The Male Priesthood
By John Pacheco
used with permission
There are many issues which divide the Church from society, as there are many issues which divide Catholics from other Catholics. There are those 'Catholics' who are 'tolerant' of moral and social issues like abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. They believe that the Pope has his opinion, but it really does not impact their faith - or for that matter - their state before God. The politicization of the Church has made it thus. These dissenting Catholics consider the Church as a defacto political party where one may disagree with the party on a platform, but still remain a member in good standing. The age of 'cafeteriasm', picking and choosing what God has revealed, has become the norm rather than the exception in our hijacked Faith.
In this paper, I will endeavour to offer a few reasons why the Church does not ordain women to the priesthood. It is one of the most misunderstood issues in the Church and in society. To the modernists, it is the last bastion of male patriarchy that must be defeated; to the orthodox, it is the last untouched pillar which preserves the faith. It is not just a matter of a distorted and perverted 'equality' issue in the Church, but impacts on the very essence of Catholicity since it impresses on the Church's theology as well.
The first certitude that must be understood is that all struggles are not sociological in their genesis, but rather philosophical. It is no different with this issue. The philosophy underlying the thrust for women priests is essentially a utilitarian one. Underlying this disastrous push is the belief that a person's worth is determined by a person's utility. So, the thinking goes, if women cannot become priests, their inherent worth is somehow affected since they have apparently been judged 'unworthy' of ordination. The Church condemns this philosophy, however, since it is totally antithetical to the her teaching that all people are intrinsically and inestimably valuable in the eyes of God, independent of their utility or their ability to produce. This misplaced view is also predicated on a secular and unchristian view of authority. Christianity views authority in a father-son relationship; the world views authority via a power-dominance struggle. Hence, when there is an avenue which women cannot pursue in the Church, it is viewed through the latter lens and not the former. In the Catholic way of understanding the priesthood, denying a woman ordination does not translate into either considering her less worthy or valuable or even 'less useful'.
In six thousand years of Judeo Christian history, the priesthood has always been exclusively male. This, in itself, should cause us to pause before introducing any kind of brave New World initiative. In the Old Testament, before Israel was established as a nation, the priesthood was not exclusive to any particular social class. After the establishment of the Covenant, however, a special group of men were designated to be totally dedicated to the service of God to offer sacrifice on behalf of the people. The first priesthood was the Levitical priesthood, where the priests came from one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the Levi tribe (Leviticus 8-10). When Jesus Christ ushered in the New Covenant, He superseded the Levitical line and fulfilled the second line of Old Testament priesthood, the priesthood of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18).
The rebellion and defiance of those who seek to impose their new discipline on the Church is not tolerated by God. The sin of Korah spoken of in the New Testament (Cf. Jude 1:11), is recounted in the book of Numbers:
'Moses also said to Korah, 'Listen to me, you Levites! Is it too little for you that the God of Israel has singled you out from the community of Israel, to have you draw near him for the service of the Lord's Dwelling and to stand before the community to minister for them? He has allowed you and your kinsmen, the descendants of Levi, to approach him, and yet you now seek the priesthood too.' (Numbers 16:8-10).
'Then, when Korah had assembled all his band against them at the entrance of the meeting tent, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire community, and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Stand apart from this band, that I may consume them at once. So they withdrew from the space around the Dwelling [of Korah, Dathan and Abiram]. And fire from the Lord came forth which consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.' (Numbers 16:19-21,35).
Needless to say, none of the so-called 'great religions of the West' - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam - has ever had female priestesses or clerics. The role of priest has always been reserved for men.
It is no great surprise that the authority for making such a decision is not much respected. The authority of the Church's Magisterium is being ignored and ridiculed in this question. There are not too many Catholics today, unfortunately, who heed St. Augustine's famous maxim: 'Rome has spoken, the matter is closed.' Ultimately, the furore of disagreement over this question translates into an implicit denial of the Pope's authority as commissioned by Jesus Christ. To deny that Jesus speaks through His Church is to say that the head is severed from the body. It is totally legitimate to say that we should accept with humility and submission the tradition of the Church on this matter simply because of 'who' the Church is and for whom She speaks. Once one concedes the divine institution of the Catholic Church, that's it - case closed! 'Who are you, O man ', St. Paul teaches, 'who answers back to God. The thing moulded will not say to the moulder, 'why did you make me like this', will it?' (Romans 9:20).
