I have submitted this question to the Ask an Apologist forum but would like input…I have been helping to instruct the high school religious education class in my parish. On Vocation Sunday, we showed dvd’s to the group that presented vocations in the priesthood and the religious life. The question was asked, “If a woman feels called by God to be a priest, why does she have to look for another religion for that to happen?”. We discussed the deaconesses of the early church and their role in helping with female immersion baptisms, the Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition of the Church that showed from the time of Christ only men were to be ordained and act as priests. We discussed the apostles (All men that were chosen by Christ to represent Him.) We read scripture referring to the many parts of the body and discussed different roles. The discussion ended with a statement that the women of the Church will need to hope that eventually this would change. This troubled me because it seemed to be in conflict with everything I had read. I did more research and came upon the statement by Pope John Paul II and the magisterium.
In 1994, Pope John Paul II declared, “Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32), I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 4).
One year after this was written, the Church ruled that this teaching “requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium 25:2)” (Response of Oct. 25, 1995). For more on this, see cin.org/users/james/files/inter.htm and cin.org/users/james/files/w-ordination.htm (see This Rock catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0201sbs.asp
I read it to the class the following week. Our priest commented that the church does ordain women (I explained that we were focused on the priesthood) and that though Pope John Paul II did not allow debate on the subject, Pope Benedict had reopened discussion. Can anyone provide information to direct me to what the US Conference of Catholic Bishops discussed and women being ordained (hermits?)