Gender and the Will of God
of Priestesses is Ultimately an Issue of God
S. Lewis said that he wrote the books he wished someone else would
write, but they didn’t, so he did. I feel the same way, and so I write in
answer to the need, often expressed by me and often expressed to me, for a
single article summarizing the essential reasons for the Church’s position
against women’s ordination. The issue is probably the second hottest
argument, after abortion, between the orthodox and the “dissenters” today.
As we shall see, it is not a dispute within the Catholic religion but a
dispute between two different religions.
There seem to be four essential arguments against having
priestesses: (I) reasons of authority, (II) reasons of sexual symbolism,
(III) reasons of the common good, and (IV) reasons of discernment.
I. Reasons of Authority
are the simplest arguments. There are three: arguments from the authority
of God, of Christ, and of the Church.
1. God invented the
priesthood. The Church did not invent the priesthood. The Catholic Church
claims less authority than any other Christian church in the world; that is
why she is so conservative. Protestant churches feel free to change “the
deposit of faith” (e.g. by denying Mary’s assumption, which was believed
from the beginning) or of morals (e.g. by allowing divorce, though Christ
forbade it), or worship (e.g. by denying the Real Presence and the
centrality of the Eucharist, which was constant throughout the Church’s
first 1,500 years).
The Church will not change the priesthood because she
cannot. For she is not its author, or even its editor, only its mail
carrier. The Catholic priesthood is not the first one invented. He made
two before it: the Levitical priesthood, which was superseded and set aside
by Christ; and the priesthood of Melchisadek, which was fulfilled by Christ.
None of these priesthoods can be chosen or demanded or changed by man (or
God originally limited the priesthood to males of the tribe of
Levi. Did God discriminate against females and other tribes? Shall we
accuse God of sin? When Cor and other non-Levites tried to perform priestly
rites, Moses warned them, and when they continued, God destroyed them.
2. Christ on earth established the Catholic
priesthood. Man had no more say in this than in the Levitical priesthood.
Christ bought the right to set down the laws and limits for His sacraments
(including holy orders) with His own blood on the Cross.
And Christ chose only males to be apostles. Why? Advocates of
priestesses say that He bowed to cultural limitations, to deep-seated
ancient male chauvinism. But this is to deny the Incarnation, and thus the
essence of the Christian faith. Imagine the absurdity and arrogance of
accusing Christ of the “sin of sexism”! Or, if He was not a “sexist”
Himself but tolerated it in choosing only male apostles, He compromised with
and fostered this “sin.”
But that does not at all fit the pattern we find throughout His
life. He is never afraid to offend His contemporaries’ sensibilities,
either great or small—e.g. when He tells the Jews they must drink His blood,
or when He and His disciples eat with unwashed hands. Why would He succumb
only to this one special prejudice?
addition to the authority of God in the Old Testament and of Christ in the
New, there are nearly 2,000 years of uniform Church teaching and practice of
priestessness. Even on a purely human and secular level, that is an
impressive vote by what Chesterton calls “the democracy of the dead.” The
same Chesterton, always brimming with common sense, warns us that if we
don’t understand the reason for some ancient tradition or institution, that
is a good reason for not abolishing it. If you come across a strange
building in an unexpected place, it is really foolish to knock it down
because you don’t understand its purpose. Take it down only if you
understand its purpose, and why it’s no longer needed. But advocates of
priestesses freely admit that they don’t understand why the “males only”
rule is there. Well, we do. So the only people who might have a right to
change the old rule are the people who don’t want to change it, and the
people who don’t have a right to change it—because they don’t understand
it—are exactly the people who do want to change it.
The Church calls herself our mater et magistra, “mother
and teacher.” Let’s have no mater si, magistra no from Right or
Left. The Church is not judged by human ideologies, but vice versa. To be
a Catholic is to believe that the Church is more than human, that she is
graced with Christ’s real presence and promise of guidance into all truth.
I have never met a single advocate of priestesses who faced and affirmed
that fact and manifested the loyal and loving submission all the
saints had to our mother and teacher. When feminists become saints, we will
become their pupils.
My position is no a priori prejudice against change in
the Church. She is a living body, and therefore grows. But she grows from
within, like a vine, not from without, like a machine or an ideological
platform. And as I shall show, the change to priestesses would manifest not
organic growth and maturity but an identity crisis.
a simple and massive fact that the Church has said No to
priestesses-consistently, publicly, clearly, and authoritatively. “Rome has
spoken; the case is closed”—that formula used to evoke love and loyalty, not
The issue today is not whether the Church will have
priestesses. She won’t. The only open issue is whether the would-be
priestesses will have the Church. The issue is not theoretical but
practical; it is a test of loyalty to the Church, and therefore to Christ.
