Whether the female sex is an impediment to receiving Orders?

In putting all things to the test so that errors may be exposed (Proverbs 17:18) is exactly must be done in order to fully comprehend why it is that woman cannot be Priest.


A Short Catechism on "Women Priests"

| The Old Testament | The Church | The Sacraments | Objections | Words from the Church Fathers

By Raymond Taouk

For many Centuries the teaching of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Ghost has remained unchanged on the issue. That is the Church has maintained the Priest hood for Men only. For one to bring this issue into question or even disagree with this would in it's self imply that our apostles, saints and church doctors were not inspired by the holy Ghost, in making and maintaining this decision. If this is the case then the apostles who taught them were wrong and if they were wrong the one who taught them was also wrong. Yet we believe that Christ taught them and he was the Son of God in whom there was no error to be found (John 1:47).

I say that Christ had taught them this because on the night he was betrayed during the last super he instituted the first Mass and Christ ordained it that no woman be present. Lets call to mind that this last supper wasn't something that just happen but that it had been prepared (Luke 22:15), as like Christ's coming it to was Prepared from the beginning of time. The main point that people often miss about this commonly utilised argument is that Christ entrusted to his apostle the role of Consecration of his divine body and blood as he said to his apostles, do this in Memory of Me (Luke 22:19). This is done in our Masses and stems out from one of the Major roles of a priest. On the issue of the last supper another great thing to note is that Mary the mother of Christ whom the angle Gabriele Called blessed amongst all women (Luke 1:28) was not even ask by Christ to be at his Last Supper. We read in Luke 1:48 that Mary says that all future generations will call her blessed yet never did she while on earth take up the position of a priest or contend with the teachings of the apostles on this mater. Thus since Mary is blessed amongst all woman, then should not all women imitate her example of obedience and wisdom. What woman would have been more filled with the Holy Ghost than Mary? Pope Innocent III at the beginning of the thirteenth Century Proclaimed that "Although the Blessed Virgin Mary Surpassed in dignity and in excellence all the Apostles, Nevertheless it was not to her but to them that the Lord entrusted the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven." If one was to reads the New testament nowhere does it reveal that a woman was charged to go out and baptise or deliver the sacred host to the repentant on the contrary we read in the Book of Timothy 2:11 that Saint Paul's Says " Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection." He even goes on to consolidate what he means by saying "I suffer not a woman to teach nor to use authority over the man". He (Saint Paul) did not keep such a teaching hidden but even again affirms the same point in his first letter to the Corinthians.

The Old Testament

The Priest hood its self originates in Old testament times and so since this is what the New testament is built upon (Matthew 5:17), Keeping in mind that Christ came not to abolish the law but to full fill it, I think it would be interesting to get an insight into the priest hood from the days of its origin. Thus we read in the book of judges (17:5 & 18:19) the story of a man calling upon another man to be a Priest and the man says to the other "Come live with me and be my father and Priest " now those to words are basically two ways of saying the same thing. That is to say that the Priest's whom we address as Father are exactly that, Why? Because that's exactly what Priests are, although genetically they may not be a father to any, but in Christ they is our father's leading us to the eternal father (God). This is because the priest is Guide and Teach us in the Things of God so that we may Grow in Knowledge in love of God, . On this issue in accordance with church teaching a priest's supernatural fatherhood is said to surpass natural father hood. In order to understand this one would have to first understand simply the role of natural father hood, in order to contemplate better the role of a priest in the supernatural family of God. This would help us see quite clearly why it is that church cant except woman Priests. Woman cannot father in the natural order and nor can they father in the supernatural order. Their Job of mother as many great women have proven is spectacular and is a characteristic that men do not have. Now so you don't miss the Point, Realistically to be a mother is more than cooking and cleaning as any idiot can do that. Mary herself is given title of Mother of the church, whose virtues all mother superiors imitate when they exercise their authority. From this we can see that for woman there is a specific dimension in the spiritual life that they also come to bear. Through out the Old Testament, we see this idea of men leading Gods people and the men being God's representative.

This is express from the beginning with Adam being the father of all creation Then Noah the founding father after the flood Then Abraham The founding father of faithful and father of all nations Then king David who was a father figure as king over the kingdom of Israel.

The Old Testament as we know often bores us to death with geneolegy that pointed out to the Jews the succession of their forefathers .It interesting to note only that not only were all these figures men but also, they were men who were responsible for leading their people to God as those just mentioned. In exposing this the words of Christ as spoken to the Parasies come to mind that is (Matthew 19:8) " I tell you from the beginning it was not so." That is it has never been ordained by God that a woman take up their seat upon the alter.

The Church

In light of woman an the priest hood I would like to mention the Popes John Paul II Words on this issue is that "the role of women in the life and mission of the church, although not linked to the Priest hood, remain absolutely necessary and irreplaceable". As the declaration of insigniores points outs that " The church desires that Christian woman should became fully aware of the greatness of their mission; today their role is of capital importance both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the Church". To add on this point I think I would have no trouble mentioning numerous names like St Clare, St Teresa of Avila, St Catherine of Sienna ,Saint Rita, St Philomena and thousands other of women who by their zeal and love for god lived exemplary lives leading many to repent. For one to truly understand the role of woman I think I would have to relate their role to that of the role, which exists in the eternal family of the Holy Trinity. The Godhead is termed father (God the Father), and The 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity is called the Son (Jesus) and then we have the Holy Ghost. By God the Fathers command His Son Christ became Flesh and then Christ as part of the Trinity by his death became the redeemer, while the Holy Ghost is neither Father or Son, Yet the Holy Ghost we are taught is the power of God and remains with the Church constantly bringing people back to God. This is like the role of woman although be they not the Father in the church they are truly indeed living Co workers of the Holy Ghost and if it may be said they are the replicates of the Holy Ghost in their role they play in the church of God. This is because their role like that of the Holy Spirit is to bring unity. From this one can see that the role of woman in the church is distinct from that of Men as Just like there is equality in the Holy trinity with all three persons having distinct roles for the same intention, so to it is with woman in the church.

