Women are excluded from ordination to the priesthood

womanpriestIn past centuries, theologians and church leaders enumerated many reasons for denying priestly ordination to women:

  • women are physically inferior to men,
  • they have not been created in God’s image,
  • they lack the intelligence men possess,
  • they have been made subject to men by God,
  • they are impure because of their monthly periods, etc. etc.

In recent years, Church authorities – perhaps acknowledging that all these ‘traditional’ reasons were invalid!  – have zoomed in one principal reason: It was Jesus who did not want women to be priests. He showed this by choosing only men, i.e. the twelve apostles. Listen to this document of 1994:

“In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behaviour, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time.

In fact, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God’s eternal plan: Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mark 3:13-14; John 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, “through the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Luke 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood, the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord’s way of acting in choosing twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Revelation 21:14) . . .

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 22 May 1994.

Is this a valid reason?

1. Pope John Paul II claims that Jesus, in choosing only men to be the twelve apostles, laid down a norm for all time. By this act Jesus is supposed to have implicitly excluded women for all time to come. Remember that Jesus never excluded women explicitly. He just chose only men . . .

However, examining the context in which he chose the twelve, reveals the fallacy of this interpretation. Why the number ‘twelve’? For Jesus the twelve apostles replaced the twelve patriarchs, heads of the ancient tribes. He signalled that he was founding a new Israel and ‘patriarchs’ were always men. The particular context of Jesus’ action shows it was not a permanent norm.

What is more, at least five important features of the original call of the twelve have not been continued in later tradition:
* the number twelve – was the number of bishops ever restricted to twelve?
* personal selection by Jesus – have later priests and bishops not been chosen by others?
* the apostles got power to heal the sick – can priests and bishops heal the sick now?
* all were Jews – is it only Jews who can be ordained?
* all were free-born men – have former slaves not been ordained to the priesthood in later times?
If so many features were changed, why would the male gender of the apostles constitute a permanent norm?

Concluding that Jesus only wanted a male priesthood, establishing this as a permanent norm, does not do justice to Sacred Scripture. — READ MORE HERE

2. Traditionalists reply: “Jesus ordained the apostles to be priests and bishops at the Last Supper when he said: ‘Do this in commemoration of me’. Only men were present. Jesus only wanted to ordain men.”

But did he? The fact is that also women were present at the Last Supper. it was a paschal meal when the whole family had to be present. Jesus included all: “Eat of this all of you . . . Drink of this all of you!” By this Jesus, in act, entrusted the priesthood in principle to ALL the faithful, including women. READ MORE HERE 

3. Claiming that Jesus decided that ‘apostles’ [= priests, bishops] should be male for all time to come overlooks a crucial fact. Jesus emphatically proclaimed that his own teaching needed to be developed, adapted in new times, worked out in more perfect ways. For instance, Jesus still used ‘slavery’ in his parables and examples and he never called for the abolition of slavery. Yet the ecumenical council VATICAN II proclaimed, in the light of our own times, that “any form of slavery goes counter to the mind of Christ”.


Ordaining women now – after all social and cultural prejudices have been cleared up – would be entirely according to the mind of Christ. READ MORE HERE

Pretending that Jesus fixed ‘male gender’ as a permanent norm for the priesthood is simply ridiculous. We have extensively documented the reasons why women can and should be ordained. on www.womenpriests.org which contains thousands of files.  There you will find in full all official church documents, numerous articles and books written on the topic, all evidence pertaining to the case. Please, judge for yourself!

What is the situation today?


wijngaards Authorities in the Catholic Church still blindly and rigidly hang on to the view that only men can be ordained. They blame Jesus for this. He fixed a permanent norm, they claim, that they can’t change.

That is not true, of course. Meanwhile Catholic communities all over the world are suffering on account of it. They are being deprived of the spiritual gifts that women priests and women bishops would undoubtedly offer.

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit give the Catholic Church more enlightened leaders who have the courage to think and the will to overturn centuries-old discriminations that simply should not exist any longer.

John Wijngaards