For the Head is not related to His Body as a CEO to a business, but as the
furry ball between your shoulders to your torso. To say Yes to Christ but
No to His Church is to will a divine decapitation.
Today’s rebels against the Church’s authority on this issue (or
others) nearly always misunderstand the very essence of authority. They
think it means power, but it means right. In fact, it means
“author’s rights.” Christ, the Author of the Church, has rightful authority
over His own Body, His own organs—unless we are not His Body, not sheep but
goats. His sheep follow Him—follow Him, not lead Him—because they know His
voice, recognize His authority.
This is all we need say about the issue. The case is closed. WE
can be certain of what is true and right here, even if we do not understand
the Church’s reasons. But the Church, like a good mother, also gives us
reasons. She tells us not only, “Do this because Mommy says so,” but also,
“Monny wants you to know why she says so.”
Reasons of Sexual Symbolism
Church’s main reason for her stand brings us to the second main point, the
reasons of sexual symbolism. The first two things we learn about sex from
God, right from the beginning, are that (1) God designed it, not man; and
that (2) it is very good. God’s first command was to “be fruitful and
multiply.” I do not think He had in mind growing oranges and memorizing
Significantly, most of the advocates for priestesses do not seem
to see or care about these two facts. They often see sexuality as (1)
social, human, conventional, and changeable;
as (2) a problem, an obstacle, or even an enemy, in the case of radical
feminists railing against the “prison” of wombs and motherhood. The next
step is natural: to glorify the act of breaking out of this “prison” by
killing their unborn babies. If they see their bodies as their own, not
God’s (as in the popular, blasphemous title, Our Bodies, Our Selves)
the next step is naturally to see their babies as their own property; and if
their wombs are their enemies, so are their wombs’ human contents. In fact,
abortion is symbolic suicide. Once the baby is born, it is not hated and
killed nearly as often, even though it is more of an inconvenience to
care for once it is born. The idea of symbolic suicide explains this
irrational choice. “Our Bodies, Our Selves” is a defiant “in Your face” to
God, and to His image in them. For this image, according to Genesis, is not
just the soul, but also sex, the source of life. (Read Genesis 1:27 to see
the connection between “image of God” and “male and female”).
Advocates of priestesses also misunderstand sexual symbolism
because they usually misunderstand symbolism itself. They think of symbols
as man-made and artificial. They don’t see that there are profound and
unchangeable natural symbols, that things can also be signs.
Saint Thomas bases his multiple method of scriptural exegesis on this
principle. He writes:
The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His
meaning not by words only (as man can do) but also by things
themselves. So whereas in every other science things are signified by
words, this science has the property that the things signified by the
words have themselves a signification. Therefore that first
signification, whereby words signify things, belongs to the first sense,
the historical or literal. That signification whereby things signified
by words have themselves a signification is called the spiritual sense,
which is based on the literal and presupposes it. [ST I, 1, 10]
writes history (and nature) as man writes words. Behind Saint Thomas’s
hermeneutic is a metaphysic: a sacramental view of nature and history. In
Chance or the Dance? 
Thomas Howard brilliantly pinpointed the difference between this ancient
worldview, in which everything means something, and the reductionistic
modern worldview, in which nothing means anything. If every thing in nature
means something, then the big things in nature mean something big. And sex
is a Big Thing. What it means is so big that we will never exhaust it, only
discover more facets of its diamond. But it is there, a massive fact of
nature, not a clever human idea.
Every good poet knows that natural symbols are like the
essential structures of language itself: unchangeable. The sky is, always
was, and always will be a natural symbol for Heaven; the dirt is not. The
eye’s seeing is a natural symbol for the mind’s understanding; the gut’s
groaning is not. Everyone knows this, unconscieously. That is why our
language has evolved as it has. Light, ascending notes in a major key
somehow have to mean hope and joy; descending, heavy notes in a minor
key inevitably mean something grave. Words like “grave” and “gravity” have
multiple meanings glued with inextricable mental epoxy. Everything is
connected, and everything points beyond itself.
God, who deliberately designed sexuality, also deliberately
designed to incarnate Himself as a male. Jesus Christ is still a male. He
still has His human body in Heaven, and will forever. It is and will
forever be a male body. This is not ideology or theology or interpretation;
this is fact, this is data. My attempt to explain the Church’s No to
priestesses in light of this data can be summarized in two propositions:
1. Priests of Christ, who are Christ’s mouths through which He
Himself says, “This is My Body,” must be men because Christ is a man.
