Women Priests? No. An explanation.

CNS has posted a video of an interview with the Theologian of the Papal Household, Fr. Wojciech Giertych, OP. He talks about male only priesthood.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Anne 2 says:

    CCC: ” 1577 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 when 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. “

  2. Christina says:

    I’m just sitting here loving the line: “The Church by being rooted in the truth that we have received…is liberated from the slavery of fashion.” Just, wow. Exactly.

  3. FloridaJoan says:

    Father Wojciech presented many excellent reasons of why priests are males. And he gave them so eloquently. But I particularly enjoyed his comment …” the Church is liberated from the slavery of fashion …”. Oh that today many confused individuals would stop trying to fashion our Church into what they want her to be instead of what Christ instituted.

    pax et bonum

  4. Bea says:

    Excellent talk, so many fine points:

    “Instituted by Christ, not invented by the Church”
    “we are not free to invent the priesthood according to our own expectations”

    were my 2 favorite quotes.

  5. Luvadoxi says:

    I’m not trying to be snarky, or to cause trouble–I have an honest question, and I hope people can answer it in the spirit in which I ask it. Jesus chose men as his twelve apostles. He chose Jewish men, not Gentile men. So it seems like the argument that he chose only men can come in for some criticism there. Can someone help me out here?

  6. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    That’s a good question, Luvadoxi. When Our Lord established the new covenant in His blood, it began with the Jewish people. It was only after the descent of the Holy Spirit that the mission was given to Sts. Peter and Paul to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles and to bring the Gentiles into the Church. And while the Lord chose Jewish men, they were not those expected…they were tax collectors and sinners. More to the point, the reason He chose men was because He became incarnate as a man (male). Those sacramentally conformed to Him as Priests to act in His person as Head and Bridegroom of His Church cannot, therefore, be women. The Church does not believe in same sex “marriage” in any sense of the word.

  7. maryh says:

    Easily, since that is a question I too have wrestled with.

    The fact is that the only significant physical difference between human beings is sex. Every other difference is a difference in degree, not kind. So nationality, ethnicity, race doesn’t matter. Sex does.

  8. William Tighe says:

    I have a different answer. Judaism was a “proselytizing” religion in the time of Our Lord’s earthly life, and for some two centuries previously and four centuries afterwards. So when we say that he “chose Jewish men, not Gentile men,” all we are really saying is that he chose men who were members of God’s covenanted people, whether or not their ancestors had been members for generations, or their parents has converted, or they themselves had converted. The Church is, as St. Paul more than once termed it, “the Israel of God,” and from this perspective the quarrel between the Jews and Catholic Christians was, and has remained for nearly two millenia, the question of the identity of the true Israel, the “Israel of God.”

    This being the case, the Church has never, ever chosen, called or ordained “Gentile men” in the theological sense, for every baptized person ceases by that fact to be a gentile, a pagan, but becomes a member of the “Israel of God,” or of what many Church Fathers called the “Third Race,” neither Jews nor Gentiles in any racial or ethnic sense.

  9. NBW says:

    Excellent talk!

  10. LisaP. says:

    You’ll get better answers here, but I’d say the one that comes up easily is that Christ was surrounded by women, and followed by many. But he was living in a Jewish community, so it’s reasonable to think his choice of Jewish over Gentile was simply about opportunity, while he had plenty of easy opportunity to choose a woman if that was what he wanted to do.

    I’d also suggest that there are cultural but not inherent natural differences between those of different races and ethnicities, but there are actual inherent differences between men and women.

    I’m sure others will do better!

  11. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    It was full of little gems. My favorite’s was Christina’s, too.

  12. Dr Guinness says:

    I completely understand this, and have no issue with what Father says.

    However, those misguided few who support the “ordination” of women would never listen to anything a “misogynist hierarch” has to say on the topic, to the extent of their themesong suggesting we ignore S’ Paul, so logical reasoning with these people is near impossible. I can’t imagine Mr Roy Bourgeois and his crew sitting around a table at their conference saying, “Well, if the Pope has declared it’s a null and void topic, I think we’d better drop this.”

