What is the foundation of a male-only priesthood?


#1

I was going to post this in another thread which was pulled just as I hit the 'Submit Reply' button. The subject is important - the **fact **of a male-only Catholic priesthood is one Catholics need to understand and be able to justify - but to date I have yet to come across any in-depth defence of it.

Roles in the sacramental life of the Church are not interchangeable between the sexes. Only men can be priests and bishops. Only a man can be Pope. Christ set it up that way. Question is, why? Because Christ was a narrow-minded, sexist bigot locked in the oppressive mindset of first-century Judaism? Somehow I don't think so. There must have been a good reason, based on the fact that certain social roles suit men and not women, and vice versa.

I'm not extending this to women talking publicly in church, just making the point that the Church does acknowledge a differentiation between men and women in certain Ecclesiastical functions. This differentiation, at least in what concerns the priesthood, is permanent, not dependent upon social circumstances, hence it must be based on human nature rather than just on the prevailing mentality of a particular society.

The subject is inevitably contentious since it is now established wisdom that a woman can and should do anything a man can. My take is that this is a reaction against the very restrictive lives women led from the Industrial Revolution up to the 1960's, during which much of what they had previously done was taken away from them by men and done in factories instead. Dorothy Sayers wrote a very interesting essay on women's share in the Mediaeval economy, where all industry **was **home industry, and women were a great deal more than nannies, cooks and housemaids. But a reaction against one extreme inevitably tends to go to the other. We are far from having got it right again.

Helmet on and let me dive for my foxhole. ;)


#2

I think the teaching that has best convinced me of the truth of male-only priesthood is that priests serve as "in persona Christi" (in the person of Christ) while administering the sacraments. Christ is the bridegroom to his Church, His bride. He uses the intimacy of a married couple (and marriage is important to God) to illustrate that He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. I feel very uneasy picturing a pregnant priest consecrating the bread and wine at the altar serving as our bridegroom. Jesus had reasons for instituting a male-only priesthood. He is the "boss" -- He is God -- and He instituted His Church -- I'll accept His reasons.


#3

The priesthood began with Aaron. It is very interesting to follow the development of the Jewish priesthood. Unlike the other tribes who had land the tribe of the Levities did not. It is the reason that Moses established a tithe. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament which included the priesthood. He brought it to its full meaning.


#4

Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote extensively on this topic so you apparently didn’t do a very good job of exploring this issue before creating your post. I was going to provide a link for you, but I gather that you’d rather be in your foxhole then actually trying to learn about this topic. Peace, g


#5

what sex did Christ pick for his apostles who would have became the first priests?

Men

Christ is the foundation for the male only priesthood, the above is all that is needed to defend an all male priesthood.

If Christ wanted women priests he would have called both men and women to become apostles but he only choose men. Note: even the most important women in Jesus life, like his mother, weren’t his apostles.


#6

[quote="catholictiger, post:5, topic:317917"]
what sex did Christ pick for his apostles who would have became the first priests?

Men

Christ is the foundation for the male only priesthood, the above is all that is needed to defend an all male priesthood.

If Christ wanted women priests he would have called both men and women to become apostles but he only choose men. Note: even the most important women in Jesus life, like his mother, weren't his apostles.

[/quote]

While in obedience that is all that is needed to accept it, Jesus didn't just arbitrarily choose men only. There was a reason. So to state that is all that is needed to "defend" it I think is coming up short. It really is a beautiful teaching.

To the OP:

We can learn a lot from EPH 5 here. The image of Christ love for the church. Instead of thinking of the church hierarchy in the typical way, we can think of it as an upside down triangle.

The pope has taken the "lowest" place in service to the church-- in humility, with the weight of the world's souls on his shoulders-- in service. He has the hardest job of all.

Then the cardinals/bishops/priests. Then at the top lay men, then women as the crown of creation. To be ordained isn't necessarily a "promotion", but a humble lowering of oneself in service-- to "die" on the cross at mass. Women are not called to that. That is the man's role to serve his church/bride. To speak of women being ordained is lowering them below their dignity.


