Women’s ordination lies affirmed in latent tradition

The treasure of revealed doctrine is carried in the faith of all the believers. This is its natural home. It is known as the sense of faith, or the sense of believers.

The Church teaches that ‘the entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,cannot err in matters of belief.’ (Lumen Gentium § 12)

The true tradition of the Church is, at times, not what is expressed publicly but Latent Tradition, the tradition that lies deep in the hearts of the faithful.

In St Mary Magdalene, the “apostle of the apostles”, the faithful saw an example of a woman who could do what the men did.

15th century French church painting, depicting Mary with the child Jesus before giving holy communion

But perhaps the best example of latent tradition is the age-old devotion to Mary as Priest.

People believed held that Mary was, indeed, a priest for four main reasons: Mary belonged to a priestly family. Mary exercised priestly functions. Mary gave us the Eucharist and Mary procures forgiveness of sins.

The devotion to Mary Priest has been present throughout the history of the Church.

Tradition stressed Mary’s role as a priest in her offering Jesus during the presentation in the temple and during his crucifixion on Calvary.

The devotion continued until 1927, when it was suddenly suppressed by the Holy Office – probably because of the implied link to women’s ordination!

However privileged, Jesus’ mother was a woman. If Mary could be a priest, so can any other baptised woman.

This is a true case of Latent Tradition. Believers have always known in their heart of hearts that women too can be priests.

John Wijngaards