Can a faithful Catholic hold that Women may one day be Priests?

I’ve already written, repeatedly, on the topic of women deacons. It is an open question as to whether or not the Church has been given the authority by Christ to ordain women as deacons. So, until the Magisterium decides the question, a faithful Catholic may hold the opinion that the Church possess the authority to ordain women solely to the diaconate.

But can women ever be ordained as priests? Here is the surprising wording in an infallible teaching of the Magisterium on that point:

“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” [Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 4]

The faithful must hold, as an article of faith, that Jesus Christ did not give His Church the authority to ordain women as priests. And since a bishop is a kind of priest, and the Pope is a kind of bishop, the Church also has no authority to ordain women as Bishops, and a woman cannot be Pope. (Cardinals, on the other hand, do not necessarily need to be ordained at all. So a woman could possibly be appointed as a lay Cardinal.)

But the exact wording of the teaching is surprising. It does not say, simply, that women cannot be priests, but that the Church lacks the authority. And this allows for the possibility that, when Jesus Christ returns, He might decide to grant that authority to the Church. So the teaching that women cannot be priests only applies until Christ returns, and then it becomes an open question.

Now the common opinion is that, when Christ returns, God makes a new heaven and a new earth, and the general Resurrection and general Judgment occur. But I am not speaking about that age, when the Resurrected Just live with the Beatific Vision and with glorified bodies. The Resurrected Just have no need of any Sacrament.

My view, which is the minority opinion on this topic, is that Christ returns twice: once at the end of the tribulation, and again, hundreds of years later, for the general Resurrection. Between the two returns, Christ does NOT reign on earth, for He ascends to Heaven again after His first return, and the Church reigns over the whole world. The people of the world, during that time, will still be fallen sinners, but the whole world will be much holier than before, and all persons will be Christian.

If so then, during that period of time, it is possible that some women will be ordained as Catholic Christian priests. For when Christ returns, he might give that authority to the Church. Therefore, it is a tenable opinion for a faithful Catholic to hold that perhaps, in the distant future after Christ returns, the Church can and will ordain some women as priests.

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

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