Q. Why won’t the Catholic Church ordain women to the priesthood?

A. There is no precedent for it. Jesus never ordained a woman to the priesthood. He chose all males as His apostles-the first Christian priests. This choice was not about men being superior to women. It was not about Jesus being afraid to buck the culture. He did it all the time. If Jesus wanted His Church to have priestesses, who better to be the first, than His holy and immaculate mother?

But, no, Jesus chose men. And, only men have been ordained to the priesthood in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Pope John Paul II infallibly settled the question in a short and to the point, two page encyclical Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in 1994.

“…in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance… in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren. 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.”

You can read more about male typology and the Catholic Priesthood …Why Can’t Wome be Priests Part 1 Here

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20 Responses to WHY CAN’T WOMEN BE PRIESTS? Part 2

  1. newfeminist says:

    One word – Phoebe

  2. NewFeminist…

    Are you of the thinking we have not heard this name and argument before?

    Give us some credit and actually make more than a mono-word argument.

  3. Tito Edwards says:

    Who’s Phoebe? Was she some assistant to a deacon that feminists confuse for a priestess?

  4. Tito Edwards says:

    After some research I see why ‘newfeminist’ was throwing a bomb such as ‘Phoebe’. Phoebe has been misused and manipulated by the priestess agitators to promote women as priestesses.

    Phoebe is actually referred to as a servant, not as a deacon.

    Sigh, poor militant feminists, grasping for straws.

  5. newfeminist says:

    Ah, Tito – if you only understood the difference between a biased translation and Paul’s actual language –

  6. Tito Edwards says:

    Of course you’re using your ‘interpreation’ of Paul’s actual language.

    I’m sure the Church had it ALL wrong when the Church put together the Bible. All priestesses & bishopesses approved the Bible.

    Oh, none of them showed up since they didn’t exist then as well.

  7. newfeminist says:

    Actually women priests were not banned until the sixth century. But your comment made me LOL – “putting together” the Bible! As if that had anything to do with Paul’s Greek!

  8. Joel says:

    It has always seemed to me that women who clamor for female ordination do so because of a perceived inequality between the sexes. This can only be explained by an incomplete formation in Christian doctrine. From the very beginning women and men have never been seen as equals in teaching authority. This inequality in teaching authority in no way translates in an inequality in dignity though. They have always been seen as equals in nature and in their respective relationships towards the Father and the Son.

    Clement of Alexandria said in the Second Century: Woman does not have one nature and man another. Rather, they have the same.

    Then also Tertullian said in the same century: For you [women], too, have the same angelic nature promised as your reward, and the same sex, as do men. The Lord promises you the same dignity of judging.

    Mark Minucius Felix (a Roman lawyer who converted to Christianity and wrote Christian Apologies) said at the end of the Second Century: Let him know that all persons are begotten alike, with a capacity and ability of reasoning and feeling – without any preference of age, sex, or rank.

    Far from being an exhaustive list of Church teaching in the early centuries regarding the equality of men and women we can conclude that the sexes shared equal dignity in the eyes of the Church from the very start. Conversely women have never been allowed to teach in the Church as noted by Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian in the Second Century, Cyprian in the Third Century and the Apostolic Constitutions in the Fourth.

    “But the woman of pertness, who has usurped the power to teach, will of course not give birth for herself likewise the right of baptizing!…” -Tertullian

    It is not permitted to a woman to speak in the church, nor to teach, baptize, offer, or to claim to herself any manly function, not to mention the priestly office.” -Tertullian

    “We do not allow our women ‘to teach in the church.’ Rather, they are only permitted to pray and hear those who teach.” -Apostolic Constitutions

  9. Tito Edwards says:


    Thank you for so eloquantly further explaining the reasons for the impossibility of ‘womens ordination’.

