Female Priests Invade Catholic Church

A female priest.

A female priest.

A female priest.

Over 100 women have ordained themselves Catholic priests in the United States of America  and other parts of the world and this is tearing the Roman Catholic Church apart.

Ordinarily, the Catholic Church only operates with male priests also known as Reverend  Fathers while the female are Nuns or Reverend Sisters. But the female are not allowed to  perform rites during mass and this has not gone down well with some of them.

One of the female priests, Judy Lee, 67, who has been conducting mass for 25 Catholics in  the US says she is aware of the threat by Pope Benedict to excommunicate anyone who  disobeys the laid down rule but accused Rome of gender insensitivity.

The group, which calls itself Roman Catholic Womenpriests, founded eight years ago in  Europe, has been ordaining women who think they are capable of performing the rites as  reported by Time, an international news magazine this week.

It ordained women like Lee and Nancy Corran, who is now 37. The group is said to operate  in more than 20 American states and Canada.

Womenpriests and other organisations promoting female Catholic clerics, like the Women’s  Ordination Conference, don’t expect to change Vatican doctrine anytime soon.

But their growing following signals that Catholics, already incensed by the never ending  clerical sexual-abuse crisis, are losing patience with Rome’s refusal to let women into  the leadership of a church to which more than 20% of Americans belong.

Though Lee was told by one of the church’s Bishop, Rev. Frank Dewane  that the Catholic  Church had no authority to confer priestly ordination on women because Jesus had no  female Apostle, she was said to have replied: “Rome can impose all the rules it wants on  women, divorced people, gay people. But it can’t stop us.”

Mary Meehan, a Womenpriests Bishop and former nun also stressed: “We’re the Rosa Parks of  the Catholic Church. “We no longer accept second-class status in our own religion.”

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Meehan, 62, once did ministry work that included “everything a priest does,” she says —  except saying Mass.

So in 2006 she was made a priest by a group of German female theologians who four years  earlier had been ordained by a renegade cleric — and who were made bishops, by a  sympathetic European bishop whose identity they won’t reveal according to the report.

Members of the group who are said to hold advance religious degrees and have participated  in lay works in the Catholic church rely on the Da Vinci Code, which argues in their  favour. While some of them are married, another doctrinal abomination by the church,  others have outside jobs where they get salaries.

They also maintain that the New Testament and early Christian art show that women like  Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ most trusted followers, were apostles, priests and bishops  before medieval misogyny took hold of the church.

“They perform baptisms and legally recognized marriages. They say Mass in private homes  or sanctuaries lent by Protestant churches,” the report said adding that most of the 65  million Catholics in the US consider the church’s logic behind the ban on female priests  to be as thin as a Communion wafer.

A recent poll conducted by the New York Times shows that 59 per cent of the worshippers  favour ordaining women.

Conservative Catholics say this is really about feminist politics, and certainly there is  overlap. The Womenpriests use a liturgy that stresses gender neutrality (“In the name of  God our Father and Mother …”), and they don’t toe the Vatican line against birth  control and abortion, endorsing instead the Catholic tenet of informed individual  conscience.

They also favor the kind of new-age, Mother Earth music that can grate on even  progressive Catholics the report also explained.

—Eromosele Ebhomele