In advance, I’d like to apologize to everyone who has heard enough about this topic and would just wish it to go away already, I understand the proverbial horse has been beat unto death, buried, and then its place of rest has been beaten and pummeled to a pulp, but it seems some people still don’t get it, so this goes out to them.
I decided to write this post because I recently saw a video on YouTube, “Ordain a Lady” and figured that someone needed to speak on this yet again. It is rather sad, because I am not Catholic, but it seems (as will become apparent) that I’d be more qualified at becoming a priest. After the Pope and about everyone under the Sun who actually is a Christian has spoken against this preposition, it seems that perhaps if some people who are not even Catholic speak on it, the issue might get solved. That’s my hope, at any rate.
First, let us go through the lyrics (and the video):
I had a dream as a girl
Like Therese of Lisieux
That’d be St. Therese of Lisieux (correct titling is very important). Now, I had to do some research on this one, because I am not familiar with her story, but here’s what it is referencing. St. Therese of Lisieux (declared by John Paul II a Doctor of the Church, which will be important later) published a autobiographical book Story of a Soul, before she died at the age of 24 from T.B. in a French monastery. The quote proponents of women priests (let’s refer to them correctly from this point on, priestesses) use is the following, “If I were a priest, how lovingly I would carry you in my hands when you came down from heaven at my call; how lovingly I would bestow you upon people’s souls. I want to enlighten people’s minds as the prophets and the doctors did. I feel the call of an Apostle. I would love to travel all over the world, making your name known and planting your cross on a heathen soil.” (courtesy of womenpriests.org). However, this quote does not say that St. Therese wanted to be a priest, simply that if she were a priest (but she is not) she’d do the duty correctly. That’s like me saying, “If I were Pope, I’d always wear red shoes.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to be Pope, it’s a simple counterfactual statement. What she does say is that she wants to be an Apostle, she wants to preach to the masses and, guess what, the Church has no problem with that. In fact, there were, very early on and throughout history, great women to whom the title is-Apostolon (as the Greek refers to them) was granted (i.e. Equal-to-the-Apostles), St. Thecla I think is the first (and she was shoulder to shoulder with St. Paul). That’s totally fine, but what the Church speaks against is women being priests, not being propagators of the faith (you can’t really be an “Apostle” per se, that’s taken to refer only to the Twelve).
Another episode from the Saint’s life they refer to as in favor of their argument is:
“My child”, the Pontiff said. “Do as your Superiors [i.e. the Mother Superior of the convent] decide”.
“But, Most Holy Father”, Thérèse insisted, “if only you would say ‘yes’, everyone else would agree too.”
Leo XIII looked at her and said: “Come, come, your wish will be granted if God so wills”. While he raised his hand in benediction, two of the papal guard led her away in tears.
Somehow, the author uses this a comparison, however, the issues are not parallel. First, the age at which someone can join a monastery or convent is up to the Superior of that monastery or convent, which is what Leo XIII tells her. Second, making a major life decision at fourteen may be considered premature by some (I wanted to study chemistry at fourteen, look where I ended up), but is not a matter of dogma. Third, it is true that if the Pope had put in a good word (except he did not think it was his prerogative, rightly) she would have probably been let in, but what he could not do is to infallibly declare that all fourteen year-old girls that want to join a convent must be allowed to. Doing so would mean that he is falsely declaring new doctrine, which would get him a latae sententiae excommunication. So, obviously, he didn’t do it. Lo and behold, Therese later did join the convent. That said, we move on.
I need to give this whirl
Well, that stopped fast. You don’t give the priesthood, “a whirl.” It’s not a ride at Six Flags. Imagine if someone said, “I want to be a nuclear physicist, I need to give it a whirl,” would you think they were serious about it?
So I can lead the way
Oh c’mon! Look, the priesthood isn’t about leading, it’s about serving. It’s not about power, it’s about humility. If only you’d remember that one of the titles of the Pope is servus servorum Dei, you could figure this out.
Woman priest is my call
About the video at this point. You are wearing the stole over the chasuble. Seriously, it takes going to one Catholic Mass to figure out that it is the other way around. I guess this is what you end up with once you give the priesthood a “whirl.”
Women preaching for all
Don’t listen to St. Paul
Wait, what? That is definitely not ok. Telling someone to disregard St. Paul and then going ahead to call him “St. Paul” is a little awkward, but that’s only the smallest glimmer of problems with this. If you say, “Don’t listen to St. Paul,” we have a serious problem, because not only are his writings the earliest Christian writings, but they were included in the Canon of the New Testament, that’s why we have them today. If the Fathers selecting the Canon made a mistake here, then what’s to say that they did not make a mistake somewhere else? What if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the ones who got it wrong and the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, etc. are the ones we are actually supposed to be using? Do we even know Jesus Christ, or just the hoax that the people we regard as the Evangelists created? You see the problem. Doubt the decision to include one part of the New Testament and and it gives reason to doubt the decision about everything else, too. So, I think I’ll stick with St. Paul on that one, because if not, then the issue is no longer about priestesses, but about whether Christianity as we know it has any ground to stand on.
