The Strange Clericalism of Women’s Ordination

“Barring women from ordination to the priesthood,” the National Catholic Reporter editorialized recently, “is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand.” The proximate cause for NCR’s ill-conceived, if sadly unsurprising, foray into heterodoxy was the recent excommunication, dismissal, and laicization of former Maryknoll priest and long-time advocate of women’s ordination, Roy Bourgeois.

The editors at NCR, like Bourgeois, insist that the ordination of women is simply a matter of justice. Justice means giving one his (or her) due. If a male-only priesthood is an injustice to women, then there must be some good in ordination that is due to women. But the sacrament of holy orders, as NCR forthrightly admits, is a gift. A vocation to the priesthood is either a gratuitous gift or a right. It can’t be both

Holiness, meanwhile, is a vocation we all share – the true measure of all Christian discipleship and the goal of every particular vocation. The archetype of Christian discipleship, incidentally, is neither a priest nor a man, but Mary, whom we name Queen of Apostles. For so she is. The sacramental role of a priest, by contrast, involves his acting in persona Christi, and while God might not be a man, Jesus Christ, son of Mary and Son of the Father, is.

Claims like those of NCR and Bourgeois always seem to carry a whiff of unintended clericalism and even sexism. Why? Consider a priest who lords it over his flock or thinks himself superior to them by virtue of his office. He would be rightly denounced for his clericalism. But do those who see access to holy orders as the necessary condition of equality within the Church take any less an unjustly privileged view of the priestly office?

Can one imagine the Mother of God – or St. Catherine of Siena or St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross or  St. Claire of Assisi – lamenting her role in the economy of salvation for lack of a mitre, as though mere holiness and mere womanhood and mere communion with God in heaven forever are insufficiently dignified vocations?

It makes no more sense for women to claim a vocation to the ministerial priesthood than for men to claim a vocation to motherhood. Recall the words of St. Paul about the diversity and complementarity of the members of the Body of Christ: “But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”

    Bourgeois, Roy (far left): In flagrante delicto

The incoherence of the crusade for Catholic women’s ordination doesn’t end there. That someone, Roy Bourgeois for example, would jeopardize his communion with the Church because he objects to the exclusion of women from Holy Orders suggests a breakdown of ecclesiology somewhere else in his system. Does he not believe the Church and Christ are one and that without her there is no salvation? If he does believe that, then why would he jeopardize eternal life in a quixotic attempt to gain women access to an office that, however dignified and noble, has no power to save?

If you do not believe that Christ and His Church are one, or if you deny the necessity of communion with the Catholic Church for salvation, then why not seek ordination in some other church that would happily grant it? Why insist on Catholic ordination? What good is apostolic succession if communion with the Catholic Church is irrelevant?

Is it not the case that those who would leave the Catholic Church because women cannot be ordained are unequivocally declaring that it is better to be a priestess in any church than a layperson in the Catholic Church?

“[T]he exclusion of women from the priesthood,” write the editors of NCR, “has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale; therefore, women should be ordained.” If the editors of NCR believe, as they evidently do, that Scripture alone can justify the doctrines of the Church or that 2,000 years of tradition or the consistent, unequivocal teaching of bishops and popes is less than “compelling rationale” for a given doctrine then a basic sense of honesty might compel them to change their name to the National Protestant Reporter.

I don’t say that flippantly. The Church is never better off with fewer members – if one part suffers, all the parts really do suffer. But the first step in reconciliation is recognizing that a break has taken place.

The Church’s teaching on the nature of the priesthood and the reservation of the ministerial priesthood exclusively to men is undoubtedly a “hard saying” for many. When faced with such a hard saying – and we are all sinners, so we will all have our time – one hopes to respond with the faith of Peter: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

The editors of NCR, it seems, have made their decision. They’ll follow Roy Bourgeois. Let us pray they reconsider.

Stephen P. White

Stephen P. White

Stephen P. White is a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

  • ib

    Last I checked the NC Reporter had around 15,000 paid subscribers (yes, I know they claim a much larger “readership” but that’s hard to document; subscribers are the measurable constituency of a publication). OTOH, First Things, for example has about 30,000 paid subscribers.

    Like Commonweal (which has around 5000 paid subscribers) the actual number of people reading them is negligible WRT the number of catholics in the U.S. They are not the influential news organization they were in the 1970s and 80s.

