The debate based on the Magisterium – in brief

Tradionalist Argument One. The exclusion of women from ordination has been infallibly decided by the universal Magisterium.

“That women cannot be ordained priests has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” Pope John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis § 4.

“This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s official Reply to a ‘Dubium’, October 28, 1995.


1.1 ‘The universal ordinary magisterium’ – in plain language – is the teaching by all Catholic bishops worldwide under the guidance of the Pope.

1.2 Rome has not established infallible teaching by the ordinary universal magisterium on women priests because the five conditions for infallibility have not been fulfilled. This teaching is only infallible if it is:
(1) a collegial exercise of teaching authority
(2) by the bishops acting as judges
(3) after listening to the faithful
(4) regarding revealed faith or morals
(5) in a judgement they want to impose as final.

None of these conditions has been fulfilled in the matter of the ordination of women.

1.3 Key theologians all over the world have rejected Rome’s statement on ‘infallibility’ in this matter.

1.4 The Pope’s failure to adequately consult the faithful in general and theologians in particular as required by Vatican II, is the main reason for Rome’s mistaken judgment. It is a duty for all who are competent in these matters to publicly speak out.

Conclusion: the exclusion of women from ordination has not been decided by the universal Magisterium.

Tradionalist Argument Two. The teaching about women’s exclusion from ordination will never be changed.

“The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

“It is a matter of full definitive assent, that is to say, irrevocable, to a doctrine taught infallibly by the Church. In fact, as the Reply explains, the definitive nature of this assent derives from the truth of the doctrine itself, since, founded on the written Word of God, and constantly held and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary universal Magisterium.”
Rome’s texts in full!


2.1 The definity of Rome’s teaching in this matter has not been resolved. Read: Theologians and the Maristerium by Richard A. McCormick.

2.2 Roman authorities, including Popes, have made similar serious misjudgments in the past.

2.3 The present Roman authorities have not understood the precious new values of our own time
nor the need of a more democratic way of governing the Church.

2.4 Read our frequently asked questions on the Teaching Authority of the Catholic Church.

In spite of Rome’s present claims, the teaching of the Church on the ordination of women can and will be changed in the future.

John Wijngaards