Sense and Sensibility
But say, the Church's detractors and dissenters, Jesus did not choose women to the priesthood because of the cultural limitations of the existing 'patriarchally dominated age of oppression' He lived in. This is the reason, they claim, that Jesus did not choose women - it would upset people too much! This lame attempt at conditioning Jesus' actions is blasphemous and obscene. Imagine accusing Jesus Christ of the sin of sexism! Our Lord was not too concerned with cultural sensibilities when He defended the Apostles against the scribes who thought eating with unwashed hands was a sin (Cf. Matthew 15:2), nor for that matter, was He too concerned with doing a little extracurricular activity on the Sabbath (Cf. Matthew 12:3-8). On the other side of the spectrum, Jesus did not have much 'compassion' with the practice of divorce
(Cf. Matthew 5:32), nor did He approve of the Jewish idea that only they - and not the Gentiles - would be saved. The 'cultural card' that is often played by the dissenters will not do. It is biblically false, and it is flawed theologically. It is obtuse thinking.
A Male Redeemer
The God who created sexuality also deigned to redeem mankind as a male. He remains a male in heaven with a male body. Furthermore, His human nature is also male-centered with all male idiosyncrasies that are peculiar to men. So what does this suggest? God chose the male sex to redeem the world, and so he chooses males to continue to do so in this the Holy Sacrifice of the mass.
Theologically, the priesthood must remain male. Consider the words of consecration: 'This is my body'. Now, the priest speaks sacramentally 'in the person of Christ' (in persona Christi). It is Jesus who consecrates the host through the priest who is an instrument only. Thus, since it is Jesus who says, 'This is my body', the priest through whom Christ speaks must also be male otherwise the very meaning of the mass is distorted and perverted. Moreover, the bible talks about human beings made in the 'image and likeness of God' (Cf. Genesis 1:26), and Jesus is said to be the perfect image of the Father (Cf. John 14:9). If the first person of the Trinity is truly a Father, then He must possess the masculine persona as well. So if Jesus is the perfect image of the Father, it follows that He too must be male, and those He chooses to 'channel' His words of consecration must likewise be male.
There is also another reason, biblically speaking, which must be considered in understanding this question. Christ came to redeem all of the human race, both men and women. But, as a sex, it is principally the male that needs the redeeming. For, throughout history, it is the woman not the man who has been more selfless, loving, compassionate, pious, peaceful, and civilized. In the Gospels, Jesus' teachings and admonitions were primarily directed at man's sin more than it was toward the behavior of women. Hence, Jesus chose men to 'conquer' and to transform them more into the likeness of Himself. Women, for the most part, did not need to address those sins as much which Christ came to root out: dominance, hatred, violence, greed, irreverence, pride, etc. Thus, male priests represent the sons of God who Jesus has won and conquered with His infinite love. To remove the distinct masculinity of the priesthood is, in essence, to deprive Him of His prize.
The proponent of female priests is totally oblivious to the beautiful complimentary reality that God's gift of salvation allows us to glimpse. He allows women to participate in giving life in a special and exclusive way; He allows men to participate in redeeming it in a special and exclusive way as well. Both sexes participate in a secondary sense in the others principal role (for instance, men in the natural act of generation in giving life and women (especially Our Lady) in helping to redeem mankind with their Saviour), but the roles are defined - never to be superseded by man. Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is his Bride, and in that sense, this makes us all feminine in relation to God.
Some Closing Thoughts
The consequences of women priests would surely not go unnoticed. In all areas of society, gender roles have been broken and the family has been a principal victim to this onslaught. The priesthood remains the last remaining bastion of defined roles in society, and so, it is hardly surprising to see that the feminists who would otherwise be indifferent to the issues the Catholic Church faces are at the forefront in demanding women's ordination. Such a step would foster even more confusion in the Church as people would begin to doubt even the divine foundation of the Church. Schisms would inevitably result, not only between the West and other non-Western cultures (especially. in Africa and Asia), but even within the West itself with much 'parish hoping'.
One only needs to look at the motive of the majority of the proponents of women priests. Who are these people, and what do they believe? They believe in abortion, contraception, fornication, divorce, homosexual unions, sodomy, and pagan earth worship. The last one is usually more common among their more prominent leaders along with their veiled adherence to Marx's Communism and Foucault's Deconstructionism. The ultimate attack, the 'end game', as military strategists say, is morality itself because if one changes the masculinity of God - a revealed truth - morality is not too far behind.