Rome, 22 May 2014
The International Movement We are Church (IMWAC), on the 20th Anniversary of the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, ‘Ordinatio Sacerdotalis’, entitled ’Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Only‘ calls on Pope Francis to recognise that this Magisterial teaching is not supported by the vast proportion of the Catholic Faithful and ought to be changed.
We believe that the call to Priesthood is a Charism of God, based on Baptism and confining it to ‘men only’ limits the power of God. This continued ban on women from priestly ordination is an injustice in the Church which must be confronted by the Catholic Faithful as a matter of conscience. Accordingly Canon Law 1024 which states that only a male can be validly ordained is an unjust law and should be withdrawn as a matter of urgency.
What Pope Francis wrote in his recent letter ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ regarding the ordination of women - ‘The reservation of the Priesthood to males , as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist ,is not a question open to discussion’ - does not represent the Sensus Fidelium of the convictions of not only the Catholic faithful but of very many clergy and some hierarchy as well.
In this letter Pope Francis is reiterating what Pope John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic letter 20 years ago condemning women’s priestly ordination - ‘we declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer Priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitely held by all the Church’s faithful – ‘ . Even at that time this magisterial teaching banning women from Priestly Ordination was disputed by Bishops and Faithful alike within the Catholic Community.
In April 1976 the Pontifical Commission concluded unanimously that ‘It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in any clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible access of women to the Priesthood‘ and by a significant majority it concluded that ‘The church could ordain women to the Priesthood without going against Christ’s wishes‘.
This magisterium of these Biblical theologians has been rejected by successive Popes including Pope Francis. Equally the magisterium of the ’Sensus Fidelium’ has been rejected by successive Popes.
It is now the right time that the Papal magisterium should allow free and open discussion of Women’s ordination within the Catholic Church without fear of excommunication . It is also right that those within our Catholic Community who have been unjustly excommunicated because they publicly articulated that reserving priestly ordination to men only has no basis in scripture or human reason should be fully accepted back within our Communion.
Banning women from Priestly Ordination is a continuing injustice which has no basis in the New Testament, is a continued stain on the fabric of the Catholic Communion and most importantly the younger generation find this ban a stumbling block to their Faith in the Risen Lord.
Read more: "Correct an injustice: Ordain women“, National Catholic Reporter, December 2012: