Top Swiss bishop: ‘I can very well imagine women standing at the altar’

Following the example of Jesus who was a male and who only ordained males to the priesthood, the Catholic Church has always reserved the priesthood for males.
Mon Jan 4, 2021 - 4:42 pm EST
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Bishop Felix Gmür

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BASEL, Switzerland, January 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Switzerland’s top Catholic bishop stated that he can “very well” imagine women standing at the altar.

“Yes, I can very well imagine women standing at the altar. Women are already active in all church functions in which one does not have to be a priest,” said Bishop Felix Gmür of Basel and head of the country’s Conference of Bishops, in a Dec. 24 interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ).

The bishop made the comments as part of a double interview with Ritas Famos, the new President of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Switzerland. Gmür made the comment in the context of NZZ asking the bishop about positive comments that he had previously made about opening the priesthood to women.

Gmür, however, may be doing much more in his diocese than simply imagining women standing at the altar.

LifeSiteNews reported last July that women in the Diocese of Basel are putting on vestments, standing at the altar, and essentially simulating a Catholic Mass in Catholic churches. Video of one such service shows a woman performing what in a valid Mass would be the offertory, the preface, and a concluding prayer. The woman does not say the actual words of consecration.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò characterized such simulations as “sacrilegious” and called upon Bishop Gmür to put a stop to them.

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Following the example of Jesus who was a male and who only ordained males to the priesthood, the Catholic Church has always reserved the priesthood for males.

“Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry,” continues the Catechism, adding, “The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”

Pope John Paul II, in his 1994 Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, stated definitively the Church’s teaching about the impossibility of female ordination.

“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,” he wrote.

“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 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,” he added.

Philosopher and Catholic commentator Dr. Peter Kwasniewski told LifeSiteNews last July that having women simulate a Mass, even though they are not acting as priests, causes confusion to the faithful and is a scandal.

“The faithful rightly expect, and the Church rightly demands, that the public worship offered in a Catholic church should correspond to what is given in the liturgical books, and should not cause confusion or scandal,” he said.

Kwasniewski referred to the Church’s instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, which points out that anyone who meddles with the liturgy “injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved, and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today.”

Kwasniewski said that Catholics in Basel should not attend such a service.

“And the personnel who are pushing it ought to be disciplined by the local authorities or at least by the Vatican,” he added.

Bishop Gmür was in the news in 2019 after he gave permission for a pastor who had been previously convicted of child sexual abuse to be placed in a parish. He also made news that same year for applauding initiatives in Switzerland to legalize same-sex civil “marriage.”

  catholic, felix gmür, female priests, switzerland, women's ordination

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