Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera affirmed that the male priesthood is of the essence of the Catholic faith and that “no one in the Church can do anything but admit that priestly ordination is for men only.”
In an opinion piece that appeared in the Spanish daily La Razón in September, Cardinal Cañizares, archbishop of Valencia, reacted to media reports about changes in Church discipline and doctrine that were to be discussed in the Amazon Synod that concluded Sunday.
The churchman said the male priesthood is of “the very essence of the Church and nobody in the Church can do anything but admit that priestly ordination is for men only. This cannot be changed.” In an article titled “Ordination of women to the priesthood?,” Cardinal Cañizares spoke also to concerns that German bishops will soon gather in a synod in what appears to be an attempt to modify Church discipline regarding celibacy for priests.
According to the cardinal, there have been “rumors” that the German bishops will “attempt to change some issues regarding sexual or marital morality and revise the current moral doctrine of the Catholic Church on those issues. There are some who are voicing alarm over a possible schism.” The rumors have come, Cañizares said in the article, in an “environment that does nothing to encourage peace and internal unity of the Church.” He gave assurances that there is no schism in the worldwide Church, “because the pope’s word is being very clear” in a letter the pontiff sent to German Catholics that seeks to dispel any fear of such “nonsense, which will never occur.”
The cardinal called on Christians to remain “calm” and called for “unity and full communion within the Church and faithfulness to the pope, Revelation, and the Tradition of the Church.” Any change regarding celibacy, he wrote, would mean that the “Church would no longer be as Jesus wanted.” He asked for increased prayer for unity in the Church in order to pursue its primary mission: evangelization.
Asking rhetorically, “Will the Church change its position?,” the cardinal said that because the doctrine regarding the male priesthood is of the essence of the Church, neither the pope nor any other person can change it.
“It is unchangeable,” he wrote.
Revelation is the unique and unrepeatable event that is Jesus Christ and remains beyond the reach of human hands, he said. Therefore, “we cannot change its essential elements in line with the changing movements of history or the ‘demands’ of a given time or culture. That would only be possible if faith were the product of the speculation and creation of men. But it’s not like that. When culture becomes the criterion and measure of faith, the very foundation of faith is called into question,” he said.
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