If a woman were to consecrate the bread and wine, the effectiveness of the Eucharist would be obscured. In making this point, Pope John Paul II is confirming the teaching of Pope Paul VI on this matter in the Declaration Inter Insigniores of 1976.
The Pope then makes some other points which are answers to questions about the all male priesthood. The Church must not be viewed as a democracy, or in another way that is against her nature. Being a priest is not like being elected to office. Neither does having women priests depend on the "vote" of Catholics. The ministerial priesthood is different from the general priesthood of all Catholics. But it is a service, not a power position. The Church has a hierarchical structure. Its leaders are not appointed by the people, but by other leaders under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But in the order of holiness, Mary, a woman, is first, not Peter or the Pope. Through the ages, many great women have arisen and given leadership in the Church in spite of society's discrimination against women.
Next week: The conclusion of Pope John Paul II's Teaching on the Role of Women. To review the rest of this series, go to Archives beginning with the June 23, 1997 issue of A CALL TO PEACE: volume 8, no. 12.