    But that’s as maybe, since 42% of weekly Mass-attending catholics voted for Obama, betraying the unified teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on faith and morals. The Roman Catholic Church has a real catechetical problem of which the crazy dissenters at the NC Reporter are but a symptom …

  • Howard Kainz

    The Bishop of the diocese where the National Catholic Reporter is located, Bishop Charles Helmsing, issue a condemnation of the paper in 1968: “In fairness to our Catholic people, I hereby issue an official condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter. Furthermore, I send this communication to my brother bishops, and make known to the priests, religious and laity of the nation my views on the poisonous character of this publication.” If we want to keep up to date on contemporary heresies, however, the NCR is an invaluable source.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    #1 I, as a man, am demanding my right to bear children. Where do we go from here? (I would suggest that the rest of you just move on while I have my temper tantrum).

    #2. Good riddance to Mr. Bourgeois. He should find some little girls and ‘play Mass’ with them.

    #3. At some point we are going to have to give up on applying reason to the nonsense spewed by the NCR and 60’s heterodox crowd, and just ignore them. There was a TV program in the 80’s called “The Paper Chase” about a law school professor, Kingsley and his students. When a student came to class ill-prepared, the Professor would “shroud” him/her for the remainder of the semester – pretend they no longer existed. That might be a strategy for dealing with this group since, while they are not without reason, their pride refuses to allow them to use it.

  • Frank

    Justice? Who’s justice? This is deconstruction masquerading as justice. I applaud the excommunication of Bourgeois. My only regret was that Pelosi, Biden and Sibelius weren’t set along with him.

  • Jack,CT

    Mr White,
    Great article,if we loose people
    due to this arguement we had them to be-
    gin with!

  • Frank

    Forgive me for not having put this question in my first reply above but I need an answer that I honestly don’t know. Why is their advocacy for women’s ordination? Why do some women stridently maintain they have some right to be ordained into the priesthood. I know one of the priests at my parish better than most parishoners, we are good friends. I’ve listened to the tasks and the routine responsibilities of his vocation as a priest…it’s a punishing schedule he keeps with a joy in his heart with a humble sense of service and an abiding love for God and the Church. So what’s the catch for women who want this bone crushing life? Power? Proving they can be equal to men? Please advise, for I truly truly do not know.

  • Manfred

    “The Church is never better off with fewer members-” (with the emphasis on “never”).I don’t agree. Whenever the chaff can be separated from the wheat in this world the wheat is better off as it is then protected from the influence of the chaff.

  • Gail Finke

    I have had someone tell me, with great vigor and anger, that it is indeed a matter of justice. The people who believe this believe it very strongly and are VERY emotional about it. But justice does not mean “the same for everyone.” It means giving everyone what he or she is due. EVERYONE is not due priesthood. However, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, whose “ordination” Borgeious participated in, says that she felt as if her ecumenical community had already ordained her before her “ordination.” That whole movement is very emotionalized, very much about what people feel and what they are “due” by virtue of their wanting it. And what they want the Church to become (look it up) is pretty much an amorphous mass in which everyone does what feels right and which (of course) will never do anything wrong because feelings never steer anyone wrong. I find it sad, really.

  • Maggie-Louise

    There is a simple solution to the the problem of women’s wanting to be priests: The universal Latin Mass.

    There is no woman alive who will voluntarily stand with her backside to a congregation–especially when someone is going to be lifting up the corners of her skirt.

  • William Manley

    The reason against women’s ordination may make sense to you, but it makes no sense to millions of young people who are growing up in a world where glass ceilings have been shattered in all walks of life. It’s one more reason why people are abandoning the Church. In today’s world of rapid social and technological change, you need to come up with better a reason than “we’ve always done it this way.” Personally, I think admitting women to the priesthood would not only serve the ends of justice and equality, but it would bring a greater diversity of clerical perspective to a church that is all too often seen as participating in the so-called “war on women.” Would the horrible priestly sexual abuse scandals have pervaded the Church if women were part of the clergy?

