Woman Priests Courageous Pioneers?

The Anchoresses fumes over the latest “ordination” of a Catholic woman here. I cannot disagree.

One of the things most offensive to anyone with a Catholic sensibility is the women priests’ taste in vestments. These are not happy events. Ecclesiatical fashionista–Mantilla the Hon had a fair bit to say about it here.

One of the things I find most weird about Catholic dissenters–whether they be women priests or fuzzy wuzzy liberals is how they are always eager to describe themselves as “loyal Catholics” or “faithful daughters of the church.” It was the same with Gary Wills on Colbert the other day. He trashes the priesthood and publicly denies transubstantiation and then calls himself a “faithful Catholic”

To understand this mentality you have to see that they really mean it. For the dissenters see themselves as “courageous pioneers” who are prepared to “boldly go” where the old fashioned hide bound, rest of the Catholic church cannot yet go. Their favorite Bible passage is the one in Acts where the sheet of unclean things descended from heaven and Peter was told to break with tradition and do something new. This is how they are being faithful–to be faithful for them is to bold in their dissent. They see themselves as martyrs for this great cause.

Uh huh. The problem is,  they are invariably simply adapting to the spirit of the age–and usually they are about thirty years behind the spirit of the age. As far as I can make out most feminists have moved on from the “I want to do what all the guys get to do” and are more in favor of developing the fullness of their feminine gifts within their chosen professions. That the priesthood is not essentially feminine has escaped them.

Increasingly my attitude to such folks is that of Little Bo Peep: “Leave them alone and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them.”

…or not.


  • Zephyrinus

    O My Giddy Aunt !!!

  • DavidMHart

    “As far as I can make out most feminists have moved on from the “I want
    to do what all the guys get to do” and are more in favor of developing
    the fullness of their feminine gifts within their chosen professions”

    So what if the profession that a woman wants to choose is ‘priest’? Why should she not be able to develop the fullness of her feminine gifts in that profession?

    As far as I can tell, feminism is not about ‘wanting to do what all the guys get to do’, but more about ‘ensuring that if a woman happens to want to do a thing that all the guys get to do, that that choice is just as open to her as it would be to a man’. That is, it’s about having the choice, rather than muscling in on traditionally male territory just for the sake of it. Is that not a good thing, having the choice to live the life that you find fulfilling, rather than having it closed off just because other people are uncomfortable about the idea that you’re allowed to do it?

    And all this over something as trifling as whether or not a woman can do a job for which no genitalia, no particular upper body strength, no ability to produce any particular bodily fluids, no adams apple, are necessary. If someone can devise a test for ‘ability to carry out the duties of a priest’ and demonstrate that women are systematically failing that test, then so be it. But until that test is devised, there is no reason to presuppose that women couldn’t do it as well as men.

    • frdlongenecker

      Such women should be Episcopalians

      • DavidMHart

        Okay; I should have been more specific: what if the profession that a woman wants to choose is ‘Catholic priest’? What is it about the relative job requirements of a Catholic priest and an Episcopalian priest (or whatever their equivalent is) that means a woman would be capable of carrying out the latter but not the former?

        As far as I can tell, the job requirements of pretty much any priest, rabbi, imam or other clergyperson are a) good speaking voice and some basic showmanship, possibly including singing depending on the denomination b) reasonable knowledge of the theology of the religion involved, and c) some pastoral skills for when one’s parishoners are in trouble. I can’t think of any good reasons why a woman who is capable of all of the above would be able to succeed as, say, and Episcopalian, but not as a Catholic.

        And of course, there is a perfectly easy test to run: introduce women priests into Catholic churches on a limited trial basis for, say, a couple of years. Train them up, making sure that they know that this is an experiment and if it turns out that they can’t do the job then they won’t be kept on once the experiment is over. I’m sure you’d be able to find enough volunteers to make it a fair test (provided that the people judging their performance were fair-minded and hadn’t already decided one way or the other before the experiment began).

