Women who want to be priests (2023)


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Soline Humbert was a seventeen-year-old studying history and politics at Trinity College Dublin when she first felt a call to the priesthood. She did not welcome him from her. Humbert, a Catholic born and raised in France, knew that in theroman catholic churchonly men could be priests: it was an indisputable rule enshrined in official teachings and traditions. This was in the early 1970s, and in other religions and in society in general, women's roles were being redefined under the influence of second-wave feminism. Most of the mainline Protestant denominations had already recognized or were moving towards the ordination of women. Reform Judaism had just ordained its first rabbi. But the Catholic Church, so entrenched in symbols, clung to the notion that a priest must bear a physical resemblance to Christ in order to exist.in the person of Christ. Vatican authorities often noted that Jesus chose only men to be his twelve apostles, the model for the priesthood and for his church organization. Furthermore, his omission of the Virgin Mary from these ranks meant that women could be worshiped without being ordained. Other Christian traditions found a balancing inspiration in the knowledge that Christ choseMaria Magdalenato witness and proclaim the Resurrection, and in Catholic theology she is sometimes referred to as the Apostle of Apostles. But the Vatican did not see this story or stories about Christ's openness to women as justification for admitting them to the priesthood.

(Video) The women fighting to be priests - BBC World Service, 100 Women

Humbert told me that the sudden conviction that came over her was deeply disconcerting. She felt like "an illusion rooted in pride or rejection of my feminine nature and of God." She was hard-working and down-to-earth: she had survived the death of her beloved mother from cancer at the age of twelve and had moved from France to Ireland on her own. She now wondered if she was going crazy. She saw a psychiatrist and later confided in a minister that she laughed off the idea. Finally, she began to pray, "Don't call me, your church doesn't want me."

Humbert tried to put his call behind him. He graduated from college, got an M.B.A. and a master's degree in theology, he married and had two children. She has worked as a business counselor and volunteered in her local diocese as a marriage counselor. Then one day in 1990, the longing returned, like a dormant volcano beginning to roar again. She was happy with her husband, Colm Holmes, a businessman with warm, friendly manners and calm, egalitarian beliefs: she had grown up hearing stories about her great-aunt, who was a suffragette. Her children, eight and six years old, are doing well. There was nothing wrong in her life, outwardly or inwardly, except her tremendous desire to serve God by preaching the gospel, hearing confessions, and blessing the bread and wine of the Eucharist. She went to tell the Archbishop of Dublin, thinking that with the dwindling supply of priests he would be glad to know that God calls women. Humbert recalls: "He said to me, 'Why do you want to be a priest? You could be a saint." And I said, "Well, I could be a priest."ya saint. Men can be both.

For months, Humbert wept at the thought that her deepest sense of self would never be realized. "If you are an acorn, you must be an oak tree, not a pine tree or a cactus," she told me. She was moved when a friendly nun unexpectedly handed her a communion chalice and plate and told her: "The Catholic Church is not ready yet, butUdsis it so."

Years passed, but his desire did not diminish. One summer, Humbert and her husband decided to take their children from Dublin to France to visit her family. As they were about to leave the house, a religious bulletin fell through the mail slot. Humbert grabbed it to read on the long ferry ride across the Bay of Biscay. That night she opened it with an article about the 19th century Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun sometimes called the Little Flower of Jesus. Humbert knew a lot about her, but he didn't know that Therese also felt a strong call to the priesthood. Thérèse's sisters testified at her beatification process that she had asked them to shave her head in order to have a tonsure, a sign of priestly devotion. Thérèse had written in her diary: “I feel a call to aPRIEST' and she had declared that she would die at the age of twenty-four, because at that age she would have been ordained, and surely God would spare her the pain of not being able to exercise her calling. Therese died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.

Humbert read late into the night. He realized that he had not learned this exciting information about Therese because the church was embarrassed: he had learned about Therese's sweet simplicity, but not about her wild calling from her. When the ferry docked in France, the family made a pilgrimage to the Norman city of Lisieux, where a basilica commemorates Theresa. In the years that followed, Humbert returned nearly a dozen times.

"I'll tell you when I've had enough!"

Caricature of Will McPhail

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(Video) Women Who Want To Be Priests Hold Holy Thursday Protest By Tom MacDonald

(Video) Women who want to be priests hold protest in Philadelphia

In 1994, Pope John Paul II granteda strict official letterthat seemed to prevent even talking about the ordination of women. He lamented that despite the "enduring and universal tradition of the Church" the possibility of women priests "is still considered worthy of discussion" in some parts of the world. John Paul continued: "I declare that the Church has no authority to ordain women to the priesthood, and that this trial is the final decision of all believers in the Church." Humbert told me the pope's words were devastating: "It's hard to describe how violent, spiritually violent, I felt because it's a document, after all. But I felt like it was meant to put an end to people like me, any woman who had that sense of purpose. It felt like he was trying to kill what was most alive in us, what was connected to the divine." Humbert believed that a true vocation, whether religious, artistic or scientific, would always flow through you. If you were born to do something, he said, "resist at your peril."

