Saturday evening, before Mass, the genial parishioner who often serves that Mass asked me about a women he'd heard about, from Deer Park, who had been "ordained a priest."
"Is she really a priest?"
"No. She can no more become a priest than I can give birth."
"If she came here, could she offer Mass here?"
I explained that Pope Saint John Paul II defined the matter infallibly in his 1994 apostolic letter regarding ordination. Then we started Holy Mass.
Now, of course, there are those in my parish who will disagree with this teaching. Surveys say lots of Catholics do, and I don't see any point in disputing those claims; because survey results don't dictate truth. Lots of people don't accept the theory of evolution. Would a majority rejecting that theory make it not true?
The reason the Church teaches this is straightforward: we lack the authority to do it. Our Savior chose men as his apostles, and the apostles -- who remain the best interpreters of our Lord's teaching --chose only men as bishops, priests and deacons. This is not in serious dispute. (I say "serious" because those who advocate for ordaining women frequently rely on sad, even embarrassing claims of historical research to butress their claims. Remember, being able to get something published doesn't mean a whole lot.)
The other question that comes up is why--why did our Lord do it this way? And of course, that's not a question anyone can definitively answer. We can only offer surmises. But I think it actually is connected to the other burning issue of our time, the redefinition of marriage, and the deconstruction of all notions of sex and gender.
Our society increasingly is buying the notion that sex and gender are simply constructs, and the desire to reconstruct these "identities" should prevail. So that means, for example, that if at your neighborhood school, a child "decides" he is now a she, everyone must agree with this, and that boy-now-girl will use the girls washroom and locker room, play on the girls sports teams. Oh, you think I'm making this up? Just two weeks ago, the Department of Education said this very thing.
Ultimately, this is a primal rebellion. Against God. God created us as humans, "male and female he created them." And it was the serpent who told Adam and Eve, eat this fruit, and you shall be as gods.
Here's the common point: do we believe that God creating humanity male and female is something essential to the truth about us, or not? If yes -- and this is what the Catholic Church believes -- then it seems reasonable to say that there is something masculine about priesthood, something fatherly. Note that in the history of Israel, there were women political leaders, women prophets, but never women priests. It wasn't unheard of; on the contrary, there were women involved in priestly/cultic activities among the nations around the Jews. And it isn't as if the Jews didn't absorb lots of things from these other cultures and societies. They did.
Advocates for ordaining women will dig for some obscure figure, either in the history of the Church or in the Bible, and say, "see, a woman priest!" But the really telling fact is that there is one woman who stands out as being as truly priestly as any woman might be, and yet they never point to her: Mary, the mother of the Lord.
What human being, male or female, was more united to the heart and mission of Jesus than her?
As Archbishop Fulton Sheen pointed out, she is the one human being who could look at Jesus and say, "this is my body...this is my blood." And no one made a greater and more costly sacrifice than she. Abraham was prepared to offer Isaac, but he was spared that. Mary really was asked to sacrifice her son, and she was not spared that. And she was there, at Calvary, when the offering was made.
And yet, who claims Mary was a priest? No one; because there's nothing whatsoever to support it.
Tell me, does it demean Mary that she wasn't a priest? A bishop? Please explain how.
I'm sorry for Mrs. Paula Hoeffer, because by her sacrilegious action, she has excommunicated herself. And by all appearances, she doesn't even realize that. Further, she has given scandal; there are likely to be a number of people who will follow her bad example.
One interesting note. The WCPO story that I linked says that Mrs. Hoeffer didn't want anyone to know what Protestant church hosted this attempted ordination. Why would that be? Why wouldn't they be proud to host it? (I think I know what church it was, by the way, but I'm checking on that.)