  • kristinajohannes

    Christ set the form and matter of each sacrament and the Chruch is not able to change them. For example, I live in Alaska where it’s cold a lot of the time. Could the Church, recognizing this fact, decide to baptize with sand rather than water? No, the matter of the sacrament is water and without that action of pouring the water, baptism does not occur. The same holds true for the priesthood, which is the sacrament of Holy Orders. The Church has no power to change what Christ established in this matter about the maleness of of the priest and if She did She would only be depriving others of the sacraments such as the Holy Eucharist since women can not be validly ordained and any woman masquerading as priests would not be able to truly engage in sacramental ministry. Now that would be a tremendous injustice!

    I can understand a woman wanting to be a priest because it is such a beautiful thing to bring the sacraments to a person but no woman would want to deprive a person of those same sacraments. I wish this issue were more understood.

    There is no institution which over time has done more for the status of women than the Catholic Church established by Jesus Christ.

  • Grump

    What’s the problem? Just become an Episcopalian. Even the Jews make women rabbis. Plenty of other choices besides Catholicism.

  • DS

    The Church has unintentionally contributed to the confusion as the role of women has changed in society and the Church.

    The traditional view was that women were servile – not slaves, but justly subject to men in all spheres because of their nature (see Aquinas, for example). This was true in both Church and society.

    The Church itself long ago moved beyond this view of women’s nature: it now has female seminary theologians, hospital CEOs, parish administrators, Vatican ambassadors, Eucharistic ministers, etc. The Church ought to be rightly proud of this and trumpet it to the world.

    In this context, pointing to Christ and his male Apostles as the primary argument against female ordination naturally gives rise to questions among the faithful. It is no longer a simple argument that “women by their nature cannot be Church leaders,” because the Church now embraces many forms of female leadership. It has become a much narrower argument about why women by their nature cannot perform specific Sacramental duties, which did not exist in the current form at the time of the Apostles.

    One idea that a Pope ought to consider: open the College of Cardinals to a number of qualified (obviously non-ordained) women and allow them to vote for future Popes. The College has had non-ordained members in its history, so there is precedent. The priesthood and by extension the Papacy would remain all male.

  • athanasius

    1. Thank you for affirming my decision of long ago not to subscribe to the NCR.

    2. William, did you not read the article? The reasons are in there, and they go beyond, “because we’ve always done it that way.”

    3. Ultimately, this issue, and Protestantism itself, are manifestations of pride. It is wanting God on our terms instead of his. And, as pointed out, if we can ignore the magisterium on this point, then on what grounds do we not ignore it on other points? Catholicism is wonderfully coherent, and it all has to hang together or none of it does. If you lose the magisterium, then you have fractured Protestantism where everyone has his own truth. No, I will take God’s truth. I have thought some pretty stupid things in my life and I have been glad to be set straight by the Church.

    4. Finally, a true understanding of vocation and the Theology of the Body would clear a lot of nonsense in the West these days. We are just as stubborn of a people as were the Israelites after Moses led them out of Egypt.

  • Stephen White

    @William Manley: you are no doubt correct that many Catholics today don’t grasp the Church’s teaching on the nature of the priesthood, but that is hardly reason to turn our backs on the truth. And surely you can distinguish between sacred Tradition and “we’ve always done it this way.”

  • William Manley

    Stephen, no I honestly can’t distinguish between sacred Tradition and “we’ve always done it this way” when it comes to an issue regarding the way the role of women and the perception of their value has changed so drastically over 2000 years. The Bible often talks about slaves and masters (read Paul among others) and yet the Church no longer tolerates slavery. Please explain why the Church’s exclusion of women from the priesthood can’t evolve in a like manner. Thanks. I welcome the dialog. It’s a refreshing alternative to those who talk about the chaff and the wheat and to those who suggest I leave the church I love simply because I question hierarchical authority. What has happened to charity and love in honest disagreement? Why does it have to be replaced by self-righteousness and name calling? Whether I believe parts of it to be right or wrong I abide by my church’s magesterium. That’s a matter of faith. However, I attended a Catholic college and always enjoyed the give and take of my theology classes. There was an openness in dialog that I often find lacking in this website. Thanks again for taking me seriously, Stephen.

  • Ernest Miller

    Kristina said it best. If ordaining women breaks the link to the Vicar of Christ and thus Communion is not valid, that is indeed the greatest injustice to the faithful.

    The bible explains that Satan tempted Adam through Eve. Here we go again. Pride.

  • ChrisInVa

    Thank you, thank you. I posted a comment yesterday on the NC Reporter’s article and suggested that they were the true clericalists.

