Ordaining Women Is Disrespectful
Says Promotion of Female Priests Overemphasizes Masculinity
ROME, MAY 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Those who
want to ordain women to the priesthood manifest a failure to recognize the
dignity of women, said an expert in moral theology and women’s issues.
Pia de Solenni asserted this during her April 27 conference at the Pontifical
University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
De Solenni won the Pontifical Prize of the Academies in 2001, receiving an
award from John Paul II for her doctoral thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas. She is
the director of Life and Women’s Issues at the Family Research Council in
At the conference, de Solenni used St. Thomas’ arguments to analyze the issue
of the ordination of women to the priesthood in light of the natural
complementarity between the sexes.
St. Thomas taught that woman was not created from man’s head in order to rule
over him, nor from his foot to be ruled by him, but from his side in order to
rule with him, she explained.
The 1994 Vatican document "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" concentrates on
three basic points, de Solenni explained: "Christ, in ordaining only men,
acted freely without constraints by cultural norms; nonadmission to the
priesthood is not a sign of lesser dignity; the Church does not have the faculty
to ordain women."
De Solenni illustrated the first point saying that many claim Christ ordained
only men because of the cultural norms of his day. Since the role of women has
changed, some say the Church should also adapt and allow women to be ordained to
the priesthood, she said.
De Solenni contended, however, that the Gospels show how Christ often broke
with the cultural norms of his day: In fact, it was to the Samaritan woman at
the well that he revealed himself clearly as the Messiah — to her as to no
other, she said.
"Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" points out that the non-admission of women to
the priesthood does not signify a lesser dignity. The entire history of the
Church, said de Solenni, "witnesses to the presence and active
participation of women."
"It was the consent, understanding and devotion of a woman that brought
the Church to us," and the fact that the Virgin Mary was not chosen by her
son to be a priest "indicates that the sacrament does not discriminate on
the basis of dignity or merit," de Solenni explained.
De Solenni reiterated a point from "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" which
says the question of women’s vocations should not be confined to ordination.
"Woman will never be the bridegroom, in any form. The temptation to
force upon women a masculine paradigm arises from our confused notions of power
and authority which, in turn, devalue her vocation as a bride, clearly
illustrated by Mary," de Solenni said.
Ordaining a woman, she said, "would be, in essence, to show complete
disregard for the reality she is as a woman, as a bride."
Masculine vs. feminine
De Solenni asserted: "The promotion of ordaining women to the
priesthood is a sign of misunderstanding and even disrespect for the dignity of
The fact that "the significance of the feminine identity is so largely
misunderstood or even disregarded, indicates that our very notion of Church is
in peril, has lost personality. She has become an ‘it,’ a mere institution,
rather than a living being," de Solenni added.
The discussion of ordaining women to the priesthood has been a sort of
"overemphasis of the masculine," she said.
"No doubt," continued de Solenni, "women need a voice in the
Church, but it must be an authentic voice and not their voice made to sound like
Women, she stated, have a unique role in the Church and in society and that
role should not be forced into masculine paradigms. "To do so," she
said, "runs the risk of losing what is truly feminine — not the femininity
of fashion, but the varied femininity of women saints, whose personalities and
strengths span just as far as those of men saints … if not more."