Sunday 4th October 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Women Priests…Why Not?… Understanding The Catholic Priesthood

April 6, 2014 Frontpage No Comments


Part 3

Here in the United States, there was a time when slavery was legal. Slaves did not have the right to vote and to be voted into public office. With the end of slavery, in due course the ex-slaves were recognized as citizens and entitled to vote and be voted into public office. In the Catholic Church, women are not entitled to be ordained to the priesthood. Is this parallel correct? If this situation ever comes to an end, will they be entitled to be priests, bishops, and even. . . ?
Here is the question: Is the Christian priesthood a human right, like voting in a republic, or is it a privilege, given to some but not to all?
In other words, is the election to the priesthood a matter of human agreement, like the rules of football, soccer and rugby, basketball and tennis, chess and checkers? Or is it something divinely ordained, which does not depend on our opinions or desires?
Again, you cannot play golf with a tennis ball, or soccer with a rugby ball. Each has its own purpose and arrangement. But, of course, such things can change. Tomorrow some people may decide to create a different sport and play rugby with the ball used in basketball in a tennis court. It may look a bit nuts, but they can do it if they so wish in their own courts. This is because sports are simply man-made rules. (I purposely did not say human-made or person-made rules because I am not politically correct.)
Let us take another example: the dynastic succession in a monarchy, such as in England, Spain, or Belgium, and the limitation of two terms as president in a republic. In a monarchy, everybody knows who will be the next head of state to inherit the throne, and most people are happy about it. It suffices to see the popularity of the Windsor royal family in the UK. Very few people there want to have a republic where a mere politician is able to sit on the throne — or chair, rather.
Again, however, those are man-made rules. Spain changed from a republic back to a monarchy and Austria from a monarchy into a republic. There are people today who want to make the current president a king, but I do not think there will be sufficient popular support for this idea. But in any event, man-made laws can change.
But there are other kinds of laws: natural laws. The world is filled with them, in all sorts of sciences: physics, chemistry, biochemistry, mechanics, botany, astronomy, nutrition, medicine, and so on. We humans do not make those laws; we discover them. They are not like the ones I mentioned previously, in sports and politics. Natural laws are natural laws, and if we try to disobey them we get into trouble, like denying the reality of gravity or thinking that poison gas may be good for asthmatics or that volcanic eruptions are an optical illusion.
But there are still other kinds of law: supernatural laws, the laws established by God Himself, and here we enter the realm of theology. Theology depends entirely on God for its origin — it is called divine Revelation, and authentic theology is basically the deepening of our understanding of the revealed truth — we do not invent supernatural laws like sport rules, change them like political systems, or even discover them like natural sciences. They are revealed by God, and all we do is to make them more explicit, clearer, more understandable, but we never alter them.
In short, theology does not establish new dogmas or moral rules; it only makes the revealed ones more understandable.
This is because the Church and her sacraments are faith realities, mysteries revealed and instituted by Christ. Like all such mysteries, they invite us to ongoing reflection and meditation. We do not judge them or evaluate their credibility in the light of our reason or by the criterion of our experience. We must accept them as light given to us by Christ. We receive them with gratitude and humility and love, and allow them to illuminate our understanding of ourselves and our human experience, and all of creation.
Here I am citing teachings from a brilliant pastoral letter issued by the New Zealand bishops on the occasion of the publication of the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which John Paul II closed the debate on the ordination of women. I will quote from it a few more times in this series.
The practical application of this teaching is that not even the Pope can interpret the Bible as he may please, if he wakes up in a bad mood. The Deposit of Revelation must always be interpreted and taught in the light of the apostolic Tradition: “The faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1).
St. Paul does not pull any punches on this issue: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8). To be anathema, by the way, means to be under a curse, or excommunication, expulsion from the Body of Christ, the Church.
We are not talking about a mere observance of a series of cultural values and practices: Such is “tradition” with a small “t.” The apostolic Tradition — with a capital “T” — is the Deposit of Faith given by our Lord Jesus Christ to the apostles and brought down to us over the ages by their successors — the Popes and bishops in union with him. Without them, how on earth could anyone today know the correct teaching?
Without a continued authority, everything is up for grabs, as has happened after Luther’s sola Scriptura.
The unbroken Tradition of the Church has to carry a great deal of weight for Catholics, because the Holy Spirit dwells in the Church to safeguard fidelity to what Christ has instituted in matters as central to the faith as sacramental Ordination, ensuring that what is handed on is what has been received.
Does that mean that there is no room for development?
Not at all. This does not mean that there can be no development. On the contrary, the fact that the Holy Spirit remains with the Church ensures that we can come to a deeper understanding of what has been given once and for all by Christ and the apostles. But it is the responsibility of the Magisterium of the Church to distinguish between development and the distortion of what has been given. And distorting the Christian message is what modernist Catholics love to do.
If we do not accept the Magisterium of the Church, we cannot call ourselves Catholic. We must leave the Church and go to establish or join something else. Luther, Calvin, and Leonardo Boff were more consistent.
Therefore, it is in this context that we investigate the possibility of women’s ordination: Is it or is it not part of the divine Revelation entrusted to the apostles?
Next article: Clarifying the terminology.

