It can't be any clearer: The ordination of women in the Catholic Church is not going to happen. Ever.
This is not a case of Pope Benedict XVI being "inflexible," as NBC's Today show erroneously claimed this morning (9/16/10) in reporting about the Holy Father's high-profile trip to England. NBC needs to know that this is not a case of "waiting it out" until another Pope comes along and "changes policy." The issue will never be "up for a vote."
In the Catholic Church, the ordination of priests occurs through Holy Orders, a sacrament. The Church maintains that sacraments were instituted by Christ himself. As Pope John Paul II reiterated in his 1994 letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the Church simply does not have the authority to change the nature of something that Christ instituted. The authority in this matter can never be a Pope or anyone else; the authority is Christ. Indeed, "this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful," as Pope John Paul II wrote.
Take the sacrament of baptism. The very nature of the sacrament requires that the individual be baptized with water. The Church could not decide tomorrow to baptize with orange juice. Baptisms are done with water. In the same manner, Jesus chose only men to be his apostles, and the Church guards what it believes to be a visible sign of God's grace.
The Church also asserts that the priesthood is about role, not power. In his Letter to the Romans (Rom. 12:4-8) and his First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 7 (all)), Paul teaches about roles in the Church.
Although it may seem uncharitable and/or unkind to say, the protesters waving signs and screaming for the "ordination of women" (like those seen in England this week) are simply unknowledgeable of their faith.
But I can't imagine the Today show reporting that!
Dave Pierre is the author of the heralded new book, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church.