The Role of Women in the Catholic Church

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The Essentials of the Catholic Church’s Stance on Controversial Issues

Many women play active roles in the Catholic Church, but few of them have sanctioned titles. Even becoming a nun doesn’t get you the boon of the sacrament of Holy Orders — only men can be ordained.
The reason women can’t be priests goes to the establishment of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Because Christ established the sacrament, no pope, council, or bishop can change it. Eastern Orthodox Catholics don’t ordain women for the very same reason. It has nothing to do with who’s more worthy or suitable for Holy Orders in the same way that the ban on non-Catholics receiving Holy Communion has nothing to do with any moral or spiritual judgment on the persons involved. It has to do with Sacred Tradition, which is considered as divinely inspired as Sacred Scripture.
However, women can serve their parishes in a variety of other ways: Women have equal rights to be sponsors at Baptism and Confirmation. In Matrimony, they’re treated and regarded as full, equal partners with their husbands. Women can serve on the parish council and finance committees. They can be readers at Mass, extraordinary ministers (laypersons who assist the priest at Mass to give out Holy Communion, sometimes call Eucharistic ministers) if needed, and ushers. They can work in the parish office, teach religious ed, and so on, just like their male counterparts. And many parishes have women pastoral associates — usually nuns or religious sisters who help the pastor with many spiritual and pastoral duties. The Church has women who are canon lawyers, judges, and chancellors across the country. The Church has allowed local bishops and pastors the option to permit female altar servers at Mass. Now many parishes have both altar girls and altar boys.

Pope John Paul II's Teaching on Women:

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A Woman’s Glory

A defense of veiling at Mass by Marisela Olaizola

The Holy Virgin Mary appeared at Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. As the apparitions continued, the clergy asked the innocent child about the appearance of the Beautiful Lady. Bernadette described her vision in great detail. But when asked about the color of our Holy Mother's hair, Bernadette couldn't say, as it had been completely covered by a veil.

Many artists have painted the Blessed Virgin Mary in various ways according to their own cultural perspective and perceptions. But there's a consensus in the Virgin's representation when artists follow the accounts of the various apparitions approved by Holy Mother Church. Even so, there's still no consensus on how to draw or paint Our Lady's hair since it's always covered in each apparition by a veil.

Holy Mary, the most sacred vessel of God and Mediatrix of graces, continuously appears veiled in order to remind us of the Holy Fear we owe to God and the sanctity of her being both Theotokos (God-bearer) and woman.

Now, let's reflect: What other things of antiquity were veiled? The Arc of the Covenant was covered in the most Holy Temple. What about today? The chalice holding the Most Precious Blood after the consecration at Holy Mass is veiled. What else is veiled in the Church? The Tabernacle, which bears the Sacred Body of Christ.

As faithful Catholic women, we ought to take heed of good and holy signs found in Scripture, Tradition and the Sacred Liturgy. We ought to look on the most marvelous example of the holiest woman, Our Blessed Mother, as our sure guide in daily life and especially when attending the Sacred Liturgy at Mass.

During Vatican II, it was announced that the Code of Canon Law was going to be reformed. This was accomplished when the new Code was published in 1983. This revised Code replaced and abrogated the previous 1917 Code as stated in canon 6 of the current Code.
Women's use of chapel veils was mandatory as stated in canon 1262 of the 1917 Code:
  • Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.
The legal directive can be traced back to St. Peter's immediate successor, Pope St. Linus, who made head coverings a mandatory practice in 70 A.D. Even so, the 1983 Code of Canon Law ignores altogether the subject of veils.

Note that prior to the publishing of the 1983 Code, women in the West, for reasons not entirely known, had all but ceased to use the veil at Holy Mass — contrary to the explicit law of canon 1262 which had been in force.

The same canon 1262, which spoke of head coverings, also made modest attire mandatory at Mass and forbade men to wear hats in church. So if it were owing to the absence of this canon in the 1983 Code that there's no necessity for women to use the veil, then by the same reason is it admissible for women to attend Holy Mass dressed in whatever attire pleases them? Or is it then admissible for men to wear hats in church?

The use of the veil in church was not only a requirement of Church law, as stated in the 1917 Code, but it's a custom from time immemorial within the Holy Catholic Church.

Speaking of customs, canon 28 of the 1983 Code reads in part: "But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs." As the new Code doesn't expressly mention this immemorial custom, the use of the veil is still a valid tradition in the Church.
Many Catholics, completely unaware of this history, have spurned the veil before 1983, in defiance of the law and therefore of the Church. Since 1983, the leadership of the Church has capitulated to the modernist movement on this issue, as they had previously capitulated to the nuns rolling back their skirted habits or to people receiving the Holy Body of Christ in their hands while standing instead of on their tongue while kneeling.

As mentioned before, the use of the veil is an immemorial custom of the Church as we can see in chapter eleven of St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.

According to St. Paul, women are to use the veil for the glory of God and to keep the focus on the worship of God. The veil is an external sign of their unique submission to God’s authority and their personal respect for the Presence of Our Lord in the the tabernacle.
The abandonment of the veil has contributed to the loss of reverence we owe to our Blessed Lord. This rebellion has led Catholics to disregard what is holy. It's one of the devil's tactics to infiltrate and destroy that which appears at first glance to be little or petty so as to eliminate reverence for Christ in the Tabernacle.

The absence of using the veil at Holy Mass has led to using less appropriate attire that is too short, tight or skimpy on a woman's body — zero reverence, and all seemingly justified for the sake of comfort, practicality and sensuality. Purity and modesty before the Holy of Holies is disregarded.
Like Our Lady, every Catholic woman is a living icon of the Church. When she veils herself in the presence of Our Blessed Lord, it's a visible reminder to all of the spousal relationship between Christ and His Church. We, as daughters of this loving union, ought to joyfully take on once again this beautiful mantle as an act of homage to our God and in loving imitation of Mary, Sedes Sapientiae.