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Priestly Ordination and the Role of Women

Catholic Church Teaching

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the many women and men who together make up our faith, a community bound together by commandments to love God and one another, and to carry forward Christ’s message. The role of women is vital to our identity as a Church. We hold special devotion for Mary, the Mother of God. The Church venerates the many women saints whose labors and wisdom have promoted and enriched our faith. It is only through the vital ministry and volunteer service of devoted Catholic women that our parishes, schools, and charitable works have served and continue to serve others every day.

The ordination of men to the priesthood is not solely a long-held tradition, but a part of the belief held by Catholics known as the Deposit of Faith, the collective revelation of Jesus Christ contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The Holy See has resolved through many years of study and prayer that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women.

Read more about this teaching:

Ten Frequently Asked Questions About the Reservation of Priestly Ordination to Men

Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

June 2010 - U.S. Bishops’ Doctrine Chairman Welcomes Vatican Clarification On Ordination, Praises The Work Of Women In The Church

May 2008 - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith General Decree Regarding The Crime Of Attempting Sacred Ordination Of A Woman

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to protect the nature and validity of the sacrament of holy orders, in virtue of the special faculty conferred to it by the supreme authority of the Church (see canon 30, Canon Law), in the Ordinary Session of December 19, 2007, has decreed:

Remaining firm on what has been established by canon 1378 of the Canon Law, 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.

If he who has attempted to confer holy orders on a woman or if the woman who has attempted to receive holy orders, is a member of the faithful subject to the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches, remaining firm on what has been established by canon 1443 of the same Code, they will be punished with major excommunication, whose remission remains reserved to the Apostolic See (see canon 1423, Canon Law of the Eastern Churches).

The current decree will come into immediate force from the moment of publication in the 'Osservatore Romano' and is absolute and universal.

William Cardinal Levada
Prefect
Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila
Secretary

Diocese of Manchester
The Catholic Church in New Hampshire

153 Ash Street, Box 310
Manchester, NH 03105-0310
(603) 669-3100
Fax: (603) 669-0377

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