A priest responds to former President Carter: The equality for which Catholicism argues is one of complementarity, not egalitarianism.

Jimmy Carter regards the exclusion of women from the priesthood as a human rights abuse?  This makes absolutely no sense to me.  Ordination to the priesthood is not a natural right.  It is a spiritual calling and a divine gift.  It cannot be merited.  No one deserves it.  By definition it cannot be associated with any social justice agenda.  People might debate the subject and others might request it; but no one can demand it.  It is a sacrament of the Church.  The Church has every right to regulate her sacraments as she sees fit.

The Church has made great overtures in empowering women.  They minister as pastoral associates, chancellors, office managers, directors of religious education and catechists, music directors, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, religious sisters, lay missionaries, principals and teachers, and the greatest vocation of all, as mothers.

Instead of dictating to the churches and other religions; Carter should have encouraged them to find new avenues for inclusion and service for women.  It is not his place to dictate “theology” which conflicts with the settled doctrine of other faith communities.

If we are going to respect religious liberties then we have to paint in broad strokes and allow them the freedom and ingenuity to find ways to heal gender inequality.  Not everyone looks at the world through the lenses of liberal Protestantism.  Catholicism has its Magisterium and Sacred Tradition.  Conservative Protestantism has its strict reliance upon a literal understanding of Scripture.  Islam is a religion of “the Book” and “the Law.”  Judaism is the religion of “the Promise.”

Read more by Fr. Joseph Jenkins