(Published By: WomanScope NewsMagazine (11/02/2013)
Two months ago, Pope Francis let a sliver of light shine through the Catholic Church’s locked door policy on homosexuality, but at the same time, he slammed the door shut on a woman’s right to enter the priesthood. There are just some things the Catholic Church will never consider changing, and women becoming priests is one of them.
To understand why the Catholic Church will never condone women priests, one needs to understand one of the most fundamental tenets of the Catholic religion itself — that only a man can spread the word of God. This is the primary code of secular teaching that the Catholic Church has insisted upon since Jesus Christ began his ministry, and it is the Holy Grail of scholastic theology taught throughout the Bible.
Even in today’s socially liberated society, the argument of whether women can teach the word of God as well as men is a useless one. The more controversy that rises up about it, the more the Catholic Church aggressively defends its position and shows scripture after scripture by the 12 apostles themselves about why women cannot be ordained as priests.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II reiterated this belief when he said that Catholics should abandon any thoughts of trying to convince the Catholic Church to allow women to become priests. He said that the subject can never be debated, and that:
“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of high importance, a matter which pertains to the church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren, I declare that the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church’s faithful.”
Pope John Paul’s statement reflected the church’s long reasoning that the priesthood is only for men and because Jesus Christ himself chose 12 men to be his apostles. One rather unconventional but humorous reason sometimes given is that when Eve ate from the fruit of the forbidden tree, God decided to punish women to the end of time and, therefore, chose only men to spread his word — viewing women as being the more corruptible of the two.
According to the Catholic Church, to say this policy holds bias would be to criticize the word of God himself. The fundamental structure or ideology of the Catholic religion is that man was made in the image of God. Therefore, man is the superior of the two sexes and this theory can never be questioned. Therefore, whether this is fair or not does not matter. The Old and the New Testaments do not recognize gender equality as being a topic of high relevance.
Although it may seem redundant to show scripture after scripture of what the 12 apostles wrote, they are according to the Catholic Church etched in stone just as the Ten Commandments are, and are equal to that of the divine word.
Here are excerpts from two versions:
1 Timothy 2:11-12 (English Standard Version)
11: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12: I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
1 Corinthians 14:34 (King James Version)
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law,”
1 Corinthians 14:35 (King James Version)
“And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
Perhaps one of the most closely followed teachings on the subject of women priests is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para. 1577) which says:
“Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same whey they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason, the ordination of women is not possible.”
The Catholic Church is not a 2,000-year-old religion whose doctrines originated in democracy. One should not compare its teachings to other articles of foundation like the Constitution of the United States, where amendments were added to satisfy equality and privileges for all. There can never be any changes to the church’s position on women priests for a very specific purpose. The reason is that when a man is ordained as a priest, it is not only just to perform the functions of a priest; it is to cast upon him an eternal and spiritual character that only a man may receive. Man was created in the image of God, so only a man is capable of receiving such a permanent virtue of spirituality.
Even though some Christian denominations have allowed women to become priests, they have had to amend their understanding of the nature of the priesthood as it pertains to men. These women priests are merely performing the function of spreading the word of God without possessing the eternal character and divinity of priesthood.
The Catholic Church says that women who are conflicted by the nature of this should seek understanding through their faith of God. Some women may feel that this is just the Catholic Church’s way of demeaning women – but in reality, it is the word of God himself. To understand it or to debate it in any other way would be an attempt to dismantle the Catholic Church in its entirety.