The top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement on the issue of women’s ordination to the priesthood over the weekend. But it hasn’t deterred those who are hoping the church will still make that change.
The statement posted on the church’s news website says "only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices,” though it says the benefits of the priesthood are available to everyone. The church’s public relations department has addressed the issue in the past, but this comes directly from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the top ecclesiastical authorities.
Mormons believe the teachings of their current leadership can have the same authority as scripture, but Utah State University religious studies professor Phillip Barlow says this statement may not rise to that level.
“So the message isn’t particularly new, it’s just a reaffirmation for the most part," Barlow tells KUER. But there is a weight to sending out a message like this.”
The statement follows the excommunication of Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly last week. Debra Jenson, who’s on the executive board of that group, says that’s had an impact, but they’re still hoping priesthood leaders will seek revelation that could lead to change in church policy.
Jenson says, “It’s forced many of us to be even more prayerful about the idea and to think even deeper about our commitment to it. And for many of us, it has only deepened our commitment to it.”
The church statement also defines apostasy as acting in open and deliberate opposition to the church or its leaders. That was the charge brought against Kate Kelly by the disciplinary council that decided on her excommunication. Kelly has repeatedly denied the charge of apostasy.