+    +    +

Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International (HLI); president of the Sacred Heart Institute, and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. Web site:

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Catholic Hospitals Sued For Refusing Emergency Care To Pregnant Women

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday announced that it is suing Trinity Health Corporation, which operates 80 hospitals nationwide, for refusing to provide pregnant women suffering from life-threatening emergency complications with abortions. Trinity Health hospitals have “repeatedly and systematically…Continue Reading

Too Scared to Pray? ISIL Cancels Prayers for Fear of Russian Airstrikes

The Islamic State terror group cancelled Friday prayers in the Syrian city of Raqqa and emptied mosques there out of fear of further Russian airstrikes, according to activists and city residents. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,…Continue Reading

Putin defends Russia’s ban on youth-focused gay propaganda: ‘I believe we should leave kids in peace’

MOSCOW, September 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In 2013, Russia passed an amendment to the country’s Child Protection Law against “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors,” which also safeguards children from being adopted by homosexuals. Western governments, led by the…Continue Reading

EXPOSED: The billionaire Planned Parenthood donor who wants his donations kept very, very secret

Sept. 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Three weeks after I left my job at the clinic, Planned Parenthood took me to court. I am always asked, “Why would they take you to court? Did they have something to hide?” Well, yes.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Brought Back Into Roman Curia By Pope Francis

Raymond Cardinal Burke has been re-appointed to Congregation for the Causes of Saints from which he had been removed in December of 2013.

The Secret Meeting of the Papal Trip

Washington, D.C. One meeting during Pope Francis’ whirlwind trip to America has remained secret. Until now. It was, arguably, the most significant meeting, symbolically, of the entire trip. It should, therefore, be brought to the attention of the public, both…Continue Reading

Angry Pope Blasts Mayor of Rome as a ‘Pretend Catholic’

Pope Francis raised eyebrows in Italy on Tuesday by slapping down the left-leaning mayor of Rome as someone who “pretends to be Catholic”. The unforgiving assessment of Ignazio Marino — a man the Italian media love to hate — further…Continue Reading

Bishop Fellay Petitions Pope Francis

A petition to Pope Francis: uphold marriage! The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X has just published a petition to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asking him to publicly defend the institution of holy matrimony. Bishop Fellay…Continue Reading

Pope Assigns Some Homework to Catholic School Children

Tells Immigrant Families That Everyone Has a Right to Dream New York City, September 25, 2015 ( Kathleen Naab Pope Francis was visibly relaxed and joyful as he met with students, their families, immigrants and others in New York this…Continue Reading

Loved Ones of 9/11 Victims Say Faith Is What Gets Them Through

At Ground Zero for Pope’s Visit, Mourners Take Solace in Francis’ Presence New York City, September 25, 2015 ( Deborah Castellano Lubov When your heart is broken, how do you cope? According to many who lost their loved ones when…Continue Reading

Cardinal Danneels Admits to Being Part of ‘Mafia’ Club Opposed to Benedict XVI

Further serious concerns are being raised about Cardinal Godfried Danneels, one of the papal delegates chosen to attend the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, after the archbishop emeritus of Brussels confessed this week to being part of a radical “mafia” reformist…Continue Reading

Pope declares Junipero Serra a Saint

(Vatican Radio) Celebrating his first Mass in the United States on Wednesday, Pope Francis declared a new saint of the United States. Fr. Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan priest known for starting nine missions in the 18th century in what…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope’s Angelus Address

“The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world and gathered around the Successor of Peter, for three weeks, will reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in society, for careful spiritual and pastoral discernment.” Vatican City, October 04, 2015 ( Staff Reporter Below is a ZENIT-translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus Address today at noon in St. Peter’s Square, following his having presided over Mass for the Opening…Continue Reading

Pray For The Intersession Of Saint John Paul ll For A Successful Outcome To The Synod . . .


