Women’s Ordination and Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”

Women’s Ordination and Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” May 21, 2015
427px-Priests_rome
Priests in Rome, 2005, Stefano Corso.

When I joined the convent, I informed my coworkers at the hip, tech company I worked for in San Francisco by sending them a link to the theme song for the TV show The Flying Nun.

After I sent out the email, a coworker gleefully asked me if I was leaving to become “one of those rad women priests.” I told her frankly that I was not and that I actually was (and am) fine with the Church’s stance on women’s ordination. Shocked that I could actually buy into the archaic, patriarchal norms of the Catholic Church the coworker ceased talking to me for the remaining two weeks I was there.

I don’t know about any other Catholic women out there but I am getting really tired of being pitied or thought a fool because I have no problem with the fact that I can’t be a priest. I’m especially getting tired of men telling me that I should feel oppressed and discriminated against because I belong to a Church in which there is a role that I cannot fulfill as a woman.

Talk about paternalism.

The thing is, I did not have a problem with women being barred from ordination when I was an atheist either. Even then, I could logically see that religion is an entirely different animal than the other institutions in modern society. If one truly believes that there are divinely revealed truths, then it is possible to believe that, for reasons one may not entirely understand at a certain point in history, God will ordain or design something that goes against the grain of the reigning tastes or ideals. I thought this was obvious even when, from the outside, it seemed clear to me that women should be able to be ordained and that God did not exist at all.

Now, from the inside, I see many new things.

For one, I see that women do things differently. Even if we do the same things, we do them differently because we bring to them the feminine genius of womanhood. In other words, men and women can and should do many of the same things. But they will always do them differently.

Just watch Taylor Swift’s new video “Bad Blood” and you’ll see what I mean. Women can be action heroes, just like men. We just do it differently (and with more style):

And perhaps God, realizing that, had it in his plan for women to act in our baptismal role as priests in a way that would be different from men. We, of course, can do many of the same things that priests do. But we do it differently. And this is what God has asked us to do in his Church.

The male priesthood is just one thread in a beautiful, intricate puzzle of salvation designed by the greatest artist of all, God. Remove one thread and it affects the entire work of art. Outwardly, male priests may look like an inequality, but inwardly it is simply in keeping with God’s artistic preferences as the just Creator of the Universe. As a religious sister, I see this even more clearly now because I see my own role in salvation, and I know that it is different than the role of an ordained priest.

There are both men and women religious in the Church, and we all are threads in the tapestry, but women religious have a beautiful role in the Church that cannot be replaced by anything a man could ever do. We are women religious, and our distinctly feminine way of relating to the world and to God’s people is irreplaceable. The thing is, no one seems to have a problem with me saying this. But if I said, “We are men and we are priests, and our distinctly masculine way of relating to the world and to God’s people is irreplaceable” then people would most likely object.

Why?

Because in the view of the world, priests have power and women religious do not. The hierarchy of the Church is male. Dogma is determined by males. No females allowed. This looks, on its face, unjust.

But from the inside, we know that in reality, no man is determining dogma. The Magisterium of the Church has a boss and it is the Holy Spirit. Priests are not holding the reins, they are just on the ride of salvation like everyone else. Their roles may differ from ours, but their degree of power should not.

I say should not, because we all know that we are human and the fact is that women have been oppressed and discriminated against since the beginning of time. The Church has not been miraculously immune to sexism. I still, at times, experience sexism as a woman religious. There are people in the Church who see the hierarchical structure of the Church and mistake the God-given design as an indication that men are somehow more valuable, more needed, and more deserving of respect than women. These sexist attitudes can be seen in the kind of “clericalism” that Pope Francis condemns outright. He once prayed:

Lord, free your people from a spirit of clericalism and aid them with a spirit of prophecy.

Why is clericalism linked to stifling prophecy? Because men and women are all called, in our own unique ways, to be priests, prophets and kings. When we give too much power to one group in the Church through, for instance, misguided attitudes of clericalism, it stifles the rest of God’s people who are unable to play their role in the Church as they should.

That is why, when Pope Francis calls for more feminine participation in the Church on all levels, I am enthusiastically behind this sentiment. There is work to be done in the Church to expand the role of women and I believe this is firmly in keeping with Jesus’ original intent.

So, in the end, the outside world’s changing ideals, insofar as they reflect truth, can help the Church to question and work to align Herself with the equality that God had in mind when he designed the work of salvation. But this will only take us to a point. We cannot transgress the directives received in Scripture, Tradition and through the Magisterium, that the role of the priesthood is a role reserved for males, just as the role of a woman religious, (which is just as valuable, powerful, and needed as the role of the priest!), is reserved to women.

So, sorry guys, no veils for you.


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  • Marc Miller

    Great commentary!

  • disqus_Kw6FkrnE6a

    I hear you about being sick of dogmatic radicals of the left (and right) who think anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot (sometimes an evil idiot). Dividing humans into male and female works most of the time, because most of us (me included) are built to feel sufficiently comfortable in the roles assigned to our sex that we don’t feel a need to complain. However, sexual identity is a continuum, and although most of us fall at the far male-female ends, there are some who fall at different points along the continuum, with those in the middle feeling almost androgynous. So it’s understandable why some women could feel very uncomfortable being denied less traditional ways of expressing their love of God, especially when they feel genuinely called to the priesthood. Some of them can be royally obnoxious about it, but in my experience, obnoxious people can be found at every point of every spectrum and it has more to do with their personalities than their beliefs. — Janet

  • Kristen

    No veils for the guys, but they can have cowls. I recognize that a call to religious life and a call to ordination are two different things. But setting ordination aside, talking about men religious who are not ordained to the presbyterate, I have a harder time seeing how monks are different from nuns, how sisters are different from friars.

