Can You Risk Not Knowing the Truth?

A Response to Arguments for Women Priests #5

Dear Miss Wannabe,

Race & Sexuality. You suggest that race is just as constitutive of the human person as sexuality; however, while the latter touches the essence of the human person, I can find nothing to substantiate the former. What is the basis for thinking that race, a mere accidental, is something necessarily resurrected in the life to come? In any case, it says nothing to counteract the argumentation against women priests. Later, you make this same error about Jesus' Jewishness which was not considered essential even in Apostolic times. What is your background? Can you understand the difference between accidents and things essential? This business I thought I had clarified in my first letter.

Marriage Analogy & Relationship of Christ to the Church. Again you reject the marriage analogy. Actually, I do not think that Fr. Hauke ever declares the two images to be absolutely identical. Indeed, such a happenstance is totally counter to what analogies are about. They are dissimilar but also alike. You would discount it entirely. Rather, recognizing that all analogies fall somewhat short, he echoes the Church's perennial usage of this analogy as conveying some hint or truth as to the mystery of Christ's union with the Church. The analogy finds its roots in both the Old and New Testaments. Your repudiation of the marriage analogy as a "fundamentalist rationalization," which it is not, is supplanted with nothing better. You know full well that women cannot be ordained as long as this analogy is the foremost manner in which the Church sees her relationship to Christ. You are in opposition to a constant teaching of the Church. Now, you have not only abandoned an orthodox view of orders, but of ecclesiology, and of sacramentology. The Vatican II documents speak about it and it is at the nucleus to the chapter on Mary as the Mother and Model of the Church. The catechism says this about marriage: "The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant" (#1617). This truth is also echoed from the council of Trent (DS 1799).

Proclivity of Males Toward Authority. While Fr. Hauke states that "the sociological findings, based on biology" make it clear that men tend more toward authority roles than women, you simply suggest that it is "cultural conditioning." Is this conclusion the result of a scientific study of your own or only blind opinion?

Made in the Image of God. You take exception to Fr. Hauke's distinction between the sexes based upon an orthodox interpretation of the Trinity. However, your comment based on Genesis, "Both man and woman are created in the image of God," and you add, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" does not imply a intrinsic conflict either. Like God, our spirits possess intellect and will. The Trinity has left his mark upon all creation. If you disagree with the teaching of the divine generations between the persons of the Trinity, and I am not sure you do, then this would be another theological weakness to shore up. However, using the Trinity as an analogy for understanding the complementarity of the sexes, particularly in regard to the Christian family, is not anything new. You really say nothing to challenge Fr. Hauke here either.

Maleness of Christ Essential. You have not moved from your position that extracts Christ's maleness from his humanity. Can you not understand that such is important in the context of the paschal mystery? Such a mutilation of Christ's identity is foreign to genuine Christianity. Both the maleness of Christ and the femininity of Mary as a model of the Church are essential to the redemption.

Vocation of Mary. Yes, Mary's unique vocation is superior to all, except for Christ's. Of course, she is also a model to women, indeed, to sinners of both genders, of what we can achieve by God's grace, holiness. She is Christ's first disciple, but not his last. Further, her vocation is intimately tied up with Christ's. Looking upon her crucified Son, his pain becomes her pain. This is at the heart of the old title, "co-redemptrix." The roles are different, but not in opposition or utterly separate.

Apostolicity & Male Nurturing. I suspect that you misunderstand Fr. Hauke when he writes: "For the clergy does not constitute the essence of the Church (as Church), but is only its necessary accident." How you construe the word "accident" as a denial of the Church's apostolicity is beyond me. He cites the female author, Oda Schneider, and her work, Priestertum, as the source for this assertion. Of course, if you reject the marriage analogy, it is no wonder that this is all too much for you. The word "apostolic" means several things in the Catholic context. Your constant repetition of such slogans as "not male-apostolic," are only in contradiction to the historical and ordinal aspect of its meaning. First, there is no getting around the fact that the apostles were all men. Second, the apostles were the only ones invited by Christ to share his Last Supper at which he instituted the Eucharist. Third, the apostles ordained episcopoi and presbyters to assist them and to minister in their stead. These aspects of the word apostolic are relegated to the male sex. Fourth, the Church herself, both in her clergy and in her laity, is founded upon the apostles and nurtured by the blood of the martyrs. This latter group was both male and female. Fifth, the Church is apostolic because she continues to teach the one true faith that was given the apostles and which constitutes the deposit of faith. Sixth, the Church is apostolic because she utilizes the sacraments of Christ as an integral facet of her inner life. Your assertion that, "A feminine presence in the hierarchy will make visible the maternal expression of God's mercy, as Jesus longs to do," would ironically severe the apostolic cord of the Church that you find so important. As I have previously said, you are presumptuous of Christ's will. As for Luke 13:34b, Jesus' nurturing role, compared to a mothering hen, is a challenge to all men called to priesthood and forces us to expand our view about real manhood. I told you once before, if you want to interpret this passage in a fundamentalist way, then it is not women priests you want but chickens!

Women Priests: Destruction of the Church. Huh? How can you suggest that the experience of the Anglican "communion" has made this concern mute? Their church is dying, the priesthood and Mass is dubious, and heresy is rampant. The Australians have even pushed for an eradication of the priest altogether in allowing laity to preside at the Eucharist. The matter of women priests is tearing what ecclesial reality they possess to pieces. They are precisely evidence that the Catholic view is true. Their orders are null-and-void to begin with. Now many of their most devout and intelligent thinkers are agreeing with us. You should have caught the series with former Anglican priests on EWTN's cable program, St. Charles Forum. There is such an inrush of new recruits into the catholic Church that there is some fear of a restoration of the old anti-Catholic laws in England. My goodness, sometimes you are your own worse enemy.

Jesus' Exclusion of Women Not Culturally Determined. Jesus was not discouraged from including women among the twelve simply because it would have been too shocking. If it had been the right thing to do-- the model Jesus wanted imitated-- he would not have hesitated. Jesus was sensational in most things he did; why would he hesitate here? You are grasping at straws again.