#7

I am going out on a limb here, but I believe that everything God does has a purpose and this issue of men only priests has a reason deep in the human psyche. I know I won't explain it properly here because I don't fully understand it myself.

At the fall, Eve convinced Adam to sin. That implies Adam had an issue with taking responsibility - he just went along with what Eve had decided. Fast forward to Abraham; Abraham had a problem with simply "giving in" to Sarai and doing her bidding even though God made a promise to Abraham directly about his descendants.

My suspicion is that there is a deep "wound" from the fall and the result has affected men and women differently.

Men have a problem with taking responsibility by determining and carrying out their responsibilities aka God. In a sense, we use women as a crutch or excuse for not doing what we are supposed to do. We are taken in by their charms, often to our detriment.

Priesthood, for men, is a kind of service to be practiced autonomously, without interference from women to rebuild what was supposed to be the male psyche which is directly responsible to God, not responsible to women first. The weakness in the male psyche would be a weakness of character that fails to "man up" when called to by God; a weakness which then uses the influence of a woman to excuse itself.

Women, I suspect, have a slightly different set of character flaws resulting from the fall.

*Note: * The following could inflame some, but please let's keep this as a purely academic exercise. If you disagree, explain why you disagree. I am open to being enlightened and to discuss this further.

Women seem, in general, to have difficulty with accepting a subordinate role to anyone, including God. It has been the effect of the fall that women, in general, may have difficulty with accepting any matter that has been determined by someone else. Eve had a problem with this, so did Sarai. Women may not aggressively pursue the role of opposition to power, but do so in more passive ways until the issue is resolved favorably to them.

Perhaps the intent of God is to deny, intentionally, the role of "decision-maker" to women precisely because that is the role that is desired the most by them. Whereas, men have issues with taking responsibility for "caring" decisions and tend to leave those to women and excuse themselves by denying their responsibility for those kinds of "fatherly" decisions.

Note, I am not talking about actions that demonstrate male power in public ways. Men have no problem doing that, but my view is those kinds of public displays of machismo are ways of covering up a deep lack of authentic responsibility for others that men often shirk. Notice that Adam did not take responsibility for his decision to eat the fruit, nor did he attempt to dissuade Eve. He followed up by blaming her for making what should have been his responsibility to decide otherwise and, basically "threw her to the wolves" for making his decision for him, when he didn't have the courage to stand up for what was the right thing to do.

The position of priest, I suspect, plays on those deeply male flaws - flaws that tend to deflect the responsibility for "caring" onto women - in order to redeem all of male humanity by setting up a position that is only about responsible caring, the priesthood. Meanwhile, the denial of priesthood to women likely plays on the deeply female flaws that presume a kind of "right" to be right.

The question both men and women should honestly ask is, "Why would I want to be a priest?" Assessing those reasons honestly should be very enlightening. The second question, equally important, that should be discerned honestly, is, "Does God want me to be a priest?" If it is merely to have the power to carry out or inflict "my way" on others, even if that way is thought to be infallibly caring, that would not be a good reason to want to be a priest. A priest is, foremost, a servant to others. A conduit for the remission of sin.

To answer your question directly, my answer would be that a male only priesthood is intended to towards the undoing of the fall. Since the fall went from Eve (woman) to Adam (man), the redemption must, to be properly ordered in its undoing of the fall, move from Adam (priesthood) to Eve (Church). Men are to take up the responsibility shirked by Adam in order to carry out the undoing of the fall and bring the Church (bride of Christ) back to God.


#8

Inter Insignores - CDF (1976)

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis - Pope John Paul II (1994)


#9

Here are some interesting reads on this subject;

ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/ALL-MALE.TXT
ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/MALEPRIE.TXT
ewtn.com/library/issues/whywomen.txt
ewtn.com/library/doctrine/angldiff.txt
ewtn.com/library/issues/takingno.txt


#10

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man: and the head of Christ is God.

1 Timothy 3:12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife: who rule well their children and their own houses.

Titus 1:5-6 For this cause I left thee in Crete: that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee: If any be without crime, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly.

