“The Holy Father has no power to change the nature of the ordained priesthood”

A commentary from Francis Phillips in the Catholic Herald: 

Friendly commentators on the question of women’s role in the Church but who are not members of the Catholic Church sometimes pity us because (as they see it) we are subject to authoritarian edicts from Rome, devised by elderly celibate men who are determined to suppress our right to free debate and a free vote on this matter; they think we are somehow against women priests or bishops simply “because the Pope says so”. We within the Church know the question of rightful authority – not authoritarianism – is not like this at all. The Holy Father has no power to change the nature of the ordained priesthood; he is at the service of the truth, just as we lay people in the Church are. In other words, we are all servants of Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life and who speaks through the Church He founded. It is hardly possible to understand this from the outside.

There are also some women in the Catholic Church who believe as many Anglicans do, that women in the Church should be ordained priests. I always think that in taking this position they are unwittingly sidelining Our Lady, Mother of the Church, who never sought or was given the role of a priest, even though of all people she was the most worthy. Speaking for myself, it is because of the silent, faithful and strong role of Our Lady in the life of the Church that I have never felt remotely tempted to a “feminist” position on the priesthood.

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