    On a side note, this Polish Dominican Father’s English is absolutely magnificent!

  13. LisaP. says:

    Oops, maryh, we crossed in cyberspace! Sorry for the repeat!

  14. maryh says:

    No problem, LisaP. You said it better than I did anyway.

  15. Darren says:

    Re Luvadoxi

    Christ came to fulfill the prophecies of the Jews, not of the Gentiles. The old laws of Moses ended and the new Law began with Christ. Being the fulfillment of the old law it is only right that those He chose as His Apostles were among those raised in and practicing the old law. They could draw upon the continuity that flows from Judaism to Christianity.

    Christ did not fulfill the false gods of the Gentiles, for He Himself was the God of the Jews. Same God, new law, new priesthood. Continuity.

    Make sense? :)

  16. Luvadoxi says:

    Thank you all for your respectful, thoughtful answers. I’m still puzzling over this; Darren’s answer comes closest to making the most sense to me. But I’m still not really convinced….but I’m faithful to the Magisterium and whatever it says.

  17. Luvadoxi says:

    It still isn’t easy to accept. No EZ Pass, as Father Z says!

  18. The Masked Chicken says:

    Darren is correct. Christ is the new Moses. The original Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, with the help of Jewish leaders and elders, but once they settled into the Promised Land, their time of flight was over. Christ came, first of all, to the Jews and, in a sense, as the new Moses, he was not, at that time, free to choose from any except the Jews to be his apostles, but after his death and Resurrection, salvation was extended to the Gentiles, and, as witness to that, Gentile bishops were chosen. This is in parallel with the gift of tongues being bestowed upon the group of Gentiles at St. Peter’s preaching – both are a sign of the full incorporation of the gentiles in the plan of salvation.

    Now, there are two aspects to being one of the twelve apostles: being a Jew and being a man. Male and female, Jews and Greek, slave and freeman are included in the Universal Plan of Salvation. The ethnicity requirement was, consequently, relaxed after the Resurrection, but Christ is still the new Moses and the entourage carrying the Ark of His Covenant are still, as they always have been, men.

    In other words, the word, Gentile and man are signs pointing to two different things within the order of salvation.

    The Chicken

  19. Luvadoxi says:

    Peter’s vision showed that all were included in the universal plan of salvation, as you said, Masked Chicken. After the Resurrection, Gentile men were chosen as bishops, but not before. Why not women? I’m still not seeing the distinction here between Gentile and man, especially given the sinful nature of human beings and the despicable treatment and ideas about women’s inferiority promoted by those even within the Church.

    I know what it sounds like and I’m not trying to ask for more explanations, really. I’m obedient to the Church. I do like seeing a man as priest, reminding me that Christ was a human man. Maybe that’s enough. I still am not intellectually convinced though. But that’s ok. I don’t need all the answers. But it is going to be hard to convince those outside the Church, especially when they are made fun of so much by believers.

  20. fvhale says:

    Dear Luvadoxi,

    The male-female distinction is both from “the beginning,” the creation of humanity by God, and also extends even into the world to come, in the resurrection. Each man is man from his conception and throughout eternity; each woman is woman from her conception, and throughout eternity. We do not loose the sexual distinction of the body in resurrection.

    Quoting from Bl. Pope John Paul II, in his General Audience of 2 Dec 1981:

    4. The words, “They neither marry nor are given in marriage” seem to affirm at the same time that human bodies, recovered and at the same time renewed in the resurrection, will keep their masculine or feminine peculiarity. The sense of being a male or a female in the body will be constituted and understood in that age in a different way from what it had been from the beginning, and then in the whole dimension of earthly existence. The words of Genesis: “A man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (2:24), constituted right from the beginning that condition and relationship of masculinity and femininity, extended also to the body, which must rightly be defined as conjugal and at the same time as procreative and generative. It is connected with the blessing of fertility, pronounced by God (Elohim) when he created man “male and female” (Gn 1:27). The words Christ spoke about the resurrection enable us to deduce that the dimension of masculinity and femininity—that is, being male and female in the body—will again be constituted together with the resurrection of the body in “that age.”

