Why Women Cannot Be Priests

G.K.Chesterton said, “Every argument is a theological argument.” Therefore we must be aware, in the argument for women’s ordination (and indeed in every argument) what forms of argumentation are being made, and where the essential truths lie for Catholics.

Those who argue for women’s ordination usually do so using three forms of argumentation: 1. Utilitarianism 2. Sentimentalism  3. Civil Rights. The utilitarian argument goes like this: “Jane can do the job just as well–and better than a man. She has a degree in theology. She’s a great preacher. She is a sensitive pastor and a good servant of the Lord. Women have shown that they can do any job as well as a man. We need good priests. These women would be great priests.

The sentimental argument goes like this, “Sally is such a nice person. She is so loving and funny and kind and good. How can you be so cruel and unkind not to let her be a priest! It is so unfair and so hurtful. Sally’s mother was a pillar of the church and she’s such a good Christian woman. How can you hurt her like this? Don’t you know what pain you’re causing?”

The civil rights argument is simple: “Women and men are equal. You’re discriminating against women by denying them. By denying them ordination you’re treating them as second class citizens.”

These argument can be part of the greater discussion, but they don’t have much weight in the Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church works from a different premise to start with. We begin with theology and the truth of the theology governs all other decisions. Practical and sentimental and civil rights questions–while important in civil society– are very low in priority when making decisions within the Catholic Church.

The Catholic argument in favor of reserving the priesthood to men begins with the creation of man and woman. Man and woman were both created co-equal in the sight of God–both created in his image. Adam and Eve show us therefore the equality of the sexes, but also their complementarity. Adam and Eve are used by Jesus Christ and St Paul and unbroken Christian tradition to reflect the profound aspect of sexuality within the human condition.

We are not simply a-sexual human beings. We are not identical. Our humanity is intrinsically tied up with being male or female. This sexual identity has to do not only with who we are, but who we are meant to be. Our human identity (and therefore our being male or female) has to do with our eternal destiny. Our sexuality is not a mistake or an accident or an insignificant detail.

Furthermore, Adam and Eve picture for us the proper and natural relationship between the sexes. God commands them to “be fruitful and multiply” therefore they also picture the ideal of marriage. Man and woman are created for one another, and they are fulfilled as men and women through the sacrament of marriage. This is the way they find their destiny. This is the way they find their salvation. This is the way they find out what it really means to be human.

A man, therefore is most fully a man when he is a husband and father. A woman is most fully a woman when she is a wife and mother. This is the natural-supernatural condition, and this relationship of love which brings new life is at the heart of the created order and at the heart of human existence and life and it is also the foundation of the church and the foundation of human society.

This understanding of man and woman is crucial to the greater discussion of women’s ordination. If this is the case, then we are considering how the economy of salvation works through the mystery of human sexuality. We see this in the relationship between Jesus Christ and his mother. St Paul says in I Corinthians 11,  “in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman.” The New Testament and the history of Catholic spirituality show that the Blessed Virgin shared intimately with the actions of redemption that her Son undertook. “A sword pierced her own heart also.”

Just as the first Adam and the first Eve show us what it means to be human and therefore what it means to be man and woman, so the second Adam and second Eve show us how to be redeemed human beings–therefore redeemed men and redeemed women. The Blessed Virgin Mary shares in Christ’s redemptive work as a co-Redeemer, but she does so as a woman and fully as a woman. She does so as a mother, and fully as a mother. Christ, the great high priest does so as a man, and in his case fully as a man as a Son. The sexuality of both are not accidental, but a crucial part of who they are and the way the effect salvation.

This lead us therefore, to the role of the priest within the liturgy. The priest is alter Christus. He plays the part of Christ and Christ works through the priest in the action of the Eucharistic sacrifice. As a man his sexuality matters because he brings to this action of redemption the fact that he is not only a human, but like Christ, he is a man. Women participate in the redemptive sacrifice as did the Blessed Virgin–as women and as mothers. For a woman to be a priest is therefore as impossible as it would be for a man to be a mother.

I fully understand and accept that this teaching may be offensive to some and incomprehensible to others. I also fully understand that not all women are mothers. Nevertheless, this is the basic theological model which the church in her history and teaching supports and promotes as the essential structure for human life, faith and the plan of salvation.

When we play about with these core truths that come to us from the natural order we do so at our peril, for they were put there by the creator himself for our good and the good of the whole human race. How do we “play about with these core truths”? Our whole society is at war with these core truths: all the sexual sins violate these core truths for they violate marriage and the foundation of the family.

Women’s ordination is part of the same assault, and this is why we will continue to resist it–because it is not just about whether Jane would be a good preacher or it hurts Sally’s feelings not to be ordained or because it’s “not fair.”

It’s all much bigger than that–so much bigger, and so much part of the given-ness of the created order and the divine economy of salvation that the church herself cannot ordain women as priests–even if we want to. So the Catholic teaching is clear: “The Church does not have the authority to ordain women as priests.”

UPDATE: I realize that my words about a man being fully a man when he is a husband and father and a woman being fully a woman when a wife and mother excludes consecrated celibates and single people. I plan to write on this further question tomorrow. Stay tuned in!

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.ColleenHammond.com Colleen Hammond

    I fully embrace and accept the wisdom of Holy Mother Church’s teaching about the priesthood.

    From a practical standpoint–as a woman, I know how a woman’s predominant problem is with the 8th Commandment. With that in mind, I would NEVER go to confession to a woman, as I could never be totally assured that she could keep the seal of the Confession sacred. ;-)

    • Daniel

      I’m a little confused here… Are you saying that you think women are more dishonest than men?

      • CatholicMinnesotan

        I could be mistaken, but I think she just meant that women have a harder time keping their mouths shut when presented with a juicy piece of information. As bigoted as that may sound, I do agree with her.

        • Margie

          The seal of confession is protected by the Holy Spirit, predominant tendencies are irrelevant.

          • Daniel

            That assumption, CatholicMinnesotan, is one that ought to be analyzed severely and doubted until it is proved. That position is influenced heavily by our cultural stereotypes and norms, so that our perceptions may be skewed without our realizing it. I’m saying that you might notice more gossiping among women simply because it is a stereotype, rather than because it is actually more frequent. Just a thought.

          • kris

            sacraments are only protected by the holy spirit if they are conducted in the spirit of church teaching. A priest who willfully substitutes grape juice for wine because he thinks he knows better, does not serve the blood of Christ.

        • kris

          A woman doesn’t have to be a “gossip” in order to feel the need to share her daily expiriences and emotional reactions with the people she loves. While I like to think I’d be able to control the disclosure of names and personal details, I admit it would be very hard for me to not at least share with a friend in a general way how someones confession took a toll on me. And even that is not ok, so yeah I understand the concern.

        • RuthAnn

          Wow . . .
          I’m a paramedic and am expected to keep certain things confidential. I have NEVER “gossiped” about a patient. I can’t say the same about most of my male coworkers. Do any of you guys hang out with men? I work in a fire station and I can assure you the men gossip just as much, if not more, then women.
          Would she never use a female doctor or a female attorney?
          Just because you’re a woman and you can’t keep a secret does not mean women cannot keep secrets.

          • Susan Fox

            Yeah. People who are trying to be funny so often just sound stupid. I don’t agree with the article that women priests would be a “sexual sin” and offensive to God, but I am not a policy maker in the Catholic Church, and I am a simply faithful Catholic with an opinion.

          • Beth

            Your a legend

        • LoneThinker

          There are no greater gossips than most clergy, but as to confession they are bound by the strictest canon law with the penalty of ex-communication reserved to the pope if they violate that. Everything else is fair game including the reputation of their fellow priests for a lot of them.

      • Adam

        She is simply saying that woman is a woman and man is a man.

        We the same in dignity but different in sexuality, emotions ,excitement …………

    • Lois Denneno

      This is the most sexist comment ever…because you may have a problem with the 8th commandment doesn’t mean other women do. As it so happens I am more likely than my husband to keep to myself what others tell me in confidence.
      I don’t want to be disrespectful but you are complicit in the old stories that keep women down as less than men.

      • Fedelynn Jemena

        I agree. While there are some women gossips in my office, however, ALL the men are. Also, when I was in high school in a girls’ school, my commandant warned me about telling secrets to boys–he said his sex have the fastest mouth of the two genders.

    • Lois Denneno

      That is just not so.

    • susan yee

      Wow, that’s a very sexist and closed minded comment!

    • Adam

      I am giving you a great hug for putting it so well from practical point of view.
      Adam

    • Chris

      I guess by the same logic you would not want to be treated by a female gynacologist, GP, social worker or psychotherapist, or deal with a female police officer.

  • DP

    Good stuff, Father.

    For those interested in more on this topic, Peter Kreeft has an audio lecture on his website that pretty thoroughly refutes the idea of Catholic priestesses.
    http://www.peterkreeft.com/audio/09_priestesses.htm

    It should be a moot point anyway as JPII & BXVI have both declared that the church has no authority to allow priestesses.

  • http://ronconte.wordpress.com/ Ron Conte

    Ordinatio Sacerdotalis only refers to priestly ordination (which includes the episcopate). The ordination of women to the deaconate is an open question.

    The Church only teaches that Christ did not give the Church the authority to ordain women — not that women cannot be ordained, not that women can never be priests. So it is possible that, after Christ returns, He might give that authority to the Church (cf. Rev 20:4-6).

    • Bruce

      It is hair-splitting, but still falls short. Holy Orders are reserved for men. “Ordination” can refer only to men. Deacons are ordained – that means deacons are men.

    • ContraMundum

      The ordination of women to the diaconate is definitely out of the question. The sacrament of Holy Orders can only be conferred on males–whether it be the order of diaconate, presbyterate, or episcopate. There are ancient documents testifying to the existence of “deaconesses,” but this doesn’t mean they were ordained. This was likely a title given to women who served (the word “deacon” means servant) in the Church, and perhaps even liturgically, especially with the rite of Baptism with adult women.

      As for the second paragraph–that the Church doesn’t claim women can’t be ordained, just that the Church can’t confer ordination on them–this seems to be a difference without a distinction. The sacraments are precisely sacraments of the Church (as well as sacraments of Christ). there is no such thing as a sacrament that the Church is incapable of conferring. Moreover, the sacraments are for this world, not the next. In Heaven, there will be no need of sacraments, for the blessed will possess God himself in manner that cannot be lost. So what would be the point of Christ ordaining women when he returns in glory?

      • Howard

        Not that I disagree with anything you’ve written, but since I go by the handle ContraMundum on Fr. Z’s blog (which many readers of this blog also read), I thought I should point out that we are not the same person.

    • savvy

      The priesthood is sacrificial. This is what separates Catholics and Orthodox from Protestants. If the priesthood does not point to sacrifice and salvation in Christ. it becomes a broken sign. The cross becomes a broken sign.

      Priestess are a different religion.

    • http://www.vivificat.org TDJ

      That’s an interesting point, delaying ordination of women to after the Parousia. I think it’s a huge cop-out.

      Thing is, there would be no need for a sacramental priesthood after the consumation of the age, for the Church Militant will be no more. Ergo, the sacramental priesthood will cease to exist, for we will be joined to He who is the end of every sacrament. The form and the matter, the visible signs will be unnecessary.

      I think your argument lacks merit.

      -Theo

      • LoneThinker

        There is ONLY ONE PRIEST, one ALTAR in the TEMPLE after the SECOND COMING. Priesthood and the Mass on earth anticipate that and are over after the Return. The lack of knowledge of so many on basic theology is a scandal in a supposedly enlightened age.

    • Shimmer

      I must be mistaken, but I thought there were women deacons in the early church. Some say they could only deal with women.

  • Amanda

    I’m extremely confused by this. You say: “A man, therefore is most fully a man when he is a husband and father. A woman is most fully a woman when she is a wife and mother.” Are you suggesting that priests and nuns are not fully men or women because they are not fathers or mothers? That somehow they aren’t getting to that full potential? And what about single lay persons? I’m not “fully a woman” because God hasn’t put a man/children into my life?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Thank you for your comment. The question of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom, or even celibacy by default raises very good questions which lie beyond the scope of this short blog post. I hope to write on this question tomorrow.

    • ChrisKABA

      As a layman, I do not presume to absolutely know the answer to your question, but I’ve had similar thoughts in the past, which were largely resolved in my own mind.

      What occurred to me is the fact that priests ARE “husbands & fathers”, just as nuns can be “wives & mothers.”

      The “in persona Christi” aspect of the priesthood seems to me to be parallel with Christ, whose bride is the Church. In the same way, priests are “married” to the Church, from a certain perspective.

      Additionally, the ordinary minister of baptism is the priest, which provides a similar parallel, of a spiritual fatherhood. (We are after all, “born again” of water & the Spirit in baptism.

      The parallel of nuns seems the same to me, but in imitation of Mary. Married to the Lord, and our spiritual “mothers”.

      That said, I could be WAAAY out there & totally misunderstand the relationship of Holy Orders & religious life, & fully accept whatever the Church holds as true & correct.

    • savvy

      I am sure Fr. Longenecker will respond. But, I just want to throw in my two cents.

      Kenosis is the self-emptying of oneself for the other. It’s not a destructive self-denial, but the same as Christ dying to restore new life.

      Voluntary celibacy for the kingdom is modelled after this,

      Celibates do not reject sexuality. They re-direct it towards the service of the kingdom.

      • Tracy

        So is kenosis an impossibility for the non-celibate?

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          kenosis for the non-celibate is done within the context of the sacrament of marriage.

    • Theophilus

      When I was discerning my call to the consecrated life, my spiritual director phrased it succinctly and beautifully: all men and women must make a complete gift of the self in order to fully become who they are meant to be. For most people, this will be the complete self gift of marriage. For others, they will give themselves completely and directly to God and His Church (priesthood, religious life, consecrated celibacy). Thus, the idea of permanent “single life”, meaning someone perpetually “on the fence” regarding making a firm decision for life, really is not a vocation. It is a temporary vocation, of course, for all of us!

    • Tracy

      Right, and what does that mean? Was Jesus “less fully a man” becausehe was neither a husband nor a father?

      This is the sort of Catholc doctrine that sounds as if somebody is making it up as they go along.

      • savvy

        Sexuality is not divorced from the person, is what theo is trying to say. It’s lived out in different ways in both married and single people.

      • Chris

        I wonder if the virgin Mary could also be therefore considered less of a full woman because she was unable to express her sexuality in her marriage,

  • Matthew

    Thanks for this post, Father. I have two related questions about it.

    First, you say at the outset, against the other forms of reasoning you mention (Utilitarianism, Sentimentalism, Civil Rights), that the Church reasons theologically. You go on to unfold this as it pertains to men and women. But towards the end you say that these truths about men and women come from “the natural order,” and that we play with these truths at our “peril.” What is the relationship as you see it to the Church’s theological reasoning and her natural reasoning on this issue?

    Second, and related, I have always had difficulty understanding why the Church teaches that Christ’s human nature, soteriologically speaking, includes both men and women in his work of salvation, but Christ’s human nature, liturgically speaking, is inextricably indexed to his being male.

    Any insights you might provide on these points would be much appreciated.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      The Church’s theological reasoning is derived from the natural order and may not contradict it.

      Those in favor of women’s ordination suggest that St Paul’s words, “In Christ there is no male and female” allow for women’s ordination. However, you are correct that this is a soteriological reference, and not one which affects the natural order of relationships.

      St Paul is saying that in Christ we are all one–not that in Christ we are all identical–nor is he saying that in Christ our natural differences do not matter. His point is that our differences are transcended by Christ, not obliterated.

      So, following this reasoning, Christ’s salvific work extends to male and female, but he saves them as male and female–not as neuter humans.

      • Matthew

        Thanks for this, Father. I understand the point, and I’m not confused on the soteriological point, namely, that Christ’s saving action is ‘inclusive’ of both men and women, precisely as men and women.

