Conservative churches should brace for a mass exodus of the faithful
As I’ve argued at length, there is no indication that anything of doctrinal substance is going to change under the new pope — and least of all on the ordination of women, a subject on which Francis has explicitly endorsed Pope John Paul II’s position, which unequivocally dismissed the possibility. Sooner or later — and probably sooner — egalitarian-minded Catholics are going to lose their patience with the hierarchy’s unpersuasive defenses of the status quo.
And they are stunningly unpersuasive. Here is the argument in its entirety: Christ chose 12 men to be his apostles; they in turn chose men to help them spread the word of God; today’s priests and bishops are the direct descendants of these original apostles; therefore, the church doesn’t have the power to ordain women.
The church would be on much firmer ground if the gospels recorded Christ explicitly stating that he chose men to be his apostles because it is God’s will that only men can serve in that role. But of course he said no such thing. A weaker but at least potentially defensible argument would involve some sort of claim about the nature of women being incompatible with ordination. But the church makes no such argument. Alternatively, the church could appeal to a popularly held gendered vision of God like the one affirmed by the Mormons. But the church doesn’t do that either.
As it is, Catholics are left with: this is the way we do it, because we’ve always done it that way, and we can’t change, so drop it.