    Being male or female is part of what we are; we cannot change it. God made us that way.

    On the other hand, being a Jew of Gentile can, in fact, be a matter of personal choice, and change of faith. No doubt those early Christians who started life as Jews would consider that their faith grew and was fulfilled when they believed in Christ.

    There is a great difference between the categories “Gentile,” which a person can enter or leave, and “man” (as distinct from “woman”) which is an eternal part of a person.

  21. Reginald Pole says:

    Dr Guinness says:
    “On a side note, this Polish Dominican Father’s English is absolutely magnificent!”

    Fr. Giertych’s English should be good since he was born in London of Polish parents.

  22. JacobWall says:

    A beautiful point which Father Wojciech mentions is the “enormous dignity” women have, special access which women have to the “heart of Jesus”, in connection with the early virgin martyrs – a dignity and access that men simply don’t and cannot have. Something I have pointed out to supporters of ordination of women is that the very idea debases this “enormous dignity;” it belittles it by claiming that women need something “greater” (i.e. the male priesthood) in order to have dignity. In the same way, it also debases the dignity of motherhood.

  23. maryh says:

    @JacobWall said ordination of women “also debases the dignity of motherhood.”
    Well said.

  24. Widukind says:

    Very well done, and easily understood.

  25. Michelle F says:

    To put in my two cents on the question of Jewish males vs. Gentile males….

    Remember that before Abraham became Abraham, he met “Melchisedech, the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God” (Gen. 14:18, DRV).

    Melchisedech certainly was not a Jew, and probably was not a Hebrew.

    Hebrews chapter 7 elaborates on the relationship between the Levitical priesthood and priesthood according to the order of Melchisedech. The writer points out that Levi (the Jewish priestly tribe) paid tithes to Melchisedech (the non-Jewish priest of God) through Abraham (who was then still only Abram the Hebrew (cf. Gen. 14:13)).

    Then the writer says that Jesus, our High Priest, did not come from the tribe of Levi, or any other tribe from which priests were taken:

    “If then perfection was by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchisedech: and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being translated, it is necessary that a translation also be made of the law, for he of whom these things are spoken is of another tribe, of which no one attended on the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprung out of Juda: in which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priests” (Heb. 7:11-14, DRV).

    I think these two points, first that Melchisedech was not a Jew (and probably not a Hebrew), and second that Jesus was not from a priestly tribe, clearly demonstrate that priesthood is appropriate to men as a group, and not simply Jewish men, or men of Hebrew stock.

  26. maryh says:

    Here’s another view from Father Barron on the issue, looking at what real power in the Catholic Church is: http://youtu.be/CuT8yTakq54
    As an aside, one sad commentator sees woman’s ability to bear new life as an insignificant difference with men that he calls merely “giving mammalian birth”. Now that’s real respect for womanhood. Not.

  27. Cecily says:

    Well, Mary Magdalene is the apostle to the apostles, and that is good enough for me.

  28. Luvadoxi says:

    Michelle–that helps a lot–thank you!

  29. Pingback: Convert Journal — 7 Quick Takes Friday (set #87)

  30. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Michelle F, very interesting indeed! I must read up on Melchisedek. Night Crew now off for work.

  31. We need only to look to the Holy Father’s explanation:


    The case is settled: NO WOMEN PRIESTS.

    Radical leftists are only bringing the issue back into the limelight because of the military’s decision to allow American women into combat roles. This is a clever psychological tactic liberals have used for decades to bamboozle unsuspecting readers: take a current topic to ride your agenda onto its coattails.