        What I am confused about is why, when it comes to the liturgy, and its profound and inseparable relation to the mystery of salvation, Christ’s humanity seems ‘restricted,’ for lack of a better way of putting it, to men alone? Why does Christ’s humanity include men and women as men and women in the work of salvation but it seems to be ‘restricted’ to the representation of the male priest alone in the commemoration of it liturgically?

        The theological reasoning doesn’t seem to me to be consistent, but, once again, I defer to your wisdom as well as the Church’s on this topic. My faith simply seeks understanding.

        • Bruce

          I always have understood it as this: Christ took the form of a Son – male.

        • savvy

          Men and women are saved through the blood of Jesus Christ. Priests are ordained into a sacrificial priesthood. This is what separates Catholics and Orthodox from Protestants.

          A priests offers sacrifice. A Christian priest offers the sacrifice of Christ.

          Men were never priests because only the male priests took the blood of the animal. Historically, the priesthood which we get from Afro-Asiatic and temple Judaism, had ontological blood distinctions.

          Even in Hinduism the priesthood is based on sacrifice and is male.

          The blood that stood for killing, hunting, animal sacrifice was male. The blood that stood for childbirth, sexual intercourse was female etc. The two bloods were not to share the same place.

          Priests only married the daughters of other priests in order to keep blood lines pure, because of the expectation that the Messiah would come from the priestly line.

          Christ is our only priest. All other priests are mere icons of the one priest.

          If the priesthood does not point to sacrifice and the salvation in Christ it becomes a broken sign.

          The cross becomes a broken sign.

          One could also say that, we live in a physical world. The sacraments are an encounter with Christ in this world.

          In the incarnation God became a human being, and entered our world of time and space and forever changed it.

          We now share in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

          What separates Christianity from other religion is that we hold to the resurrection of the body on the last day.

          This is important because the sacraments are matter made holy, by spirit.

          A sacramental sign has to be perceptible to the senses.

          The only people who had women priests were gnostics who held that the created world world was an illusion.

          So the next time if someone tells you things, have changed, ask them if they still live in a physical world.

          I hope this makes sense.

          • Amanda Blake

            I’m not going to argue with you about the Catholic theology, but I have to point out that you are wrong about Hinduism. First, Hinduism has as many different denominations within it as Christianity, so it differs depending on who you are talking about. Additionally, in most pre-monotheist religions, there were equal numbers of priestesses and priests. In general (at least in ancient Greece, which is my expertise), male priests served male Gods, and female priestesses served female Goddesses, although there was some overlap (the Oracle of Delphi being the priestess of Apollo is probably the most famous example). Historically, most world religions have had both male and female clergy.

  • http://pewlady.blogspot.com Kelly Thatcher

    The Church’s teaching makes complete sense to me. Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. By definition, a bridegroom is a man. A woman “priest” is like a square triangle…meaningless, in fact, non-existent. Impossible.

    (Then, too, is that 8th Commandment thing Colleen mentioned) ;-)

    • http://www.ColleenHammond.com Colleen Hammond

      You’d be surprised how quickly that 8th Commandment issue ends a ‘theological’ discussion about the priesthood, Kelly! ;-) If you can’t convince them with theology, edify them with common sense.

      • Madre

        I am an Episcopal priest, ordained 22 years. I am a woman. I keep my mouth shut. The seal of the confesional is absolute. And I respect other women. Gossip is not gender specific.

        • Amanda Blake

          Bravo!

        • savvy

          I agree that Gossip is not gender specific. If I am not mistaken the Anglican rite of ordination no longer specifies that it is into a sacrificial priesthood. There is no point of the priesthood without any real sacrifice.

          If the priesthood does not point to sacrifice and salvation in Christ. it becomes a broken sign. The cross becomes a broken sign.

          A priest also acts in the person of Christ when administering the sacraments.

          Sacramental signs have to be perceptible to the senses.

          I can’t put a picture up of St, Paul and call it Mary for example.

          • Madre

            Representing Christ as celebrant or presiding at the Eucharist does not require being physically identical to Jesus. He probably wasn’t a blue-eyed blond male from Kansas, either. The priest administers the sacraments; the priest is not a sacrament. Jesus’ sacrifice was once offered, and he was clear about “do this in remembrance of me.” And women were ordained until about the 4 th C. AD. This is not about rights to ordination or about replicating and duplicating sacrifice. On the cross he said, “It is finished.” I respect the orders of the Roman rite; I would hope you would respect mine. Anglicans are catholic in tradition. To be told I have destroyed my soul, harmed the faithful, and am a “broken sign”, by following a life-long call, discerned, tested, confirmed and affirmed by the community of faith, including some really challenging fellow presbyters and very traditional bishops, in Apostolic succession, is stunning. Our theologies and understandings of sacrifice differ and our doctrines of Real Presence place the emphasis slightly differently. We all however are Christ’s Body, called to unity, not sameness; to service, not competition and division. The Mexican congregation (in Mexico) that I serve as priest is bilingual and bicultural; we are SaintMary Magdalene/Santa María Magdalena. She was the apostle to the apostles, and her title in the Orthodox tradition is just that. I write all this because I have followed and benefited from Patheos for some time, and found myself blindsided by the article and especially the comments. I have experienced worse, but was surprised to find vitriol here. Paz y bien

        • Stella

          Thank heaven, a voice of reason.

      • Tracy

        “Common sense” sounds like sexist stereotyping to me. But fine, let’s submit this to empirical reasearch then, by studying women physicians, psychotherapists, spies, and Protestant female clergy.

  • Christina

    Good explanation of this issue, Father.

  • RichardC

    There is something about women being made priests that causes men to be crestfallen. ;)

    • ChrisKABA

      Perhaps it is due to the fact that so many people misunderstand & refuse to accept the teaching of the Church.

      I mean, refusal to accept something which has been considered for centuries by an institution that is led by the Spirit of Truth might be at least a bit dispiriting.

    • Amanda Blake

      Probably because its the last place when women are still not treated equally. Its the last bastion of male superiority.

      • savvy

        This has nothing to do with equality.

        • Shimmer

          O Yes it does. Women were considered lesser creatures than men by many in the early church. The reasons were many. I think it was Tertullian who said women were phlegmatic and therefore inferior. Today authority is pretty much held by clergy. I could be wrong but I don’t know of any women being seriously consulted about women’s issues. And why did the heirarchy put forth the false perception that Mary of Magdela was a prostitute? The bishop in my diocese felt he had to get approval from the Pope to wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday for Pete’s sake. and that was 2002.

          • savvy

            I am sorry, but being angry is not an excuse for not understanding sacramental theology.

          • savvy

            You should read early Eucharistic prayers of the church and do not spit on the women martyrs in the early church who gave their lives for the Eucharist and the ones who did in England, Geneva, and Scandinavia.

          • Chris

            There is evidence to suggest Mary Magdalene was a priestess of Ishtar the female consort of Yahweh. The fact that Jesus cast out seven demons from her has parallels with the initiation rites of those priestesses that involved descending seven gates into the Underworld, also this has echoes in the dance of the seven veils. Priestesses taught selected males the art of lovemaking and in the process fostered in them the males’ intuitive and emotional side – such sexual encounters were spiritual in the way Tantric sex is. They could be called temple prostitutes but were not seen in a negative way as we would today.

  • Pete McNesbitt

    Colleen Hammond, perhaps you should adhere to the 9th commandment about bearing false witness. The 8th commandment has no bearing on whether or not a woman could or should become a Priest. But your catty bitchy appraisal that women are unable to hear a confession because they will probably tell about it later on is so narrow minded that I would be surprised if anyone tells you anything. Kelly Thatcher, steal your ditto’s from someone else. By the way Nuns are considered Brides of Christ. So what does that make the two of you? Apparently neither of you committed yourselves to Christ, since I do not see any title before or after your names.

    • http://www.SwanseaAcupuncture.net Dr. Eric

      Mr. McNesbitt,

      The 8th Commandment is the one about lying in the Catholic numbering. The 9th in Catholic numbering is about keeping pure thoughts.

  • http://spikeisbest.blogspot.com Paul Stilwell

    “Why does Christ’s humanity include men and women as men and women in the work of salvation but it seems to be ‘restricted’ to the representation of the male priest alone in the commemoration of it liturgically?”

    Because Christ is the Son of God. His being the Son of God precedes His being male and superimposes it and defines it.

    And He saves us not as male and female but as sons and daughters.

    • Susan Peterson

      I totally and fully accept the teaching of the Church. But I have asked myself , ” If Christ could ‘stand for’ me to take away my sins, why can I not ‘stand for’ Him? ” He had to be human in order to take our sins upon Himself, correct? And as human He is able to take the sins of both men and woman on Himself. I am enough like Him, for Him to be able to represent me, so to speak, on the cross that I deserve but He did not.
      And it is in just that action, in which the priest represents Christ in offering sacrifice. While I know that Christ was not only male in His human form, but that He is a Son as the second person of the trinity, and that this is neither incidental nor a cultural conceit, it still seems that it was our common humanity that He took to the cross, not only His maleness. If, not, how could His death have saved women? And if it was as “human being and God” that He died, why is it that a woman cannot represent Him in His Sacrifice?

      I think that this is the best argument for women’s ordination, and the one that has to be answered. (I dismiss all the justice arguments, and all the cultural and prejudice arguments. I also dismiss as historically incorrect all the ‘first x centuries’ and theodora episcopa arguments. )

      The only argument I can think of against the argument I just made, is that while Jesus represented men directly on the cross, He represented women indirectly, as under the headship of men, the way circumcision of their fathers/husbands included women in the Jewish covenant. I really don’t like this argument very much and would prefer it if someone could come up with a better one. Fr. Longnecker?

      Susan Peterson

      • Deacon Steve Jones

        Hello Susan,

        In Catholic Theology, Adam was the original head of the Human Race, not Eve (see Denzinger, #790). Original Sin was the sin of Adam alone. Although Eve also sinned, this is not the sin that is transmitted as Original Sin. The sin of Adam is multiplied over and over again whenever a child of Adam enters into existence. Christ is the New Adam, who allows us to become the adopted sons of the Father, and thus frees us from Original Sin. The savior must be male, since he is the New Adam. His ministerial priest, who is ontologically configured to him, must also be male. However, both males and females share in the baptismal priesthood, making them the Father’s adopted children.

        Peace,

        Deacon Steve

  • Matt

    This question has been bothering me for awhile. As far as male ordination goes the teaching of the Church makes sense to me, and your article clarifies it. What I don’t understand is why couldn’t the Church create a role of women ordination to act in persona of Mary, just as men do for Christ? It’d be different obviously from what we consider priest, but doing something like that, seems to me, theologically sound and would fulfill the complimentary and co-redemptive aspects of men and women that you mentioned. Thank you for your time Father.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      I will be writing on this tomorrow

      • Fr. Savio

        Fr. Longenecker, when you do, perhaps you can mention the ancient rite of Consecration of Virgins. It is a true consecration in which women stand in persona Ecclesiae, or as the above commenter might prefer, in some analogous sense in persona Mariae, since she is the type of the Church. But exactly as such, the virginal vocation is essentially one of receiving, and being perfected, not giving or perfecting.

    • http://www.bigbluewave.ca SUZANNE

      Because it’s Christ who founded the priesthood, not the Church. The Church has no power to create any kind of priesthood.

      • Tracy

        Could you point me to that place whereChrist established a priesthood? Or Paul?

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          The Catholic Church teaches that Christ established the priesthood at the Last Supper when he commanded his apostles to celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist. St Paul confirmed this apostolic ministry through the laying on of hands–passing this ministry to his successors.

  • Carolyn

    You fail to address one issue – that of women who take the time, with spiritual direction, to discern their call…and they, many times in conjunction with their priest/spiritual director, come to believe that the Holy Spirit is calling them to the priesthood. Can we not believe that sometimes God acts unexpectedly and in unusual places with unusual people (read scripture lately?)? If you haven’t experienced a heart to heart, prayerful talk with a woman who feels truly called to the priesthood, then maybe you should. If you prayerfully open yourself to the Spirit, maybe you will become a little less sure of the box in which you have placed God….and maybe you will give God a little more room to work His will as He desires.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Thank you for your comment.

      Each person’s individual call to ministry is tested by the teaching of the church. If the church says women cannot be ordained, then those who feel a call to be ordained are mistaken.

      This is not my ‘box’ for God, but the teaching of his holy Church.

      It may be that you need to spend some more time examining what we mean by authority in the Catholic Church.

      • Carolyn

        Has the teaching of the Catholic Church never changed? Have not some very holy people been excommunicated for their beliefs and then welcomed back into the Church – sometimes even after death? Does God not have to stir the souls of people in prayer for quite a while before change is made? Just because some people question the traditions of the Church does not automatically make them wrong. God’s work within our lives and our Church is never finished. We must all be open to His will…even if it causes us to change our beliefs.

    • http://www.SwanseaAcupuncture.net Dr. Eric

      Some people think the voices in their heads call them to savagely slaughter people. That doesn’t mean that God is calling them to murder. These women who feel “called” to the priesthood are hearing voices from the same source that calls people to murder others.

      • Amanda Blake

        WOW! Now THAT is judgmental!! A woman wanting to be a priest is the same as hearing voices telling you to murder people??? You’re a scary person. I’m glad I’m not your wife or daughter.

      • Carolyn

        I think people who approach discernment through prayer and spiritual direction know better than to just randomly “listen to the voices in their heads” – especially when they are working on their discernment while actively participating in their Catholic faith. It is up to all of us to learn how we are to best serve God and God’s people.

    • savvy

      Private revelation has to be consistent. The Holy Spirit can’t send people conflicting messages.

    • http://www.bigbluewave.ca SUZANNE

      God calls only according to Truth. He’s NOT going to call a person to enter a same-sex marriage, because there’s no such thing. He’s not going to call a woman to the priesthood, because that’s not his intention.

      The Church is open to the Spirit and is infallible. Individuals are not infallible and their feelings and thoughts are often mistaken.

    • Jacob S

      I think this issue has been adequately addressed, but I just want to point out that it is highly likely that Martin Luther prayed and thought and maybe even discussed his breaking from the Church before doing so. Assuming sincerity on his part (which seems likely, and if not on his part then definitely on the parts of others who have done similar things), he really thought he was following God’s call.

      But we think he was wrong, obviously. Feeling called, no matter how strongly or with what motivations (and wanting to serve the Lord is the highest motivation) is never enough, because feelings can be misleading. As St. Paul said, we are to test everything and keep what is good. And the standard we test against are the teachings of the Church.

  • Julie

    Now Blessed Pope John Paul II gave a talk at a General Audience at the Vatican in 1994 called “Women and the Ministerial Priesthood”. I think it clearly explains the issue. Here is the link: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud19940727en.html

  • Howard

    In this age of automated, electronically-controlled warfare, it is certain that women can launch missiles to kill enemies just as effectively as men can. In spite of this I maintain that it is even more repugnant for a woman to take lives than for a man to do so, just exactly as it is more repugnant for a priest to kill than for a layman to kill. Worse, if women or priests are combatants, then they are fair game to be killed without hesitation or remorse in war. The idea of deliberately targeting women or priests is outrageously repugnant.

    In point of fact, a gentleman treats priests and women in much the same way. He removes his hat when speaking to either of them. He offers either his seat. He watches his language more carefully in the presence of either of them.

    A priest cannot become a woman, though he can mutilate his body. A woman cannot become a priest, though she can mutilate her soul.

