• 88% of U.S. Catholics would be “comfortable” with the ordination of women, according to a 2015 Shriver Report.
  • The majority of Catholics would like to see women have equal standing in ordained ministry: in France (83%), Spain (78%), Argentina (60%), and Italy (59%), and Brazil (54%), according to a 2014 Univision poll.
  • 63% of U.S. Catholics support ordaining women as priests and 81% support ordaining women as deacons. Gallup Organization survey, September 2005
  • 64% of U.S. Catholics support women’s ordination and 69% support married priests. The Associated Press-Ipsos Poll, April 2005
  • Only 29% of U.S. Catholics say a male, celibate clergy is “very important.” Gallup Organization survey, September 2005
  • There are 16 national organizations from 11 different countries that advocate women’s ordination and eight Women’s Ordination Confernce local groups that do so in the U.S.A.
  • More than 180 women have been ordained as priests, deacons or bishops by the group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) and the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priest.
  • In Rome and throughout the Mediterranean, archaeologists have found images on frescoes, mosaics, and tombs that depict women serving in roles specifically reserved for deacons, priests, and bishops. Found in catacombs and early Christian churches, they date from 100 to 820 A.D.



Female lay ministers hold the Catholic Church together, and they are doing much of the work that used to be reserved exclusively for priests.

  • There are 31,000 lay ecclesial ministers in the U.S.A., surpassing the 29,000 diocesan priests in the country. As of 2005, roughly 80 percent of U.S. lay ministers were women. National Catholic Reporter, August 17, 2007
  • As of 2005, nearly one fourth of the world’s parishes do not have a resident priest pastor. Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, 2006
  • There is a severe national priest shortage. Between 1975 and 2007, the number of U.S. Catholic priests declined by 30 percent, from 58,909 to 41,449. In the same time period, the number of U.S. Catholics increased by 32 percent, from 48.7 million to 64.4 million. Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, 2007

Compiled by Women’s Ordination Conference