  32. StWinefride says:

    Vexilla Regis: here’s a sermon by St Ambrose on Melchisedech.


  33. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Luvadoxi,

    I’m not trying to ask for more explanations.

    Do so. Please. In obedience; but do ask. If we are not convinced ourselves we may, perhaps, obey. But how to convince others? Including the little “other one” within ourselves we so often mean when we try to highlight the attractiveness of Christianity. Fides quaerens intellectum.

    The question why Christ’s choosing only men is binding (as opposed to His choosing Jews) has a very simply answer imho, though I want to thank dear @William Tighe and @Michelle F very much for their insightful thoughts.

    The Church, who is guided by the Lord and prevented from error, never even remotely dreamt of an all-Jewish priesthood. That begins with St. Paul. On the other hand, it fought down all efforts of a female priesthood.

    In doing so, the Church could claim to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy (which I cannot find now) that God will, in the future, choose priests from the Gentiles.

  34. Kevin says:

    I’ve heard it be said (by Anglican pro-women ordination types) that the fact women are so prominent in the Gospels (unusually prominent for the time and place) as faithful servants of Our Lord is somehow proof that they should be ordained priests. However, I see it the other way. For me, the fact that there are so many women (Our Lady, St Mary Magdalene, St Martha, the unnamed Gentile woman, etc) in the company of Our Lord, and yet all having roles clearly distinctly from the male Apostles, is proof that women should not be ordained but should rather aspire to fulfil their own, special roles in the Church.

  35. PA mom says:

    “should aspire to fulfill their own roles in the Church”
    I agree with this so much! After all, just look to all of the amazing work done by women in the Church before this whole “ordain women” push came through. Women were crossing oceans to found and run schools, orphanages, hospitals, soup kitchens and shelters. Instead of feeling constrained by the inability to be priests, they were listening for God’s inspiration as to the place where they were most needed and doing wonderful works. It really requires an enormous amount of trust and faith and fortitude.
    It is so special in its own way, surely it can be enough?

  36. robtbrown says:

    The Masked Chicken says:

    Christ came, first of all, to the Jews

    I prefer the phrase of the 4th Gospel: Salvation is from (ek) the Jews.

  37. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I prefer the phrase of the 4th Gospel: Salvation is from (ek) the Jews.”

    Fair enough, but the Fourth Gospel also says [John 1:11 – 12]:

    He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

    I suppose bith perspectives are correct.

    The Chicken

  38. The Masked Chicken says:

    both perspectives

  39. VexillaRegis says:

    thanks! St Ambrose is always interesting to read, but that has to be done later – I’m going to adoration, Mass and St Blaise-benediction in a couple of minutes. Hope that helps against the nasty viruses and bacterias my four year old brings home from the daycare center…

  40. robtbrown says:

    The Masked Chicken says:

    “I prefer the phrase of the 4th Gospel: Salvation is from (ek) the Jews.”

    Fair enough, but the Fourth Gospel also says [John 1:11 – 12]:

    He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

    The 9th chapter of Romans makes an important distinction:

    For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel. Neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children. But, “In Isaac will your seed be called.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as a seed.

  41. StWinefride says:

    Vexilla Regis: You’re welcome! Candlemas tomorrow and St Blaise on Sunday here, but there is also the Blessing of Throats in some churches from today as well.

  42. Luvadoxi says:

    Imrahil–thank you! That inner “little other one” asks a lot of questions–and because of the time I grew up in (Baby Boomers), I’m not sure I can be a good apologist for the faith when the hard questions are asked, because I get a deer-in-headlights expression and stress symptoms! My daughter is much better at not being afraid of the tough questions. That’s what I love about the Church–faith seeking understanding–we can still ask why without being disobedient. Because others (and the other in me) *will* ask, and I want to have a good answer. On the tough questions–this one, contraception, and others–it’s very hard to get a calm, thoughtful response free of anger and emotions from anyone, pro or con. Maybe in a hundred years or so….

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