  • Fr. W. M. Gardner

    Fr. Longnecker,
    Thank you for your article on the theological reasoning behind the exclusion of women from the priesthood. Just as Christ is Head of the Church; so also the husband is head of the family. And authority is necessarily reserved to the life-giving role, just as God has absolute authority over creation.
    Fathers are life-givers; they beget (causing life to come into existence). Hence, Christ is the life-giver par excellence. And His priests share in His life-giving power in the order of grace. Notwithstanding the biases of contemporary culture, the role of fathers is irreplaceable.
    Equally irreplaceable, but totally different is the role of mothers, who generate (conceive and bring forth life). The wife is the home for her husband’s life-giving love and therefore also the home for nascent human life. She is the bridge between the father and the child, connecting the begettor to the begotten. We desperately need wives to be graciously fruitful mothers.
    I hope your article on celibacy will also show how all celibates have a responsibility to promote generosity and fruitfulness in marriage (according to their unique charisms). Otherwise, from a merely sociological point of view, celibacy would be destructive to a society.
    Paraphrasing Pope Pius XII: all things are to be at the service of posterity.
    Fr. W. M. Gardner

    • Amanda Blake

      Fathers are life-givers? You’re missing more than half the equation there. Shooting off sperm is the same as carrying a child in your womb for 9 months.

      • Amanda Blake

        NOT the same. typo.

      • Fr. W. M. Gardner

        @ Amanda Blake “you’re missing more than half the equation there…”

        The use of the term “life-giver” to describe the father’s role is not to imply that the mother’s role is less involved, but rather to explain that the father’s action causes a child to come into existence through a series of events within the mother that lead to conception and beyond. All of these events find their causal origin in the action of the father. In this, the father’s role, as distinct from the mother’s role, is more analogous to that of the Creator, or better yet… analogous to the Father who begets the Son.

        Thus, the masculine role seems to be more transcendent (mysteriously distant or somewhat removed); while the feminine role is more immanent (involving tenderness and closeness… indeed: “carrying a child in your womb for 9 months”). This transcendent, life-giving (life-causing, if you will) role is where authority resides. And Our Blessed Lord taught us to call God “Our Father.”

        But, you are right, father-and-mother-together perform a life-giving role with respect to their children, which is why the 4th Commandment enjoins children to honor both their father and their mother. And mothers have an essential role in modelling Christian obedience for their children, which is an obedience that in no way harms human dignity. After all, Christ was obedient… even unto death.

  • RX

    Thank you father, wonderful post…

    I was always confused about this topic, my momma use to say that women cannot be priests because they would be late for mass trying to style their hair and get ready :D

    I never doubted or was against this teaching but never knew why women could not be priestesses. Guess I should call my mum and tell her the truth ;)

  • Carole

    I agree, but I think there may be more to be said about what the complementarity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God as male and female, is meant to tell us about God. The active, transcendent masculinity of God who goes out as gift to the other, and the immanent receptivity of God (feminine aspect) when he receives the gift—–mirrored in bride and bridegroom, Christ (masculine) and Church (feminine). Bride and Bridegroom is the golden thread that holds salvation history together from Genesis to Hosea to Jesus to Revelation. Do you get me? Priests can only be masculine because they are the icon of the bridegroom. Much more to be said about this. Read Manfred Hauke’s excellent book on the subject, “Women in the Priesthood? A Systematic Study in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption.” (Ignatius Press)

    Women need to become more articulate about this.

    • Shimmer

      God is neither male or female. The nature of God is TO BE!

      • savvy

        God is spirit, but the incarnation was male. Jesus told us to call God father, and the male/female relationships are the archetype for the relationship between Christ and the Church.

        These distinctions are important to the ontological basis of the priesthood or we miss Jesus.

        This is not about “who is greater” but what is sacramental theology?

  • Ray

    I agree with your article, Father. I would only add this comment – that your characterization of the Churches approach on this topic as very far removed from the practical, sentimental, and civil, is overstated.
    Practical – since women cannot be priests, they “practically” cannot offer most of the Sacraments. Practically, their ordination would be a sham. Practically, if they pursued the priesthood, much harm would be done to their souls and to their flock and to the Church and to Christ. The reality is that the Church teaches this practical truth – that Jane practically CANNOT do the job just as well, because it is an impossibility for her to be a priest in the first place.
    Sentimental – The Church can’t bear the thought of hurting any of her children. Therefore, offering the priesthood to women would be impossible because of all of the harm that would be done. “Sally is such a nice person…so loving…so funny…that we (the Church) couldn’t bear the harm that would be caused by allowing her to falsely pursue the priesthood.”
    Civil – The Church does not shy away from civil rights issues at all. The Church agrees that men and women are created equally. Equally…but different. (This point you have addressed well in your article).
    These points, I realize, are just small points compared to the overall point of your article (with which I agree, again, wholeheartedly).

    • Amanda Blake

      Equal … but different. Just like the “separate but equal” white-only and black-only places in the Jim Crow era? Separate but equal is the real sham.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Thank you for your comment. When we think it through we can see that “separate but equal” and “different but equal” are not equivalent statements.

        The Catholic Church teaches the essential human equality of men and women, but recognizes their complementarity, and sees this as a grace.

  • http://fatherdaughtertalk.blogspot.com/ Montag

    With all respect, I do find your account incomprehensible. However, I realize that incomprehensibility may be due to unfamiliarity, and it may disappear over time.

    I shall refer back to this and see if it becomes less obscure.

  • http://brandy-miller.blogspot.com Brandy M. Miller

    This is how I explained the issue to those who have questioned me: Just as it is in the union between a man and his wife that children are born into this world, so it is that in the union between Christ and the Church that the children of God are born. The priest, standing in persona Christi, must necessarily be male for two reasons. First, that if the priest were female the priest would be giving a false image of Christ – Christ was male, not female. Second, that a union between two females is by its very nature a sterile union incapable of producing children and therefore one of the primary functions of the priesthood – which is to produce children of God through the sacraments – would be unable to be rendered.

    • Amanda Blake

      Isn’t it what Jesus taught more important than what was between his legs?

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Human sexuality is a more profound concept than a particular set of genitalia. You would thus rightly be offended if a man refers to you with a crude name for your female genitalia for you are more than that. Likewise, a man is more than what is “between his legs” as you rather crudely put it.

  • kris

    I struggled with this aspect of Catholocism for a long time myself. Not with the church’s basis for teaching (We can’t change what God told us) but led me to be frustrated with God himself (why did He send a son and not a daughter, how can He understand me and what it really feels like to suffer as a woman, etc). Ultimately, this is how I got past it:
    1) I realized most of my objections came from that “what if some other woman is really meant to be a priest?” point of view. 2) I looked into my own heart and realized that the “some other woman” was never meant to be me. 3) I was asked “Do you think you know what’s written on someone elses heart better than what’s written on your own?” – “No” 4) “Have you figured out the secrets to someone else’s purpose and fulfillment in a way that God somehow can’t understand?” -”No” 5) “Then why is this such a big deal to you?” -”I just want God to love me as much as he loves men” 6) “Silly girl, why do you think you have been spared from having to share in the pain of another man’s sin?”

    • kris

      Plus just look around at the world, at the number of children abandoned by their fathers. (yes there are some that do not have mothers but it is a much rarer thing). If priests were women, and ultimately if God had appeared as a woman, most children would have two mother figures but many would have no image of a good and loving father to draw from. (Most) biological mothers are actually here for us on earth. It would be nice if biological fathers were too, but in that void we NEED our heavenly father and fathers in the preisthood. God knows what he’s doing.

  • Joan

    Which book of GKC’s is the quote taken from? I would like to read more about it. Thank you.

  • http://www.treehenge.org Themon the Bard

    I like your G.K. Chesterton quote at the start of this article, but I’d like to note that in addition to every argument being a theological argument, every argument is also a practical argument.

    In our Druidic tradition, we have various “roles” that people play during ritual: Goddess, God, Mabon (young boy-child), Maiden, Mother, Crone, Father, All-Father, Hunter/Huntress, and so forth. Your point regarding sacred theatre is certainly valid, to a point — it works a lot better as theatre if you cast a young person in the role of the Mabon, or an old woman in the role of Crone. It’s the same thing when Catholics do a passion play: it’s a little confusing if the Baby Jesus is a septuagenarian with a straggly beard. You do what you must, given your pool of actors, but the sacred theatre suffers for miscasting the parts.

    That’s within the context of sacred theatre.

    Where we Druids (and most of secular society) part from what you are saying — if I understand you correctly — is that real people are not the archetypes of sacred theatre, nor are the archetypes people. Every male of the human species carries within himself an “inner feminine” that informs his empathy with women — every woman carries an “inner masculine.” Both men and women carry an entirely asexual aspect, which some might view as angelic (“a little lower than the angels”). We have a reptilian brain, a limbic brain, and a cerebral brain. People are not simply one thing: they are very versatile, and can play many roles.

    The general objection to Catholic teaching on priesthood is not within the bounds of the sacred theatre of the Missa or the Passion Play, but rather when it bleeds all over the practical matters of the household, the community, and the society — and particularly, the structures of power. Priests within the Catholic hierarchy are not merely role-players in sacred theatre. They are also power-brokers. They play a role in society that brushes shoulders with wealth and political influence. They take part in shaping law and custom. Thus, your theological arguments have practical consequences.

    The theology you’ve laid out is, simply put, that of the subservience of the woman to the man, dress it up in words how you will. That is ONE possible relationship between women and men. There are many other relationships. Catholic teaching as you’ve described it makes this one relationship exclusively normative between two identifiable classes of real people, and therein lies both the seed and the bitter fruit of deep, systemic, institutionalized injustice.

    Women can rule nations, and can rule well. The famed Queen Boudicca very nearly kicked the Romans out of Britain when the Romans were at the height of their military power — she did at least as well as Vercingetorix in Gaul, though both ultimately lost. Your Catholic teaching — if I understand you — forbids this role to women. The prohibition is based, however, on a fundamental confusion about the difference between the sacred and the profane.

    The archetype of wife and mother exists within the sacred world, and cannot be other than what it is: you are correct in this. The profane reality of female hominids is that they are not wives or mothers: they are women. These are not the same thing: that is the confusion. People are not archetypes, and archetypes are not people. The sacred is not the same thing as the profane.

    There are Christian Druids, and I can’t speak for them or how they view Catholic teachings. But as a Pagan Druid, we honor both gods and goddesses, and it comes naturally to us to have both Priests and Priestesses within our sacred theatre. The roles are different, but hold parity, both theologically and in practical matters. I suspect these go hand-in-hand: you cannot really have a priestess if you do not have a Goddess, and you cannot have a Goddess and deny the priesthood to women.

    So within the realm of the sacred, and given the Catholic premise of the exclusive maleness of God, I don’t disagree with your conclusions: Catholic women should not be ordained to the Catholic priesthood. But because every theological argument is a practical argument, you also deny any number of positions of power, authority, and respect to women, as well.

    • savvy

      Thomas,

      You are making the same assumptions of basing sacramental theology, on civil rights, and utalitarinaism.

      We do not hold that women cannot be rulers, leaders, or even prophets. In fact the greatest saint in our tradition Mary is a woman.

      We just hold that they cannot be priests. A priest is one who offers sacrifice. A Christian priest offers the sacrifice of Christ. If the sacrificial priesthood does not point to redemption in Christ, it becomes a broken sign. The cross becomes a broken sign.

      Men and women are united in the blood of Christ.

      I know pagans find this hard to accept, because you have many gods, but we have only one saviour.

      • Tracy

        Protestants also find this rationale odd, because we believe there was one sacrifice. Done. By that one saviour.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          Tracy, thank you for your comment.

          I invite you to understand Catholic theology more profoundly.

          The Catholic Church also teaches that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the one, full, final sacrifice.

          At the Eucharist we do not sacrifice Christ again. We re-present that one, full, final sacrifice and apply it’s benefits to the present needs of the church and the world.

      • http://www.treehenge.org Themon the Bard

        Savvy,

        I think you are responding to me (Themon) when you respond to “Thomas.” I’ll assume that’s true, and reply.

        I do understand, I think, and I fully agree with Fr. Longnecker: Catholic women should not become Catholic priests. No argument whatsoever.

        My point is that the priest is not ONLY a priest. Priests hold a social role as well. You need only look at the men’s panel that testified to Congress on birth control. Count the Roman Catholic priests in the room. Then count the women in the room. This was not a mass — this was testimony before the nation’s legislative body. This social role is also (directly) denied to RC women because they cannot be priests.

        There are other roles, rights, and honors that RC women miss out on in a more indirect manner. It’s merely an observation.

        • savvy

          Hi Themon,

          I am sorry about mispelling your name. There are plenty of women who are opposed to the mandate too. The panel was about religious freedom.

          Natural law arguments would apply regardless of who has a social role in the Catholic church.

          The essence of a thing is based on it’s purpose and end. This is classical natural law theory.

          But, then again this is a whole different discussion.

        • Shimmer

          Very well stated!

          • savvy

            I am a female Em and youth minister. We have ministry’s and minister’s but they are not priests.

            Perhaps all this confusion would not exist, if Luther and Calvin, did not reject the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, calling it an abomination.

    • savvy

      Thomas,

      Furthermore , the priesthood is a calling, not a career. So anybody interested in power and success should find something else to do. We need servant leaders not overlords.

      The church is the bride of Christ, female is the archetype for humanity.

      We hold that the church and Christ together form one whole Christ.

      • WhiteBirch

        I seriously question whether you’re reading the comments you’re responding to since a significant part of your text seems to be the same from reply to reply… and because you didn’t notice the difference between “Themon” and “Thomas”.

        For those of us without a grasp of Catholic theology, what does it mean when you say (over and over again) “If the sacrificial priesthood does not point to redemption in Christ, it becomes a broken sign. The cross becomes a broken sign.” To me, a broken sign is when the snowplow hits a street sign, or something. I don’t understand the significance of this, but you keep on repeating it as though we all know what you mean. So what is it, and why – as a non-Catholic – should I care? I don’t say that to be rude, I truly have no idea what point you’re making.

        • http://www.treehenge.org Themon the Bard

          The Catholics may have a slightly different take on this, but from my years as an Episcopalian, a “sign” means something that points to something else. In Christian theology, they use a magic phrase that goes something like “A sign is an outward and visible manifestation of an inward and invisible change.” As a general example, you could take a breaking fever (an outward and measurable manifestation) as a “sign” that the disease is abating (an inward and invisible change).

          So the general idea here is that the enactment of the Mass is full of these visible actors and acts that point to other (invisible) things. The sign becomes broken when it points to the wrong thing.

          In this respect, I think Fr. Longenecker is quite correct.

          When the Episcopal church first began playing with the hymnal to remove overtly sexist language (many referred to the result contemptuously as The Hernal), it did, in fact, force a shift of consciousness within the church. When they later allowed ordination of women, it created another and even larger shift of consciousness. I still remember my first Episcopal service offered by a woman priest, and it dramatically shifted the energy and focus of the rite: it opens the feminine or Yin side of God to the perception of the congregation, even though she is intoning exactly the same words in exactly the same rite.

          In “sign” language, a female priest points to the Goddess.

          As I understand it — I could be wrong — the current Roman Catholic Church has an absolutely entrenched and immovable conception of God as exclusively male. In the Medieval period, there was some flexibility that allowed Mary to function as a kind of subordinate Goddess, just as many of the saints were subordinated Pagan gods. There are still cults of Mary in various places in Europe: a friend of our recently completed a pilgrimage that involved visiting Black Madonnas in southern France and northern Spain, which have a fascinating history with a subtext of goddess-worhip. Going back further, it is said by some that the earliest Christians went about, not only two-by-two, but male and female: there is an early church work referred to as the Acts of Paul and Thecla (branded, of course, “apocryphal”) which describes the journeys of the Apostle Paul and his partner, Thecla, a woman. Some writers believe that the original Christianity was primarily Gnostic, derived from a Jewish mystery school based in Alexandria, and within Gnosticim (branded, of course, “heresy”) male and female are balanced polarities, and the divine aspect of Jesus had a divine consort named Sophia. There’s a peculiar passage in Paul’s writing where he says, “We speak of wisdom to the perfected.” If you assume Paul was actually Gnostic, this should probably be rendered as “We speak of Sophia to the initiated.” Sophia is, of course, the Greek word for “wisdom.”

          All ancient history, and a lot of it speculative. I’m not enough of an historian to debate any of these points, I only raise them as the speculations of others who are presumably more learned than I am.