    They zapped it within ten minutes.

    And THEY advocate “diversity”!

  • Achilles

    Manfred, my brother in Christ, can you hear yourself? Of course the remnant is the remnant and the Church is much smaller than any cafeteria Catholic can imagine, but who separates the wheat from the chaff? Is it Manfred or Jesus? We are to avoid the occasions of sins, but good men like you, should they not be a lamp for others? Many are called and few are chosen, but if we are to imitate Christ, ought we not do everything we can to evangelize what you so easily condemn as “chaff”?

    Wasn’t it St. Thomas Aquinas who said “every human soul is worth intrinsically more than then the entire material universe.” ? So it occurs to me Manfred, that we ought to do all we can to evangelize those with the darkened minds, not write them off as chaff just yet. Is it not our Father’s will that all say yes to Him?

    You have made many good points Manfred, but they seemed to be poisoned by a condemnatory pessimism. You seem to emit your own clericalism. You strike me as a well catechized chicken little. I shudder to think that if the good man serving Christ that ushered me out of darkness had been as exacting as you. He would have only seen the chaff of my bad habits not the intrinsic wheat of my soul.

    I was not given the gift of being brought up in a Catholic home like you Manfred and seeing as how you have raised good Catholic children as is your duty, don’t forget, that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” I keep you in my prayers Manfred, please pray for me. Pax tibi, Achilles

  • Justin Kolodziej


    Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which seems pretty ex cathedra to me (i.e. infallible), says the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination to women.

    What is interesting, though, is that it repeatedly says “priestly ordination” not just “ordination”. Is there a crack left open for deaconesses?

  • Ib


    If you are NOT just a troll looking for a game of trollerball here at TCT, read the following two books and then come back and enter into the informed conversation here:

    Butler, Sara, MSBT. _The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church_. Hillenbrand Books, 2006.

    Ashley, Benedict, O.P. _Justice in the Church: Gender and Participation_. Catholic University of America Press, 1996.

    If you are seriously interested in becoming a knowledgable Roman Catholic, you will rush off to the library to get these two books and read them. The truth in them will guide you to a fuller understanding of the Roman Catholic teaching in this area, a teaching extending from the Holy Spirit.

    If your comments are disingenuous and you really ARE just a troll, you will ignore this sound advice and simply continue to grind your ideological axe here at TCT. But in that case all other readers of TCT will know you’re not a serious commenter and we can simply ignore you.

  • Achilles

    William, those who think they see things more clearly than Mother Church Herself and choose (heresy means to choose) their own ideas over those of the Doctrine, Dogma and Magisterium have essentially left Her. You use the word perception and on that one point you are correct. In Plato’s cave, as you are chained up at the bottom looking at the shadows the guardians put in front of you, you are commenting on appearances, not essences.

    Funny you should mention slavery. There is more real slavery in the world today than at any other time. Not so perceptible is the slavery institutionalized by the governments around the world. Vice is promoted as freedom and this freedom is only inverted slavery. We are slaves to our vices, as we are to our malformed ideas. When Jesus speaks of freedom he means precisely freedom from sin. My deepest desire, as St. Paul expresses, is to be a slave to Christ, this is the only freedom worth having. Evolution is a misleading theory. Man’s nature has not evolved. Plato writing 24 centuries ago seems to know us better than we know ourselves.
    Your ideas are anti-Church and rooted in enlightenment and modernist philosophies that the universities trade on while squandering our moral capital amassed by our founding fathers. Women are women, always have been, men are men and always will be. If I serve my wife as a good man ought to and she serves me as she ought to we are integrated and our children are edified. If I serve myself and my wife serves herself we disintegrate and our children are the poorer for it. Look at the world today William, things are not getting better, they are free falling from the self-interested disintegration that follows identity politics. This is not Catholic.

    William, without the Hierarchy, there is no Church.

  • Maggie-Louise

    Dear William M.,

    ” Please explain why the Church’s exclusion of women from the priesthood can’t evolve in a like manner. ”

    Truth doesn’t evolve. Truth is.

    “because I question hierarchical authority.”

    We’re not talking about hierarchical authority. We are talking about Divine Authority. And why, in matters of faith and morals, would you question hierarchical authority?

    “”and always enjoyed the give and take of my theology classes.”

