After reading Lavinia Byrne's book and the Pope's words I was initially faced with the question of the Pope's authority.
So I began by trying to find out WHAT authority really means because I had always believed it meant being in charge and being able to do and say whatever you liked and bully those under you to do what you like. Partly this was because I had experienced authority in this way, but also because this was part of the feminist construct of the place of men.
I had become more an more drawn into the feminist view of things in which women are seen very much as victims trying to separate themselves from men in authority and where the word 'patriarchal' meant abuse of power.
You can see the mess my thought processes were in-the meaning of words had been changed and so a whole false construct had been built to make women angry and rather silly about being victims even when frankly we were not.
I was not sure where to go to find my answer to authority within the Church and what the Pope was allowed to do, so I started with Scripture.There was quite a lot in Scripture! I simply had never noticed it before. There was Jesus handing over the keys to the Kingdom to Peter and telling him "On this rock I will build My Church,"-not you can build your church. So Peter and the apostles were given authority to bind and loose, but only in as much as God allowed.I got this pretty quickly, even before looking into the Old Testament narratives that showed the roots of the New Testament Church.
I began to understand that just as in Isaiah 22:22 the Prime Minister only had what authority the king gave him, so it is with the apostles building the Church.
So the Holy Father believed that God was not allowing him to ordain women. The 'Author' did not give him the authority to do so. I mulled this over for quite a while as it was a new way of looking at authority for me. This was not about power-do what you like; but about genuine leadership with humility.
I was helped to understand this better because I had become a ward sister. I was in charge of the ward-and because of the way the hospital ran I was sometimes in charge of the whole hospital for a shift or a night.
I had learned immediately that being in charge is a great responsibility-not an opportunity to wield power. Moreover I had seen in the structure of the NHS that those who used their position to do what they liked were very, very bad managers and made terrible mistakes.
At this point I began the difficult process of accepting I might just have been wrong about women priests. I began to realise that the Pope could not ordain women if Jesus did not allow it-but I still did not know WHY Jesus would not allow it.
Finally at Maryvale (and how I got there is a story in itself) I got the answer to this because I spent a small fortune of Scott Hahn tapes, books and downloads. I have my 'wall of Hahn' above the piano to this day. .
Scott Hahn explains the history of the priesthood from Adam, through Melchizedek and then shows how the priesthood was taken from the father and first born son and given only to the father's and first born sons of the tribe of Levi after the Golden Calf incident.
He explained how the offering of sacrifice was the central role of a priest-whether it was the offering of a lamb like Abel, or bread and wine like Melchizedek. The sacrifice the Levitical priests offered were the animals Israel had been all too tempted to worship as their pagan neighbours did.
Liturgy and sacrifice were the centre of the life of Israel in the Promised Land. It was sometime later that I finally read The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
My understanding of the nature of the priesthood took time. I learned that Jesus established a renewed priesthood of Melchizedek-a priesthood of first born sons who stand in Persona Christie-in the person of THE First Born Son. Each priest was a father and husband offering the eternal sacrifice to the Father from the Bridegroom for the Bride, His Church.
This realisation was stunning to me, and it answered my question about the nature of authority in a deeper way.
I had never understood fully the role of a husband (bridegroom) and father, but in the depth of the family model of the Church I began to see.
This was a long process and took a few years, and I was faced with the unpleasant business of having to admit I was wrong and change my mind.
But I had to.
Then it occurred to me, if I was wrong about women priests-what else was I wrong about?