Among the longest-standing controversies in the Catholic Church has been the ordination of women. The Churchís teaching that women cannot be priests has come under great attack. Many have argued that lack of such ordination is an obvious proof that the Church does not value women. Others dispute that the ordination of women is a matter of justice. Exclusion of women from ministry defies faith and reason.
The Catholic Faith teaches that men and women were created equal before God. The church also teaches that through baptism, men and women become children of God and that in Christ, there is no male or female as all have become one (Deweese, 2005). These teachings clearly indicate that both men and women are endowed equally with moral and intellectual ability. From the use of reason, one sees clearly that plenty of women could be priests. However, because the Church has rationalized unjust customs, it is no surprise that women are excluded from the priesthood.
Several explanations are provided on why the Church continues to refute the call to ordain women in the ministry. It is important to state that the Church rose and grew in the Roman culture. The Romans gave more administrative power to men. Church leadership adopted the cultural practice (Deweese, 2005). The all-male clerical structure suggests that women had no administrative powers.
There is no reason for prohibiting women from the priesthood. Studies have shown that there is no evidence in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament that bar women from priesthood (Deweese, 2005). The belief that women cannot be priests is premised on self-interest and unjust traditional customs. No Church teaching has provided a conclusive reason for exclusion of women from priesthood
Prohibition of women from priesthood has persisted since the leaders believes that exclusion of women from ordination is Godís plan. The position is theoretically wrong as pointed out by many theologists (Kling, 2007). The perception that women cannot be part of the priesthood because God is the Father and Christ is the Son is based on misconstruing of Godís word. Those adopting the biased interpretation, or build their arguments are misinterpreting the word of God and the Bible (Kling, 2007). They are defending the patriarchal opinion of God, which has been proven not sound.
There is no denying that all the 12 apostles were men. Though Jesus chose them, there is no mention of ordaining in the first four gospel books. Additionally, it evident that twelve were not the only apostles, as there are many instances in the scriptures where some men and women are called apostles (Kling, 2007). For example, the scripture says that Paul was an apostle, though he was not among the twelve. Similarly, Paul refers to Phoebe as an outstanding apostle.
The Catholic Church teaches that the call to be a priest comes from God and not man. If that is the case, and as evidenced in the Bible, the Church has no right to reject a call to service made by God. If race or nationality cannot exclude one from priesthood, then gender should be a non-issue (Allen, 2005). Based on the argument, the rejection of women has nothing to do with God: it is an idea brought up by men who fear the rise of women to leadership.
Conscience is an important part of humanity, especially in peoplesí relationship with God. Conscience is the lifeline to God and is independent of hierarchy. It gives humans the sense of right and wrong and should be obeyed above everything else (Deweese, 2005). That said, the conscience of many women compels them to believe that they are called to be priests and that it is a sin for them to reject the call from God. In the past, obedience involved doing what one was told by those in authority. However, in the present-day world, obedience is best defined as attentive listening.
One of the traditional arguments against the ordination of women is that while men and women are equal before God, but the equality does not mean sameness. The premise hold that that men and women have different roles to play in the church and they have no authority to redefine that which has already been established (Deweese, 2005). Opponents of women ordination liken the roles of men and women in the church to that of instruments symphony instrument, arguing that each instrument has its part and cannot be altered.
The church is the body of Christ and should be treated with humility.† Since God has created different roles in the Church, opponents of women ordination argue that no one has the right to claim a specific position within the body of Christ (Allen, 2005). Positions in the church are not like those in the government offices where anyone can run for the posts regardless of gender (Kling, 2007). In the church, it is all about grace and service. This means that it is God who appoints by his will and not according to the expectations of men.
People who are against women ordainment justify their arguments that all things are given as part of grace, they claim that women bring souls to life, a gift that no man has. They debate that men do not have these privileges and will not have it as it was given to women. In contrast, the gift of priesthood was reserved for men, acting in the person of Christ (Kling, 2007).
Further argument against ordination of women is that it is not about abilities. Opponents of women ordination acknowledge that there are many women who are better orators than some priests and that some are capable of providing more consolations in the confessional (Deweese, 2005). However, they argue that long-standing question is not about capacities or who could be a better priest, but on who can be a priest.
A group of theorist argue that since Jesus did not appoint any woman as a priestess, he clearly removed doubt from the question of whether women can become priests. He showed that gift of priesthood was given to men and not women. If he had wanted to make women priests, he would have ordained Mary who was by all standards a virtuous woman, who stood by the Lord during his earthly ministry.† He could have spoken words of consecration on her, but he did not, and thus he established a tradition that the church is expected to follow eternally (Allen, 2005).
The Vatican authority on the ordination of women has been challenged mostly in the 20th and 21st century. While the Church acknowledges that there is no distinction between men and women before God, it excludes women from ordination (Allen, 2005). It argues that by not appointing and woman to be an apostle, Christ established a binding tradition. It also argues that ordination is not about ability but the grace of God. Lastly, it maintains that only God calls people to the priesthood at any time.
In conclusion, a close analysis of these arguments shows that they suffer from lack of reason and faith. Most of the argument are based on Roman traditional views with no relevance to the Bible. Additionally, the Roman Catholic Church has literally interpreted the works of Jesus and the apostleship as symbolism of the ideal church (Allen, 2005). Despite the many premises put forward, there is no substantive or biblical interpretation as to why women should be set assign in church leadership. Excluding women from the priesthood is does not appeal logically, biblically, and ethically. †It defies faith and reason.
Allen, J. (2005). Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger. New York: Continuum.
Deweese, C. (2005). Women deacons and deaconesses. Brentwood, Tenn: Baptist History and Heritage Society.
Kling, D. (2007). The Bible in history. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.