    Give and take are great fun when there is a reason for legitimate discussion and differing points of view. But Truth is truth, where is there room for give and take in that?

    “Whether I believe parts of it to be right or wrong I abide by my church’s magesterium. That’s a matter of faith.”

    There is also a matter of intellectual obedience. When one has a doubt about a matter of Truth in church teaching, it’s best to lay it aside, knowing that, at some point, it will be resolved in your mind and heart by the Holy Spirit. Playing with it and tossing it around in your mind like a mental toy is playing with temptation and the tempter. Sooner or later, you will lose.

    If I can inject a note of levity: A woman priest saying it gives a whole new meaning to “This is my body”. There would be snickers all over the the church, I’m afraid.

  • Ib


    Well, I never thought to write this this, but I agree pretty much with Manfred here. I know sometimes he seems to belong to the “Church of Manfred” rather than the Roman Catholic Church, especially when he substitutes his own opinions for the official theology or canon law of Rome.

    But here he is right. Why? Well, it’s not because he is saying that other souls aren’t important, as you seem to think he is saying. If it were that, his comments would simply be kooky. Indeed if I read him right it is precisely to help save souls that he wants to separate the wheat from the chaff. How’s that?

    Right now we live in a time when about half the people baptized as Roman Catholics do not take their faith seriously. Yet there is no doubt they continue to believe that they are “good enough” people and are okay with God. To use language that they wouldn’t use, they believe they are in a state of grace. They may be pro-abortion, argue in favor of “letting gays marry”, dissent from the Church’s teaching on the Sacraments, profane the Sabbath, etc., but they really believe they are in good with God. A person thinking this way will never be in a position to repent. Although a protestant, C.S. Lewis captured this kind of “good enough” Christian in the Screwtape Letters, noting that this was precisely the position into which the demons wanted to push Christians.

    Where confusion about the authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church abounds, losing one’s soul while thinking it is saved is a very large and dangerous possibility. Where clarity and discipline concerning the authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is made to occur, those who have been living in self-deception about being faithful Roman Catholics will have a chance to realize they’ve not been truthful to themselves, and it will provide a chance to repent. Then salvation will have a chance to come to their souls. Of course, they could denounce their baptism at that point and leave the Roman Catholic Church, but that itself could lead to a future chance for repentance.

    Confusion and its concomitant self-deception are the biggest danger for those baptised into the Roman Catholic Church here in the U.S. By clearing up the confusion and tightening Church discipline, many who genuinely– but mistakenly — believe that they are among the wheat, may realize that they are really chaff, and turn to repent.

    Thus Manfred’s advice would help to save the souls of many who will otherwise be lost.

  • Hart

    Good Read: WHY WOMEN CAN’T BE PRIESTS by Mary DeTurris, which can be found at the EWTN site.

  • Stephen

    @lb Good points you have to look no further than 1 Corinthians 5 to agree with Manfred

    “. Do you not realise that only a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?

    7. Throw out the old yeast so that you can be the fresh dough, unleavened as you are. For our Passover has been sacrificed, that is, Christ;

    8. let us keep the feast, then, with none of the old yeast and no leavening of evil and wickedness, but only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

  • poverello

    Beautifully written, Mr. White. You provide clarity about an unfortunate viewpoint (the NCR embrace of women’s ordination) so full of relativistic smoke. Thanks.

  • Achilles

    Thank you IB for the kind and insightful words. I hope that you are right about your interpretations of Manfred’s words, I would very much like that to be the case. However, there is a similar danger of pride and self-deceit amongst the traddies. There is a serious need for a recovery of words that say what things truly are and the truth is hard in these very dark times. Certainly salvation requires our full assent to the complete Doctrine and Dogma of Mother Church.

    If I have unjustly maligned Manfred I humbly beg apology. However, I am not totally convinced of Manfred’s kookylessness.

    I always enjoy reading your comments IB and only rarely do I find myself in disagreement. Thank you again for some much needed guidance. Pax Christi tecum, Achilles

  • Graham Combs

    Mother Angelica understood implicitly what women’s ordination was about. “It’s about power.” Hence the pose of loyalty to the Catholic Church by feminists. By the way, has anyone ever had a problem finding a parking space outside an Episcopal Church lately? Better to reign over the few than serve the many.

