By Fr. George Welzbacher
January 22, 2012
A month or so ago the Star Tribune focused its spotlight here in the Metro on a small group of women of a radically feminist persuasion who claim to have been validly ordained as Catholic priests. That such an ordination could be valid is intrinsically impossible, as Pope John Paul the Second made clear in his apostolic constitution Ordinatio Sacerdotalis [Priestly Ordination]. This document, an authoritative reassertion and elucidation of the Church's age-old teaching, states categorically that the Church, on the basis of Christ's own practice and that of the Apostles, as recorded in Scripture and as reflected in the Church's own practice from earliest times, "has no authority whatsoever to ordain women to the priesthood". Like certain heretical groups of the past such as the Marcionites and the Paulianists, groups that were distinguished by, among other beliefs and practices, the ordination of women, this local Twin Cities splinter group insists that it is only bull-headed male chauvinism that stands in the way of such ordination, and that a loving Savior would surely welcome women priests. In the wake of the Star Tribune's report, the Letters to the Editor segment of the editorial page resounded for a week or more with applause for such ordination. One letter, however, with its terse and lucid exposition, effectively rebutted this "politically correct" argumentation for what can never be. The letter was written by a young woman who is a practicing Catholic and who holds a graduate degree in theology. May I share it with you here.
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With Fidelity to Received Truth,
Church Cannot Ordain Women
Star Tribune, December 14, 2011
As a twenty-something Catholic woman with a master's degree in theology, I found the article "Female Priests Push Catholic Boundaries" (Dec. 11) relevant and provocative. Having shown a religious interest at a young age, I often was asked whether I would want to be a priest when I grew up. It seemed to me a possibility at the time.
When the question of the ordination of women first became especially prominent in the 1970's, Pope Paul VI called for a team to research and explain the Church's teaching on the subject. Looking into such fields as history, sociology and psychology, in addition to theology, some questions raised were: What is the priesthood? Have women been ordained before? Did Christ allow for it? Is it in the Scriptures? What did the Apostles do? What has the teaching of the Church been over the centuries? How does the Church acknowledge and affirm the participatory role of women in the Church and in contemporary society?
After thorough consultation, it was determined that it is NOT in the Church's POWER to ordain women - not just that it won't, but that it CAN'T. There is nothing the Church can do to "make" the ordination of women valid. This is because the Catholic Church does not manufacture what is true, but looks at the way things are, the way God has given them to us.
And that is one of the main reasons I am still a practicing Catholic. I want to know what is true, not just what I want to be true.
Over recent decades, a number of intelligent but sensitive Vatican documents have further explained the Church's teaching on ordination, as well as on the essential and irreplaceable role of women in the laity. (These articles are readily available in print form and online.)
Over time, the question "So, do you want to be a priest?" has become, to me, offensive. It implies that the ordained ministry is the only way to be "in" the Church, and that my current roles as a lay Catholic woman are somehow inadequate.
All Catholics have an essential part to play in the Church, and not just inside the church building. There are unique things that a single woman or a religious Sister or a mother can do that a priest cannot. Similarly, there are family fathers, single men, and non-ordained, consecrated men (brothers, monks, etc.), who each have their own important contribution to make.
We ALL have to work together, in our VARIOUS roles, to be one body of Christians.
The news article also made numerous references to the declining number of male Catholic priests as one of the reasons to ordain women. This runs contrary to accessible, easily verifiable evidence that the enrollment of young men in U.S. Catholic seminaries has actually Increased in recent years. Many seminaries have more men enrolled this year than they have had in decades; some are even full.
Being of the same generation, I am especially proud of these men, who have grown up hearing nothing but ridicule of their Church in the public arena, yet have found a love for their Catholic faith and have answered a call to give their lives in service of others.
It is what we are called to do in our VARIOUS states of life. As a woman, I look forward to working alongside these priests in the future - without being one. [Emphasis added]
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TODAY (JANUARY 22nd)
You are invited to VOICE your opposition to Roe v. Wade on its grim 39th anniversary. This ruling by a majority of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, based on "the adumbration of a penumbra"-both words come from the Latin word for "shadow", indicating just how far from the light of day this spurious justification for murdering babies really is- created a brand-new "right" to kill the helpless innocent. Its gruesome harvest thus far stands at more than fifty million missing Americans. Defenders of Roe v. Wade hope that the American public will become inured to this national crime, shrugging it off with a "What's the big deal?" You will show that together with many Americans, young and old, (some 51% according to recent polls), you are NOT shrugging off this judicial obscenity if you take part in the pro-life rally at the Minnesota State Capitol THIS AFTERNOON AT TWO O'CLOCK. We ask you to make a real effort to attend.
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