Maleness an indispensable element of priesthood

Male-only priesthood should be held as an unchanging and “definitive” part of the Catholic faith says the head of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria.

He says maleness is “an indispensable element” of the priesthood and the Church is “bound” by Christ’s decision only to choose male apostles.

Ladaria’s opinion reflects a 1994 decree issued by St John Paul in which he said: “the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.”

St John Paul also said this teaching should be “definitively held” by all Catholics.

Some theologians argue this ruling is not considered infallible, as St John Paul did not proclaim the teaching “ ex cathedra” (from the Chair of St Peter), as is required for popes when they make infallible pronouncements.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, for example, believes the question of female ordination need to be settled by a church council and not from the “desk of a Pope.”

Ladaria holds the opposite view.

“Sowing these doubts creates serious confusion among the faithful not only about the sacrament of orders as part of the divine constitution of the church but also about how the ordinary magisterium can teach Catholic doctrine in an infallible way,” he says.

He also points out infallible teaching is not only proclaimed by a council or a Pope speaking “ex cathedra,” but is also proclaimed by bishops across the world who, in communion with the Pope, propose doctrine that should be “held definitively.”

Ladaria says St John Paul II consulted with leaders of episcopal conferences about this matter. He did not wish to “work alone” but sought to ensure he was listening to an “uninterrupted and lived tradition.”

Pope Francis endorsed this in 2015, saying it was after “long, long intense discussions” St John Paul had issued his ruling on women’s ordination.

“He did not declare new dogma, but with the authority conferred on him as successor of Peter, he formally confirmed and made explicit – to remove any doubt – that which the ordinary and universal magisterium had considered as belonging to the deposit of faith throughout the history of the church,” Ladaria says.

We Are Church International (WACI) this week strongly rejected Archbishop Ladaria’s claim that the ban on ordaining women to Catholic priesthood has a “definitive character” and “is a truth belonging to the deposit of faith.”

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News category: World.

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