For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has prohibited females from getting ordained, meaning females cannot officially become priests. This is a major issue separating liberal Catholics from conservative Catholics. Many liberal Catholics believe that excluding women from priesthood is wrong and somewhat absurd. They argue that there is no difference between men and women Catholics, and that women can be called to priesthood just as men can. Conservative Catholics believe that because Jesus’ twelve disciples were all men, that women should not hold leadership positions in the church.
Though many women do hold leadership positions in the Church, they are not as powerful as the positions that men are able to hold and practice. This enforces and creates patriarchy within the Church. In the article “Women Studies: Perspective and Practices” patriarchy is defined as a “system where men dominate because power and authority are in the hands of adult men.” It is this system that so many first, second, and third wavers fought against. So why is it still so widely accepted in the Catholic Church? Women are simply not allowed to become priests, even if they are more suited for the job than a man. Yet there are still some Catholic women who do try to become ordained priests. This, however, results in excommunication. The video below shows some of these women and their beliefs.
In the video, the women explain that they cannot hold higher positions in the Church merely due to the fact they are female. Not because they are less holy, not because they are impure, not because they are less qualified, but simply because of their sex. This completely enforces patriarchy, not even giving women a chance to prove that they can hold higher positions. To dedicated Catholics, this oppression is the equivalent of not allowing a women be in, or even run for, an office higher than the state level of government. This would create extreme outrage to both women and men today, so why have Catholics, men and women, accepted this oppression for so many years?
In Anna Quindlen’s “Still Needing the F Word,” she explains feminism as “belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” Keeping women out of priesthood goes against every aspect of feminism. How can Catholics who call themselves feminists accept this oppression of women in the Church? Feminism is something that was formally introduced with first wave feminism in the 1800’s. We are now over 10 years into the 2000’s and this concept has yet to be accepted or even recognized in the Church. As a Catholic myself I have seen all sides of the spectrum. More progressive Catholics see no problem with women as priests. Many right-winged Catholics, however, come off as plain sexist rather than conservative. Someone once said to me: “Women can’t be priests, that’s men’s work.” This is exactly the kind of talk feminists need to fight against.
It seems old-fashioned and wrong that there is such gender inequality in the Church today. It seems like there should be some sort of global uproar against this wide-spread oppression. There’s no reason why women cannot and should not be priests.