Featured Image
 John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews

(LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Robert Sarah, former prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has reiterated the definitive and infallible teaching of Pope John Paul II that the Church has no authority whatsoever to ordain women to the priesthood. 

In a July 3 conference on the vocation and dignity of the Catholic male priesthood titled Joyful Servants of the Gospel” and held at the Conciliar Seminary in Mexico City, Cardinal Sarah forcefully declared, “No council, no synod, no ecclesiastical authority has the power to invent a female priesthood … without seriously damaging the perennial physiognomy of the priest, his sacramental identity, within the renewed ecclesiological vision of the Church, mystery, communion, and mission.”  

Condemning the abuse of the “divine gift” of the priesthood for the sake of a passing cultural fashion, Sarah stated that no one has the power to transform this divine gift to adapt it and reduce its transcendent value to the cultural and environmental field.”  

RELATED: Attack on celibacy puts priesthood in ‘mortal danger,’ warns Cdl Sarah

Emphasizing that the priesthood is one and the same throughout the entire Church and that through ordination a man is configured sacramentally to Christ Himself, Sarah declared, “The Catholic faith professes that the sacrament of Holy Orders, instituted by Christ the Lord, is one, it is identical for the universal Church. For Jesus, there is no African, German, Amazonia, or European priesthood. The priesthood is unique, it is identical for the universal Church.” 

“The priesthood is a great, great mystery, so great a gift that it would be a sin to waste it. It’s a divine gift that must be received, understood, and lived, and the Church has always sought to understand and enter deeper into the real and proper being of the priest, as a baptized man, called to be an alter Christus, another Christ, even more so an ipse Christus, Christ himself, to represent Him, to conform to Him, to be configured and mediated in Christ with priestly ordination.” 

Underscoring the essential role of the priest as intercessor before God, the cardinal said that a priest’s first task … is to pray, because the priest is a man of prayer: He begins his day with the Office of Readings and ends his day with the Office. A priest who does not pray is about to die. A Church that does not pray is a dead Church. 

“The priest is a man of God who is day and night in the presence of God to glorify him, to adore him. The priest is a man immolated in sacrifice to prolong the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the world.”  

Addressing the lack of priestly vocations, which proponents of women priests and married clergy use as an argument against the celibate male priesthood, Sarah countered that the crisis is not due so much to lack of numbers but the failure of priests to do the task that is proper to them: the difficult work of saving souls.  

It’s not that we are few, he said.Christ ordained 12 for the whole world. How many of us are priests today? There are close to 400,000 of us priests in the world Many have accepted the priesthood, but they’re not doing the work of the priest.” 

In an interview given in 2021, the cardinal identified the task entrusted to priests as the salvation of souls. “The priest has the care of souls,” he stated.  “If he does not care about souls, he becomes useless. This means, for a priest, to take care of others, to be a ‘curate, like St. John Vianney.”   

RELATED: Cardinal Sarah on the crisis in the priesthood: ‘Today we no longer speak of souls’

Sarah concluded his conference in Mexico City by asking for prayers for priestly vocations, encouraging priests to witness to the joy of the vocation to which they have been raised. “So in response, we must pray,” he said. “Ask him to send workers to his harvest, pray. And show that we priests are happy, because if young men see that we are sad, we won’t attract anyone. We have to be happy, even if we’re suffering.” 

Cardinal Sarah is known for his defense of the Church’s doctrine and discipline regarding the priesthood. In January 2020, he co-authored with the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI a book explaining and defending the celibate male priesthood, titled From the Depths of Our Hearts.

Linking attacks on priestly celibacy to questions about the ordination of women in a chapter titled “The Sacrament of Holy Orders and the place of the women,” Cardinal Sarah stated that “the weakening of celibacy shakes the ecclesial edifice as a whole. In fact, debates about celibacy naturally give rise to questions about the possibility of women being ordained as priests or deacons.”  

Reiterating the definitive infallible teaching of John Paul II issued in 1994 — 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” — Sarah declared that “to dispute this reveals an ignorance of the true nature of the Church.” 

RELATED: New book by Pope Benedict, Cdl Sarah rules out female deacons

He explained that Gods plan of “complementarity between man and woman” reflected the “spousal relation between Jesus and his Bride the Church.” “Promoting the ordination of women,” he wrote, “amounts to denying their identity and the place of each sex.”  

Affirming that the role of government of the Church was entrusted by Christ to men, Sarah called it “a loving service of the bridegroom for the bride.” “Therefore,” he argued, “it can be carried out only by men who are identified with Christ, the Bridegroom and Servant, through the sacramental character of priesthood. If we make it the object of rivalry between men and women, we reduce it to a form of political, worldly power.” 

Calling out the “worldly mindset” of those who advocate for a female diaconate — a cause espoused by the Synodal Way of the German bishops — Sarah critiqued, “Nowadays, cleverly orchestrated media campaigns are calling for the female diaconate. What are they looking for? What is hidden behind these strange political demands? The worldly mindset of ‘equality’ is at work. They are stirring up a sort of mutual jealousy between men and women which can only be sterile.” 

RELATED: The Synodal Church of ‘me, myself, and I’ eschews authentic teaching ‘to welcome everybody’ 

The cardinal’s defense, both present and past, of the male priesthood stands in contrast to the questioning of this Catholic doctrine by the upcoming Synod of Bishops on Synodality. The Instrumentum laboris for the Synod raises the question of women’s ordination and participation in the governance of the Church as if they were open questions. 

It states, “Most of the Continental Assemblies and the syntheses of several Episcopal Conferences call for the question of women’s inclusion in the diaconate to be considered. Is it possible to envisage this, and in what way?” The document also asks, “How can women be included in these areas [governance, decision-making, mission and ministries at all levels of the Church] in greater numbers and new ways?” 

Cardinal Sarah’s words are a reminder that to raise the question of women’s ordination as if it has not already been definitively and infallibly settled in favor of an exclusively male priesthood — a priesthood in which a baptized man is conformed to Christ as Head and Bridegroom of the Church — is no less heretical than the open denial of that same Apostolic teaching. 


‘I cannot keep silent’: Benedict XVI and Cdl Sarah defend priestly celibacy in new book  

Major Synod on Synodality document highlights need to ‘welcome’ polygamists, ‘LGBTQ+ people’

Cardinal Sarah’s beautiful defense of priestly celibacy must be read  

German laywomen carry monstrance at Corpus Christi procession in apparent violation of canon law

Pope Francis to personally select lay men, women to form up to 25% of Synodal vote