On the Male-Only Priesthood

In the provocative Priesthood and the Masculinity of Christ, R. Mary Hayden Lemmons argues the following point:

The refusal of the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests has left many feeling that the Church considers women to be inferior to men. They have difficulty reconciling the Church’s proclamations of sexual equality with the 1994 papal argument of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. In that document, John Paul II reaffirmed the 1977 teaching of Inter Insigniores and proclaims that the Church lacks the authority to ordain women, since Christ did not appoint women as apostles and since the historical tradition has restricted priestly ordination to men.

These papal arguments have not been very persuasive due to the common conviction that equality requires gender neutrality–even within the ministries of Christ. If this were so, masculinity would be irrelevant for the mission of Christ. But this is not true. The masculinity of Christ is crucial to his mission of remedying the effects of original sin.

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