  • Diego

    I was recently debating this issue with somebody who said “Jesus only had Jewish males as his Apostles even though he regularly ministered to Gentiles and could have easily invited one or more to the Upper Room. Yet the early Church believed it had the authority to break with Jesus’ example and ordain Gentiles.”

    I was at a loss how to respond. Any suggestions?

  • Manfred

    Thanks to the commenters for their comments on my comment today and in the past. To understand Manfred’s position(s) one must understand that whenever he would appear in person to question his childrens’ “catholic” textbooks (with a bishop!), a liturgy, a course on human sexuality which would include perversions which his 8th grade daughter was going to be forced to take (the compromise was the course was held at the very end of the school year so my daughter just never appeared in school the last two days-she graduated first in her class, BTW), this comment ALWAYS followed: Manfred, you are the only parent,(parishioner, club member, etc.) who has objected to this (item). No one else has! The “catholic” high school my children attended is closing due to lack of students, the Christian Brothers and the Sisters are gone. My comment today comes from the parable of the wheat and the tares. At the harvest (the end of the world) the wheat (those saved) would be brought into the landlord’s barns (Heaven), while the tares/chaff would be bound into bundles and cast into the fire(Hell). The tares/chaff cannot wait for the end of the world-they are separating themselves now. This removes their destructive influence on the wheat which is often weak and can be led astray. Thank you for your patience with me.

  • Mack

    Those poor, sad women, sacrificing Truth for a Fisher-Price Play Church. May God have mercy on us all.

  • Elizabeth

    Frank, you asked for an explanation of why a woman would want to be a priest. Well, first of all, the level of “work” is a breeze compared to that of a mother/wife–especially one who also works at a “real” job. But, that aside, I will preface this with the fact that I support the Catholic Church’s position on male-only ordination; I understand the theology, the politics, and the tradition. But I will also tell you that if women could have been ordained when I was in my 20s, I might well have gone to a seminary. As it is, I have been happily and productively married for 41 years, have wonderful children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren, have had a wonderful and rewarding career, and believe that there are many palpable reasons why God chose me for this role in life. Remember, as we hear at every ordination, God calls and chooses; it is not we who choose but rather we who answer God’s call.

  • joaco

    That “EXIT” sign in the photo, fits the picture so much, doesn’t it??!!

  • Tony Esolen

    Diego: Yes; he expressly commanded that the disciples go forth and baptize all nations. He explicitly revealed to Peter that the Holy Spirit must be conferred upon Cornelius. The early Church clearly understood from the person and the mission of Jesus that the Gentiles were, so to speak, no longer Gentiles, but that they too were grafted upon the new stock. But it is clear to anybody with eyes that a man is not a woman and a woman is not a man. There the difference is not cultural but biological and ontological. Jesus could easily have commanded His followers to raise women to the status of presbyters. He did not. What would people have done to Him if He had — reject Him? Crucify Him? The dodge that the indifferentists have is then to demean Saint Paul, but that won’t fly. Paul was no misogynist; this is clear from the close relations he had with many Christian women. But then there’s also Saint Peter and his letters.

    The indifferentists pattern the Church after the artificial thing, the modern democratic or post-democratic state, valuing individual autonomy and almost limitless choice, without regard to the common good. The true Church, by contrast, is patterned after a natural thing, the family, and is not patterned but is revealed indeed to be a body, the mystical body of Christ. And a body by its very nature cannot be equalitarian or indifferentist; every part is FOR every other part and for the whole.

    In all these discussions about WO, I never hear the other side suggest that WO will conquer the world for Christ. The sneaky little secret is that they don’t want to do that, either. If I say, “These others over here are doing what you’re doing, and they have lost all the young men, and are fast losing the young women too, and are culturally irrelevant,” they shrug. They don’t care.

    We’ve already ingested too much of the poison. Jesus calls only men to a particular kind of humbling; that is His prerogative. I have not been called to that. These women are not saying, “It’s not fair for you alone to be shouldering that heavy burden, let us help!” That I could understand; but then if they were denied, they’d try most cheerfully to do what they could to lighten the load of the priests. Instead they aggravate them with acts of sabotage and disobedience.

  • Patrick

    See the exit sign over the Priest’s left hand shoulder in the articles photo. Perfectly placed there by the Holy Spirit!

