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Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, confirmed that conferring Holy Orders on men only is a matter pertaining to divine revelation that has consistently been taught by the universal and ordinary Magisterium of the Church, and hence is to be definitively held by all the faithful. Thus, the Church's practice is not a concession to the customs of an age, but is founded upon a theology of the sexes, which is based on the relationship of man and woman originating in creation itself. This relationship is sanctified to the utmost in the Sacrament of Matrimony, as the concrete symbol of God's love for mankind. God's own self-communication is inscribed in this marital consecration when Christ, being the representative of the Father, presents himself as the Bridegroom of the Church, his Bride. Furthermore, this spousal relationship between Christ and the Church is reflected in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the male recipient's relation to the Church, which stands in relation to him as a feminine reality. This book thoughtfully explores the Church's understanding of the ministerial priesthood and the diaconate.
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, formerly the Bishop of Regensburg, is now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He has written and edited much on this topic as a member of the International Theological Commission. His writings on this subject have been combined in this present volume into a systematic presentation, expanded and updated.
"Muller offers us an irrefutable case, based on theological sources, for the Church's teaching and practice since the time of the Apostles of conferring the sacrament of Holy Orders on baptized males only."
-Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., Editor, Homiletic & Pastoral Review