Did Jesus Exclude Women from Priesthood?

Sandra Marie Schneiders, Jesuit School of Theology/Graduate Theological Union

Copyright © 1977 Paulist Press. Reprinted with permission.


This sentence purports to give the principle upon which the fundamental affirmation of the Declaration rests, namely, "the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges it necessary to recall that the Church , in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination" 1 (emphasis mine). Section 4 of the Declaration, and specifically the sentence being commented upon here, maintains that the reason why the Church is not only unwilling at this time to ordain women but is now, and will always remain, unable to ordain women to the priesthood is that Jesus acted in some way during his earthly life which divinely established the priesthood as exclusively male. This assertion raises two serious questions, one of theory and one of fact.