Re: women priests, your brother is wrong. But he’s right that people say that.
Not legitimate historian people, mind you.
The word for elder in Greek is “presbyter.” This was a lay position in synagogues. (You had a committee of elders deciding on how to spend alms money on the poor and do synagogue maintenance, that sort of thing.) Since Christianity grew out of a Jewish atmosphere, the new little churches also had a committee of elders, chosen by the bishop (who back then was the only one who could say Mass) and the rest of the community. Elders were always male, because they were modeled after the patriarchs. (This is not to say that women in the synagogues and churches didn’t have power or a say; they just did things differently.)
Eventually, after a century or so, Christian communities got too big for the bishop to do everything priestly at church, and the bishop started appointing and ordaining presbyters to do priest stuff.
At this time in both East and West, bishops and priests and deacons were often ordained from the ranks of married men. (Though they were expected not to have sex on days when saying Mass, and bishops were expected not to have sex with their wives at all.) They also often had their mothers living with them or helping in their ministry.
Now, one of the things the Church did (and still does, in the Eastern side of things) was to acknowledge the women who were related to a priest, bishop, or deacon by giving them a related title. (Even here in the Latin Rite, a priest’s mom is entitled to be buried with one of her son’s stoles, if I recall correctly.)
Because there was a female version of a deacon that had a similar version of the titles for a deacon’s wife or mom, a lot of feminists have found it convenient to claim that these titles referred to female holders of these offices, rather than to relatives of the officeholder. But since the titles are still in active use in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, that’s just silly.
A bishop’s mom - episcopissa (sometimes episcopa in lazy Latin inscriptions)
A bishop’s wife - episcopa
A priest’s mom - presbyterissa
A priest’s wife - presbytera
A deacon’s mom - diakonissa or diaconissa
A deacon’s wife - diakona or diacona
Now, the names for women actually holding church offices as themselves, rather than having a relative’s title, are somewhat varied. These ladies were not ordained, but they did receive a special blessing or consecration, much as nuns receive today. (And in fact, a lot of the traditional words for various nun offices are derived from these older titles. The mother superior of a convent can be called a presbyterissa, etc.)
If the woman was basically a laywoman version of the old synagogue/church council of elders, she sometimes had the title of presbyteris (“woman elder”), presbytis (“old woman”), ministra (“servant, minister”), or vidua (“widow” - being a vowed widow for life who was supported by the church was a church office, and some vowed widows were on a lot of church committees and church jobs, just like today).
If a woman was doing a deaconess job (ie, running the local church’s orphanage, running its guesthouse, cleaning the church and doing sacristan stuff, helping with naked baptism of women, running money and religious instruction to widows who couldn’t be visited by men without scandal, or supervising vowed virgins and widows and canonesses), she also had various titles. (“Diakona” seems to have been the most common.)
Now, there do seem to have been a few times and places where women did take it upon themselves to attempt to say Mass. But this was pretty clearly something that the Church as a whole did not agree with, because every mention of the practice that we have is somebody or some Church council condemning it. It is associated with heretics who were doing all kinds of crazy practices and teaching all kinds of crazy things. If a group was having sex on the altar or their communion was milk and cheese, they probably had women priests too.
There was also an outbreak of women priests in an Italian town in the Middle Ages, but that was because one of the women had declared herself the Holy Spirit incarnate on earth. So declaring herself and one of her women friends to be priests? Nothing compared to the whole “I am actually God” thing.
So your brother is wrong.