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The doctrine of male priesthood

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, September 24, 2009

To Fellow Catholics of Notre Dame,

The issue of women priesthood has been buzzing around the Observer Viewpoint section for the past few days and I would like to offer my input and knowledge to the subject.

Primarily, many people in and outside of the Church in favor of women priests confound the Roman Catholic priesthood with a particular job or career choice. This is, however, not true and the Catholic Church has never viewed the priesthood as such.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God’s call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.” (CCC 1578) So, any woman (or man for that matter) who claims a right to priesthood is already unworthy of the priesthood.

The Catholic priesthood is a vocation, not a career. One does not choose it, it chooses you. Also, as mentioned before by Mr. Carder in his Sept. 22 letter, the male priesthood is a doctrine of the Catholic Church, and therefore, not subject to change under any circumstances. Other items of Church doctrine (and in some cases, the more essential dogma) include the doctrine of the Trinity, Christ’s divine and human nature, the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the infallibility of Church statements made ex cathedra and several others. These things are also unable to change.

Finally, I would like to clear Pope John Paul II’s name in offering an excerpt from his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to the bishops of the Catholic Church: “Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 4) P.S. This is, in fact, an ex cathedra statement and is considered by all faithful Catholics to be infallible, as mentioned previously.

Daniel ?Quinlan


St. Edward’s Hall

Sept. 23