Story wrong: No such thing as a female priest in the Catholic Church

The title in and of itself could not be more misleading, “Former nun to be ordained as first female Catholic priest in Georgia” (http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/10-14-2012/former-nun-be-ordained-fir...). Simply put, there are no female Catholic priests and there never will be.

Diane Dougherty’s quest to become a “priest” in the Catholic Church is a fantasy and nothing more than a show of complete disobedience and lack of charity to the Church she professes to care so much about.

It is amazing to me the complete disregard Ms. Dougherty demonstrates in her use of words towards the Church by making claims it is “sexist,” stating further, “it is killing the very heart of the Church.”

I was equally dismayed how Ben Nelms, The Citizen writer, failed to balance the article out with the truth regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church on this topic. Hopefully, I can bring a little balance to this issue.

First, the Catholic Church recognizes a difference between “doctrine” and “discipline.” For example, not having married priests is a “discipline” and the Church can change this practice at some point in time. However, it would be very unlikely, but that is a topic for another discussion.

The Church teaching on male-only priesthood is defined “doctrine” and can never be changed. Even if Pope Benedict XVI wanted to, he could not permit women to become priests. The Church is not the pope’s Church; it is Christ’s Church and no doctrine or dogma has ever been changed.

Jesus is the One who established the priesthood, and He is the One who called only men to be priests.

Some will argue Jesus did this only because of the prevailing customs of His time. However, this position does not hold water. In fact, Jesus freely broke with those customs in other instances, especially regarding women.

For example, He allowed women to be among His close followers, He addressed them in public, and He upheld their rights in marriage on the same terms as men. These are just a few examples, but completely contrary to the way women were treated when Christ walked here on earth.

Jesus, true God and true Man, could have included women when he commissioned the twelve (see Mt. 10:1-15), but he did not. The women who did follow Christ were at times more heroic and faithful then those called to be the original apostles. As does the Church, Christ held women is high esteem and respect as evidenced throughout scripture.

One way to understand the male-only priesthood is to reflect on why the Church is referred to in the “feminine.” The Church itself has always been considered feminine, especially since she is often referred to as the “bride of Christ.” (see Rev. 21:9).

Even the term “body of Christ” is linked to the femininity of the Church by St. Paul in the 5th Chapter of Ephesians. There the Church is the body of Christ because she is “one flesh” or “one body” with Christ, as the wife is one flesh or one body with her husband.

In relation to the male priesthood, the priest is the sacramental sign of Christ as the “Bridegroom” of the Church — an inherently male identity.

It is no accident that the Second Person of the Trinity became a male human being. His identity, in relation to God’s people, is masculine, and the people of God’s relation to Him is feminine.

Simply stated, the male priest in the Catholic Church stands in the person of Christ (in persona Christi, in Latin). He is the sacramental sign of Christ the Bridegroom (see Matt. 9:15; 25:1-12; John 3:27-30; Eph. 5) before the Church, His Bride (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 796).

It would not make any sense for a woman to try to fulfill this role, anymore than it would for a man to try to be a mother.

There is no inequality here, only the God-given difference between men and women.

Yes, we all have equal dignity since we are all made in the image and likeness of God, but equality does not mean sameness in all respects.

Men and women in the Church have different roles and for Ms. Daugherty to deny this truth speaks volumes in pushing her alternative agenda. Think about it: Ms. Dougherty wants to be the Bridegroom to the Bride of Christ. Sounds a little disordered to me (also remarkably similar to the battle to keep traditional marriage between one man and one women; I bet I know where Ms Dougherty stands on this issue).

However, disorder and chaos are a natural outcome to disobedience and wanting to be your own authority over what Christ instituted.

About the Church being “sexist,” as my kids will often say, “are you serious!” According to a national newsletter, “The Catholic Update,” 85 percent of all Church positions are held by women.

Since the Church was established, very holy women have established religious orders, built monasteries, hospitals, and orphanages; and taught tens of millions of our children in and outside of Catholic schools where they consistently maintain positions of leadership. The Catholic Church has been far ahead of society in acknowledging the true importance of women and allowing them to share their gifts with the Church.

In fact, I believe our parish here in Peachtree City would have a hard time functioning on a day to day basis without the unbelievable dedication and commitment by so many prayerful and faithful women.

At Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Peachtree City, the women provide leadership in just about every aspect of our faith formation programs for children. Women are in leadership positions such as the Director of Religious Education, to the Director of our Pre-School; from the Bookkeeper to the Director of our Hispanic Ministry, this trend is no different than most Catholic Churches in the entire Archdiocese of Atlanta, not to mention, the world.

I would bet our pastor, Father John Murphy, would echo these sentiments. I would further suspect Fr. John would acknowledge the heroic efforts of the women who run our adult faith formation program, not to mention the countless women who lead most of the ministries at Holy Trinity.

Sexist, are you kidding me! The world would heed the example set by the Catholic Church on the way they include and dignify the unique attributes, talents, skills and abilities of women. In fact, I would challenge anyone to read the writings of Pope John Paul II relative to the “Vocation of Women” and “Women: Teachers of Peace” and then accuse the Church of being sexist.

As far as Ms. Dougherty is concerned, well, she says, “I have never left the church.” Well, yes, she has left the Church. In fact, I would think her actions would warrant excommunication, along with the “unnamed male bishop” who claims to bring forth ordination on Ms. Dougherty.

This is not love for the Church. This is not faithfulness to the Church. This is far from an attempt to bring equality to women. Ms. Dougherty’s actions are an example of prideful and arrogant conduct that exhibits the selfishness of “not getting her way.”

Every Church, whether we like it or not, Protestant or Catholic, has a hierarchy of authority. We, in one way or the other, submit to this authority.

Ms. Dougherty finds no value in the virtue of obedience to the teachings of her former Church and, as a result, decides she is the competent authority on this issue and will have to start her own church.

I wish her luck in establishing yet another division in the “body of Christ.” Well, for me, I am going to go with over 2,000 years of teaching authority of the Catholic Church on this issue.

It makes sense: The Catholic priesthood is reserved for men, and most active and faithful Catholic women would agree with the Church on this issue.

Rich Walker

Peachtree City, Ga.

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