Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why Can't Women Be Priests?

Why can’t women be priests? My 10 year old daughter asked me this. Many of my reasonings on Catholic beliefs are simply “because the church says it is so”. Unfortunately, for my daughter (and my wife who is currently in RCIA), that answer does not cut it. Praise God! This is exactly why I write this blog, to keep me honest in my catechetical knowledge.
I will start with the Church’s official reason from the Catechism # 1577:
“Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of twelve an ever present and ever active reality until Christ’s return. The church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”

Simply put, Jesus chose men. He could have chosen a woman as he had the perfect candidate in his mother (Our Blessed Mother, Mary). As the Queen of Angels, born without sin, Mary most certainly had the qualifications; but Jesus chose men. As so did the apostles moving forward in time. Jason Everet of Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0201sbs.asp) has written on this subject. He states a popular argument that Jesus was bound by cultural norms of his era to suppress the roles of women---of course there is no real evidence to suggest this. This actually would imply that first, Jesus was sexist, and second, that Jesus actually cared about cultural norms. That is absurd. Many instance in the Gospels we see Jesus going against cultural norms:
“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And he said to them, ‘it is written: My house shall be a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves’”. Mathew 21:12-13. I often think of this scene as the definition of righteous anger. This is only an example, as Jesus’ entire ministry really went against many norms of the time.

Scripture shows us that Jesus had roles for men and women alike. Everett’s article further points out scriptural sources. Note that the first verse of First Corinthians is: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. St Paul (as the author) points out his authority from Christ. That same chapter (1 Corinthians: 11: 1-16) is referenced to point to the fact Jesus specifically allowed women to pray in church but could not assume the role of teaching (which is as a priest). 1 Timothy 2: 12 specifically addressed this: I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet.

Another argument that makes sense is that of tradition. 2000+ years have must not have been wrong. That, in a world such as ours is a challenge, because one could argue that 100+ years of slavery could not have been wrong…or some other absurd argument…but wait just a minute…That argument would be absurd. Jesus did not teach on slavery. 1 Corinthians 11:2 states “ I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you. This, of course is not an article on the authority of the Church, but the church has authority—given directly from Christ to rule on these matters. Just as the church must not change forms (such as the bread and wine) it cannot change ordained priests from men only to both. The priest acts “in persona Christi” or in the person of Christ. Christ was a man, and well, a man represents him…in fact, he becomes him: “this is MY body…this is MY Blood”.

With this all being said, we must keep in mind, that although we are living today (at least at the time of writing this article), we are not the center of time and the universe(God is). So many people think that NOW is the time. I hear things like “things are different today”, “the church is stuck in the dark ages”, “We know more today”. Can we honestly say that this is a more “moral” age than years past. In certain ways, yes. In so many other ways, no. Who are we to say that because we have technology and scientific knowledge, that we should change the church and Christ’s teachings? If the Church were to change simply based on “political correctness”, then we would be in trouble. When all is said and done, God is above “political correctness” and earthly urges to be “progressive”. For more on my feelings on “progressiveness”, see my article titled “ The Cafeteria is Closed”. I say to you, who are YOU (Me included) to question my Master and Lord.? Any time someone says that the Church is sexist, just Google “Marian Devotions”…that accusation is hardly worth heresy…God Love You.

29 comments:

chris said...

Well Said! My prayers are with you and your family.

Michael said...

I really don't believe that Jesus picked men because he wanted only men to be priests. I think it had something to do with the era in which he lived. What would be more effective at the time, having men teach his word, or women? There is no way Catholicism would be what it is today if Jesus chose women. In that time women were not considered equals, so who would listen to them? Jesus knew this and didn't chose men because he was sexist. He chose men because he was smart. He knew that people would listen to men over women. He knew that his word would spread a lot faster through the mouths of men then women. Yet I do not believe Jesus had intended for women to not become priests. It's merely the fact that at that point in time, men were the more effective option. And to all those who may read this, please do not forget what I am about to say. God gave you a brain, intelligence, knowledge. Use it to think about what you hear, what you are told. Make decisions for your own based on what you believe to be just. Use God's teachings to guide you through your life, but do not accept things questionable simply because you are told to do so. Research, learn, further your understandings of your doubts and come to your own conclusions.