        That way, if it turns out there are good reasons why women are unable to fulfil priestly duties in a Catholic setting, you’ll have good evidence of that fact, but if there aren’t good reasons, then you’ll know that all this fuss was about nothing, and you can stop worrying about women taking on the job. Sound fair to you?

        • Jason

          You know, forgive me for just posting someone else’s words, but I can’t surpass this.

        • FW Ken

          Priesthood is not a profession or a job. It’s a gift to the Church given by God. God does not call women to the ministerial priesthood in the Catholic Church. Perhaps you don’t believe that, but if you are not a Catholic, it’s none of your business. If you agree a Catholic, then you are are dissenting from established fact.

        • Chesire11

          While all of the attributes you list are certainly admirable qualities to find in a priest, they are only of secondary import. In the long history of the Church, there have been plenty of poorly educated priests, priests with poor speaking voices, and priests of limited pastoral competence. The one thing the Church has never known, however, is a female priest, and that is for the fact that a woman is by nature feminine. The Catholic priesthood is not accidentally, nor superficially, but is fundamentally a “masculine” role and duty. That is not to say, nor imply that the masculine is superior to the feminine, merely that it is different, and corresponds to sacramental authority that is unique to the priesthood.

          The celebration of the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian faith, in which the priest plays a central and indispensible role, that of offering the sacrifice in persona Christi. The Eucharist is not a re-enactment of a historic event, it is a bloodless participation in the bloody sacrifice of Calvary, and so it is important to consider the roles of those present at the foot of the Cross.

          When Our Lord endured His Passion, it was not the women present who drove the nails through the hands and feet of Our Savior, neither did they hang Him between Heaven and earth, nor did they pierce His side. No, the roles played by the holy women present at the foot of the Cross were of witness, adoration, and fidelity.

          Conversely, all of those who accused, betrayed, denied, fled from, scourged and crucified Our Lord were men.

          Therefore, when we celebrate the Eucharist, the role of consecrating and elevating the Body and Blood falls to a man. While so many Catholic men avoid the sacrifice of the Mass (as did all of the Apostles but John), it is Catholic women who fill the pews at Mass, in witness and adoration.

          When you stop to think of it, these roles are not accidental, but at are rooted in the natures of the masculine and the feminine, which are fundamentally are about describing the dynamics of a relationship, and only secondarily about physically manifest differences. You make a common mistake, when you confuse sex with gender. The two are closely related, but sex is merely the physical, biological manifestation of the greater concept of gender. It is the masculine that acts upon, and proposes to induces change in another; it is the feminine which reflects upon, and either assents to or rejects the masculine proposition. The male impregnates the female, not the other way around, and it is not man who proposes to change God, but God who proposes to redeem man. In this sense, God, as Creator and Redeemer is masculine in relation to humanity, which in our freedom to accept or reject salvation is in turn feminine in relation to God.

          The priesthood is reserved unto men, not because of any implied masculine superiority, but because of masculine nature, and masculine infidelity. Ordination of women into the Catholic priesthood would necessarily deny the unique dignity and character of the feminine. In theological terms, it is not that women are insufficient to the priesthood, but that the priesthood is insufficient to, and would actually insult the dignity of women. Women cannot become priests for the simple fact that their gender remained faithful at Calvary – in the persons of the three Marys, they atoned for their gender’s rejection of God at the Fall, by their assent at the Cross. It is the male gender which must atone for the crime of deicide, and we do this through the priesthood, sacrificing Our Lord, breaking and elevating His Body, pouring out His Holy Blood for His people.

          • Unbeliever Prime

            To be honest Chesire, I can’t help but be amused when you say that the fact that women cannot be priests does not imply that masculinity is better than femininity, and then in the following paragraphs heavily imply yourself that masculinity is better than femininity by going on and on about how masculine God is.
            From what I know of Catholicism, the more like/close to God something is the holier/better it is.

