Why can’t a woman be ordained?

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The official Catholic position on this issue has been restated several times since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. Pope Paul VI commissioned the biblical study of whom might be ordained; reportedly dissatisfied, he issued his own statement through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: the Declaration on the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (Inter Insigniores) (1976).

Pope John Paul II wrote several apostolic letters on the subject, the last in 1994, To the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). Here you find a summary of the traditional argument. Fundamentally it is not admissible to ordain women because: 1. The example of Christ was to choose only men; 2. the constant practice of the church has imitated Christ; 3. the constant teaching authority that excludes women is in accordance with God’s plan for the church. While the church recognizes “the greatness of the mission” to which women are called, “of capital importance” for the “renewal and humanization of society,” the pope concludes: “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.”

Scripture (cited by church documents)
Mark 3:13-19; Matthew 10:1-4; Luke 6:12-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9

The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church by Sara Butler, M.S.B.T. (Hillenbrand Books, 2006)
Woman at the Altar: The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church by Lavinia Byrne (Continuum, 1999)

Reprinted with permission from PrepareTheWord.com. ©TrueQuest Communications.

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