Monday, July 31, 2006

8 Women Ordained Priests in the Roman Catholic Church

A press release from Roman Catholic Womenpriests:

Historic Ordinations of Roman Catholic Women in U.S.

On Monday, July 31, 2006, 8 U.S. women will be ordained priests and 4 women will be ordained deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. The ordination will take place on a chartered boat that will depart from Pittsburgh, PA at 3:00pm (1500 hours) E.D.T., and will sail on the Three Rivers: the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio, Bishops Gisela Forster, Ida Raming and Patricia Fresen of Germany will preside. The women being ordained come from California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

On Saturday, June 24, 2006 , the same three bishops will ordain four women in Europe. The ordination will take place on Lake Constance between Germany, Austria and Switzerland. One Swiss, one American and a German woman living in the USA will be ordained to the priesthood. Another American will be ordained a womandeacon.

Just as, by her example, our foremother Rosa Parks led white America to the understanding that they must examine their conscience and recognize the sin of racial prejudice, the womenpriests and womendeacons lift up the issue of gender equality before the Roman Catholic Church. By offering a new paradigm of gender equality, womenpriests and womendeacons affirm that women, as well as men, can and do image Jesus Christ.

The goal of Roman Catholic Womenpriests is to bring about the full equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time we advocate a new model of priestly ministry based on union with the people with whom we minister. We desire neither a schism nor a break from the Roman Catholic Church, but instead are rooted in a response to Jesus who called women and men to be disciples and equals in living the Gospel.

Bishops Gisela Forster, Ida Raming and Patricia Fresen were ordained by bishops in full Apostolic Succession. Bishops Forster, a philosopher, and Fresen, a theologian, were ordained secretly by Roman Catholic male bishops in order to avoid Vatican reprisal. Bishop Ida Raming, a renowned scholar, ordained to the episcopacy in June 2006, has done extensive research on the canon laws of the church. She is, together with Dr. Iris Mueller, who will also attend the ordination as priest, a foremother of the women's ordination movement.

These historic ordinations challenge an unjust law that keeps women subordinate in the Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Womenpriests community affirms that the full equality of women in the church, including their inclusion in the priesthood, represents the voice of God in our time and is a gift to the entire church.

Press and Media: Those who plan to cover ordinations in Pittsburgh, contact Joan Houk at
Salon picked up this story. Here's a couple of interesting excerpts:

...The organizer of this event, who will become a priest Monday, is Joan Clark Houk, 66. With a wide smile and cropped salt-and-pepper hair, she is a cradle Catholic who remembers May crownings, daily rosaries and Catholic Daughters. Like many other Catholic women -- myself included -- her love for the faith, the Eucharist and the Mass, the rituals and traditions, is deep and indelible. "From my birth as a Catholic through this day, I have never doubted my Catholicism, never been away from the Church. I am Catholic, and will always be Catholic, " she wrote in her letter to Bishop Donald W. Wuerl, then head of the Pittsburgh Diocese, telling him about her upcoming ordination. She also took aim at Canon 1024, which restricts ordination to baptized men. "It is a sin for the Church to discriminate against women and blame God for it," she declared. "In obedience to the Gospel of Jesus, I will disobey this unjust law"...

...In fact, the womenpriests movement did not spring out of whole cloth but has its roots in the worldwide movement for women's ordination in the Catholic Church. The women who launched the U.S. movement in the 1970s were energized -- as are women today -- by the legendary "Philadelphia 11," who in 1974 forced open the doors of the priesthood in the U.S. Episcopal Church. They were "irregularly" ordained by retired and resigned Episcopal bishops, an action that resulted in the denomination's approval of women's ordination the following year...
This puts Cardinal Kasper lecturing the Church of England on women bishops in a different light, doesn't it?

The response to Cardinal Kasper by Bps. Wright and Stancliffe is a good background document for future discussions of women in holy orders, and the nature of our ecumenical relationship with Rome, although I disagree with some elements of their argument. It concludes with this statement:

...How we move forward in these matters is a question of appropriate and careful strategy, granted our calling to guard the unity of the church. That we may, and indeed must, move forward is a conviction that can be reached, not on the basis of a casual or sloppy attitude to scripture and theology, nor in disregard for our ecumenical partners, but out of a deep conviction rooted in the gospel itself. It may be that the prophetic witness in this matter to which the Church of England is, we believe, called is a greater contribution to the unity of the whole people of God for which our Lord prayed so deeply.
Hard to believe those words were written by the very same Bishop of Durham who only last month inappropriately attempted to pressure General Convention to adhere to his definition of what it meant to be "Windsor compliant."

Today we have 8 new priests to serve God's people. Thanks be to God!


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