2. Christ, the perfect human image of the Father, is male
because God is Father. God is masculine. God is a He, not a She.
To deny (1) is to deny the Eucharist, and thus Catholicism.
To deny (2) is to deny the authority of Christ, and thus
C.S. Lewis—not even a Roman Catholic—saw point 1 better than
most Catholics do:
why should a woman not in this [priestly] sense represent God? … Suppose
the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins
saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might
just as well pray to “Our Mother which art in Heaven” as to “our
Father.” Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well
have taken a female as a male form, the Second Person of the Trinity be
as well called the Daughter as the Son.
Suppose, finally, that the mystical marriage were reversed,
that the Church were the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride. All this, as
it seems to me, is involved in the claim that a woman can represent God
as a priest does….
To say that it does not matter is to say … that all the
masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin. And this
is surely intolerable; or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favor
of Christian priestesses but against Christianity….
It is also based on a shallow view of imagery…. One of the
ends for which sex was created was to symbolize for us the hidden
things of God. One of the functions of human marriage is to express the
nature of the union between Christ and the Church.
Christians believe that God Himself has taught us how to
speak of Him. 
the Anglican saw what the priesthood means better than many Catholics
today. The priesthood does not mean merely ministry. The new ICEL
mistranslations of the liturgy which substitute minister for
priest are blind to the blindingly obvious fact that a priest is not
just a minister. Ministries like lector, Eucharistic minister, teacher,
psychologist, counselor, social worker, and political activist—and even
prophet—are indifferent to sex. Women can and do perform them. But
priesthood is different. Only a priest can consecrate. A Catholic priest
is not just a symbol of Christ (even that would form a strong argument
against priestesses) but is sacramentally in personal Christi. When
Father Murphy says, “This is My Body,” we hear Jesus Christ speaking.
Father Murphy does not mean “This is Father Murphy’s body”! The priest is
not merely remembering and repeating Christ’s words here; his
is really “channeling” them.
So Christ’s priests are men becaue Christ is a man. An analogy
to help us see the necessary connection is offered by Bishop Eldon Curtiss
Could the role of Hamlet in Shakespeare’s famous drama be portrayed
adequately by a woman as a woman? Only if the plot were rewritten, and
the relationships and dialogue of the main characters substantially
changed. But then it would not be the work of Shakespeare. Whereas
Hamlet’s fictitious life merely is recalled with each
presentation of the play, in the Eucharistic celebration the life, death
and resurrection is represented in its present reality.
why is His maleness essential? Because He is the revelation of the Father,
and the Father’s masculinity is essential. That is the second half of our
equation. To understand it, we must distinguish male from masculine.
Male and female are biological genders; masculine and feminine, or yang and
yin, are universal, cosmic principles, extending to all reality, including
All premodern civilizations knew this. English is the only
language which has no masculine and feminine mouns; so it is easy for us to
believe that the ancients merely projected their own biological gender out
onto nature when they called Heaven masculine and Earth feminine, Day
masculine and Night feminine, Land masculine and Sea feminine. In the Hindu
marriage ceremony, the groom says to the bride, “I am Heaven, you are
Earth”; she replies, “I am Earth, you are Heaven.” Is it not incredibly
provincial and culturally arrogant for us to assume without proof or even
investigation that this universal human instinct is mere projection,
fantasy, and illusion, rather than insight into a cosmic principle that is
really there? Once we look, we find abundant analogical evidence for it,
from the bottom of the cosmic hierarchy to the top, from the electromagnetic
attraction between protons and electrons to the circumincession of the
Persons in the Trinity.
God is masculine to everything, from angels to prime matter.
That is the ultimate reason why priests, who represent God to us, must be
To say God is masculine is not male chauvinism. For it makes us
all spiritually feminine. We are all God’s bride; no one is God’s husband.
God has no homosexual marriages. All souls are His she’s.
There is strinking historical evidence for this. The Jews,
God’s chosen people, the people to whom God revealed Himself (and if we do
not believe that, we do not believe in that God, for that is the only
place we find that God: the Jews and the Christians and Muslims and
philosophical theists who learned from them)—this unique people were totally
different from all others in their concept of God in five related ways.
1. They had no goddesses and no bisexual or neuter Gods. Their
one God was always He, never She or It.
2. There were no priestesses.
3. This God was totally transcendent to the universe, for He
created it out of nothing. There is even a word in Hebrew not in any other
language: bara’, “to create.” Only God can do it, not man. God was
not part of the universe, as in polytheism, or the whole of the universe or
the soul of the universe, as in pantheism.
