Why Is It Wrong For Women To Aspire To The Priesthood?

The Priesthood is both a gift and a calling and as such, it is the giver of the gift or the caller who decides who to give this gift to or who to call, The Church has declared that Jesus/God has not called women to the priesthood.

Actually no one who has not been called has the right to aspire to the priesthood.

Cf. Num 16

1 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath the Levite, and the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth were proud
2 and rebelled against Moses with two hundred and fifty Israelites who were leaders of the community, prominent at the solemn feasts, men of repute.
3 These banded together against Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘You take too much on yourselves! The whole community, all its members, are consecrated, and Yahweh lives among them. Why set yourselves higher than Yahweh’s community?’
4 On hearing this, Moses threw himself on his face.

5 Then he said to Korah and all in his party, ‘Tomorrow morning Yahweh will reveal who is his, who the consecrated man whom he will allow to approach him. The one he allows to approach is the one whom he has chosen.
6 This is what you must do: take the censers of Korah and all in his party,
7 put fire in them and put incense in them before Yahweh tomorrow, and the one whom Yahweh chooses will be the consecrated man. Levites, you take too much on yourselves!’

8 Moses then said to Korah, ‘Now listen, you Levites!
9 Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has singled you out of the community of Israel, and called you to be near him, to serve in Yahweh’s Dwelling and to represent the community by officiating on its behalf?
10 He has called you to be near him, you and all your brother Levites with you, and now you want to be priests as well!
11 For which reason, you and all in your party have banded together against Yahweh himself: for what is Aaron, that you should mutter against him?’
12 Moses then summoned Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab. They replied, ‘We will not come.
13 Is it not enough for you to have brought us away from a country flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, without your making yourself our absolute ruler?
14 What is more, you have not brought us to a country flowing with milk and honey and you have not given us fields and vineyards for our heritage. Do you think you can hoodwink these people? We will not come.’

15 Moses flew into a rage and said to Yahweh, ‘Disregard their cereal offering! I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.’
16 Moses said to Korah, 'You and all your party, come before Yahweh tomorrow, you and they, and Aaron too.

17 Each will take his censer, put incense in it, and bring his censer before Yahweh – two hundred and fifty censers. You and Aaron too will each bring his censer.’

18 Each of them took his censer, put fire in it and placed incense on it, and stood at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting with Moses and Aaron.

19 Then, Korah having assembled the whole community to confront them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of Yahweh appeared to the whole community.

20 Yahweh then spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said,

21 ‘Get away from this community. I am going to destroy them here and now.’
22 They threw themselves on their faces and cried out, ‘O God, God of the spirits that give life to every living thing, will you be angry with the whole community because one man has sinned?’

23 Yahweh then said to Moses,
24 'Speak to the community and say, “Stand well clear of Korah’s tent.” ’
25 Moses stood up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed him.
26 He spoke to the community and said, ‘Stand away, I tell you, from the tents of these sinners, and touch nothing that belongs to them, for fear that with all their sins you too will be swept away.’

27 So they moved away from Korah’s tent. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at their tent doors, with their wives, their sons and their little ones.
28 Moses said, ‘This is how you will know that Yahweh himself has sent me to perform all these tasks and that I am not doing them of my own accord.
29 If these people die a natural death such as people commonly die, then Yahweh has not sent me.
30 But if Yahweh does something utterly new, if the earth should open its mouth and swallow them and all their belongings, so that they go down alive to Sheol, then you will know that they held Yahweh in contempt.’

31 The moment he finished saying all this, the ground split apart under their feet,
32 the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their families, all Korah’s people and all their property.
33 They went down alive to Sheol with all their belongings. The earth closed over them and they disappeared in the middle of the community.
34 At their cries, all the Israelites round them took to their heels, saying, ‘We do not want the earth to swallow us too!’
35 Fire then shot out from Yahweh and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering incense.


That’s just the way God designed everything. It’s like saying “why don’t men have babies?” God designed each gender with certain callings.

It seems like a contradiction of terms with our undering of priesthood and the tradition of the church. Priesthood is an esposual relationship. Priest is Christ his bride is the church.

it likes asking why can’t men be nuns. We cannot be brides of Christ. It just does not work that way.

Practically speaking, it’s just an exercise in frustration to aspire to be something that one cannot be. Spinning one’s wheels wastes time and energy that could be better used elsewhere. The Church isn’t going to change its position on women in the priesthood for reasons so well posted above. If God made me female, obviously, He didn’t want me to be a priest, but there are many other ways that are just as important where my time and talents can be used in the service of God, the Church, and people as a whole. I’m brought to mind of the parable of the talents, where the master rewards those who use what they have been given and castigates the one who doesn’t. Aspiring to be something I can’t be wastes my God-given potential for what I can be. To me, that’s the real sin.

