Last weekend, June 18, I joined the Call To Action witness at the Cathedral in Albany, NY. That morning four men were ordained for the Albany Diocese. During the witness, I held a sign that proclaimed: “Women Priests Are Here!” Some of you may wonder why Roman Catholic women are seeking ordination through the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. Hopefully the points below will help to answer your questions. I am happy to meet and discuss them with you or with a group who is interested in learning more about us.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
What do you think about Pope Francis and the new commission for ordination of women deacons?
We are grateful for Pope Francis’ work to protect mother earth and his care for the poor, for economic equality. However, he must make the connection between poverty and gender justice. Two thirds of the world’s poor are women and their dependent children.
He has received our ongoing petition campaign to lift our excommunications, stop all punishments and begin a dialogue with us.
We are a new model of priestly ministry in inclusive, egalitarian communities (open table means everyone is welcome at the table, LGBTQI, divorced and remarried , etc.). In our faith communities, everyone consecrates Eucharist, participates in mutual blessing and dialogue homilies. We are a renewal, justice movement within the Catholic Church.
Who is your target group?
We are serving inclusive Catholic communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments. 33 million Catholics in the U.S. have left the church, so it is a large group of people!
What is your vision/mission?
We are a non-clerical movement that offers the church an egalitarian, partnership with the community of the baptized.
Our mission is to serve especially those whom the Vatican marginalizes (33 million Catholics have left the church -that is quite a “target group” that has been abandoned by the institution).
How do you deal with excommunication?
We reject excommunication. No punishment can separate us from Christ or cancel our baptism. No church authority can separate us from God.
This is our church and we are not leaving it, no matter what the Vatican says or does (the Vatican’s official line is that our excommunication is the automatic type: by your choice, you have excommunicated yourself).
Why are you being ordained and what impact will your ordination have on the future of women in the RC Church?
The Church that treats women as second-class citizens violates God’s will.
Genesis 1:27: God created humanity in God’s image, in the divine image, God created them, male and female God created them. Galatians 3:27. St. Paul reminds us that by our baptism there is neither male nor female, all are one in Christ.
Are your orders recognized in the Catholic Church?
Roman Catholic Women Priests have valid orders. Our first bishops were ordained by a male bishop in apostolic succession.
Why don’t you get ordained in another church, rather than face excommunication and rejection?
Pope Benedict canonized two excommunicated nuns: Theodore Guerin and Mary McKillop.
We hope that Pope Francis will chart a new path toward human equality in our church by opening all ministries to women. If women were priests, we would see an end to the church’s policy on contraception. Primacy of conscience is an important church teaching that all must follow in moral decisions.
The hierarchy must make the connection between discrimination against women in the church and violence, and abuse and inequality toward women in the world.
Like these courageous women we are faithful Catholics leading the church to become more just and live Jesus’ example of Gospel equality.
Why are you being ordained as deacons, priests and bishops? What does this mean?
Jesus called women and men to be disciples. (Luke 8:1-3) Jesus did not ordain anyone.
The Risen Christ called Mary of Magdala to be the apostle to the apostles. She was the first to proclaim the central message of Christianity, the Resurrection.
The Vatican (hierarchy) should follow Jesus’ example of Gospel equality and the early church’s tradition of women in liturgical leadership as deacons, priests and bishops.
For 1200 years women were ordained (Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination, Dorothy Irvin’s archaeological evidence etc.). In the early centuries of Christianity, ordination was the process and the ceremony by which one moved to any new ministry (ordo) in the community. By this definition, women were in fact ordained into several ministries. A radical change in the definition of ordination during the eleventh and twelfth centuries not only removed women from the ordained ministry, but also attempted to eradicate any memory of women’s ordination in the past. However, the triumph of a new definition of ordination as the bestowal of power, particularly the power to confect the Eucharist, so thoroughly dominated western thought and practice by the thirteenth century that the earlier concept of ordination was almost completely erased. References to the ordination of women exist in papal, episcopal, and theological documents of the time, and the rites for these ordinations have survived.
Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination)
The Vatican and Google have created a virtual tour of catacombs including two frescoes in St. Priscilla’s catacomb that provide evidence of ancient women deacons and priests in first centuries of church history. One fresco depicts a woman deacon in the center vested in a dalmatic, her arms raised in the orans position for public worship. In the same scene there is a bishop being ordained a priest by a bishop seated in a chair. She is vested in an alb, chasuble and amice, and holding a gospel scroll. The third woman in the painting is wearing the same robe as the bishop on the left and is sitting in the same type of chair. In another fresco in the Catacombs of Priscilla, women are conducting a Eucharistic banquet. This evidence portrays women in liturgical roles and vestments.
Why are you doing this, what are your goals?
The real issue is that Roman Catholic Women Priests are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. We are healing centuries of misogyny.
The Vatican (hierarchy) cannot continue to discriminate against women and blame God for it.
Roman Catholic Women Priests are a holy shakeup which millions of Catholics support.
Roman Catholic Women Priests lead inclusive, enthusiastic, egalitarian communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.
See also: http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/deac_ovr.asp
Our website is www.arcwp.org
The Upper Room’s website is: http://www.inclusivecatholiccommunity-nycr.org