          What is relevant to this discussion is that women priests would — I believe — point to the Goddess, and in a religion with (now) an exclusively male deity, that would certainly be a “broken sign.”

          Writing as a Pagan, I don’t buy into the premise that God is exclusively male. But the Church does, and so it is completely consistent for them to consider a woman priest to be a broken sign.

          Does that make more sense?

          • savvy

            Themon,

            God is spirit, not male. The incarnation of the second person of the Trinity was into a male human being.

            Yes, Mary is revered, but she is not God.

            The similarities with pagan deities, have to do with the fact, that the church sought to Christianize local religions, rather than suppress them.

            Folk Catholicism is also not official Catholicism, though it has been tolerated in many places.

            The sacraments work like a power switch analogy. If I switch on the light in my room, it is not my human will, that creates the miracle of light, but my willingness to tap into the complex network that exists that caused the power plant to manufacture light in the first place.

            The sacraments in the same way, need the proper form, matter, and intention to be effective.

            In other words it cannot defy these things.

            If you accept that we live in a physical world, then the lamb who was slain for our sins, could only be male, because of the ontological distinctions that was the basis of the priesthood and blood in temple Judaism and the Afro-Asiatic ancestors of Abraham.

            The blood that stood for life and death had ontological distinctions.

            The male priest could only atone for sins, on behalf of the people, because of these distinctions.

            This makes sense if you take the physical world and the properties and essence of things seriously.

            The gnostics rejected the physical world, and therefore the incarnation as being very physical, not just spiritual.

            The book of John, says that those who reject that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, have the spirit of the anti-christ.

  • honoria

    i was taught as a child that the priest represents Christ when he is on the altar saying mass, how then can a woman represent Christ saying Mass?

    • Tracy

      With all due respect, this is an argument that never made any sense to me. How can a blonde priest celebrate mass, since Jesus was most likely not blonde. Why absolutize gender — except to maintain power in the hands of men?

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Tracy, thank you for taking time to comment. My original post attempted to explain how Catholics see gender as integral to the human person from the beginning of creation.

        I’m sure you understand human psychology well enough to see that the gender of a person is integral to his or her personhood in a way that hair color is not.

  • Dennis

    @Themon the Bard: “But because every theological argument is a practical argument, you also deny any number of positions of power, authority, and respect to women, as well.”

    You are missing some key points. First, it is God who denies women these particular positions of power and authority. The Church is simply following His will. Second, this does not in any way lessen respect for women, just as respect for men should not be lessened because they are not able to give birth. Anyone who claims men are superior to women because men can be priests is not adhering to what the Church teaches. Third, any person who would seek to be a priest because of the power or authority does not understand the calling of a priest, so to deny them this is not an injustice to the person, but a respect for the office itself.

    • WhiteBirch

      I understand the Catholic church views biological sex and priesthood inextricably linked. In fact, you could sum up the whole article in that sentence. But priesthood is not a biological FUNCTION in the same way that giving birth is. The comparison isn’t as direct as you claim.

      Furthermore, whether anyone SHOULD pursue priesthood for power or authority (and I agree that they should not) does nothing to change the fact that the position BRINGS power and authority. Whether a priest exercises power and authority as a function of his office or claims the office in a bid for power and authority, those are still practical issues from which women are by default excluded.

      I don’t hold a strong view on female priesthood or lack thereof in the Catholic Church because I am not a Catholic myself. But I do think that whatever religious organizations do they should be aware what distinctions they are creating and who they are marginalizing, and I think it should be for a pretty good reason. Ultimately anyone who doesn’t buy the Catholic view of God isn’t going to think the Catholic view of sex and the priesthood constitutes a good reason, and anyone who does accept that view of god, is.

      • savvy

        WhiteBirch,

        The power and authority to preside over the sacraments comes from God, not from the priest.

  • CassandraW

    I heard a reformed Anglican priest give another reason why their denomination didn’t ordain women as priests–all Old Testatment priestesses were linked to pagan religions.

  • Amanda Blake

    Attitudes like this are a big reason why I’m not Christian anymore. Its funny how Priests and older religious folks are lamenting young people fleeing the churches, and then seem to conclude that its boredom and try to fix the problem with laser lights and smoke machines like in many evangelical megachurches. But its not boredom, its outdated ideology. Younger people are statistically against sexism, racism, and homophobia, all of which are entrenched as “doctrine” in the old monotheisms. We aren’t blinded by the stereotypes and blinders of the old generation. Young people believe in equality. If the old monotheisms don’t adapt to the times, then they will die out along with its older members. Gay marriage becoming acceptable, as just one example, is inevitable; as the older generation dies out, the more open-minded younger generation will take over and the cultural zeitgeist will change. It happened the 60s and 70s with inter-racial marriage, and it’ll happen again. I’m sorry you cling to bigoted ideologies. It is your right to do so if you wish. But you are wrong, and the tide of history is moving against you. We are the future.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Thank you for your comment.

      It is always easy to believe that one’s own position is the majority and will prevail. You have spoken as a young person for your own generation, but there are very many young people in our own culture and of your own generation who would reject your views. You have mentioned being in the majority statistically. This may be the case, but it is always good to be wary of statistics. They can mean anything.

      In addition to this, we have to consider world demographics. The really large numbers of young people are in the developing world, and they reject the things you claim will prevail.

      Maybe you should be more open minded and discover more of the facts.

      • Amanda Blake

        First, let me thank you for posting my comment and responding. I was not sure if you would put a dissenting view out there. Second, most developing nations are also plagued by war and tribal attitudes that are ripping them apart. Many developing African Muslim cultures practice female genital mutilation as well. Is that okay just because its part of their culture, and so many people do it? Only learning to respect all human beings as equal, not just those in your race/sex/religion/tribe/other group, but everyone, can fix those problems. But those cultures veiw half of their population as inferior creatures, to be used and abused. So just including their numbers is not a good argument, especially as I was speaking of Western/industrialized countries. But I will set all that aside for now and argue with some of the logic in your post. You say women cannot fully be women without being a wife and mother (which I find offensive to infertile or childless-by-choice women, but I’m going to assume you meant no insult) and that’s why they can’t be priests. But you also say that men cannot be fully men without being husbands and fathers. Um, okay, than why are the male priests in the Catholic Church not allowed to be married or have children? Do they have no sex at all? If so, than celibate women would be just as sexless and therefore should be acceptable priests. Lastly I want to point out that many of the exact same arguments (many of which boil down to “Because God said so!”) were used to justify first slavery in the south, and later segregation. The Bible does justify slavery, and not just in the Old Testament. Paul said, in Colosinians (sp?) I believe, “Slaves, obey your masters.” But our culture evolved, and we (rightfully) came to regard slavery as unjust, and laws were enacted to that effect. Reminds me of the Mormons refusing to let African-Americans hold the priesthood in their churchs, until the goverment in the 70s threathened them enough, and suddenly the Phophet had a “revealtion” that the curse of Cain was over and blacks could be priests now! Convient timing, huh? the same thing will happen again when sexual discrimation truly become unacceptable to society.

        • Tracy

          Amanda,
          I am still a Christian, butI agree with you, and find the essay totally unpersuasive. On theological grounds.

          • savvy

            What kind of a Christian are you? Not all churches have seven sacraments.

        • savvy

          You are very confused. Slavery is not sacramental theology. Celibates are not sexless. St. Paul was celibate was celibate, but called himself father.

          Sexuality is not divorced from the person.

          We are bodily persons, our bodies are not external to our beings, they are not foreign places we occupy.

          Eastern churches do have married priests, Celibacy is a discipline in the Latin rite, and as a former Anglican priest, Fr. Longenecker is married too.

          Voluntary celibacy for the kingdom is a type of kenosis or self-empyting for the other, not in a destructive sort of way. But, in the same way as Jesus offered himself up on the cross.

          It only works with one lives in union with Jesus in the Eucharist.

          We do not support celibacy for its own sake.

        • savvy

          In addition to my response below. Catholics do not subscribe to Sola Scripture. Tradition is the guide used to interpret scripture. Trying to interpret it without it is like trying to drive a car without knowing all the traffic laws.

          Randomly quoting scripture will not get an audience with us.

          You should know what we believe before engaging in debate.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          Thank you for your reply.

          Please refer to my post today in which I address the situation of men and women who are single and childless.

          Thank you for the mention of segregation and slavery. The Catholic Church was the first international body to condemn both slavery and racial segregation, and it was the missionary work of the Catholic Church in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (which treated Native Americans, Asians and Africans with human dignity) while most Protestant groups regarded them as a sub species.

    • savvy

      I am a young person, who does not share your views or line of reasoning. Tell me have you stopped living in a physical world?

      Can you create a new sun in the sky?

      Sacramental theology is not based on civil rights.

      • Amanda Blake

        Um, I have no idea what you are trying to say. What would creating a new sun have to do with treating women equally? Are you are implying that thinking I’m the equal of another human being (who just happens to have a penis thanks to his Y chromosome) is elevating myself to level of God? Thats a ridiculous statement. Clarify, please. As I said in the the above comment, the exact same thing about “going against the natural order” was said when the Mormons were trying to keep black men from holding the priesthood.

        • savvy

          Amanda,

          Equality in dignity is not the same as equality in function. There is no such thing, as a woman priest. You should know that basically only Catholics and Orthodox have a sacrificial priesthood.

          A pastor or church leader would be a different office from that of a priest.

          You just don’t understand sacramental theology.

          Maybe I could recommend a book or two, to help you understand?

          http://www.amazon.com/Why-Matter-Matters-Philosophical-Reflections/dp/1931709343

    • Fr. Daniel Trout

      Dear Amanda,

      I also appreciate your comment. I especially think that you are precisely right about pop-Evangelicalism’s effort to recast “worship” into an almost entirely horizontal production. One would be hard-pressed to defend that such entertainment-oriented Sunday spectacle is more vertically worshipful to God. Young people might find such an effort briefly amusing until they tire of its superficiality and redundancy. Then, they inevitably make your choice. I get that.

      But after this good insight, I would ask you to reconsider your further thoughts. Kindly keep in mind that Christianity is NOT an ideology; therefore, what you are suggesting is NOT an ideological conflict. Cultural zeitgeists are a phenomenon of human civilization and appear/disappear with their respective civilizations. What you perceive to be the “tide of history” might easily be snuffed out if modern/postmodern Western civilization ends or makes an abrupt redirection due to unforeseen factors. History is full of such examples.

      On the other hand, the Christian religion–whatever it’s cultural form–is an expression of God’s Kingdom in time and space; it is therefore founded on something (better yet someONE) transcendent and eternal, not any humanly-created “idea.” Christianity is not “family values,” “traditionalism,” or “old white guy culture.” As a Christian and a priest, I have no time for such quaint Americanized pastimes. The Christian approach to epistemological truths, morality, and human relationships are signs of the image and likeness of God upon which we depend. However fallibly we implement them and (to our shame) however enculturated they sometimes become, in their essence they remain constant by virtue of their participation in our changeless Triune God. You cannot say this about your own generational and society-defined “ethics.” So who’s really making the stereotypes?

      We all hate to hear of a lost Christian so please consider your allegiances. As Christians, we consider ourselves to “be the future,” too, but not because we think we can control it by igniting trends. No one can dictate the trajectory of culture and its vicissitudes. WE are the future because only God can be trusted as the Lord of what is to come.

      That’s not a bandwagon. That’s a covenantal promise. Think about it.

  • Tracy

    Wow, way to make an argument, and then step right around it.
    Yes, “Let us make man in our image . . . male and female he created them.” Sounds like we’re all in God’s image, no? Can you point me to where the word “complementarity” is written in Genesis?

    Also, what a great example of a a way to diminish your opponents argument while elevating your own. The argument for women’s ordination couldn’t possibly be “theological,” but the argument against is. How about Galatians,”There is now no Jew or Greek, or male or female… for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” How about those women like Junia, named by Paul as leaders in the early church? By the way, can you point me to the existence of priests in the New Testament? Bishops? A pope? Right, I thought not. “You shall call no one Father, for you have one heavenly Father.” – Jesus. If you can steer around that, I guess you can steer around anything.

    This essay is full of blind spots and isogesis (seeing things there that aren’t there)–the tragedy is that so many in the church will swallow it hook, line and sinker, because it supports their non-biblical attitudes.

    • savvy

      Tracy,

      “Can you point me to where the word “complementarity” is written in Genesis?”

      It is depicted in
      (Gen 2:7, 18, 21-25)

      ”There is now no Jew or Greek, or male or female… for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

      This refers to baptism. We are equal Christ, but it does not say we are the same, or abolishes gender.

      How about those women like Junia, named by Paul as leaders in the early church?

      They were not priests.

      “By the way, can you point me to the existence of priests in the New Testament? Bishops? ”

      (Acts 15:6, 23)

      They were ordained by the laying on of hands (1 Tm 4:14, 5:22), they preached and taught the flock (1 Tm 5:17), and they administered sacraments (Jas 5:13-15).

      Episcopos arises from two words, epi (over) and skopeo (to see), and it means literally “an overseer”: We translate it as “bishop.” The King James Version renders the office of overseer, episkopen, as “bishopric” (Acts 1:20). The role of the episcopos is not clearly defined in the New Testament, but by the beginning of the second century it had obtained a fixed meaning. There is early evidence of this refinement in ecclesiastical nomenclature in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (d. A.D. 107), who wrote at length of the authority of bishops as distinct from presbyters and deacons (Epistle to the Magnesians 6:1, 13:1-2; Epistle to the Trallians 2:1-3; Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8:1-2).

      Titus and Timothy were two of those early episcopoi and clearly were above the office of presbuteros. They had the authority to select, ordain, and govern other presbyters, as is evidenced by Paul’s instructions: “This is why I left you in Crete . . . that you might appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Ti 1:5; cf. 1 Tm 5:17-22)

      “A pope”

      Matthew 16:18

      “You shall call no one Father, for you have one heavenly Father.”

      Paul regularly referred to Timothy as his child: “Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ” (1 Cor. 4:17); “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tim. 1:2); “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:2).

      He also referred to Timothy as his son: “This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Tim 1:18); “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1); “But Timothy’s worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel” (Phil. 2:22).

      Paul also referred to other of his converts in this way: “To Titus, my true child in a common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:4); “I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment” (Philem. 10). None of these men were Paul’s literal, biological sons.

      Paul’s statement, “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:14–15).

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Thank you for your comment Tracy.

      The absence of a word in Scripture is no ground for a theological argument. After all the word ‘Trinity’ does not occur in the Scriptures, yet we hold belief in the Holy Trinity as a dogma.

      In my original post I did not say there were not theological arguments for the ordination of women, but that usually the arguments are utilitarian, sentimental and having to do with civil rights.

      The question of there being no ‘male and female in Christ’ is often used to argue for women’s ordination, and a case may be made from this verse, but the context of the passage is one in which St Paul is praising the freedom we have in Christ. In doing so he may be acknowledging the essential equality we have in Christ, but he is not dispensing with complementary and different roles within society, the family and the church. This would not only be to say more than St Paul is saying, but it would also contradict the rest of his writings, and one of the basic tenets of Biblical interpretation is that no interpretation of one passage may contradict other writings.

      The Catholic Church does not believe in the late, man made doctrine of sola Scriptura. Instead, along with the Sacred Scriptures we look to sacred tradition where we see the apostolic authority which exists in seed form in the New Testament, developing very early into what we now recognize as the ministry of priests and deacons.

      It is true that there were female leaders in the New Testament Church, and it is also true that there were strong female leaders in the Catholic Church down through the ages. They exist today as well, and are shining examples of the love of God and the service to his Church and people. However, these strong women in leadership roles were not ordained as priests.

    • Fr. Daniel Trout

      Tracy,

      You want to be sure this Catholic stuff is biblical? OK then, let us talk biblical and see if your own blind spots and egalitarian-driven isogesis holds up.

