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>The Standard Argument against Women Priests

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The Standard Argument against Women Priests

From De Sacramento Ordinis, by Francesco P. Solá SJ, 1956

For many centuries it was taken for granted by many Catholic theologians that it is Scripture itself that authoritatively rules out the sacramental ministry of women. “Only a male person can validly receive sacred ordination” (Canon Law 968, 1). A woman is incapable (“incapax”) of receiving the sacrament of the holy orders. This was classified as “doctrina de fide catholica” (for instance by F. Solá) or at least as “opinio certa et communis” (by Donlan and Macaliffe).

F. SOLÁ, De Sacramentis Ordinis et Matrimonii, no. 121; in Sacrae Theologiae Summa, vol. IV, Madrid 1956, pg. 701. 27. T.C. DONLAN et al, Christ and His Sacraments, Dubuque 1960, pgs. 491-492. C. MACALIFFE., Sacramental Theology, Herder St. Louis 1991, pg. 370.

Arguments given by Solá:

From Scripture:

After quoting 1 Cor 14,34-35 and 1 Tim 2,11-12, Solá says: "If Paul by divine right (for he acts as an apostle in the name of Christ) does not even allow woman to ask a question to learn something, and the apostle wants her to be subject in everything, how much less would he permit her to offer a sacrifice which presupposes presiding, teaching, and-so-on." The argumentation derives from the Apostolic Constitutions.

From Tradition::

Solá states: "The whole of Catholic tradition supports this, because those who had the opposite view were considered heretics."

He then quotes three groups of heretics condemned by Fathers of the Church:

  1. A sect of Montanists, called "Pepuzians" (a name derived from the town Pepuza in Phrygia). "They have women as priests and bishops, and in other functions, in order to abolish any discrimination of sex. For in Christ is neither male nor female (Gal 3,28). "
  2. The socalled Marconians. Irenaeus says that their leader, Marcus Magnus, had deceived some women into believing they could sacrifice the Eucharist.
  3. The "Collyridians" in Armenia whose women celebrated Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Irenaeus makes the first mention of these sects in Adversus Haereses 1,13,2; Migne Latinum 7,579. Others quote him: Epiphanius, in Haereses 49,2-3; Migne Graecum 41,882; Augustine, De Haeresibus, no 23; Migne Latinum 42,30; Ambrosiaster Commentarium in Epistolam 1 Tim 3,1; Migne Latinum 17,470.

Solá claims that this proves Catholic Tradition rejected women's ordination, without a proper study of the texts themselves.

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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