K. said...

this article is absurd!! you really think that Jesus would have wanted the Church to exclude women? i believe that he wants the Church to be inclusive, not exclusive. Jesus called and commissioned women as well as men. think about the woman at the well, or mary who came to the empty tomb. they were apolstles just like the twelve. did Jesus ever say that he did not want women to be priests? NO!! the Church has been a male-dominated hierarchy for so long that we justify its discrimation as "tradition" and "correct interpretation of the Bible." whatever. the woman ban is a man-made restriction that is totally unacceptable for true Christian living. The men are just afraid of losing their so-called "power" because that is what this is about. it's a power struggle and a fear of women. its time to put aside these silly sexist reasons for excluding women and open up the church for everyone. why does letting women be ordained have to be such a big deal to overcome, anyway? Jesus called women equally as he called men, so lets put aside the divisions and come together to worship and serve the Lord. if a woman can clean the alter, cant she also serve on it?

Anonymous said...

Actually, your comment"and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed in their ministry" is false. Because in fact some of the first deacons in our church after the death of our Lord where indeed women. Which you are right in, that they were not considered priest, however they still were descendats that shared in the same ministry as Jesus did. In conclusion there have been women cleragy but it become outlawed under the first ecummenical council. But why not bring it back, we need vocations and there are women willing to help the church.

Anonymous said...

I can't uderstand why christian women remain in the faith when they are negatively discriminated against but are commanded to treat all others as equals! if we as women want to be treated as equals then there is no point in making excuses such as "all the disciples are men" . if the christian faith truly believes that we are all one in God then they should allow women to be preists. If that is not the case then prehapse this isn't the best religion to follow. Any other views?

Anonymous said...

This article sucks and you should be ashamed. Get with the times, we're all the same, this stupid restriction shouldn't exist. Religion will die if it can't adapt to modern life. I really don't understand women who follow religions which blatantly say 'You are lesser than men, so never speak in church or have authority over men'. Stop going against God and discriminating people, it's not why he made us idiot.

Anonymous said...

Actually, we are all called to be priests. It is the role of the ORDAINED priests that belongs to men.

How can you claim that women have to take a backseat role in Catholicism? I would hate to see that anger on my Mother's face when you told her that SHE was not one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, that her children are good Catholics. The entire message of Jesus Christ would be lost if women were not priests because of male sexism.

Simply put, some of your posts annoy me. You absolutely degrade the role of women in the Church. You make it seem that all of the faithful women in the Church are worthless and everything that they are doing does not matter. I know some great women in the Church and I will not accept someone putting down their efforts to bring about the Reign of God.

When you pray about such subjects, do you just start yelling your position at God or do you sit back and listen every once and a while?

Peace and love

Anonymous said...

This is an old article but you should remember that relying on tradition is a logical fallacy, so really, it doesn't "make sense" as you think it does.

Anonymous said...

Your essay and the prohibition of ordaining women is based on history and cultural norms of the time of Christ. Your arguement leaves no room for the changing power and renewing of the Church by the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps it is the breath of the Holy Spirit that is creating the wind of change. Perhaps not, but we need to open our hearts to His possibilities

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Kind of hypocritical to cite 1 Timothy 2:12 as an argument for not allowing women to be ordained, when 1 Timothy 2:9 states that women shouldn't wear pearls, gold, or braid their hair. Now, I may be mistaken, but I don't think the church takes a strong anti-braid stance. If you are going to give one sentence in the Bible so much power, then all sentences should be equally powerful. You can't just pick the verse that backs up your illogical argument and ignore the rest. Better tell all those sweet old Catholic ladies to take off their wedding rings and pearl necklaces! Little girls with braids? Sinners!

Anonymous said...

This article is absurd. Jesus would have been mocked at the era if he had chosen women as his followers. It has nothing to do with Jesus choosing men rather than women and simply had to do with the culture and the time period.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry brothers and sisters but you are wrong if you thing women should be ordained. God made us as equals this is true, but he gave us specific roles to continue his ministry on earth. Ordained priests were challanged to being the lords sacraments to his children. Women were challenged to care for and love his children. Catholics are not sexist just as Jesus wasn't. Do you honestly think the son of God would care about adapting to the times? Or follwing society? No. Jesus went out of his way to go against the grain of society on a daily basis. Talking with women, helping the poor and sick. The son of god was above all cultural implications.

This artical is very well done. He is not slamming women at all. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that God would be a sexist. If the Catholic Church believes this, then they do not believe that all men and WOMEN are created equal. Typical old boys club.

Anonymous said...

