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Prodigals in the Pig Muck

Updated: Feb 29

I was once in conversation with a man so desperately concerned with women’s rights that he soon put me in my place for defending the male priesthood.  I have been put in my place a number of times by a number of men seeking to stand up for women.  Clearly, I’m the wrong sort of woman. 

Alice von Hildebrand, who says ‘feminism is the death of femininity’, hits on the key that unlocks the mystery of the male priesthood.  It is not to do with men oppressing women, it is to do with two forgotten but essential principles, namely “masculinity” and “femininity”.   

Young women need to wake up to the beauty of their vocation, and young men need to wake up to the beauty of theirs; they cannot do this if we eradicate the difference between them.  A man embodies the masculine principle, that which acts from without, and a woman embodies the feminine principle, that which receives within.  Equally valuable but different. 

The priest is not just a symbol of Christ, but is sacramentally in persona Christi, and Christ is a man because He is the revelation of the father, and the father’s masculinity is essential because we receive everything we have from Him and can add nothing to Him. 

Women cannot be priests, but every priest has a mother, just as Christ has a mother.  He thinks rather highly of her, as does the Church.  That women alone can be mothers to priests is a thing of beauty; have we so spurned motherhood that we cannot see this and instead see value only in that which is peculiar to men?  

Rather than celebrate women, the call for priestesses is so deeply insulting to women.  How rightly annoyed many women get when they see attempts to eradicate them.  How rightly annoyed women get when men imitate women and compete against them in sport, how rightly annoyed women might be if there were hordes of angry men demanding the right to become “mothers” to priests. 

“Mother of the living” (Gen. 3:20) is no title to be sniffed at. What honour! What dignity! Sorry boys, this is not for you. Priesthood, however, is for you, and it cannot be taken from you no matter how many people stamp their feet.  

Only when we recognise that all this is a gift will we be at peace. Nobody can demand the priesthood. The church did not invent it, she received it. 

In a world that lies to us about ourselves, that lies to our children, that tries to convince us that two plus two equals five, we need the prophetic voice of the Church to speak the eternal truth that there is One God, that He created the heavens and the earth, and that He created man and woman composed of body and soul for one another. 

We need to recognise that being male means something, that being female means something and that these are not insignificant, man-made categories.  One steadfast way in which the Church can do this is to preach loudly and clearly the significance of the male priesthood and the significance of the femininity of the Church as a reflection of the complementarity between men and women. 

It is not a problem to be solved by equity tsars, but rather a simple truth to be affirmed. If we can assent to this, then we can begin the process of healing the tension that has existed between the sexes since the fall. 

Being the bride (the Church) and thus the ‘feminine’ element becomes a symbol of all that is human, since Christ, in instituting the Eucharist, linked it in such an explicit way to the priestly service of the Apostles, it is legitimate to conclude that he thereby wished to express the relationship between man and woman, between what is ‘feminine’ and what is ‘masculine’. It is a relationship willed by God both in the mystery of creation and in the mystery of Redemption. It is the Eucharist above all that expresses the redemptive act of Christ the Bridegroom towards the Church the Bride. This is clear and unambiguous when the sacramental ministry of the Eucharist, in which the priest acts in persona Christi, is performed by a man. (Mulieris dignitatem, John Paul II 1988)

In an attempt to address unnatural and unjust inequality in our society we are walking blindly into an imposition of unnatural and unjust equality, where couples of the same sex can be married, people with penises can compete against uterus-bearers in sport, and competent people must give way to those who the workforce requires to fill a quota. 

Well, the true Church doesn’t play these games because it understands what will be lost when we do.  We are beginning to see the rotten fruit of it now. What we need is for the successors of Peter and the apostles to affirm the beauty and significance of the male priesthood, not to join the voices of the prodigals in the pig muck who want to head home, turf dad out and set about redecorating. 

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thank you, Katherine. Well expressed. What a shame more men and women do not (yet?) realise the fundamental and blessed differences between the sexes.


Peter Wells
Peter Wells

Thank you once again Katherine for your insights. I am in a church which now has women in the Priesthood. as am I. I did not object to this change because I know many of the women and felt that they were wise and godly and maybe had a different perspective to offer. BUT, deep within me I felt that women did not 'need' the priesthood but that men did. You have gone some way towards helping me to see why my (right hemisphere) instincts or intuition was correct.

Peter Wells


Thanks Katherine

As always, an insightful and eloquent explression of the spiritual reality and roles of men and women as gifts from God. Terry

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