    • Sr Marianne Lorraine Trouve

      Kristen you are right that both men and women are in the religious life. This is a different state from the ordained state. The consecrated life (which includes the religious life and other forms of life, like secular institutes) is essentially a following of the poor, chaste, and obedient Christ. It is more a part of the charismatic aspect of the Church, not the hierarchical one. In the different types of consecrated life, the Church shows Christ in various aspects: praying, healing, preaching, helping the poor, etc.

  • Justin

    Thank you for writing this- the Catholic philosophy/theology of gender and gender roles is definitely a “clash of cultures” which is challenging to a lot of us; accepting the teachings of the Church and wrapping one’s mind around them can be two very different things! This is very insightful, and helpful to that end.

  • I’m not Catholic and I don’t feel that I’m called to be a priest/pastor/minister (so this doesn’t affect me personally), but I appreciated reading this. Sometimes people get so riled up over “fighting the fight” that they don’t step back and find out if the people they’re fighting for actually want them to do it. I think it’s super condescending to pity someone who chose to become a nun. It’s not like you didn’t know what you were doing.

    • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

      Right? Thanks Kristy 🙂

  • Luis Gutierrez

    This is not about what women (or men) want. This is about discerning what Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God and the good of souls. Would Jesus, in today’s global Church, choose 12 males to represent the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel? The male-only priesthood is a choice, not a dogma (CIC 1024, CCC 1598). It is not part of any divine “puzzle of salvation.” It derives from a patriarchal culture made by human hands and contaminated by sin going back to Genesis 3:16. What Jesus did during his temporal mission to the people of Israel, taking into account what people around him could absorb, may or may not be what he would do today, if allowed to do so by the Church. The Church does have the authority (Matthew 16:19, 18:18) to discern his will here and now, and to act accordingly. It is becoming increasingly evident that the male-only priesthood harms the entire body of Christ, *especially the men.* Christ submits to the Church. Is the Church submitting to Christ? Patriarchy is passing away, but the deposit of faith will remain intact when the patriarchal scaffolding is discarded. Isn’t it time?

    • Justin

      Luis, you know I disagree. But I definitely admire in you in this: there is something you perceive as a serious injustice and you rally against it! You make a very rational argument re: female ordination (to be fair, I think the church does so as well for the opposing viewpoint- all disputes worth having have strong voices on both sides), but here’s the fundamental difference; I have accepted the Catholic Church’s unique office in God’s plan, the belief that the institution was given the mandate of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to protect us from error on doctrinal issues; this applies even (perhaps especially) when addressing conflicts between the Church and our own -emic judgement in any specific era/ cultural context. I did not base my belief in the Church on any one issue, and certainly not the gender/pelvic issues (getting to belief in the Church was much more complicated than that!), but when I did realize I believed in the Church, I accepted the truth of the divine guidance within it. Obviously, that doesn’t mean everything ever said by someone wearing a backwards collar is right (nor does the Church claim as much), but it does mean submission to a specific set of doctrines. Its a matter of faith, the same as believing in the existence of Jesus, the same as believing in anything supernatural for that matter! Not everyone has this belief- I have plenty of friends in the Protestant clergy who certainly don’t. But as a Catholic, I believe. And I am confident in that belief. The Holy Spirit hasn’t let me down so far, and I know it will not. This won’t change your mind, and (if I understand your viewpoint correctly- I apologize if I do not) you’ll continue to believe that this policy is an aspect of the Church steered by mortal interests rather than divine guidance- what we have faith in differs on this point (though I do hope the orthodox Catholic Church will gain your trust and faith one day, no doubt as much as you hope we’ll adjust how far our faith in Church orthodoxy runs). Heck, many atheists will continue to believe we’re *both* fools for believing in supernatural gobbeldygook, period. But confidence in the Holy Spirit’s stewardship of our Church is foundational to Catholic belief, and it is what preserves and nourishes us.

      • Luis Gutierrez

        Justin, we are basically on the same page with regard to faith in the Church. Our only point of disagreement is whether or not this issue has been infallibly settled or not. You believe it has, I don’t think so. Doctrinal details… details… details… not worth discussing, really, except that Christ is still forbidden from doing something good, and the entire body of Christ is suffering as a result. Again, this is NOT an injustice against humans, male or female… for we are all sinners and don’t deserve any of the fruits of the redemption. The injustice is against Christ by forbidding him to call women when the signs of the times clearly show that he may want to start doing so. For Christ is always the same, but the Church is “work in progress” and he is married to the Church, not to patriarchy or any other system. My point is, let’s give him a chance, and see what happens. The vocation of baptized women who feel called would have to be tested like the vocation of baptized men… Look, this is a visceral issue that cannot be resolved by reasoning alone but, while we wait and pray for the Church to decide, we should not be afraid to ask honest questions, should we?

        • Justin

          I have to say, that isn’t what I was expecting! A very different take than I’ve seen before- and with a lot more consideration to orthodoxy. While I do trust the voices that have told me that it is a settled doctrinal issue, I have to admit that the “[d]octrinal details… details… details…” are something which I haven’t looked into personally- you’ve given me something to read up on!