        • Greg Lamatrice

          David, being a Catholic priest is not “a profession”. Our Lord said, “You did not choose me, I chose you.” And the way the Lord continues to call priests is through the Church. Not every man who desires to be a priest is able to be a priest. A man who desires and feels called to be a priest must have this call confirmed by the Church through the person and authority of the local bishop. To become a priest involves a permanent, ontological change in and to the being of the man ordained. The priest acts, literally, in persona Christi, the bridegroom of His bride, the Church. The Lord did not choose or commission women to carry on His ministry nor did His apostles. When confronted with the opportunity to fill the place vacated by Judas, when they could have chosen the Blessed Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalen or any number of other holy women who followed Jesus from the beginning of His ministry, did they? No. They chose, or more appropriately, called upon the Holy Spirit to choose Matthias. If the Holy Spirit had desired a woman as a priest we need only look back at the selection of David after all of his brothers had been presented and the Lord said, “None of these are acceptable” (1 Samuel 17). Sadly, you are not alone in your profound misunderstanding of the nature of the Roman Catholic Priesthood and I can’t say that that is entirely your fault. For too long the Church has not been clear enough in Her teaching. As Blessed John Paul II said, “The Church does not have the authority to change” the Deposit of Faith received from our Lord and the Apostles, the Church is, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Deposit’s guardian and interpreter. And, on the issue of women being ordained as priests, the matter (and the cafeteria) is closed.

        • vox borealis

          You should do some basic, introductory reading on the Catholic theology of the sacramental priesthood. If you did, you would have the answer—from the Catholic theological perspective—to why the priesthood is male only, precluding women from that particular vocation. In fact, if any woman (or man) were to have a “reasonable knowledge of the theology of the religion involved” (job requirement B in your scheme), she or he would know that ordaining a woman as priest is impossible according to Catholic theology.

          I doubt you would *agree* with the theology, but at least you would understand it and not propose such a flawed “job description” of the priesthood (hint: the primary function of priest in the Catholic church has little to do with any of the main job requirements you cite).

          Once you understand the basic parameters of the topic, the discussion can move on to the more fundamental question: why would any woman *want* to be a priest in a Church whose theology excludes the possibility of her valid priesthood? Why would she want to “succeed as a priest” in a Church with whose theology she must necessarily reject in order to “succeed as a priest”?

          • Unbeliever Prime

            Why would such a woman (or for that matter any woman who believes that women are equal to men) want to be in the Catholic Church at all vox?

        • Susan Peterson

          What is missing in this is that you don’t understand that it has nothing to do with whether women could “fulfil the duties” of a Catholic priest. Of course they could. It has to do with what a woman *IS*, not with what she can do. It has to do with the meaning of being male and being female. That is a deep and mysterious subject which it would take long to develop. But basically the Church believes that it matters that Jesus Christ was male, and that only a male priest can stand in His place and offer the sacrifice of the mass. This is something *essential*, something in the being of a man which make it possible for him to be sacramentally given the character of a priest, and something in the being of the woman which makes it impossible. Impossible as in, no matter what words or rituals might be performed by whom, the character of the priesthood cannot be imparted to the soul of a woman.

    • Romulus

      David, you ever notice something interesting in the Gospels? Jesus blessed the lives of many men, as we can read. Some he invited to walk with him. Others wanted to walk with him, but he sent away. It is the Master who decides, not the acolyte.

      “there is no reason to presuppose that women couldn’t do it as well as men.”

      Where did you get the idea that the priesthood is all about functionality? Holy Orders is a sacrament. The first thing a priest does is to signify Christ the Bridegroom. No woman can convincingly signify a bridegroom. It’s no coincidence that the Paschal lamb specified in Scripture must be a male.

    • Mark Duch

      Being a father is something you are, not just something you do.

    • Mark Neal

      A woman cannot stand in persona Christi – Christ was a man.

    • TapestryGarden

      The Priest stands in Persona Christi. Christ was a man. A woman can not function as a Catholic priest even if she gives a great homily because a female is not the same as a male. You cannot change your nature, nor your chromosomes. No amount of plastic surgery or hormone treatment can make a woman into a man. Only men are Catholic priests. A simple concept that seems so difficult to grasp.

      You and the other Priestess apologists seem to believe that this is a job and all you need to do is pass the test and get a license. It’s not.

