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Meditation 392
Women in the Catholic Priesthood I

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A couple of weeks ago, eight women were ordained, supposedly as Roman Catholic priests, on a cruise boat on the St. Lawrence River, on the border between Canada and the USA. Of course, the Vatican does not recognize the ordinations and has no intention of changing its policy of a men-only priesthood.

As Guilio Silano, associate professor of Christianity and culture at the University of St. Michael's College, wrote in the Globe and Mail,[1] "broad as are the powers that the Lord Jesus Christ conferred on the Church, his Bride, they do not include the power to ordain women."

I would ask exactly when and where did Jesus Christ confer any powers to the Roman Catholic Church? And specifically, when and where did he confer the power to ordain anyone? When and where did Jesus Christ confer the power to ordain men only? Unmarried men only? Unmarried celibate men only? Let alone confer the power to appoint Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, the Curia and Popes elected by the Cardinals?

The Catholic Church's claim to primacy among Christian denominations is based on a single verse, Matthew 16:18: And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

That one verse combined with the unvalidated[2] claim that Peter went to Rome, and became the first Bishop of Rome is what constitutes the entire biblical justification for the Catholic Church. And that verse is silent on the question of ordination. And based on the reported events of his life, Jesus was silent on the question of ordination.

I'm not questioning the right of the Catholic Church to organize itself and operate as it sees fit. What I question is the claim that their men-only policy comes from Jesus. As a Christian church, they should be honest about which of their policies have a genuine biblical foundation and which are human decisions. The choice to ordain men only is a decision made by men. To claim otherwise is intellectually and spiritually dishonest.


  1. It's a travesty, Guilio Silano, The Globe and Mail, August 5, 2005
  2. There is more evidence for the involvement of women in the spiritual leadership of early Christian communities than there is for Peter ever being in Rome.