1 Timothy 3:1-2 A faithful saying: If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth good work. It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher,


#11

[quote="Justin_Swanton, post:1, topic:317917"]
I was going to post this in another thread which was pulled just as I hit the 'Submit Reply' button. The subject is important - the **fact **of a male-only Catholic priesthood is one Catholics need to understand and be able to justify - but to date I have yet to come across any in-depth defence of it.

Roles in the sacramental life of the Church are not interchangeable between the sexes. Only men can be priests and bishops. Only a man can be Pope. Christ set it up that way. Question is, why? Because Christ was a narrow-minded, sexist bigot locked in the oppressive mindset of first-century Judaism? Somehow I don't think so. There must have been a good reason, based on the fact that certain social roles suit men and not women, and vice versa.

I'm not extending this to women talking publicly in church, just making the point that the Church does acknowledge a differentiation between men and women in certain Ecclesiastical functions. This differentiation, at least in what concerns the priesthood, is permanent, not dependent upon social circumstances, hence it must be based on human nature rather than just on the prevailing mentality of a particular society.

The subject is inevitably contentious since it is now established wisdom that a woman can and should do anything a man can. My take is that this is a reaction against the very restrictive lives women led from the Industrial Revolution up to the 1960's, during which much of what they had previously done was taken away from them by men and done in factories instead. Dorothy Sayers wrote a very interesting essay on women's share in the Mediaeval economy, where all industry **was **home industry, and women were a great deal more than nannies, cooks and housemaids. But a reaction against one extreme inevitably tends to go to the other. We are far from having got it right again.

Helmet on and let me dive for my foxhole. ;)

[/quote]

The bishop or priest acts in the person of Christ. The priesthood of Christ is prefigured by Melchizedek.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:The one priesthood of Christ

1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men."15 The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High," as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique "high priest after the order of Melchizedek";16 "holy, blameless, unstained,"17 "by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,"18 that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross. **

In the person of Christ the Head . . .**

1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis:23

It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).24 Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.25
CIC Canon law:Canon 1009 § 3
Those who are ordained in the episcopate or presbyterate receive the mission and faculty of acting in the person of Christ the Head. Deacons, however, [receive] the power [vim] of serving the People of God in the ministry [diakonia] of the liturgy, the word, and charity.

CCEO (eastern canon law): Canon 698
In the Divine Liturgy through the ministry of the priest acting in the person of Christ over the offering of the Church, there is perpetuated in virtue of the Holy Spirit, that which the Lord Jesus himself did at the Last Supper, who gave to the disciples His body on the Cross offered for us and his Blood poured out for us, establishing the true and mystical sacrifice, by which the bloody sacrifice of the Cross is commemorated with the action of grace, is actuated and shared by the Church both as an offering and as a communion to signify and perfect the unity of the people of God in the building up of His Body which is the Church.


#12

[quote="Ad_Orientem, post:8, topic:317917"]
Inter Insignores - CDF (1976)

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis - Pope John Paul II (1994)

[/quote]

Many thanks for this. The kernel of Inter Insignores:

The Christian priesthood is therefore of a sacramental nature: the priest is a sign, the supernatural effectiveness of which comes from the ordination received, but a sign that must be perceptible[18] and which the faithful must be able to recognize with ease. The whole sacramental economy is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols imprinted upon the human psychology: "Sacramental signs", says Saint Thomas, "represent what they signify by natural resemblance".[19] The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ's role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this "natural resemblance" which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man.

The following paragraphs develop the reason **why **Christ was a man, leading up to the conclusion:

And therefore, unless one is to disregard the importance of this symbolism for the economy of Revelation, it must be admitted that, in actions which demand the character of ordination and in which Christ himself, the author of the Covenant, the Bridegroom and Head of the Church, is represented, exercising his ministry of salvation which is in the highest degree the case of the Eucharist—his role (this is the original sense of the word "persona") must be taken by a man. This does not stem from any personal superiority of the latter in the order of values, but only from a difference of fact on the level of functions and service.

Which means that the heart of the argument is the sacramental significance of a male priesthood, not whether men are inherently better at the job of being priests than women. Which leaves feminist counter-arguments in mid-air. It's not about feminism vs misogynism. 'Nuff said!


#13

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