Priest's comments on "Women priests in the future?" [edited]

This past Sunday at Mass, there was a First Holy Communion rite for many young children (probably 2nd to 3rd graders) at our parish. During the course of the homily, the parish pastor began discussing the various Sacraments, and eventually came around to Holy Orders. Now, I don’t know if this was said in jest, or sincerely, but the priest began by acknowledging that some of the young boys may grow up to receive Holy Orders. He then proceeded to say “…and with the way things are going, some of you girls may, too.” Chuckling from the congregation ensued.

Needless to say I was deeply shocked at this line of speech, and even if said in jest, I feel it was entirely inappropriate and scandalous for everyone in the parish to here their pastor imply such a thing, especially the First Communicants. I was so frazzled by this I left the church to go to my car, where I formulated my thoughts and wrote a private letter to this priest, which I mailed this morning. In it, I explained my objections and asked him to please, recant/clarify his words as soon as possible.

Was I right in doing this? I have noticed some other slightly unorthodox opinions from this priest during other homilies, but nothing that approaches this close to heresy, if not actually preaching it. Is there somehting more I should do? I will probably not be returning to Mass at this parish, as this was really the last straw for me, so I doubt I will ever know if the priest actually retracts his statement publicly.

You did the right thing. You should follow up with a letter to the bishop as well. This sort of thing coming from the pulpit does nothing but to confuse the faithful (even IF it was just grossly irreverent humor). It’s amazing how even a small amount of confusion can begin to unravel faith. The implications of what he expressed are completely alien to the Catholic faith. In the sphere of faith what he said was basically an attack on the sacrament of Holy Orders. It’s time for us laity to start calling a spade a spade, or even a bloody shovel if need be. A priest is flirting with some severe justice if he thinks that one can fool around with the sacrament of Holy Orders, or any sacrament, period.

You are definitely right. It is unfortunate that some priests get away with things like this. He may have planted a seed in those girls’ minds, that someday might cause alot of trouble.

I would follow up with the bishop, but is it right to do so immediately, without allowing the priest to rectify this on his own? Or is it right to inform the bishop simultaneously?
On a side note, I often have doubts as to the willingness of my bishop to reign in abuses, as he is very “liberal” himself, and somewhat (if not openly) antagonistic towards any return to traditionalism.

(I did leave my mailing address in the letter to the parish priest, if he wants to correspond with me privately…should I wait a period for a private response before contacting the bishop?)

I can understand being bothered by the priest’s comments, but why would you leave the liturgy? Wasn’t your active participation in the Eucharist more imortant than getting a letter written right then and there?

I was “bothered” to the point of not being able to focus on the liturgy at all, and felt that I would not be able to until I had put my thoughts to paper. I did return to the liturgy after a few minutes.

You probably should have CC’d the bishop on the original. Women as priests is heresy.

You were certainly right in leaving Mass to get your thoughts together, and in writing a letter to the priest.

What’s wrong with these priests who think they can say stuff like this from the pulpit, and in front of First Communicants, for heaven’s sake? Haven’t they heard what John Paul II said in 1994: WOMEN CANNOT BE ORDAINED PRIESTS! How clear is that?


i think what you did was appropriate. i think the priest was really out of line since he was also addressing first communicants. i notice that many times priests and deacons try to be comedians when they are up in front of the congregation. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. he clearly understands that at this time, women cannot be priests,
so why say something like that. apparently, a some members of the congregation thought it was funny, because you heard laughter, but there could have been others who remained silent like you did and thought it was not appropriate to say those remarks. so i think you had every right to let the priest no why you were bothered by the remarks.

as someone who converted to catholicism from the episcopal church and having attended churches where women were priests, it never seemed comfortable or right to me and, so, i hope that the Catholic church will remain with its current teaching that only men be priests.

What you did was appropriate. It’s always fine to express to the priest your opinions on his homily (“feedback”). This might be criticism or praise, but if it’s done politely it’s always appropriate.

I would say however that you should wait for a response from him before asking yourself “what should I do next?”

Given what you’ve written, I don’t think we can take it as an absolute that he was advocating ordaining women. Maybe he was, maybe he was lamenting the sad direction many in the Church are taking. The later might sound unlikely, but is he not entitled to the benefit of the doubt, and more importantly entitled to the opportunity to explain what he meant before taking this matter further?

Please consider waiting for some response before asking yourself what you should do next.

This is essentially what I originally planned on doing, and will do. I wrote the letter to the priest giving him the benefit of the doubt that he does not believe this heresy, nor would he deliberately preach it. I did express my belief that even if it was said in jest, or maybe misunderstood by me, it was still something that could lead the faithful towards heresy and away from the Church. I pray that it was simply a slip - maybe even a cynical lament of the current state of things in our society, and that he will respond to me to clear it up.

How long is it appropriate to wait for a response before writing to the bishop regarding this incident?

You should perhaps suggest to your pastor that he reads Inter Insigniores in detail. :slight_smile:

That depends. Remember that we just finished Easter and many pastors have a lot of “catching up” to do, so he’s probably very busy right now. He might have even taken some vacation time after everything, and that would further back up things. On the other hand, you might get an immediate response.

I’d say that if he does not respond, give it a month. You might want to follow up with a phone call or some other reminder to give him a chance to respond before doing anything further.

Hi, pickguard1!

I am not going to say whether you did the right thing or not. I am going to say that I do not blame you at all. I myself have walked out of church at such things, and even visibly shown my disgust.

Yours is certainly - and sadly - not the first story ever told of a priest, wearing sacred vestments and standing behind the altar of God, speaking out against the teachings, doctrines, or dogmas of the Church. It is not the first, and - once again, sadly, unless Christ returns to Earth before I finish this posting - it will not be the last.


Thanks all for your posts and feedback, it’s really helped me ease my conscience and see where my next step lies.

We don’t know that he was speaking out against the teachings of the church in this case. It may have been a very poorly thought out joke. Let’s wait to see what the priest says in this situation.

I’ve been known to make a few jokes myself that I thought were totally funny that others were disgusted at…let’s hop that this is the case here.

The above sounds prudent to me. If after a reasonable wait there is no response, or no rectification and the weirdness is persistent, than it would seem like an act of charity (for priest and faithful alike) to write a letter to the bishop.

*I think you were right to send a letter. I’m saddened to hear your priest said this. *

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