Religious life

On the subject of why females can’t be preists, it is often stated that Jesus did not appoint women as preists, and therefore women can’t be preists.

But Jesus also did not establish the hierarchy of cardinals, bishops, preists, and deacons either. He assigned the twelve apostles their duties, and assigned Peter his duty, so you have eleven preists and one pope. Jesus also did not appoint monks or nuns. Further, nowhere did Jesus forbid any of His twelve apostles from marrying.

Where did religious life come from, and why must they be celibate?

Excellent question with a good historical answer :slight_smile:

Up until the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire, Christians who wanted to distinguish themselves sought to be martyred. Depending on who was ruling the Empire or who was the local Roman governor at the time, this could be rather difficult to do. Many Roman officials begged and pled with Christians to pipe down and go home, but persistent Christians refused and presented themselves and their faith to Roman authorities who would ultimately be forced by law to execute them.

After the persecutions were over with the reign of Constantine, martyrdom ceased to be a viable option for demonstrating piety. A pious Egyptian individual named Anthony (now St. Anthony) lived during this time, and pondered how he could possibly deepen his faith now that he couldn’t get himself killed in the name of the Lord. He took to retreats in the desert, and became a hermit. Many people, impressed by his lifestyle and seeking to emulate his piety, took to following him around, and the first “monastic” communities developed around him. The idea was that, now that Christian’s can’t be martyred in the physical sense, they would be “martyred” daily by simply giving up worldly things.

Thus the idea of Christian aestheticism really took hold during this time in the 4th century. An influential bishop at the time, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, wrote an extremely influential book on the life of St. Anthony shortly after his death. Because of the bishop’s influence, the book spread throughout Christendom and monasteries developed everywhere the faith was practiced.

Most of the Catholic religious orders that remain today developed later. The Rule of St. Benedict was developed not too long after in the 6th century, and became the general monastic rule until the high Middle Ages. At that time, the Mendicant Orders (such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians) developed, which blended aspects of monastic life and preaching in the world to suit the needs of that time. These follow the Rule of St. Augustine, which was based on some letters written by St. Augustine himself.

So to answer your question, monasticism in its current form traces its roots to the 4th century. That said, while there are no specific scriptural precedents “monastic communities” as we know them, those in the religious life seek to emulate Jesus’ command to go forth with nothing but the clothes on your back, to place trust fully in the Lord, and St. Paul’s statement that a married man is distracted while an unmarried man can turn his attention totally toward God. These are perfectly good scriptural commands that those in the religious life attempt to carry out to the letter. This makes them particularly holy.

Hope that helped.

Actually, the twelve apostles are the first bishops. See, the ministerial priesthood in the Catholic Church comes in three levels: the highest one is the episcopate (bishops), the second one is the presbyterate (presbyters or the ones commonly just known as priests), and the lowest one is the diaconate (deacons). The Pope and every cardinal are all bishops.

Yeah, we know that Jesus didn’t personally establish these hierarchies, but he established his twelve apostles as the God he is, and therefore the Holy Spirit established the presbyters and deacons hierarchies as the God he is. Jesus also didn’t forbid their apostles to get married, but He, just as St. Paul did, highly encouraged the followers of the Christ to remain celibate.

The Holy Spirit accompanied the Church in its early days for important decisions and he still does 'till this day. So, if such important and critical decisions had been made in the church such as “priests should remain celibate”, “women can’t be priestesses”, etc., why should not see them as action of the Holy Spirit? Every good Catholic does need to learn to see everything that happens in the Church as the Will of God, and even if sometime we are in a mistake, the truth shall be revealed at its time, because we know we are with the Truth after all.

That’s not what the Church says. It is true that the apostles were all men, and the Church also points that out, but that is not the reason (according to the Church) that women cannot be priests.

The reason that women cannot be priests (according to the Church) is that the Church lacks the authority to ordain them. It’s not an ontological limitation (meaning that women share the same human nature as men, and thus are capable of receiving the Sacrament of Orders), but it is a lack of ability on the part of the Church. Women have the ability to receive Orders, but the Church lacks the ability to confer Orders on women.

Very good answer David

Allow me to add one other note. A quote from the recently appointed prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on July 25th 2012 made in reference to LCWR.
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller stated that, “for the Catholic Church it is completely obvious that men and woman have to same value. " Many supporters of the ordination of woman,” he said, “ignore an important aspect of priestly ministry, which is, that it is not a position of power.” The Vatican strongly and formally teaches that the Church cannot change the male-only priesthood because Christ chose only men to be His apostles. " Pax.

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