VALENCIA, Spain, October 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — 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.
Regarding the priesthood, Cañizares predicted that no ordination of women is on the horizon. He said the apostolic letter written by St. John Paul II in 1994, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is clear about the issue and should be read by all Catholics, lay and ordained. He recalled that the pope spoke as supreme pastor of the Church and with the intention of assuring the faith of believers, “which is proper to his ministry.” The cardinal quoted the document, in which Pope John Paul II said: “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.” In the apostolic letter, the Polish pope noted in defense of Church doctrine that the Virgin Mary herself was not conferred priestly faculties, even while the role women play in the Church remains essential.
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.
“If the ‘culture’ is what decides what is valid and what is not in faith and in the life of the Church then we are saying that Jesus Christ has not happened. His person, his works, his gestures would not have a definitive value of ultimate and full Revelation. In this case it would not be the Word of God made flesh, in which God has told us everything; we would have to wait for another revelation; we would not be saved,” said Cañizares.
“And this is what is at stake in the priestly ordination of women. It is a question that belongs to the heart of faith. And that is why the Church, even if it wanted to, can do nothing but follow what Christ did, gathered in the Holy Scriptures, which chose its apostles only among men,” he insisted.