Women and the Priesthood – Dr. Peter Kreeft

Next to abortion, women’s ordination is the most polarizing and passionate issue in the Church today.  One third of the Catholic congregation is passionately committed to the cause for “priestesses”, while one third are against this idea.  A sorting out and summarizing of reasons against priestesses and for the Church’s teaching may help sway the third that is not committed to either side.  In addition, it would be helpful for those committed to the Church’s position to take an inventory of their intellectual weapons.  No new arguments will be presented.

The argument against the Church’s position comes down to – why not?  The idea of priestesses is not guilty until proven innocent, but innocent until proven guilty.  The onus of proof is on the Church’s side.  Let’s first look at ourselves and four prejudices that are operative to this discussion.  They are – the power of positive thinking, egalitarianism (a trend of thought that favors equality for all people), guilt about male chauvinism, and the desire for peace.

First, we always prefer positive thoughts and feelings to negative ones.  We would rather say yes than no.  However, God gave us no as well as yes.  Ann Landers defines personality as the ability to say yes and character as the ability to say no.  We need both.  We need negativity, limits, narrowness, borders or else nothing will have definition and character.  Without the negative, there is no positive.  We especially hate limitations that make us suffer like poverty, disease, weakness.  God must have arranged our lives to be filled with lived limits such as these partly because without which, there is no drama.  One of the saddest things about being filthy rich is the lack of limits.  You can do nearly anything, therefore, the lack of drama and bite in life.  The rich always have a much higher suicide rate than the poor.  The only society with a zero suicide rate is the poorest of all societies – the Australian Aborigines.  So it behooves us to appreciate limits and barriers and a yes to no in principle, though we do just the opposite.

Second, we (especially Americans) are egalitarians.  We hate discrimination.  However, discrimination is a form of limit – the no.  God discriminated between men and women in creating us different.  We may rebel against this, though it is rebelling against our own nature.  By nature and the will of the creator, men are barred from becoming pregnant and women are unable to impregnate.  God is just, though God’s justice is far greater, richer, and more mysterious than mere equality.  God’s justice is harmony like music, not mathematics like an equation.  The ancient societies understood this justice because they lived in a natural cosmos, not in a manmade and artificial one surrounded by political and technological complexities.  Human justice has a rightful concern for equality because we need to protect ourselves and our rights against others, such as fascists, who would impose an unnatural and unjust inequality upon us.  At the same time we need to protect ourselves against those, like the Communists, who would impose an unjust equality upon us.  It is simply not true that deep down we are all the same.  The deeper down you go, the more the secret of our uniqueness is found.  Ultimately we find the difference between the heavenly and the hellish, the human and the inhuman.  In the book of Genesis, not all discrimination and differentiation is between good and evil.  God introduces the distinction between male and female for the good of mankind.  In fact, each act of creation is an act of discrimination – light from darkness, waters below the firmament from those above, land from sea, living from non-living, animal from plant, birds from fish, one species from another, man generically from animal, and man as male from female.

A third prejudice today is that we men are sensitive to women’s demands out of guilt – a double guilt.  First, a past prejudice for women as being viewed as inferior by ancestors.  Second, a current and on-going prejudice for the dehumanizing acts of rape and violence initiated by our brothers.  However, our ancestors and our brothers are not us.  We are not personally responsible for their sins against women.  Though we may not feel guilt, we do feel shame, for they are our fathers and brothers.  It is all in the family.  If you found out that Adolph Hitler was member of your family, you would naturally feel shame.  We want to relieve this shame and compensate for these wrongs.  The danger is overcompensation by responding to past injustice by present opposite injustice.  It is trying to make a right out of two wrongs.

A fourth motive is the fear of present trouble, the lust for comfort, the giving in to intimidation, the fanatical desire to not be seen as a fanatic or fundamentalist.  “Get those pushy, pesky feminists off our back by giving them what they want.”  Administrators, even Church administrators, have a desire to be considered as accepting, accommodating, and nice.  These considerations decide nothing.  What will decide an issue is a good argument.