Unlike Humbert, Myra Brown was not born into a Catholic family. His parents were Southern Baptists who left that church after moving from Arkansas to Albion, New York, as farmhands in the early 1960s. A few years later, his father got a job at a steel mill and the family moved. to Rochester. When Brown, the youngest of eight children, was a teenager, her father died of hypothermia after being mugged. The family was poor, but her mother supported them all with government support, a lush garden, and a job cleaning other people's houses. Brown and her siblings could go to church with anyone who took them on a particular Sunday. They attended a Baptist church with her grandmother, a Pentecostal church with friends, and a Catholic church, St. Bridget's, with neighbors and Brown's older sister, who had converted to Catholicism.

Brown fell in love with the rituals, the music, and the fervent way the priest talked about Jesus. As an African American, she appreciated that St. Bridget's had a significant black congregation and included gospel singing in her services. Brown was a fine speaker and a fine singer. But in 1992, when she was twenty-four, she was surprised by an invitation from the priest, Father Bob Werth, that she one day preach a sermon. Official Catholic teaching maintained both altar and priesthood women. The Vatican only allowed altar servers in 1994, and there are still priests who resist. One of the leaders of the burgeoning conservative Catholic movement in the United States, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis, has partly attributed the waning interest of young men in the priesthood to the presence of altar servers. "Young men don't want to mess with girls, it's natural," he said.said a site2015 jokingly titled New Ehungerization Project. “The girls were also very good at the altar service. Many boys have drifted away over time." The youth altar service is a testing ground for the priesthood, Burke said, and requires "a certain male discipline."

Last January, Pope Francis amended canon law to officially recognize women as acolytes and lectors, roles in which lay people read the Bible and help with tasks like lighting candles and setting up the altar. At the discretion of local bishops, women have been performing these duties for years, particularly in parts of Latin America where there was a shortage of priests and lay preachers. Traditionalist Catholics also found these reforms reprehensible.

First, Brown told Father Bob that he simply couldn't preach a sermon. He then went to his house and as he vacuumed the living room, he felt a tug on his shirt. He went up to his bedroom, knelt down and prayed. He heard a voice saying: "Yes, I am calling you to preach and teach my word." Brown told me: “I thought you were joking. And I started arguing with God. I said, 'I'm black, I'm Catholic, and I'm a woman. They don't do that in my church!'” She agreed with Father Bob.

Will the Roman Catholic Church ever ordain non-male priests? Many Women Feel Called to Be Priests, and Many Catholics Support Them: Out Louda surveyfrom the Pew Research Center, about six in ten Catholics in the United States say the church should allow women to become (and marry) priests. The number is fifty-five percent for Hispanic Catholics, the church's fastest-growing demographic. In Brazil, the Latin American country with the largest Catholic population, nearly eight in 10 Catholics surveyed by Pew support the idea of ​​women priests.

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The Pew survey also showed that American Catholicism is suffering "a greater net loss" than any other religious tradition. If you google the word "apostasy", the word "catholic" immediately pops up. According to some reports, women, long the backbone of the church, have withdrawn from active engagement in greater numbers than men. Many people withdraw because they can no longer stand doctrines that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, advocate contraception, allow divorced and remarried people to take communion without receiving an annulment, or allow women are priests. “My adult children don't go to church,” Soline Humbert told me. "It doesn't surprise me. When they were little children, we would sit in church during these sermons on the great and terrible sin of sex and illegitimate birth and how it particularly affected women and girls: sermons, all of which were preached by people that your life would never get pregnant I thought thatesperanzaMy boys don't listen. As soon as they were old enough, they relieved me of that worry by never coming back."

But even if many Catholics welcomed the ordination of women, the prospect seems as far off as ever. The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy, as its traditionalists keep reminding its would-be reformers. Its government is sophisticated and strictly hierarchical. And successive popes have proposed issuing new statements on the incompatibility of women with the priesthood. They have also punished priests who have publicly expressed their support for the ordination of women, sometimes going so far as to accuse or excommunicate them. The Vatican in early Juneposted a reviewof its canon laws codifying automatic excommunication for "both a person who attempts to confer holy ordination on a woman and a woman who attempts to receive holy ordination."