          • Luis Gutierrez

            Honest to goodness, my understanding is that the issue is settled with regard to the past and the present, but not the future. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1577 and 1598, and the Theology of the Body, 8:1-4 (starting in page 156 of the 2006 edition). Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is entirely written in past and present tense, and basically says that the rationale of CCC 1577 is the best we have and we must “definitively” stick with it for now; but it says *nothing* about what the Church can or cannot do in the future. The Theology of the Body supports *neither* radical feminism *nor* rigid patriarchy. If you read the book paying attention to the literal meaning of the text, rather than reading through either a patriarchal lens or a feminist lens, it deconstructs *both* secular patriarchy and secular feminism, and shows that *neither* can exhaust revealed truth. It might seem paradoxical that both texts were penned by the same person; but, would this be the first time that a Pope speaks with both sides of his mouth, for the good of the Church? With all due respect for the CDF and other experts, if the Pope was not willing to sign the document as infallible, it is NOT infallible. Details, details… Prayers!

          • AliciaS

            Luis, with all due respect, it seems to me that you are looking for wiggle room or loopholes. It all goes back to how the Church was set up. There is nothing that Jesus left us to indicate that we could change the original framework. We all know what happens, after all, when we try to. If He indeed meant for woman to be priests, why wouldn’t he have given the Blessed Mother a more clerical role? She is a most beautiful example of purity and holiness, but not ordination. She certainly was the most complete human witness to the life of Jesus on earth, but her role was very clearly defined. The pagan religions at the time had priestesses, so it was not unheard of. Jesus could have done anything He wanted. He certainly wasn’t known for following convention. If you are implying that the Son of God, who faced down the highest authorities of His time, was afraid of a little backblow for having women in leadership roles, I think you are assuming far too much. As a woman, I accept by role in the Church. The role as assigned by Jesus. Why can’t you?

          • Luis Gutierrez

            The BVM was called to an entirely unique and unrepeatable ministerial vocation, and is much more than a sacramentally ordained priest, so the fact that she was never “ordained” is of no consequence for the sacramentality of holy orders. Besides, ordination does not depend on holiness, and the efficacy of the sacraments is not dependent on the holiness of the minister (“ex opere operato”).

            The Marian dimension of the Church precedes the Petrine dimension (CCC 773). Mary is Mother of God and Mother of the Church. At the Annunciation, she accepted a *unique and unrepeatable* ministerial vocation that makes her much more than a priest or a bishop in the sacramental economy. The ministerial vocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is crucial for the women’s ordination issue. She was “ordained” directly by the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation, presided when the Eucharist was first celebrated in the flesh (Incarnation, Nativity), stood presiding when the Redemption was consummated at Calvary, presided when the Church was visibly born (Pentecost).

            Mary’s collaboration with the divine plan in salvation history and the sacramental economy is entirely *unique and unrepeatable* and continues everywhere in the life of the Church (CCC 973). This is confirmed by the Marian dogmas about her divine motherhood (431 AD), immaculate conception (1854 AD) and assumption body and soul to heaven (1950 AD). She is Mother of God, Mother of the Redeemer, and Mother of the Church (Lumen Gentium, 53). The idea that a woman cannot be a priest, just because Mary was not sacramentally ordained by a bishop, is a misconception rooted in patriarchal ideology, not divine revelation. In her body, the entire sacramental economy was engendered!

          • AliciaS

            Thank you for your reply about Mary. It took a moment to figure out what BVM meant, lol! I agree with what you said, especially the last part. Her role as the Mother of God and her ‘yes’ saved mankind. She is beyond and separate from the priesthood, rather than a part of it, In fact, I think calling Mary a bishop, or even a pope, would be a demotion! No, she was separate and important in her own right. Just as mankind could not be saved without Mary, mankind could not continue without women. That doesn’t make us any less than a man. I think instead of trying to force the Church to change the framework given to us. we should do as Pope Francis has urged us and change our view of women. If every man and woman truly appreciated and revered women, whether CEO or housewife, how much better would we be? Women have a tremendous influence in the Church. Most parishes would cease running without them, but there is a lot of room to grow. That should be our focus, rather than worrying about civil definitions of “equality” and forcing roles without adequate scriptural or Traditional backing. Just as every priest is like a little Christ, I see every Sister as a little Mary.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            I think it is time to clarify the conflation of sacramental theology and patriarchal ideology. “Mary, Untier of Knots, pray for us.”

    • amandany

      Thank you, Luis. This is an excellent comment and much more eloquently stated than I would have stated it. 🙂

    • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

      Luis, You are right, this isn’t about what anyone wants but God. The Jesus I believe in didn’t tiptoe around cultural norms. He did what was right and just at all times no matter when he lived. And I’ll follow his plans – even when it’s unpopular.

      • captcrisis

        Women can’t be priests because they don’t look like Jesus. Only a man can look like Jesus. Because only men can grow beards and don’t have breasts.

        This is not a joke. It is the reason Paul VI gave. It is the current holding of the Church hierarchy and it’s only been true since 1976. It is most certainly *not* “what God wants”.

        Fortunately most Catholics think for themselves. When they look into it they see that Paul’s reasons were bogus, based on patristic writings that were misogynist even by your standards, and upon the empty argument of “tradition”. “Tradition” is not an argument. “Tradition” includes many ugly practices that the Church no longer follows.

        • Rayle Ryden

          Some men have breasts some women have beards. I know some.