There are at least four kinds of reasons against priestesses.  First, reasons of authority; second, reasons of sexual symbolism; third, reasons of the ecclesiastical common good; and fourth, reasons of discernment.  We will start with reasons of authority.  These are the simplest and of which there are at least three – the argument from the authority of God, the authority of Jesus Christ, and the authority of the Church.  First, let’s look at the authority of God.  God is the one who invented the priesthood and who calls to the priesthood.  The Church did not invent the priesthood, she received it.  The Catholic Church claims less authority than any other Christian church in the world, which is why she is so conservative.  Protestant churches feel free to change the deposit of faith, for instance by denying Mary’s assumption; or by changing the deposit of morals by allowing divorce, though Christ forbade it in all four gospels; or by changing the essence of the liturgy by denying the real presence and the centrality of the Eucharist in worship, which was constant Church practice from the beginning.  Therefore, the Church cannot change the nature of her priesthood because she is not its author or even its editor only its mail carrier.  The Catholic priesthood was not the first priesthood God created.  He created two before it, the Levitical priesthood, which was set aside by Christ, and the priesthood of Melchizedek, which was fulfilled by Christ.  Just as the Jews were not free to institute priestesses, neither are Catholics.  All other ancient religions other than Jews and Catholics had priestesses.

No one can choose much less demand the priesthood.  Christ said “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.”  This issue was closed right there!  The chosen people did not establish the priesthood it was established by the Supreme Being.   All priests, He said, had to come from the sons of the tribe of Levi.  Did God then discriminate against the members of the other eleven tribes both men and women?  What an absurdity.  God picks His priests and they serve at His pleasure.  When some men outside the tribe of Levi tried to perform the religious ceremonies, Moses warned them.  When they continued to be obstinate they were destroyed.  Christ established the priesthood of the new covenant.  Man had no say in the matter.  Christ exercised His authority as God and also by His death on the cross purchased the right to set the conditions under which all sacraments, including Holy Orders, are instituted and administered.  One can wonder why Christ chose only males as His apostles.  The advocates of female priestesses say that He bowed to cultural limitations and to deep seated, ancient male chauvinistic prejudices.  However, if Christ Himself was subject to the limitations of cultural chauvinism, this is a denial of the incarnation and thus the essence of the Christian faith.  Imagine the absurdity and the arrogance of accusing Jesus Christ of the sin of sexism.  If He wasn’t a sexist Himself, though tolerated sexism in deliberately choosing only male apostles, then He is compromising with and fostering the sin of sexism by feminist standards.  This does not fit the pattern throughout the gospels where we see Him unafraid to offend smaller and greater sensibilities than this one, for example when He and His disciples eat with unwashed hands and when He tells the Jews that they must drink His blood.  So why would He succumb to this one and only prejudice?  There was no consensus against priestesses in the ancient world as other nations had them.  The Jews frequently succumbed to the temptation of syncretism (the combination of different forms of belief or practice) by imitating pagan practices throughout their history.  Louis Boyer writes “From the earliest civilizations of the fertile crescent throughout the Greece and Rome of the early Christian era the ancients had always been accustomed to female priests who had not been in the least in an inferior position to male priests.”  The male priesthood, contrary to popular contemporary prejudice was an anomaly in the ancient world as was the idea of a Jewish creator God totally transcendent to the universe Who created its very matter out of nothing.  As we shall see in the next argument from sexual symbolism, there is a necessary and intrinsic connection between this transcendence (beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge) of God as creator and the male priesthood and between the denial of the transcendence of God and the female priesthood.  In both pagan polytheism (belief in and worship of more than one god) and in pantheism (the belief that the universe is identical with divinity or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God), God is not outside nature, but in her either as a part like Zeus (the “Father of gods and men” according to ancient Greek religion) or as the whole like Brahmin(a ranking or division within Hinduism).  Thus these religions can symbolize God as female and they did.  Only in Christianity and Judaism do we find the doctrine of creation proper and divine transcendence proper and exclusively masculine imagery and pronouns for God and an exclusively male priesthood symbolizing this.  Further, there is no evidence at all of priestesses at any time in the New Testament or in the primitive Church.  There is in fact explicit evidence to the contrary in the writings of St. Paul.  In addition to the authority of God in the Old Testament and of Christ in the New Testament, the authority of Christ’s appointed Church for two thousand years of uniform, unbroken, and unexceptionable practice and teachings supports priests and not priestesses.  Even on a merely secular and human level, two thousand years of uniform tradition that worked counts as empirical data.  If you are truly democratic, it counts as a vote from the democracy of the dead as G. K Chesterton put it.  Chesterton also said that if we do not understand the reason for some ancient tradition or rule, this is all the more reason not to abolish it until we do understand.  If you came across a fence and you did not understand why it was there, knocking it down would be a really stupid thing to do until you understand its purpose and why it was needed.   Those who advocate knocking down the old rule of the male priesthood freely admit that they haven’t the faintest idea why the rule is there.  There is an explanation.  So, those who may have a right to change the old rule are precisely the people who don’t want to change it and those who do not have a right to change it because they don’t understand it are precisely the people who do want to change it.  The Church is “our mother and our teacher”.  Ideologies do not judge the Church, rather the Church judges ideologies.  To be a Catholic is to believe that the Church and her traditions are more than human.  That she is the body of Jesus Christ, graced with His real presence and power and promise of guidance.  Advocates of priestesses do not face and affirm this fact nor do they manifest the loyal submission that all the saints had for our Holy Mother.  When feminists become saints, we will become their pupils.

