Women in the Priesthood

I know the Scripture references about the male-only priesthood, and I have resources to point me to the Tradition of the Church that agrees –

but I would like a resource that gives a good philosophical base upon which to build those things. Could someone point me to an article, or a two-to-three page essay, or something like that, which clearly explains the male-only priesthood? I imagine it would take into account the Catholic understanding of maleness and femaleness as two complimentary expressions of human nature, etc.

Thanks in advance.
God bless!

Granted it’s not a two-page essay, but I find most people understand quickly when put in these terms…

Church = bride of Christ (feminine)
**Priest = in person of Christ (masculine), thus, **
Priest = married to Church


**Female priest (feminine) married to bride of Christ (feminine) = ecclesial same sex marriage. **

I think the reluctance of the Church from the first to ordain female priests could have a philosophical justification (in addition to the justifications mentioned in earlier posts) because a male priesthood would be more likely to affirm traditional values than would a female priesthood. If you don’t agree, imagine what the world would be like if it was mostly ruled by women (think Nancy Pelosi). If you still don’t agree, imagine what most families would be like if women were the head of the household. Children who now grow up in such homes are for the most part more likely to have less discipline in their lives and less fear of violating social norms, never mind the commandments. In the prisons I have visited, few prisoners were raised to manhood by their father, but rather by their mother.

This is not a put-down of mothers. In many ways mothers rule our hearts a good deal more than our fathers, and that is I think their most powerful role to play. But men also have a powerful role to play, and I think that is best played out in the fathers of the family and the parish “Fathers” who are stand-ins for God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Apologies that this does not much speak to the OP.

Respectfully, I disagree.

By my understanding, Judaism (and its successor, Christianity) was radical (among other ways) because it did *not *employ priestesses. Every Tom, Dick and Harry’s Pagan fertility religion had priestesses, but not Judaism nor Christianity.


This is a good “essay”. I would add that the author is in a position where it could be said that he knew what he was talking about. Perhaps the word “authoritative” comes to mind.


The basic reason why we have male priests is that Jesus was born in a patriarchal society. If he had been born in a matriarchal society we would have female priests. There is no absolute reason why women should not be priests.

*The basic reason why we have male priests is that Jesus was born in a patriarchal society. If he had been born in a matriarchal society we would have female priests. *

But if he had been born in a matriarchal society, wouldn’t he have been a she? :wink:

Thanks for voicing that possibility.:slight_smile: I did think of it but I refrained from mentioning it because I thought some people might find it offensive. He would certainly have met with even more hostility and opposition if He had not belonged to the dominant sex, whether male or female.

*He would certainly have met with even more hostility and opposition if He had not belonged to the dominant sex, whether male or female. *

For sure! Either more hostility or supreme indifference!

Jesus talked openly with women, (which was against the traditional customs,) forgave an adulteress, (women were not traditionally forgiven, though men were,) and appeared first to women after the Resurrection, commissioning them to deliver the good news to the Apostles. All of this shows that He had no interest in adhering to the traditional patriarchal prejudices of His time. Yet in spite of all this, Jesus never ordained a woman. You may think that He was simply patriarchal – but what evidence do you have? That everyone else was? Please.

If Jesus had wanted women priests, He would have ordained women as priests. He would have had a good justification for it too – it would have been a way of breaking with traditional Judaism and opening up to the Gentiles, who had priestesses very often. But He did no such thing, to preserve the continuity between the Old Covenant priesthood and it’s New Covenant fulfillment.

God bless!
-Dan Marcum

Jesus was born into a society surrounded by the worship of pagan gods, most of whom had “priestesses.” Female priests would not have been a novelty.

The priest acts in persona Christi - the person of Christ, during the Mass. Christ was male.

If you were to re-present some historical event as a play, for example (not that this is a perfect analogy), you wouldn’t cast Brad Pitt as Cleopatra and Miley Cyrus as Julius Ceasar. It just doesn’t work.

Also, there are true philosophical differences between men and women which are not just imposition of a patriarchial society. I read about it in Theology of the Body. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what they were :o But it made sense at the time :slight_smile:

If Christ intended there to be women priests, there were many excellent choices He declined to commission. Think about one woman in particular who would have been certainly given holy orders had God intended a female priesthood (Hint: We are in her month!)

Others have aptly commented that it was actually the exception to the rule in religions at the time to prevent women from holding priesthood offices. Contemporary pagans of Christ’s life had priestesses galore.

If you assess religions that have allowed women priesthood holders, you get a very, very different flavor compared to the one, holy apostolic Church.

I know it is difficult to reconcile with our modernist culture that tells us we all can do whatever we want whenever we want. Indeed, this is just silly on the face of it. We all have different talents and we should celebrate that fact by working hard to develop them.