Deficiency in the Holy Spirit? Do you really think that the Holy Spirit has to be more arduous in moving the Church toward women priests? What a statement! You misunderstand Fr. Hauke once more. His implication is that such a change is not warranted. But, I suppose you say what you do out of jest. Be careful, nevertheless, that you do not actually ascribe any deficiency to God as God. The truths of Christ and the mystery of the Church is unfolding precisely as the Holy Spirit intends. Having disagreed with the Magisterium, are we going to argue with God now?

Consistency in the Organic Development of Doctrine. In repudiation of the counter-cultural role of male-priests in the Gentile world in healthy tension with the learning and teaching responsibilities of women in domestic life, you wonder if a seed was not planted that might bloom into a female priesthood. Actually, it has been so argued. The trouble is that such development cannot in itself violate truths that are more firmly entrenched. So, the answer is ultimately, no.

Iranaeus' Condemnation. Here, you are correct, it is taken for granted that women priests is wrong, and in the case of Iranaeus, condemned alongside sorcery. Exactly so. It represents the beginning of a new religion.

Heretics Accepted Women Priests. You claim that the heretics did the right thing (ordained women) although their reasoning was false. But, many of their reasons are your reasons! The whole subject is a distortion. They precisely did the WRONG thing because they had the WRONG reason. Like yourself, they appealed to a Gnostic and heretical interpretation of Galatians. They negated the value of the incarnation of Christ just as you minimize it by disavowing his masculinity a role in his saving actions.

Epiphanius Mentions That Even Mary Not Ordained. I will not enter upon a debate on your definition of "merit," as I again fail to see what this has to do with the quote from this bishop of the early Church. Epiphanius knows full well that Mary is "full of grace" and yet she is not gifted with the ordained priesthood. As the model for the Church in general (the essence of the Church as described by Fr. Hauke) and for women in particular, this lack of ordination is telling.

The Will of Christ. You say that you cannot find any direct revelation or saying from Christ that would forbid women's ordination. You do not want to find it. Nevertheless, you can find it in the testimony of the Church fathers, the Scriptures properly interpreted by the Magisterium, and in the official declarations of the Church, like the new catechism. This latter work does not deal with speculative matters, only with those things that are settled teaching. You are surrounded by sources of Christ's will regarding women's ordination; but, you are blind to see it.

No Woman Ever Called To Orders. Well, here it is; you write, "Just because the Church has been doing something wrong for two thousand years is no reason to keep doing it wrong." Such an approach to tradition is an ignorant renunciation of the very nature of what living tradition is all about. It is a blasphemy against the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit. You have not noted one shred of evidence in any of your correspondence to show how tradition accords room for women priests; pushed against the wall, you would now shove it all aside-- not necessarily for the Protestant sola scriptura approach, but for the sola-Wannabe one.

Fourth Century Verdict: Women Priests Are Heretical. You note regarding Epiphanius' statement and its interpretation by Fr. Hauke, that he is simply noting that deacons cannot say Mass Actually, it says deaconesses cannot do such a thing because of their exclusion from sacramental priesthood. This becomes obviously evident considering Fr. Hauke's citation of the Montanists and the Collyridian women. You really have not read this book, have you? How can you hope to speak on this topic if you fail to do the groundwork? How can you dare even have an opinion? Do you claim to possess infused knowledge?

Further Disregard for Tradition. You minimize faith to creedal statements and reject the wisdom of Saints Augustine, John Damascene, and John Chrysostom against women priests. Theirs is the faith of the Church given flesh in the new catechism. Once you reject one tenant, the foundation for holding the rest is shattered. Such a faith becomes arbitrary and open to whims. Later, in reference to the burden of proof on those wanting change, you dismiss repetitive past behavior. Well again, that is precisely what tradition is. Where is your burden of proof? Many of the Anglicans admitted that they did not have any-- they just allowed women priests anyway for current sociological reasons.

Pope Gelasius Bans Women Priests as Heretical. "Everything that is entrusted exclusively to the service of men is performed by the sex [women] that has no right to do so." The pope is quite right. No one person [as an individual] has a "right" to priesthood (as you understand the term); however, the male sex [in general] as a "right" as properly disposed for the priesthood.

Thomas' Exclusion of Women Based on the Incarnation. Despite your careless dismissal, this reasoning, echoed by the Pope himself still applies. The priest signifies Christ the head because such is also the case in the natural order. But again, you deny the marriage analogy its rightful place in the Church's self-understanding.

What Does Luke 2:23 Actually Say? You cited this Scripture both against Aquinas and against Bonaventure. The latter contends that ". . . according to the sounder and wiser opinion of the doctors', this fact [the Church never having ordained women] is significant not only legally, but in principle: women are incapable of receiving the sacrament of orders." Looking up Luke 2:23, I have to wonder what kind of bible you have. My reads as, ". . . just as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, . . . .'" Huh? How does this apply? This custom of the old dispensation was supplanted by baptism in the new. How does it apply today? The Levitical priesthood would sacrifice their offering, just as the priest today blesses first the gifts of the offertory and then renders the exchanged gift of Christ's very self. Looking specifically at the text, the Jewish rite of purification, normally for the female, found a parallel in an old Christian ritual abandoned in living memory. Verse 23 regards Jesus as the firstborn son whom the old law demanded to be consecrated to the Lord. The New American translation suggests in the footnotes that there is a parallel to 1 Samuel 1:24-28 in which Hannah offers Samuel for sanctuary services. It is in regard to this that my thoughts turn to the late Cardinal O'Boyle. He never failed to preach about the virtue of mothers who offered their sons to the Church as priests. Mary is the first mother in this line. The new catechism remarks: "The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior -- the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the 'light to the nations' and the 'glory of Israel,' but also 'a sign that is spoken against.' The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had 'prepared in the presence of all peoples'" (#529). Again, did you cite the wrong Scripture passage? The stress on Christ as "son" seems to assist my argument.

