Human rights, such as equal rights for women, do not
apply in the context of the ministries
From INTER INSIGNIORES:
(The hyper-linked comments in italics are by John
35. It is opportune to recall that problems of sacramental
theology, especially when they concern the ministerial priesthood, as is the
case here, cannot be solved except in the light of Revelation. The human
sciences, however valuable their contribution in their own domain, cannot
suffice here, for they cannot grasp the realities of faith: the properly
supernatural content of these realities is beyond their competence.
36. Thus one must note the extent to which the Church is a
society different from other societies, original in her nature and in her
structures. The pastoral charge in the Church is normally linked to the
sacrament of Order; it is not a simple government, comparable to the modes of
authority found in States. It is not granted by peoples spontaneous
choice: even when it involves designation through election, it is the laying on
of hands and the prayer of the successors of the Apostles which guarantee
Gods choice; and it is the Holy Spirit, given by ordination, who grants
participation in the ruling power of the Supreme Pastor, Christ (cf. Acts 20
:28). It is a charge of service and love: If you love me, feed my
sheep (cf. Jn 21 :15-17).
37. For this reason one cannot see how it is possible to
propose the admission of women to the priesthood in virtue of the equality of
rights of the human person, an equality which holds good also for Christians.
To this end, use is sometimes made of the text quoted above, from the Letter to
the Galatians (3 :28), which says that in Christ there is no longer any
distinction between men and women. But this passage does not concern
ministries: it only affirms the universal calling to divine filiation, which is
the same for all. Moreover, and above all, to consider the ministerial
priesthood as a human right would be to misjudge its nature completely: baptism
does not confer any personal title to public ministry in the Church. The
priesthood is not conferred for the honour or advantage of the recipient, but
for the service of God and the Church; it is the object of a specific and
totally gratuitous vocation: You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and
I commissioned you. . . (Jn 15:16; cf. Heb. 5:4).
For the full text, see: INTER INSIGNIORES.
Commentary by the Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Declaration Inter
105. The proposal that women should be admitted to the
priesthood because they have gained leadership in many fields of modern life
today seems to ignore the fact that the Church is not a society like the rest.
In the Church, authority or power is of a very different nature, linked as it
normally is with the sacrament, as is underlined in the declaration. Disregard
of this fact is indeed a temptation that has threatened ecclesiological
research at all periods: every time that an attempt is made to solve the
Churchs problems by comparison with those of states, or to define the
Churchs structure by political categories, the inevitable result is an
106. The declaration also points out the defect in the
argument that seeks to base the demand that the priesthood be conferred on
women on the text Galatians 3:28, which states that in Christ there is no
longer any distinction between man and woman. For St Paul this is the effect of
baptism. The baptismal catechesis of the fathers often stressed it. But
absolute equality in baptismal life is quite a different thing from the
structure of the ordained ministry. This latter is the object of a vocation
within the Church not a right inherent in the person.
For the full text, see: Official Commentary on INTER INSIGNIORES.