          • captcrisis

            True. A factor that Paul did not take account of.
            You’d think fake beards would solve this difficulty. Like English judges wearing wigs.

      • Luis Gutierrez

        Sure, Jesus didn’t tiptoe around cultural norms, but he had enough common sense to know what people around him could absorb. See, for example, John 4:28, 16:12. His temporal mission was to the people of Israel. Of course he did what was right for them, but what was right for his disciples during his public ministry, and *before* the resurrection and Pentecost, is not necessarily what is right for Christians now. Christ is always the same, but the Church is “work in progress.” The Church always did what was popular in patriarchal cultures. Now that patriarchy is passing away, why worry so much about being popular now? Isn’t it possible that inertia and resistance to change are also factors to be considered? To be unpopular, for the sake of being unpopular, is not a good criterion for discernment.

        • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

          My criteria for discernment is not what is unpopular. That is a pretty clear misrepresentation of what I wrote. My criteria for discernment is my conscience formed by the actions and words of Jesus in Scripture, Tradition and the Holy Spirit speaking through the Magisterium, (which has made very clear in several documents that this case is closed.)

          What is your criteria Luis? How do you think the Holy Spirit speaks today? You said that it is important to you what God thinks but how do you think he speaks other than through Scripture and his Church?

          • Luis Gutierrez

            He speaks through the signs of the times. He speaks through the sense of the faithful. He speaks through the apostles and their successors. The Pope, as successor of Peter, has the final say at any given time, but no Pope has ever defined dogmatically that the male-only priesthood is a divinely revealed dogma that can never be changed.

            Acts 15 provides a good model on how the discernment process should proceed. OPEN discussion, without any form of intimidation to conform to preconceived ideas and past practices. The final decision is to be made by Peter (15:28). No such decision has been made. It is a visceral issue. Let us pray and be open to the Spirit.

          • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

            Luis, I think we are in agreement on many things, except the fact that I think, along with the past few popes, that this decision has been made. Blessings.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            It has NOT been made infallibly. It will take a miracle, but nothing is impossible for God! Blessings to you! 🙂

    • Sr Marianne Lorraine Trouve

      Trying to discern “what Christ would want” is a pretty risky proposition–we would end up discerning our own ideas. Which is why we have the Church and divine revelation to guide us, since through those means Christ has already told us what he wants.

      • Luis Gutierrez

        As long as we have the Church and divine revelation to guide us, why should we be so afraid of asking honest questions? Our own ideas will never become infallibly defined dogmas of the faith, so your perception of the risk involved may be a bit inflated. Are we to assume that we already have full and complete understanding of the deposit of faith? Of course not! The patriarchal priesthood is not a dogma of the Catholic faith. That apostolic succession must be restricted to males for the Church to remain apostolic is not a dogma of the faith. In fact, based on the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (1577, 1598) and John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” (specifically, TOB 8:1-4), my understanding is that the ordination of women to the priesthood would be in *perfect continuity* with apostolic tradition. Crazy idea? As long as I am not elected Pope, don’t worry; but if I am, watch out! 🙂

        • Sr Marianne Lorraine Trouve

          I’m not worried about that, Luis! and Pope John Paul already spoke authoritatively on this question. Case closed.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            The case is NOT closed. The door is provisionally closed but not dogmatically locked. Pope John Paul never defined, as a divinely revealed dogma, that the male-only priesthood is a matter of faith. He did issue a letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (in 1994, addressed to the bishops, not the entire Church) ordering a *hiatus* in official discussion of the issue by the bishops. It is entirely written in past and present tense, and says nothing about what the church can or cannot do in the future. Ergo, it is “definitive” with regard to the past and present, but not the future, since the document says nothing about the future. Needless to say, subsequent documents by the CDF are not infallible, because the CDF is never infallible and cannot infallibly define that the Pope was infallible even though he didn’t say so. Better take a look at CCC 1577 and 1598. CCC 1577 is the same provisional doctrine (formulated by the CDF, not the Pope, in 1976) about the 12 apostles; it is obviously a patriarchal rationalization of current practice, and so unpersuasive that necessitated issuing Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to buy time. CCC 1598 is closer to more essential doctrine. The first sentence says that the male-only priesthood is a choice made by the Church. The second sentence states who has the authority to make the choice. Note that the patriarchal argument in 1577 is not reiterated in 1598. Good to know that you are not worried, I am not worried either. Prayers!

          • captcrisis

            Actually that wasn’t him in 1994. It was Ratzinger, introducing a new level of “doctrine”. Why didn’t JP II simply say it “infallibly”? There was a reason . . .

          • Luis Gutierrez

            Yes, and I am sure that the pope and his aides were acting with the best intention. My conjecture is that the argument about the 12 male apostles (formulated by the CDF in 1976 and used in the 1994 catechism, article 1577) is so weak that they felt a need to buy time. The same argument is used in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, but note it is not repeated in the “more essential” section 1598 of the catechism. It may have been also a way to show who is in command of the ship, so the bishops were told to stop discussing the issue. Who knows… but there is no way in the world that all the elucubrations and ambiguities in these documents add up to a dogma of the Catholic faith!

