Can Women Ever Be Ordained as Catholic Priests?

The dogma of the Roman Catholic Magisterium is that Jesus did not give His Church the authority to ordain women to the priesthood. This teaching is infallible under the ordinary and universal Magisterium, and may also meet all the conditions for Papal Infallibility (in my opinion). So the answer would seem to be that women can never be ordained as priests.

But what will happen when Christ returns? The teaching that Jesus did not give His Church the authority to ordain women to the priesthood will become moot. Once Jesus returns, He might decide to give the Church that authority. For there is no dogmatic teaching saying that women “can never be ordained”, nor that women “are not valid matter for ordination”, nor any similar concept that would absolutely rule out women priests.

{20:5} The rest of the dead did not live, until the thousand years are completed. This is the First Resurrection.
{20:6} Blessed and holy is he who takes part in the First Resurrection. Over these the second death has no power. But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him for a thousand years.

I reject the heresy called millenarianism, in which Christ returns for an earthly reign of any kind. However, my controversial interpretation of the above passage is that Christ returns twice, once at the end of the tribulation, at the First Resurrection, and again, much later, for the General Resurrection. After the first Return, He ascends to Heaven again, and the Church reigns over the whole world. People will still be sinners, but the reign of sin will have ended. Everyone in the world will be Catholic Christian.

Who is given the First Resurrection? The text says that those martyred during the reign of the Antichrist are resurrected. But I think that the First Resurrection will include all the Saints and Martyrs of history, both men and women, of course. These resurrected holy persons will have the Beatific Vision of God, so they will be free from all concupiscence and all sin. Death has no power over them because they have received the full Resurrection, prior to the time of the general Judgment.

But the text says about these holy persons “they shall be priests of God and of Christ”. This expression cannot refer merely to the priesthood of all believers, since it is presented as a special feature of those of the First Resurrection. But if they are ordained priests and include women, the implication is that Christ gives His Church, in that future time after His Return, the authority to ordain some women as priests.

This point of view is highly speculative. However, it does not contradict the dogma that Christ did not give His Church the authority to ordain women priests. After Christ’s Return, He may do so. And the above verses from Scripture indicate that He will do so.

What relevance does this interpretation have for us today? It refutes the argument that women cannot be deacons, because they cannot ever be priests. For the diaconate is closely related to the priesthood. But if Christ will ordain women priests after His Return, the possibility of ordaining women deacons, in advance of His Return, is viable.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to Can Women Ever Be Ordained as Catholic Priests?

  1. Michael says:

    Assuming women deacons will have the authority to give homilies just as male deacons do now, how do we reconcile 1 Timothy 2:11-12 with women deacons preaching?

    {2:11} Let a woman learn in silence with all subjection.
    {2:12} For I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to be in authority over a man, but to be in silence.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I would say that women deacons have a different role than male deacons, so they should be excluded from any role that conflicts with the relevant Scripture passages on roles. however, the “silence” required of women is figurative. Paul says, elsewhere, that women should be silent in the churches, but then he also allows that they may prophesy in the churches. So it is the figurative silence of a role of service, not literal silence.

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