This is not to suggest that there is a prejudice against change in the Church.  Many of the saints called for and carried out change in the Church.  The Church is a living body and therefore grows, however she grows from within like a natural body, not violently or artificially like a machine or an ideology.  A change to priestesses would manifest not growth and maturity, rather an identity crisis.  The Church has said no to priestesses from Apostolic times, through two thousand years of history, and does so today.  It is a fact that the Church today has spoken – magisterially, officially, authoritatively, clearly, and publicly.  Rome has spoken and the case is closed!  The issue today is not whether the Church will have priestesses.  She won’t!  The only open issue is if the would be priestesses will have the Church.  The issue is not theoretical, but practical.  It is a test of everyone’s loyalty to the Church and therefore to Christ.  To say yes to Christ and no to His Church is to will a spiritual decapitation.  Today’s rebels against this or any other issue always misunderstand the very essence of authority.  Authority does not mean power, it means rights – author’s rights.  Christ is the author of the Church and has rightful authority over His own body, His own organs – that is us.  Unless we are not His organs, not His body, – not Christians – not sheep, but goats.  His sheep follow Him, follow Him not lead Him because they know His voice and recognize His authority.  This is all that we need to say about priestesses – the case is closed!

We can be certain of what is true and right here even if we do not understand the reasons.  However, it is good to understand the reasons why.  The Church like a good mother has not only told us to do this because mother says so, but also why she says so.  Her main reason is the point of sexual symbolism.  The first two things that we learn about sex right from God from the beginning are that God designed it, not man or society, and that it is very good.  The first command was to be fruitful and multiply.  It is significant that most advocates of priestesses do not seem to believe or care much about this.  They usually see sexuality as a social, human, conventional, changeable thing that is a problem, obstacle, or even an enemy in the case of a radical feminist railing against the prison of having wombs and glorifying the act of breaking out of this prison by killing their unborn babies.  If they see the body and sexuality as theirs and not God’s, then it is quite natural that they see the unborn as theirs and not God’s.  Advocates of priestesses usually misunderstand sexual symbolism partly because they misunderstand symbolism itself as radically as they misunderstand authority.  They usually think of symbols as manmade and artificial.  They don’t see that there are profound and unchangeable natural symbols – that things can be signs.  In other words, God writes history and nature as man writes words.  If everything in nature means something, then the big things in nature mean something big – sex is a big thing.  What it means is so big that we will never exhaust it.  We can hope for ever changing and increasing insights into the facets of this diamond, though we should not hope to change its meaning.  Everything is connected.  Everything points beyond itself – especially sex.  God who deliberately designed sexuality also deliberately designed to incarnate Himself as a male.  Jesus Christ is still a male today.  He still has His human body in heaven and it is a male body.  This is fact, this is data – not interpretation or explanation.  Priests of Christ who are Christ’s mouths through whom He speaks the word “This is my body” must be male because Christ is male.  Christ, the perfect image of the Father is male because God the Father is masculine – he not she.  To understand this second proposition, we must understand the difference between male and masculine.  Male and female are biological genders.  Masculine and feminine are cosmic, universal principles extending to all reality.  Every pre-modern civilization knew this.  English is the only language that does not have masculine and feminine nouns, so it is easy for us to believe that the ancients simply projected their own biological gender out on to nature in calling heaven masculine and earth feminine; placing gods in the sky and goddesses in the earth; calling day and the sun masculine and the night and the moon feminine.  It is arrogant for us to think that to assume without a shred of proof that this nearly universal human instinct is mere projection or illusion rather than insight into a cosmic principle that is really there.  There is evidence for it beginning at the bottom of the cosmic hierarchy with the example of electromagnetic attraction between electrons and protons.  Male and female are only the biological version of cosmic masculine and feminine.  God is masculine to everything from angels to prime matter.  This is why priests who represent God to us must be male.  To say that God is masculine is not as is so often stated to be male chauvinism.  On the contrary, it makes us all female – we are all His bride.  All souls are feminine to God.  He is He and we are all she!  The point can best be made historically.  Judaism was different from all other religions in the world in three ways.  First, there were no goddesses and no hermaphroditic (having both sex organs) gods.   