The Roman Catholic Church has often been criticized for its unwillingness to change doctrine. Women have been denied the priesthood since its institution, and recently this debate has been further agitated. In August 2002, Spiritus Christi, a local schismatic parish, ordained a woman.Though working outside of Catholic doctrine seems ineffective, this ordination did respond to a growing rift in the church.
Rapid change cannot be expected, but the church has yet to seriously consider the current threats facing the priesthood. As numbers dwindle, bishops across the country ask for more young men to consider the priesthood. Yet, this is simply not enough. The Church is still ignoring a major and rightful source of priests — women.
In the early church, women served as deacons and were more closely involved in the sacraments. Many perfectly capable women who would love to serve as priests, but have been unable because of doctrine. This is both unjustified and ill considered.
Certainly such a change may alienate right wing Catholics. Changes for ordination would require councils, gradual implementation of policies, and careful discussion with Catholic churches across the world.
Allowing women to administer all the sacraments may also be a challenge for the Church because it is a worldwide faith. In other cultures, acceptance may require more than a council creating a simple policy.
I have heard apathetic statements by many women, such as “I don’t want to do it, so why should it change?” These neutral opinions are threatening to the church.
Just because I don’t want to become a priest doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t be allowed. There are also many in the church who simply resist change, but change is what allows the Catholic Church to be a dynamic body. Without change, the Catholic Church is indeed stagnant and loses the ability to respond to modern issues.
Church officials often argue the importance of tradition, and while this is a valid concern for many Catholics, the simple fact that the first priests were men is not enough to deny the human potential of any Catholic.
This Saturday at Hockstein Music School at 10 a.m. Spiritus Christi, no longer a part of the Roman Catholic Church, will ordain a second woman. The Church needs to call a council that seriously considers the feasibility of female ordination, rather than ignoring the issue.
The word catholic, in its root, means universal. It is time that the Church considers the universality of holy orders, and starts allowing women to be priests.
Tanner can be reached at email@example.com.