          • Brian_Hall_1900

            I don’t see how CC 1598 is more essential than CC 1577. They’re both in continuity with what The Church has always done. You make a claim that the argument is weak but you do not demonstrate nor state why it is weak. So much goes for speaking your mind and not using rational reasoned argument/thought to promote what you’re actually claiming.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            See the Catechism, Prologue, 22. The argument in 1577 is weak because it assumes that a choice Jesus made during his public ministry to the people of Israel is normative until the end of time. The patriarchal priesthood is not a dogma of the Catholic faith. Two thousand years doing something doesn’t make it revealed truth. Notice that 1577 is not reiterated in 1598.

          • Brian_Hall_1900

            I’m trying to understand what you’re saying but it’s definitely not clear. What does Catechism, Prologue, 22 have to do with your argument? CC 1577 makes a clear statement of “fact” that has occurred. Because of this fact, The Church is honoring this decision. It does not have to be reiterated in CC 1598 because it has already ready been understood to be a fact that has occurred. Read CC 1598 closely in Latin or English and note the phrase that been included at the end of the first sentence:

            “1598 The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men (viri), “whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized.” Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.”

            Look at the quoted part and you’ll see that this phrase directly references what The Church has already stated in CC 1577 AND previously in other places. In your argument, you’re inculcating many big words that have no meaning other than what the present modern push for women priesthood has stipulated; for example, “patriarchal priesthood,” whatever that means since it is a word full of bias that precludes the ability to understand what God has revealed as priesthood throughout revelation history and hence highly anachronistic; and, the clear denial of two thousand years of tradition as if nothing had occurred the way it happened for a reason, however mysterious it may appear to some. Your arguments are not supported within The Tradition of The Church and hence not going to be heard except by those who have already concluded them to be valid. But if you want to establish credibility it will not happen unless you consider the Tradition of The Church in any argument otherwise your appeals to incorrectly interpreted verses of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will not affect the reasoning of those who do not share your perspective, since what you’ve stated is just an opinion that hasn’t been validated in any reasonable, historical, logical, and faithful manner. I’m willing to listen to a valid argument but only if it truly attempts to consider revelation history seriously.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            CCC Prologue 22 says that the “IN BRIEF” sections sum up what is essential in the preceding sections and suggests that should be memorized by catechists.

            CCC 1577 is a patriarchal rationalization of past and current church practice, and very unpersuasive because it assumes as timeless a decision that the Lord made within the context of his mission to the people of Israel.

            CCC 1598 has two sentences. The first sentence says that choosing only males is a choice. The second sentence says who can make the choice. Since church authority can make the choice, it must be that church authority can change the choice if and when it discerns that this is what Christ would to in today’s Church.

            See also Matthew 13:52. We shall see what the next catechism says. It may be published before the end of the 3rd millennium, so hang in there! 🙂

          • Brian_Hall_1900

            Again, you’ve stated your opinion but it is not an argument. Where is the word “choice” in the phrase you claim? You’re being disingenuous and highly interpretative in your assessment. I can’t you believe you can’t read the text for what it states without imbuing it with your own bias. Everything you state is not what the text says. And please look at the illogical use of the word “patriarchal.” For if it is as you claim, what can be said of understanding anything history has stated since it’s been tainted by the broad interpretive paint brush you’ve utilized. This alone should lead you to question what you’re saying because you are not maintaining continuity with anything God has done through His Church since you could invalidate anything by your specious reasoning.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            Well, it says what it says, and it doesn’t say what it doesn’t say. The text is, at best, ambiguous. This kind of ambiguity cannot possibly translate into a divinely revealed dogma of our faith. Let’s be patient, and wait for Church to clarify the issue. If you don’t think any clarification is needed, fine with me. Based on my understanding of what the catechism says, and what it leaves unsaid, it is not clear to me that apostolic succession is contingent on masculinity. In fact, as soon as you remove the patriarchal bias, masculinity is as incidental as the color of a person’s eyes. Peace!

          • Brian_Hall_1900

            O.k. Keep believing what’s not written. You’ve just made it clear that your opinion is what counts and not what the facts are.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            No, I just made clear that the text is ambiguous and it is not a dogma of the faith. I don’t believe in what is not written, but I don’t believe in what is ambiguously written either. I do, however, hope that the Church will clarify the issue in due course, dogmatically if necessary.

          • Brian_Hall_1900

            The text is clear. You’ve imbued it with ambiguity because what you’re suggesting is not even remotely on the radar any way you read it. It’s incumbent upon you to promote arguments that would favor your position and not use ambiguity as the reason to justify them.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            OK, my arguments are documented here:

            Ordination of Women in the Sacramental Churches
            http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv11n06supp6.html#section9

          • Luis Gutierrez

            OK, my arguments are documented here:

            Ordination of Women in the Sacramental Churches
            http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv11n06supp6.html#section9

            No rush, take your time, but let me know what you think and if you find any dogmatic errors.

  • Thomas Hunter Ernde

    Hello Sister, I really appreciated your article and agree. Reading this reminded me of a talk given by Cardinal Maradiaga about a year ago in Miami. Here’s an excerpt from the talk about the new Evangelization and specifically on the role of the clergy and the laity:

    “No ministry can be placed above this dignity common to all. Neither the clergy are ‘the men of God,’ nor are the laity ‘the men of the world.’ That is a false dichotomy. To speak correctly, we should not speak of clergy and laity, but instead of community and ministry. All the baptized are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood (LG 10). Therefore, not only we clergymen are ‘priests,’ but also, side by side with the ordained ministry, there is the common priesthood of the faithful. This change in the concept of priesthood is a fundamental one: ‘In Christ the priesthood is changed’ (Hebrews 7: 12). Indeed, the first trait of the priesthood of Jesus is that ‘he had to be made like his brothers in every respect.’

