While some aspects of the priesthood are disciplines rather than doctrines, and therefore open to change, some are not. From its teaching on priestly celibacy to the possibility of women priests, many expect the Church to change some teachings sometime in the future.
A listener recently asked Go Ask Your Father™ host Monsignor Stuart Swetland about the possibility of the Catholic Church ordaining women priests, and Msgr. Swetland explained that the Church’s teaching on this has already been definitively determined. He said:
“It’s a timely question, because Cardinal-elect Ladaria, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, just published, in Italian, a statement in L’Osservatore Romano about the definitive character of the teaching of Pope St. John Paul II on this.
This is a teaching that John Paul II made very clear back in 1994 in an apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdoltalis, And this is an apostolic letter, which is one way that the Holy Father communicates with the faithful, and it is a teaching document where he talks about the question of women’s ordination.
This is what St. John Paul II wrote:
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.
So that’s about as definitive as one can get. And if there was any doubt about this, Cardinal-elect Ladaria, the current head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has reiterated that this is a definitive teaching. It is infallible by the universal ordinary Magisterium, and it is a teaching that must be held to be in full Communion with the Church.
So if someone believes that women could be validly ordained to the priesthood, they are breaking communion with Christ and His Church.”
Listen to the full discussion below: