Cardinal Marc Ouellet on Women’s Ordination


Cardinal Marc Ouellet challenges the arguments that women should be ordained.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

Photo credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring


Can women be ordained? The Catechism gives the simplest answer (CCC, 1577): “Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination. 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. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. 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.”


Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America notes a deeper insight on what is needed.

“The revolution must be more profound.” – Cardinal Marc Ouellet

As reported in (CRUX), Cardinal Ouellet opined that we should not “completely equate at a ministerial level men and women, because there’s a symbolic importance in the sacramental roles.”

“It’s important to remember that God made an alliance with humanity, and that the nuptial symbol is the privileged symbol in the Church and in the Bible…to express God’s relationship with his people, of Christ with the Church. Christ is male, the Church is feminine. The priest who must represent Christ must have a semantic coherence, and this is the reason why the representation of Christ as a husband is reserved to men.”

What is needed, Cardinal Ouellet said, is a much deeper reform, one that is “more fundamental than imposing the same roles to women and men. The change the Church needs is much greater than giving [women] access to ordained ministry. The revolution must be more profound.” Women must be granted concrete recognition, without pretending that, simply by being ordained, they would be granted access to all the spaces of the Church. This is “a wrong path, one that doesn’t respect the peculiarity of the woman.”

Three circles containing symbols of the three principles of catholic social teaching: human dignity, subsidiarity, and solidarity.

Three Key Principles

Catholic social teaching is built on three foundational principles - Human DignitySolidarity and Subsidiarity. Human Dignity, embodied in a correct understanding of the human person, is the greatest. The others flow from it. Good governments and good economic systems find ways of fostering the three principles.

Human Dignity

This means a correct understanding of the human person and of each person’s unique value. All Catholic social teaching flows from this: the inherent dignity of every person that comes from being made in God’s image. 


Solidarity is not “a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. It is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good”. (Pope St. John Paul II, 38) Love of God and love of neighbor are, in fact, linked and form one, single commandment.


Subsidiarity “is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry. So, too, it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and a disturbance of right order to transfer to the larger and higher collectivity functions which can be performed and provided for by the lesser and subordinate bodies”. (Pope Pius XI)

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