Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
20 April 2007

Celibate males and women priests

In the final Catholicism blog, Josephine Robinson explains celibacy for priests and says if women ca

By Josephine Robinson

The Roman Catholic Church is an institution that has lasted for nearly two thousand years. Catholics believe that Jesus Christ, who came on earth as a male, himself ordained his close friends, the men who were to carry on his work after his return to his Father, to perform the two acts that are essential to priesthood: changing the bread and wine into Christ himself in the Eucharist and absolving (or retaining) sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

These sacraments have been passed from the first priests, the Apostles, down to the most recent priest ordained in the world today, through the bishops, who lay their hands on them. A priest represents Christ at the altar; he stands for Christ, he symbolises Christ, for that time. A symbol has to be appropriate to the thing it symbolises. It is no use taking earth as a symbol of liquidity, for example.
The uniquely womanly act is to bring life into the world – what a gift that is!

The maleness of the priesthood has nothing to do with social convention. Priestesses were two-a-penny in all the religions in Christ’s time, except for Judaism. Yet, Christ, who showed such warmth towards women in the Gospel narratives, did not choose them to carry on that particular work of his. There is plenty of work for everyone to do: we are all called to be saints, not clerics. There are many women saints, married and unmarried alike! And there are such rewards for us, along the way.


I confessed at the start of this blog that I suffer from this allegedly hideous disease. The Church is a church of sinners and the only sinner I know intimately is myself. So when I consider the things that I have done and the things that I have left undone, I have reason to feel guilty. That is the time to make use of the ultimate de-tox and to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I am sorry for the sins, great and small, that I have been responsible for, and I present myself ( mostly anonymously, in a lovely dark little box, with a screen between me and the confessor-priest), confess the failures for which I am responsible, tell God that I am sorry for them, and resolve to try not to commit these sins again. The priest, standing in for our loving Jesus, absolves me from them and after praying as the priest instructs me, I return to the world, a new person, squeaky-clean, spiritually years younger, and ready to try again.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday - from the New Statesman. Sign up directly at The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. Sign up directly at Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

2323 words

Content from our partners
Resolving the crisis in children’s dentistry
Planetary perspectives: how data can transform disaster response and preparation
How measurement can help turn businesses’ sustainability goals into action