Pope John Paul II, Catholic ChurchWhen people meet me and find out that I’m a Catholic theologian, it does not take long before they pop the question: “why doesn’t the Catholic Church have women and married priests?”
Now the fun begins. “There must be some mistake,” I respond. “The Catholic Church has had female and married priests from the very beginning.”
That is usually met with a blank, perplexed stare.
But really, it is true. In Exodus 19:6 God promises to make the chosen people “a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” The first letter of Peter 2:5-10 echoes this. And to show how seriously the Catholic Church takes this, the sacrament of confirmation offers to all Catholics an anointing with the sacred chrism that is used to confer only one other sacrament–the ordination of bishops and priests.
This is not to blur the distinction between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of all believers.
The rest of the article by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio is here.
Ex19-6: meant only the male members of the Jewish nation; at least that is what I heard.
At first I thought the question asked why the Church doesn’t have women.
As usual, D’Ambrosio is spot on. All the baptized-and-confirmed are called to share in the one priesthood of Christ by offering themselves and all they do as a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. That is an indispensable way in which the Church functions, as Vatican II said, as “the sacrament of salvation” for the world.
The ministerial priesthood functions specifically as a sacrament within the Church, equipping us to function as above. It is a particular mode of priesthood instituted by the High Priest that helps to constitute the more general priesthood partly by expressing it formally. That is what makes it sacramental in a broad sense, even as the Church is sacramental.