  • Achilles

    IB, Manfred explains the following:

    “The tares/chaff cannot wait for the end of the world-they are separating themselves now. This removes their destructive influence on the wheat which is often weak and can be led astray.”

    I don’t know IB, the grace of God or the wisdom of Manfred?

    On the surface, most of Manfred’s complaints are obvious, but his understanding of cause and effect is hard to defend.

    I am a new Catholic. My parish is very liberal. My wife and I went through catechist training poisoned by modernism, we went to a congress with thousands of diocesan teachers and they peached conscience, contraception, liberation theology, historical critical method amongst other heresies. I wrote a 3 page letter to my bishop. My situation cannot be unique, as Manfred often laments. Also I am one of 2 parents who would not allow my 12 year old to attend a pre-sex ed orientation. This is how it is. What are we to do? Where are we to go? Does God really want us to separate ourselves from “chaff”? Or are we to scream Orthodoxy from the rooftops?

    I really don’t know what to think on this one IB.
    Certainly there are many who think they are saved while clinging to heresy. This is a difficult thing. I prefer the hard words of St. Alphonsus, or St. Francis de Sales, or St. John Vianney, or the Imitation of Christ, they make much more soul sense than the words of Manfred.

  • Diego

    Mr. Esolen, thanks for your reply. I don’t think the account of Cornelius answers my question. I did some research last night and read Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The document references the Apostles as being the basis for the priesthood and Cornelius was not an Apostle. His conversion is not about the priesthood but about opening the gates of Christianity to Gentiles.

  • Ib

    @achilles & Manfred

    First of all let me say that I did not intend to cause any animosity by my comments. So I apologize if they caused anger as a response. They were merely meant to explore why I thought Manfred’s curt comments had a positive pastoral turn with good consequences for the salvation of souls. I did not mean to detract from Achilles (he has the invincible skin after all), but to provide a way of looking at Manfred’s comments that would show their positive dimension. Indeed, we need to hear more form the both of you!

    About 20 years ago I was talking with His Eminence Cardinal Stafford and said much the same to him about the need for clarity and the perniciousness of confusion in the Roman Catholic Church. We both had tremendous hopes. For the Papacy of John Paul II, hopes that for the most part were confirmed by the Pope’s courageous acts and writings. But I was a naive young cleric at the time and thought that in the wake of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the discrediting of Communism in Europe and Russia, there had been a turn in human events (and possibily hearts) and now we could foresee a return to faithful Roman Catholicism.

    But this didn’t happen. What I had thought were mere changeable customs and reformable approaches turned out to be anchored deeply in the ruined, sinful nature of humanity. There can be no human “turn of events” that heals this fatal injury. Only God’s divine action in the second person of the Trinity heals this, and then only completely in the fullness of time. NOT in the here and now. So in some ways what we are doing in the here and now is always a rear-guard action. We fail and fail again, but we never stop. It’s okay that we are only able to mount an anabasis (cf. Xenophon; this comments for you Achilles), because we know that the decisive contest has already been won and God is waiting for us on the further shore with the victory in hand.

    So God be with you both and bless your families as they fight the good fight here on this earth. Take heart from the courage of Jesus as he faced the Cross

  • Paul

    So many errors are revieled in the photo besides the heritics. The use of crystal instead of proper chalices, a round “card table” for an alter, alter linens with printed flower patterns…all signs of wrongness. And yes, the “EXIT” sign with the little arrow pointing to the right…toward the cross…truly the Holy Spirit reminding us to return to Christ and His Church.

  • Achilles

    Dear IB, Again thank you for your gracious comments. I, for my part, have no animosity towards Manfred, to the contrary, my heart goes out to him. I am sure I come off worse than I intend, my ability to articulate is still outweighed by old habits of flawed thinking. A few years ago I learned about the traditional movement and I was very attracted to it. I read open letter to Catholics by Lafebre and it started frantic debate I was not capable of resolving. I am still trying to sort out the final details. I love many things about the traddies though I understand the fatal flaws now. Manfred will not return my comments and I don’t blame him, we are not in the same league, he being so seasoned and me being so green, I can imagine my comments pester him. But I thank you for trying to clarify in his stead.

    It has been wonderful to visit this forum everyday and contemplate its themes. I am edified by many who post here, and provoked by others. TCT is a great gift and some of the writers like Schall and Esolen are especially enriching. I hope Manfred does not take too much offense at my inquisitive prodding- There is so much I don’t exactly understand. Though I am not armed like him, I am just as eager to see God face to face.

