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The Contender
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6 Points

REDO: Roman Catholic women should be allowed to become priests

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/6/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 151 times Debate No: 92386
Debate Rounds (3)
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(In the last debate, I accidentally responded to Devnith/SampleText instead of one2one. I created this new debate in place of the old one.)

"In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or citizen, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus.” - Galatians 3:28

I feel that Roman Catholic women should be able to be ordained priests. This will give them more equality in the church, as well as counter the priest shortage.

At my Catholic school, I have been taught that a priest acts in the power of Jesus Christ, and during his ministries, he acts as a vessel for him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Holy Orders as the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. [1] I believe we can both agree on this. If you do not, elaborate why.

I will start my argument by refuting three common claims made by those in your position.

Jesus is a man, therefore, who he acts through must be a man. Every Catholic, man or woman, is called to act as Jesus would. Both sexes can be just as virtuous as the other, which is all that should matter. When you want to become a priest, don't audition for the role of Jesus in a play, you prepare yourself to dedicate your life to him and to act as he would.

If the church excludes women from priesthood because Jesus was a man, the church must also deny priesthood to anyone who isn't ethnically Jewish. Since Jesus was a Jew, only Jews should be able to become priests.

Just as there are biological differences between sexes, there are biological differences between races. Those differences shouldn't matter if the individual has the merits to become a priest.

If we allowed women to be ordained as priests, that would be breaking tradition. Tradition should never be a prominent reason to continue something, even in the church. Roman Catholic women have come a long way, and should continue to fight for their rights. In the Second Vatican Council, discrimination based on sex was declared contrary to God's intent. [2] While this may seem like a decree that has ended all sexism in the church, Catholics should never be satisfied until all forms of sexism have been truly abolished.

When Jesus ordained the first priests, they were all men. This is, like I stated in my first point, not an argument. Jesus was culturally limited when deciding who he could make his apostles. [3] In the context of the bible, Jesus challenged the status quo plenty of times, but not all the time. He did not attack the Roman government, nor the custom of slavery. This is because God has been shown to work within a given culture in order appeal to those who may not have accepted him otherwise. [4]

If you look to sources other than the bible alone, any validity this argument had before collapses. Pope John Paul II refers to four different verses while arguing against female priests.

"Then Jesus replied, 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!'" - John 6:70 [5]

"As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.'" - Matthew 10:7-8 [6]

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" - Matthew 28:18-20 [7]

"But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." - Luke 22:32 [8]

These quotes have been attributed to Jesus, even though it is highly unlikely he said them. [9] And the only verse that specifically singles out men is Luke 22:32.

Going back to biblical context, (after turning the bread into his body, and his blood into wine) Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Super, "Do this in commemoration of me!" He says this to all the disciples at the Last Super, not just the apostles. Despite how Leonardo da Vinci depicted the Last Super, and how many Christians imagine the Last Supper, more people were there besides Jesus and the apostles.





Thanks once again for allowing me to debate this.

I will defend the Churches teaching that only men can validly receive Holy Orders. Round 2 will be for rebuttals so for this round I will explain why the Church teaches what it does.

Difference between men and women?
Before we go into why the Church only allows men to be priests we must first address a modern heresy of the sexual revolution. It has become very common in today’s culture to say that there is no real difference between men and women, that the ideas of defences in the two are social constructs and not objective. The Catholic Church teaches this is not true, that each although equal in dignity display the image of God in different ways [1]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this in paragraph 2335.

"Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way." (CCC 2335)

This is a fundamental distinction we must make when a dressing this question. If men and women really are different in their ontology then what flows from their being will also be different. This is not a question of sexism but rather of acting according to ones nature as infused by God.

A good way of seeing the difference in Men and Women is also seeing the differences in the persons of the Trinity. This illustration is used to signify how each person of the Trinity is different from the other.

Father - Lover
Son - Beloved
Spirit - Love

Man - Lover
Women - Beloved

We can see this distinction in ontology by looking at the marital act. Man goes out from himself and loves his beloved. The woman receives the love of the lover and what results is the image of the Trinity. If we can make this distinction that there are indeed differences in Men and Women then we are one step closer to understanding why women cannot be priests.

A Priest in the Order of Malchizedek
In the book of Genesis we see what is referred to as biblical typology, Abraham meets the high priest Malchizedek king of Salem who brought out bread and wine. This is a symbol of Jesus who was to come.

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High." (Gen 14:19)

As Catholics we believe there is really only one priest, which is the high priest Jesus Christ who was prefigured by the character of Malchizedek [2]. Christ abolished the Levitical priesthood and established himself as one high priest who accomplishes what the Levitical priests could not (Hebrews 7:11). We also believe every one of the baptised exercises this priesthood through their vocation in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. This is endowed to every believer at baptism.

Along with the common priesthood of the faithful is the ministerial priesthood that Christ gave to the apostles to serve the Church.

"22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:22-23)

We know only God has the power to forgive sins, this shows Jesus is endowing these certain men with His authority and making them human agents of the one high priest. This is what we call the ministerial priesthood and it continues today through the laying on of hands from the bishop [3].

How Christ Relates to His Church
Now we come to the important part of understanding why men are exclusively called to the ministerial priesthood. It has to do with how Christ relates to His Church.

There are doctrinal reasons for this teaching that are highly misunderstood. The first worth examining is the nature of the sacrament. A sacrament is defined as: A visible sign of an invisible grace. This means there are two main parts to a sacrament. 1. Something visible, tangible, sensible and 2. Something invisible.

