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

  • jgbech

    This is for Paul. This is my connection to the ridiculous catholic subordination of women and the priesthood. Perhaps the reason Woolfolk had great frustration writing her book was the emense effort taken by the male hierarchy to eradicate her existence. The book is facinating. Read it!

    Pope Joan
    By Donna Woolfolk

    • Paul Sadek

      This may come as news to you, jgbech, but “Pope Joan,” by Donna Woolfolk, is a NOVEL, which is, by definition, a work of FICTION.

  • TCL

    America is foundering because we’ve deliberately divorced ourselves from Scholastic metaphysics. We are experiencing the practical fallout. Christ is truly God and truly man. We are made in God’s Image. As created beings, we have natures; and our *body* is not irrelevant to our soul.

  • Becca

    She didn’t really make an arguemnt. She made assertions based on an emotional reaction. If you want to read an amazing book that might clarify some of your questions I suggest Scott Hahn’s “Signs of Life”. Hahn was a Christian Pastor who converted to Catholicism mid-life. Being able to trace tradition to scripture was very important to him. He shows how things like the (male) priesthood are present in the scriptures.
    Also, another thing to note (and also for all non-Catholics), where do you think the scriptures came from? The Catholic Church prayed, discerned, and compiled the scripture. So, as the scripture is still the Word of God, sharper than a two-edged sword, it was also dependent on the tradition of the Church to interpret and promulgate it. The Church as an organized whole came together and prayed over which passages were inspired by the Holy Spirit. As far as your comments about changing the Mass. I can imagine this would be very confusing time to enter back into the Church. But, every church I have been to in the past 2 years has had a very clear guide for the Mass. Many people use it and I don’t think you would feel out of place to follow along. As far as the readings being “confusing”, they didn’t change any of the readings, the scripture readings that it.
    Once you get the hang of the Mass responses etc. you won’t feel uncomfortable. But, just as a side note, these changes have been in the works for the last 10 years. The Vatican always moves slowly, prudently, and with caution. They are shepherding billions of sheep! I hope that gives you consolation that they didn’t just “spring” these on the faithful. I will be praying for you, thank you for your honesty! jmj

    • Nancy

      Excellent response, Becca. The only think I might add is that the new translation isn’t really “new” or a “change” really. It’s a more precise translation of the Latin.

  • Jennifer Smith

    Martin Luther left the Catholic Church because of too many rules and not enough of pure teachings of the Jesus. After watch the TV series THE BIBLE, and then attending church on Easter Sunday, I had a hard time looking at the pious priest in all the robes and glory. These same pious men crucified Jesus over RULES. WWJD?
    Where is the holy spirit in the Catholic church today. Look for guidance not condemnation. If you want to win souls to Christ, why was the welcome home Catholics year the year the church changed the readings and made them so confusing in some respects. The readings should no make anyone uncomfortable. Again, WWJD?
    Judge not lest you be judged. If you are not a Prophet, how do you know that this woman is not call by God?

    • jgbech

      Martin Luther reluctantly exited the “church” for several reasons… Evil Pope Leo X, who bought his papacy with family treasure and then made his young brothers Cardinals, Leo promoted indulgences to generate cash for his new Vatican buildings. Luther was livid at this disgrace and pinned his 99 thesis on a church door in Germany.

      How can anyone agree with the church in these circumstances? Do you ever hear the true story from the clergy?

      • Paul Sadek

        I confess to my difficulty in connecting this thread to the original article.

        So far, here are the points which I infer…

        1. Since priests wear vestments, they should be ignored.
        2. Priests at a mass which Jennifer attended crucified Jesus.
        3. Nothing in scripture or liturgy should make anyone uncomfortable. Jesus was in the business of making people comfortable.
        4. When someone voluntarily leaves the Catholic Church, that means that the Church is “condemning” him/her.
        5. Since one pope was presumed to be corrupt, it follows that neither he nor his successors in the centuries following were capable of teaching truth.

        As I said elsewhere, nobody is forcing you to accept the authority of the Catholic Church. Quit whining. But don’t say, “I reject the Catholic Church and don’t believe that it has any authority….but I’m still Catholic.” That would be a totally ridiculous statement.

      • Antonio A. Badilla

        Your distortion of history is unbelievable but I hope you are not a Catholic. That would add insult to injury!

        • jgbech

          I have accurate data. We are recovering Catholics.

          • Paul Sadek

            “We are recovering Catholics”–Wow, now THERE’S a piece of the 1970’s! Sorry, jgbech, but you and Jennifer have yet to explain what any of this has to do with the topic of the original article. I’m betting that you didn’t even read it.

    • http://midco M. Zeman

      “These same pious men crucified Jesus…”. You are mixed up as priests came after Christ died on the cross, not before. Also, parts of the mass were changed several years to go back to what was before Vatican II. It had nothing to do with the welcome home year.

    • Antonio A. Badilla

      Wow, so our holy Catholic faith just means “rules” to you? A sure sign you have no blooming idea what our faith stands for.

    • Nancy

      It might be a good idea for you to actually study the life of Martin Luther…before and after he left the Church. There is much more that Luther agreed with the Church on than disagreed. Of course, this would not fit in with your agenda.

      • Paul Sadek

        Quite agreed, Nancy. An honest look at the life of Martin Luther will yield a very troubled soul whose primary motivation for becoming a priest was that he had promised God that he would do so if God would save him from a storm–not quite a well-thought-out, prayed-over discernment of vocation. And actually following through on such a promise made at a time of great stress borders on neurotic.

  • Joe M

    I suspect that the people at Reuters might react differently to a claim that their work is the same thing that the National Enquirer engages in.

  • http://Facebook Cheryl Spigarelli

    I feel you mad a great argument concerning this topic that seems to be on all non-catholic minds.



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