    “The original priesthood of Jesus is the one that has to be continued in history. And it is the basis for understanding the presbyterium and, of course, common priesthood. Thus, the whole Church, the people of God, continues the priesthood of Jesus without losing their lay character, in the realm of the profane and the unclean, the ‘cast out;’ a priesthood that does not focus themselves exclusively in the cult at the temple, but in the entire world, with a Samaritan praxis of justice and love. This priesthood belongs to the substantive plane; the other –the presbyterium —is a ministry and cannot be conceived apart from the common
    priesthood.” – Keynote Speech by Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga at Synod Closing Assembly (in Miami) Monday, Oct 28, 2013

    What is most striking for me as a Seminarian and for other priests who are really serious about their ministry, is the importance that the Cardinal places on the necessity of priestly service “in the realm of the profane and the unclean, the ‘cast out;’ a priesthood that does not focus themselves exclusively in the cult at the temple, but in the entire world.” Christianity cannot be spread, without mothers and fathers who offer themselves up as a sacrifice to God, who let their love for each other and for their children, their work and their leisure be lifted up as an “evening oblation” (Psalm 141) to the praise and glory of God. The same is true of the religious, brothers and sisters both. We all are necessary pieces in the puzzle, integral members of the Body of Christ and cannot function without the others’ existence, work, and sacrifice.
    God bless you!

    • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

      Excellent, thanks for sharing that quote Hunter.

  • Kathryn Coe

    “I’m especially getting tired of men telling me that I should feel oppressed and discriminated”
    YES!!! When I hear this I think it’s just a sneaky way to say, “being a priest is too hard for our delicate male sensibilities, why don’t you ladies pick up the slack?” I just want to scream out, “What? We’re supposed to give birth, nurse, raise children, do the laundry, make dinner, and now we’re supposed to minister to the faithful as well? Don’t you men want to do anything?!”

    • Korou

      Who said you were supposed to do the dinner, laundry and raising children?

      • Kathryn Coe

        nobody “said” I have to do anything. I was giving voice to frustration.

        • Korou

          Sorry for my mistake. I thought you were seriously making a point.

  • Stephen Sparrow

    Well stated Sr Teresa. By negative inference I look at other confessions which have women clergy/ministers and it seems to me all have been sucked into the trap of not seeing separate roles for men and women, and so for them it’s perfectly logical to end up agreeing to same sex marriage and trying somehow to step out ot the things women are specialized for and to take on the roles men are specialized in. But then other denominations have abandoned the dogma of the Eucharist – the Body of Christ is for them merely a symbol like a flag, whose design can always be changed by agreement.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Being a nun in the US today is probably far better than it was in Italy for the daughters of Galileo. The convent where they lived was so impoverished that the sisters could not afford to pay a priest to conduct services. They exchanged services in-kind and had gotten a reputation for being a cat house. It is unfortunate that they did not figure out how to conduct services on their own.

    There are plenty of female priests in the Christian religion. They are simply outside of the Vatican hierarchy.

  • captcrisis

    Women and men in fact do things the same. It’s just that you prejudge what they’re doing.

    If you were blindfolded and unable to see whether it was male or female you wouldn’t be able to tell.

  • niknac

    We all have our prejudices. I think there will be women priests and I like that. A lot of the male priests are very effeminate and seem to be trying to be women. I’m not so crazy about that. My prejudices. I think it’s cruel to withhold the sacraments from anyone that wants them. My prejudices. I don’t confess to a priest. I don’t know one I consider trustworthy. My prejudice.

    • captcrisis

      Well put! We all have our prejudices. Some are more honest about them of course . . .

  • Sr Marianne Lorraine Trouve

    Very well stated, Sr Theresa. You’ve captured that there is much more to this than at first meets the eye. Symbolism and mystery are crucial in the Catholic faith. The Church is the Bride and Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. The sacramental role of the priest is to be an “alter christus” representing the bridegroom.

  • Amaryllis

    Certainly it’s inappropriate, and rude, to criticize a woman who feels called to be a nun. The non-ordained religious life isn’t a “second-best” consolation prize, it’s a valuable calling in its own right.

    But I don’t see that the existence of the sisterhood does away with the question of women’s ordination. Some men are called to be monks and some to be priests or deacons. Are women truly so different from men that that couldn’t be true for them also?

    Women, in general, and men, in general, may do things differently. Are the differences more important than the similarities? What is it that women lack,that makes them incapable of the sacramental priesthood?

    And yes, there are two questions here. That’s one of them; the other is the question of the power structure of the church. People have been complaining about clericalism for centuries, and calling for increased representation in the church hierarchy for laypeople including women, all my life (and I’m old). Nevertheless, the parishes (most of them) and the dioceses (all of them) are headed by men. And always will be, because the church has chosen to commingle its sacramental, doctrinal and administrative functions in the all-male priesthood. And the all-male priesthood can’t help but have an effect on the way women are viewed in the church.

    Out of curiosity, I went and checked the website for my local archdiocese. The Archbishop and the auxiliary bishops, obviously, all men. The heads of departments, mostly laymen, with the exception of Human Resources which is headed by a woman. There are women in the middle-management levels and below, but the pattern’s pretty clear. And no matter how many women are employed by the Church, the decision-making remains with the bishops.

    Remember the recent Synod on the Family? The optics, as they say, of an all-male group attempting to determine the official stance on matters that affect women’s lives so deeply, were terrible.

