This post serves a simple purpose which is to clarify a teaching of the Catholic faith and give a brief reason why the teaching occurs. Because it is considered by many to be controversial I would ask that any comment stay on the topic of this clarification. This is not a place for Catholics who are unhappy with this teaching of the Church to vent any frustration, and any comment of that nature will not make it through moderation. It is also not to be used as a debate on sacraments in general. It is for any non-Catholic Christian to ask questions for clarification on why the Catholic Church only ordains men to the priesthood.
Earlier this evening, Mark Driscoll tweeted, “The Push to Ordain Female Priests Gains Ground,” and linked to this article from Time Magazine Online about several women who have attempted ordination in the Catholic Church. While I don’t have time to go into in depth I can clearly state that Mark Driscoll is incorrect on this point. The push to ordain female priests in the Catholic Church has not gained any ground, because females cannot be ordained to the priesthood. Unlike priestly celibacy, which is not a doctrinal issue but a custom, the all male priesthood is an issue of doctrine which cannot change.
When we speak of priesthood (Holy Orders), the oral tradition of the Church is pretty clear that Jesus only shared the ministerial priesthood with men and not women. This is because a priest makes visible the spousal relationship between Christ the bridegroom and the Church, his bride. This relationship is life giving. A woman minister and a feminine Church cannot make this life giving relationship visible. Thus, the “matter” involved in the sacrament of Holy Orders must be a man. Even if a bishop tried to ordain a woman, the sacrament of Holy Orders will not occur. It would be similar to baptizing a person using gasoline and without using the words that Jesus gave to us.
Our universal pastor, Pope John Paul II was very clear on this. He explained that the Church will not ordain women to the priesthood because the Church does not have the authority to do so. The women mentioned in the Time article he linked are not priests. They simply simulated the sacrament and now they are pretending to be priests. The Church does not believe this is a matter of “Canon Law.” It is a matter Divine Law, and the Church cannot dispense from Divine Law. There will never be women priests in the Catholic Church, no matter how popular the idea gets.
These women went through our “Church Discipline” and many of them were excommunicated. Their actions should not be viewed as representative of the direction the Catholic Church is headed.
Mars Hill Church members and fans of Mark Driscoll (not to mention Mark Driscoll himself) would do well to avoid looking to the mainstream media for any sort of objective coverage of the Catholic Church. For further reading I would recommend this post from the Ignatius Insight Scoop and the links at the bottom of the article.
UPDATE: An interesting discussion is happening on Facebook and people who believe women should be pastors and should not be pastors are both making good arguments using the Bible alone. Churches that hold to the Bible and Sacred Tradition are united that women cannot be pastors, which I find interesting.