On July 20th three women at Church of the Covenant (affiliated with both the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ) in Boston’s Back Bay claimed to have been ordained as Catholic priests. The Archdiocese of Boston was quick to clarify that this was not the case.
For two thousand years, the Catholic Church has served to carry on the ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church is made up of women and men, equal in rights and diverse in gifts and ministries. Following our devotion to Mary, the Church is committed to, and sustained by the many important contributions of women each and every day.
As members of our religious communities, lay members in leadership roles within the Church, educators, canon lawyers, and as pastoral and social service providers across many other critical areas, women are helping to shape the course of our Church in following the will of God. The ordination of men to the priesthood is not merely a matter of practice or discipline within the Catholic Church, but rather, it is part of the unalterable Deposit of Faith handed down by Christ through his apostles.
The organization calling itself "Roman Catholic Womenpriests" is not recognized as an entity of the Catholic Church. Catholics who attempt to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the women who attempt to receive a sacred order, are by their own actions separating themselves from the Church.
That said, the Catholic Church is prepared and eager to welcome back those who seek reconciliation. As a faith community rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus Christ, we pray for those who have willingly fallen away from the Church by participating in such activities. And, we pray that they find reconciliation through and comfort in the Catholic Church by willingly returning to the community of believers. (July 18, 2008, Fr. Richard Erikson, Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Boston)
It should be obvious to all that these women are confused at minimum on their vocation, ecclesiology, and perhaps, most likely on a corpus of other things as well. Since this news was all over the local media in the past few weeks I pondered if we should give this silliness any space here. Well, I thought of Ven. Jerzy Popieluszko’s (1947-1984) last homily (October 19, 1984) which was titled “Conquer Evil with Good.” So in this spirit and, in addition to prayers for these three women (and others who consent to their actions), we will simply note the beauty and dignity of women in the Catholic Church.
Pope John Paul II wrote very much “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”, in particular re-discovering feminine humanity. ...It is far from imitating masculine humanity, to say the least.
In the tradition of faith and of Christian reflection throughout the ages, the coupling Adam-Christ is often linked with that of Eve-Mary. If Mary is described also as the "new Eve", what are the meanings of this analogy? Certainly there are many. Particularly noteworthy is the meaning which sees Mary as the full revelation of all that is included in the biblical word "woman": a revelation commensurate with the mystery of the Redemption. Mary means, in a sense, a going beyond the limit spoken of in the Book of Genesis (3: 16) and a return to that "beginning" in which one finds the "woman" as she was intended to be in creation, and therefore in the eternal mind of God: in the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity. Mary is "the new beginning" of the dignity and vocation of women, of each and every woman.
A particular key for understanding this can be found in the words which the Evangelist puts on Mary's lips after the Annunciation, during her visit to Elizabeth: "He who is mighty has done great things for me" (Luke 1:49). These words certainly refer to the conception of her Son, who is the "Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32), the "holy one" of God; but they can also signify the discovery of her own feminine humanity. He "has done great things for me": this is the discovery of all the richness and personal resources of femininity, all the eternal originality of the "woman", just as God wanted her to be, a person for her own sake, who discovers herself "by means of a sincere gift of self".
This discovery is connected with a clear awareness of God's gift, of his generosity. From the very "beginning" sin had obscured this awareness, in a sense had stifled it, as is shown in the words of the first temptation by the "father of lies" (cf. Genesis 3:1-5). At the advent of the "fullness of time" (cf. Galatians 4:4),when the mystery of Redemption begins to be fulfilled in the history of humanity, this awareness bursts forth in all its power in the words of the biblical "woman" of Nazareth. In Mary, Eve discovers the nature of the true dignity of woman, of feminine humanity. This discovery must continually reach the heart of every woman and shape her vocation and her life. (Mulieris Dignitatem, John Paul II, August 15, 1988)
Perhaps not too many realize that four of the five American canonized saints are women. Well who are the American canonized saints?
It is more than safe to say that in looking for holiness look to the Saints and look for obedience to God's Divine Will in all its dimensions.
1. Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini (b. Italy; 1850-1917)
“Mother Cabrini” was the first American citizen to be canonized.
[July 7, 1946 by Pope Pius XII; Feast day is November 13]
2. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (b. USA; 1774-1821)
Patroness of Catholic Schools
[September 14,1975 by Pope Paul VI; Feast day is January 4]
3. Saint John Neumann (b. Bohemia; 1811-1860)
Was Bishop of Philadelphia
[June 19, 1977 by Pope Paul VI; Feast day is January 5]
4. Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (b. France; 1769-1852)
Foundress in America of the Society of the Sacred Heart
[July 3, 1988 by Pope John Paul II; Feast day is November 18]
5. Saint Katharine Drexel (b. USA; 1858-1955)
Gave away her $20 mil inheritance to the poor
[October 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II; Feast day is March 3]
Image: Sts. Cabrini, Seton, Duchesne and Drexel