From INTER INSIGNIORES:
(The hyper-linked comments in italics are by John Wijngaards)
It is sometimes said and written in books and periodicals that some women feel that they have a vocation to the priesthood. Such an attraction, however noble and understandable, still does not suffice for a genuine vocation. In fact a vocation cannot be reduced to a mere personal attraction, which can remain purely subjective. Since the priesthood is a particular ministry of which the Church has received the charge and the control, authentication by the Church is indispensable here and is a constitutive part of the vocation: Christ chose those he wanted (Mk 3:13). On the other hand, there is a universal vocation of all the baptized to the exercise of the royal priesthood by offering their lives to God and by giving witness for his praise.
Women who express a desire for the ministerial priesthood are doubtless motivated by the desire to serve Christ and the Church. And it is not surprising that, at a time when they are becoming more aware of the discriminations to which they have been subjected, they should desire the ministerial priesthood itself. But it must not be forgotten that the priesthood does not form part of the rights of the individual, but stems from the economy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The priestly office cannot become the goal of social advancement; no merely human progress of society or of the individual can of itself give access to it: it is of another order.
It therefore remains for us to meditate more deeply on the nature of the real equality of the baptized which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity: equality is in no way identity, for the Church is a differentiated body, in which each individual has his or her role. The roles are distinct, and must not be confused; they do not favour the superiority of some vis-a-vis the others, nor do they provide an excuse for jealousy; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (cf. 1 Cor. 12-13). The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints.
For the full text, see: INTER INSIGNIORES.
From the Commentary by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Declaration Inter Insigniores:
A vocation within the Church does not consist solely or primarily in the fact that one manifests the desire for a mission or feels attracted by an inner compulsion. Even if this spontaneous step is made and even if one believes one has heard as it were a call in the depths of ones soul, the vocation is authentic only from the moment that it is authenticated by the external call of the Church. The Holv Office recalled this truth in its 1912 letter to the bishop of Aire to put an end to the Lahitton controversy.(53) Christ chose those he wanted (Mk 3:13).
Since the ministerial priesthood is something to which the Lord calls expressly and gratuitously, it cannot be claimed as a right, any more by men than by women. Archbishop Bernardins declaration of October 1975 contained the sound judgment: It would be a mistake . . . to reduce the question of the ordination of women to one of injustice, as is done at times. It would be correct to do this only if ordination were a God-given right of every individual; only if somehow ones human potential could not be fulfilied without it. In fact, however, no one, male or female, can claim a right to ordination. And, since the episcopal and priestly office is basically a ministry of service, ordination in no way completes ones humanity.(54)
For the full text, see: Official Commentary on INTER INSIGNIORES.
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