There seems to be a lot of controversy nowadays about the Church changing its views on female ordination. Can women in fact be validly ordained to the priesthood? That's a question that promotes a lot of debate in the Catholic world but one in which the Catholic Church has always answered NO. Certain functions can be shared between the sexes but what is innate is unalterable or you would be going against nature itself. “Where there is an absolute difference in the roles the two sexes can play is in the giving of life. By natural law, only women can give physical life by serving as mothers. By supernatural law, only men can give spiritual life to the faithful by serving as priests.”(1)
In fact, Pope John Paul II said that "in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful" (Ordinatio Scerdotalis 4).
And so we see that it’s not that the Pope doesn't want to ordain women, it’s that the Church has no authority to ordain women. The Church has had the chance to ordain women for 2000 years and never has it ever attempted to ordain women beginning with Jesus Himself. Jesus chose 12 apostles, 12 men. It’s true that the culture of the time of Jesus would have made the choice of women apostles very difficult to continue His ministry but Jesus allowed women to join in His mission, to follow and finance his ministry (Luke 7:37-50) elevating them above cultural norms (Mark 16:9, John 8:3-11). His decision not to ordain women had nothing to do with the culture. Women have always been held with the highest regard in the church but Jesus only breathed on the male apostles, the first bishops, giving them the authority to forgive and retain sins (John 20:22-23). What most don't seem to realize is that the male priesthood of Christianity was a distinction from the priestesses of paganism that existed during these times. A female priesthood would be a reversion to non-Christian practices.
Jesus called whom He willed (Mark 13:3). Not because the culture demanded it but because He willed it, whose will was perfectly united to the Will of God. Who are we to decide to know the Will of God better then Jesus Himself? To try to ordain women is to go against nature and against God Himself. Here are a few quotations from very early Christian history expressing this belief…
“[A female heretic], lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. . . . But we, little fishes, after the example of our Icthus [Greek, “Fish”], Jesus Christ, are born in water . . . so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water” (Tertullian on Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).
“Similarly, in regard to the deaconesses, as with all who are enrolled in the register, the same procedure is to be observed. We have made mention of the deaconesses, who have been enrolled in this position, although, not having been in any way ordained, they are certainly to be numbered among the laity” (First Council of Nicea, Canon 19 [A.D. 325]).
"[T]he so-called ‘presbyteresses’ or ‘presidentesses’ are not to be ordained in the Church" (Council of Laodicia, Canon 11 [A.D. 360]).
Prepared by a St-Denis parishioner