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Holy Orders

Through Baptism Christ has made us into a kingdom of “priests to his God and Father” (Rev

1:6). Through the universal priesthood, every Christian is called to work in the world in God’s

name and to bring blessings and grace to it. In the Upper Room during the Last Supper and

when he commissioned the apostles, however, Christ equipped some with a sacred authority to serve the faithful; these ordained priests represent Christ as pastors (shepherds) of his people and as head of his Body, the Church. [CCC 1546-1553, 1592]

A Catholic priest who administers the sacraments acts not on the basis of his own power or

moral perfection , but rather “in persona Christi”. Through his ordination, the transforming, healing, saving power of Christ is grafted onto him. Because a priest has nothing of his own, he is above all a servant. The distinguishing characteristic of every authentic priest, therefore, is humble astonishment at his own vocation.

The rule that only men may receive Holy Orders in no way demeans women. In God’s sight,

man and woman have the same dignity, but they have different duties and charisms. The

Church sees herself as bound by the fact that Jesus chose men exclusively to be present at the Last Supper for the institution of the priesthood. Pope John Paul II declared in 1994 “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”.

Being a priest is a special service that also makes demands on a man in his gender-specific role as male and father. As we see in Mary, women play a role in the Church that is no less central than the masculine role, but it is feminine. Eve became the mother of all the living (Gen 3:20). As “mothers of all the living”, women have special gifts and abilities. Without their sort of teaching, preaching, charity, spirituality, and guidance, the Church would be “paralyzed on one side”.

Youcat 259, 250, 257

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