    I suppose we can’t expect the Church to be unaffected by the ordinary social patterns. But I think it’s reasonable to ask whether the ordinary social patterns are having an undue influence on the Church. What’s really God’s design, and what’s just unquestioned old prejudices? Does God have a design at all, for that matter, or did he simply provide the foundation– the sacraments, and a channel through which they flow– and the rest is left up to us?

    Why is there a sacrament which only applies to half the human race?

    • AliciaS

      As a woman, who served in the military and in other non-traditional jobs, you’re right. I normally would not trust a bunch of men to make such imortant decisions. Fortunately, the Catholic Church isn’t asking me to trust a bunch of men. The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and that is who I trust. Pray that the bishops follow Christ (who walked on earth as a man). I see our Holy Father as someone who definitely hears even the faintest whisper of the Holy Spirit who was sent to guide the Church. Pray that continues.

  • Elleblue Jones

    Sister, brilliant article. Stay your course.

    • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

      Thanks Elleblue, bless you!

  • bdlaacmm

    I’m in my mid-60s now, so feel free to write off my thoughts as those of a dinosaur. But the longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve learned that men and women are truly, fundamentally different at every level and in every sphere. The physical differences are relatively trivial compared to the totally variant ways the sexes approach the core aspects of all human relationships. Even the most casual of encounters – a two line conversation, a 30 second encounter at a cash register, passing by someone at a doorway, whatever – is subtly (or even radically) different depending on whether the other person is a man or a woman.

    Watching my grandchildren grow up, I can assure you that even in infancy the differences are apparent. And I am NOT talking of how we adults deal with them, but rather with how they (the infants) approach the world around them.

    Nothing “sexist” about any of this – just the way things are.

    • KarenJo12

      If men and women are that completely different, then why aren’t women allowed to be priests to other women? How can a man adequately represent me in any area?

      • johnnysc

        So you are saying that Jesus could not adequately minister to you?

        • KarenJo12

          Are you saying that men are similar enough to women that men can minister to us, but are so different from women that we can’t minister to them?

          • bdlaacmm

            No, just that our roles are different. I can’t be a mother, and a woman cannot be a father. Perhaps there’s a reason why priests are referred to as “Father”? Just a thought.

          • KarenJo12

            But priests AREN’T ‘fathers,’ not in the sense that mothers are actual mothers.

          • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

            They are fathers in a spiritual sense, just like religious sisters are spiritual mothers. Mothers and fathers play different and equally important roles in a family just as spiritual mothers and fathers.

          • KarenJo12

            Fathers have power. Mothers don’t. There is no admonition for men to obey their wives. It is possible in your church to have communities entirely without women but there is no way for women to have a community without at least one man, the priest. So tell me again how some are equal to men in your world?

          • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

            St Paul was speaking of mutual submission and actually the Church cannot survive without women and the unique role we play, just as She cannot survive without men. We are mutually dependent on one another.

          • KarenJo12

            You didn’t address the point that men can have communities without any women but women can’t have a community without any men. A male priest is required for any Catholic community but no woman is necessary. How can you say that men and women are mutually dependent when they can live without us but we can’t escape them?

          • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

            I did respond to that point KarenJo by saying that the Church could not survive without women either.

          • KarenJo12

            But so long as the priesthood is all men, it CAN survive without women. All the other roles you list for us are unnecessary. Only priests are required for a valid Mass. No other people have to be there.

          • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

            No, the priesthood cannot survive without women. All priests have mothers.

            I am going to leave this conversation here but I wish you the best KarenJo and will keep you in prayer.

          • Korou

            I think you confused the priesthood with the human race.

          • PalaceGuard

            I think KJ12 is just confused. Been there, so I have prayed for her.

          • PalaceGuard

            There is, however, an admonition,”Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Read it all, and don’t just chew on those cherry pits which suit you. You only end up gnashing your teeth.

          • johnnysc

            I have no ‘feelings’ on the matter except to say that I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, the Catholic Church. Jesus instituted an all male priesthood to minister to the Church body. Remember Jesus is fully God and fully man. When a priest hears confession it is in persona Christi…..in the person of Christ.

            Notice I didn’t answer your question with another question.

          • KarenJo12

            You did admit that the priest stands in for Jesus, who is fully God. The priest must be male and no woman can ever be the image of Christ. This is incontrovertible proof that the fundamental base for the male priesthood is that women bear less of the image of God that men do.

          • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

            We are all called to become like Jesus, we just do that in different ways. Priests are called to stand in his role as Bridegroom of the Church.

            But the whole point of the Christian life is to become little Christs: “Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.” – C.S. Lewis

          • opinionated

            define “minister”.

      • opinionated

        KarenJo, perhaps you don’t understand exactly what or who a priest is. A priest is not a mere minister. If a priest were merely a minister then yes, by reason, that should be open to men and to women.
        But a priest is a man set apart. Let me repeat that: a priest is a man set apart.
        It is not about you, KarenJo. It is not about your gender.
        To truly understand what a priest is, you pretty much need to meditate on the Passion of Our Lord.
        When you pray the Sorrowful Mysteries, you can consider the priesthood.
        Ultimately, God offers each of us sanctity by accepting the graces He sends. Motherhood is direct participation in creation. Motherhood is hard work. It is our sanctification. Mothers (and fathers) suffer for their children.

        An interesting question is: why do [some] women believe they should be priest(esses?), while men don’t make a big hullabaloo about not being called to the priesthood?