  10. “The Ordination of Women to the Catholic Priesthood,” Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

    “Ordination is Not a Right: Why the Church Cannot Make Women Priests,” Mark P. Shea (This Rock, May/June 2001)

    “Why Can’t Women Be Priests?,” Jason Evert (This Rock, Jan. 2002)

    “Women Priests: No Chance,” Joanna Bogle (This Rock, Oct. 1997)

    “Why No Women’s Ordination,” Michael J. Tortolani (This Rock, Jan. 1996)

    Church Fathers on Female Ordination (This Rock, Nov. 2003)

    “The Authority of Women,” Monica Migliorino Miller (This Rock, July/Aug 1996)

    “Catholic Women: A Case of Oppression?,” Joanna Bogle (This Rock, May 1997)

  11. NewFeminist – are you an advocate of Sola Scriptura?

  12. Robert says:


    What exactly is your argument? And how do you think that showing that deaconesses exist means that women therefore must be admitted to priestly orders? You must know that since the diaconate is not a priestly office, that even the presence of women in the diaconate would not prove that women are capable of receiving priestly orders.

    So your argument, at best, does not prove enough.

    But regardining Phoebe.

    You have not given an argument– in the future, please do so– but I will assume that your argument runs something like this:

    1) Phoebe is called ‘diakonos’

  13. Robert says:

    I accidentally posted that. My exposition of your argument is as follows:

    1) Phoebe is called ‘diakonos’

    2) In other contexts ‘diakonos’ is translated as “deacon.”

    3) There is no relevant difference between the other contexts and this context.

    4) Therefore, diakonos ought to be translated deacon in this context.

    As a best charitable interpretation of your argument I added premise (3), which seems to be necessary to make this argument reasonable.

    Now, where can we, or ought we to disagree with you? And what points have you not sufficiently established?

    It seems to me that the only premise which can be questioned must be (3).

    A footnote in the NAB says this:

    “Ministers: the Greek term diakonoi is used frequently in the New Testament to designate “servants,” “attendants,” or “ministers.” Paul refers to himself and to other apostles as “ministers of God” (2 Cor 6:4) or “ministers of Christ” (2 Cor 11:23). In the Pastorals (1 Tim 3:8, 12) the diakonos has become an established official in the local church; hence the term is there translated as deacon. The diakonoi at Philippi seem to represent an earlier stage of development of the office; we are uncertain about their precise functions. Hence the term is here translated as ministers. See Romans 16:1, where Phoebe is described as a diakonos (minister) of the church of Cenchreae. 1, 2: The gifts come from Christ the Lord, not simply through him from the Father; compare the christology in Philippians 2:6-11. “

    This forms an adequate basis for rejecting premise (3).

    In general, I would note the character of the development of practice, doctrine and terminological usage in the Church. This is what prevents us from assuming automatically that similar usage in terminology necessarily means identical meaning. This is true even within the corpus of one writer, for a writer can develop his use of terms within and throughout his entire body of work.

    5) If there is a development in terminology across two groups of a body of work, then it is impermissible to read back the later meaning of a term onto the earlier meaning of the term.
    6) The epistle to the Romans and the pastoral epistles are in different groupings of the Pauline corpus.
    7) The pastoral epistles include a development in the term ‘diakonos.’
    8) Following (5), it is impermissible to read back the meaning of ‘diakonos’ in the pastoral epistles onto the term ‘diakonos’ in the epistle to the Romans.

    It seems to me that this establishes ~(3), hence making your argument unsound. But I think I’ve sketched this out enough for you to get the point. And it’s not like I’m using some fundamentalist argument here– the premises of my argument are completely based on the aid which contemporary historical-critical method gives to biblical interpretation, and which is expressed in the footnote in the NAB.

  14. newfeminist says:

    My argument is sketched out at newfeminist.wordpress.com. In passing I submit that Tertullian and the like are well-known medieval misogynists and their ideas are in conflict with the Bible.
    In further passing I submit that imposing current ideas of the diaconate on the original Church is anachronistic and unscholarly.

  15. In passing I submit that Tertullian and the like are well-known medieval misogynists

    Tertullian was medieval? (Scratches head…)

    NF, are you an advocate of Sola Scriptura?

  16. Karen says:

    Why don’t you go back to saying women are inferior? Please just stop with the “we think you’re incapable of reasoning but we don’t think you’re inferior.” Honestly, the Catholic Church has raised “girls have cooties” to the status of doctrine.

  17. Michael says:

    The promoters of the “women – priests” are not and cannot be Catholics, even if they are somewhere on record in Catholic parishes, because they do not really believe the sacramental doctrine, nor do they believe in the Church’s infallibility.

