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The Roman Catholic
Church & female ordination:

Ordination of female priests 1

Contrasting quotations:

  • Pope John Paul II: "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." 6,7

  • "This message from Rome is the last gasp of desperate and insecure men trying to shore up a crumbling status quo. Roman Catholic women will be ordained priests -- perhaps sooner than we think." Sister Maureen Fiedler, over National Public Radio. 4

  • Among theologians, there are "... serious doubts regarding the nature of the authority of this teaching."Â Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) at its 1997 meeting; cited on the Catholic Exchange web site. 4

  • "In my view, a great deal is possible in this area." Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, member of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy. 5


The Roman Catholic Church has consistently refused to ordain women, either as Priests or Deaconesses, in recent centuries. Some sources say that the Pope has declared as infallible the teaching that the Church cannot ordain women to the priesthood now or at any time in the future. This does not appear to be true. What he has said is not that the church is unwilling to ordain women; but that the church does not currently have the authority to do so. To assign a statement the status of infallibility would have been a rare step that has only happened three times in the Church's history: during the proclamation of infallibility itself, concerning the immaculate conception of Mary, and concerning Mary's bodily ascension to heaven.

The church has taught that when the People of God, the membership of the church, prayerfully and devoutly reach a consensus on a topic, that this is also the will of God. 2 Numerous surveys have indicated a near consensus in North America and much of Europe in favor of female ordination. However, this does not yet extend elsewhere in the world, where the feminist movement has not been as influential.

It seems a topic that just will not go away - particularly in North America, where the feminist movement has successfully promoted an end to almost all gender discrimination in commerce, government, the military, industry, and education. Increasingly, adults in North America are viewing gender-based discrimination in the same class as racial discrimination, and are rejecting it as bigotry, profoundly immoral, and irrational. Many criticize the Roman Catholic church for its stance on male-only ordination; the number will probably continue to grow into the future.

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet Recent history of the debate over female ordination
bullet Three groups promoting female ordination: "We are church" movement; "Desire for change," Rochester NY; Statement by "Canon 1024;

Additional information:

  • Ordination of women as deacons during the ancient past and in Mexico today.

  • A Catholic marriage is consecrated by a woman in Canada.

  • Links to additional advocacy groups.

Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Part of a Frame grab from Radical Grace Film's video, "Ordain Female Priests." See:
  2. See: the "Statement of the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission, 2007-NOV-15, at: An excerpt reads: "The whole community and each person in it bears the 'conscience of the Church' (ekkesiastiké syneidesis), as Greek theology calls it, the sensus fidelium in Latin terminology. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation (Chrismation) each member of the Church exercises a form of authority in the Body of Christ. In this sense, all the faithful (and not just the bishops) are responsible for the faith professed at their Baptism. It is our common teaching that the people of God, having received "the anointing which comes from the Holy One" (1 Jn 2, 20 and 27), in communion with their pastors, cannot err in matters of faith (cfr. Jn 16, 13)."
  3. You Tube has a group of videos about the ordination of female priests at:
  4. Mary Jo Anderson, "Women who won't take 'No' for an answer," Catholic Exchange, 2003-JUN-02, at:
  5. "Female priests are ‘possible’: new Francis-appointed Vatican finance council member," Life Site, 2020-AUG-17, at:
  6. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "Letter Concerning the CDF Reply Regarding Ordinatio Sacerdotalis," Our Lady's Warriors, 1995-OCT-28, at:
  7. Pope John Paul II, "Apostolic Letter ... on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone," The Vatican, 1994-MAY-22, at

See the news feed on women's issues.

Copyright © 1997 to 2020 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2020-AUG-18

Author: B.A. Robinson

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