Duns Scotus: Women's Ordination Counter to Christ's Will. I am almost embarrassed by your attitude at this point. Please try to think logically for a moment as I offer the quote again from this doctor of the Church: "I do not believe, namely, that any office useful for salvation has been withheld from any person through institution by the Church or prescription of the apostles, and much less still from an entire existing sex. If, then, the apostles or the Church cannot justly withhold from a person any office useful for salvation unless Christ, as their head, has so determined, and much less still from the entire female sex, therefore Christ alone first prescribed this, he who instituted the sacrament." There is a syllogism here. Did you not take philosophy and right reasoning in school? Think!

I have mentioned several of the Church fathers, a whole host of saints, etc. to verify the tradition of the Church. You have yet to name one. Where are your facts? Where are your Scripture quotations-- some that make sense? Where are your citations from authoritative Church documents? Except for slogans, and I hate to be cruel in saying this, you have offered nothing to substantiate your counter-claims.

Radical Feminists as Modern Gnostics Holding True Womanhood in Contempt. All you can say here is the empty word, "nonsense." Yes, I quoted the heretical and apocryphal Gospel of Thomas that says only "a woman who makes herself a man will enter the Kingdom of heaven." It is expressive of the contemporary Gnosticism that many moderns disguise behind the rhetoric of equality and liberation. Is this particular work the only such? I do not know. Certainly many speak of the great androgyny. Sometime during the second century a Gnostic retelling of John was composed, called The Dialogue of the Savior. We read: "The Lord said, 'Pray in the place where there is no woman.' Matthew said, 'Pray in the place where there is no woman,' he tells us, meaning, 'Destroy the works of womanhood,' not because there is any other manner of birth, but because they will cease giving birth.' Mary said, 'They will never be obliterated.' The Lord said, 'Who knows that they will not dissolve and . . . ." We discover in the Second Apocalypse of James, "He was the virgin, and that which he wishes happens to him." In another document, The Thunder, we read, "I am the bride and the bridegroom." Also extant is the tractate Zostrianos that says, "She was called Barbelo because (of her being) thought; the triple [race] (which is) male, virginal (and) perfect and her knowledge through which she came into being in order that they might not [. . .] her down and that she might not come forth anymore through those in her and those who follow her." I know, just scraps. The Christian community was quite good at erasing the Gnostic legacy. Will we be as successful in combating their spiritual heirs today? I hope so.

Final Responses to Your Criticisms of Fr. Hauke's Work

Good gracious, I have now reached the final page of Fr. Hauke's quotations-- please read his book. You have made clear to me that you think the ministries of acolyte and reader were excluded to men only because of sexism. No, it only points to an important difference. The theology behind male servers was simple, as an extension of the priests hands, assisting him in the liturgy, should he not also be male? Many of us would say yes, but it is a discipline that has been abrogated. What it will do in terms of future vocations, I shudder to think.

As for a devotion to Christ's maleness, sorry it has already happened. In every masculine pronoun the mystery of the incarnation of Christ as a male human being is reiterated: "I give myself and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my actions, pains and sufferings, so that I may be unwilling to make use of any part of my being other than to honor, love and glorify the Sacred Heart. This is my unchanging purpose, namely, to be all HIS, and to do all things for the love of HIM, at the same time renouncing with all my heart whatever is displeasing to HIM. I therefore take you, O Sacred Heart, to be the only object of my love, the guardian of my life, my assurance of salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the atonement for all the faults of my life and my sure refuge at the hour of death. / Be then, O Heart of goodness, my justification before God the FATHER, and turn away from me the strokes of HIS righteous anger. O Heart of love, I put all my confidence in you, for I fear everything from my own wickedness and frailty, but I hope for all things from your goodness and bounty. / Remove from me all that can displease you or resist your holy will; let your pure love imprint your image so deeply upon my heart, that I shall never be able to forget you or to be separated from you. / May I obtain from all your loving kindness the grace of having my name written in your heart, for in you I desire to place all my happiness and glory, living and dying in bondage to you" (Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque). I bet you there are very few feminists and dissenters who offer this prayer and those who try probably alter its wording.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a male heart that beats in the chest of the God-Man. His is the heart that brings him to the cross out of love for sinful humanity.

Regarding Mary, your changes to the points from Fr. Hauke again show your disregard for the poignant beauty and truth of the marriage analogy. Can you really be Christian and disregard it? The Son of God aside, the greatest human being to ever walk the earth is a female, the Virgin Mary. Precisely as female and mother she has an abiding role to play in the redemptive process. Your assertion that this is "not because she is a woman" makes no sense in this context whatsoever. Because it smacks of the most disagreeable error, I will continue to pray for you as requested.

Your final addendum is false. You write, "I dissent only with CCC 1577." Your ideas threaten orthodox Christology (who is Jesus?), Ecclesiology (the nature of the Church), Sacramentology (regarding marriage), Liturgiology (the priest as a true icon of Christ), the theology of the transmission of dogma and doctrine, the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, the teaching about Authority and the Magisterium, etc. I am sure, if properly explored, you would find that your "small" dissent is a reflection of a whole host of heresies.

Early Christianity Elevated Women's Dignity Outside of Priesthood

As I reflect over what I have written you, I cannot extract from my memory that you would allow Jesus the commission of even "lesser" evils. Jesus was not one to permit the constraints of time and place to distort his proclamation of the Gospel and the new dispensation. Surprisingly, the early Church would take after her Master. Having not long ago celebrated the Epiphany, and the revelation of the great light of salvation to the Gentiles, it might be good for us to ponder their faith and the solemn trust given them.