    As Msgr. Ronald Knox said “we are here to colonize heaven, not make things better on earth.”

    IB, you are a kind and generous soul, thanks again! Anabasis indeed brother, I have nowhere to go but up! Achilles

  • Brian

    Those who advocate women’s ordination are guilty of a deeper inconsistency. As stated above, the NCR believes that the priesthood is primarily about power, and that ordaining women will distribute that power more equally within the Church.
    However, ths claim denies one of the most vital powers granted by Christ to the hierarchy: magisterial authority. The priesthood that those who favor women’s ordination speak of isn’t the priesthood of Jesus Christ. It is a watered-down novelty ironically bereft of authority.

  • Ib


    The objection raised by your interlocutor is an old canard about the Sacrament of Orders that has been floating around since the mid-seventies. It has been answered in lengthy detail many times. Prof. Esolen gamely tilts at it anew, but because of the historical complexity of how the mission to the Gentiles arose from the original mtission of Jesus, he can only give a truncated answer in a comment. Read the two books I referenced earlier in this comment list and you will have some details on why this objection has little traction theologically.

    One of the reasons this old canard doesn’t die is because of the rhetorical form of its argument. It seems to find a parallel between two historical realities, assert that they are equal in all relevant ways, and then invoke an Aristotelian notion of justice to demand equal treatment. Recall that Aristotle defined justice as treating equals as equal and unequals as unequal.

    The logical form of the argument is like so,

    Event A happened
    Event B did not happen
    Event A and Event B are equals

    By Aristotle’s Principle of Justice, Event A and Event B should be treated as equals.

    The critical piece of the argument is in showing the third premise. Are Event A and Event B equal in all relevant ways? In every case but one known to me, there is no rigorous attempt by proponents of changing the Roman Catholic Church’s Sacrament of Orders to establish the third premise. Instead it is simply assumed to be true on the basis of Modernity’s capitalist-market approach to equality among men and women workers. That a modernist ideology of capital markets (which requires wage workers be equal for efficiency reasons), might not apply to the Divine guidance of the Holy Spirit in theological truth for over more than two millennium throughout the history of the Roman Catholic Church, makes an unbeatable riposte to the old canard.

    Unfortunately, it requires some sophistication to understand this riposte, as it takes some sophistication to understand theological matters in general. And most people won’t take the time to study the Church’s positions on anything these days. Most academic theologians are a different case. They play obtuse for professional reasons. They “gotta protect their phoney-baloney jobs,” to quote Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles.

  • TeaPot562

    Jesus could have ordained St. Mary Magdalen if He intended women to be priests. In the First Century, only Judaism was limited to only male priests. Other religions had priestesses. Why did Jesus not ordain women? We don’t know.
    St. Mary Magdalen was the first to see the resurrected Jesus, and carried the news to the Eleven. Thus she is sometimes called “the apostle to the Apostles”.
    What gives 21st Century Christians the right to change something that Jesus established?

  • Lamp of Truth

    The reason the Protestants want to Protestantize the Roman Catholic Church is the lust for Earthly power. Examples? How many countries have formal diplomatic relations with, say, the Anglican Church? the Jewish Church? Buddhists? Anyone? Bueller? How many have their own military? Huh? How many religious leaders can get an audience with a head of state that is more than a photo op?
    Only the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Father have that respect. Giving the heretics what they would want would destroy that respect leaving them with ashes.
    Do they ever learn?

  • Diego

    Ib, Respectfully, your lengthy lesson in rhetoric and logic completely skirts the question, asked in good faith.

  • Kell Brigan

    Actually, Catherine of Siena was quite unhappy with the degree of influence the laity and religious had on the Church.

    Would you be in favor of the restoration of the female Deaconate? How about opening the College of Cardinals, again, to women and the laity? How about the recognition/establishment of higher-level roles for women (and women only) in the Church? Why isn’t there a female, marian religious who works directly with the Pope in an official (as opposed to the unofficial advisers around now) capacity. Part of Her _____’s job would specifically include looking out for the welfare and civil rights of women and girls.

    How about ANYTHING to keep the Vatican from remaining an unhealthy, inhuman, boys-only clubhouse?