Reiterates that the Church is not competent to ordain women. Catholics loyal to the Third Vatican Council in shock. The universal description of this in the MSM is that Francis is continuing the “ban” on women priests.
To be clear: The Church does not “ban” women from being priests any more than it “bans” consecration of water in the Eucharist or “bans” baptism in wine. The Church is not free to do whatever it feels like with the sacraments. It has to stick with the matter that Jesus and the apostles used in the sacraments when they handed them down to us. Jesus did not baptize in wine, consecrate water in the cup, or ordain women. The Church is powerless to tell Jesus he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
In response to this are various questions. For instance, why is it that Gentile males can be ordained when Jesus consecrated only Jewish males? Answer: those ordained Jewish males then consecrated Gentiles males as bishops and priests.
Another objection is Jesus nowhere speaks of ordaining priests in the Bible. So it’s all a manmade tradition and women should be ordained. Prescinding from the fact that “There is no priesthood and women should belong to it” is an odd argument, this is somewhat akin to saying that Jesus nowhere says “Bible” in the Bible either. In fact, of course, the priesthood of Jesus absolutely suffuses the New Testament and Jesus’ mission is incomprehensible without it. The New Testament is all about Jesus, the sacrifice who takes away the sins of the world and such a sacrifice requires a priest. And that priest has indeed establish the Eucharist is the eternal participation in that sacrifice. And the Eucharist therefore requires priests to celebrate it. And that is who he is consecrating “in the truth” in John 17. Bp. Robert Barron puts the boots on the idea that there is no New Testament sacerdotal priesthood:
The irony of much of our cultural conversation about priesthood is that it is really an argument, not about priesthood, but about kingship. For, of course, the real complaint is that the Church is denying *power* to women. But the Church is, in fact, denying power to itself: it lack the power to do things Jesus did not authorize it to do. Meanwhile, the Church has absolutely no doctrine at all denying women a participation in the kingly office. Women can be queens, presidents, abbesses, astronauts, doctors of the Church, generals, corporate executive, professors, theologians, scientists, authors, billionaires, poets, world leaders, and any other permutation of power figure you can name and the Church doesn’t say boo about it. It is *only* the priestly office–which is the sign of the Bridegroom offering himself in sacrifice for the Bride–that women cannot be ordained to. Why?
Well, Jesus doesn’t tell us explicitly just as he does not not spell out why you must baptize in water and not wine and drink wine and not water in the Eucharist. But given that sacrament do what the signify and signify what they do, it stands to reason that the particular matter Jesus chooses *matters*. Water washes, drown, and gives life. So does baptism. The blood of the grape reminds us of the blood of Christ, inebriates, and give joy. It is the fitting symbol. So too, men make better Bridegrooms. In the nuptial logic of the Eucharist, the symbolic significance is hard not to see.
One curious detail of all this is that, in clarifying that it is *only* the sacerdotal priesthood the Church is incompetent to ordain women to, she simultaneously makes clear that other roles in the Church are potentially open to women. In particular, there is necessary reason that the office of cardinal is restricted only to ordained men. To be sure, that is how the purely human rules are currently written. But the entire office of cardinal is a mere human tradition–invented by the Church as a way of getting popes elected and no more a part of Sacred Tradition then a parish finance council.
Because of this, the Church could, if she chose, select laypeople to be Cardinals–and that includes lay women. I suspect the Church will eventually do exactly that. Dunno if I’ll live to see it (I suspect not). But given the Church’s insistence on lay people playing as full a role as possible in the life of the Church, the internal logic of the Church’s insistence on the crucial role of the lay office seems to me point to such a development sooner or later. Councils generally take about a century to implement and we about 50 years out from Vatican II (and a bit more from Christifideles Laici). So I won’t be shocked to see lay cardinals, both male and female by century’s end.
But, as far as I can see, we will never see women priests. And I’m just fine with that. The sadness of the push for women priests is that it is a sign of the failure of lay people to appreciate the immense dignity of our office. It is an artifact of clericalism: the lie that that the only real Catholic is an ordained (or religious) Catholic.
This is one of many reasons I passionately support the work of the Catherine of Siena Institute and urge everybody to read Forming Intentional Disciples. The goal of the Catholic is not power. And it is false that the sole arena in which Catholics live is in the sanctuary, struggling to see who calls the shots. The goal of the Catholic is to become a saint and a teensy tiny number of us are called to the ordained office so they can help the overwhelming majority of the rest of us achieve that with the help of the sacraments. At the altar, the priest presides. But in the world, *we* laypeople preside with a God-given competence and authority, expressed through our unique charisms that can and does change that world forever.
I would not trade places with my priest for a million dollars. I have too much to do for God in the place he has put me and I am having too much fun doing it. 🙂