Some progressive Catholics have suggested that revelations of clerical sexual abuse in recent decades, and the unflattering light the scandal has cast on the all-male leadership that has long covered up misdeeds, strengthen the case for allowing women priestesses have But at the highest levels of the Vatican, the scandals do not appear to have affected views on gender roles in the Church. In 2010, the Vatican underPope Benedict XVI, promulgated new rules that facilitate the discipline of pedophile priests, butthe same documentclassifies the "attempted saintly ordination of a woman" asmore serious crimes—a category of crimes that includes pedophilia.

It wasn't until 2007, when Anne Tropeano was in her thirties, that she found a church to revive the pale Catholicism of her childhood. With a background in marketing and communications, she was the manager of a rock band called TapWater who lived with the musicians on a lavender farm outside of Portland, Oregon. She was slim, with long hair parted in the middle and a retro-cool '70s vibe. The people she dated, including her boyfriend, were secular guys who loved her fun-girl energy; Her increasingly serious spiritual yearnings were wobbling her a bit. One Sunday she went to mass alone at St. Ignatius, a Jesuit congregation in southeast Portland. As the opening rites began, she noticed priest Tom Royce at the end of the procession. He was in his early eighties, white-haired, and stooped. Tropeano said to himself: "This guy is like a million years old, what is he going to do?" She was shocked and deeply moved when she walked down the aisle and delivered "the most joyous and authentic sermon on childish fear and the proper way to worship the 'fear' of God - not to fear God as a punisher, but to have respect - full in awe of this majestic Creator who brought us into being."

Tropeano kept coming back to St. Ignatius, a plain white building on a busy street near a bus stop. Homeless people unfurled sleeping bags at the door. Inside, ceiling tiles sometimes fell off, and puddles of water seeping through the floor were regularly cleaned up by parishioners. But the pews were full, and Tropeano found the congregation unusually diverse. There was a significant Vietnamese and Filipino membership, along with families whose Croatian and Italian ancestry had filled the community in its first decades; There were a number of parishioners with disabilities. Tropeano, whose years of spiritual quest included New Age and Buddhist interludes, found that the "Jesuit taste for spirituality" - "seeing God in all things, commitment to social justice and service to the marginalized, and insight intellectual" was exactly what she was looking for. She immersed herself in the life of the congregation and helped attract hundreds of new believers to the Novena of Grace, an annual nine-day prayer. Katie Hennessy, a hospice social worker at St. Ignatius Parish, noted unusual qualities of charisma and compassion in Tropeano, but also signs of a solemn, solitary intensity. Hennessy sometimes walked past the church in broad daylight and saw Tropeano praying alone, kneeling in a pew as watery light streamed through the stained-glass windows of the darkened church.

In 2014, when Tropeano was forty, he enrolled in a Jesuit divinity school in Berkeley, California, where most of the other students were men preparing for the priesthood. A friend thought that Tropeano himself looked a lot like a priest in the making. Tropeano "worked very hard to wrestle with everything from the liturgy to the Scriptures to Vatican II," he recalls. And she seemed so well prepared for itLeada congregation.” (The friend asked not to be named because she teaches in a Catholic school and thinks speaking out about Tropeano's calling could get her in trouble.)

Hennessy thought that in the past, when even the idea of ​​becoming a priestess was beyond her imagination, Tropeano might have joined an order of nuns. But many of these orders died out. When Tropeano confided to me that she felt called to the priesthood, it made sense to Hennessy, who told me, "With her passion and zeal, Anne had to play a priestly role within the faith community and perform all parts of the Mass." she reminded Hennessy of the Biblical parable of the talents, in which a man entrusts some money to his servants on a long journey. Two make investments and make a profit, but a third buries his share for fear of losing it. The story is often interpreted as a warning to her not to let her shyness stop her from using her God-given gifts. Hennessy told me that the church "buries talent in fear."

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Pope FranciscoFor all her populism, conviviality, and commitment to social justice, she has expressed no more interest in women's ordination than her predecessors. in aPress Conference 2015, referred to John Paul II's 1994 Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the proclamation that had so shaken Soline Humbert, and said: “Women priests, you cannot do that. Pope Saint John Paul II said it clearly after long, long, intense discussions, long deliberations." When a Swedish journalist asked Francis about this again in 2016, he reaffirmed his loyalty to John Paul's line on the matter.

