Do you think that it is impossible for anyone who “thinks for themselves” to believe that it is right to believe that the Church is the singular authority to be fully obeyed in matters of faith and morals?

No. But those who do so readily lend their moral and intellectual consent to all official pronouncements of the ecclesiastical body may be categorized (fairly, I think) as either possessing an extreme and supernatural faith or a contemptible complacency. There really are few “in-between” cases here. I make no judgment concerning you or other Catholics on this, however. I know nothing of my brother’s heart–and why should I pretend otherwise? I am simply stating that there are a fair amount of Catholics who “let the Church do the thinking for them” rather than letting their consciences be molded and shaped by its venerable teaching.

I also have found it to be the case that the most devout and holy souls I’ve encountered on my own faith journey are also usually the most blatant when it comes to admitting their struggles with, or dissent from, certain areas of Church teaching.

The most profound “reason” for accepting that Holy Orders are only for men is that Motherhood is only for women.

Motherhood is in a special way reserved for women. Fathers share in it, however, inasmuch as they participate in the rearing and nurturing of their children. Hence motherhood and fatherhood may be distinguished between, and each be more specially reserved to one sex or the other, but parenthood is universal. A man may be a priest and in a special way represent one aspect of the Incarnation–Our Lord’s assuming the masculine gender–while a woman may likewise share in the priesthood–parenthood–and in a special way signify the feminine’s role in bringing about the Savior of the world: namely, the roles of the Holy Spirit and of the Blessed Virgin.

But “reasons” are not required for the Catholic Faithful to believe that the Church is simply to BE BELIEVED about those things of which she has authority to state as truth.

Divine truth cannot contradict human reason. It may be beyond it, as in the case of the Most Blessed Trinity, but it may never contradict it. We do well to remember that the light of human rationality is a divine gift. It requires such to even arrive soundly at the conclusion that the Church has infallible authority in the first place.

Further…

The Church also stated for centuries that all those who perished outside of her grace were damned to hell–even if they be devout in their own religious traditions and loyal to their consciences. Thus, apparently, no Jews, Protestants, or Muslims were saved until Vatican II. This was simple, official Church teaching.

The Church has in these recent times more emphatically declared that her understanding on any and all issues can–and does–evolve. I like this word as I think it does a lot of justice to what we see happening. Evolution, as any high school student knows, entails speciation. The end result may look drastically different from what we started out with. Enlightenment as it relates to the Church and her doctrine is hardly exceptional. Hence why for the first one thousand years of Christianity Eucharistic adoration was absent. Only after so long did we finally begin to grasp the gradeur and sublimity of that divine Mystery.

Likewise, what one day may be apparent to Catholics (that the Eucharist, as the Body and Blood of Our Lord, ought be adored; or that members of other religious traditions may enjoy salvation) was at one time only a veiled reality not fully understood.

Humans, in our pursuit of truth, will always be imperfect. And even when we do stumble happenstantially upon it, it may take a long while to grapple with its implications.

That is all I am asking you to consider.


#6

The Church does not “think” for anyone. It states truths (dogma), and it gives various reasoning for those truths (theologies).

Dogmas are to be believed, period. The process of “thinking” is in how to use those things which one believes. The Church can not think for anyone, but only offer those things which are used for thinking with to those who accept that she is the single source of those things.

I also have found it to be the case that the most devout and holy souls I’ve encountered on my own faith journey are also usually the most blatant when it comes to admitting their struggles with, or dissent from, certain areas of Church teaching.

No Catholic dissents from those things which they can’t dissent from which come from the Church.

If they hold a belief that is not truth according to the one authority who can declare it truth, the Church, and do it unrepentantly over time, they are guilty of the sin of disobedience.

If they take the eucharist in that state, then they compound their sin into mortal sin.

It’s OK to struggle with finding a way to come to accept a truth as true, but it’s not OK to struggle with trying to make an untruth a truth.

If the “devout and holy souls you’ve encountered” state that they dissent from Church dogma, that they actually think that Church dogma is wrong, then they are self-describing themselves as not being Catholic.

