Monday, September 24, 2007

Women's ordination....again

~from Carroll County Times (Maryland):
For Gloria Carpeneto, being faithful to God's call meant being ordained as a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.

The ordination took place July 14 in New York City, where Carpeneto, a Catonsville resident, joined three other women who were ordained by Bishop Patricia Fresen - despite the fact the church officially forbids female ordination.

The women belong to a growing movement that no longer simply argues for women's rights but is creating an alternative Catholic church, whether the official church likes it or not.

"Women, thank God, are coming to value themselves as full human beings, fully in the image of God like men," said Andrea Johnson of Annapolis, one of the four to be ordained. "You can't put that back in the bottle."

The women bishops performing the ordinations were themselves ordained by an Argentinean Catholic priest who has broken ranks with the Vatican, and by European priests whose names are not public, Johnson said.

It is the custom and long tradition of the Catholic church that it takes three bishops to ordain a new bishop, Johnson said.

But according to Helen Osman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, only the pope can appoint a bishop.

The women ordained accept that their ordinations are illicit under canon law 1024, which forbids female ordination.

However, they argue that, while illicit, the ordinations are valid because they can be traced back to the apostles of Jesus and because it has only been in recent years that only the pope could appoint bishops.

But to Monsignor Art Valenzano of St. John Catholic Church in Westminster, the official Roman Catholic Church cannot accept the ordinations as either valid or licit.

The pope has determined that some church dogma can't change, Valenzano said, and this includes a male-only priesthood.

Lack of ordination doesn't automatically bar women from authority in the church, he said.

For example, Mother Teresa had tremendous authority, Valenzano said.

But according to the newly ordained women, females are a disenfranchised caste within the church.

Mother Teresa had moral authority in the church, Johnson said, but no legal authority.

What is the Catholic Church?

The Roman Catholic Church can be defined in two ways, Carpeneto said.

There's the Catholic Church of the pope and the officials in the Vatican who set policy and act as the public voice of the faith.

Then there's the larger body of people who identify as Roman Catholic, whether they agree with official church policies or not. Some of these Catholics are so disaffected that they don't attend Mass regularly, Carpeneto said.

This is the group on which the women base their claim.

"If the people accept [female priests] it bubbles up from the bottom," Johnson said. "It's very messy. It's very slow."

But the church eventually will conform to the culture, she said.

Indicators point to lay acceptance of female priests, said Bendyna.

When CARA asked Catholics, if the church approved, would they support women's ordination, the majority of respondents said yes, supporting the women priests' point that it's the clergy on top, not the broader church, blocking their path.

And while the current dogma states that the pope has no authority to allow women to be ordained, there's no saying what future popes might decide, Bendyna said.

The Catholic hierarchy simply doesn't want the laity to know what's going on, Johnson said, because they are afraid the rank and file would accept female priests.

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