The question of whether or not women could ever be ordained to the ministerial priesthood is one that often generates more “heat” than it does “light.” Folks often come to the discussion emotionally charged to the point where rational discussion becomes difficult.
Be that as it may, I will respond to this question using the Church’s official teaching on the matter as it was taught in Inter Insigniores from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, promulgated October 15, 1976, and as it was reiterated by Pope St. John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, May 22, 1994. in 1994.
We will attempt here to present as much “light” as we can without the too-often accompanying “heat” that ends up keeping people away from the “light” that is ultimately Jesus Christ who is “the true light that enlightens every man… coming into the world” (John 1:9).
The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope (now St.) John Paul II, noted, in both its “Responsum Ad Dubium Concerning the Teaching Contained in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” and in its ”Letter Concerning the CDF Reply Regarding Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” made clear that this teaching is infallible (in both documents) and that the source of its infallibility is not to be found in the Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, itself; rather, it is because of the fact that this teaching is a matter taught by the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church, i.e., all the bishops of the world in union with the Pope have taught this definitively as a matter that must be believed with divine faith by all of God’s faithful.
In this post, I would like to break down the reasons the Church has given us for the veracity of this dogma into seven distinct points, though we could talk about more.
1. The Church has Definitively Declared it; Thus, Women Cannot be Ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood.
This seems simple. And it is. But if we understand that the Church is God’s voice on this earth in matters of faith and morals, then this first point is the most important of all. Jesus said of his Church, “If they hear you they hear me; if they reject you they reject me” inLuke 10:16 (see also Matt. 18:15-18, Acts 15:24-28, Matt. 16:13-18, I John 4:6, etc.). When God speaks through his Church, the matter at hand is settled. In matters of faith and morals, we must begin with The Faith as Catholics. Yet, as St. Anselm said, the key to our journey as Christians is always “fides quarens intellectum” (faith seeking understanding). We have the assurance as Catholics that the Church will never and can never lead us astray in her formal and definitive teachings because Jesus guarantees it in Matt. 16:18-19! So we can know that the Faith is not dependent upon our understanding of it in order for it to be true. Thanks be to God!
Yet, as Catholics we must ever seek to understand more deeply our Faith though we can never understand it comprehensively. This leads us to point two. Read the whole article here.