Their avoidance of priestesses, this is the true word, was not simply omission, but calculated avoidance. Since the Church was very much open to other aspects in the Hellinization process, this avoidance is singularly remarkable. With the multiplication of ministries in the early Church and the functioning of the holy widows and virgins (deaconesses); are we to conclude that it never occurred to women to petition for priesthood? No this seems far fetched. Indeed, given the proliferation of goddess worship and their accompanying priestesses, such a notion was probably more apparent to them than to ourselves. The worship of the Mother Goddess had even taken place in Palestine, according to ancient Syrian records. It is likely that a number of Jezebel's pagan prophets were priestesses for the goddess Asherah. They probably had their throats cut alongside male counterparts when Elijah discredited their sacrifice. Jeremiah, Hosea, and Amos encountered priestesses as well. The substitution of baptism for circumcision, eliminated gender requirements for both those being initiated and for the ministering attendants, (as you yourself mentioned), why is it then that Christians in the Greek and Roman world continued to avoid their use? St. Paul wrote that in Christ there was neither male nor female; but still, no women became priests. They were given roles to play, but forbidden the priesthood. Remember too that these early Christian women were not shy fragile things. Some of them would become holy martyrs for the faith. Athenagoras, himself an archbishop of the Church, remarked: "Our poor Lord did not include in His cabinet of twelve any of those women who contributed with their substance for His sustenance." Well, neither did his later Greek adherents.

I suspect that arguments for the exclusion of women from priesthood seemed too obvious in the early Church to even be mentioned. There is really no clear written testimony until the fourth century. The silence of the New Testament cannot be interpreted as consent on this matter. The community was not prejudicial against the institution of women priests for cultural reasons, indeed, there were many enticements. The only conclusion we are really left with is that the reasons against it were recognizably theological. They saw the male-only priesthood as a mandate from Christ. The situation remains unchanged.

C. S. Lewis: A Modern Apologist Rejects Any Priesthood for Women as Impossible

Did you know that Walter Hooper, the last personal secretary to C.S. Lewis, not only converted to Catholicism but became a priest. He claimed that if Lewis had lived slightly longer, he would have followed his old friend Tolken's advice, and have made the further step in his recovery of Christianity to be received into the Catholic Church. Collected in a book entitled, God in the Dock, are a series of Lewis' essays. Among these is one pertinent to our discussion: "Priestesses in the Church?" His initial concern shows that his foresight about the Anglican communion was not infallible: ". . . I heard that the Church of England was being advised to declare women capable of Priests' Orders. I am, indeed, informed that such a proposal is very unlikely to be seriously considered by the authorities," (p. 235). However, he does astutely observe, and remember he died back in 1963, the same day that President Kennedy was shot: "To take such a revolutionary step at the present moment, to cut ourselves off from the Christian past and to widen the divisions between ourselves and other Churches by establishing an order of priestesses in our midst, would be an almost wanton degree of imprudence" (p. 235).

He contends that those who want the change are too sensible. They see the priest shortage and are impressed with the abilities of women. He asks, rhetorically, "What then, except prejudice begotten of tradition, forbids us to draw on the huge reserves which could pour into the priesthood if women were here, as in so many other professions, put on the same footing as men?" (p. 235). Hum, perhaps Lewis did have some foresight, for why else would he have written this article? Maybe he wrote it for you and those like you? He notes that the reverence for the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages might have been exaggerated, and yet nothing "remotely resembling a sacerdotal office" was ever attributed to her. She is the Woman of Faith who is united with the Word in her womb. She stands at the foot of the cross. But she is missing from the picture at the Last Supper and on Pentecost. Remarking about the question of cultural prejudice, he states: "Nor can you daff it aside by saying that local and temporary conditions condemned women to silence and private life. There were female preachers. One man had four daughters who all 'prophesied', i.e. preached. There were prophetesses even in Old Testament times. Prophetesses, not priestesses" (p. 236). He observes that part of the discomfort that comes from his side of the issue is that the traditionalists and the "sensible" reformers do not share a common definition of the priesthood. Lewis writes: "To us a priest is primarily a representative, a double representative, who represents us to God and God to us" (p. 236).

Returning to the subject at hand, and notice his inclusion of the marriage analogy which you detest, he speculates: "Suppose the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might just as well pray to 'Our Mother which art in heaven' as to 'Our Father.' [Which your fellow separatist, albeit in morals and not Christology, Fr. Charles Curran does regularly at Mass.] Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son. Suppose, finally, that the mystical marriage were reversed, that the Church were the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride. All this, as it seems to me, is involved in the claim that a woman can represent God as a priest does" (pp. 236-7). Here comes the punch: "Now it is surely the case that if all these supposals were ever carried into effect we should be embarked on a different religion. Goddesses have, of course, been worshiped: many religions have had priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity" (p. 237). He contends that God himself has taught us how to speak of him. Those who would contend that both males and females are the same types of icons for Christ would be mistaken. "To say that it does not matter is to say that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favour of Christian priestesses but against Christianity. It is also surely based on a shallow view of imagery" (p. 237). Thus, "image and apprehension cleave closer together than common sense is here prepared to admit" (p. 237). Now, I want you to read these words as if he has written them specifically for you: "The innovators are really implying that sex is something superficial, irrelevant to the spiritual life. To say that men and women are equally eligible for a certain profession is to say that for the purposes of that profession their sex is irrelevant. We are, within that context, treating both as neuters" (p. 237). Like bees in a hive, this might be the model for workers in the modern State, but the Church must restore us to "reality". "There we are not homogeneous units, but different and complementary organs of a mystical body" (p. 238). Against the equality for which you contend, C. S. Lewis states, and his words are far better than mine: "The point is that unless 'equal' means 'interchangeable', equality makes nothing for the priesthood of women. And the kind of equality which implies that the equals are interchangeable (like counters or identical machines) is, among humans, a legal fiction. It may be a useful legal fiction. But in church we turn our back on fictions. One of the ends for which sex was created was to symbolize to us the hidden things of God. One of the functions of human marriage is to express the nature of the union between Christ and the Church. We have no authority to take the living and semitive figures which God has painted on the canvas of our nature and shift them about as if they were mere geometrical figures" (p. 238).