God was always, only and everywhere HE.  Therefore, there were also no priestesses.  Second, the Jewish god was utterly transcendent to the universe.  He created the universe out of nothing.  He was not a part of the universe as in polytheism; nor the whole of the universe, or the soul of the universe, or the inner meaning of the universe as in pantheism.  Third, God spoke and revealed Himself.  All other religions were man’s search for God.  Judaism and Christianity, which was its child, was God’s search for man.  Religious experience for a Jew was response, not initiative.  God initiated – man responded.  The primary connector was the law.  God had a will and spoke His will in “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots”.  The god of pantheism may be consciousness, but he is not will.  That is why only in Judaism is there a full union of religion and morality; a full union of relationship with God and the moral law.  Only the Jews united mankind’s two primary instincts – the instinct of worship and the instinct of conscience.  Only the Jews totally identified the object and end of worship with the author of conscience and the law.  These three remarkably distinct features of Judaism – God’s masculinity, God’s transcendence, and God’s revelation are obviously connected.  As a man comes in to a woman’s body from without to impregnate her, so God creates the universe from without and performs miracles within it from without.  He also calls to man and reveals Himself to man from without.  He is not the force, He is the face.  He is not the earth’s spirit rising, He is the heavenly Father descending.  He is not the ideal construct of man’s mind, He is the Hound of Heaven.  The fundamental problem of advocates for priestesses is that they do not understand who God is.  Understand the God of Christianity, the Jews, and of Muslims and you will understand why there cannot be priestesses.  Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract deity to a living God.  Here lies the deepest taproot of pantheism and of its objection to traditional imagery.  This imagery was hated not because it pictured God as a man, but because He was pictured as a king or a warrior.  The pantheist god does nothing and demands nothing.  He is there if you wish for him like a book on a shelf.  He will not pursue you.  There is no danger that at any time heaven and earth will flee away at his glance.  If he were the truth, than we could really say that all the Christian images of kingship were an historical accident of which our religion and ought to be purged.  It is with a shock that we discover them to be indispensable.  We have had this shock before in smaller matters like when the fishing line pulls or when something breathes beside you in the darkness.  So here the shock comes at the precise moment when the thrill of life is communicated to us along the clue that we have been following.  It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone.  This is the very point at which so many draw back and proceed no further with Christianity.  An impersonal god –well and good!  A subjective god of beauty, truth and goodness inside our own heads – better still!  A formless life force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all!  But God Himself alive, pulling at the other end of a cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, the king, the husband – that is quite another matter!  There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars wonder if they heard a real footstep in the hall.  There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (man’s search for God) suddenly draw back wondering “Suppose we really found Him, we never meant it to come to that!”  Worse yet – “What if He found us!”  Now if you reply that this ancient picture of the hunter, king, husband God in scripture is historically relative and that we should keep the meat and throw away the shell, be clear that the masculinity of God is the meat and not the shell, it is content, data, and revelation; so deliberate that the “He-ness” of God could not be an accident.  If it is a residue of the sin of sexism, then God revealed Himself through sin.  This denies the existence of revelation.  It judges the divine revelation by human opinion rather than vice versa, thus frustrating the very purpose of revelation which is to reveal something that we could not have come up with from our own opinion.  The assumption behind the notion of divine revelation is one in which most advocates of priestesses deny, ignore, or are at least most embarrassed at – the notion of original sin.  This entails that we are not good and wise and able to know who God is by using the best that is in us, rather that we are rebellious and foolish and need correcting and that, therefore, we should expect to be surprised and even offended by God’s revelation, otherwise our instincts would be all right and adequate.  Then there is the ‘camel’s nose under the tent’ argument which suggests that once you start to monkey with your data where do you stop?  Why stop ever – at all?  If you can subtract the divine masculinity from scripture when it offends you, why can’t you subtract the divine compassion when that offends you?  If you can change God’s masculinity, why not change His morality?  Why not His very being?  If you can twist the pronoun, why not twist the noun?