Women have extremely special roles that men cannot provide. Let us be thankful that God created two forms of humanity, man and woman, so that we are not like sponges that just grow off lumps to procreate! That we have the gift of women to nurture, raise, and develop children is FAR more dignified!

Church teaching should be plenty enough - but we can look to Scripture to find this. I would point to Ephesians 5 as something to meditate upon.

Of course, this should not be taken to defend macho culture and what television tells us is ‘manly’ (chiefly, lusting, having sex out of marriage, being a couch potato).

Admittedly, I am rather new to the Church (Confirmed at this year’s Vigil). So, feel free to correct any errors!

Jesus broke “cultural taboos” by being born of a virgin and rising from the dead. But we are supposed to believe he was too “timid” to have a female priest?

Jesus is God, and if he wanted female priests he would have made female priests. He didn’t do that.

't’all sounds quite good to me. :thumbsup:

It’s not a question of timidity but realism. The fact that two thousand years later there is opposition to the very idea of women priests demonstrates the deeply ingrained conservatism and prejudice of many people. No one has given a sound reason why women should not be priests. What are the qualities they lack? Why is it they cannot have a vocation to the priesthood? Many women have a vocation to the contemplative life. Many have been canonised as saints because they have been martyrs for their faith. So it cannot be because they are less holy than men or more prone to temptation or even because they are a source of temptation - as the myth of Eve suggests. In the Anglican Church there are many women priests who are more respected and more loved for their pastoral care than their male counterparts. So why not in the Catholic Church where there is a desperate shortage of priests? Nowhere in the New Testament is there any evidence that Jesus regarded women as unworthy of the priesthood.

It is absurd to argue that Jesus is God and if He wanted female priests He would have made female priests. God is omnipotent but He is not capricious. He knew women were regarded as inferior to men in Jewish society and to appoint women as His apostles would have confused and alienated the people unnecessarily. He conformed with the Law - whenever it did not conflict with His teaching - to show He came to fulfil the Law. It does not follow from the fact that He selected men as His first Apostles that He intended women to be excluded from the priesthood until the end of the world. His law of love is not bound by human notions of legal precedence…


You can’t use natural, physical, or secular yardsticks in a supernatural matter.

Because for the last two thousand years the Holy Spirit has guided the Church. The Pope and the Magisterium just don’t sit around and make up rules and procedures to squash the women of the Church.

As other posters have said, if Jesus wanted women priests either when he founded His Church or as He presently reigns over his BRIDE, the Church, He would have women priests and no one would stop Him.

Remember when Jesus said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church?

Jesus has a very special place in His Church for women. We hold His Blessed Mother as our Mother.

As I once told a woman who claimed that G_D was calling her to be a Catholic priest, if you (a woman) think you are being called to be a Catholic priest, it is not G_D calling you to your vocation.

Of all issues presently before the Church, this one should never come up because women will never be priests in the true Catholic Church.

Eddie Mac

Nowhere in the New Testament is there any evidence that Jesus regarded women as unworthy of the priesthood.

By the same token, nowhere in the gospels does he say they are worthy.

Again, he does nor say men are worthy or unworthy either.

It’s not a question of worthiness so much as the symbolic importance of the image of the male priest as the stand-in for Jesus Christ offering the sacrifice at the Mass.

Mary did not insist on being a priest or a bishop. If anyone was worthy, it was she. She humbled herself in the presence of the male leaders … Peter, Paul, John, James, etc. Modern women can never be so humble. I know a Catholic woman who gave up her Catholic faith because she wanted to be an ordained minister. She became an ordained minister, but I can’t say it did very much for her character. All she talked about was the men in her congregation and on the Board trying to discredit her person and her preaching.

This is an inherent problem in leadership. I think it’s far more likely that more people are more likely to follow a male leader than a female one … lesbians excluded. Lesbians would be more likely to follow a female leader rather than a male. In the same manner, gay men would be far more likely to follow (or vote for) gay men than lesbians or straight people of either sex.

Why Can’t Women Be Priests?
By Jason Evert

Women and the Priesthood



According to that argument there should be no presidents, prime ministers or leaders in any human society or organization! Surely leadership should depend on moral qualities like wisdom and integrity rather than a person’s sex. Suitability for the priesthood should be assessed by qualities like faith and holiness rather than genetic characteristics.

It’s not a question of worthiness so much as the symbolic importance of the image of the male priest as the stand-in for Jesus Christ offering the sacrifice at the Mass.

You are implying that symbolism is more important than the reenactment of the Last Supper, i.e. that if a physical aspect of the symbolism is absent the sacrifice should not be offered at all. So if there are not enough male priests Catholics should remain without the Sacraments - even if it is for the rest of their lives - on the pretext that a woman cannot adequately represent Jesus.

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