      • DavidMHart

        What extra is there apart from it being a job? If there is something magic extra going on, then by running the tests with the experimental female priests, you will be able to prove that that special magic is failing to transmit to them. If you can’t prove that, then the most reasonable conclusion is that it is just a job that women can do as well as men. How can you possibly tell unless you run the experiment?

        I though the whole point of Jesus was not that he was male but that he was the incarnation of God. His Y-chromosome is entirely incidental. Can you prove that a woman would be unable to stand in persona of the incarnation of a deity? If not, I say let them have a go.

        • TerryC

          Actually there is a metaphysical aspect to being a priest. No magic. And there is a theology of priesthood. Also not magical. This is not the physical sciences. One does not learn about Natural Law or Divine revelation through experimentation.
          I don’t have to prove that a woman can’t stand in for Christ, because the Church has already determined that. The Pope (JPII) has declared that the Church has no authority to ordain women. He made this announcement as a matter of dogmatic belief. That means it cannot be change and does not require further proof.
          Now you can choose to refuse to accept that, as have these woman who engage in fake ordinations. But your and their acceptance changes nothing. The Church will never ordain women to the priesthood.

          • Unbeliever Prime

            I fully agree with your last sentence Terry.
            The Catholic Church is very patriarchal and I don’t think it could let women into the hierarchy without fundamentally changing.

        • Susan Peterson

          Nothing that God does is incidental. It certainly matters that Jesus was male and not female. It would not be the same religion at all if God had a Daughter, rather than a son. The meaning of a woman on the cross could never be the same as the meaning of a man on the cross. For robots with interchangeable parts, maybe, but not for human beings.

        • Tapestrygarden

          You truly display a lack of understanding of Catholicism. Thus your arguments are based on not acknowledging any inherent difference between male and female but on the modern phrase from the Feminists that “anything you can do, I can do better.” And truly we are more enlightened about the reality that women can become doctors or attorneys or auto service technicians. But you completely miss the point, it’s not simply gaining a skill set. Several posters have explained that the Priesthood is not a job but a sacrament. A woman can put on robes, stand at the altar and give a great speech. But that isn’t the essential role of the Priest, but to stand as Christ for us today. All of us can bring Christ to the world with our lives but only the Priest stands in Persona Christi. Christ was unique in his time in recognizing and uplifting women including the Blessed Mother. So it’s not as if He didn’t believe women capable, but that each are called to a unique role. He called men to the Priesthood and to serve the Church.

    • kmk1916

      Are there any vocations/professions which men traditionally perform which can not possibly accomodate a woman’s choosing to perform it?

      • Susan Peterson

        Motherhood. Only a woman can be a mother. A father could of course take care of a baby, although not as well since he would have to feed it artificial food instead of the food made for babies which comes from a woman’s breasts, but he can never be a mother. Only a woman can carry a child in her womb, give birth, and nurse the child. (And no, someone who says she is a male and wears mens’ clothes but gives birth, is not a male, and not a father, she is still a mother, although I pity her child.)

        Only a man can be a priest in the same way that only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. (And the two are NOT the same.)

    • YoungProdigal

      As a priest stands “in persona Christi,” then your issue (or, shall I say, their issue that you defend) is with Jesus. Take it up with Him.

      • DavidMHart

        Okay I will. If Jesus can explain to me a convincing rationale why a woman would be unable to perform the duties of a priest, I will accept that explanation. But until that happens, I don’t see why any woman who wants to be a priest should accept being denied it by people presuming to speak on Jesus’ behalf.

        • vox borealis

          She shouldn’t. And since she rejects the basic, fundamental theology of that group, she should seek to get a job as a priest or minister or whatever at an outfit with whose theology she agrees.

          Seriously, I don’t understand why any woman who thinks as you seem to do would want to be a Catholic priest. I don’t agree with the teachings of Islam, so I would never demand to be a Muslim imam.

    • Bert_1

      You need to reread the quote from Fr. Longenecker that you pasted. He said “…most feminists have moved on from…”. That is what feminists [I]used[/I] to be like but they have changed.

