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, over the immaculate conception of Mary, and over 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. 1 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, 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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