If they are merely unsure as to WHY Church dogma is true, and struggle with trying to discover HOW it is true, then they are actually “devout and holy” Catholics.


#7

No Catholic dissents from those things which they can’t dissent from which come from the Church.

Then I have met quite a few devout and honest “No-Catholics.”


#8

Actually, this is not true. Speaking as a professional historian, I can assure you that the church has believed for a long time that salvation is possible for those who are “invincibly ignorant” of the truth. The proof of this is in the discussions held about the souls of Native Americans after Columbus’s discovery of the New World. One need only peruse the documents of that era (I’ve seen them myself, I’ve done research in the Royal Archives of Spain) to know that they were deemed “invincibly ignorant” and had a chance at God’s mercy through a baptism of desire, like the thief on the cross. (Read Bartolome de las Casas sometime). That said, there were very passionate discussions about the desperate need to convert Native Americans as soon as possible, since a “baptism of desire” was still very hard to achieve, so most souls were greatly endangered.

Now, as far as Protestants, Jews, and Muslims from that era… they had virtually all heard about Catholicism, and rejected it. Therefore, they were doomed. ALL Protestants in the 1500s and 1600s would have been actively rejecting Catholicism, so they could not have been invincibly ignorant. However, there are Protestants today who are brought up in the faith who have never truly been exposed to true Catholic teaching (since their faiths are now well established). This is not their fault, and therefore, they could possibly be invincibly ignorant. This would hold true for Muslims, and many other groups. Most of the hardline rhetoric heard about the damnation of Protestants dates from the 1500s and 1600s, and indeed, the church could have used a broad generalization at that time, according to their definitions.


#9

God is our Parent. Women are Mothers. Men are Fathers.

A man may be a priest and in a special way represent one aspect of the Incarnation–Our Lord’s assuming the masculine gender–while a woman may likewise share in the priesthood–parenthood–and in a special way signify the feminine’s role in bringing about the Savior of the world: namely, the roles of the Holy Spirit and of the Blessed Virgin.

You are simply wrong. I understand your opinion, as you may understand mine, as it is very thoroughly laid out in various Church documents, and we can agree now to disagree about this issue.

Priestesses are the functionaries of god’s (demons) other than the Christian God.

They (priestesses) may be unaware of that, and they may be very much by and large a force of good in the world, but any good produced by them is merely the “payment in good effects” that the demonic powers are willing to give in exchange for a “greater evil” that will eventually be produced.

Of course, even in this “greater evil”, God eventually produces an even GREATER good. But in the meantime, the existence of “priestesses” are a temporary evil.

Our Holy Mother is not part of the (one) deity. She is our Holy Virgin Mother.

The Holy Spirit IS part of the (one) deity. He is not a feminine power, but is what He is, which is the Holy Spirit.

It is very fashionable these days, and in any day when the demonic powers wish to divide mankind into a “battle” between men and women, to see properly ordered distinction as “oppression”, so that mankind may take it’s eye from it’s task of doing as God has told us to do, and allow the demonic to lead us “elsewhere”.

The only thing which can be defined as “the feminine” is the idol of egoistic superiority based on gender. This idol is presented and is the “mask” of demons.


#10

You place human reason ABOVE Divine Truth?

Divine truth is not required to be humanly reasonable! That is the essence of the correct meaning of the word “mystery”.

Do you know what “Divine Revelation” is? It is not arrived at by reason. It is given us by God through the Church.

Human rationality is not required to simply hear God, via the Church, and obey the truths this revealed.

Just as God IS. HE IS WHO IS. He is NOT “He Who IS Because He’s Reasonable to BE to Humans”.

Human reason can never be used to truthfully contradict Divine Revelation (TRUTH), not the other way around!


#11

Once again you are incorrect. You’ll have to look it up yourself, but it’s explained quite well elsewhere in Catholic.com and in the catechism.

Many people, even those in disciplinarily authoritative positions in the Church, were mistaken in their understanding of the deposit of faith as to necessary exclusions from the mercy of God.