That year, Pope Francis appointed a commission to study the issue of women deaconesses. In the Roman Catholic Church, deacons are ordained ministers who can perform baptisms, weddings, and funerals, among other things, but cannot celebrate mass, hear confessions, or consecrate the bread and wine of the Eucharist. People who wanted to see women enter the diaconate, and perhaps eventually the priesthood, were hopeful. Among those appointed to the commission was Phyllis Zagano, an outspoken scholar at Hofstra University who has devoted years of research to arguing that womentatserve as deacons in the early centuries of the Church. (The apostle Paul refers to the first-century Christian Phoebe as a deaconess.) But Francis would do nothing. He said the commission's findings were too mixed, "toads from different wells" as he put it, and appointed a second one in 2020, with all new members. He hasn't given any advice yet. When he officially allowed women to serve as acolytes and lectors, he saidcautionto emphasize that these are lay ministries "fundamentally different from the ordained ministry received through the Sacrament of Holy Orders."


Why can women be priests? ›

The Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles.

What a female priest is called? ›

The word priestess is a feminine version of priest, which stems from the Old English prēost and its Greek root, presbyteros, "an elder." While hundreds of years ago a priestess was simply a female priest, today's Christians use priest whether they're talking about a man or a woman.

Are women allowed to be priests? ›

ROME — Pope Francis has changed the laws of the Roman Catholic church to formally allow women to give readings from the Bible during Mass, act as altar servers and distribute communion, but they remain barred from becoming deacons or priests.

Why can't a woman be a priest? ›

Vatican authorities often noted that Jesus chose only men as his twelve apostles—the model for the priesthood and for the foundation of his church. Moreover, his omission of the Virgin Mary from those ranks meant that women could be revered without being ordained.

Who was the first woman priest? ›

Antoinette Brown Blackwell, née Antoinette Louisa Brown, (born May 20, 1825, Henrietta, N.Y., U.S.—died Nov. 5, 1921, Elizabeth, N.J.), first woman to be ordained a minister of a recognized denomination in the United States.

When did the first woman become a priest? ›

1944: Florence Li Tim Oi became the first woman to be ordained as an Anglican priest.

Which religions allow female priests? ›

Religious traditions and denominations in the United States that generally permit female clergy in their congregations include American Baptists, United Methodists, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian (USA), the Episcopal Church, Buddhism, Reform/Conservative Judaism, and Unitarian Universalists.

How many female priests are there? ›

Women Priests is a global breakaway movement from the Church, with 200 clergy, mostly in the United States. Its priests are automatically excommunicated by the Vatican, which recognizes ordination for cisgender men only.

What is the proper way to address a female priest? ›

One is encouraged to use the priest's first name, adding the honorific 'Pastor'; for a woman.

Can a priest not be a virgin? ›

So no, virginity is apparently not a requirement, but a vow of celibacy is.

Can a woman be a high priest? ›

The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, as emphasized by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, is "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful".

What can women do in Catholic church? ›

Pope Francis changed church law Monday to formally allow for more roles for women within the Catholic Church. The decree, called "Spiritus Domini" (The Spirit of the Lord), allows women to serve as readers and altar servers, as well as to assist priests during service or in administering Holy Communion.

When did priests stop marrying? ›

It was not always so. Priests in Anglo-Saxon England were allowed to marry, though the practice was stopped after the Norman invasion of 1066. The Norman ban on clerical marriage was reinforced in 1139, when the Second Lateran Council declared priestly marriage invalid throughout the entire Catholic Church.

What is the role of woman in the Bible? ›

Women were responsible for "maintenance activities" including economic, social, political and religious life in both the household and the community. The Old Testament lists twenty different professional-type positions that women held in ancient Isarael.

Who were the priests of God? ›

When God established His covenant with the Jews at Sinai, he chose one family to act as priests. This family was the family of Aaron and in addition, Aaron's tribe, the Levites. The book of Leviticus is written to instruct the "levitical" priests on how to perform their service.

Who was the first priest? ›

Hebrew Bible

The first priest mentioned in the Bible is Melchizedek, who was a priest of the Most High.

Who was the first woman in the Bible Catholic? ›

Lydia of Thyatira
Honored inEpiscopal Church (United States) Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast27 January 3 August 20 May
2 more rows

How old was the youngest priest? ›

Arinze became the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world when Heerey consecrated him on 29 August 1965, at the age of 32.

Can a female priest get married? ›

Throughout the Catholic Church, East as well as West, a priest may not marry. In the Eastern Catholic Churches, a married priest is one who married before being ordained. The Catholic Church considers the law of clerical celibacy to be not a doctrine, but a discipline.

Can a woman be a leader in the church? ›

Outside of church, God has used many women to spread the Word and lead others biblically. Throughout the Bible, women have played a key role in fulfilling God's plan. They have also held positions of leadership and responsibilities in spreading the Gospel.