4. God spoke. He revealed Himself in prophetic words and
miraculous deeds. He came out of hiding and acted. All other religions
were man’s search for God; Judaism (and Christianity, its fulfillment) was
God’s search for man. Therefore, religious experience for a Jew as
fundamentally response, not initiative. There were no yoga methods, no ways
to push God’s buttons. God initiated, man responded.
5. The law was the primary link with God, who revealed His will
in Thou Shalts and Thou Shalt Nots. The God of pantheism may have a
consciousness, but not a will; and the gods of polytheism have conflicting
and evil wills. Only in Judaism do you have a full union of religion and
morality, relationship with God and relationship with moral law. Only the
Jews united mankind’s two primary spiritual instincts, the instinct to
worship and the instinct of conscience. Only the Jews identified the object
and end of worship with the author and definer of morality.
These five remarkably distinct features of ancient Judaism are
clearly connected. As a man comes into a woman’s body from without to
impregnate her, God creates the universe from without, and performs miracles
in it from without, and calls to Man from without, revealing Himself and His
Law. He is not The Force, but The Face; not Earthspirit Rising, but
Heavenly Father descending; not the ideal construct of the human mind, but
the Hound of Heaven. To speak of “religion” as “man’s search for God,” if
we speak of this God, is like speaking of the mouse’s search for the cat (to
steal an image from C.S. Lewis).
This issue is absolutely central, and therefore I beg your
indulgence while I quote a long paragraph from Lewis, which I believe is the
best single paragraph ever written on the difference between Judaism and
Christianity on the one hand, and all other religions on the other.
Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract … deity to
the living God. I do not wonder. Here lies the deepest tap-root of
Pantheism and of the objection to traditional imagery…. The Pantheist’s
God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for him,
like a book on a shelf. He willl 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, then we could really say that all the christian images
of kingship were a historical accident of which our religion ought to be
purged. It is with a shock that we discover them to be indispensable.
You have had a shock like that before, in connection with smaller
matters—when the line pulls at your hand, 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 we
have been following. It is always shocking to meet life where we
thought we were alone. “Look out!” we cry, “it’s alive.” And
therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back—I would have
done so myself if I could—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 the 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 hush suddenly: was that 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.
Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that!
Worse still, supposing He had found us?
I think the
fundamental problem with most advocates of priestesses is as radical as
this: they do not know Who God is. Most would register strong discomfort or
puzzlement at the description Lewis gives—i.e. at the Bible’s God.
If the reply is that this ancient, Biblical picture of the
hunter-king-husband God is historically relatie, and that we should throw
away the accidental shell and keep the essential, timeless meat of the nut,
That the masculinity of God is not part of the shell but part of the nut.
It is not like Hebrew grammar, a replaceable and translatable medium.
Something as deliberate and distinctive and all-pervasive in Scripture as
God’s He-ness is no mere accident, especially when so obviously connected
with the other four points of the five-point complex noted above.
it is a residue of the sin of sexism, then God has revealed Himself
sinfully. This argument really denies the existence of divine revelation.
Or it judges the divine revelation by human ideology and opinion rather than
vice versa, thus frustrating the very purpose, the essential purpose,
of revelation, which is to reveal something that we couldn’t have come up
with from our own opinions or ideologies, in order to correct them.
Behind the idea of the need for a divine revelation is the
idea of Original Sin—another traditional notion which most
priestess-advocates deny, ignore, or at least are embarrassed by. We are
not good and wise and trustworthy, but sinful and foolish and in need of
correction. We should expect to be surprised and even offended at God’s
revelation; otherwise, we wouldn’t need it.
There is the camel’s nose under the tent” argument. Once you start
monkeying with your data, where do you stop? Why stop? 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 read
your Marxism into scripture today, why not your fascism tomorrow? If you
can change God’s masculinity, why not change His morality? Why not His very
Being? If you revise His “I,” why not His “AM”?
other half of the case against priestesses based on sexual symbolism,
supplementing the masculinity of God, is the femininity of the Church. The
Church is God’s Bride. All the saints and mystics say the ultimate purpose
of human life, the highest end for which we were made, is the spiritual
Marriage. It is not socially relative; it is eternal. And in it,
the soul is spiritually impregnated by God, not vice versa. That is
the ultimate reason why God must always be He to us, never She. Religion is
essentially heterosexual and therefore fruitful. There is no lesbian love
with God, and no goddesses; therefore no priestesses.