Being a great fan of C. S. Lewis' works, I love to quote his insightful wisdom. Paraphrasing the man who became famous for cutting to the quick seems redundant. It does occur to me though, why should you listen to a school master if you will not even accept the teaching of the Pope? But, I feel compelled to try. As much as thirty years ago, Lewis was having to contend with religious people who for all intensive purposes, had displaced mystery with what he calls "common sense". This worldly wisdom would find a home with Scripture scholars and philosophers as methodical doubt and among the throng of weekend Christians as a kind of atheism. They would hold that those things which are unreasonable cannot be true. If man can re-think and change the priorities of God, then man is God. The pinnacle of this process was reached not when the Anglicans approved the ordination of women, but when one of their bishops preached in his cathedral that Jesus did not literally rise from the dead. He caused some controversy, but remained a bishop in good stead in the Church of England. Obviously what he said was no longer all that shocking. If Lewis had lived into his nineties, I am sure that he would have seen a connection between these two events. Thinking upon the nature of what the true Church must be, he writes: "The Church claims to be the bearer of a revelation. If that claim is false then we want not to make priestesses but to abolish priests. [Is this not what the Anglican diocese of Sydney is doing by allowing the laity to officiate at holy communion?] If it is true, then we should expect to find in the Church an element which unbelievers will call irrational and which believers will call supra-rational. There ought to be something in it opaque to our reason though not contrary to it -- as the facts of sex and sense on the natural level are opaque. And that is the real issue. . . . If we abandon that, if we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at the bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion" (p. 238). In other words, we go backwards.

Towards the end of the essay, he concludes: "Only the one wearing the masculine uniform [military analogy] can [until the Parousia] represent the Lord to the Church: for we are all, corporately and individually, feminine to Him. We men may often make very bad priests. That is because we are insufficiently masculine. It is no cure to call in those who are not masculine at all. A given man may make a very bad husband; you cannot mend matters by trying to reverse the roles" (p. 239).

Seduction of Radical Feminists: No Basis for Certitude

What is your motivation in arguing for women priests? Over and over again, you speak as if there is a certainty that they are being called to holy orders; however, what proof have you for this supposed state of affairs? This befuddles me. There is nothing that the handful of women clamoring for priesthood can do to demonstrate objectively such a change in the structures instituted by Christ. Where do you get your certitude? Convoluted arguments that distort Scripture and Tradition are to no avail; the Magisterium is decidedly against it. What is your source of infallible insight regarding this matter?

The radical feminists I can understand. Viewing priests and bishops in terms of power, they hope to wrestle it away. Anger and hatred are forces that have long moved human history. There is no arguing with them, but that is okay. As long as they frantically deride the leadership in the Church as patriarchally oppressive, I am quite happy to leave them alone. They will not get far. Already many women normally sympathetic to their cause are themselves steering clear of these fanatics. Many of them will burn themselves out. Biologically speaking this is also true since their ranks include many avowed lesbians. Of course, it is admitted that even some of them want children. Many could not understand why there were so many lesbians and homosexuals at the NOW rally in Washington, D.C. a few years ago. For the lesbians, the answer was simple. They wanted to insure that after the use of a stud service or artificial insemination, that if the child conceived was male, they could abort it and try again. What was it one woman said? Oh yes, "To have sex with any man, even your husband is rape, to give birth to a male child is to be raped a second time." When the bishops' pastoral on sexism was being discussed, I attended workshops and encountered many of these angry women demanding the priesthood. They were insulted by my presence. Normal, happy women, stayed away. Where were your holy women wanting priesthood, then? This phenomenon was repeated throughout the nation. What kind of priests would they make? If they want to overthrow men whom they interpret as oppressors, it is only so that they can oppress us for real. Yes, I understand these people and they sicken me.

Those who try to be less impassioned usually dialogue in utilitarian terms. They see the priest shortage as a danger to the Church. Little is said about the fact that encouragement has been lacking for men to consider priesthood. Families have few er kids and then want grandchildren. Immediate self gratification, including promiscuity, and driving ambition for the good life is a potent force in our society. These are things we are told to deny ourselves in seminary. Priests display their discontent, and then wonder why there are so few to follow in their footsteps. The reputation of priests in general has been denigrated by the foul actions of a few and the news media hungry for gossip. Religious education has been abysmal, giving us several generations of baptized Catholics illiterate of their faith and/or taught heresy. Vocations directors turn down men for being too conservative and bishops either close seminaries or fail to sponsor candidates. No, women priests are not the answer. We will get as many priests as we want; we just don't want any. The West falters while the third world in places like Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa, is exploding with vocations. Some of those who pose the utilitarian need may be acting in good faith, but they fail to see the manipulation of the need. Secular considerations must not force an unwarranted alteration of the theological obstacles to women's ordination. No natural argument suffices because the priesthood touches the supernatural. "Be on your guard; do not let your minds be captured by hollow and divisive speculations, based on traditions of man-made teaching and centered on the elemental spirits of the world and not on Christ" (Colossians 2:8). We are to follow the traditions established by Christ and the teachings of the Church, instead. Do we listen to a logic inspired by the spirit of the world or by that guarded and nurtured by the Holy Spirit?

Priest or Priestess?

Maybe we should both stop using the phrase, "woman priest"? It seems to me that the modern abhorrence of the word "priestess" is a telling fact. Even our unconscious psyches are uncomfortable with the possibility and this Orwellian word game is somehow an attempt to bypass our revulsion and the theological absurdity. Fr. George Rutler remarked in his Episcopalian days: ". . . and to say 'woman priest' is semantically as androit as saying 'female rooster'." Perhaps we avoid the word priestess because it tears to shreads any conception of this notion as fresh and modern? The word may even be older than "priest". The new Episcopalian priestesses are not so much one with true Catholic priests as they are with their western European and Mesopotamian forebears who rendered sybilline declamations over animal entrails.

Since you like Scripture, even if you insert new meanings into the texts, here is one of my favorites: "But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:3). Paul addresses himself in the subsequent text to some of the lesser and changeable traditions (like Mass veils), but his theological underpinnings are what constitutes the revealed truth. A woman cannot signify the groom, Christ the head. An even greater scandal erupts if such a priestess were literally married. She who is subject to her husband would then seek the submissiveness of the Church, including her husband, to her. A contradiction would emerge. Your disagreement with the marriage analogy is not ultimately with me, but with St. Paul. If you can cast aside the teachings of popes and apostles, how can you be so sure that you have the mind of Christ regarding women's ordination? No, Luis, you talked before you had it all thought out and now you are covering up. You are wrong and maybe afraid of the consequences in admitting it.