When did the Catholic Church allow female priests? ›

1976 declaration on the ordination of women.

Is a nun a female priest? ›

In the Catholic tradition, there are many religious institutes of nuns and sisters (the female equivalent of male monks or friars), each with its own charism or special character.

Why is a priest called Father? ›

Aside from the name itself, priests are referred to as father for multiple reasons: as a sign of respect and because they act as spiritual leaders in our lives. As the head of a parish, each priest assumes the spiritual care of his congregation. In return, the congregation views him with filial affection.

What are the two types of priests? ›

There are two types of priests within the Catholic Church, religious and diocesan.

How do you say hello to a priest? ›

The salutation should be Dear Father. To be even more polite, refer to a priest as His Reverence. If it's a very formal letter, say, "The Reverend Father last name as the salutation or Dear Reverend Father."

How do you address a priest and his wife? ›

The appropriate way to address a letter to a husband and wife who are both ministers is: The Reverends Mary and John Smith. The wife's name always comes first.

What does MA mean after a priest's name? ›

means the "Oblates of Mary Immaculate." C.S.P. means the "Community of St Paul." O.P. means the "Order of Preachers." S.J. means the "Society of Jesus."

Why do priests never marry? ›

Theologically, the Church desires to imitate the life of Jesus with regard to chastity and the sacrifice of married life for the "sake of the Kingdom" (Luke 18:28–30, Matthew 19:27–30; Mark 10:20–21), and to follow the example of Jesus Christ in being "married" to the Church, viewed by Catholicism and many Christian ...

Can a priest have a daughter? ›

Canon lawyers say that there is nothing in church law that forces priests to leave the priesthood for fathering children.

Can priests use condoms? ›

The Catholic Church's opposition to contraception includes a prohibition on condoms. It believes that chastity should be the primary means of preventing the transmission of AIDS.

Can a woman be ordained according to the Bible? ›

Jesus did not ordain women and that Paul forbade it in I Cor. with many of the more difficult passages (e.g., I Cor. 14:34, I Tim. of the Bible must be understood in its own historical setting before you can properly use it to find the word of Cod for you here and now. . . .

What makes a woman beautiful Catholic? ›

Every woman must realize deep in her core that she is loved, she is wanted, she is beautiful and admired…by Christ her divine spouse. Living from this knowledge will prepare her to be loved by an earthly spouse as well. Let joy and interior peace radiate from you, for this is irresistibly attractive.

Can you be a Catholic and a feminist? ›

Catholic feminists regularly explained their feminism in terms of their commitment to a gospel mandate for social justice, liberation, and radical equality. They considered feminism to be a Christian principle.

How do Catholics view women? ›

Official Church teaching considers women and men to be equal and "complementary". A special role and devotion is accorded to Jesus' mother Mary as "nurturing mother" of Christ and the Church.

Can a Catholic priest be a woman? ›

In the Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions, women are not permitted to be ordained as priests of the church. According to Catholic doctrine, priests are supposed to represent the likeness of Jesus, a male figure.

Are Catholic priests female? ›

Administrative History. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) is part of the world-wide Roman Catholic Women Priests movement that traces its origin to the ordination of seven women to the priesthood by a male Roman Catholic bishop on June 29, 2002.

What are the females called in church? ›

Some female saints and blesseds are indicated by the church as Virgin. These were consecrated virgins, nuns or unmarried women known for a life in chastity.

Was there a female pope? ›

According to legend Pope Joan served as pope during the middle ages. She is said to have served for several years across approximately 855-857. Her story was first shared in the 13th century and quickly spread throughout Europe.

What is women's role in the church? ›

The New Testament

It was originally interpreted as submission of women and men (Eph. 5:21), however, a modern interpretation sees it as a submission to God, rather than man. Women are seen as equals to men and both genders serve a role in the family – to help the family to serve God.

Can a nun have a BF? ›

Nun rules you must follow

You must take a vow of chastity, which means you cannot get married or have sexual/romantic relationships.

Can a woman with kids become a nun? ›

A woman who wants to become a Catholic nun, for example, must be at least 18 years old, be single, have no dependent children, and have no debts to be considered.

Are nuns allowed to smoke? ›

Though there is no official canonical prohibition regarding the use of tobacco, the more traditional among the Eastern Orthodox Churches forbid their clergy or monastics to smoke, and the laity are strongly encouraged to give up this habit, if they are subject to it.

Who is a godly woman? ›

She is valuable to her husband. She is not only his helpmate and the mother of his children, but her actions show how much she means to him. She is valuable to her household.


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