‘Cuz I can lead the way
My ministry is growing
Excommunication? I’m still glowing.
M.Div, chasuble flowing
Don’t even talk about that…
Where you think the Church is going?
Nowhere, that whole Matthew 16:18 bit.
Hey, I was baptized, and this is crazy,
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
Justice doesn’t look right, with only male priests,
That’s a category confusion.
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
Hey, I was baptized, and this is crazy,
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
All the other Churches, try to schmooze me,
But I’m a Catholic, so ordain a lady!
My call is a fact, but some Pope in a hat,
Closed discussion on that, and now he’s in my way
Who exactly was this “Pope in a hat”? John Paul II. Yes, that’s right, John Paul II, the same guy who named St. Therese a Doctor of the Church, the same guy who felt a great devotion to Mary, the same guy whose motto was totus tuum, i.e. “wholly yours” [to St. Mary]. Other side achievements include bringing down communism, etc, but that’s beyond the point. The point is that if priestess were to seek to be in the Catholic Church, they’d have to take a vow of obedience to the Pope, so you can see how that’s a problem. Now, there have been cases where people in the Church have disagreed with the decision of someone above them in the Hierarchy of the Church and have fought for their belief. However, they have stayed in the Church and not acted on their conviction. Usually, the issue was resolved by a Council, or, for Catholics, by the Pope speaking infallibly. If you do not believe the Pope is infallible about matters of faith, then you cannot be a Catholic. However, that is exactly what they are doing. If they are right, we’re in big dodo, because then every infallible proclamation from a Pope could be wrong. In addition, any future infallible proclamation from a Pope can be wrong, which means it’s not infallible. But if there is no way to get an infallible decision in the Church, then who’s to ever decisively solve any dispute? Agree to disagree doesn’t really work in these cases. In addition, it would mean that the Holy Spirit really isn’t guiding the Church through a defined person, so the institution of the Popes would be unnecessary. However, saying that the institution of the Pope is unnecessary precludes you from being a Catholic (and an Easter Orthodox Christian).
I pray, sing, and feel
Feelings, a great foundation to build theological dogma on. If you review the documents of the Council of Nicaea, a lot of the Fathers talk about their feelings regarding whether Jesus is divine or not, true story.
At first communion it’s real
I but I refuse to kneel,
To Patriarchy’s way
Again, problem about vow of obedience.
With women priests in my life, I was so glad
There were never women priests in actual reality, so this confuses me.
I missed them so bad, I missed them so, so bad
You cannot miss something that’s not there.
With women priests in my life, I was so glad
We want our Church back, we want it all, all back
The Church is not yours, that’s sort of the point. The Church is Christ’s. Saying you want your Church is asking for something other than Christianity, which, last time I checked, precludes you from being Catholic.
That said, most proponents of priestesses would say that analyzing a song is not really a good way of arguing against an intellectual issue, which I accept, I just wanted to show some of the problems behind the mentality that at leas the people who made that video.
Therefore, let us look at why priestesses are asking for priesthood.
First, they feel a calling. There is no way for me to disprove that they feel that way, but I think I can prove that they’re wrong. Someone may feel that it is God’s will to come to Church naked, but it does not mean they are right. However, for the sake of not repeating myself, I’ll go back to this later.
Second, there seems to be an argument that Hebrews 7 nullifies the requirement for a priest to be male. I don’t see it. Hebrews 7 talks about how Christ is the Eternal High Priest according to the Order of Melchizedek. Who Melchizedek actually is is an interesting question, because (in Genesis), His full title is, Melchizedek, King of Salem. Salem means “Peace” and “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness” and He brings to Abram bread and wine, and St. Paul (in Hebrews 7) says that He is greater than Abraham, so you can probably figure out what I am hinting to at this point. (“Before Abraham was, I AM” and all that) That digression made, Hebrews 7 talks about the setting aside of the Levitical Priesthood by Christ, but does not say that women can be priests (or even hint it). Ironically, this is the same St. Paul that we are supposed to not listen to.
In the end, arguments for priestesses come down to, “why not?” Scripture (seemingly) does not explicitly deny that women can be priests, so what is the problem?
Well, I accept the burden of proof that they lay on me and proceed to prove why not.