As a Catholic woman I have struggled with this question for all my young adult life. How am I supposed to publicly declare my devotion to a faith that places me into gender specific roles when every day of my university education men and women have been able to work side by side, learning the same things, leading the same groups, and contributing equally wonderful things to their fields of expertise? My faith life is extremely important to me, and I wish I could accept the church's teaching...but seriously, the arguments for male-only ordination are so frail, illogical, and inadequate that if I was to site them during an argument or a debate I would sound like a backward fool. Seriously...the "Mary wasn't a priest so obviously women can't be priests" thing doesn't fly with me, and neither does "unbroken tradition" or "how can we be wrong after 2000 years?". Also, many of the sites I have read say things like "To the confused Catholic" or "the average Catholic" male-only ordination seems unjust...implying that some of us are just too dumb or not holy or reflective enough to reach enlightened peace with the issue. I want to believe and be a fully committed member of the church, but increasingly it seems that the only way I can be comfortable with my spirituality is by distancing myself from certain "traditions"... especially the ones where the church seems to be grasping at straws to come up with an answer or justification. -Peace

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps Christ had a role for both men and women to play out. Perhaps men could perform the upfront roles of priests well, whilst women by nature could perform those delicate tasks that most men are naturally unsuited for. How many mother's converted son's to Christianity? i'd even go so far as to say that Christianity might come easier to women. In Orthodoxy a priest is required to be married, so he can turn to his wife for advise, if a woman comes to him for advise. My point is perhaps women perform a subtle but just as vital role in Christendom, a role that men are unsuited for. Remember that "being equal" and "being the same" are not the same things. Is your heart less important, less vital, less necessary, than your brain? And if a pious woman does not receive the 'glorious title' and acknowledgement of being a 'holy priestess' on this earth "your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Mat 6) Perhaps you who criticize so quickly should re-read that passage. And PLEASE people, name me a time Christ followed the rules when he though something was right/wrong ??? he did have a following of blessed women (Mary Magdalene was one of then) who played a huge but different role. Besides is this not the "Church of the New and Everlasting covenant"? if you disagree and what to change what Jesus founded go argue with him.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but is this 2011, or 1911? I honestly cannot believe that I just wasted five minutes of my life reading that! Of course a man would have no problem with the status would he, because men are the ones with the power in the Church! This has little to do with what Jesus said or didn't say; what the gospel writers recorded of what he chose or didn't choose.This is about male domination, and if you truly understood the message of Jesus and catholicism, you wouldn't be hiding behind quotes from the Old Testament and technicalities. You would know that Jesus accepted everybody; those who were outcasts in society; sick, sinners, gentiles and WOMEN were welcomed! Jesus preached love; catholicism is about love and truth and understanding. And you can quote me the bible a thousand times, but I will never believe that Jesus Christ would support the blatant sexism in the Catholic Church today. I think he would be ashamed.
And I just want to say thanks to the other commenters who posted similar things to me; I'm so glad there are some people who aren't deluded.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article! I agree wholeheartedly with the decision of the Church...The Church was not given the authority to ordain women and thus can't ordain women. It's not a matter of won't ordain or cultural traditions. Women are held in such high esteem by God that they have not been chosen to serve Him in a servant's capacity like a priest. That's why His own Mother is the greatest created being and highest in the order of grace. She did not become a priest but was a handmaiden of the Lord. Women should follow her example and witness to God by standing at the foot of the Cross. Women were not meant to be the sacrifice...if that were so, God would have had an only begotten daughter...He was not afraid to break cultural norms, that argument is ridiculous. Thank you and don't be discouraged by the other comments. It is up to us to serve God in the roles He intended. Let it be done unto us as He wills.

Anonymous said...