The New Birth—our salvation—comes from above, from without, from
transcendence. We do not spiritually impregnate ourselves with divine life
or salvation, any more than we physically impregnate ourselves. Modernism,
humanism, and naturalism amount to spiritual autoeroticism, spiritual
The Church can no more be fruitful without being impregnated by
her divine Husband than a woman without a man. Feminists who resent that
fact, resent that fact—and thus tend to resent facts as such, and
notions like objective truth and divine revelation.
The issue of priestesses is ultimately an issue of God.
Historically, there have been three basic theological options: the single
transcendent divine Husband (theism), many immanent gods and goddesses
(paganism), or the pantheistic Divine Neuter or Hermaphrodite. Priestessses
have always served the latter two gods, never the former.
God made His chosen people different, and He was extremely
ornery and cantankerous about them remaining different, even to the extent
of commanding the slaughter of whole pagan populations in the Promised Land
to prevent them from corrupting His pure revelation to the Jews. Is this
true? Is this divine revelation? Are these our data? There it is, right
in the very politically incorrect Bible. If God did not invent the Jews,
then the Jews invented God. In that case, let’s all be honest and cease to
be Christians or even theists and become polytheists, pantheists, or
atheists, as many radical feminists have already done. Their spiritual
gravity to these false religions is natural. And it is the agenda behind
priestesses, the worldview behind priestesses. Priestesses are merely the
camel’s nose under the tent. If it is admitted, the rest of the camel will
follow, because it’s a one-piece camel.
The obvious and ubiquitious objection to this view is that it is
male chauvinism To quote my colleague Mary Daly
, “if God is male,
then male is God.” Besides the logical fallacy (for instance, from God is
love, it does not follow that love is God), I see five other mistakes in
traditional view is closer to female chauvinism, for it makes us all
female in relation to God. Women need not become like men when they
approach God, but men must become like women, spiritually. All souls are
2. The fact that
Christ chose to incarnate Himself as a man does not insult women any more
than the fact that He became a carpenter insults kings. The Incarnation was
kenosis, emptying. He came down to the lowest place: a crucified
criminal in a Roman-enslaved hick town. Not an angel. Not an emperor. And
not a woman. The Incarnation was not into privilege and power but into
suffering and service.
3. Juli Loesch Wiley
argues that if Jesus had been a woman in the male-dominated world of the
first century, His life and teaching of unselfish love for others would not
have been as arresting and as instructively scandalous as it was. For
women, in all times and places and cultures until modern feminism, have
always been in general more altruistic, less power-greedy, less
violence-prone, more self-emptying, and more naturally religious than men.
(You still see more women in church than men.) In becoming a man, Jesus in
a sense let women be and went after men to transform them—not into women,
and certainly not into wimps, but into men like Himself. He redefined
manliness and power as courage to suffer instead of the lust to dominate;
giving instead of taking. Women were a little less in need of that lesson.
Again, Christianity seems closer to female chauvinism than male.
4. Women priests
would demean and insult women, for asking them to represent the man-God
would be like asking them to be cross-dressers or to wear male sex organs.
It would remove the distinctive dignity of women qua women as symbols
of the Church, whom Christ, symbolized by the priest, marries. A symbol or
sign is to be looked along, not looked at. What would priestesses
mean, what would they symbolize? They would signify to all women that they
are spiritual lesbians instead of brides.
5. Christ’s maleness
is not chauvinistic because He had a mother (but no earthly father). Mary
is the definitive refutation of the charge of chauvinism. No merely human
being was ever nearly as great as this woman, according to the distinctive
teachings of this “chauvinistic” Church. Mary is “our tainted nature’s
solitary boast.” 
God” is hardly a title to sneer at! Mother of anyone is hardly a
title to sneer at. A boy and a girl were arguing about who would play
captain in a game of pirates. The boy insisted on being captain; so the
girl won the argument by agreeing: “Okay, you can be the captain. But I’m
the mother of the captain.”
The ground of Mary’s greatness is the thing too simple and
innocent for the feminists to see. The reason she is crowned Queen of
Heaven, the reason for her great glory and power, is her total submission to
God—her sacrifice, her suffering, her service. Muslims see it, but
so-called Christian feminists don’t. It is islam, the total
surrender, the fiat—and the peace, the shalom, that is the
secret treasure hidden in this submission, the delicious fruit of this
thorny plant. Modern feminism becomes a radically different religion from
Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) when it drifts into a radically different
ideal of sanctity, of the summum bonum, the greates good, meaning of
life, and purpose of all religion. Feminists need most fundamentally what
we all need most fundamentally: to go to the Cross, to unflex the fist, and
to bow the knee.
