Faux Ordination on a Riverboat

On July 31st, 6 members of Roman Catholic Womenpriests “ordained” themselves “priest[esses] of the Catholic Church on July 31st. Needless to say Catholic bloggers are responding with mixed emotions — amusement, befuddlement, and not a few groans of disgust. Here is a roundup of some reactions:

  • The Diocese of Pittsburgh has provided a good Q&A on “ordination” Ceremony, while Robert Lockwood, director for communications, Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, and general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic, puts it bluntly:

    “The Catholic Church does not ordain women because it has been committed for 2,000 years to honor the teaching of Christ. It has nothing to do with discrimination or prejudice.”

  • Amy Welborn posed some pertinent questions to the priestly impersonators :

    The hard questions that I wish these participants would be asked are these, in really what amounts to a simple exercise in logic.

    If you wish to be ordained and to practice Christian ministry as an ordained person, there is no lack of denominations in which to do that, with all of the titles, regalia and pomp – perhaps even more, if you’re going to be High Church Anglican – that you’ll find in the Roman Catholic Church.

    So…why stay? Why the determination to be Roman Catholic priests? . . .

    If The Catholic Church is the Christian church “closest” to Christ…wouldn’t one conclude that this closeness is embodied in it? That its closeness is not just a matter of apostolic succession (a concept I’m doubting they care that much about either), but in what the successors of the apostles, you know…do and say?

    So how could this Church which is the one you must be ordained in because it’s so close to Jesus and apostolic Christianity be…wrong about something so fundamental to its existence over the past 2000 years?

    As one reader put it, “The media would actually be doing it’s job if they asked questions like that.” Lo and behold, Amy finds one who does — in the form of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ann Rodgers: Group ordains 8 women as priests – The Catholic Church rejects validity of a riverboat rite (August 1, 2006). Rodgers interviewed Phyllis Zagano, who — despite her own support for the ordination of women — voices her concern:

    [Zagano] is concerned that some of the women wouldn’t qualify if they were male because of their theology or lifestyle.

    “From what I have read of their biographies, some of the women are not much interested in much of what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. So there is a conundrum there. How can you be ordained to serve a community of believers if you don’t agree with them?” she said.

  • Fr. Martin Fox of Piqua, Ohio (Bonfire of the Vanities has some of his own Questions to ask the ‘women priests’. To start with the first:

    Is this only about women’s ordination? Does that mean you aren’t seeking any change in Church teaching on, say, divorce-and-remarriage, contraception, homosexual behavior, or other areas that are controversial?

    Do any of the women seeking ordination agree with the Catholic Church on these “hot button” issues? If not, why not? Doesn’t that suggest this is about more than women’s ordination?

  • Meanwhile, Off the Record reports that a previously “ordained” female priest has revealed her true identity:

    Jean Marie Marchant is one of the 9 women who claimed to have been ordained as Catholic priests in a surrealistic ceremony that took place last year in international waters. Like most of the other would-be priestesses, Marchant showed her courage by using a false name.

    But now she had identified herself in a letter to Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, forcing him to make some public response. Here it is:

      Donilon, O’Malley’s spokesman, said yesterday that “the cardinal has imposed no penalty on Jean Marchant, because, according to church law, she separated herself from the church by her own action.”

    Translation: By participating in a mockery of the sacraments, Marchant has incurred the penalty of excommunication, but the cardinal isn’t going to say that out loud. Why not?

  • The website of Roman Catholic Womenpriests bears the image of a mosaic, along with the caption:

    This archaeological photograph of a mosaic in the Church of St. Praxedis in Rome shows, in the blue mantle, the Virgin Mary, foremother of women leaders in the Church. On her left is St. Pudentiana and on her right St. Praxedis, both leaders of house churches in early Christian Rome. Episcopa Theodora, “Bishop Theodora” is the bishop of the Church of St. Praxedis in 820 AD.

    Fr. Stephanos reveals the skewed presentation of the history of St. Praxedis by RomanCatholicWomenpriests.org:

    Theodora was never “bishopess” in Rome or anywhere.

    St. Praxedis Church in Rome was built during the reign of Pope Paschal I, son of Theodora.

    As mother of Pope Paschal I, Theodora received the title Episcopa, “Bishopess”, as a cultural honorific, not as a title for any function she exercised in the Church.

    Read the whole thing.

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