Some of you may already be on top of this story. On December 3rd, the National Catholic Reporter published an editorial endorsing the ordination of women to the priesthood. If you must, you can log on to: http://ncronline.org/node/40306 to read what they had to say. I would summarize the editorial in this way:
The Editorial Staff at the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) uses the recent excommunication and laicization of Roy Bourgeois (a former Maryknoll priest) as point of departure in their argument that denial of the ministerial priesthood to women is an injustice. They report that Bourgeois said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and that gender does not limit God’s ability to call a woman to the priesthood, and that the majority of the faithful believe this.
They conclude their argument by saying that the sensus fidelium, that is the sense of the faithful througout the world is that the exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale, therefore women should be ordained.
The NCR has got it wrong.
Unless you abandon what has been the consistent understanding in the Catholic Church regarding the nature of Divine Revelation, you cannot argue the NCR position reasonably. We Catholics are not sola scriptura. In other words, we know Divine Truth is revealed not soley in Scripture. Scripture, along with the living Tradition (the faith as handed on to us by the Apostles in oral form, and which continues to be handed on by their successors, the bishops in union with the Pope) and the Magisterium are source of Revelation, for they attest to Jesus Christ and his self-revelation of the Father. Jesus is the final authority on truth; he has willed for us his Church. Together with the Holy Spirit in unity with the Father, the will of Jesus is lived out in the Catholic Church. It is clear in Scripture, Tradition, and the Magesterium that the Bishop of Rome, the pope, is the Vicar of Christ on earth, and that the bishops throughout the world share in an infallibility assured us by Jesus himself when together as a college and individually as pope they teach in matters of faith and morals.
The NCR seems to have lost a Catholic understanding of Revelation and Truth. I could understand (although I would disagree) if they were to argue the ordination question differently, taking into account Scripture, Tradition and Magesterium. But to do so would be fruitless, and I suspect they know it, because all three have been exhaustively studied and prayed over by bishops, theologians and the laity, and a definitive conclusion has been drawn which Pope John Paul II bravely articulated: the Church has no power to confer priestly ordination on women for Jesus himself willed that priests share his gender.
By the way, why is it so difficult to accept that not everyone who believes to have a calling will be accepted? Many believe they are called, but only a few ordained. That is why we have the lengthy discernment process, why we screen men extensively, and why we exclude men who have certain conditions or qualities.
Pope John Paul II, speaking for all the bishops in communion with him, and exercising his authority as the one who strengthens and confirms his brother bishops declared on May 22, 1994 in his Apostolic LetterOrdinatio Sacerdotalis:
Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.
The matter has been settled, and it is incumbent on all the faithful to grant it our full assent.