Why can’t women be ordained priests within the Catholic Church?

Full Question

Why can’t women be ordained priests within the Catholic Church?


The Church does not have the authority to ordain women. In his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II declared “that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women” (4).

Some of the reasons cited include:

  1. The example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his apostles only from among men
  2. The constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men
  3. The Church’s living teaching authority has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.


  1. Renee Reply

    I do not at this point agree with women being priests; however the reasoning listed are not sufficient. In Jesus time, what as the role of women? History can change. (Has no ben, thus will never be)? Someone told me a really good reason once but I do not remember it at this time. Will write it when think of it.

    1. Jill Tomlin Reply

      I thought the reason was that at the Concercration the priest becomes one with Jesus and Jesus was a man.

  2. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Funny how no women were involved in any of those decisions…

  3. Hazel Armstrong Reply

    What was the sex of the first person to tell others of the resurrection of Christ?

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Male. LOL. The first to speak of Jesus’ resurrection was probably Cephas or Paul, who both learned of this resurrection through revelation. The author of Mark later turned a celestial god, Jesus, into a (invented) real person by inventing a birth, baptism, disciples, ministry, sermons, miracles – none of which Paul knew anything about. Paul did not know of a real person, and he was the first writer – in the 50s. The author of Mark, around 70 AD appears to have invented the character of Jesus and Matthew and Luke embellished from there.
      However since you probably won’t accept the idea that Jesus was a mythical person, then let’s turn to the first gospel, and the author of Mark. Scholars universally agree that Mark was the first gospel written around 70 AD. That author, says the first person to tell anyone that Jesus had risen was a young man:
      5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.”

      I like that part at the end about how they said nothing to anyone, yet somehow we know the story!

      1. James Russell Reply

        In Galatians 1:18-19 St. Paul describes meeting “James, the brother of the Lord.” Strange for a celestial being to have a flesh and blood brother St. Paul might meet. St. Paul also repeatedly emphasizes the death by crucifixion of Jesus and his physical resurrection, e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 15.

        If you put such great stock in the work of secular scholars you should know that the overwhelming consensus of secular scholars is that the “Jesus Myth” theory is ridiculous nonsense.

        1. Patrick Gannon Reply

          Are you a Catholic, James? If so, then you know that from a Catholic perspective, Jesus had no brothers or sisters because his mother was a perpetual virgin. (Nonsense if you ask me, but that’s what the RCC teaches). So if you are a Catholic, you can’t argue that point. If you are a Protestant, then you can argue that Jesus had brothers and sisters and that this passage refers to a brother. A number of scholars, however would disagree with you, and say that “brother of the lord” was an expression that Paul used to refer to believers, to followers of Jesus, in the same way he refers elsewhere to “brethren of the lord,” to refer to followers. It’s hard to imagine that Paul wouldn’t make the most of having a “real” brother of a “real” Jesus to refer to as a “real” source for his information, making this point crystal clear to those he was trying to convince; but Paul’s information about Jesus does not come from other people, and he is insistent on this. When taken in context with the rest of Paul’s letters, it seems evident that Paul is not speaking of a real flesh and blood, Jesus.
          1Cor 1:23 “23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,” There is nothing in that passage to indicate a terrestrial crucifixion. There are no details at all.
          1 Cor 15 does not include the word “crucifixion;” it just says he died, and it does not indicate whether this death was on this earth or in the firmament. The evidence for the resurrection is not from any person but only “according to the scriptures.”
          Paul knows nothing of Jesus, except what he received by revelation, and “according to the scriptures.”
          While it is true that a decade ago, scholars leaned towards a historical Jesus, that trend is changing. Back when I was a kid, the Exodus was taught as history, but starting in the 70’s we began to realize that the story was not supported by real history and certainly not by archaeology. In the scholastic community, it is well recognized that Moses is a mythical figure today. With regard to the mythicism of Jesus – we’re basically at the same place scholars were in the 70s with regard to Moses. I predict that a couple decades from now, it will be well accepted in scholarly circles that Jesus was a mythical person.
          The best evidence is probably Richard Carrier’s “On the Historicity of Jesus,” a peer-reviewed report of the available evidence; and some of the most damning evidence for Jesus being a myth comes from the NT itself. While I reached a point, after I read the bible, that I realized Jesus was not a god, I still thought he was a real person, who was turned into a myth by the early Church, but after looking at all the evidence, it seems he was a myth, who was made into a person. The odds are slim that Jesus was a real person according to the Bayesian methodology Carrier uses to gauge the likelihood that Jesus was mythological vs historical, and Carrier constantly gives historicity the benefit of the doubt. Do yourself a favor and read his book – it’s what you’re up against.

          1. C-O

            Are you completely and utterly insane? Archaeology and history actually PROVE that a majority of the bible, in terms of locations, events and people, is true. Richard Carrier is one of the biggest blowhard atheists that exists right now. The fact that you actually recommend his book is mind-blowing! He doesn’t do in-depth scholarly, historical or theological research. He picks out bits and pieces that honor his way of thinking and has been called out for many times.

            What really bothers me about your statements is that you seem to understand very little about the bible verses you quoted. You don’t look at things from a theological, historical or scholarly point of view, and you seem to only present your opinion as opposed to facts. Yes, it was a terrestrial crucifixion. And no, it wasn’t just Paul that said this.

            Also, your childhood in the seventies has no place in this conversation. Explain why 50 places, people and events that were once seen as biblical myths have been outed as real historical events dues to archaeology? And why people, secularists like Carrier, swept this evidence under the rug? The bible is the most historically accurate holy book and was treated as such in order to test it as a divine inspiration.

            And there is no evidence that the church created Jesus. Jesus was in existence long before churches existed. It’s a debunked myth already so why would you say that?

            Do me and yourself a favor. If your going to come on a Catholic site and spout anti-God garbage with no facts, archaeological support, historical research, scholarly research, or theological research, take a step back and really rethink it. Because you’re not an intellectual nor an expert.

          2. Patrick Gannon

            Have you read Carrier’s book yourself, or are you merely parroting what fundies told you about it?

  4. Judie Reply

    My understanding calling relatives of Jesus “brothers” actually means cousins- translation through the various languages can’t specify. Also, Jesus chose 12 men as Apostles and since Jesus is the Bridegroom, during the consecration of the Mass the priest, standing in as Christ, must be male. We, the Church, are the Bride.

  5. C-O Reply

    The real reason not listed is because Priests are the living representation of Christ on earth. Since Jesus was a man, it means a priest must be a male. But Jesus gave women an important role in the church in the form of nuns, sisters and (not ordained) deaconesses. I’m getting mighty sick and tired of people asking why women can’t be priests. That’s a stupid question. Why aren’t people equally outraged that men can’t be nuns or sisters?

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Why aren’t people equally outraged that men can’t be nuns or sisters? The RCC with its manic obsession over sex would have a real problem with that! The simple answer of course is Bronze and Iron Age sexism. Paul had no problem with women taking on leadership roles in church. There were no priests at his time, of course, but it seems pretty clear that he would not have supported the sexist bigotry of the RCC.

  6. Mara Reply

    I’m sorry, but these answers aren’t good enough. All of the reasons cited are different wording of “because it says so”. Wherever you stand on this, you have to agree that argument would not fly in any high school term paper or anything for that matter.

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