III. Reasons of the Common Good
be practical for a moment: in terms of the concrete daily life of ordinary
Catholics, what would a Church with priestesses look like? To answer this
question we must back up and ask, What is the relation between a priest and
the Church anyway? And the answer is certainly that the priest is for the
Church, not the Church for the priest. The priesthood is not for personal
fulfillment, and certainly not for “empowerment.” So the justification for
changing the priesthood to include priestesses must be improvement of the
laity, not the improvement of the priesthood.
Improvement in what direction? It has to be in the direction
the Church is for. What is its end? Why did God make it? Not to be
politically correct (or politically incorrect), not to fulfill and
happify and empower individuals (and not to stultify or unhappify or
disempower individuals, either), but to save and sanctify souls. That is
the standard by which everything in the Church must be judged, from Bingo to
Operation Rescue ,
from ecumenical councils to collection plates.
Now what effect would priestesses have on salvation and
would undermine many Catholics’ confidence in the Church’s authority by
contradicting the explicit teaching and practice of 1,900 years of history.
Even if “no priestesses” is not ex cathedra, to begin to ordain them
would surely create in many minds this question: If the Church was wrong for
almost 2,000 years about this, why might not she be wrong in the rest of her
ordinary teaching, too? It may well even foster doubt of Christ’s
wisdom and infallibility; for the Church’s stand against priestesses, like
her stand against divorce, is not based on her own ideas or her own
authority but on fidelity to His. If Jesus erred in being so chauvinistic
as not to ordain apostlesses, why might He not also hae been wrong and
prejudiced and less enlightened than we about other things, such as adultery
and marriage, or even how to get to Heaven?
2. Many of the
faithful would doubt the validity of women’s ordination and thus the
validity of all the sacraments received from priestesses. Are my sins
forgiven? Perhaps not, if an invalidly ordained priestess gave me
absolution, or a priest ordained by a priestess-bishop. Is this really
Christ I receive in the Eucharist, consecrated by a priestess, or am I
idolatrously and blasphemously adoring a matzo?
3. De facto schism
would result—or at least enormous parish hopping, and the final end of the
geographic parish and the substitution of the ideological parish.
4. It would
tear apart the Church worldwide, for nearly all other cultures except the
American, Canadian, and Western European are totally opposed to women’s
ordination. This comes clear repeatedly at international conferences and
synods of bishops. Third World Catholics would be deeply scandalized, and
would probably form breakaway churches. The Lefebvrist tragedy
would be compounded 10,000 times. The Church may be as badly split as in
1054 or 1517. 
practical and prudential reasons, priestesses would be an ecclesiastical
And for principal reasons of church order, too. For the
feminists fail to understand what a priest is—not only symbolically, as we
have seen in considering sexual symbolism, but ecclesially and communally,
too. There is only one reason to be a priest: because you are called by
God. How do you know the will of God? The only public, objective, and
certain way is by divine revelation. And God has revealed through the
Church what He wants His priesthood to be. If anyone does not believe that
the Church’s teachings are God’s revelation, he is simply not a Catholic.
God has not let important thigns like the sacraments of His
Church depend on our feelings or opinions. We can talk back to our mother
the Church, but she 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 the right to be a priest. She also tells us
that priesthood is for service to others, not personal advantage, not even
personal holiness. Being a priest does not make you better or holier,
necessarily. It necessarily makes the laity better and holier.
Advocates of priestesses often argue that denying a woman this function is
insulting her personal worth. This view is “functionalism,” the confusion
of personal worth with function—like the arguments that justify early
abortions or late mercy-killings because the brain is not functioning
rationally. This mistake, by the way, is more typical of males than
females, for men have always tended to identify themselves and their worth
with their job or their achievements, while women have always (up till now)
tended the traditional wisdom that being is deeper than doing.
Over 99 percent of all men also do not function as priests, and
many of them can’t, by reason of age or physical or mental condition. Are
they therefore less worthy and valuable human beings? If not, then neither
are women, for the same reason.
A woman can’t be a biological father either. Is that also a
slap in the face of her dignity? Has nature already insulted women in the
same way as the Church is doing? The more radical feminists will gladly
answer Yes, thus revealing their own fragile (and masculine!) sense of
The most egregious error of all is the demand to ordain women
for “empowerment.” I can think of no term that more perfectly proves the
speaker’s utter incomprehension of what she says than that. It is like
wanting to manage the Boston Red Sox because of your thirst for “success.”
Priests are not power brokers, or managers. They are sewers.