        A priest is a man set apart. A man cannot bear children.
        A woman can bear a child. A woman cannot be a priest.

        It’s not about us, KarenJo. It is about knowing, loving, and serving Almighty God in this life, so that we can be with Him in the next life.

        You can waste this life being frustrated by your desires, or you can suffer this lifetime by offering each day to Our Lord, in anticipation of enjoying your eternal life, praising God.

        Your life is a gift, KarenJo. What you choose to do with it is your choice.

  • I could only watch the first 50 seconds of that video. The music was awful. Women being priests is like men being mothers. Which by the way, the greatest, holiest job in the world is being a mother. And I can’t be one. Such matriarchal oppression. 😉

    • KarenJo12

      Pregnancy and lactation are physical processes entirely beyond the will or mind of the woman suffering through them. To compare something that cows and rats do, and do far better than humans, to a position that requires years of effort and training, as well as intellect and skill is so stupid as to be beyond comment.

      • Shannon Marie Federoff

        Women “suffer” through pregnancy and lactation? Cows and rats gestate and lactate far better than humans who nurture eternal SOULS during pregnancy and childhood? Parents raise artists and doctors and athletes and rats raise… other rats.

        I fail to see your point.

        • KarenJo12

          Pregnancy is physically debilitating in the best circumstances. It takes an enormous toll on a woman’s body which is never as good afterward as it was before. Breastfeeding is painful. Childbirth has probably killed half the women who ever experienced it. Other mammals don’t die in childbirth. Rats have a gestation period of 21 days and wean their pups after a couple of weeks. They can have ten litters each year. There is an entire industry based on the ability of dairy cows to lactate. Humans are clearly and obviously worse in both these areas so please don’t insult me by telling me what a blessing it is to be able to gestate and lactate.

          As for raising souls, anyone can do that part.

          • Karen, it is you who has diminished womanhood.

          • AliciaS

            This is the absolute worst description of motherhood I have ever read. Did you honestly fail to realize the significance of having children? It is our intellect and our souls that make raising children meaningful. As a farmer, I can assure you that our cows never ponder their calves futures or worry over their souls. They nurture and love in the way they are capable, but they miss out on entire dimensions of meaning. I do hope you don’t with your own children.

          • KarenJo12

            Raising children is much, more than pregnancy and lactation, but the physical parts are the only ones that require a female body. Your church, however, always says that physical childbirth is the exact equal of being a priest.

          • opinionated

            Which church is it, KarenJo, that you assert “says that physical childbirth is the exact equal of being a priest.”?
            I ask, because I am Roman Catholic, but I have NEVER heard that comparison of motherhood to the sacred priesthood.
            When you make such assertions, you really should support them with some type of supportive reference. (If you actually want to be taken seriously, of course.)

          • opinionated

            KarenJo12, I am very sorry for you. The woman’s body was made for the express purpose of participating in the role of re-creation. What part of Holy Scripture is difficult to comprehend: “male and female he created them.” Gen1:27
            Yes, it does take a tremendous toll on a woman’s body, to grow a human being. But a woman’s body is uniquely “built” for that purpose. You want proof? Can a male body grow a human being?
            Seriously? “Childbirth has probably killed half the women who ever experienced it.”
            Seriously? That is the most ridiculous assertion I have ever read!
            For the record, yes, other mammals DO die in childbirth.

            Again, I am very sorry for you. I am sorry that you are somehow a victim of exceptionally incorrect thinking.

            btw, I actually disagree with the author’s theology. I think she is on the wrong path, too, although it is from a different starting line.

      • Really? Then you just don’t understand sacrament. The nature of sacrament is completely analogous to childbearing.

        • KarenJo12

          Then your ideas of sacrament are terrible. Pregnancy and lactation use nothing of human reason. If they are sacraments then so are sneezing, sweating, and urinating. To make physical processes equal to the use of intellect and reason is insulting and implies that women should not use intellect and reason. We exist for nothing more than to be incubators for new males.

          • I said analogous, not exact. Have a nice day Karen. Peace be with you.

          • PalaceGuard

            Sucks being human.

  • johnnysc

    Sister I have to question your last statement in ( )…..

    “(which is just as valuable, powerful, and needed as the role of the priest!)”

    In our parish we pray for more priests. It is only they that can minster all the Sacraments except for Baptism and Matrimony . In the case of Baptism anybody can do it in a pinch as long as it is valid form and Matrimony a deacon can validly officiate. I know you know this but I point it out because sometimes our ‘feelings’ lead us to say things that make us feel good but are not really true.

    • Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

      Actually, I believe what I said is true. Just because women cannot sacramentally incarnate Jesus does not mean they are less spiritually powerful in the Church.

  • PalaceGuard

    “So, sorry guys, no veils for you.” Love it!

  • Manuel Molina

    “…there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”–Galatians 3:28

    It’s a sad thing that the Church believes that women cannot act in persona Christi. It is as if the Magistereum is the Church. WE are the Church–Laity and Clergy. Christ is in all of us, but the Magistereum in it’s paternalism refuses to believe that women can act in Christ’s person just as men can. Then, the clergy and the collection of traditionalist Catholics ask themselves why young people like myself leave the Church. This blog has a very accurate article on this issue. The majority of young people classify the Catholic Church as homophobic, sexist, and obsessed with sex.

    • HughieMc

      If you read this article, you have obviously not understood any of it.