(LifeSiteNews) – Father Tyler Johnson of the Archdiocese of Seattle kindly sent to LifeSite an open letter addressed to the German bishops (see full text below), asking them to stop calling for the ordination of women. As he writes, he has been following reports on how the head of the German bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, “has been aggressively advocating for the ordination of women to the sacred priesthood of Jesus.”
“As a priest myself,” Father writes, “I am truly disturbed at this ploy to turn against our Catholic faith, Holy Mother Church, and ultimately Christ Himself. I find this desire of Bishop Bätzing and any other like-minded prelates simply a part of the diabolic modernist agenda. The advocacy of such contemporary ideologies only undermines true Catholic faith, promotes disorder, and will confuse the members of the Church.”
In light of the fact that the Church’s Magisterium has very clearly ruled against female ordination, Father Johnson, in conclusion, calls upon the German bishops to “formally rescind any plans your conference has to promote the ordination of women either to the priesthood or to the diaconate” and urges them to remain loyal to their promises that they made at their ordination to “exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.”
We thank Father Johnson for his witness and loyalty to the Church’s teachings.
Please see here the full text of his open letter:
December 8, 2022
To the Bishops of the Catholic Church of Germany,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus. I wish you, successors to the Apostles, and all the faithful of Germany, many blessings during this Advent season. As a way of introducing this correspondence, I begin by presenting St. Paul’s words from the fifteenth chapter of his letter to the Romans, which happens to be one of the Mass readings during Advent. Here, we are urged:
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:5-6)
As we attentively listen to this message from the great St. Paul, we are reminded that we have a duty always and everywhere to “keep” with Christ Jesus so that we may, “with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (c.f. Rom. 15:6). This is especially true for you as bishops who have the sacred duty of preserving intact the full deposit of faith.
Please hold these words of the holy evangelist in mind as I continue this letter. One of the great joys of my priesthood has been the ability to provide sacramental ministry to two orders of female religious within my diocese. North of my parish are two active religious communities. A real grace for me has been witnessing how these women live out their vocation as consecrated. I can clearly see that these sisters desire to live their unique role as female members within the Church most authentically. They also fully understand that their role as women is distinct from that of men, and especially distinct from the Church’s sect of ordained ministers. I am very much inspired as these religious embody this fundamental anthropological truth with the utmost joy and fervor! Similarly, some of the most faith-filled persons in my parish are lay women who, like these communities of religious, strive to live their unique vocations specifically as female members in the Body of Christ. I share all of this as a way to help us remember God’s plan for the Church in having distinct yet equally meaningful roles for both men and women.
I have been following the reports of how your president of the German bishops conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, has been aggressively advocating for the ordination of women to the sacred priesthood of Jesus. (1) As a priest myself, I am truly disturbed at this ploy to turn against our Catholic faith, Holy Mother Church, and ultimately Christ Himself. I find this desire of Bishop Bätzing and any other like-minded prelates simply a part of the diabolic modernist agenda. The advocacy of such contemporary ideologies only undermines true Catholic faith, promotes disorder, and will confuse the members of the Church. I think most alarming about this push from your conference president, is the fact that the Catholic Church has already made definitive declarations regarding the issue of women’s ordination. Pope St. John Paul II in his 1994 apostolic letter on the ordination of priests made the Church’s stance abundantly clear. Here’s what our holy pontiff stated:
“She [the Catholic Church] holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.” (2)
The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, when under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, decisively upheld the declaration of John Paul II in its response to Ordinatio Sacrerdotalis:
“This teaching, [that the Church has no authority to ordain women to the priesthood], requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.” (3)
Recent updates to the Code of Canon Law also demonstrate that this matter has been settled within the Church:
“Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state.” (4)
As an alternate reflection to aid in our understanding of the gift of ordained ministry, we can explore ordained ministry in light of our journey through this season of Advent. During these weeks of preparation, we are called to enter into the mystery of the Incarnation which we commemorate at Christmas. How amazing it is that God, the author of all creation, would choose in an act of great humility and love, to concretely embrace the very human flesh He created.
But what exact “flesh” did God assume over two-thousand years ago? It was not a sexless, ambiguous flesh. God clearly and intentionally became a man. This is one of the primary reasons why the Catholic Church cannot ordain women to the priesthood. It’s certainly not because the Church thinks women aren’t valuable for the Church’s life. In fact, when you look in the Gospels, what you clearly see is that it’s the women, not the men, who have the most intimate interactions with Christ, (c.f. Lk. 10:38-42, Jn. 8:1-11, Jn. 4:4-26). An all-male priesthood exists ultimately because ordained priests who share the same human nature as Christ the High Priest, logically share the same sex as Christ the High Priest. This biological parallel to Jesus doesn’t mean that men are superior to women – it simply means that priests are meant to be conformed to Christ in every way, including the manhood He chose to assume.
And so my brothers, I vehemently urge you in the words of St. Paul to “keep” with Christ in regards to the Church’s teaching about ordination. Remember the day of your own ordination to the priesthood and how you made the promise to, “exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith”. (5) As a priest who wholeheartedly loves Christ, and only desires to advance His Kingdom, I beg you, for the good of Holy Mother Church, and for the sake of souls, formally rescind any plans your conference has to promote the ordination of women either to the priesthood or to the diaconate. Also, beg God for mercy, as I will, for this heinous agenda which pains the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Be assured of my prayers.
Respectfully Yours in Christ Jesus,
Fr. Tyler Johnson
A Priest of the United States
2. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, no. 1, 1994.
3. Responsum ad Dubium, CDF, 1995.
4. Can. 1379 § 3.
5. Rite of Ordination, Ordination of Priests, Promises of the Elect.