Monday, January 29, 2018

Women Priests and Bishops

In this photo taken last year Pope Francis is cordially greeting the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, Antje Jackelén.  Pope Francis has called the issue of admitting women to the priesthood closed, but he set up a commission to study ordaining women deacons.  We do not have enough priests to administer the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Sick to the dying in hospitals in the United States and Europe.   

Women's ordination to the diaconate has a clear precedent in the early Church that ordination of women to the priesthood does not.  Ordaining women to the diaconate and extending to them the faculties to administer certain Sacraments would alleviate this dire situation.  Although I, personally, have no interest in being ordained a priest, the more I read about the arguments for and against ordaining women to the priesthood, the more in favor I become. 

The main obstacle to women being ordained to the priesthood derives from Christ’s ordination of the Twelve Apostles on Holy Thursday night, and conferring on them and their successors the threefold Messianic power of administering the sacraments notably the Eucharist.  This is used to support the tradition of only men ruling the people of God in his name and only men being granted authoritative to preach his message of salvation.  Objections to the refusal of the Church to ordain women to the priesthood has become a syndrome, particularly in the United States and Europe where ordination of women to the priesthood in the other mainstream Christian religions is now a commonly accepted practice.     

Some assert that there were no women priests in the Early Church because priestesses in early Greco-Roman societies, and among the Gnostics, Monatists, Marcosians and Colyridians were associated with the fertility cults of pagan religions.  This objection was based on valid concerns about the connotation of priestesses involved in pagan sacrifices in fertility cults confusing the meaning of the sacrifice of the Christian Mass.  However, this is not a cause for concern today.  The implication that those in favor of women's ordination today are somehow guilty of pagan heresy is frankly offensive.