Those who are not culpable of refusal of God’s offered fullness in the Church are, by God’s mercy, capable of choosing heaven if they live by God’s universally infused sense of natural law.

Please learn about the Church (Catholic) from Catholic sources before making statements which you can’t make without doing so.

Thanks.


#12

Church doctrine DEVELOPS. It does not “evolve”.

More infomation is uncovered about a doctrine. Doctrine does not evolve into “different form”.


#13

This is my opinion:

If it were up to me… If it were based on my own judgment and understanding, I would have woman ordained to the priesthood, because I believe they could perform every bit as good as a man. But because I believe the Catholic Church was instituted by God, and that this has always been part of Sacred Tradition, I must fall in line with Church teaching.

Ultimately, I believe God’s ways are higher than our ways. Additionally, I believe that no person has the right to the priesthood, man or woman. And you know what? This might sound ridiculous, but sometimes I wish God allowed me to be able to bear children, but for some mysterious reason, He never intended that for man.

If the Church was wrong on this issue for this long, I could not accept the Church (or the Bible) as a legitimate authority. If the Catholic Church was this wrong, what else were they wrong about? Therefore, I could not accept traditional Christianity in any form.

Ultimately, I believe God’s plan in not having woman priests is for the benefit of mankind in some mystical and mysterious way, whether I like it or not. Trying to theorize why this could be true, might helpful in some measure, but any academic attempts will result in a flimsy argument.

Our faith is full of mysteries. A good example of this is the mystery of pain and suffering, though God is supposed to be all loving. This is also one of those mysteries we must choose to accept by faith.

Finally, Jesus’ words are clear. Many of those who are first shall be last. We also know that it’s dangerous to hold positions of authority; those who are in them will be judged more harshly. Feeling genuinely called by the Holy Spirit to receive such authority is very different from believing that this authority ought to be given merely because one is exceedingly capable.

I also believe that the Saints had the highest sense of morality and truth than any people in the history of humankind. I can’t think of one female Saint that was even a mild advocate of female ordination.

Even though I don’t like it or understand it, I trust that the Church’s stance is God’s will.


#14

Since the REAL PRESENCE of the Body and Blood of Christ was known from the beginning of Christianity, when the Consecration occured, there was only one response that was worthy of it.

It was adored as what it was! That is “Eucharistic Adoration”. That has happened from the beginning. Just as the virginity, and perpetual virginity, of the Blessed Virgin Mother was known from the beginning, even though an encyclical was circulated about those truths only relatively recently, they HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TRUTHS!

I agree that formalizing these truths is a development of them, that formalization does not in any way CHANGE the truths that they formalize.

Humans, in our pursuit of truth, will always be imperfect. And even when we do stumble happenstantially upon it, it may take a long while to grapple with its implications.

That is all I am asking you to consider.

We have been GIVEN all truths by revelation from God through the Church, which has the fullness of the deposit of faith.

We don’t “stumble on them happenstantially”. We are given hints that more is to be understood, and we are allowed to find that understanding.

Private revelation MUST be vetted by the proper authority, which is the Church. Even my own private revelation is not to be relied upon AS true revelation unless it is in conformity with the Magisterium.

One does not “dissent” from truth. If one does, then one is calling untruth true. That is not allowed, and in the area of faith and morals, it is called very very serious sin.

To do the work of demons by calling the untruth of priestesses a truth is to commit a very grave mortal sin. To hold to this sin until one’s capability to change one’s belief (at death) is called choosing “not God”, which is to choose hell for eternity.


#15

If the Catholic Church was this wrong, what else were they wrong about?

Be honest now: So are you simply afraid of the implications of the Church being mistaken?

You place human reason ABOVE Divine Truth?

No, but I do assert that they are compatible. “[F]aith is not opposed to reason.” (CCC 35)

Priestesses are the functionaries of god’s (demons) other than the Christian God.

So have you been taught to treat the feminine as demonic and pagan? I know I was. But nothing so complements the divine and the mythic as the feminine! It is hard to deny this—especially when venerating an icon of Our Lady.