      (1) The biblical truth that human nature is manifested in two distinct sexes–yet both share equally in the image and likeness–does not require that man and woman be ontologically identical. Consider how the NT (think Ephesians 5) holds up the relationship between Christ (the Bridegroom) and the Church (the Bride) as the archetype of male/female relationships. Although both Bridegroom and members of the Bride participate fully in human nature and are “sons” of God…are they ontologically equal? Of course not. The Bridegroom is the Head, the Bride is the Body. There’s not two heads, but one. They can’t “swap” roles either since this isn’t something just functional. Let’s take this further: each even assumes the nature of the other (Christ takes on humanity, Church is deified through the Spirit), yet a hierarchy remains. And THIS, St. Paul says, characterizes the difference between husband/wife, man/woman. How then can a woman who in her gender represents the Bride also represent the Bridegroom at the altar? We often call this “liturgical lesbianism.” Even Blessed Mary herself does not presume to take her Son’s priestly role, but epitomizes His Bride as the Mother of the Church.

      (2) The women named as leaders in the early Church possessed functional charismatic roles that are not common today. We must assume that their ecclesial responsibilities were the result of their baptisms/confirmations. Do we find ANY evidence of an apostle laying ordaining hands on a woman? Historically by Luke in Acts? NO. Mentioned by St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John as having done so? NO.

      (3) No mention of bishops? The word episkopos is used FIVE TIMES in the NT to designate a Church elder: Acts 20:28, Philippians 1:1, I Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 2:25.

      (4) No priests in NT? First, I expect you will agree that the book of Hebrews clearly establishes Jesus Christ as our High Priest. But Jesus has ascended back to His Father to minister in the heavenly sanctuary. So how is His ministry applied to His Church on earth? What do we Jesus doing to perpetuate His authority and power? He ordains the apostles as His first priests. Perhaps the word priest is never specifically used even in reference to the Twelve, but I ask you, what else are they if they possess the same Spirit of Christ with His power (St. John 20:21-23), especially the power to forgive sins? Only someone with God-given power–a divine mediator/priest–could do this. As Catholics, of course, we believe these powers have been passed on to all bishops and their priests (apostolic succession), otherwise the Church was bereft of Christ’s priestly ministry and (therefore) the full Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit after the death of the St. John. Not likely.

      Any other biblical questions?

      • samwise

        So I just found this post and have been reading through the comments… Father Daniel, reading this as a third party observer, your post contains evident anger and comes off as condescending and slightly rude. I understand you are passionate about this topic, but I respectfully advise you in the future to try and maintain a more humble and loving tone, so as not to sour your post and thus diminish it’s effect.
        I also had a question, just out of curiosity as I was reading. When you said:
        “The Bridegroom is the Head, the Bride is the Body. There’s not two heads, but one. They can’t ‘swap’ roles either since this isn’t something just functional. Let’s take this further: each even assumes the nature of the other (Christ takes on humanity, Church is deified through the Spirit), yet a hierarchy remains. And THIS, St. Paul says, characterizes the difference between husband/wife, man/woman. How then can a woman who in her gender represents the Bride also represent the Bridegroom at the altar? We often call this ‘liturgical lesbianism.’”
        My question is, how then, can a layman who in his gender supposedly represents the Bridegroom at the altar also represent the Bride as a member of the congregation? That, according to your definition, would imply some sort of “liturgical homosexuality” of the male sort, or (if not) it would exist as a legitimate and seemingly unfair double standard within the Church. I am simply curious as to why men can serve both roles (Bridegroom and Bride) and be theologically acceptable, but women may only serve the one (Bride).

  • Joanne K McPortland

    In obedience, I give assent of will to the Church’s teaching that women may not be ordained to the presbyterate. I do this even though, in a much earlier time in my life, I was very much involved with the Women’s Ordination Conference, and prior to my reversion I was a member of the Episcopal Church, and witnessed and was graced by the gifts that women bring to ministry in that tradition. I have come to believe that the Church is correct in this (not that it matters what I think :) ), and I don’t expect or work for any change on what is a closed question. And I am with you on the irrelevance of the three popular arguments of utility, sentiment, and rights, though I would hope we could be a little less snarky about dismissing these, especially for readers of others traditions who may raise these out of simple curiosity. But arguments about the essential pagan-ness of priestesses and gossipy women violating the seal of the confessional should be beneath us; we can agree that ordination is restricted to men without demeaning women in the process. That said, I find the theological arguments—which you have done a good job of presenting here—unconvincing. In the same way, I find Aquinas’s proofs of the existence of God unconvincing, but I do not for a minute doubt that God exists. I just recognize that there are many things about my faith that are mysteries and hard truths, seen here through a cloudy glass but one day, I pray, to be known in fullness.

    • savvy

      Joanne,

      Thanks for you comments. I do agree, that people should not get carried away in making their point. Speak the truth in love. I have a friend who was ordained in the Episcopal church and then quit after researching the origins of the Christian priesthood.

      This is her blog.

      http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.ca/2008/06/index-of-topics-at-just-genesis.html

    • Shimmer

      The truth is the God doesn’t exist! God IS. To exist presupposes a beginning and an end.

      • savvy

        It’s true that God has no beginning and End. But, God created the physical world that we live in. The sacraments are an encounter with Christ in this world. The form, matter, and intention of the sacraments have to work together.

        Please try and understand sacramental theology.

  • Midori

    With all due respect to priests, but women should aim higher. We can become doctors of the church, a role that is open to us, thanks to St. Catherine, St. Hilary, and both Sts. Theresa.

  • savvy

    Amanda Blake,

    I am referring to a particular office that was based on ontological blood distinctions.

    For example, only brahmins are priests in hinduism. Only Cohen’s are priests in Judaism. In Christianity, the priesthood is not genetic, but is linked to the blood of Christ, who is our only priest.

  • Tamar

    Father Longnecker,

    I understand and agree that practical, sentimental and civil rights arguments are not proper sources of rational when it comes to explaining why women cannot be priests. However, I disagree that you have adequately explained this tradition theologically.

    If complementarity is the rule, and men are called to imitate Christ and women to imitate Mary, it denies us women our full salvation in Christ. The Blessed Mother did not die for our sins, Jesus did. As you rightly point out soteriologically, Christ’s death redeems both men and women equally. Mary as co-redemptor is a beautiful acknowledgment of the important role Mary played in Jesus’ life, but are you saying that Jesus’ death would NOT have been salvific had his mother’s heart not been pierced? Was Christ’s death only half of it? Men and women are equally called to imitate Christ, not the Blessed Mother. Catholic men and women are encouraged to venerate Mary asking for her intercession to her Son, but we are not supposed to pray directly to her. We are only full through Christ.

    We imitate Christ through our acts of compassion, by developing an intimate prayer relationship with God, by forgiving those who wrong us, through our care for our parish community, and by feeding and nourishing the materially and spiritually hungry. Given the chance, we could fully imitate Christ in the sacrificial act of the Eucharist and other sacraments.

    Further, I agree that gender identity is far more important than hair color, which one can change as often as one likes. But I would argue that ethnic, language and cultural identities are are par with gender. Limiting priests to ethnically Palestinian Jewish men who speak Aramaic (and possibly Hebrew and Greek) doesn’t seem to bode well for future vocations.

    There is no adequate theological argument to deny women ordination. There are only political, historical and unimaginative ones. The church can change, has changed, and I believe and hope will change on this particular issue in due time.

    Lastly, I thank you for your respectful tone in writing and can appreciate the way you think you are genuinely caring for women. But the rhetoric of women being more gossip-prone or shallowly concerned about hair and make-up is sexist, ignorant and demeaning. Hear my plea to urge your commentators to see how their sexism lessens women’s humanity as children of God and encourage them to respect women’s dignity as made in God’s image.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Ethnic, language and cultural identities are not on a par with gender because gender transcends them. There are men and women of every ethnic, language and cultural background. Masculinity and femininity are intrinsic to the human condition. Ethnic, language and cultural identity, while more important than hair color, are not equivalent to gender.

      I do not agree or approve with the commenters who have trivialized this subject either those who say things like “a woman would gossip and break the seal of the confessional” or those who say a man’s gender is only about “what is between his legs”. I allow the comments to stand because I operate an open combox. I agree that these comments lessen both men’s and women’s dignity.

      Finally, I disagree and believe there are substantial arguments which limit the priesthood to men. I have outlined them in this post and theologians more skilled than me have explained them in more detail in many writings that you may research if you are so inclined.

      The final theological argument, which I did not refer to is the one which centers on the matter of the sacrament. Christ chose men as his apostles as he chose bread and wine as the matter of the Eucharist. We do not have the authority to celebrate the Eucharist with coke and potato chips. Neither do we have the authority to ordain women as priests. We can’t change what Christ himself instituted–even if there seems to be a good reason for it.

      • WhiteBirch

        Gender transcends ethnicity because there are men and women of every ethnic and racial background? There are also people within each racial and ethnic background who belong to every gender. That argument says to me that ethnicity and gender are both universal qualities –in that everyone has one– more than it says that gender somehow trumps ethnicity.

        Could you elaborate on why you say otherwise?

        • savvy

          Whitebirch,

          It has to do with the fact that we are bodily persons first. It’s through our bodies that we encounter the world around us. People of different races still have ontological distinctions, because they are human flesh and blood.

          A blonde-man or an asian woman, would still bleed if they are cut.

          This is why I said, if the priesthood does not point to the incarnation and atonement of Jesus Christ, it becomes a broken sign.

          The sacraments are an encounter with Christ in this physical world.

      • Tamar

        I have studied plenty of theology and have researched this issue extensively, which is why I chose to comment on how I have come to disagree with your theological reasoning for denying women ordination.

        In response to your final theological argument I want to say that yes, Christ chose men as apostles, but two points come to mind as important to consider. First, Christ also chose women as apostles. The Synoptic Gospels describe Jesus naming twelve men. And yet the first person he appears to after his resurrection in the Gospel of John is Mary Magdalene, who he commissions with the task of spreading the Good News to the others. Also in John, he interacts with a Samaritan woman and sends her forward also with a message to share. These are apostolic tasks.

        Secondly, Christ may have chosen male apostles, but he didn’t ordain anyone. Ordination and the presbyterate and episcopate was the early church’s way of organizing church structure. He gave us the Holy Spirit so that we may never be without His presence – we can read scripture, get in touch with God’s Spirit among us and govern the church accordingly. Jesus trusts us to change the bad theology of denying women ordination ourselves, which is perhaps why it’s taking so long!

        Lastly, I urge you to prayerfully consider your attitude towards women as full human beings made in the image and likeness of God. Comparing us to Coke and potato chips has a sexist insulting and dismissive tone and I challenge you to be more respectful. I thank you for reading my comments and interacting with women who hold differing opinions. Listening to us can help you see how hurtful things like that are.

        • savvy

          Tamar,

          Jesus instituted the priesthood at the last supper. It has to do with what we mean by the term priest. You can be an apostle without being a priest.

    • savvy

      Tamar

      The sacraments are profoundly linked to the incarnation, an encounter with Christ in this world of time and space.

      For example, if we used anything other than bread and wine, or water in baptism it would not be valid.

      A priest’s actions have to correspond with the form and matter and intention of the sacraments.

      The only way we can get around this is if we reject the physical world, which would be to reject the incarnation itself.

      It would be a different religion.

  • Vladyk

    Could you answer a question for me Father?
    If the nuptial nature of the Eucharist requires that the priest be a man since he represents Christ the Bridegroom why is it that men can also play the role of the Bride in the Eucharist? Why isn’t a Mass with one priest and one male server not a symbolic equivalent to a gay marriage? Why isn’t complementarity required there?
    I’ve never been able to get a straight answer about this.

    • savvy

      The church is the mystical bride of Christ. So men and women receive Christ as their superior who emptied himself for them.

      • Vladyk

        That doesn’t answer my question. How can men represent the church as bride if women can’t represent Christ as bridegroom?

        • savvy

          Vladyk,

          The mystics always refer to the soul as she. All souls are Christ’s brides. In the liturgy women already represent the souls union with God, men must become like spiritual brides open to receiving.

          • Vladyk

            So why is it possible for a male to represent the feminine, but not for a female to represent the masculine?
            If a man can be a bride, why can’t a woman be a bridegroom?

  • D Fredley

    I have always wondered why gentiles could become priests at all since Christ and the Apostles were Jews.

    • savvy

      The Jewish priesthood was genetic. The Christian priesthood is not genetic, but is still linked to atonement of Jesus Christ.

  • Scott

    And people will continue skipping mass and quitting the Church due to these outdated assumptions. I mean the Church refused for hundreds of years to adopt the vernacular mass. The Church is just very slow at change and adaptation. There will eventually be female priests, but only after many have given up on the Church.

    • savvy

      Scott,

      I am sorry, but these people want a new sun in the sky. It’s sacramental objectivity in a sea of subjectivism.

  • ExCathedra

    Two thoughts: the material shape of each of the sacraments is not merely whim but deeply symbolic. Water, and water only, for baptism. Bread and wine, and bread and wine only, for eucharist. Man and women, and man and woman only, for matrimony. The Church talks easily and at length about the deep natural connection between the natural sign and its Christological meaning: its sacramentality. But when it comes to the male priesthood –males and males only– it is hesitant. Fr L here has been somewhat more forthright about the different meanings and roles and capacities of the two sexes. His most fruitful image is that women cannot be priests any more than men can be mothers. There is something in the masculine nature that makes it sacramentally apt for the priesthood, something that the feminine nature lacks. This idea violently blasphemes the current dogma, which holds that the two sexes should be interchangeable. Crossing it produces a horde of slogans and offended egos.

    What makes it hard to unfold the specific sacramentality of the masculine in relation to the priesthood is the contemporary feminist Zeitgeist, which makes the equality of women with men a sacrosanct dogma. Although treated as a belated Divine Revelation by many, it is in fact a very particular, recent and local Western outgrowth of liberalism and of societies whose exceptional technological, legal and economic shape makes such ideas even thinkable. One-sided, reactive, resentment-driven and a half-truth, it has been raised to the level of an obvious assumption. Its destructive effects on family, male-female relationships and women themselves are now appearing.

    For those who buy this set of feminist and egalitarian ideas as if they were unassailable truth, there can be no dialogue with the Catholic position, which comes from an older and far more realistic culture.

  • glennn

    The columnist’s argument is indeed theological. As such, it cannot be rebutted except on theological grounds. I’m not prepared to do that.

    But a related issue is not purely theological That is whether the priesthood should admit men. Once upon a time, it did. There is a compelling reason to do so again.

    That reason is, if married men are excluded then the the priesthood is available only to men who do not desire to have intimate relations with a woman. A very large percentage of such men are gay (almost by definition). There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being gay, but do we really want the church to be led exclusively by such a narrow slice of humanity?

    • Abraxas

      You make an excellent diagnostic point, but I do not think that your suggested solution, the demographic expansion of leadership, really resolves it. If I may interpret, the crisis of the contemporary priesthood is part of the huge cultural crisis, especially in the West, of manhood. After the onslaught and institutionalisation of feminism, not only do celibate male clerics (gay or straight) find themselves unsure of what it means to be a man, but all men, the married men perhaps especially, are under a novel but massive regime of gender re-education and re-conceptualization. I really doubt whether men who are married to feminist women could do more than parrot the politically correct line, as their churches increasingly do. How many mainline Protestant ministers stand out as examples of natural masculinity? How many married men ordained into the Catholic priesthood would go home to a woman and daughters who accepted the male-only priesthood?

      Regardless of the object of their erotic interest, a problem for priests along with other Christian men, is how to wake and revalue themselves as men, rather than “persons”. Who will help them do that?

