Why can't women be priests? (Priestesses?)

With the recent announcement of excommuniction to any bishop that ordains a women as a priest there have been a number of discussion springing up in forums that I frequent, and most of them consider this to be a poor decision by the church.

My question is, why is it that women aren’t allowed to be priests in the catholic church? How do I explain the churches stance to atheists?

Manatheron,

These links should help you understand why the Church respects and obeys the gender roles God designed. If you have any further questions or concerns that are not answered by this link, please contact Catholic Answers directly.

Recommended Reading:
Women and the Priesthood

Why can’t women be priests?
Why is there so much talk of women’s ordination?
Why Can’t Women Be Priests? by Jason Evert

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