    Surely, if they do believe in Transubstantiation, and if they believe that the Eucharist, and sacraments in general, are essential for salvation, they should be intelligent enough see that the validity of sacraments, if they understand the concept of validity and believe it, is not a matter of guess, or of “human rights” to be fought for, but something we must be absolutely sure about.

    A bishop is conceivable who comes to the idea of “ordaining” a woman. Supposing he goes with a perfect precision through the rite of ordination. How can we be sure of that woman really becoming a priest, with the powers only the priest has: to administer the sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of Sick, Confirmation (in some circumstances, and in Eastern Rites) and to offer the Mass?.

    Supposing that woman “celebrates the Eucharist”…who can guarantee us that the Transubstantiation will take place? If the promoters of “women-priests” really believe in Transubstantiation, how can they be sure that the wafers and wine would change into the Body and Blood of Christ, instead of remaining what they were before the “consecration”. It is not a matter of opinion but of being absolutely sure to the point of eternal consequences for all involved, if they believe in eternal consequences at all.

    Would that “mass” really be Christ’s Self-Sacrifice, offered to God in praise, thanksgiving instead of being an offence; and for a forgiveness of our sins and of those who passed away, if the promoters believe there is such thing as the forgiveness of sins; and other necessities, if they believe that the Sacrifice has that power?

    Would the penitents really be absolved from sins, would the sick really be taken into the care of the Church and helped to offer their sufferings in solidarity with the sufferings of Christ, would the “confirmation” really give strength to the candidates to stand for the Faith. Would those who wish to contract Marriage, really contract the Marriage if witnessed by that woman?

    The question of “women-priests” comes under the sacramental doctrine, which is overwhelmingly worked out on the basis of the worship of the Church as it has been handed on from the beginning. There is no other way of determining what can or cannot be done except by looking into the sacramental practice throughout the history. This sacramental practice is as normative as the Scripture. There is nothing on record suggesting that the women were ever ordained; even if there were isolated cases it would be impossible to prove that such “ordinations” were valid. And there is nothing in the NT about it.

    It is not possible for all sacraments to be received by everybody. Those who are baptized, confirmed, or ordained cannot be baptized, confirmed, or ordained again. Those who are not baptized cannot receive any sacrament other than Baptism. Two homosexuals cannot receive the sacrament of Matrimony; the healthy persons cannot receive the Anointed of Sick, sinless persons – only Our Lady in fact – cannot receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. And women cannot receive the Holy Orders.

    Now about infallibility.

    The Magisterium has considered this issue during the pontificate of Paul VI. The answer was that the Church has no authority to confer the sacrament of Order to women, and it is perfectly true. Who can give that authority but Christ, and there is no evidence that he gave it. And it is Christ himself who is the Primary Minister of all sacraments. Who can guarantee that He would be so in case of a woman who submits herself to the rite of ordination?

    The practice of ordaining only men has been consistent not only in the Catholic Church, but in all the other Christian Churches which have valid orders: the Orthodox (Byzantine), and the ancient Churches that separated in the 5th century (Nestorian, Armenian, Coptic, Syrian and their derivatives).

    In view of this consistency, which goes, as shown in the preceding paragraph, beyond the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church, it is more than evident that the impossibility of ordination of women has been held by an unanimous consensus of the bishops from the beginning. There is on record a rejection of the idea of ordination of women by some Fathers when the question was raised in early centuries. And during the pontificate of John Paul II the answer to the affirmative was given to the question as to whether the doctrine is proposed infallibly. It is proposed infallibly by what is technically called Universal Ordinary Magisterium. It also confirmed by excommunication of those involved in attempted ordinations.

  18. Why don’t you go back to saying women are inferior? Please just stop with the “we think you’re incapable of reasoning but we don’t think you’re inferior.” Honestly, the Catholic Church has raised “girls have cooties” to the status of doctrine.

    Wow, this emotive little gem of vitriolic and rigteous indignation does everything but lay out a cogent argument. Are you suffering from cooties? Get that looked at.

  19. Joel says:

    Newfeminist, can you reconcile your accertion that Tertullian was a misogynist with his claim that women and men are equal in nature, dignity and divine reward for faithfulness?

  20. Tito Edwards says:


    Now if we based everything on ’emotions’ then my University of Arizona Wildcat’s football team would be unbeaten every year winning the mythical national championship every year because I said so and I feel so.

    That line of rational really doesn’t carry much water now does it?

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