Rejection of a Fundamentalist Interpretation of Galatians

You have handled yourself so poorly in this debate that I feel like a overwhelming raiding party of Indians, encircling your poorly defended wagon with ever shrinking revolutions. One of your principal armaments, St. Paul's statement to the Galatians about equality in grace, has proven itself to be like many of our modern tanks, an awesome weapon but largely manned by soldiers who cannot understand the working directions. Such is your confusion over the hackneyed use of what is a baptismal formula and not a justification for women's ordination. Your use of this passage in this distorted way is particularly disreputable.

To say that "there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" is a qualification for priestesses is nothing much then a cheap classical reductionism. What is the statement actually saying? The phrase, "neither male nor female" is not focused on biology or psychology, just as "nether slave nor free" is not a statement of sociology and "neither Jew nor Greek" fails to center on anthropological realities. Moving away from your fundamentalism or literalism, the statement in Galatians is heavenly, even apocalyptic language. This particular unity does not emanate from a common humanity but rather from God's election. It is similar to that for which Jesus appealed: "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me" (John 18:20-23).

This unity for which Christ prays is not yet fully realized. During our earthly pilgrimage, the Church must be sufficiently sacramental so as to perceive the current realities of sex, position, culture, etc., raising up that which is of value in each and discarding that which profanes both God and men. Fr. George Rutler writes:

Secular exploitation of sexual differences in fields which theoretically have no sexual restrictions violate the Christian mind but that is a far different matter from the divine discrimination which merely states the reality of different sexes. St. Paul's statement about male and female eradicates the fact of maleness and femaleness no more than his statement about bond and free or Jew and Greek denies the reality of Onesimus and Philemon or the fundamentals of geography. Certainly his readers know this; that is the source of one of the great ironies of the ordinal controversy: proponents of priestesses quickly label St. Paul an anti-feminist on the grounds of his abiding awareness of the different order of men and women yet they simultaneously use his own writing in Galatians 3:28 as a proof text for the indistinguishability which he himself found so grim. Having sighted the careful line between representation and misrepresentation, these exegetes have approached it with all the temerity of Caesar at the Rubicon. (Priest and Priestess, pp. 21-23).

Discarding the Deposit: Reckless Dissent Against the Doctrine of the Church

It is evident from the Epistles and the Acts of Apostles that the roots of our ordination teaching is pre-Nicene. While insufficient to remedy the break in apostolic succession that afflicted the Anglican ordinal early in England's reformation, it is true that their priests and bishops who have shored their orders up with Old Catholic and Orthodox Bishops concelebrating their ordinations and consecrations may indeed be sharers in holy orders. When the Anglican Archbishop of London was recently received into the Roman Catholic Church, he was not re-ordained as is the usual practice but was conditionally ordained a priest. This exception was shown because he was able to show with some certitude his pedigree of orthodox precursors. Otherwise, the 1896 papal bull, Apostolicae Curiae, still holds: Anglican orders are null and void. All this aside, the point I want to make is that the exclusion of women is a long held tradition that cannot be dismissed arbitrarily. Indeed, it is a fitting example of the canon discerned by St. Vincent of Lerins: a practice of belief common to the Church "everywhere, to everyone, at all times," would possibly allow for the organic development of doctrine analogous to the growth of a human body from infancy to maturity. But, and this comes straight from John Henry Newman, this development while real must not result in the least alteration to the original significance of the doctrine involved. This cannot be said of your position. The faithful Catholic must "guard the deposit" (1 Timothy 6:20), the revelation enshrined in the Scriptures and interpreted in the Church's tradition by the Magisterium.

I guess this letter brings us full circle. In your initial correspondence, you cited and dissented from the promulgated Catechism of the Catholic Church. This work has been given the Imprimi Potest by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger himself, head of the Congregation of the Faith. It is introduced by the Apostolic Constitution, Fidei Depositum, by Pope John Paul II. He writes: "It can be said that this Catechism is the result of the collaboration of the whole Episcopate of the Catholic Church, who generously accepted my invitation to share responsibility for an enterprise which directly concerns the life of the Church." He makes no qualification in declaring "it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion." A couple of paragraphs later, he says it again: "This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching catholic doctrine . . . ."

Nevertheless, by dissenting against the teaching of the male-only priesthood, you logically seek to undermine the truthfulness of the entire document and the God-given authority of the Church to teach it. You castigate the Magisterium as murders. You relativize what should be objective truth. You reinterpret Scripture according to your own "personal" enlightenment and dismiss the exegetical role of the teaching Church. You ignore tradition as irrelevant or pretend that it is somehow in your favor. You do all this, and yet you plead to be a good Catholic because you say your beads and are pro-life. I have Mormon friends, polytheists and not really Christian at all, who fight abortion. I have Islamic friends, who deny Christ and the Trinity, who venerate Mary and say their prayer beads. Be careful. Little dissents grow into bigger ones and yours seems to be enlarging all the time.

Let us look at what the catechism says about women priests:

[1577] "Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination" (CIC, can. 1024). 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 (Cf. John Paul II, MD 26-27; CDF, declaration, Inter insigniores: AAS 69 [1977] 98-116).

Prior to the Pope's most recent pronouncement on this issue, the catechism cited Inter insigniores. I will take it for granted that you have a copy and there is no need to reproduce it for you. Much of its backing I have already touched upon in earlier letters. It leaves no room for discussion. It says: ". . . the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges it necessary to recall that the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." A sentence or so later it reiterates the point: "The Catholic Church has never felt that priestly or episcopal ordination can be validly conferred on women." Hum, as I reread this document, it seems to answer many of your erroneous suppositions. Have you really read it? Of course, sometimes it would seem you have not really taken my poor miserable letters to heart either.