The preceding half of this argument was the masculinity of God. The other half of this argument is the femininity of the Church.  The Church is God’s bride.  We are the Church.  The soul is impregnated by God – not vice versa!  This is why God must always be He to us and not she.  Religion is intrinsically heterosexual and, therefore, fruitful.  No lesbian love with God, therefore no goddesses, therefore no priestesses.  Our new birth comes from above, from without, through transcendence.  We do not spiritually impregnate ourselves with salvation or divine life anymore than we physically impregnate ourselves.  The connection between God’s masculinity, God’s transcendence, and God’s revelation are obvious, strong, natural, and unchangeable.  God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him.  The Church can no more be fruitful without being impregnated by Her divine Husband than a woman can be pregnant with new life without a man.  Feminists who resent this fact – resent this fact – and their own feminine nature as women as much as they resent man’s masculinity.  The three theological notions are tied together.  Deny God’s transcendence which is the condition for His revelation and you get a lesbian Church declaring independence from God as the other.  God is transcendent!  God is masculine!  Believing herself to be already innately in possession of divine life, that is to deny original sin or trying to impregnate herself horizontally, humanly by a kind of perverse auto-eroticism, narcissism, and self-idolatry.  Lesbians, like gays, simply cannot make life and the lesbian spirit of women church will not be able to make life without God the Father.  The Christian saints and mystics constantly use the scriptural and authoritative metaphor of God as husband to the Church and to the soul.  The alternative historically has been pagan goddesses or the pantheistic divine hermaphrodite.  God made the Jews different and was extremely ornery and cantankerous about them remaining different even to the extent of commanding the wholesale slaughter of pagan populations to prevent His chosen people from corrupting His pure revelation.  Is this true?  If God did not invent the Jews, then the Jews invented God.  If this is the case, there is no reason to be Christian.  Rather become atheist, pagan, or pantheist as many radical feminists have already done.  Their spiritual gravity towards these three false religions is natural and inevitable.  It is the agenda behind the agenda of priestesses, the world view behind priestesses.  Priestesses are merely the camel’s nose under the tent and if it is admitted, the rest of the camel will follow.