With the start of The Synod of the Family, it is appropriate to invoke the intercession of now St. John Paul ll for a successful outcome. It was John Paul ll who at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family in 1980 reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, despite the many dissidents and the heretical thinkers of the day. The following prayer was written by Pope John Paul ll prior to…Continue Reading

Fr Lombardi reacts to revelations by gay prelate

(Vatican Radio) The director of the Holy See press office Father Federico Lombardi on Saturday reacted to revelations by a high-ranking Vatican official that he is in a gay relationship. 43 year old Polish Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa has been living in Rome for 17 years and has worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003. He also serves as assistant secretary of the International Theological Commission and teaches theology at two…Continue Reading

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri explains how the Synod on the Family will unfold


Vatican City, 2 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, gave a presentation of the phases and methods of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”, which will commence on Sunday 4 October. “Tomorrow evening, in St. Peter’s Square, in the presence of…Continue Reading

Why Isn’t Kim Davis A Hero To The Left?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I have been waiting for weeks now for the keepers of the flame in the liberal establishment to express some begrudging admiration for Kim Davis’ decision to go to jail, rather than violate her conscience by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky. Or at least some ambiguity over what…Continue Reading

What’s In A Motto?

By DONALD DeMARCO Pope St. John Paul II’s 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio is a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the harmony between “faith” and “reason.” It does not break new ground but reaffirms to a modern audience what St. Thomas Aquinas and more recent thinkers such as Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson have carefully…Continue Reading

Non-Catholic Communities As “Means Of Salvation”

By FR. BRIAN W. HARRISON, OS Many dissident traditionalists claim that Vatican Council II’s Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (UR) is irreconcilable with traditional Catholic doctrine. The passage most commonly singled out in support of this claim is the affirmation in article 3 of the Decree that “the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from…Continue Reading

The Future Is More Of The Past

By DONALD DeMARCO “The outlook on the future is by no means free from anxiety; on the contrary, there are many serious reasons for alarm, on account of numerous and longstanding causes of evil, of both a public and a private nature.” What do we make of this sentence? There is an unmistakable contemporary ring…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 .… “The Homosexual Intimidation Tactic”

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a guide on how to organize a pro-family group, e-mail him at + + + From the homosexual activist’s point of view, simple censorship is even better than retaliation because it makes…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

An Apologetics Course . . . The Church Of Christ Is Universal, For Everyone

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 22 It is true that Jesus came first for the Jews. Many individuals accepted Him, like the apostles, disciples, and their converts, but as a nation they refused Him. So the apostles spread their mission to the Gentiles — that means, to our ancestors. But even if the Jews had accepted Him, the apostles would…Continue Reading

Mission Of The Catholic Laity: Priest, Prophet, And King

By DON FIER Thus far in our examination of the vocation of the laity in the mission of the Church, it has become manifestly clear that theirs is a role that is distinctive and indispensable. Characterized especially by their secular nature, it pertains in a unique way to the lay faithful “to illuminate and order all temporal things with which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Recently we got a new pastor who has resumed the holding of hands during the Our Father that our previous pastor had eliminated. Has this now become part of the liturgy? And what is the purpose of the holding hands to begin with? Also, what do you think of “Polka Masses”? — C.G., Wisconsin. A. No, holding hands during…Continue Reading

Wisdom Is Worth More Than Gold

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11 Heb. 4:12-13 Mark 10:17-30 In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that no creature is concealed from God, but that everything is naked and exposed to Him to whom we must render an account. We know from the Gospels that our Lord, on several…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address To Families In Cuba… The Family Is A School Of Humanity

(Below is a Vatican translation of the address Pope Francis gave the morning of September 22 in his meeting with families. The Holy Father largely followed his prepared text, but ZENIT has transcribed and translated the various remarks he added off-the-cuff. Those are found in brackets. (The Holy Father’s theme was “families are not a problem, they are first and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Thomas of Hereford

By CAROLE BRESLIN During the High Middle Ages the power of kings began to disintegrate, as shown by the Magna Charta, which was established in 1215. Although neither party of the agreement held up to its commitments, the beginning of more democratic rule had arrived. Three years later a noble family gave birth to a man who played a significant…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Simon De Rojas

By CAROLE BRESLIN The subject of this article lived in a time of great saints, great Spanish saints, so it is not surprising that he is little known. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) who wrote the Spiritual Exercises, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) who reformed the Carmelites and wrote The Interior Castle, and St. John of the Cross who wrote…Continue Reading