The Holy Spirit IS part of the (one) deity. He is not a feminine power, but is what He is, which is the Holy Spirit.

Actually, it is not a “part” at all, but a Person, distinct from the Father and the Son and yet sharing in their singular divine essence. The Spirit’s symbols in Scripture usually are feminine in nature: its brooding over the deep waters as a motherly creative agent, its presence at the Annunciation in regards to the conception of Our Lord, etc. Being feminine, or being portrayed as such, is not equivalent to being female, mind you. Many orthodox Catholic apologists (Scott Hahn, for instance) see the Spirit as being represented primarily with feminine symbols.

It is very fashionable these days, and in any day when the demonic powers wish to divide mankind into a “battle” between men and women

This is because it is simple, observable fact that the frightened male ego does everything it can to suppress and overcome the feminine powers at work in the universe. In the past, brute strength was sufficient. Today, more and more we cling to institutional patriarchy to accomplish this sad end.

Church doctrine DEVELOPS. It does not “evolve”.

It sounds like a semantics game to me… I have heard both used in identical contexts, coming from authorities as high as the Holy Father himself.

The fact of the matter is that we can see an evolution of sorts in many areas of Church history: Mary goes from being simply the chosen Virgin (70 AD) to the Theotokos (431) to the Immaculate Conception (1854). This is not to say that she was not all of these things from the very beginning, only that our understanding of her essential nature has progressed in a gradual way. This may be said of many areas of Church teaching as a sort of general rule.


#16

Women priests will never happen and here’s why (I spent hours looking it up and how it relates to women’s rights):

Point 1: Holy orders are a sacrament.

Point 2: The sacrament of Holy orders must include the right matter in order to be valid. As water is the only acceptable matter that can be used in baptism instituted by Jesus as a sacrament when he began baptising with the Holy Spirit, a man is the only matter acceptable to use for the sacrament of Holy Orders. This is based on the Pentacost. Being breathed on by the Divine Jesus as he says “receive the Holy Spirit” is extremely significant. He also told them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” and “whatever sins you retain are retained, whatever sins you forgive are forgiven”. All of this together in John 20:19–23 is Jesus granting the authority of the priesthood to the Apostles. This was the first Holy Orders, the Apostles made priests, ministers of sacraments.

Point 3: Jesus was a nonconformist, yet he only ordained men. To make the argument that Jesus was for equal rights is true, but then ordination is not a right. It’s a sacrament, again requiring the right matter to be valid. Jesus was not afraid to go against the grain, he even died for his beliefs. If he wanted to make the matter of the sacrament a woman, child, animal, balloon, he would have. He didn’t.

Point 4: The authority of the Church comes from Jesus. Because Jesus only breathed the Holy Spirit on men, men are the only thing the Church can bestow this sacrament on. The Catholic Church can never ordain women as priests.


#17

Even if the Church declared women could be ordained, the orders wouldn’t be valid because women aren’t the right “matter”. If someone disagrees, then they really have an issue with the sacrament itself. Since Jesus started the Sacrament, and the Apostles only ordained men who ordained men and so on, the Apostolic teaching would tell us “matter” matters. So, the beef would be with God not the Church.

I don’t know if anyone else mentioned it, but where Paul talks about female deacons, they didn’t have the same roles as deacons today and we know they weren’t ordained from what people like Ignatius in the early 100s say about it.


#18

I’m having a very hard time reconciling what you say with what your profile says your religious affiliation is!

It is a simple fact that the Church CAN’T be wrong about dogmatic things, and to claim that that’s even possible is to simply break your Confirmation oath! In so doing, you remove yourself from being in full communion with the Church!

Is that what you’re after?

Quote:
You place human reason ABOVE Divine Truth?

No, but I do assert that they are compatible. “[F]aith is not opposed to reason.” (CCC 35)

I absolutely agree with you in that! They are utterly compatible, if by compatible you mean that human reason can never “violate” divine truth, which is faithfully held.