The priesthood does not mean merely ministry.  The new ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) mis-translation of our liturgy which substitute the word minister for priest fail to see this blindingly obvious fact that a priest is not just a minister.  Ministries like lector, Eucharistic minister, psychologist, counselor, and even prophet can be indifferent to sex.  Women can and do perform all of these ministries.  Priesthood is different.  No one but a priest can consecrate or be the instrument of transubstantiation.  A Catholic priest is not just a symbol of Christ, he is sacramentally “in persona Christi”.  When he says “this is my body” you hear Jesus Christ speaking!  Father Murphy does not mean this is Father Murphy’s body.  The priest is not just remembering or repeating Christ’s words, he is truly channeling them.  We hear Christ speaking and doing what the words signify.  A priest must be a man because Christ was a man.  This was not accidental.  In the Eucharistic celebration, the life, death, and resurrection are represented in its present reality.  It would therefore be even less appropriate for a woman to portray the role of Jesus.  Why is his maleness essential?  Because He is the revelation of the Father and the Father’s masculinity is essential as we have discussed previously.  The priest represents Christ and Christ represents the Father.  The priest must be male because Christ is male and Christ is male because the Father is masculine.  The principle objection to this view is that it is male chauvinism.

There are five responses to this charge.  First, this is closer to female chauvinism for it makes all of us female in relation to God.  Women need not become like men as they approach God, though men must become like women.  All souls are God’s brides.  Second, that Christ chose to be incarnate as a man is no more chauvinistic than His choosing to be a carpenter is insult to any other profession.  The incarnation was the kenosis, the emptying.  He came down to the lowest place, a crucified criminal in a Roman occupied hick town.  Not an angel or an emperor and not a woman.  The incarnation was not into privilege or power, rather suffering and service and it was into a male.  It is the modern feminists who are the real male chauvinists lusting for reproductive freedom that is sexual irresponsibility like playboys and demanding empowerment that is envying and imitating not only males, but male fools.  Judging inner worth by outer performance, sacrificing being for doing, finding their identity in their worldly careers not in their inner essence, in their physical and spiritual wombs, and motherhood.  These genuinely hurt, harmed, oppressed, and abused and very often raped women become radical feminists hating their own femininity and hating all ordinary women who love and enjoy their ordinary femininity.  It is a syndrome where the victims blame themselves.  Unfortunately, it happens with terrible frequency with victims of rape and child abuse.  Third, Juli Loesch Wiley argues that if Jesus had been born a woman in the first century which was a male dominated world, His life and teaching of unselfish love for others would not have been as arresting and as instructably scandalous as it was.  For women in all times, places, and cultures, until modern radical feminism, have always been in general more altruistic, less power greedy, less violence prone, more self-emptying, and more naturally religious than men.  In becoming a man, Jesus let women be and went after men to transform them, not into women or wimps, but into people like Himself.  He re-defined maleness and power as the courage to suffer rather than domination; giving instead of taking.  Women were in a little less need of that lesson.  So, again, Christianity is closer to female chauvinism than male chauvinism.  A fourth reason, women priests would demean and insult women for it would be like asking women to be cross dressers or to wear male sex organs.  It would remove the distinctive dignity of women, as symbols of the Church, whom Christ symbolized by the priest, marries.   Priests are signs and symbols.  So what would a priestess signify?  It would signify to all women that they are spiritual lesbians, not brides.  Fifth, Christ’s maleness is not chauvinistic because He had a mother and no earthly father.  Mary is the refutation of the charge of chauvinism.  No merely human being was ever nearly as great as this woman, according to the teaching of this hatefully chauvinistic Church.  Mother of God is hardly a title to sneer at!  Mother of anyone is not a title to sneer at.  Here is a quick story.  A boy and a girl were playing pirates and they were arguing about who was going to get to play the captain.  The boy insisted upon being the captain.  The girl won the argument when she said “Then I get to be the mother of the captain.”  The reason that Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven, the reason for her power and glory is her total submission to God – her sacrifice, her suffering, and her service.  It is the total surrender, the fiat, the peace, and the shalom (meaning peace, completeness, prosperity, and welfare) that is hidden in this submission.  Muslim’s see it, though so called Christian feminists do not.  Feminism seems to be a radically different religion from Christianity because it usually has a radically opposite ideal of sanctity, the meaning of life, and the point and purpose of all religion.  Feminist need what we all need most fundamentally – to go to the cross, un-flex, the fist, and bow the knee.

