Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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A speculative question that has become highly controversial since the Second Vatican Council, as to whether women could be ordained to the Catholic priesthood and episcopacy. In 1975, Pope Paul VI declared women's ineligibility for the ministerial priesthood (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 67, 265). And in the following year the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed the fact and gave the reasons why this practice has a normative character. "In fact of conferring priestly ordination only on men, it is a question of unbroken tradition throughout the history of the Chruch, universal in the East and in the West, and alert to suppress abuses immediately." Having stated thefact, the Holy See went on to clarify this teaching. Since the priesthood is a sacrament, it is a sign that is not only effective but should be intelligible to the faithful: "When Christ's role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this 'natural resemblance' which must exist between Christ and His minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man" (October 15, 1976). On his visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed "the Church's traditional decision to call men to the priesthood, and not to call women" (October 4, 1979).

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