The Sacraments

The priest hood being a sacrament is also a sign and in that sense the priest as a man is a sign of Christ who was and remains a man (John 1:14). The importance in this is that in accordance with church teaching when the Sacred Host is elevated the Priest himself becomes as if it were Christ himself (Persona Christi). Note the priest doesn't Symbolize Christ but rather becomes Christ (Galatians 1:16). From this we can see that if the priest were not a man it would be difficult to see in the priest the image of Christ. St Cyprian already wrote in third Century, "it is this ability to represent Christ that St Paul considered as characteristic of his apostolic Function" (2 Cor 5:20, Gal 4:14). This sort of male symbolism is quiet evident in the Scripture as Christ often described himself as the bridegroom (Mk 2:19 & Matt 22:1-14). We are taught in the New Testament that the husband in the Christian family, precisely as husband, can represent Christ in some way that his wife is not able to duplicate (Ephesians5: 21-33), and that this representation has to do with his specific sex. This representation is further described as one of headship: "the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the Church." The text here is something of a hard saying in our contemporary setting precisely because it is so clear and so irreducible. To further Stress this importance St Thomas Aquinas makes it clear that the Sacrament of Holy Orders would be invalid and thus so to would the masses that are celebrated solely on this basis as The priest hood being a Sacrament means that the priest only can Represent Christ as an icon of him for Christ is and remains a man. St. Thomas states the following "Certain things are required in the recipient of a sacrament as being requisite for the validity of the sacrament, and if such things be lacking, one can receive neither the sacrament nor the reality of the sacrament. Other things, however, are required, not for the validity of the sacrament, but for its lawfulness, . . . Accordingly we must say that the male sex is required for receiving Orders not only in the second, but also in the first way. Wherefore even though a woman were made the object of all that is done in conferring Orders, she would not receive Orders, for since a sacrament is a sign, not only the thing, but the signification of the thing, is required in all sacramental actions." (Summa Theologica)

Some Objections

In addressing some of those commonly made Errors made by those in favour of women in the priest hood. Often use is made of the biblical text of saint Paul's letter to the Galatians were we read (Galatians 3:28) that he says ' "In Christ there is no longer distinction between male and Female as we are all one in Jesus Christ". The problem with this argument is that this verse is not concerning the Priest hood but only confirms that all are called to the same love of Jesus Christ. To further affirm this even though the apostle makes this statement neither he nor any other apostle ever ordained any women to be Priests. However Some argue that there is inequality in the church which can be shown by this teaching of a man only priest hood, however they are greatly mistaken as Saint Paul affirms to the Corinthians that the gift we should all desire is that of love (1 Corinthians Chapter 12 & 13) as the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are not the Priest's but the Saints. Now if this in itself is the teaching of the church where is the inequality? Lets not forget that it was St John Chrysostom who in speaking of Priests wrote, "Hell is paved with the Scull of Priests".

To assert as some wrongly do that the Church is "out of step with the time" is nothing new, as this is what the beatitudes of Jesus are directly about, they condemn the false mentality of the world. The Church cannot be compared to any human institution as it is of divine origin, Pope St. Pius X spoke against such thought saying: "Powerful men of the world have attacked her. They have vanished, yet she remains. Countless philosophical systems, of every possible form, have taken sides against her, claiming to be her masters, boasting to have destroyed her teaching and demolished her dogmas of faith by proving their absurdity. One after the other, however they have passed into oblivion. But all the while the light of truth shines forth . . . " (Iucunda Sane, 12/3/1904).

The historical argument that is always put into place is that in the past reference has been made to priestess & deaconess however St Thomas Aquinas ( the wisest of saints and the holiest of wise men , as Leo XIII called him ) answers that the deaconess denotes a woman who shares in some act of a deacon, namely Who reads the homilies in the Church; and priestess [presbytera] means a widow, for the word "presbyter" means elder. He lived closer to the early Christianity than any of us could hope to and their is no way his teaching would have been excepted (especially since he was a doctor of the Church) if it was not a true statement.

Some women may say they feel that they have a vocation to the priest hood, now realistically a vocation cannot be minimized to a simple attraction, as let's not forget the words of Christ (John 13:16 & Heb 5:4) " You did not chose me no I chose you I commissioned you." Since the priesthood is a particular ministry of which the Church has received the particular charge and the control, authentication by the Church is indispensable here and the Control, and is a constitutive part of the Vocation: Christ Chose "those he wanted"( Mark 3:13). On the other hand there is a universal vocation of all the baptized to the exercise of the royal priesthood by offering their lives to God and by Giving witness for his praise. Another commonly made error of those in favor of the ordination of women is they say, " if the church wants it could ordain women. Well if the church wanted she could do much like any other so called Christian churches and except what we want and hide the rest. Although to correct this error Our holy father in his apostolic letter ( Ordinatio Sacedotal May 22 1994) stated "the church has no authority what so ever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgment is to be held by all the churches faithful." Note he was speaking to the Faithful are we not faithful?, then if so he was speaking all of us . Thus why should we be like the Pharisees who after understanding Christ's words wanted to stone him. In Conclusion we should do as the apostle asks of us, that is to stand firm and hold fast to the teachings the Traditions which have been given to us (2 Thess 2:14).