I am a 15 year old Catholic male,and I am not pretending to now all the facts but the Church was formed over 2000 years ago and over those 2000 years it should evolve and develop not stay the same. When the Church was founded women would have been ignored but now women have and should have equal rights as men, so stopping a woman who feels she has been called to serve God as a priest is just wrong particularly form an organisation that preaches equality. I would also like to say to whoever said that men would have no problem with this status, that i have a very big problem with this and think it is VERY wrong and that generalization like that on a post like that is more than a bit hypocritical. thanks.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I know this is stupidly obvious and I'm sure many people have thought of this before and many priests have shot it down...but was Mary really qualified to be a priest? I'm not saying she wasn't perferct, there's just one thing-she was married.
Oh, and for the record, you have no idea how hard it is for many young people-especialy girls-to stay is a church that doesn't treat women as equals. I'm supposed to be confirmed on a few years, I've already started preparing. There have been many long talks with my parents that resulted in me-WHO MIGHT WANT TO SERVE GOD AS A PRIEST ONE DAY-talking about building bridges not walls and such. The church is losing a lot of young women. Heck! Young people in general are giving up, some even dragging parents away with them. It's sad, but I completely understand why. For now I'll pray for a solution, or try to find my own.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I know this is stupidly obvious and I'm sure many people have thought of this before and many priests have shot it down...but was Mary really qualified to be a priest? I'm not saying she wasn't perferct, there's just one thing-she was married.
Oh, and for the record, you have no idea how hard it is for many young people-especialy girls-to stay is a church that doesn't treat women as equals. I'm supposed to be confirmed on a few years, I've already started preparing. There have been many long talks with my parents that resulted in me-WHO MIGHT WANT TO SERVE GOD AS A PRIEST ONE DAY-talking about building bridges not walls and such. The church is losing a lot of young women. Heck! Young people in general are giving up, some even dragging parents away with them. It's sad, but I completely understand why. For now I'll pray for a solution, or try to find my own.

Anonymous said...

I like Michael's comment all the way at the top. In that era, nobody would've listened to women. So I think that is a very good reason that Jesus chose men.

And even if that wasn't the reason, should the church exclude women just based on that?

Anonymous said...

We as Catholics must believe what the Church teaches in all areas, and if this is a problem for you, then maybe you should go start your own, non-catholic denomination dominated by women, just as every non-catholic Christian feels very free to do!

Jo said...

I don't think men make better priests simply because they are men. A lot of arguments for the men-only side are saying men are better leaders, teachers, talkers, authority figures. Well, I know plenty of women who are good at all those things too. I think if Jesus asked a woman to be his deciple back in those days, she'd be way to scared in that societal climate to do so. And who would have listened to her back then? Today is different because women are finally allowed to have a voice. Women are finally allowed to be leaders. A person should become a priest if they feel called to serve in that way. A priest needs to be trustworthy, inspirational, spiritual, knowledgable, compassionate and a good leader. A person should be picked on their skills, commitment and attributes, not gender. Jesus never said women can't be priests, men did. I wish men in the Church would stop seeing their roles as positions of power, but platforms to serve instead.

Anonymous said...

I do not question the LORD. I believe he created this conflict for a reason. Women need to show their faith. This is not an equality issue, it is an issue of faith. I know many women of very great faith. GOD needs women to step up and show their faith.

Anonymous said...

Indeed....if Christ had intended to have bishops and popes to be stictly in line with the apostles he chose...shouldn't our bishops be fisherman? Uneducated, poor, posessionless? Christ said nothing of gold scepters and crowns...

Avery said...

Let's face it... women just aren't as good at molesting little boys, you sexist bastard!

Edita said...

The church says that priests must be chosen just as Jesus chose them. Then, let's look at what he chose. Jesus chose twelve uneducated Jewish male laborers. If the church follows Christ's choice as it claims to, then all of its priests must be males, but they also must be Jewish, unschooled, and skilled only at manual labor.

If Christ's choice is your excuse, then follow Christ's choice.

Anonymous said...

Lets pass this around in the discusion.The Gospels prove in some instances that non Jews had a deeper faith in Our Lord,so why where only Jewish disciples admited to Apostleship? The majority of the first converts came from the Pagan religion SEE THE EPISTLES !By cosing twelve jews did He intend that pagan converts could not be ordained and lead the church.Our history certaintly contradicts that for sure.The church is a dynamic living institution endowed by the HOLY SPIRIT with the Divine will for humanity's salvation.Here is a scenario;there is an atomic war most of the population is dead in a country only a wounded dying bishop is alive and a handful of Carmelite nuns remain in a severly damaged convent the Blessed Sacrament is depleting other sacraments must be administerd no priest is alive and people need grace.The bishop prays and ordains three nuns as he has no other choice there are no other male candidates worthy of ordination or boys who really don't understand the depth of the situation.The Mass continues the necessary Sacraments for salvation are administered and people peace in this horriable situation.Was he wrong to ordain women ? Did the Holy Spirit refuse to accept the oblation of the Mass because the priest is a conserated virgin who gave her life to Him ? Lets get real where still dealing with the only Apostolic church in the Catholic religion that surpresssed the married priesthood over material reasons.And look at the mess we are dealing with now.

Anonymous said...

New Vatican norms treat the attempted 'ordination' of women' as a 'graviora delicta', or 'serious crime' ("attempted" because it is impossible to actually ordain women, as indicated above).