Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Women Priests

A discussion has come up over at Servant and Steward on the issue of female ordination. . . here is my input.

It's not about being equal in ability, capacity, skill, etc... The Church's teaching that woman cannot be ordained points to an ontological reality. In celebrating the sacraments the priest does not act in his own person but rather is acting in the person of Christ. There is only one High Priest in the New Covenant, and that is Jesus Christ. In celebrating the sacraments the priest participates in the singular priesthood of Jesus Christ. It is no coincidence that the second person of the Trinity became incarnate as a man. This is essential to who Christ is. The male exclusive priesthood points to this reality that Christ, in his essence, is male. Christ's maleness is not accidental.

Furthermore, it is also clear that Christ chose and appointed only men as his apostles. Christ challenged the cultural view of women at the time by eating with prostitutes, speaking with the woman at the well, etc. . . If he had intended for women to be priests he would have chosen them to be among his apostles.

It is also important to remember that Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride. The ordained priesthood, as a participation in the priesthood of Christ, also operates in accordance with this image. The priest is a bridegroom who espouses the Church. This image would not function with a female priesthood.

The previous poster asks why would you oppose the Holy Spirit if it someday led this pope, or some future pope, to permit the ordination of women? The simple answer is, this will not happen. It would be impossible. Even if the pope himself were to lay hands on a woman in an attempt to "ordain" her, no ordination would take place. It's an impossibility. Also, this matter has been infallibly defined in the doctrine of the Church and so it cannot be changed. The teaching can be elaborated upon and clarified, but never changed.

I know the above question was directed at Father, and so I'm sorry for jumping in here, and I hope you understand that it is not my intent to be confrontational in responding. It's just frustrating as a young woman who loves the Church to so often encounter misunderstandings with regards to the Church's teaching on Holy Orders. As a woman studying Catholic Theology in no way do I feel belittled by the fact that I will never be called to the priesthood. In fact, coming to a deeper understanding of this teaching has helped me to see more clearly my own vocation and place in the life of the Church and come to a greater appreciation for our priests who participate in the total-self oblation of Christ on Calvary so that we, the faithful, might encounter Him in the Sacraments.

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