One of the great things about getting a master’s in theology is the opportunity it presents in witnessing to my faith. The dialogue usually goes something like this...
“So...you’re going to school?”
“What are you getting your degree in?”
“I’m working on my master’s in theological studies.”
“So what are you going to do with that? Are you going to be a minister?”
“No, I’m Catholic.”
Then it goes one of two ways...
a) “Well you know you can’t be a priest. The Catholic Church forbids that.”
b) “Why can’t you be a priest? I’ve heard of women being ordained.”
So here are my responses to both statements. (Perhaps I will just refer people to my blog anytime this issue comes up.)
The Church does not forbid the ordination of women. It doesn’t have the authority to ordain them. If Christ had wanted women priests, don’t you think that his own mother would have been the top candidate for female ordination? We follow Christ’s lead in this matter. Furthermore, the old argument that Christ was bound to the cultural limitations of His time doesn’t fly with me. He broke all kinds of social rules...remember the big stink that was raised about his disciples not fasting? Remember the encounter with the sinners and the tax collectors, the prostitutes and the lepers? If Jesus would have wanted women to serve His Church in this capacity, He would have made it happen.
Secondly, I am perfectly fine with not being a priest. I’ve seen their job, and don’t particularly want it, and I’m abundantly thankful that there are men who are willing to answer the incredibly demanding call to serve the Church in the person of Christ. People who look at this vocation as just another career path are completely missing the boat. God is the one who calls. It’s not up for a power grab.
Finally, women are not being ordained as priests. Even if they do go through the motions of an ordination ceremony, they are still not ordained. The Holy Spirit doesn’t show up for fake sacraments.
So I guess my stock answer still stands. I love being Catholic, and I don’t want to be a priest because it’s pretty clear to me that God is not calling women (any women) to that particular vocation. It doesn’t make me less of a person. It doesn’t decrease my capability of growing in holiness. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, read Lumen gentium. It is the cure for many modern misunderstandings about the Church.