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Why isn’t a sacrament when women become nuns, but it is when men are ordained priests?

Full Question

If a sacrament is an outward sign of grace, then why is the process of being ordained a sacrament for a priest but not a sacrament when women become nuns? How is this fair?


A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ. Jesus determines what a sacrament is and who will receive it. As for the priesthood, it is not comparable to religious life. In fact it’s not comparable to any other thing on the earth. It is a share in Christ’s priesthood which he himself established. No one is worthy of it. A Catholic priest actually ministers in the person of Christ. That Jesus ordained only men would be unfair if all human beings had a right to such an honor. The fact is, we don’t.

Religious life, on the other hand, is a way of living that is based on the evangelical counsels that Jesus preached. The vows of religious life represent the totality of human existence. We are all called to be chaste (both married and single), we are all called to obey lawful authority, and we are all called to be poor in spirit. Religious life accentuates these by going a step farther, thereby drawing attention to them. It acts as a beacon, reminding people that we all owe God the oblation of all that we are. Religious life is opened to men and women alike.



  1. Michelle Reply

    I actually have a question. Can a woman who was married and her spouse passed away, and her children are grown , become a nun?

    1. Philip Reply

      It would depend on the religious order? There are some that accept widows, and some that will only accept young, single women. Just like the priesthood there are some orders that want single, young men and others that accept late vocations.
      Your priest and/or sister will know which is which.

  2. Michael D. Chaney Reply

    I’m no expert on Catholicism; but in my knowledge & wisdom & education, the answer is YES. After all, I have a friend now who is a mother & I believe husband has passed away & she has children & is in a monastery right now, studying to become a nun. So, My educated experienced answer is YES.

  3. James Reply

    Hmmm, the focus on the feminine, but it is fair to Aldo comment that nether Brothers or Deacon are sacramental in nature, and Brothers role is same level as nuns , or it used to be.

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