Answers to Feminist Myths
First, where is the evidence that ordaining women will result in more priests? Has that worked for Protestant communities?
If the priesthood were a role that the Church came up with to provide for its governance–much like we create chairmen and mayors in our corporations and cities–then it would be perfectly reasonable to decide in favor of a pragmatic alteration of that role. One would be foolish to hold onto the ”original idea” at the expense of continuing the leadership. Along these lines
were the decisions to allow women to apply to traditionally male-only universities in the United States and Europe.
But the priesthood is not of our own making. It is ultimately the will of Christ, the Son of God. As Josef Ratzinger pointed out as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,
“Priesthood, according to the Catholic faith, is a sacrament, that is, not something invented by the Church for pragmatic reasons but something given to her by the Lord… it is a question pertaining to the Church’s constitution itself” (From Inter Insignores to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1998, p. 7).
In other words, we cannot alter the structures of the Church and the sacraments without turning the Church into something else entirely—a corporation, a ruling body, or a club. These are all natural institutions, but the Church that Christ founded is supernatural: it exists in order to worship the true God by a community united by the bonds of divine love
This statement comes recently from a headline and story in The National Catholic Reporter (July 27, 2011) entitled, Cardinal sees “no theological obstacle” to women priests, as reported on by John L. Allen, Jr. It was stated by Cardinal Jose da Cruze Policarpo of Lisbon, Portugal. He said that “theologically there is no fundamental obstacle, and it is only ‘tradition’, because it’s never been done.” The news report does not go on to explain how he arrives at the finding that there is no “fundamental obstacle”. He doesn’t have to; there are fundamental reasons why the priesthood is reserved for males only are found in the Magisterial documents on the subject and teaching. Sr. Sara Butler outlines these reasons in her book, The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church.
In addition, Cardinal Policarpo is downplaying “tradition” as if it can be dismissed and the Church has the authority to change the Tradition. One cannot be dismissive of “tradition” and insinuate that there is a time when tradition can end. When the tradition is for a few generations it can be dismissed, but not for 2,000 years and instituted by Christ through the choosing of the Apostles from only the male sex. This is what is referred to in the Church as the big “T” Tradition.
In addition to the action of Christ that sets up the big “T” Tradition, the theological basis for the Sacrament of Ordination is the “theological basis” of which he says does not exist. (The theological basis for the Sacrament of Ordination is found elsewhere on this website) The site will provide a link to it when available.
This claim is stated as an historical fact. In 2,000 years the Church has never believed or taught that there were ordained women Deacons in the early Church. A French Liturgist, Aimé Georges Martimort (1911-2000) clarifies the scripture texts that refer to Deacons by going back to the original Greek. He wrote a book that was published in 1982 entitled, Deaconesses, an Historical Study available from Ignatius Press.
The short answer to the feminist’s position on women deacons is that the “deacons” (cf Rom 16:1-2) that were women in the early Church were assistants at Baptism for the protection to modesty of those being immersed in Baptism.
“Recently, there are women ordained by bishops, in secret. These women are validly or at a minimum illicitly ordained.”
From the Site Editor: Here the myth is elaborate. There is a “secret” ordination by a bishop whose identity is also a “secret”. These are the same people who constantly complain that the Church is “not transparent enough” regarding its acts and how it makes decisions, yet, in this statement, we can see that the women’s priesthood movement is speaking openingly of secret gatherings. Quite ironic.
Can their claim be valid since it can’t be authenticated? No. Even if they were open about whom the male bishop was that did the “ordination” and if he used the proper form and intention, there could not be the Sacrament of Ordination or Holy Orders because a sacrament has to have a proper “substance”. As Pope Paul VI taught in Inter Insigniores (Declaration On the Question of Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood), points out in section Four (4) under the “Permanent Value of the Attitude of Jesus and the Apostles”, the power of the Church has “definite limits” and one is which is that it cannot change the “substance” of the Sacrament of Ordination. The Sacrament signifies that it is really Christ on the altar consecrating the bread and wine into the Body and the Blood. The priest is just an instrument but is the sign signifying that it is Christ on the altar. The male sex of the priest is the substance to signify that it is Christ on the altar. Christ was a man, the Church cannot get around this without throwing out dogmatic teaching on Sacraments.
Stayed tuned for more ways to answer this question from other contributors.