Reuters Reports on the “Ordination” of a Woman Priest

On Saturday Reuters put out an article on a woman in Kentucky who took part in a ceremony purporting to make her into a Catholic priest.  I’d like to make two points about the article.

In the first place, it is utterly and predictably biased.  This is evident from the tone of the piece, which presents the woman in question–and the movement for female ordination–in a positive light while giving the Roman Catholic Church’s side of the story in language that is at best clinical.  It does not read like an article written by an unbiased professional journalist but by a biased one trying to do the minimum to appear unbiased.

Apart from the tone, this bias is obvious in a couple of aspects of the article.  In the first place, in its title and throughout it refers to the woman as having been “ordained” as a priest.  It acknowledges the Church’s view that such an ordination is impossible and that the ceremony in which the woman took part was really a “simulation” of the sacrament.  But it consistently uses the dissidents’ language to describe what happened.  Similarly, it asserts that the Church has a “ban” on women priests, even though the Church’s position is not that the thing is to be banned but that the thing is not possible.


Again, in trying to appear to give the arguments on both sides of the issue, the Reuters article in fact throws its lot in with one side over the other.  Take a look at this passage:

The Catholic Church teaches that it has no authority to allow women to be priests because Jesus Christ chose only men as his apostles. Proponents of a female priesthood said Jesus was acting only according to the customs of his time.  They also note that he chose women, like Mary Magdalene, as disciples, and that the early Church had women priests, deacons and bishops.

Got that?  Proponents of female ordination “note” that the early Chruch had women priests, deacons, and bishops–as if that were an uncontested historical fact rather than a point disputed by the two sides.

The other point to be made about the article is that the woman supposedly “ordained” in the ceremony does not sound like any kind of Catholic that would be historically recognizable as such, even apart from the question of the ordination of women.  The article notes that the penalty for this sort of thing is excommunication.  Here’s the lady’s reaction:

“It has no sting for me,” said Smead, a petite, gray-haired former Carmelite nun with a ready hug for strangers. “It is a Medieval bullying stick the bishops used to keep control over people and to keep the voices of women silent. I am way beyond letting octogenarian men tell us how to live our lives.”

Now, any dispassionate reading of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life make it clear that he intended to establish a Church with the authority to teach definitively on his behalf.  There is an even more specific basis for excommunication in the Gospels.  Ms. Smead should know this, and thus should know that excommunication is not merely a “medieval” invention.  In any case, why should we take seriously as any kind of Catholic one who not only rejects the Church’s teaching on a single issue, but actually rejects its disciplinary authority in general?

Finally, it is worth observing that Ms. Smead permits herself to fall into bigotry here, speaking of old men as is they, as a class, are somehow to be disdained.


Categories:Church News

  • Mary Jo

    I also found these womens’ garments interesting, if you saw the picture. If they are trying so hard to be “Catholic” priests, why do they not look at all like them? “…why should we take seriously as any kind of Catholic one who not only rejects the Church’s teaching on a single issue, but actually rejects its disciplinary authority in general?” I don’t think they know what they want.

  • Russell Moker

    The paradox of this bizarre event is the unabashed awareness of the woman who took part in this ineffectual ritual. She can and likely should be excommunicated but she seems not to care. That being the case, why is she obsessed with becoming a legitimate Roman Catholic priest?

  • lorry davis

    since so many are not Catholic, they do not understand about how we believe the Church is Christ’s Bride. We also believe in marriage as being one man – one woman. We all know Christ is a male. For a woman to be a priest, as the priest is “married” to the Church, would make it NOT one man, one woman. This is NOT about woman’s lib! OR about women’s rights! Women do have a very important role in the Church, as Nuns – we would have a really hard pressed time without them!!!! If you are NOT Catholic, you have no right to have an opinion!! Obviously, this woman left the Church on her own decision and PRIDE – period!

  • monica pope

    bias? worse– a big heaping serving of culpable ignorance. what Reuters (and every other mainstream news service that carried the story) blatantly ignores is this: these woman have about as much validity as priests as any Catholic four-year-old playing Holy Mass in his kitchen, using oreos and apple juice. as much validity and a helluva lot less goodwill toward the Church.


      We used white bread which we pressed thin with bottle caps. Our “church” was a tree house with a sign saying “no girlz aloud.”

  • Colleen Compere

    I have always liked Reuters because I believed them to be the least biased reporting out there. This changes my view drastically. I will now unfortunately be leery of anything they report on because of this article. Sad state of affairs, but typical for the times.

  • Loreen

    Unfortunately, I agree with Ms. Smead. A priest once told me that I had to live with the abuse of a man because we were married. He should have been defrocked. Mary Magdalene was “The Apostle” many women figured predominately in the work of Jesus.

    • Paul Sadek

      Yes, it IS unfortunate that you agree with Ms. Smead, Loreen.

      It’s not at all clear why you have brought up your incident of spousal abuse and the admittedly bad advice of a priest.

      Let’s see some references to support your statement that “Mary Magdalene was ‘The Apostle.'” Scripture surely can’t be among them.

      Of course women were–and are–important in the Lord’s work. But let’s not go to the silly argument that “Jesus was acting only according to the customs of his time.” I hardly think that the “customs of his time” allowed for befriending prostitutes, tax-collectors, and lepers.

      It always amazes me when people claim that Jesus–God incarnate–was somehow “limited” by us puny humans, and was therefore unable to do what he “really” intended.

    • Larry

      Loreen, you are very accurate. The writngs that confirm this were labeled as blasphemy by The Catholic Church and were never made part of the Bible.

      • Paul Sadek

        Larry and Loreen, it really comes down to this: Nobody is forcing you to accept the authority of the Catholic Church. If you wish to reject it as Rosemarie Smead has done, that’s your thing; just don’t pretend to be Catholic if you do.

        And Larry, with regard to your comment that “The writngs that confirm this were labeled as blasphemy by The Catholic Church and were never made part of the Bible”: What ARE they? What authority DOES back them up?



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