Women's Ordination: An Ancient Heresy & a New Church

Do you really think that allowing women to be ordained would be an improvement for priesthood? Akin to Gnosticism is another heresy of the early Church called Docetism. It claims that Christ's body only appeared to be real and therefore his suffering and death was a pretense. In Gnosticism, Christ the Redeemer is really one of the aeons (cosmic and semi-divine powers) who descends upon the human Jesus in order to reveal the saving knowledge or gnosis. Similarly, he did not really become a man and die on the cross. Both saw the material as evil. Removing the sexual requirements from sacerdotal priesthood "is a Docetism as romantically superhuman as that which engages plans for a non-institutional Church, free of the trivia of administration" (Priest and Priestess by George William Rutler, p. 79). Fr. Rutler writes: "It places the burden of integrity on the individual's talents rather than on the simple fact of his sexual existence, scorning the Messianic precedent which chose a specifically masculine human nature with all its limitations for the earthly representative of the High Priesthood of Christ Himself" (Ibid., pp. 79-80).

Last March, the National Catholic Review ran an article about 72 lay women at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. In the course of the report, Dean Hoge, a sociology professor at our local Catholic University noted that studies he had conducted suggest that if ordination was opened to women, only about 3,600 would take up the offer by the millennium. While I am not convinced of his figures, I have to wonder what kind of women would make up this group. It gives me cause to shudder. One student at CTU remarked, "It isn't the eucharistic part [I should hope not], I'm attracted to that. It's the clericalism, the celibacy and the political system that I couldn't stand." Ah, so the nature of priesthood and our ecclesiology would have to be revamped before many women would embrace orders. It makes sense. Indeed, would not the ordination of women itself imply such a transformation? Yes, I think so. There would be a new priesthood for a new Church. It would also mean the end of real Christianity.

You ask at the end of your last communication if I could send you the parallel to CCC 1577 in the Catechism of the Council of Trent. And yet, the Protestant reformers, to whom this council was a response, did not yet dissent regarding a male-only ministry. You must know this. I may be wrong, but I think the closest approximation comes in the chapter on orders under the subheading entitled, "On whom Orders are not to be conferred." We read, "Finally, persons who are maimed, or who labor under any remarkable personal deformity, are also excluded; such defects offend the eye, and frequently incapacitate for the discharge of the duties of the ministry." Certainly the new catechism expresses the restriction in a less offensive and more direct manner. At one time, and in certain places, there was a ceremony in which the candidate for orders would sit in a chair while in a robe or cassock without undergarments and a minister (subdeacon?) would reach through a hole in the middle of the chair to insure that the candidate had the necessary genitalia. Then he would chant either, "Habet" or "Non Habet." No penis and testicles, no ordination! This was to insure that neither defective and/or castrated males (at least not without the approved dispensation) nor women would be ordained by accident or by subterfuge. A woman cannot properly re-present the icon of Christ at the altar respective of his masculinity. As such, her pretense as a priest "offends the eye" and signifies a deformity in ritual and ministry. Ah, but you neither accept this nor the marriage analogy!

On the Priestly Ordination of Women

in the Catholic Church

RoMAN Pontiff

53787 Melchisedek Drive, Sacerdos, MD 247478, U.S.A.

Testimony from an Early Bishop of Rome. Written toward the end of the first century of the Christian era, St. Clement's (papal) Letter to the Corinthians, a document older than the Book of Revelation, was argued by some as having such high dignity as to deserve inclusion in the New Testament canon. Upon the matter of holy orders, he wrote: "From land to land, accordingly, and from city to city they preached, and from among their earliest converts appointed MEN whom they had tested by the Spirit to act as bishops and deacons for the future believers." We are those future believers. The legacy of a male-only priesthood is firmly grounded in tradition and is only questioned by revisionist historians who displace collaborated facts with subjective hypotheses emerging from contemporary concerns and dissent.

Pattern Given By Christ in the Calling of the Twelve Not Culturally Determined. Against the broad background of the "great mystery" expressed in the spousal relationship between Christ and the Church, it is possible to understand adequately the calling of the "Twelve." In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time. Consequently, the assumption that he called men to be apostles in order to conform with the widespread mentality of his times, does not at all correspond to Christ's way of acting. "Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men" (Mt 22:16). These words fully characterize Jesus of Nazareth's behavior. Here one also finds an explanation for the calling of the "Twelve." "Do this in remembrance of me" (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24), which is joined to the institution of the Eucharist. On Easter Sunday night they receive the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins: "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20:23). Jesus, the Son of God, was quite literally, his own man. He may have been the first man not to compromise what he knew to be the truth. Jesus neither called women to the Twelve nor to the priesthood for reasons of his own, an expression of divine election and purpose, not because of social taboos and coercive pressure.

The Paschal Mystery as Understood in the Marriage Analogy. We find ourselves at the very heart of the Paschal Mystery, which completely reveals the spousal love of God. Christ is the Bridegroom because "he has given himself": his body has been "given," his blood has been "poured out" (cf. Lk 22:19-20). In this way "he loved them to the end" (Jn 13:1). The "sincere gift" contained in the Sacrifice of the Cross gives definitive prominence to the spousal meaning of God's love. As the redeemer of the world, Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of our Redemption. It is the Sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride. The Eucharist makes present and realizes anew in a sacramental manner the redemptive act of Christ, who "creates" the Church, his body. Christ is united with this "body" as the bridegroom with the bride. All this is contained in the Letter to the Ephesians. The perennial "unity of the two" that exists between man and woman from the very "beginning" is introduced into this "great mystery" of Christ and of the Church. / Since Christ, in instituting the Eucharist, linked it in such an explicit way to the priestly service of the Apostles, it is legitimate to conclude that he there by wished to express the relationship between man and woman, between what is "feminine" and what is "masculine." It is a relationship willed by God both in the mystery of creation and in the mystery of Redemption. It is the Eucharist above all that expresses the redemptive act of Christ the Bridegroom towards the Church the Bride. This is clear and unambiguous when the sacramental ministry of the Eucharist, in which the priest acts "in persona Christi" is performed by a man. This explanation confirms the teaching of the Declaration Inter Insigniores, published at the behest of Paul VI in response to the question concerning the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood. At the altar, the priest signifies Christ the bridegroom and the congregation, the Church, is in the position of the bride. Only an ordained man can image this analogy in the Church. Otherwise, it would corrupt itself into some kind of sacramental lesbianism.

