Enough already with women's ordination

  • August 26, 2008

{mosimage}I’m fed up with Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) and their collaborators inside and outside the Catholic Church. And while I’m on the subject — I’m also not very happy with the namby-pamby way some representatives of Catholic officialdom are dealing with what RCWP is up to.

One recent bit of RCWP mischief happened earlier this month, in Lexington, Kentucky, when the group performed the “ordination” of a social activist and retired school teacher named Janice Sevre-Duszynska to the priesthood.

It was probably inevitable that Sevre-Duszynska would eventually get some schismatic group or another to lay hands on her, mumble some words over her and call it an ordination. In an interview with a Lexington newspaper, she said that during her Catholic girlhood, “I’d sit in the priest’s chair, go to the pulpit, make believe I was preaching and giving communion. I thought, ‘Why couldn’t I be up here?’ ”

After a decade of campaigning for female priesthood — breaking up the ordination of a priest while demanding she be ordained as well; impersonating a reporter to get into a gathering of Catholic bishops, where she grabbed the mike and made the usual demands; getting arrested for protesting an ordination of deacons — she finally got her childhood wish. Sort of. Sevre-Duszynska is still not a Roman Catholic priest, because female priests do not exist in the real world of Catholicism. But she now belongs to a network of people calling themselves Catholic who will allow her to make-believe all she likes.

This story does not end, however, with the shameful “ordination” parody in Lexington. In mid-August, leaders in the famous Maryknoll missionary movement were scheduled to meet with Fr. Roy Bourgeois, one of their own, to find out what he thought he was doing when he concelebrated the liturgy, preached and laid on hands at the Sevre-Duszynska event.

(Before the meeting, Fr. Bourgeois told a reporter for the Catholic News Service that he had decided women could be ordained in the Catholic Church after receiving an invitation to the Lexington “ordination” from Sevre-Duszynska, an old friend. “In conscience I felt I had to be there,” he said.)

For their part, Maryknoll officials were making the meeting sound like little more than a chat over tea and biscuits. “It was the General Council that has asked him to come back as one of their brother priests to understand from him the facts behind his thinking,” a spokesperson said.

So what’s to understand? A priest with 36 years of Catholic ministry behind him, Fr. Bourgeois knew very well that what he did separated him from the living community of the Catholic Church. His act was not that of a sincere questioner. It was that of a man who had decided to make public his repudiation of Catholic teaching and his abandonment of the rich and beautiful complexity of Catholic life in favour of the company of single-issue heretics. The only issue before the Maryknoll superiors, as far as I can tell, is how soon Fr. Bourgeois can pack his bags.

That said, the RCWP organization, and the sentimental hogwash retailed by it as “feminist theology,” are certainly here to stay. Cultures going through moral and intellectual crises — I am thinking especially of greed-ravaged, ethically disoriented American culture — produce all kinds of morbid symptoms. RCWP is one of them. But we can hope that, so long as RCWP keeps up its antics, the Catholic Church will remain clear about what we believe priesthood to be, and how the priestly ministry nourishes the great variety of other ministries in the Church of God.

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