Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has provided LifeSiteNews with a statement on why the Church’s teaching of an all-male priesthood is infallible and therefore not up for a corrective discussion.
In his comments, Cardinal Müller refers to Pope John Paul II’s authoritative document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994). In this document, the Pope stated at the time that “although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.”
In light of the debates on female “ordination” that were then already taking place, John Paul II makes it clear that this discussion is not possible when he writes: “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.”
Comments Cardinal Müller himself:
“It is certain without doubt, however, that this definitive decision from Pope John Paul II is indeed a dogma of the Faith of the Catholic Church and that this was of course the case already before this Pope defined this truth as contained in Revelation in the year 1994. The impossibility that a woman validly receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders in each of the three degrees is a truth contained in Revelation and it is thus infallibly confirmed by the Church’s Magisterium and presented as to be believed.”
Herewith, the German prelate makes it clear that even the female “diaconate” is infallibly ruled out.
In the recent past, there have been in Germany different voices demanding female “ordination” and thereby also questioning Pope John Paul II’s 1994 document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
The most recent and prominent example of questioning this authoritative document is Bishop Erwin Kräutler, one of the key organizers of the upcoming October 6 to 27 Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazon, and a staunch promoter of the idea of “ordaining” women. He just stated that John Paul II’s ban on female “priests” is “not a dogma” and that the female “diaconate” is now a “must.”
“I know it is not easy to oppose exclusion of women from the ordained priesthood, as it has been cemented [sic] by Pope John Paul II in his 1994 apostolic document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” he explains. “But, even if the Pope explained at the time that ‘all the faithful of the Church are definitely to hold this decision,’ it is nevertheless not a dogma.”
Kräutler goes on to say that the Amazon Synod “must admit women to the ordination to the diaconate.”
In light of the upcoming Amazon Synod and its discussion of possible “ministerial offices” for women, it seems fitting now to receive from Cardinal Müller some of his illuminating and authoritative comments on the matter.
Another German prelate, Cardinal Rainer Woelki, made a similar statement a few weeks ago. On September 8, he stated that “the question about the priesthood of women is not a question which lies in our power of disposition,” since “priesthood has not been invented by man, but goes back to the mandate of Our Lord.”
“Pope John Paul II has decided upon this question in a binding manner and for the entire Church already in 1994,” Cardinal Woelki concluded, “and Pope Francis has repeatedly re-enforced this decision of his predecessor.”
In 2018, the German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller – one of the two remaining dubia cardinals – declared that he who call for female “priests” in the Catholic Church “fulfills the elements of heresy which has, as its consequence, the exclusion from the Church – excommunication.” He then also insisted that John Paul II’s 1994 declaration “fulfills all the preconditions which are necessary for an infallible – that is to say, an irrevocable – dogmatic decision.”
Cardinal Müller himself, in an earlier intervention concerning the working document of the Amazon Synod, even went so far as to state that not even a pope or a council could change this dogma. He said that “no synod – with or without the Pope – and also no ecumenical council, or the Pope alone, if he spoke ex cathedra, could make possible the ordination of women as bishop, priest, or deacon. They would stand in contradiction to the defined doctrine of the Church.”
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