All-Male Catholic Priesthood?

women priests

Can you explain why the Church only ordains Men to the priesthood? Why can't women be priests? Don't we all have the priesthood of Jesus by baptism?

Let’s see if I can answer the question to your satisfaction. Most of my answer will come directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

It’s true that all baptized persons participate in the common priesthood of the faithful, but there is a difference in essence, and not merely degree, between the priesthood of the faithful and the priesthood of Holy Orders. “In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace—a life of faith, hope and charity, a life according to the Spirit—the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders” (CCC, 1547). The Church also tells us, “‘Only a baptized man (
vir) validly receives sacred ordination.’ The Lord Jesus chose men (veri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry… 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” (CCC, 1577-1578).

The issue of ordaining women became heated and broadly debated in the ‘90s. So much so, in fact, that St. John Paul II wrote
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in 1994. In the strongest possible language, His Holiness wrote:

“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance…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."



Simple logic and reason tell us that if women should be admitted to the priesthood, Our Lord would have chosen His Mother to be among the apostles. After all, she was perfectly sinless—far more holy than any of the apostles—but Jesus never chose her. A careful reading of the Gospels shows us that she was present with Him during most of His public ministry, but she remained in the background and not a part of the ministry in the traditional sense. She most certainly was a part of His ministry, but not in ways we typically think of as “active”. She’s the greatest evangelist He ever had or has (
“Do whatever he tells you.” [John 2:5]), but He never chose to have her as a part of His priesthood.

For some reason, most people seem to think that Jesus eliminated the Old Covenant, but rather than eliminate it He fulfilled it. The New Covenant is merely a fulfillment of the Old, and from Aaron forward the priesthood God instituted and ordained has been only among men.

Let’s recall that, in giving the apostles His authority to speak for Him, Jesus said,
“He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16). We may question the Church’s teachings so we may better understand, but for a Catholic to call himself and actually be a Catholic, he must give assent of his will to all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches.
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