The last two reasons against priestesses are the reason of Church order and discipline and reason of spiritual discernment.  Let’s get practical and ask what a Church with priestesses would look like.  To answer this question we must look at what is the relationship between a priest and the Church.  The answer is that the priest exists for the Church rather than the Church existing for the priest.  The priesthood is not for personal fulfillment and certainly not for empowerment.  So, the justification for including priestesses must be the improvement of the laity not improvement of the priest.  Improvement of the laity in what direction?  In whatever direction the Church is for.  What is the Church for?  What is its end?  Why did God create Her?  Not to be politically correct or incorrect, not to fulfill and empower nor dis-empower individuals, but to save and sanctify souls.  That is the standard by which everything in the Church must be judged – from ecumenical councils to bingo.  So, what effect would priestesses have on salvation and sanctity?  For one thing it would under mind many Catholics confidence in the Church’s authority by contradicting explicit teaching and universal practice of nineteen hundred years of history, papal declaration, patristic fathers, doctors of the Church, and ecumenical councils.  Even if the doctrine of no priestesses is not defined ex cathedra, to begin to ordain them would certainly place this doubt in many minds.  People would think that if the Church has been wrong about this for its history, why might She not be wrong about the rest of Her teachings as well.  It might even foster doubt of Christ’s wisdom and infallibility.  For the Church’s stand against priestesses, just like Her stand on divorce, is not based on Her own fidelity or authority, but His.  If Jesus goofed in being so chauvinistic as not to ordain ‘apostlesses’, why might He not have been equally wrong, prejudiced, and less enlightened than we are about other things such as marriage, adultery, or even how to be saved.  Second, many would doubt the validity of women’s ordinations and thus the validity of all of the sacraments received from priestesses.  Would your sins be forgiven in Reconciliation if absolution was granted by a priestess?  Would marriages be valid if conducted by a priestess?  Third, de facto schism would happen, at least enormous parish hopping.  It would be the end of the geographical parish and the substitution of the ideological parish.  Fourth, it would tear apart the Church worldwide for nearly all cultures but, American, Canadian, and Western European are adamantly opposed to women’s ordination.  This is clear repeatedly at international bishop synods.  World Catholics would be deeply scandalized and form breakaway churches.   The Lefebvre tragedy would be magnified many times over.  The Church would be irredeemably fractured from its own tradition and, therefore, from itself – the equivalent of a second Protestant Reformation.  This direction would clearly be demonic not divine.  So for practical and prudential reasons, priestesses would be an ecclesiastical disaster.  Feminists fail to realize what a priest is – not only sacramentally and symbolically as we have already discussed, but ecclesially and socially as well.  For there is only one reason to be a priest – because you are called by God!  Now how do you know the will of God?  The only public, objective, and certain way to know God’s will is through divine revelation.  God has revealed through His Church what He wants a priest to be.  If anyone does not believe that the Church’s teachings are God’s revelation – they are simply not Catholics!  God has not let important things like who He is, how to be saved, and the sacraments of His Church depend on our feelings or opinions.  We can talk back to our Mother the Church, however, she always has the last word because She is God’s mouth.  The Church tells us that the priesthood is not a right and not a privilege – no one can claim a ‘right’ to be a priest.  She also tells us that the priesthood is for the service of others, not for personal advantage.  Not even for personal holiness.  Being a priest does not make you better or holier, if it does, it is a side effect of its main business which is to make the laity holier and better.  Advocates for priestesses argue that to deny a woman this function is to insult her personal worth.  This is a false functionalist argument that confuses personal worth with function.  Like the arguments that justify abortion or euthanasia by pointing out that this brain is not functioning rationally.  This error is more typical for males than females.  Men have tended to identify themselves with their jobs or their achievements, while women up until now have tended toward traditional wisdom that being is more important than doing.  Over 99% of all men do not function as priests and many of them can’t by reason of age or physical condition.  As a result, are they less valuable and worthy human beings?  If not, neither are women for the same reason.  Women cannot be a paternal father either.  Is this also a slap in the face of her dignity?  Has nature already insulted women in the same way the Church is doing?  The radical feminist will answer yes thus showing their own male chauvinism and fragile sense of self worth.  The others are hard pressed to justify blaming the Church, but not blaming nature.  Neither the Church nor nature is simple mindedly egalitarian.  The most egregious error of all is the demand to be priestesses for empowerment.  Priests are not power brokers or managers.  They are sewers.  Like Christ, they drain off the world’s sins.  Like Christ, they clean up our spiritual garbage.  The pope is servant of God’s servants.  This is not a clever PR line, rather his real job description.