  • Madre

    Representing Christ as celebrant or presiding at the Eucharist does not require being physically identical to Jesus. He probably wasn’t a blue-eyed blond male from Kansas, either. The priest administers the sacraments; the priest is not a sacrament. Jesus’ sacrifice was once offered, and he was clear about “do this in remembrance of me.” And women were ordained until about the 4 th C. AD. This is not about rights to ordination or about replicating and duplicating sacrifice. On the cross he said, “It is finished.” I respect the orders of the Roman rite; I would hope you would respect mine. Anglicans are catholic in tradition. To be told I have destroyed my soul, harmed the faithful, and am a “broken sign”, by following a life-long call, discerned, tested, confirmed and affirmed by the community of faith, including some really challenging fellow presbyters and very traditional bishops, in Apostolic succession, is stunning. Our theologies and understandings of sacrifice differ and our doctrines of Real Presence place the emphasis slightly differently. We all however are Christ’s Body, called to unity, not sameness; to service, not competition and division. The Mexican congregation (in Mexico) that I serve as priest is bilingual and bicultural; we are SaintMary Magdalene/Santa María Magdalena. She was the apostle to the apostles, and her title in the Orthodox tradition is just that. I write all this because I have followed and benefited from Patheos for some time, and found myself blindsided by the article and especially the comments. I have experienced worse, but was surprised to find vitriol here. Paz y bien

    • Abraxas

      “I respect the orders of the Roman rite; I would hope you would respect mine.” This makes the issue into the politics of personal sentiment, charity as niceness. Without personal animus, the Roman Church decided long ago that Anglican orders are not valid and that all the Protestant churches, Anglican included, are not complete churches, but “ecclesial communities”. Hugely, indeed, because of your own sense that the priest (and therefore Holy Orders) is not a sacrament.

      Of course that offends you. But the history of the Roman Church –and of the Orthodox Church, which, despite its titling of the Magdalen, utterly rejects female ordination– shows that doctrinal definition and priestly hierarchy are central to its existence and survival, regardless of whose feelings are hurt. One of the biggest historical reasons for the dominance of episcopacy was a need for authentic, reliable and visible authorities who could distinguish between the Apostolic faith and its competitors.

      If you yourself, as an Anglican, restrict theological recognition of ministry to orders received in Apostolic Succession, excluding people like Baptists and Pentecostals, you should understand that the border your own tradition draws is no different in principle from the Roman (and Orthodox) border.

      • Madre

        Abraxas. Read again. I said the priest- the person- is not the sacrament. I fully believe that ordination and holy orders are sacramental rites as are matrimony, confirmation, reconciliation, ect. The 2 Dominical sacraments – instituted by Christ – Baptism and Holy Eucharist, I believe, are weightier, but I will concede 7 sacraments. I am sacramentally bound.

        *If you yourself, as an Anglican, restrict theological recognition of ministry to orders received in Apostolic Succession, excluding people like Baptists and Pentecostals, you should understand that the border your own tradition draws is no different in principle from the Roman (and Orthodox) border.* Those are your words, Abraxas, not mine. I am speaking of the 3 branches of the original Apostolic Faith: the Romans, the Orthodox and the Anglicans when I speak of Apostolic succession. Protestant denominations do not have priests; they have ministers and pastors, etc. In no way do I relegate their ministry to a lessor category. Ministry is ministry. We were speaking, I thought, of Holy Orders in the Apostolic Succession.

        You have put words into my mouth and decided how I feel. *Of course that offends you* you say. I am not offended; I am disappointed at the lack of charity and respect I have found in these comments. The validity of Anglican orders and whether protestant churches are “real churches” was not decided ” long ago”, it was rather recently proclaimed by Benedict XVI, shortly before his meetings with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

        The issue is not, in your words again, *the politics of personal sentiment, charity as niceness.* The issue for me is mutual respect, not vitriol. To read that the voice of God I struggled and sought to obey, tested and discerned in faithful community over many years (not without considerable personal cost) is the “savage voice” that impels people to murder others, stunned me, as I said. I will live. ☺. But I somehow miss the voice of Christian charity ringing through it. “Ecclesial communities”, are, by the way, the definition of church. The ecclesia, the ones called out to serve in the name of Christ. Ecclesia is church. You are welcome in our ecclesial community anytime. God bless, paz y bien.

        • savvy

          Madre,

          Holy Orders is necessary for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing of the sick.

          The non-validity of Anglican orders was not decided recently. This was decided by Pope Leo X111 in 1896.

          http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13curae.htm

          During Edward’s reign, the Protestantizing forces within the Church of England declared the Catholic ordination rite superstitious, abolished it, and replaced it with the Edwardian Ordinal.

          The Edwardian Ordinal was (and is) intentionally Protestant, and borne out of a thoroughly deficient understanding of the priesthood. It’s the brain-child of folks like Thomas Cranmer who desired this very rupture, and who denied Apostolic Succession.

          Thomas Cranmer

          Here’s what the Thirty-Nine Articles (the articles of faith for the Anglican church) say about the Mass: “Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.”

          Clearly, unambiguously, then, this is a denial of the sacrificial priesthood, and of basic Catholic beliefs about the priesthood and the Mass.

          Since there was no intent to carry on the sacrificial priesthood, or ordain men into the same, it’s without question that the Anglican church deliberately snuffed out Apostolic Succession.

        • savvy

          There are different parts to the liturgy, which include the slaying of the victim and the offering up of the gifts. The Eucharist is a blood-less sacrifice, but it’s still Christological.

          The Priesthood is a sign of Jesus Christ. While His blood was human blood, He was Himself a Man and God’s High Priest. Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and the High Priest was a male chosen by God because what was to happen in that place was most dreadful: the mixing of judgment and mercy, or death and life. Only in Christ can these be safely mixed.

          God wants distinctions, so we don’t miss Jesus.

        • Abraxas

          Just as a matter of history, Leo XIII denied the validity of Anglican orders in 1896, in Apostolicae Curae. (And the CofE bishops responded in an 1897 Latin letter, Saepius Officio; I am surprised you did not know this.) And the Vatican Council II used the language of “ecclesial communities” for bodies of Christians lacking the apostolic priesthood required for a valid Eucharist. All the popes since then have continued this language and position. Neither of these notions are creations of Benedict XVI.

  • Sam Ferraro

    While I fully understand and accept what the Church teaches about priestly ordination, I found your assertion about men only being fully men when they are husbands and fathers offensive. I look forward to your thoughts about men and women who are for various reasons called to the single state.

  • Christian Rideout

    Here is an idea that just occurred to me. Catholics and other liturgical Christians believe that when a bishop prays that an ordinand “receive the Holy Spirit” in priestly ordination, this entails the power to “confect” the eucharist. Now, as far as I can see, the first person to “receive the Holy Spirit” wasn’t a man at all, but was a woman, the Blessed Virgin, who really did, via her womb, “confect” the body and blood of Jesus Christ. So, why is it that men only are priests and not only women to the exclusion of men? I’m not presenting this as a complete argument, but I though I might stir things up a bit.

    • savvy

      Christian Rideout,

      There are different parts to the liturgy, which include the slaying of the victim and the offering up of the gifts. The Eucharist is a blood-less sacrifice, but it’s still Christological.

      The Priesthood is a sign of Jesus Christ. While His blood was human blood, He was Himself a Man and God’s High Priest. Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and the High Priest was a male chosen by God because what was to happen in that place was most dreadful: the mixing of judgment and mercy, or death and life. Only in Christ can these be safely mixed.

      God wants distinctions, so we don’t miss Jesus.

      • Christian Rideout

        savvy,

        Your learned remarks appear directed at someone else’s posting. Not once did you address the idea (not really an argument) expressed in my posting.

        Now, I don’t really believe that women are the only ones who could be priests. I’m not even certain that women can be priests. But if anyone wants to address my (admittedly somewhat batty) idea, please do.

        • savvy

          Rideout,

          Its because a priest is one who offers sacrifice. The incarnation is the ontological basis for the priesthood.

  • http://www.oboedire.wordpress.com Steve Harper

    I try to read with compassion the various articles and arguments having to do with the ordination of women. It is helpful to read a thoughtful presentation of a position that I do not agree with, and that is what I found Father Longenecker’s post to be. As a Protestant Christian, I learned some helpful things by reading his blog.

    But, unfortunately (or at least it seems so to me), Father Longenecker sets up “the straw man” right at the beginning by positing that people who advocate the ordination of women do so for the three reasons of utilitarianism, sentimentalism, and civil rights. Doubtless, many do this.

    But….and it is a big but….Father Longenecker fails to acknowledge that many of us do so for what we are convinced are biblical and theological reasons–reasons which go deeper into the issue than the three he has chosen to address.

    There’s no way to get into all this in a blog post, but suffice it to say that even when we find articles like Father Longenecker’s interesting and helpful, they will not be convincing until those who believe we are wrong in asserting the right of women to be ordained as coming from a biblical interpretation, not merely the three noted in the post.

    Essentially, we believe the New Covenant has altered certain things in relation to the Old Covenant, and one of them is the place of women in ministry, including ordained ministry. Failure to explore that “pivot” keeps an Old Covenant perspective alive after its time. After Pentecost, men and women “shall prophesy,” and the message nor the messenger will be mediated through one gender. We begin to see the dawn of this transformation before the close of the New Testament in relation to the ministry of the deaconness, which soon became the ministries of the abba and amma. This is not utilitarianism, sentimentalism, or civil rights. This is theology–theology which so many of us believe arises from the Bible itself.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Your understanding of ordination and ministry is very different than the Catholic understanding of priesthood so the discussion is difficult. Your arguments may well apply to a Protestant group, and so you go for it. They do not apply to the Catholic priesthood because a Protestant minister and a Catholic priest are two very different concepts.

  • savvy

    Madre,

    I am sorry, women were not ordained, except in heretical sects. You seem have a view of the Eucharist as a memorial meal, which is frankly Protestant and not Catholic.

    The Anglican church did hold that priests were ordained into a sacrificial priesthood to offer the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, until the Edwardian ordeal that deemed the concepts too Catholic.

    The writings of the early church on the Mass and the real presence.

    http://www.staycatholic.com/ecf_the_mass.htm

    http://www.staycatholic.com/ecf_the_real_presence.htm

    • Christian Rideout

      I love the use of the expression “Edwardian ordeal”. I think many of us on both sides of the Tiber would consider that ordinal quite an ordeal indeed!

  • Ama Nesciri

    Uh oh. Gone over the edge.
    Can’t tell you how odd this discussion sounds to me. Like a polite discussion why a particular racial, gender, or ethnic group are ostracized.
    Glad I’ve become an ecclesial extern. No need for male or female priests. Just us human beings out here.

    • savvy

      If Jesus established the priesthood and if the Eucharist is real, then we can’t change things.

      This has more to do with an attack on the atonement and the Eucharist, than with any gender issues.

  • John Copenhaver

    As a male Christian ordained in the United Methodist Church, I have had the great good fortune of having a woman as my bishop and another woman as my pastor. They each exercised their offices with appropriate authority and grace. I am so grateful for the sacramental and homiletical ministry of women.

    Sadly you created a “straw man” in your three arguments against women’s ordination. There is a strong Biblical and theological argument for women’s ordination that you ignore. See “women priests.org”

    • savvy

      Since most Protestants totally reject the Catholic understanding of the ordained ministry and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, why on earth are they getting upset about what Catholics say about who can be ordained?

  • Sewanee Seminarian

    Oh, such bad medieval theology, all wrapped up in bad medieval biology. Cranmer had it right: “…’from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities…Good Lord deliver us.’

  • Mary Lang

    I cannot believe that in this day and age that any rational human being could argue that presence or absence of a particular physical organ would be the sole criteria for eligibility to the priesthood. Who would want to be a part, much less a priest, in such an organization.

    As for celibacy, it was instituted to prevent the first born son of a priest from inheriting property. No son, no heirs and the property goes to the Church. And so we have celibacy forever after.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Surely you understand that sexuality is more than genitalia?

    • savvy

      It’s obvious you have not read what is being written. It was St. Paul who first recommended celibacy, in his writings.

  • Gail Finke

    Theron the Bard: I think you are getting your medieval history from Marian Zimmer Bradley or SCA meetings, or that awful movie about Queen Elizabeth with Cate Blanchette. In the actual Middle Ages, Mary was not in any way a substitute goddess.

  • Simply Sadie

    It just seems so simple to me: God is our FATHER, He sent His SON (not His daughter). The priest stands in the place of Christ, so naturally the priest would be a son and not a daughter. Furthermore; if Christ wanted a woman to take over His priesthood, would He not have clearly and concisely turned to His Mother rather than Peter to build/begin His church? Would there have been any better candidate for first female priest than Mary???

    It just didn’t happen that way. It was not His will. What exactly is the problem with that?

    Was God sexist in sending a Son instead of a Son and daughter or a hermaphrodite? Surely not. Neither are the Catholics for upholding the positions He established.

    Where is the shame in becoming a nun if you are female and feel a deeper calling?

    I don’t think the Catholic church has issues over “power”, and that is why they “don’t allow” female priests. I think the women complaining that they can’t become female priests in the Catholic Church might have the power issues. Just a thought.

  • Adrian Luca

    Wow, Catholicism has more stupid, fantasy-based rules than Dungeons and Dragons. But you don’t even get pizza during communion. What a crock!

    • savvy

      Fortunately, your opinions are binding on no one.

      • Adrian Luca

        Unfortunately, Catholic bishops want their church’s opinions to be binding on everyone.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          This is simply untrue.

          • Adrian Luca

            Oh really? You mean the Catholic bishops don’t campaign to have abortion outlawed? They don’t campaign against gay marriage? They didn’t fight against no-fault divorce in New York?

            Catholics are free to not have abortions, not get divorced and not enter into gay marriages.
            So why does the Catholic Church campaign against these things?

          • Phil Steinacker

            Adrian said:

            You mean the Catholic bishops don’t campaign to have abortion outlawed? They don’t campaign against gay marriage? They didn’t fight against no-fault divorce in New York?

            Adrian,

            Your questions are inverted from the natural order found in real history.

            It is atheist, agnostic, secularist, progressive, liberal activists (“bishops” of a sort of political “faith”) who politicized the cultural values and approved behavioral practices held by nearly 20 centuries of civil morality rooted in Christendom. The three views of morality you complain about were so widely held over eons that they had become established in civil law throughout the world – not just here.

            It is the aforementioned groups (presuamably, with whom you identify in one form or another) who campaigned to have abortion legalized, which required a doddering old man in a black robe (no, not a priest but a supreme court judge) to manufacture”rights” out of his own fantasies. It is the homosexualist lobby who has campaigned for same sex marriage, and resorted to the courts for the same reason pro-aborts sought victory there – because they failed to persuade the people and their elected representatives of the rightness of their causes. They won by “imposing their values and beliefs” on the rest of us (does that phrase sound familiar?) when they couldn’t get their own way through the democratic process. Of course, most of them vote “democratic.” The irony is too rich.

            No-fault divorce also came about because groups fought to bring it about, and they appealed to a self-centered argument which legislatively carried the day, which over time led to the disintegration of marriage and the family, whom the Church sought to protect when it opposed what was presented as a novel sensible idea. The fact that its passing made it so easy for folks to crumble and toss a sturggling marriage into the trash like a used tissue, rather than staying and fighting for what’s best for the family and our culture, is ignored and forgotten.

            It seems, Arian, that it is your fellow-travelers who have successfully campaigned to impose their binding views (and apparaently yours) upon the rest of us. The bishops are finally fighting back to restore and preserve that which was stolen from us by judicial dictatorship, and your side sees that they have awakened a sleeping giant.

            It is not the Church which is meddling in politics by imposing its morality on you. Rather, it is godless socialists and pseudo-Christian progressives who have politicized the moral into issues of trumped-up “civil rights” to fundamentally alter the fabric of our culture and the body politic.

            The lot of you should be scared, Adrian, and scared people are almost always angry in proportion to their feelings of helplessness about what to do about that which so frightens them.

            Get your act together.

