Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On the impossibility of women's ordination in the Catholic Church

From Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP, Ph.D.:

"Given that a tiny group of ecclesial dinosaurs here in the U.K. are plastering London buses with pro-WO ads, I thought it might be time to revisit the issue in some detail.

Below is a piece I posted back in 2008 at the request of a young Dominican friar who was asked about the Church's teaching on the impossibility of women's ordination to the Catholic priesthood.

It's long, but I promised detail, right?!

First, notice the origin and ground of the objections. All of them are based on one or more of the following mistakes:

a) Priesthood is about power
b) "Access" to the priesthood is about rights and justice
c) The "exclusion" of women from the priesthood denies humanity of women. . .
d) . . .and it denies their proper place as potential "Christs for others"
e) All exercises of Church authority are excluding
f) Tradition is always about male privilege
g) Women would make better priests because of their natural empathy and compassion
h) Jesus' exclusion of women from the priesthood was culturally based and therefore reformable
i) Scripture is silent on the nature of the priesthood b/c it is a third century invention of males
j). Women report feeling called to the ordained priesthood, therefore the Church ought to ordain them.

Let's answer (briefly) each in turn.

Priesthood is about power. No, it's not. Priesthood in the Catholic Church is about service. Do priests often mistake their office of service as a privilege in the use of power? Yup. But that's an abuse of the office and in no way changes the actual nature of the office. Men are ordered to Christ, Head of the Church, to serve his people as he did: sacrificially in leadership. When supporters of women's ordination (WO) claim that women must be allowed to share in the governance of the Church as priests, they mistake the office for a political one.

"Access" to the priesthood is about rights and justice. Wrong again. The only right a Catholic has as a Catholic in the Church is the right and duty to serve others. Justice is getting what one deserves. No one--not even men--"deserve" to be ordained, to serve as ordained priests. To claim that ordination is a right is bizarre given that men are called by God and confirmed by the Church to be priests. This use of democratic rhetoric is attractive but misplaced. You cannot be the subject of an injustice if you have no right to that which you have been denied. I am not being treated unjustly b/c I cannot vote for the next Italian presidential election..."

h/t to tantamergo
song: I am Woman, with John Edwards


Kathryn said...

God created man and woman to be complementary to eachother, not exactly the same, and not to compete with eachother. Man and woman are both equal in their dignity, but that does not mean that we are equal in all else. Women cannot do everything men can do, and men cannot do everything women can do. Man gives, woman receives, and new life bears forth. Jesus Christ came as a man, not as a woman. He gives His life for us, and the Church as His Bride receives His Body. This is why women cannot be Catholic Priests, because of the Eucharist. Christ gives His Body, and the priest acts in persona Christi. Other faiths may have women priests/ministers, but they do not have the Holy Eucharist. I am so thankful to be Catholic. It really is quite simple and beautiful even though it is a great mystery.

Kathryn said...

btw, loved this article, forgot to say that in my previous comment :) can you tell this has been bugging me?