The sacrament of baptism uses water which is a part of the visible sign discovered in this sacrament. Water is used to represent the life and death of Christ. Water was used in the Exodus of the Israelites to kill the Egyptians. Furthermore, water is also a sign of washing away our sins, and finally water is a sign of new-birth. It would not be appropriate to pour wine over a baby or an adults head, as that is the incorrect sign. In as much as there is no inequality between wine and water, there is no inequality in man being used to signify liturgically the male-reality of Christ's priesthood.

Furthermore the priesthood, adds a permanent character at the level of being which cannot be undone after the ordination (similar to baptism and confirmation). This unrepeatable sacrament is most prominently a matter of identity and not function. That is to say the priesthood has to do with one's own nature rather than primarily his activity. A woman can speak the words of consecration, can offer reflections on the word of God, and can be great councillors. But the priesthood is not primarily about what one can "do" as much as it is about whom one is, and his relationship with God and the Church. The nature of Christ as revealed in scripture is to be the Churches’ Bridegroom[4]. Therefore a woman cannot fulfill a sign of Groom in as much as man cannot fulfill the role as Bride.

This takes us back to the distinctions made in males and females.

Church has no authority to ordain women
I will conclude my argument with this statement by St. John Paul II in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

"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)

For those unfamiliar with papal language, when the pope says something is to be definitively held by all the faithful he is making an infallible statement. If we question one infallible statement, then all infallible declarations can be questions. This is not the opinion of the Church it is from the very mind of Christ.

In the next round I will respond to your objections.




3. 1575


Debate Round No. 1


corporealbeing forfeited this round.


Sorry to see my opponent forfeited the last round. With a good reason I think they should have the opportunity in the last round to try and save their case. I will now deconstruct my opponent’s arguments.


Jesus was a man:

Pro states that man and women have equal ability in being virtuous and I agree. The problem is that con sees the priesthood as merely a job and not a vocation to which God calls men to. The fact that women can (and often are) just as or more virtuous then men is not a reason to be a priest. As was stated in my arguments in R2 the priesthood is not merely about what one can do as it is about whom one is.

Secondly the claim that ethnicity and sex are equal in distinguishing people is none sense. As I showed earlier the Catholic Church expressively teaches that man and women are different on an ontological level (level of being). It's not simply that priests are supposed to have similar DNA to be a sign of Christ but that they distinctively represent the male reality of his personhood.

Once again the priesthood isn't about merit, but Gods calling.

Breaking Tradition:

Let me first respond to the first sentence of this argument.

"Tradition should never be a prominent reason to continue something, even in the church."

I think my opponent misunderstands what the Catholic Church teaches by tradition. Yes man made tradition (small “t”) is up for debate and personal preference. These include such practices as: facing east for mass, praying the rosary, music and architecture, and liturgical norms. These traditions are expressions of the catholic faith in the world we find ourselves.

What we are talking about here is Sacred Tradition (big "T"). These are the traditions passed on by the apostles and are to be held by all the faithful definitively. St. Paul tells us of these traditions in his second letter to the Thessalonians.

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." [1]

The practice of male only ordinations is not a tradition made to help express the faith but rather a Sacred Tradition passed on by the apostles, continued through the ages, and then definitively declared by the Church [2].

Lastly as I pointed out in my explanation on the sacramental nature of ordination, women not being able to be ordained is no greater injustice then wine not being used for baptism.

Jesus only called men:

This is a very incoherent argument. Frist you say Jesus was culturally limited, so the New Testament was only in the context of the first century (which is partly right). Then you say, “These quotes have been attributed to Jesus, even though it is highly unlikely he said them." Well which one is it? Did he say it and not mean it or did he not say it at all? You cannot put forward both points since one refutes the other. If we do believe he didn’t say it does that mean the bible isn't inspired? Why even advocate for women’s ordination if you deny that we can even be sure that Jesus said anything?

It’s a self-refuting argument.

I will lastly address the idea that somehow the King of the universe, the "logos", and the word made flesh somehow wanted women to be priests but because of the culture he chose not to. If this is true what else did Jesus want to change but couldn’t? Why even trust the bible at all?


In conclusion the Church as perpetuated for 2000 years continues to teach that only made can be made priests. This is not anymore unfair then women having exclusive right to motherhood. Each is an expression of how God uses us for His glory. The points put forward by my opponent are weak and see the priesthood as a job not a vocation.



Debate Round No. 2


corporealbeing forfeited this round.


I will make this short since Pro has forfeited the last two rounds.

I want to make it clear that the Catholic Church needs strong faithful women. The inability of women to become priests is not a reflection of a lower status but a different calling. What I see in modern feminism is not for women to become more authentically female but rather to be more like men. The Church makes distinctions between men and women not to put one above the other, but to show how the two compliment the each other.

I know this is a difficult issue for many women that feel betrayed by the Church. I thank anyone that looks at the teaching of the Church with an open mind willing to see why the Church has no power to undo the work of Jesus.

Hopefully I have shown this to be the case. Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 3
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3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by ThinkBig 4 months ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for the forfeit. Con also adaquetly refuted all of pro's arguments, and made strong arguments that were not refuted by pro due to the forfeit.
Vote Placed by fire_wings 4 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: ffety ff
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 4 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff many times, so conduct to Con.