Like Christ, they drain off the world’s sins. They are garbage men. Like
Christ, they clean up our spiritual garbage. They wash feet—dirty, smelly
souls—ours. The Pope, priest of priets, is servus servorum dei,
servant of the servants of God. This is not a clever P.R. slogan; this is
his real job description. Even if all my other reasons against priestesses
were invalid, this total misunderstanding of priests’ essential job
description would invalidate the feminist claim.
IV. Reasons of Discernment
this brings me to my fourth and last kind of reason against priestesses:
reasons of discernment. Can we discern what spirit is at work here? I
don’t think we need to be very advanced in the Christian art of discernment
to answer that question.
we need to do is listen, and if we listen with a heart open to God rather
than to human ideology, we will easily hear that rage, the anger, the
self-righteousness. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read Donna
Steichen’s book Ungodly
Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism
[Amazon link] (Ignatius).
Who are the advocates of women’s ordination? The most prominent
and vocal are always dissenters against other official Catholic teachings as
well. The issue of women’s ordination is not isolated; it is one thread of
a seamless garment. Pull it, and you unravel the whole robe. (By the way,
“dissenter” is 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 Mother Church tells us to eat.)
Most shockingly, feminists who advocate priestesses usually also
advocate accepting abortion. The fact seems to me immediately and totally
to destroy their credentials to a hearing. For we know what god the
priestesses of abortion serve, and his name is not Jesus. It is Moloch.
Moloch also says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” but where
Jesus places His hands on their heads, Moloch places his teeth.
In addition to approving abortion, some leaders of the push for
priestesses also want the Church to approve contraception, fornication,
sodomy, same-sex marriage, and divorce. A more complete demonic attack on
the family could not be orchestrated even in Hell.
Some of the leaders in the movement, such as “Womynchurch”
clearly admit they are worshipping another God—Mother Earth—and practicing
another religion—paganism, Christ’s old enemy risen from the dead. Anyone
who freely opens the Church’s doors to these barbarians is clearly a
anyone who can’t see through these spies’ tissue-thin cover of “Catholicism”
is a fool.
The origin of modern feminism is not inside Christianity buyt
outside it and against it, in deeply anti-religious and anti-Christian
ideologies like Marxism and deconstructionism. Mary Daly summarized her
self-image candidly when she called herself (in
the Antichrist, and summarized her life’s work as “castrating God the
Father.” Next to her, Nietzsche was a wimp.
There is an obvious connection between the root of the spirit of
modern feminism—which is not prayer, personal holiness, or submission
to God’s will—and it’s fruit, which is not love or joy or peace. In
the most public feminist faces you can see the hate, the hardness, and the
hurt. Not all advocates of priestesses have that look, but their leaders
In the Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius
says we must discern between the spirit of consolation (which is from God)
and the spirit of desolation (which is from Satan). The latter produces
these fruits: hate, anxiety, fear, resentment, anger, anguish, bitterness,
rage, pain, and lack of peace. By their own admission these are
precisely the feelings of the leaders of the demand for women’s ordination.
These are not passing moods but a settled state of deep alienation. And
they are not the feelings of a few individuals but of the movement itself,
of its very ideology and its publications. We can easily discern in them a
past history of having been badly hurt—often sexually abused—which then
became a state of deep hatred. Often it is a paradoxical mixture of great
self-hatred and great self-righteousness. A the very least it includes
great doses of self-pity, which certainly does not come from God. As
Christians, we must recall the value in suffering and pity all sufferers,
but as Christians we also know suffering can cut both ways, that our
reaction to our suffering may be good or bad.
Spiritual warfare is our condition at all times, according to Scripture and
the saints, but especially today in this time of crisis and decadence in
both Church and society. The issue of priestesses ultimately is a battle in
this great war, a battle between the priests of the Lord and the priests of
Baal, like Elijah’s battle on Mount Carmel. It is a time for choosing—not
just between theologies and between Gods; a time for remembering and
repeating Joshua’s challenge to Israel (remember that “Joshua” means “Jesus”
and the new Israel is the Church):
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in
faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the
River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you be unwilling to
serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods
your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the
Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord. 
[Peter Kreeft, “Gender and the Will of God: The Issue of
Priestesses is Ultimately an Issue of God,” Crisis Vol. 11, No. 8
(September 1993), pp. 20-28.]
The "Levitical priesthood" refers to the narrower lineage of Aaron and his
sons within the tribe of Levi (Ex. 28:1), whose ministerial priesthood
prevails within the Old Testament. Melchisadek (or Melchisedek or
Melchizedek) was the king of Salem who blessed Abraham in Gen. 14:18. The
"priesthood of Melchisadek,"is seen in Scripture as a foreshadowing of the
New Testament priesthood of Christ (Heb. 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1; cf. Ps. 110:4),
and in Catholic tradition as the ordained priesthood of the Catholic Church.
(See the entries: "Levites,"
High Priest,"and "Priesthood"
in the online Catholic Encyclopedia.)
The rebellion of Cor (or Korah) against the lawful priesthood of Aaron and
his sons is described in Numbers, ch. 16, where Cor and his followers
"assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to
them: 'You have gone to far! For all the congregation are holy, every one
of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above
the assembly of the Lord?' ... And the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron,
'Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them
....' ... and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their
households and all the men that belonged to Korah and all their goods."
(Num. 16: 3, 20-21, 32; cf. Num. 26:9; 27:3; Jude 11).
Bodies, Ourselves for a New Century
by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective (New York: Simon & Schuster,
1998), a book advocating a woman's right to kill her unborn babies and
endorsed by radical feminists such as Gloria Steinem.
Chance Or The Dance?
[Ignatius Press link]
(1969; rpt. San Francisco: Ignatius
5. C.S. Lewis, "Priestesses in the Church?" in
God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics
by C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans,
1970), pp. 234-239.
ICEL = International Commission on English in the Liturgy, a controversial
Vatican commission with an uneven track record that has come under repeated
censure by the Vatican for its tendency to let its biblical translations be
guided by considerations of political correctness, its suppression of
gender-specific language, terms connoting hierarchy, patriarchy, etc.
Most Rev. Eldon
Curtiss was installed as Archbishop of
Omaha on June 25, 1993.
8. C.S. Lewis,
(New York: Macmillan, 1947, 1960), pp. 93-94.
Mary Daly (pictured right), born 1928, is a radical feminist theologian and
mother of modern feminist theology. A former Catholic theologian and nun,
she taught for 33 years at Boston College, where she barred men from her
classroom, until her position was terminated in 1999. (Bibliography)
Juli Loesch Wiley is a writer, speaker, and activist for the
Consistent Life ethic and the founder of
Prolifers for Survival.
An anti-war activist in the 1970s, she is a more recent convert to the
pro-life position, arguing that abortion succumbs to the
female-body-as-recreational-object syndrome, enabling a man to use a woman,
then vacuum her out so that she's ready to be used over again, as if she
were something like a rent-a-car.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) in his "Hymn to the Virgin," gave us the
now-famous description of Mary as "Our tainted nature’s solitary boast.”
Operation Rescue was an anti-abortion organization founded in 1986 by
Randall Terry and others. It sparked the largest movement involving civil
disobedience in American history, with thousands of men and women
voluntarily sitting down in front of abortion mill doors to obstruct the
killing of innocent babies, at the cost of arrest and prosecution on
trespassing charges. (History)
This has been the situation in many American dioceses, at least, according
to Hans Kung, who quotes the late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago as
declaring: “Well in my Archdiocese of Chicago, we have practically a
situation of congregationalism. They are just going to a conservative pastor
if they are conservatives, they go to a liberal pastor if they are liberals,
and they are going their own way.’ (Interview with Stephen Crittenden on The
Religion Report, Radio National, December 15, 2004)
The "Lefebvrist tragedy" refers to the ordination of four bishops by Msgr.
Marcel Lefebvre, head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX),
against a direct papal order, creating a state of schism or irregularity for
his followers. (See James Akin, "Introduction
to the Lefebvrist Schism")
1054 marks the date of the Great Schism between the Eastern churches and
Western Roman Catholic Church. 1517 marks the date Martin Luther nailed his
95 Theses to the Wittenberg church door, sparking the Protestant
Reformation. (See the entries under "Eastern
Reformation," and "Protestantism"
in the online Catholic Encyclopedia.)
This was, of course, well before the Boston Red Sox became
World Series Champions
in 2004. Kreeft is notorious for his speculations heretofore as to which
would happen first, the world series victory of the Boston Red Sox or the
Second Coming of Christ.
WomynChurch is a coalition of dissident Catholic groups promoting a
radical feminist agenda among Catholics (Women-Church
St. Ignatius Loyola, founded the Jesuits, or Society of Jesus, in 1540. (See
Ignatius Loyola" and "The
Society of Jesus" in the online Catholic
Encyclopedia.) St. Ignatius' profound instruction on spiritual
discipline is contained in the
Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius
trans. by Anthony Mottola, Intro. by Robert W. Gleason (Garden City, NY:
Image Books, 1964).
Notes by Philip Blosser, December 28, 2004.