Maybe we should stop using the phrase, “woman priest”? It seems to me that the modern abhorrence of the word “priestess” is a telling fact. Even our unconscious psyches are uncomfortable with the possibility and this Orwellian word game is somehow an attempt to bypass our revulsion and the theological absurdity. Fr. George Rutler remarked in his Episcopalian days: “. . . and to say ‘woman priest’ is semantically as androit as saying ‘female rooster.’” Perhaps we avoid the word priestess because it tears to shreds any conception of this notion as fresh and modern? The word may even be older than “priest.” (See the book Priest and Priestess by Fr. George W. Rutler.)
The new Episcopalian priestesses are not so much one with true Catholic priests as they are with their western European and Mesopotamian forebears who rendered sybilline declamations over animal entrails.
Critics of the Catholic exclusion often quote the universality of baptism and faith in Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). They confuse Catholic soteriology (that salvation is available to all) with the tradition of a male-only priesthood instituted by Christ and maintained by the apostles. A favorite verse of mine is this one: “But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Paul addresses himself in the subsequent text to some of the lesser and changeable traditions (like Mass veils), but his theological underpinnings are what constitutes the revealed truth. More exactly, he is talking about Christian anthropology and the sacrament of marriage. A woman cannot signify the groom, Christ the head. An even greater scandal erupts if such a priestess were literally married. She who is subject to her husband would then seek the submissiveness of the Church, including her husband, to her. A contradiction would emerge. Those who do not like this analogy have an argument, not with me, but with St. Paul and the Holy Spirit which inspired him.
If critics can cast aside the teachings of popes and apostles, how can they be so sure that they have the mind of Christ regarding women’s ordination?