Commentary on Cardinal Llovera’s Priestly Claim

The report from

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.

First, An Aside

The papal critics, as of late, have taken to replacing the Papal Magisterium with statements to the press, letters, and pseud-dogmatic documents asserting truths not definitively taught by the Magisterium, as well as some alleged truths which contradict past magisterial teachings.

Currently, the problem facing the Church is that the conservative Catholic subculture has risen up, like a dragon, to attack the head of the Church and in some cases to attack past Popes and Councils, so that it can control the Church instead of Christ, the true head of the Church — whose Vicar is every single Roman Pontiff, whether conservative, liberal, or something else. The goal of this dragon is to replace Christ as the head and the Holy Spirit as the soul of the Church. The conservative Catholic subculture wishes to be the head of the Church and its soul. Thus, the conservative Catholic subculture has presumed to decide the question of women deacons, and has clearly stated that it will oppose any decision by the Magisterium to approve of women deacons.

Now, the Dogma

But I digress. The issue I have with Cardinal Llovera’s remarks lies elsewhere.

First, I will complement him for restricting his comments to priestly ordination. For the infallible teaching of the papal Magisterium restricted its prohibition on female ordination to the priesthood. Of course, a bishop is a kind of priest, and a Pope is a kind of bishop and a kind of priest. So women cannot be priest, bishop, or Pope. But the Magisterium has not decided the question of women deacons.

The dogma issued by Pope Saint John Paul II:

“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 did not teach that women are not proper matter for ordination. He did not teach that women can never be ordained. He did not even teach that women can never be priests. How would it be possible for women to be priests, if the above teaching is dogma?

The Cardinal asked: “Will the Church change its position?” “It is unchangeable,” he wrote.

Yes, and no, to that. Dogma cannot change. But the dogma is that the Church has not been given the authority to confer priestly ordination on women. When Christ returns, He might give that authority to the Church. If so, then it is not a case of dogma changing, but of a dogma which inherently admits that Christ is Lord over the Sacraments. Maybe the Church, in the distant future will have women priests.

I also offer a correction for the use of the mass media by the Cardinal to speak as if he were the Roman Pontiff. He gives the impression that he is speaking as an independent authority who might oversee or even correct the Pope or the Holy See, when that is not his role or authority. This same problem occurs with other Cardinals and Bishops speaking out on these issues.

We must all have faith. If you do not believe that the Papal Magisterium is without grave error on all decisions of doctrine and discipline, you have failed in faith. If you believe only in your own understanding, you do not have faith at all. Can you accept a teaching of the Roman Pontiff that is contrary to your own mind and heart? If not, you have betrayed Christ; you have denied Him.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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8 Responses to Commentary on Cardinal Llovera’s Priestly Claim

  1. sircliges says:

    «When Christ returns, He might give that authority to the Church»

    Question. When Christ returns, we are at the end of times. There is Apocalypse. We all die and go to Judgment Day.
    So, what does the Church do? In Paradise there are no more priests, because God is indeed All in all ones.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A minority view is that, after Christ returns, the tribulation ends, He ascends to heaven again, and the Church continues. Then God’s will shall be done on earth as in heaven. Later, He returns again for the general resurrection

  2. sircliges says:

    Anyway, I think female’s ordination is not possible by itself , because of the link between priest and Christ. Priest acts “in persona Christi”. Christ is male. Being male is part of his nature – substantially, not accidentally.

    So priests have to be male, and this is not changeable.

  3. Rob says:

    I’m fairly certain the Cardinal was not speaking of what might be after the Second Coming, but what the situation is now and for the foreseeable future.

  4. María Dolores Polo Villanueva says:

    Hi Ron, greetings from Valencia, Spain.
    Our Archbishop, Cardinal Cañizares, is a righteous and venerable shepherd who is always working his best to tend his flock. I’ve listened to many of his sermons at the cathedral and NEVER heard a critical word from him against the current Pope. He’s certainly no liberal, but no ultraconservative either. He is loyal to Francis.
    He is writing for the Spanish newspaper La Razón a series of articles about religious issues. I think it is a sort of wonderful open window to speak about our faith in the extremely ultra-secular Spanish society. It’s from this newspaper that LifesiteNews -this a well-known ultra website hostile to Francis- is citing him, but I think it is for their own particular interests and agenda.

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