  • nnmns

    The fact that this nonsense is taken seriously by so many people is a good indication that the Catholic Church is a bad place for most women. It’s a great place for a man who wants some power, even a woman who’s willing to not be a wife or mother in return for a chance at some power in a convent. But most women donate money and let their minds be warped (see some comments above) in return for empty promises.

    Do not let your daughters be raised Catholic!

    • Fr. W. M. Gardner

      @nnmns
      “Do not let your daughters be raised Catholic!”?

      If demographic trends continue as they are currently, then the only people having daughters (and sons) may be traditional Catholics, or strict observants of other religions. Where liberalism and moderation (a.k.a. feminism) creep into religion, there religious zeal and fervor diminish and fertility declines.
      But if you reallylove women, then you will appreciate God-fearing, Catholic families with exorbitant numbers of children (slightly more than half of which are usually girls)!
      Existence and life trump all other considerations, especially when the end-game is eternal life and happiness in Heaven.
      If you’re not interested in this end-game, then stay away from our children.

  • Chris

    There are many beautiful, wonderful things about the Catholic faith. This is not one of them.

  • germoglio

    there are no valid theological reasons for excluding women from ordination, least of all those proposed by the author. It is simply a matter of church law that they are. It can change and it should. The author’s attempts to spin a theological argument are, to be fair, no less compelling than any that have been attempted by others. Still, the 3 positions he dismisses are trivialized unjustly: civil rights DO matter to the Catholic Church, for example. Secondly, the author assumes an authoritative tone that is undermined by the messy arguments he makes: Mary is NOT to Jesus what Eve was to Adam, either biologically or theologically. The definitions of one’s gender identity do, as the author belatedly sees, demand that men and women marry and procreate in order to be fully gendered. The flaw in this hints at the deeper flaws of the argument, even as it offers an odd boost to the idea of married clergy (a concept I suspect the author does not favor). One’s gender is not a relevant factor in being another Christ…we are ALL called to be Christ all the time. The ordination of women is NOT a matter of natural law, let alone divine law. It has nothing to do with either, and ‘playing around’ with it is no more dangerous than it ever is to do what is just. Let’s admit it, the Church excludes women because it is a tradition to do so. That’s it.

    • savvy
    • Vladyk

      Have you ever thought of answering the content of his post Father?
      Seriously, when lay people get an answer like that from a priest they feel like they’ve been given the finger. Unfortunatly in the real world responses like that don’t convince people, they make the person giving them look weaker.

      • savvy

        If you are asking Fr. Longenecker to address me, I am not a he, but a she.

        • Vladyk

          It’s referring to germoglio’s post. Fr. Longenecker deleted his own response to which my comment was a response, and it ended up down there.

    • Phil Steinacker

      germoglio,

      For one who speaks as though he knows about what he is writing, you surely demonstrate how little you do know about the foundations of this Church teaching. If you can’t even grasp how Mary most assuredly IS to Jesus what Eve was to Adam, then you disqualify yourself from holding any valid views on all other related topics, especially the male priesthood.

      Equally damning is your “methodology” of dissent. You haven’t refuted a thing. Your “m.o.” is simply to deny, deny, deny, with added emphasis by selective use of the upper-case. Is this compensation for failing to offer a compelling refutation of various points made by those who know their subject more than you have demonstrated?

      I’ve read many articles and treatises on this topic, and Fr. Longenecker’s is merely the latest of a long list of terrific explanations of Church teaching I have encountered. What has surprises me is how varied the arguments are. True, many of the poings overlap but there is a wide diversity to the different paths taken to the same conclusion: the Church is right and all others usually demonstrate they don’t understand the terms and understanding in which the Church has grounded its teaching.

      Still, you seem intellligent. Why don’t you post again after you’ve read Church teaching more than you apparently have, and then present a better argument here than you bothered to do today? You might consider trying to find in-depth treatments by those with whom you disagree.

  • Edward

    Well said.

    The Church hasn’t ordained priestesses for 2000 years, and isn’t going to start now just because a few angry baby boomers think She should.

  • http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com Alice C. Linsley

    I was an Episcopal priest(ess) for 18 years. After I left I began to study why that always felt as if I were wearing someone else’s shoes. I’ve written a great deal on this subject as an Eastern Orthodox laywoman. Perhaps some of what I’ve written would be helpful.

    The Christian priest is an icon of Christ and Christ’s priesthood, according to Hebrews and the Psalms, is in the order of Melchizedek, an order that was well established in Abraham’s time. We might want to understand more of the origin of the priesthood among Abraham’s ancestors. When placed in this context we discover the binary framework to which Savvy refers. You will find 17 essays addressing this topic at Just Genesis.

    http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2008/06/index-of-topics-at-just-genesis.html

    Best wishes to you as you enter Holy Week!

    • savvy

      Alice,

      Thanks so much!

  • jen

    An interesting addendum is that throughout the Old Testament we see the sacrificial Lamb was always an unblemished male. Prefiguring the coming of the male Son of God. Could the ancient Israelites have insisted on substituting it for a female. That would have been ridiculus and unacceptable to the Lord God. In the Holy Eucharist if the priest is standing in the place of Jesus then the church have not the Authority to ordain female priest no more than the Sanhedrin the right to accept female Lambs.

    • savvy

      Jen,

      Yes, the animal to be sacrificed was always male. In the liturgy Christ represents both priest and victim.

      • jen

        Also, Cain has his Offering rejected not because God hated fruits and vegetables but because he insisted on the Lamb. Abel had his accepted not because God simply loved lambs but because it was the appropriate sacrifice, prefiguring his Son.
        If the Catholic Church is not a social club responsive to the opinions and idiosyncratic feelings of mankind. If so it would be ineffective in leading and helping mankind. It has to be responsive and true to the teachings of God in the form of His Son. Again, if we do not believe that Jesus is His Divine Son, and the entire history of ancient Israel mundane, then this entire discussion and our own existence on this small rock is pointless. We should all retire to a Caribbean Island, overdose on white rum then blow our brains out.

        • jen

          Sorry I meant to say. ‘If the Catholic church is a social club’.

  • Ama Nesciri

    The erudition and argumentation presented here is exceptional. At times a little testy — but matters that once effected punishment both painful and deathly are better now dealt with via civil albeit lofty theologizing.

    That said, I prefer the intuition of poets to the ergos and op-cits of apologists. The calculative sharp-edge of distinctions drawn on this topic have made bloody hands and minds of their users. (Rabindranath Tagore: “A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.”)

    I find a different, more contemplative, metaphor attractive for this pursuit.
    W.S. Merwin’s words suggest, for me, a contemplative (daresay, Zen) view:

    Dusk in Winter
    (by W.S. Merwin)

    The sun sets in the cold without friends
    Without reproaches after all it has done for us
    It goes down believing in nothing
    When it has gone I hear the stream running after it
    It has brought its flute it is a long way

    May each of us, without distinction, bring, or recognize as already and always here, Christ-in-the-world.

    It is a long way. Play well!

    • savvy

      I like intuition too, but in a physical world we do move from objective to subjective. I can’t call a chair a table, even if I “think” it is.

      The essence of things is based on it’s purpose and end.

  • AIKKARAKANAYIL AUGUSTINE JOSE, INDIA

    Thank you Fr.Dwight Longenecker for this erudite and educative article. Further clarifications given by you to different comments are also commendable. The mere fact that unending flow of comments have been continuing on your article itself would indicate that more and more people are eager to learn from the Catholic church. Inspite of the natural difficulty for ones who are outside the catholic faith to view your article in the proper perspective, one is encouraged to see free sharing of differing views by such individuals, mostly relying upon the teaching of their own faith. However, for me you have cleared lot of confusions.

  • Carlos

    I am a Catholic. A Mexican Catholic which is probably important because we are on the very edge of Liberation Theology and extremely orthodox christianity. For a while I’ve pondered why women cannot be ordained. I don’t believe (probably this is just a lack of reading on my part) there is anywhere in the Gospel where a prohibition is inserted. Yes, Simon was the first cornerstone of the Church, upon which it was built, but the actual prohibition for women came at a much later time. Magisterium, in the end, can change and that is what ecumenical councils are for. You say that the three forms of argumentation are not valid because what applies in the real world doesn’t necesarilly do in the Church. I recall one Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli, Good Pope John XXIII stating clearly that the World can’t be expected to comply with the Church, it’s the Church that must comply with the contemporary world. The role of women in the Church is cetainly diminished. When looking for theological debate or counseling, you seldom go to a nun. Most seminarians look down on women catechists. Not to mention, that many people, even Archbishops within the Catholic Church have spoken against this. Just a thought.

    • savvy

      Carlos,

      This is not the case where I live. Most of those who teach seminarians are women. I think you miss the point. Women can be teachers, leaders, etc, they cannot be priests.

      We mean something specific by that term.

  • LoneThinker

    I thought I made this point here recently, but perhaps not. IF the ordination of male deacons is the first of the tri-partite sacrament of holy orders, then women cannot be ordained daconesses in that sense. Despite the respectful comments of Madre, the Anglican female priest, I point to the history.Women were deaconesses in the early Church, in the sense in that they were commissioned for specific tasks, such as clothing the newly baptised females and accompanying the presbyter/priest on Communion rounds to single females. There is not a single reference in literature, or ordination ritual, or piece of art work, or burial inscription to indicate they were sacramental priests. IF such exists my post-graduate studies and professional literature have never described it.

  • savvy

    Vladyk,

    We have no authority to change the order of creation. Anymore than we create a new sun in the sky. These binary distinctions are important or we miss Jesus.

    • Vladyk

      Sooo, is that your way of telling me that you wont/cant answer my question? It’s ok if you ignore it, it wasn’t addressed to you to begin with…

      • savvy

        I am just saying, that we can’t change the ontological basis for the incarnation, of the son of God, which is the main reason why we have a a priesthood. It belongs to Jesus Christ, who alone is priest, fulfilling atonement through his shed blood.

        I am involved in ministry myself and do support other options for women. If we volunteer to do things, then priests can stick to the Mass and the sacraments, and don’t have to do everything else.

        • Vladyk

          And I’m just saying that you should either answer my question or leave me alone. I never said that I wanted women ordained priests nor that I wanted to change the order of creation. Go accuse someone else of those things. I’m glad that you can’t be priest, there’s at least one benefit of that teaching.

          • savvy

            I did answer your question. The general statements were not a personal stab at you.

          • Vladyk

            No, you didn’t answer my question, let me put it to you again:

            why can men symbolically represent the church as bride(which is always a woman, unless you believe in gay marriage which of course the church does not), but women can’t symbolically represent the bridegroom because the bridegroom must be a man?

  • Ama Nesciri

    I’d say “intersubjective” would round out that journey.
    An “itselfness” — perhaps aseity, that excludes nothing, but which engages everything in a relational integrity. (“Chair” and “table” are only words that assist us in our interaction with what they point to.
    Rather than a fixed and final concept of God that is formalized in teachings stewarded by particular traditions,
    I’d go with an optimistic and Christic evolutionary vision with regard to end or purpose. I’d converse with Pascal, tweaking his phrasing, (plus ca change…), to: The more a thing changes the more it becomes itself.

    From Eucharist to priesthood to male/female sacramental emergence into the New Person, I am interested in a less objectified more intersubjective revelation of God’s way with us.

    • savvy

      I understand your point of view. I just hold that you cannot move from A to B, unless you first have A. A painting is creative, but the frame holds it together and defines it’s borders.

      The sacraments work objectively, but not impersonally. The grace transmitted depends to a large extent on the disposition of the recipient.

  • jen

    Thank you Savvy for your continued responses. You do maintain the integrity as well as the perspective of this conference. I would be deeply gratified if you could provide me the opportunity to submit a paper on a related topic for your opinion.

    Jen

    • savvy

      Thanks Jen. Is there a way I can contact you?

      • jen

        Certainly my address is: jennervalmond@aol.com

        Please continue your work my friend. So few, too few of us are prepared to defend Him. We read of the disciples scurrying away when He was arrested. The circumstance is not very different today. We enjoy and bask in His blessings. Yet we deny that we even know him. May He provide you a favored hand when you come into His Kingdom.

        Jen

        • savvy

          Thanks Jen for contributing to this debate too.

  • Swami Matagiri Jaya

    If women had in fact held a “separate but equal” position in the church all these centuries, it would be easier to swallow this bit of outdated theology. Of course men and women have never been equal in the church, and the argument is ridiculous on those grounds alone.
    More important, it ignores the sameness of all people at the level of the soul. For simplicity, I’ll quote Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, a guru and holy woman: “The soul has no gender.” Unlike the Catholic church, she sees beyond all differences to the perfection of the soul. She also makes a point of including homosexuals as equals in the soul.
    Meanwhile, the Catholic church clings to outer manifestations of the holy spirit. The doctrine blinds the priesthood to recognizing that our equality and our holiness is more than skin deep. My spiritual life reaches deeper than that.

    • savvy

      It’s true that we are all equal souls. Nobody is denying this here. This is a discussion on the origins and functions of the priesthood. The blood of Christ saves all.

    • savvy

      The soul is the form of the body. The body is the physical manifestation of the soul. We cannot go against the created natural order.

    • Fr. Daniel Trout

      Swami,

      Unlike Eastern religions, Catholic Christianity does not regard physical distinctions such as gender to be symptoms of a “fall” from spiritual perfection. That God created human beings “male and female” from the beginning indicates that sexual identity reaches to the deepest level of the psychosomatic person. Because of the interdependence of body and soul, we don’t feel that salvation (either objectively or in our human perception) involves being free from the uniqueness of human identity. God created me male with all of my unique personal distinctions for the same reason that He creates women with all of their particulars. He does this because His infinite creativity is glorified in endless variety. It’s your dualistic anti-material Eastern perspective that wants to reduce everything and everyone to a bland “sameness.”

      Please understand that as a “new creation” in Jesus Christ, by sharing in His Incarnation the entire human person (body and soul) is given a chance to be renewed and begin again. As Christ rose from the dead, we look forward to resurrection when united body and soul will reveal God’s finished work in human nature: but finally free from imperfection–NOT the particulars of personal identity associated with the body. The tangible part of us is not an evil illusion but (thank you savvy) the manifestation of the soul. We cannot be complete until there is perfect harmony between body and soul within (the image of God) and our flawless reflection of His holiness without (the likeness of God). Take away any of this, and you deprive any person of God’s full intention for him/her.

      So, kindly drop your sanctimonious attitude about your spiritual life that transcends what you perceive to be “skin deep.” Catholic spirituality values every human person in the Church with equal love, because in all of our differences (identity and gifts) we come to the “stature and fullness of Christ,” NOT because we reduce everybody to a generic status, thus robbing them of God’s diverse artistry in their person. I am a Catholic, and I value how God and the fullness of His Kingdom is revealed through everyone–male and female–in all of their manifold vocations. The diversity one finds Catholic spiritual writing, rules/exercises, and communities is the most enduring testimony of this truth. Why not look at this more closely before judging us a single quote from your female guru. I happen to love the likes St. Teresa of Avila, St Catherine of Siena, and St. Faustina Kowalska: both for what they wrote AND for the fact they were–and always will be–women.

      • jen

        Great,
        the church is in the business of making saints not Priests. The same as the college is in the business of graduates not professors.

        • Fr. Daniel Trout

          EXACTLY. Jesus Christ is the only true Priest anyway–made after the order of Melchizedek. What God desires in us is the bearing of spiritual fruit as faithful sons and daughters–whatever our particular vocation–NOT positions and titles sought by wannabe professionals.

          We’re all what we are in the Church only by God’s calling and His graces…nothing more.

  • savvy

    Vladyk,

    We are all priests, by virtue of our baptism, but there are those who make this “visible” in the ordained priesthood. We are all brides, as members of the church, but nuns as brides of Christ, make this “visible” in the consecrated life.

    This reversal is not possible, because it would pit Christ against his church, and men and women against each other.

    • Vladyk

      That doesn’t make a lick of sense. It’s like you’re saying: “oh an apple is round but it can’t make ’roundness’ visible, it’s red but it can’t make ‘redness’ visible, it’s edible, but it can’t make ‘nourishment’ visible, etc.”

