“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at his moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.”
This message was from the Second Vatican Council many years ago.
However, this regard for women does not extend to allowing them to serve God as priests. Priesthood is considered to be the domain of men and women are not given entry, and women who force entry are not forgiven either.
The Vatican City made an announcement that women who try to ordain themselves or bishops who ordain women as priests will be automatically excommunicated from the church. People who are excommunicated from the Catholic Church cannot share in acts of public worship.
This decree, which was published in the Vatican daily, is said to absolute, universal and effective immediately. According to a Vatican spokesman, this decree reiterates in no uncertain terms, the ban that already exists in the form of Canon law of 1378, preventing women from being ordained as priests.
The Canon law states, “Both he who has attempted to confer holy orders on a woman, and the woman who has attempted to receive the said sacrament incurs in latae sententiae excommunication, reserved to the Apostolic See.”
This decree has been passed because of the many women trying to be ordained as Catholic priests. The most recent ordination attempt was by a woman named Kathy Redig from Winona, Minnesota, who participated in an ordination ceremony. The Bishop of Winona expressed his sadness that she has excommunicated herself by her actions. Vatican stands by the rule that only men can be priests.
There are said to be more than 20 ordained women priests throughout the world; however they are not recognized by the Vatican.
Archbishop Burke, who is considered to be an expert on Canon law, explained that even in 2002, two women were excommunicated due to participation in an invalid ordination ceremony.
According to Rev. Tom Reese, this new decree is meant to be a warning to the number of Catholics who are allowing women into priesthood. He thinks this is being done because the support for ordination of women is growing among Catholics and the Vatican wishes to make it clear in no uncertain terms that this is not acceptable.
The church says that they are just following the rules made by Christ and it is not in their hands to change them. Since Christ only chose men as his apostles, the church law clearly states that only males that are baptized can be ordained as priests.
However, supporters of women’s ordination say that Christ only acted based on the social norms that were prevalent at that time and that even in Christ’s teachings, there is nothing that reflects discrimination against women; on the contrary, all his words expressed honor and respect to women.