Women who believe they have a priestly vocation are not
guided by the Spirit
From INTER INSIGNIORES:
(The hyper-linked comments in italics are by John
38. It is sometimes said and written in books and
periodicals that some women feel that they have a vocation to the priesthood.
Such an attraction, however noble and understandable, still does not suffice
for a genuine vocation. In fact a vocation cannot be reduced to a mere personal
attraction, which can remain purely subjective. Since the priesthood is a
particular ministry of which the Church has received the charge and the
control, authentication by the Church is indispensable here and is a
constitutive part of the vocation: Christ chose those he wanted (Mk
3:13). On the other hand, there is a universal vocation of all the baptized to
the exercise of the royal priesthood by offering their lives to God and by
giving witness for his praise.
39. Women who express a desire for the ministerial
priesthood are doubtless motivated by the desire to serve Christ and the
Church. And it is not surprising that, at a time when they are becoming more
aware of the discriminations to which they have been subjected, they should
desire the ministerial priesthood itself. But it must not be forgotten that the
priesthood does not form part of the rights of the individual, but stems from
the economy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The priestly office cannot
become the goal of social advancement; no merely human progress of society or
of the individual can of itself give access to it: it is of another order.
40. It therefore remains for us to meditate more deeply on
the nature of the real equality of the baptized which is one of the great
affirmations of Christianity: equality is in no way identity, for the Church is
a differentiated body, in which each individual has his or her role. The roles
are distinct, and must not be confused; they do not favour the superiority of
some vis-a-vis the others, nor do they provide an excuse for jealousy; the only
better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (cf. 1 Cor. 12-13). The
greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints.
For the full text, see: INTER INSIGNIORES.
Commentary by the Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Declaration Inter
107. A vocation within the Church does not consist solely or
primarily in the fact that one manifests the desire for a mission or feels
attracted by an inner compulsion. Even if this spontaneous step is made and
even if one believes one has heard as it were a call in the depths of
ones soul, the vocation is authentic only from the moment that it is
authenticated by the external call of the Church. The Holv Office recalled this
truth in its 1912 letter to the bishop of Aire to put an end to the Lahitton
controversy.(53) Christ chose those he wanted (Mk 3:13).
108. Since the ministerial priesthood is something to which
the Lord calls expressly and gratuitously, it cannot be claimed as a right, any
more by men than by women. Archbishop Bernardins declaration of October
1975 contained the sound judgment: It would be a mistake . . . to reduce
the question of the ordination of women to one of injustice, as is done at
times. It would be correct to do this only if ordination were a God-given right
of every individual; only if somehow ones human potential could not be
fulfilied without it. In fact, however, no one, male or female, can claim a
right to ordination. And, since the episcopal and priestly office
is basically a ministry of service, ordination in no way completes
For the full text, see: Official Commentary on INTER INSIGNIORES.