First, the priests of Christ are picked by Christ. “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16) At the Last Supper, at the institution of the Eucharist, there were only the Twelve. When Christ first came to the Apostles, where He told them that whosever’s sins they forgive are forgiven, there was only the Twelve. Christ picked the Twelve for this job. “Incidentally”, they were all males. Also “incidentally” they only picked males to be Bishops/Priests, such as picking James to be the Bishop of Jerusalem and the four Deacons. There is a point where there’s too much “incidentally” for something to actually be a coincidence. As far as the Levitical priesthood is concerned, only men of the tribe of Levi could be priests. Did God then discriminate against the other eleven tribes? How silly! If God wants only red-haired men under 5’3” to be His priests, then only red-haired men under 5’3” can be His priests. When people who were not from the tribe of Levi tried to perform priestly duties, Moses warned them to stop, when they did not, the ground opened up and swallowed them whole. (Numbers 16) These people “felt the calling,” but they were wrong. When they did not listen to Moses’ preaching, they died. Was God, then, unrighteous when He punished them thus? If you respond yes, you are not a Christian (or a Jew). Christ only picked males as His representatives and they only picked males in return. The descendants of the Apostles say women cannot be priests, what do you think is the correct way to respond?
Second, why would Christ only pick males? Proponents of women’s ordination say that he bowed down to social norms. I think this comes from ignorance of the Gospel. In Matthew 15:20, Christ says “… to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man,” thereby going against tradition. For God’s sake, every time He says, “I AM…” He is going against tradition (Orthodox Jews to this day will not say the word Yahweh, which means “I AM”). When He heals people on the Sabbath He is going against tradition. When he testifies to Himself (i.e. whenever he says, “Truly, truly…” usually, Rabbis would say things and people would respond with “truly” or “Amen” after they said it, He turns this on its head). It seems that Christ breaks just about every other tradition, but He decides to keep this one. Why, because He got one pass and this was what He used it on? Once again, that’s silly. So, why did He do it, then? The true reason lies in the symbolism of priesthood. When a priest says, “This is My Body…” he is standing in persona Christi. He is a living icon of Christ. However, it does not make sense to stop there. Christ is a male, but He is also a first century Jew, etc. Why is Christ’s being male, then, unlike His other qualities? It is unlike his other qualities because Christ’s maleness points to the Father’s masculinity (the Father is not a male, He does not have a body, but he is masculine). In the Old Testament as well as in the New, God the Father is always referred to as He, He is never referred to as “she.” Still, why so? The reason for this is sexual symbolism. God in the Old Testament is referred to as King, Hunter, Husband, etc., all male imagery. This is because He is the initiator. Just like a male needs to enter the woman’s body for bodily impregnation, so God needs to enter the bride’s (i.e. every Christian’s) soul for spiritual impregnation. Because this relationship asserts that God is the First Mover, God must be referred to as masculine and Christ is male because of this quality of God and, therefore, because it is necessary that Christ is male as an icon of the Father, so it is necessary that a priest, standing in persona Christi, be a male. Still, proponents of women’s ordination may argue that we see things this way because of our imperfect nature. However, this argument relies on the idea that we are the concrete reality, which we then transfer onto imagery of God. The Bible tells us it is the opposite. God is the concrete one and His imagery is transferred onto us. The male needs to enter the female’s body not because he is better than the female, but as a symbol and reminded to both the male and the female that God, the true masculine, needs to enter both their souls for spiritual impregnation.
Third, the Church has spoken, the case is closed. If proponents of women’s ordination want to remain Catholic, then they must accept that the Pope is infallible in matters of faith. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have spoken authoritatively on the matter. Even if a future Pope were to try to speak infallibly on the matter on the opposing side, he would be latae sententiae excommunicated, because he would be pronouncing new doctrine.
Fourth, such a move would produce great problems in the Church. If a Pope (somehow) allows women’s ordination, there would be extensive problems. For one, people today against women’s ordination would use the argument above to form a breakaway Church. For those that are undecided, questions would arise whether a baptism by a woman priest or a priest ordained by a female Bishop would be valid as well as whether a Mass celebrated by a woman priest or a priest ordained by a woman Bishop would be valid. This argument is stated last because it is a pragmatic argument, of which I am usually not fond of and I am perfectly willing to give it up and just go on the above-stated three.
Lastly, this idea that people have some “right” to priesthood is absolutely insane. Men can and do get denied entry into seminaries and into priesthood, when the people responsible discern that they are not fit to be priests. There is, has never been, and will never be a right to the priesthood, not in the Church of Christ. In another Church, perhaps, but not in the Church of Christ. As St. Paul says, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:27-30) That is the end of it.
On an unrelated side-note: the priestesses in the video, while in full vestment, dance. I think one of them even does a booty shake. That is another violation of the sanctity of priesthood. If a (male) priest did the same thing, he would be sinning. If he did it in public/post a video of it on Youtube and his Bishop saw it, he, too, would be sinning if he did not reprimand the priest in question. Have these women been reprimanded by their pseudo-superiors for doing that? I do not think so. They also fail to properly cross themselves. In the video, time and time again, they go from their head, to their torso and then the arms, the correct form is from the head, down to the abdomen, then the arms. This is something parents teach their five year-old children, someone who wants to be a priest should have already graduated this level of Christian knowledge.