Says Promotion of Female Priests Overemphasizes Masculinity
ROME, 4 2007 (ZENIT)
Those who want to ordain women to the priesthood
manifest a failure to recognize the dignity of women, said an expert in
moral theology and women's issues.
Pia de Solenni asserted this during her April 27 conference at the
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
De Solenni won the Pontifical Prize of the Academies in 2001, receiving
an award from John Paul II for her doctoral thesis on St. Thomas
Aquinas. She is the director of Life and Women's Issues at the Family
Research Council in Washinton, D.C.
At the conference, de Solenni used St. Thomas' arguments to analyze the
issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood in light of the
natural complementarity between the sexes.
St. Thomas taught that woman was not created from man's head in order to
rule over him, nor from his foot to be ruled by him, but from his side
in order to rule with him, she explained.
The 1994 Vatican document "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" concentrates on three
basic points, de Solenni explained: "Christ, in ordaining only men,
acted freely without constraints by cultural norms; nonadmission to the
priesthood is not a sign of lesser dignity; the Church does not have the
faculty to ordain women."
De Solenni illustrated the first point saying that many claim Christ
ordained only men because of the cultural norms of his day. Since the
role of women has changed, some say the Church should also adapt and
allow women to be ordained to the priesthood, she said.
De Solenni contended, however, that the Gospels show how Christ often
broke with the cultural norms of his day: In fact, it was to the
Samaritan woman at the well that he revealed himself clearly as the
to her as to no other, she said.
"Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" points out that the non-admission of women to
the priesthood does not signify a lesser dignity. The entire history of
the Church, said de Solenni, "witnesses to the presence and active
participation of women."
"It was the consent, understanding and devotion of a woman that brought
the Church to us," and the fact that the Virgin Mary was not chosen by
her son to be a priest "indicates that the sacrament does not
discriminate on the basis of dignity or merit," de Solenni explained.
De Solenni reiterated a point from "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" which says
the question of women's vocations should not be confined to ordination.
"Woman will never be the bridegroom, in any form. The temptation to
force upon women a masculine paradigm arises from our confused notions
of power and authority which, in turn, devalue her vocation as a bride,
clearly illustrated by Mary," de Solenni said.
Ordaining a woman, she said, "would be, in essence, to show complete
disregard for the reality she is as a woman, as a bride."
Masculine vs. feminine
De Solenni asserted: "The promotion of ordaining women to the priesthood
is a sign of misunderstanding and even disrespect for the dignity of
The fact that "the significance of the feminine identity is so largely
misunderstood or even disregarded, indicates that our very notion of
Church is in peril, has lost personality. She has become an 'it,' a mere
institution, rather than a living being," de Solenni added.
The discussion of ordaining women to the priesthood has been a sort of
"overemphasis of the masculine," she said.
"No doubt," continued de Solenni, "women need a voice in the Church, but
it must be an authentic voice and not their voice made to sound like a
Women, she stated, have a unique role in the Church and in society and
that role should not be forced into masculine paradigms. "To do so," she
said, "runs the risk of losing what is truly feminine
not the femininity of fashion, but the varied femininity of women
saints, whose personalities and strengths span just as far as those of
men saints … if not more."