Which attitude should be adopted towards the ordination of women to the priesthood?
I am uncomfortable with women's attitude: they claim the right to be ordained to the priesthood.
There is a controversy concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood. Pastors, canonists, and theologians express diametrically opposed views in a multitude of books, reviews and articles.
For many, the place of women in the Church must include the ordained ministry; otherwise, they say, it is a delusion.
You are uncomfortable as you listen to women who claim the right to be ordained priests in the Church. You can keep your opinion which conforms to that of the official Church.
You do not have to approve of people who differ from you, but respect them.
Will the pastors of the Church, sometimes called misogynists, ever change their position on this? Can they?
Many subscribe to the Magisterium's position and believe that nothing can change about that without betraying Christ and the long Tradition going back to apostolic time.
Others, however, following the example of the Anglican Church, believe that the Catholic Church's position can and must change, that there is a discrimination based on sex and an obsolete patriarchal culture; they say that no theological argument stands firm against the ordination of women. The Tradition, they claim, must remain alive and move ahead.
It matters that God's will be discerned. God's will is not the satisfaction of our mind and personal taste. The vocation to priesthood always remains a call not from the crowd but from God. "No one takes this honor on himself, but each one is called by God" (Heb 5: 4).
Women must be proud of their own qualities and mission. The Pope addressed a letter to women on June 29, 1995, to emphasize their dignity and their rights in the light of God's Word.
The Lord despised the prejudices of his time and honored women. Freely, He chose only men to the ministry of the priesthood. The priest represents Christ who devoted Himself to His spouse the Church. This symbolism, anchored in Holy Scripture, is important for the Catholic Church as it is for the Orthodox Church.
The woman represents Mary, Virgin, Wife and Mother.
The late Max Thurian, a member of the ecumenical community of Ta´ze, France, underlined that most Churches that ordain women do not have female religious communities.
If our pastors, mostly our supreme pastor the Pope, continue to state that God's will is that women cannot be ordained priests, their conviction is in itself an important element of discernment.
Remember the declaration "Inter insigniores" of Paul VI, in 1977, the text from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on October 15, 1986, and the apostolic letter on the "Dignity and Vocation of Woman" by John Paul II in 1988. They explain why the ordination to the priesthood is reserved for men.
We should not read Holy Scripture without referring to the Tradition. This Tradition must remain "alive", but faithful to itself. There should not be a break with the past, but a homogeneous growth. Whatever the desire, even of a majority of believers, the Church, including the Pope, cannot do what she wants; she must respect Christ's will.
The decision of the Catholic Church, in regard to women's ordination, proves to be permanent. In his Apostolic Letter of May 22, 1994, the Pope has written: "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf Lk 22: 32) 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" (Ordinatio sacerdotalis).
On October 28, 1995, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, affirmed that this doctrine belonged "to the deposit of faith". It "requires definitive assent", affirms the Congregation, "since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium".
The Catholic Church's attitude is also the firm attitude of the Orthodox Church, even though a few orthodox theologians now raise questions on the matter. After the Synod's decision of the Anglican Church in England, November 11, 1992, in favor of the ordination of women, the Patriarch of Constantinople expressed his disappointment: "As to the ordination of women, the Orthodox Church follows for theological, canonical and historical reasons, the ancient tradition of the undivided Church... She does not permit access of women to the priesthood and even less to the episcopate, without excluding the possibility to restore the distinct order of deaconesses which was widespread in the practice of the ancient Church."
John Paul II himself reacted to the outcome of the Lambeth Conference. He maintained Paul VI's decision when he approved the Declaration "Inter insigniores". The Church, by fidelity to the Lord's example, "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination".
A number of Anglican ministers who did not approve of the decision of their Church to ordain women decided to join the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church.
There are about 30 Anglican Churches in the world, with 520 bishops and 70 million members. Does the decision of these Churches to ordain women as priests and bishops create a new obstacle for the ecumenical efforts? Cardinal Ratzinger said that he did not think so, because, ever since the 16th century, there is a different conception of the priesthood, considered by some to be a sacrament desired by Christ, by others to be a service decided by the community.
The Catholic Church's position, added the Cardinal, does not suppress anything of the "equal dignity of man and woman, mostly in relation to holiness... Before God, only holiness finally counts".
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