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Explaining the All-Male Priesthood

Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin explains why the Catholic Church only ordains men to the priesthood, and offers several possible explanations of why Jesus chose men to be his ministers.


Host: Geno, watching on YouTube Live, writes the following: “Hi. Cy and Jimmy–” Hi, Geno– “I teach year two Confirmation, and my students asked, ‘Why aren’t there women priests?’ Also, Jimmy, could you give a shout-out to my students at St. Philip Benizi in Fullerton?”

Jimmy: Okay, well yes. So, shout-out to the students at St. Philip Benizi. Go students!

Host: That was an excellent shout-out!

Jimmy: Thank you.

Host: That was good, yeah, the “Go students!” part really…

Jimmy: …kind of sold it?

Host: Yeah, really good.

Jimmy: In terms of why there aren’t women priests, well, this question can be answered more than one way. The basic answer is because it isn’t God’s will for women to assume that office in the Church. Women can assume many offices, women and men are fundamentally equal, God values us both equally, he doesn’t value either gender more than the other; but there are differences between men and women and the roles they play. This is obvious even in a family. The man can be a father, but he can’t be a mother; the woman can be a mother, but she can’t be a father.

So we know from the fact that Jesus only appointed men as his ministers that it was his will that this be the case. And this was something different than in other religions in the ancient world. In other religions they had women priests. But Jesus chose not to have any, and so the Church all the way down through history has felt bound by that. And so that’s one way of answering the question “Why is it that way?” Well, it’s because Jesus willed it this way.

There’s another question, though, which can be asked, which is: “Why did he will it this way?” And here, the Church doesn’t have a definitive answer. There have been various ideas proposed by different people. One of them is based on the metaphor of fatherhood, because priests have a kind of spiritual fatherhood. And just like–and they also act in, the technical term is in persona Christi, but it kind of means in the place of Jesus–and so many thinkers have said, “Well, only men get to be the dads, and that includes the spiritual dads.” So some people have proposed that.

Also people have said, you know, Jesus chose to incarnate as a male, and that may be one of the reasons that he chose to have men as his representatives to minister to people on his behalf.

So those are possibilities, but ultimately thus far the Church hasn’t identified a single specific reason or set of reasons why it’s men in particular; but we do know that this was Jesus’ will.

Host: Thank you very much, Geno, and all the folks over there at Saint Philip Benizi.

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