The prerogative of Jesus: on women priests

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The Catholic Church is not against women priests. The Church is not for male priests. The Catholic Church is for Jesus and follows his prerogative over the priesthood. Jesus set the standard for the leadership of the Church when he chose his disciples, the eventual apostles. These same Apostles then named their successors, and their successors named their successors, and so on…

Simply put, the Church does not have the authoritative prerogative to nullify the second person of the divine Trinity.

In this article, I will discuss the opinion piece, Opinion: The Catholic Church would rather die than accept women as equals, by Patricia Gary. This article, shared on Yahoo.com on December 30and, 2021, reflects the view that the issue in question (male-only priesthood) is about POWER and POWER only. Contrary to Mrs. Garry’s opinion, the Church seeks only to follow the direction of its Lord.

A shrinking church

The op-ed begins with a fact: the shrinking clergy. The clergy in the West is smaller. In response, parishes risk closure or consolidation. The reason for the shrinkage? According to Mrs. Garry, the Church hates women…

“What is really causing this radical change is quite simple – it is the misogyny of the Catholic Church; his hatred and fear of women – which created this need.

The Catholic Church has neither fear nor hatred of women. The Church honors and respects women. We honor a woman as Theotokos, the incarnate mother of God. Women possess the greatest ability of all – the ability to create life within themselves. Such an ability demonstrates true power. The clergy (and the Church) is dwindling, but not because of a lack of female priests and bishops.

A subclass of women

“Even though women have served the church and maintained it for years – always as an underclass, as servants, supporting men who are very busy with aimless and unnecessary administrative tasks – the church will not admit the equality of women, that women and men are equal, it is women who do and have done the work of this rich church.

Such assertions smack of controversy and do not reflect the reality of the massive contribution of women throughout the history of the Church. Mrs. Garry diminishes the contribution of women throughout history by relegating them to a mere underclass of servants. What about women doctors of the Church? What about Hildegard of Bingen (1200s), Catherine of Siena (1400s), Therese of Ávila (1600s) and Therese of Lisieux (1900s)? The contributions of each of these physicians strongly argue against Garry’s claim of insignificance. Not to mention that the first two witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus were women (Mary and Martha) in the Gospel of John, chapter 20.

Women in the Early Church

“Historically, Christ was not afraid of women. He had friends, supporters, women he consoled and women who consoled him. There were women among the apostles, especially Mary Magdalene. There were female bishops in the early centuries of the Church. Much of this information is available, but not widely known.

Jesus associated closely with women, it is true. However, there is no credible historical evidence of Jesus appointing female apostles, nor evidence of female bishops. If such credible evidence exists and Jesus’ prerogative included female apostles who in turn named successors by apostolic succession, the Church would honor that evidence and female priests and bishops would exist to this day. No such evidence exists, so the Church has no authority to overrule its Lord on the matter. There are Gnostic texts of late, non-apostolic origin that show a greater role for Mary Magdalene, but such evidence is dubious at best. This is the “evidence” to which Ms. Garry refers. For more information on Gnostic sources, see This article.

Pope Clement I

“Through the countryside and the city [the apostles] preached, and appointed their first converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons to future believers. Nor was it a novelty, as bishops and deacons had been written long ago. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be contention for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they named those who have already been mentioned and then added the additional provision that, if they should die, other people approved Men succeed in their ministry” (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4-5, 44:1-3 [A.D. 80]).

Clement, who wrote in the year 80, shows the true intention of the Apostles. John the Beloved died twenty years after Clement wrote the above.

Celibacy and Power

“Christ did not cut off half of those who worked to grow the church in the early days and neither did the early church leaders, many of whom were women. Celibacy was not imposed by the Church until the 12and century – and it was because the sons of priests wanted their inheritances and threatened the growing financial and political power of the European Church in the Middle Ages. And the popes needed their money to build these huge edifices across this continent and to sustain their often decadent lifestyles. Many were as rich and as powerful as kings. (The Templars were destroyed because their wealth was coveted by these kings and popes.)”

Unfortunately, those in the Church sin… We have 2,000 years of historical evidence that the Church is failing. The Church survives in spite of its failures thanks to the faithfulness of God. As stated earlier, women have participated in the Church since its very beginning (and still do). Of the many rites within the Catholic Church, only one requires celibacy, the Latin Rite. The reason for this discipleship varies, and the pope can authorize married priests at any time. Ms. Garry’s latest statements about wealth and power only show her interest in power, not women or church growth.

A Church of God?

“To me, it’s as if the Catholic Church realized it was in trouble and joined the fight to destroy itself. Stupidity, the explanation of man are everywhere.

The Church belongs to God and therefore remains. Acts 5:38-39 says:

38 So in the present case, I say unto you, get away from these men and leave them alone, for if this plan or enterprise is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is from God, you cannot overthrow them. You might even be caught opposing God!

All about political and cultural power

But Ms. Garry continues:

“All because of their fear of emasculation (at the deepest level), fear of losing political and religious power (at the middle level) and simple fear of losing their status as important men in the community. Where is God in all this? Untraceable.”

The crux of Patricia Garry’s argument concerns power. She believes that the Church deprives women of the power to put them down. Open the priestly ranks to women, empower women in the Church, and watch the Church flourish! Sorry, but the proof of such a result does not exist. One need only look to denominations with female priests to see a complete lack of growth and dying churches. A Catholic Church with female priests will not develop as Mrs. Garry predicts. Either way, as noted above, the Church does not have the authoritative prerogative to effect this change. It cannot bypass Jesus and two thousand years of apostolic succession to satisfy one group’s desire for political or cultural power.

The Church has spoken

The Church in our modern age is not silent on this issue and on the reasons many give for allowing women priests.

“Women who express a desire for the ministerial priesthood are no doubt motivated by a desire to serve Christ and the Church. And it is not surprising that when they become more aware of the discriminations of which they have been victims, they desire the ministerial priesthood itself. But we must not forget that the priesthood is not part of the rights of the individual, but derives from the economy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The priestly office cannot become the goal of social advancement: no merely human progress of society or of the individual can alone give access to it: it is of another order. [INTER INSIGNIORES, SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, 1976].

And

“Therefore, in order that all doubt may be removed on a question of great importance, a question which belongs to the very divine constitution of the Church, by virtue of my ministry of confirmation of the brethren (cf. Lk 22, 32) , I declare that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment must be definitely held by all the faithful of the Church. [ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS, Pope John Paul II, 1994].

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