      • DavidMHart

        And that is exactly the quote that I responded to. It’s not about doing the things the guys do for the sake of it, it’s about having the option of doing it if that is what you want to do.

    • Athelstane

      So what if the profession that a woman wants to choose is ‘priest’? Why should she not be able to develop the fullness of her feminine gifts in that profession?

      Because a) the Church considers herself (and has always considered herself) bound by the example of Christ, who chose only men for His Apostles, and b) no one has a “right” to ordination. God calls who He wills, and employs the Church as the instrument for their selection and ordination. And not even every man who hears a calling is able to consummate it.

      I’m sure many women have many of the gifts that are needed in priestly ministry in abundance. But that’s not the problem here. A woman cannot be an alter Christus – certainly not in the same way that a man can. This is the precedent set by Christ, and we are bound by it.

  • pumchen

    One of my bigest hang ups at coming into the Catholic faith – feminazis. I did, however, say yes to the LORD’s calling. If these women want to be worshiping as goddesses or banshees if you prefer, let God sort them out. In the meantime, keep them far from the ambo and the altar.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Actually I can’t help laughing every time I see women dressed as priests. It’s just so silly.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ JessicaHof

    DavidMHart – Our Lord, who was not bound by the conventions of his time when dealing with women (He did, after all, make the first resurrection appearance to a woman) did not choose any to be an Apostle. The Church is not free to disregard that. Women who want to be ‘priests’ can go join the Anglicans, who already do all the stuff the liberals want. Been a huge success there – or not.

  • http://lostreef.blogspot.com/ Virgil T. Morant

    The most shocking part of this story, judging by that photograph, is that the newly “ordained” woman is none other than Doris Roberts from Everybody loves Raymond!

  • Paxton Reis

    I’ve heard the Womenpriest set charge that they are being oppressed.
    Sorry, when I think of the oppressed, I see the poor struggling to feed their families, the refugees fleeing war, prisoners, immigrants crossing the US border at great risk, etc.

    In their claim to being oppressed, these women come off as self-centered, not Christ-centered, which is ultimately their great short coming and the very low traction to their cause. Humility would serve them well.

  • Paxton Reis

    And we here if the Catholic church were to allow women priests and support abortion, same sex marriage, and contraception that people would return for the church.

    Well, many Protestant denominations allow all of the above yet struggle with empty seminaries, empty pews, and relevancy in the public sphere.

    • Tapestrygarden

      You are absolutely right. The “mainline” Protestant churches have been losing members for decades. The more liberal they are, the more they ignore the tradition and teaching of Christ, the less appealing they become. After all, what does a “church” become at this point? A social club with little appeal in this day of entertainment,sports, and technology. Why bother if you are not encountering the sacred?

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    Here’s an Anglican ‘Chust for Ugly’:

    It’s just the sort of thing these wimmin’ would love.

    Notice how the architecture is, well, so 1970s, yet just built! Modernism – in architecture and doctrine – is looking so tired these days. But it’s clear people are desperately clinging on, like those now ex-young in our parishes, who now smell of pee, yet really believe ‘the young’ love, Here I am Lord, because they’ve been swaying to it for 40 years…

    But more importantly, this is what the reality brings when the tyre hits the road…

    My boss is an Anglican vicar. This afternoon, he’s off to to one of the dicoesan, three-line whip, 48-hour ‘training conferences’ at Swanwick.

    Firstly, he’s a vicar who actually does something, so can’t really afford the time, but what’s more galling? For the WHOLE afternoon session tomorrow, they’re having a cake-making Bake-Off!

  • Unbeliever Prime

    If the Church is feminine (as the author claims), then why is the Church hierarchy/priesthood composed solely of males?

    It doesn’t make sense.

    It would be like saying that driving cars is a masculine activity, so only women can be allowed to drive cars.

    But regardless of whether it makes sense, the Catholic Church cannot and will not accept female priests. Its too inherently patriarchal (I believe the author wrote an article about how the Church was a patriarchy and he was proud of that fact called IN PRAISE OF PATRIARCHY).

