The restriction of holy orders to men alone does not denigrate the role of women in the Church. Think of some of the great female saints like St. Clare, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Catherine of Siena, whose spiritual writings and example are still honored today. Think of remarkable work of Mother Teresa or Mother Angelica and how many lives they touch. Think of famous women in our American Church: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (a wife, mother and religious), Blessed Katherine Drexel, St. Frances Cabrini, Blessed Kateri Tekawitha. Our country in America has a beautiful legacy of women religious who have served in schools, hospitals, orphanages and other institutions.
Our Holy Father [John Paul II] addressed this question when he visited Philadelphia in 1979. He reminded us that Christ calls each of us to share in His mission. Some people are called to be priests, some religious brothers and sisters, some as spouses, some as parents, some as single laity. A vocation is not a “right” but a call from Christ through the Church as He has established it. The distinction is not based on superiority, but on a difference in the levels of function and service. Everyone shares in the mission of Christ according to His plan and design.