      • savvy

        Do some symbols reveal the hidden things, of God better than others?

        All souls are Christ’s brides.

        In becoming a man, Jesus in a sense let women be and went after men to transform them—but into men like himself. He redefined manliness and power as the courage to suffer instead of the lust to dominate; giving instead of taking.

        Christianity introduced the concept of men as servant-leaders. A concept unheard of before.

        • Vladyk

          How did Jesus let women be? He had many female disciples, radically broke taboos concerning women, compared God to women in 2 parables, and described Himself in feminine terms(as a mother hen).

          Souls are not androgynous, so a man can be a bride according to you?

          • savvy

            Vladyk,

            I am taking about the incarnation of the son of God as male.

            “compared God to women in 2 parables, and described Himself in feminine terms(as a mother hen).”

            Verses for this?

            “Souls are not androgynous, so a man can be a bride according to you?”

            This is an analogy that describes God’s desire for us as a Bridegroom desires his Bride.

          • Vladyk

            1. Jesus compares himself to a mother hen:
            “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
            2. Jesus compares God to a woman looking for a lost coin:
            “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
            (Luke 15:8)
            3. Jesus compares God to a woman baking in creating the Kingdom of God:
            “He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Matthew 13:33)

            So Jesus compares Himself to a mother wanting to protect her children, and then to a woman going about her domestic activities such as baking.

            The relationship of Christ and the Church is like that of the bridegroom and his bride, i don’t see how you can require the bridegroom to be represented by a man, but not require the bride to be represented by a woman.

  • jen

    You know the disciples must have been really stunned that there was no lamb served during the Last Supper celebrations with Jesus. But it was not recorded that anyone questioned that omission. There was bread and there was wine but no lamb. They must have known that He Christ was the true Lamb. If the priest is standing in place of Jesus, then he cannot be anything but male. You see the people in this conference freely assume that the priest is standing as just another preacher or pastor or any other theological teacher. Not so, my good people. In the Catholic tradition the priest is celebrating a ceremony that recalls as closely as humanly possible the last supper. A Divine celebration. His sermon is a small part of that celebration. During the service, he embodies; leader of the celebration, teacher of God’s word, sacrificial lamb and high priest.
    The Catholic Church can only ordain female priest after they abolish the Eucharistic celebration. Then the mass will only be hymns, prayer and sermons. But don’t forget Jesus at the end of the last supper said, “do this in memory of me”.

  • savvy

    Vladyk,

    Jesus used parables to explain a lot of things.

    “I don’t see how you can require the bridegroom to be represented by a man”

    The incarnation was not into a mother hen, sheep or any other metaphor Jesus used. It was as the son of God. Jesus is the only Bridegroom, the only priest. A priest acting in the person of Christ is therefore male.

    “but not require the bride to be represented by a woman.”

    Women are already symbols for the church. Masculine and Feminine are cosmic principles. God is masculine in relation to all of creation from angels to prime matter. This is the order of creation, regardless of how much it offends feminists.

    Without these distinctions we miss Jesus.

    Paul’s understanding is that Reality is hidden in Christ and has been revealed in His incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension.

    • Vladyk

      The Catechism allows talk of God’s relationship to creation as being that of mother:
      “God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood,62 which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. “(239)

      The priest also acts ‘in persona ecclesiae’ yet somehow this doesn’t require him to be female in addition to being male. The church is the only bride, yet She doesn’t have to be represented by a woman. This is inconsistent. You say that only a man can represent Jesus as priest because Jesus is a man and priesthood is a masculine role, but then you allow all of these exceptions to gender-roles having to be filled by the genders associated with them. How is this not a contradiction?

      • savvy

        Vladyk,

        God is spirit. Women can represent God as life-givers, since the blood stands for life.

        The priest represents God as one who atones for life-taken. The son of God, as priest and victim, atoned for life-taken and for sin. Therefore, only men can be priests.

        The Mass is an atonement or re-presentation of Calvary.

        Women were never priests because the male priest offered sacrifice on behalf of the community.

        These distinctions are important or we miss Jesus.

        We cannot change the ontological basis for the atonement or the incarnation.

        • Vladyk

          “The priest represents God as one who atones for life-taken. The son of God, as priest and victim, atoned for life-taken and for sin. Therefore, only men can be priests.”

          “Women were never priests because the male priest offered sacrifice on behalf of the community.”

          Funny how none of the these reasons appear in the catechism, in ordinatio sacerdotalis, in inter insigniores….

          • savvy

            Vladyk,

            In the Catechism

            1410 It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice.

            “He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species.”

            This is recalled in the figure of the Servant of Yahweh who offers himself in sacrifice, pouring out his blood for the new covenant (cf. Is 42:1-9; 49:8) in place of humanity and for its benefit

            “Jesus Christ, in an unbloody manner at Supper and in his blood on the cross, is at one and the same time both priest and victim offered to the Father: “a sacrifice that the Father accepted, giving, in return for this total self-giving by his Son, who ‘became obedient even to death’ (Phil 2:8),

            “He himself is the one who stands before God, interceding not for himself but for all. ”

            http://tinyurl.com/czvpmm8

            The priesthood in Temple Judaism

            http://tinyurl.com/6qavf3f

      • savvy

        The term mother earth does not mean that there are no men on the earth, just that the earth has more feminine attributes. In the same way the church as bride, means that the church as mother, teacher, life-giver etc, has more feminine attributes.

        The church and Christ together form the whole Christ.

        We need these distinctions or we miss Jesus.

        • Vladyk

          “The church and Christ together form the whole Christ”- they are united as bride and bridegroom, sacramentally, we require the bridegroom to be represented by a man even though we dont require a woman to represent the bride…

          • savvy

            The priest offers the sacrifice of Christ for the church, the mystical bride of Christ which consists of people on heaven, earth, and purgatory.

            It is impossible to let one person represent this.

          • Vladyk

            “The priest offers the sacrifice of Christ for the church, the mystical bride of Christ which consists of people on heaven, earth, and purgatory.

            It is impossible to let one person represent this.” – Why?

            It’s kind of strange to have a bridegroom around, but no bride. Was he stood up at the altar?

  • Lynn

    This is just the silliest article I have read on the subject in a long time. We have to ask ourselves what would Jesus have thought of this subject and the answer becomes quite clear.

  • Joan

    Did anyone ever locate the GKC quote? I think it a most important one for everything. Thank you.

  • savvy

    Vladyk,

    The church is the bride. The church does not consist of just one person, but everybody. Christ is one. We cannot change the basis for the incarnation and the atonement or we miss Jesus.

    • Vladyk

      Yeah, but the fact that Jesus is one person never stopped anyone from having multiple priests concelebrating the same Mass or saying Masses at adjacent side chapels.

      • savvy

        Vladyk,

        What is the Mass? If you can answer that question, you can answer this one too.

        • Vladyk

          So concelebrating priests are not acting ‘in persona christi’?

          • Vladyk

            If multiple priests can at the same time sacramentally represent Christ in the same Mass, even though Christ is one person, I don’t see why the church could not be represented by one person.

          • savvy

            The priests and people do not pray to each other. There is still one Altar of sacrifice, a reminder that Christ is present.

  • savvy

    Vladyk,

    I have done my best to answer your questions. There are all kinds of analogies used to describe the relationship between God and humanity. But, priests are ordained into a sacrificial priesthood to offer sacrifice. This is primary and takes precedent above the rest.

    • Vladyk

      But the documents of the church state that Jesus is the bridegroom, and for that reason women can’t represent Him. It seems from what you’ve said that this can’t be a good reason.

      • savvy

        The documents also speak of the sacrificial priesthood and Holy Orders and the Mass.

        • Vladyk

          I know, but where do they say that ‘only men can offer sacrifice’ is the reason for excluding women from ordination?

          • savvy

            Vladyk,

            This is obvious if you understand the Mass, liturgy and sacraments.

            From the document Women and the Ministerial Priesthood

            “He conferred only on the Twelve the mission and power of celebrating the Eucharist in his name (cf. Lk 22:19)–the essence of the ministerial priesthood.”

            “The Church has no power over the substance of the sacraments, that is, over anything that Christ the Lord, as attested by the sources of revelation, wanted to be maintained in the sacramental sign.”

          • Vladyk

            Come on tell me, where do church documents explicitly say that woman cannot be priests because only men can offer sacrifice because of their difference in blood. Where does it ever say that explicitly?

      • savvy

        In Catholic theology, the virgin Mary, is the mother of the church, the new eve, and the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

  • savvy

    Vladyk,

    The entire liturgy and sacraments have been outlined in the Catechism. Please read it.

    • Vladyk

      I have and nowhere does it say that women are excluded from ordination because only men can offer sacrifice.

      • savvy

        Vladyk,

        It states that a male priest is ordained to offer the sacrifice of Christ. It’s stated that Christ is both priest and victim in the liturgy.

        This is the same as the sacrifice of the cross.

        Are you this dense?

        Stop wasting my time.

        • Vladyk

          Wow, so instead of showing me where the church teaches that you call me stupid?
          What’s the matter, are there no magisterial documents where the church teaches that women cannot be priests because priests offer sacrifice?

          • Vladyk

            I know that a priest is ordained to offer sacrifice, but where does it say that only men can offer sacrifice and that as a result women can’t be priests?

            Why doesn’t the church actually say this in any magisterial documents?

          • savvy

            Yes, you are either playing around or are stupid. If the priest represents Christ as priest and victim and Christ is male. Women cannot be priests, because this points to the
            atonement.

            It’s called common sense.

          • Vladyk

            I’m not playing around, so I guess I’m stupid. Still that doesn’t change the fact that wherever the church lists reasons for women being barred from ordination there is no talk of only men being able to offer sacrifice. This is what the catechism says:
            “Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination.” The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the 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.”(1577)
            What’s the matter? Did the writers of the catechism just forget to say “another reason is that women can’t offer sacrifice.”?
            I think the reason that you’re frustrated and insult me is because i called your bluff, none of the magisterial documents say anything about the nature of sacrifice requiring men. Even someone as stupid as me sees it.

  • savvy

    Vladyk,

    This was the historical basis for the priesthood in Temple Judaism. Everything a priest did had life and death distinctions.

    the document Purity and the priesthood

    http://tinyurl.com/6qavf3f

    • Vladyk

      Thanks, but I was asking for a magisterial document that explicitly gives the reasons you give against women’s ordination.

      • savvy

        It doesn’t since, this is already the theology is listed in depth in the Catechism. A book Catholics are supposed to read.

        • Vladyk

          Have you ever read the catechism? Somehow doesn’t mention the reason that you provide for women being exempt from ordination.

          “Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination.” The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the 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.”(1577)

          • savvy

            This is an argument from silence. We know what a priest is and what a priest does. Why should the church focus on what the priest is not or does not do?

            1410 It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

            The fact is that you do not want to admit the obvious. The church cannot change the fact that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and is male.

        • Vladyk

          Now who is playing? There are magisterial documents whose explicit aim is to definitively explain the exclusion of women from ordination, none of them mention the reason that you do. It is not a reason given by the magisterium. You can’t change that. It’s easier for you to accuse me of heresy, of idiocy, of being farcical, than to admit that the church does not give the reasons that you do and thus you can’t say that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is based in the fact that only men can offer sacrifice – that is NOT -the teaching of the church.

          The way you argue is somewhere like this:
          Savvy: The Church teaches as dogma that John the Baptist was immaculatly conceived!
          Vladyk: Which ecumenical council defined it as dogma? Which pope defined it as dogma? Where does the catechism say this? Show me a declaration of this.
          Savvy: There are no such declarations and documents, what matters is that it follows from him stirring at the greeting of the Mother of God.
          Vladyk: It’s not a dogma of the church if its not taught explicitly in any magisterial documents, nor declared by any council, nor by any pope.
          Savvy: You stupid $#*@^! You’re making an argument from silence! Leave me alone!!!

          • savvy

            It has been infallibly taught that women cannot be priests. It has also been infallibly taught what that there is no Eucharist without a priesthood.

            This is not likely to change.

            Yes, I do welcome further study on this issue as to why.

  • Ropate A. Tufano

    I’m quite confused by this. The Church accepts married priest in its Eastern Orthodox Communion and amongst those Anglican priests who ‘return’ to the Mother Church. But it bans them in the Roman Communion. Where is the theology for this–on the surface at least–hypocrisy?
    The same thoughts come to mind regarding women in religious roles. There are a lot of indicators that evidence of such involvement exists or existed but that it has been buried or destroyed by the keepers of the records in Vatican City and its predecessors in Constantinople, etc.
    These two elements however, are of little relevance to the mission of the Church: Teaching and helping people to follow Jesus’ Great Commandment in this increasingly complex and “gray” world. The Church says little about the very harmful public sins of murder, theft and bearing false witness, yet these cause much more harm (and prompt much more sin) than any other sins. People need to know how better to cope with and avoid such sin, but lack the education.

  • Lou Morgan

    As an ex catholic I totally agree with the writer of this article, your religion makes it clear precisely what is what with regards to women and men and you have a male God so why on earth do you need a female priest. In our religion (Wicca)’God’ is a God and Goddess who together created everything so naturally we have male and female clergy who serve together, it is just common sense. If you want equality don’t join a montheistic patriarchal religion.

  • Susan

    God is for everyone – male or female. The God I believe in is a loving God, and one that would never discriminate. When Jesus died he could have appeared to any one of his apostles. But he chose to appear to Mary Magdalen – a fallen woman. This is very significant for me and I feel is a great source of hope. This particular text in the bible is often skimmed over, but certainly for me it is worth dwelling on. There is nothing luke warm or fuzzy about God. Everything Jesus did during his ministry was for a reason, and there was a good reason why the first person he CHOSE to appear to after his death was a woman. So when priests or whoever say ‘God chose men’. Think again how you express this. I have heard the term ‘God chose men’ so many times and each time, as a woman I feel excluded and I am sure God would never have wanted this. If you decide to reply to this comment please don’t generalise and say God chose men and women – but he didn’t choose women for the priesthood. I think maybe God did choose men and women differently but when we look at how man has changed ‘rules’ to suit the mode, the argument dissolves. I am a practicing Catholic and always believed priests could never marry and accepted that . But now by an apparent ‘special dispensation’ married Anglican priests with children are allowed to become Catholic priests. I have absolutely no problem with a married priest, but if this is not bending the rules…
    My thirteen year old son asked me why women cannot be priests in the Catholic church as he felt it was terribly wrong. I had never spoke about this with him. I have to say I was really proud of him and glad that he challenged this line of thought.

    From a selfish position, to have a celibate male Catholic priest is quite attractive as one feels that maybe there is something in the fact that he would give his all entirely as he doesn’t have a wife or children to worry about and the fact that he has given up absolutely everything for God – this is an amazing sacrifice. However for women that feel they have a vocation to be a priest I say good luck to them. It’s about time we got ride of the Eve complex

  • Pat

    In a cosmology where God’s creation is separated -Heaven and Earth – are one above the other there is need for an intercessor. In a patriarchal society that needs hierarchy, there is a priest at the top acting as communicator between God and Man. God is transcendent.
    If you have a cosmology where Heaven and Earth are all part of one creation and there is no separation, there is no need for intercessor. This is more like a circle with God both transcendent and imminent. A priest role would be quite different and non-hierarchical – more feminine. It would need a new church.
    As human spirituality evolves to uncover truths in scripture that were not previously understood, the transition will happen. If the existing church cannot flex, it will unfortunately be left behind.

  • Larry Senay

    This has to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. I will just say it is very helpful for you to say if we go against this teaching it is at our peril. The best way to retain power is to make sure there is fear. Fear is the most powerful argument for religous leaders. The high priest os Jesus time said you need to be careful of this Jesus because the romans may get upset. Religions will always tell the people to be very afraid to think for yourself. I’m sorry if I offend anyone.


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