    Everybody would be happier if these wannabe (female) priests simply left the Church.

    Believe me, there are plenty of groups who would be willing to accept them.

    • TerryC

      It makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense because Christ’s relationship to the Church is equivalent to a man’s relationship with his wife. Hence the part of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:”Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it.”
      The whole theology of Marriage in the Catholic Church is reflective of Christ’s relationship to the Church. The Mass itself, which is often called the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and reflects back to the Passover (that’s Pascal) Sacrifice shows this. The male/female duality of the relationship of Christ to his Church runs through scripture. Priests must be male because the High Priest, Christ, is male. Christ is also the sacrifice, which as required for the pascal sacrifice by the Old Testament, must be male.
      This isn’t something that the Church made up last week, or yesterday or ever. This is something that has always had these connotations and theological relationships, from the very beginning of the Church. Don’t be fooled by those who tell you Christ only chose men because of cultural issues. Lots of religions during his time had priestesses. They were common in all of the civilizations that surround Palestine at that time. Christ flounted other local practices and the early Church, as described in Acts even gave up Jewish restrictions in many areas.
      I actually don’t want them to leave the Church. I want them to repent of their sin. Why would I want them to persist in their sin and eventually have to face judgment for it?

      • Unbeliever Prime

        I never really thought about it in detail until I read this blog on the subject a long time ago (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/08/if-hes-jesus-and-im-the-church-thats-not-equal.html) but if the relationship between man and wife is a mirror of the relationship between Jesus and the Church, then the relationships between husbands and wives are fundamentally unequal.
        Think about it…
        According to Christian theology God exists independently, and his will is supreme. Whereas the Church exists specifically for and in relationship to God. The Church is the body and God is the head/brain.
        If we apply this reasoning to husbands and wives, then the wife exists specifically for her husband ( but not visa versa). Moreover, the wife owes obedience to her head/husband, but he has no need to heed her wishes.
        This is not a relationship of equals.

        • FW Ken

          Read the whole 5th Chapter of Ephesians, starting with the first verse.

        • Tapestrygarden

          No you miss the point entirely. If the man is called to love his wife as Christ loves the Church he is called to DIE for her, to sacrifice himself if need be. It’s not a matter that the man can tell his wife what to do and he does as he wishes. It’s a matter of being willing to sacrifice everything just as Christ gave His life for us and for the Church and the whole world.

    • wineinthewater

      The priest stands “in persona Christi,” so in the person of Christ, not in the person of the Church.

    • FW Ken

      Well, by pretending to be ordained, they did leave the Church, but don’t tell them that. They could go join the Episcopal Church, but then they wouldn’t be edgy, rebelling, sticking it to the man.

  • Patti Day

    “Leave them alone, and they’ll come home…”

    From the picture above, it doesn’t look like they have all that much time.

  • Elizabeth K.

    I’m a woman. I’m a Catholic. I have a Ph.D.. I’m not offended if someone calls me a feminist. Here’s what some people don’t seem to get: the point is not mainly whether or not women could adequately do most of what priests do (though they can’t be men, which is a problem.) The deeper issue, which people rarely talk about, is why Jesus chose only men to be his priest. It was NOT because of the time period. Nor was it solely because he was a man, though that is part of it. it was also a reordering of gender that spoke directly to the patriarchy and to hierarchy of gender that occurred in the Fall. I’m really tired of stupid women who imagine that by taking on yet another crap job (sorry for the language) they’re achieving equality. Please. In my humble, femiinine opinion, Christ put the priesthood as a challenge for men. Because it’s harder for men. It’s countercultural, as the Church is countercultural. Seeing a male priest is moving, because it’s so different from what most men do, and it offers a truly alternative way of being masculine. A female priest? Sorry, not so much.

    • Neihan

      This is something that had never occurred to me before. Thank you.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    Bishop Barbie?

  • Kathleen

    When hell freezes over, then there will be female priests!

  • http://dave-lucas.blogspot.com DaveLucasNotes