Baptismal Priesthood: The Response of the Church, Christ's Bride. The Second Vatican Council renewed the Church's awareness of the universality of the priesthood. In the New Covenant there is only one sacrifice and only one priest: Christ. All the baptized share in the one priesthood of Christ, both men and women, inasmuch as they must "present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (cf. Rom 12:1), give witness to Christ in every place, and give an explanation to any one who asks the reason for the hope in eternal life that is in them (cf. 1 Pt 3:15)." Universal participation in Christ's sacrifice, in which the Redeemer has offered to the Father the whole world and humanity in particular, brings it about that all in the Church are "a kingdom of priests" (Rev 5:10; cf. 1 Pt 2:9), who not only share in the priestly mission but also in the prophetic and kingly mission of Christ the Messiah. Furthermore, this participation determines the organic unity of the Church, the People of God, with Christ. It expresses at the same time the "great mystery" described in the Letter to the Ephesians: the Bride united to her Bridegroom; united, because she lives his life; united, because she shares in his threefold mission (tria munera Christi); united in such manner as to respond with a "sincere gift" of self to the inexpressible gift of the love of the Bridegroom, the Redeemer of the world. This concerns everyone in the Church, women as well as men. It obviously concerns those who share in the "ministerial priesthood," which is characterized by service. In the context of the "great mystery" of Christ and of the Church, all are called to respond -- as a bride -- with the gift of their lives to the inexpressible gift of the love of Christ, who alone, as the Redeemer of the world, is the Church's Bridegroom. The "royal priesthood," which is universal, at the same time expresses the gift of the Bride. The ordained priest functions "in the person of Christ the head" while the laity signify "the body" of the Lord.

Excluded from Ordained Priesthood; Womanhood is Exalted in Mary, Figure of the Church. This is of fundamental importance for understanding the Church in her own essence, so as to avoid applying to the Church -- even in her dimension as an "institution" made up of human beings and forming part of history -- criteria of understanding and judgment which do not pertain to her nature. Although the Church possesses a "hierarchical" structure, nevertheless this structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members. And holiness is measured according to the "great mystery" in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom. She does this "in the Holy Spirit," since God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given over to us" (Rom 5:5). The Second Vatican Council, confirming the teaching of the whole of tradition, recalled that in the hierarchy of holiness it is precisely the "woman," Mary of Nazareth, who is the "figure" of the Church. She "precedes" everyone on the path to holiness: in her person "the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle (cf. Eph 5:27)." In this sense, one can say that the Church is both "Marian" and "Apostolic-Petrine." Not being an ordained priest was no shortcoming for Mary.

Excluded from Ordained Priesthood; Women Still Able to Assist in Apostolic Service. In the history of the Church, even from earliest times, there were side-by-side with men a number of women, for whom the response of the Bride to the Bridegroom's redemptive love acquired full expressive force. First we see those women who had personally encountered Christ and followed him. After his departure, together with the Apostles, they "devoted themselves to prayer" in the Upper Room in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Spirit spoke through "the sons and daughters" of the People of God, thus fulfilling the words of the prophet Joel (cf. Acts 2:17). These women, and others afterwards, played an active and important role in the life of the early Church, in building up from its foundations the first Christian community -- and subsequent communities -- through their own charisms and their varied service. The apostolic writings note their names, such as Phoebe, "a deaconess of the Church of Cenchreae" (cf. Rom 16:1), Prisca with her husband Aquila (cf. 2 Tim 4:19), Euodia and Syntyche (cf. Phil 4:2), Mary, Tryphaena, Persis, and Tryphosa (cf. Rom 16:6, 12). St. Paul speaks of their "hard work" for Christ, and this hard work indicates the various fields of the Church's apostolic service, beginning with the "domestic Church." For in the latter, "sincere faith" passes from the mother to her children and grandchildren, as was the case in the house of Timothy (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). / The same thing is repeated down the centuries, from one generation to the next, as the history of the Church demonstrates. / In every age and in every country we find many "perfect" women (cf. Prov 31:10) who, despite persecution, difficulties and discrimination, have shared in the Church's mission. It suffices to mention: Monica, the mother of Augustine, Macrina, Olga of Kiev, Matilda of Tuscany, Hedwig of Silesia, Jadwiga of Cracow, Elizabeth of Thuringia, Brigitta of Sweden, Joan of Arc, Rose of Lima, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Mary Ward. / The witness and the achievements of Christian women have had a significant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society. Even in the face of serious social discrimination, holy women have acted "freely," strengthened by their union with Christ. Such union and freedom rooted in God explain, for example, the great work of St. Catherine of Siena in the life of the Church, and the work of St. Teresa of Jesus in the monastic life. Ordained priests are not the only ones to build up the kingdom.

Excluded from Ordained Priesthood; The True Dignity of Women Defended by the Church. By defending the dignity of women and their [true] vocation, the Church has shown honor and gratitude for those women who -- faithful to the Gospel -- have shared in every age in the apostolic mission of the whole People of God. They are the holy martyrs, virgins, and mothers of families, who bravely bore witness to their faith and passed on the Church's faith and tradition by bringing up their children in the spirit of the Gospel. There is no wronging of women in their exclusion from the ordained priesthood. Despite the ravings of critics to the contrary, the Church has protected and elevated the place of women.

A Calling to Holiness, Not Holy Orders. In our own days too the Church is constantly enriched by the witness of the many women who fulfill their vocation to holiness. Holy women are an incarnation of the feminine ideal; they are also a model for all Christians, a model of the "sequela Christi," an example of how the Bride must respond with love to the love of the Bridegroom. Do some confuse a call to holiness with that of orders? Yes.

Except for the introductory passage from St. Clement of Rome, all information in this section is taken verbatim from Mulieris dignitatem 26-27.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Joseph Jenkins


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Revised on April 30, 1998.