Faith is not a war with (human) reason, but human reason NEVER “wars with faith” and wins.

In this case, you propose that it is humanly reasonable that the Church is wrong about Ordination for women, and that the Church must eventually BEND to the will of human reason.

That is quite backward.

Quote:
Priestesses are the functionaries of god’s (demons) other than the Christian God.

So have you been taught to treat the feminine as demonic and pagan? I know I was. But nothing so complements the divine and the mythic as the feminine! It is hard to deny this—especially when venerating an icon of Our Lady.

No, though it does rather sound like you’ve been taught that men are by nature rather demonic to be so “oppressive” of women.

There is no “the feminine”, or “the masculine”! Gender is inherently and integrally con-substantial with the person in question.

Your “the feminine”, the disembodied gender which can’t truly BE de-personed (split from the person), is what is demonic.

No woman is demonic. But the demons DO use this “idol” of “the feminine” to lead folks, such as yourself, into demonic worship of said idol.

Our Mother Mary is venerated as a woman-person, not as an “idol” of “the feminine”!

Quote:
The Holy Spirit IS part of the (one) deity. He is not a feminine power, but is what He is, which is the Holy Spirit.

Actually, it is not a “part” at all, but a Person, … The Spirit’s symbols in Scripture usually are feminine in nature: its brooding over the deep waters as a motherly creative agent, its presence at the Annunciation in regards to the conception of Our Lord, etc. Being feminine, or being portrayed as such, is not equivalent to being female, mind you. Many orthodox Catholic apologists (Scott Hahn, for instance) see the Spirit as being represented primarily with feminine symbols.

You may use whatever syncretistic theories you like to bolster the idol of “the feminine” you like. I agree that the Third Person of the Holy Trinity is quite gender non-specific. That you choose to IMPOSE your WANT to find “the feminine” idol in that for which gender is wholly inappropriate is yet more feeding that demon behind that idol.

Quote:
It is very fashionable these days, and in any day when the demonic powers wish to divide mankind into a “battle” between men and women

This is because it is simple, observable fact that the frightened male ego does everything it can to suppress and overcome the feminine powers at work in the universe. In the past, brute strength was sufficient. Today, more and more we cling to institutional patriarchy to accomplish this sad end.

Hah ha ha ha ha! Oh my. Thanks for showing your true colors!

“The Feminine Powers” … How does that NOT sound demonic?

Quote:
Church doctrine DEVELOPS. It does not “evolve”.

It sounds like a semantics game to me… I have heard both used in identical contexts, coming from authorities as high as the Holy Father himself.

The fact of the matter is that we can see an evolution of sorts in many areas of Church history: Mary goes from being simply the chosen Virgin (70 AD) to the Theotokos (431) to the Immaculate Conception (1854). This is not to say that she was not all of these things from the very beginning, only that our understanding of her essential nature has progressed in a gradual way. This may be said of many areas of Church teaching as a sort of general rule.

It can be simply semantics, but when a word is evoked in support of “proving” that truth is not true, that Church Dogma is not what the Church rightly says it is, then that word is incorrectly used, regardless of what the word is.

You propose that the Church “evolve” truth such that Mothers become Fathers.

That would be a severe misuse of the word “evolve” to me. How about you?


#19

This is theologically incorrect. Pius XII declared that the imposition of hands is the sole matter of the sacrament of Holy Orders. From Sacramentum Ordinis (see here):

  1. Wherefore, after invoking the divine light, We of Our Apostolic Authority and from certain knowledge declare, and as far as may be necessary decree and provide: that the matter, and the only matter, of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hands; and that the form, and the only form, is the words which determine the application of this matter, which univocally signify the sacramental effects - namely the power of Order and the grace of the Holy Spirit - and which are accepted and used by the Church in that sense.

#20

So, it’s possible to Ordain an artichoke?

Here’s your problem:

that the matter, and the only matter, of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hands

The “things” ordained are:
[LIST]
*]A prospective Deacon
*]A prospective Priest
*]A prospective Bishop
[/LIST]

How are those “things” defined?


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