Finally, there are reasons of discernment which may be the most important of all.  Can we discern what spirit is at work here?  We need not be experts in the Christian art of discernment of spirits to answer that question.  All we need to do is listen and if we listen with a heart open to God rather than ideology, we will hear the anger, the rage, and the self righteousness.  Who are the advocates of women’s ordinations?  The most prominent are always dissenters against other Church teachings as well.  The issue is not an isolated issue.  Pull its thread and the whole seamless garment comes unraveled.  By the way, dissenter is just a modern euphemism for heretic.  Both words mean the same thing – one who says no, one who picks and chooses for himself, one who refuses to eat all the food that mom puts on her plate.  Most shockingly, most feminists behind priestesses are also strong advocates for abortion.  In addition to approving abortion, the leaders for the push for priestesses also want the Church to approve contraception, fornication, sodomy, same sex marriage, and divorce.  A more complete and demonic attack on the family could not be more orchestrated, even in hell.  Some of the leaders such as the “Nuns in Women Church” freely admit that they are worshipping another god – mother earth and practicing another religion – paganism.  Christ’s old enemy risen from the dead!  Anyone who opens the Church doors to these barbarians is clearly a traitor.  The origin of modern feminism is not inside Christianity, but outside of it in secular, usually Marxist ideas, that are deeply anti-Christian, anti-religious, and anti-theistic.  Mary Daly, a colleague at Boston College, summarized her self-image candidly when she called herself in print in her book Pure Lust – the anti-Christ and described her life’s work as castrating God the Father.  Politics may make strange bedfellows like these for liberal theologians, but discernment of God’s will, holiness, prayer, and submission never do.  In fact the advocates for priestesses seem to never speak of these things at all which is another telling credential.  There is an obvious match between the root or source of their spirit, which is not prayer, and the fruit or face of their spirit which is not love or joy or peace.  Look at their faces!  You can see hate, the hardness, the hurt.  In the spiritual exercises, St. Ignatius says we must discern between the spirit of consolation and the spirit of desolation which produces hate, anxiety, fear, resentment, anger, anguish, bitterness, rage, pain, and lack of peace.  By their own admition, these are precisely the feelings of those in the forefront for the demands for priestesses.  These are not passing moods , but a settled state of deep alienation.  They are not the feelings of a few individuals, but the movement itself; it’s very ideology.  We can easily discern in them a past history of having been badly hurt, which then became a sense of deep hatred and self righteousness.  This is not a matter of succumbing to momentary irritations and passing flarings of anger, but everything indicates a settled mood of the most profound self-pity which is another name for wounded pride, something most assuredly not from God.  Well, if not from God then against Him for whoever is not for us is against us.  This is especially true in this time of decadence and decay in both Church and society, this time of perhaps apocalyptic spiritual warfare.  The issue goes beyond one of sacramental theory and ecclesiastical discipline.  It is an issue of the priests of the Lord verses the priests of Baal.  A time for choosing not only between theologies, but between Gods.  A time for repeating Joshua’s challenge to Israel.  Remember, Joshua means Jesus and the Church is the new Israel.  “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and faithfulness.  Put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the Lord.  If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling.  As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24 v 14 & 15)