Although being a priest is indeed something wonderful, many people tend to forget that the priestly role is that of a servant, not of one who holds power over people. (yes, they *do *have authority, and thereby power, but the idea is that you don’t go into the priesthood to have power, you go into it to be a loving servant.) So the idea of women not being priests is definitely not an issue of whether women have equal power to men in the church. Not that power should even be an issue at all: Jesus repeatedly said that power isn’t important to him! It’s childlike trust that matters(Mt 18). He also rebuked his apostles for quarreling over their power (Mt 20:24-28?).
People who insist that women be priests also tend to forget is that women *do *have a religious vocation available… Women have the ability to respond to a religious vocation calling through being a sister or a nun. Let’s not forget them or cast them off to the side as if they aren’t as good of an option! Sisters and nuns have incredible force in the life of the church, albeit it is not as physically noticeable. They pray for us, the church, the priests, everything and everybody without tiring. If it wasn’t for their fervent prayers, the world would be completely different… and not in a good way. :eek:
But that doesn’t really answer your question…


  1. We don’t really know the nitty-gritty logical details on why women can’t be priests. The reason we limit it to men is because we are following the tradition of Jesus, who chose men to be the 12 apostles and the 1st bishop of Rome. Some will say that Jesus did this because the society back then wasn’t as accepting of women. But this isn’t true, because Hebrew society was much more accepting of women than Greek society, and because Jesus never cared if he was being counter cultural… He did that all the time! :wink: (Note: In Mt. 22, the pharisees admit that human rankings mean nothing to Jesus). And Jesus was not being biased: he was loving to the women regardless of whether they were prostitutes or his holy mother. This, too, is found pretty easily in multiple situations in the Gospels.

  2. Another nifty little explanation I heard the other day: Women can’t be priests just like men can’t be pregnant. Both are wonderful gifts, wonderful parts of people’s lives, and both can get a pretty uncomfortable sometimes. But a man, by nature, cannot be pregnant even if he wanted to. God didn’t give him that gift. The same is true for women and priesthood. However, God doesn’t short-hand either of us: Men also have the gift of fatherhood, even if they don’t get the exceptional gift of being touched by God to conceive within the body. Women also have the gift of being a sister or nun, even if they don’t have the exceptional gift of transubstantiation, of turning the essence of mere bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus. I’d say God was pretty generous to both sexes! Way to go God! :smiley:

It also largely goes back to Adam. Since it was his sin that made the world fall, Jesus had come as the new Adam. To be the new Adam, he had to be a man. It would make no sense if he did so as a woman. It just wouldn’t work. So, now that Jesus did this, all priests follow in his footsteps, acting as Him, they too must be men if they are to mimic Christ. This is particularly evident in how the Church is the bride of Christ. If priests are to be other Christs, they must have a similar marital relation to the Church. It makes no sense for women to have brides. Ultimately, because a man messed up the world, so men must undo it.

But men can be nuns. They are called monks! The monastic life is for both men and women. Such logic does not follow.

Also, if priesthood is literally an espousal relationship, then how can lay-men be part of the church, “the bride”? Such logic also does not follow.

The Church does not have the authority to ordain women as Priests.

Jesus chose the apostles as a model for the priesthood. He was around many women and had female friends he could have easily chosen to become one of his apostles, but he did not. He chose only males.

If a woman aspires to be a priest, it is a waste of her time, energy, and talents. It’s like a man aspiring to become pregnant. Not going to happen. There are better ways you can use your time, energy, and talents. For a woman, pregnancy is a natural calling to motherhood. For men, the priesthood is a supernatural calling to fatherhood.

Monks and nuns are not the same…

This has bothered me also.

Wasn’t Mary Magdalene considered, “the apostle to the apostles”?

Where does it say that?

No, she was not.

Yes, she was so, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, and other church fathers I believe. Pope Benedict re-affirmed this recently.


I would like to address two points:

I have heard this comparison to pregnancy, but it too does not follow logically. In nature, women carry a pregnancy and men do the impregnating. Clearly, the women bear the greater burden in reproduction, but both share an equal number of genes. If being pregnant is a natural calling to motherhood, then impregnation is a natural calling to fatherhood. That’s the analogy. If male priesthood is a supernatural calling to fatherhood, where is the “separate but equal” for females that is a supernatural calling to motherhood?

No, monks and nuns are not the exactly same, or we would not need both words. And individual monastic communities have different charisms that shape their callings and ministries. But, take a Benedictine monk and a Benedictine nun. One is addressed “Brother” and the other addressed “Sister”. Both live a cenobitic monastic life to seek God. Both profess identical vows of stability, obedience, and conversion. Both live under the identical Rule of Benedict. In this case, for all intents and purposes they are the same.

Sorry if I’m asking a stupid question, but what does that mean?

Not a stupid question. Apostle means “one sent forth”. She was the first one chosen to see the Risen Lord at his tomb, and he sent her forth to share the good news of his resurrection to the others. Therefore, “apostle to the apostles”.

I’m still a bit confused but came across a book that sounds very interesting.

It’s called, " Women and the Priesthood by Peter Kreeft and Alice Von Hildebrand".

I recently ordered it used on Amazon and look forward to reading it.

I’m not Catholic myself but I do see some beautiful things within Catholicism.

That is a very modern and loose understanding of the word Apostle. An Apostle really means overseer. The only Apostle outside of the 12 is St. Paul. Mary Madeline was not in the upper room during the last supper when Jesus ordained them as priests of the new covenant. “Do this in rememberance of me.” If any women was going to be chosen to be a priest because of what the Lord may have said to her. It would have been his mother. He gave her to the church as our mother when he said to John. " Son behold your mother."

Jesus did many things with women that was unacceptable in his society. He would have chosen them to include them in the 12 if this is what he wanted for the priesthood. He did not.

Alice Von Hildebrand is a very renown catholic scholar. I will have to try to get her book. I did not know she had written anything on women and the priesthood.

That’s just the way the church and maybe God wants. In the course of history even at the time of Jesus Christ, only men are allowed to be part of the clergy.

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