Swiss Bishops Reject Call for Women's Ordination

Lucerne Synod Went Too Far, Says Conference

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BERNE, Switzerland, MARCH 31, 2004 ( The Swiss bishops’ conference rejected requests by the Catholic Synod of Lucerne which favors the ordination of women and the abolition of obligatory priestly celibacy.

The decision corresponds to the universal Church, the bishops’ conference wrote in reference to both cases, while it imposed disciplinary sanctions on the synod for going beyond its prerogatives with these requests.

The Swiss bishops confirmed in their five-page statement that recent Popes, among them John Paul II, have given eminent significance to celibacy.

The question of the ordination of women is very different, the bishops noted. The Church and the Pope have no authority to introduce this change, as it would be opposed to the intentions of Jesus himself, the bishops said.

The bishops stressed that not even men have a right to priestly ordination. Thus, the issue of women’s ordination cannot be reduced to a question of equality of opportunities or human rights, they observed.

The bishops’ documents cast doubt on the justness of the proposals of the Lucerne Synod, as “they do not affect the care of souls but the practice of the faith of the worldwide Church.”

According to the bishops’ conference, Paula Beck, author of the initiative promoted by the synod, has been the cause of schismatic conduct and has committed a serious infraction of the constitution of the local Church. She has exhorted the ecclesial communities to “go against the bishops.”

The bishops’ conference has asked the synod to explain Beck’s public positions.

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