Friday, July 31, 2015
Women's Ordination
How to Ordain Yourself
Last week I had the misfortune to stumble across the Women’s Ordination Conference’s hot new music video “Ordain a Lady.” Watch it at your own peril . . . I’m not really concerned for the peril of your soul in watching it, but rather of your artistic sensibilities. Yes, that was a cheap shot, but when you’re trying to emulate pop music it’s a good idea to not have someone who sounds like my grandmother as your vocalist. But I guess, given the fact that the Womyn Priest movement was started by people my grandmother’s age, I shouldn’t be surprised. Another cheap shot? Well, the whole video was full of them so I didn’t think anyone would mind.
I’m going to be honest here; I used to be kind of on the fence about the whole women’s ordination thing . . . and by on the fence I mean leaning toward ordaining women. A look at my bookshelf will confirm that for you; I actually paid money for books like When Women were Priests. Fortunately, I had the academic curiosity to read both sides and see that feminist scholars seemed to be taking serious liberties with translations which put me on my guard.

“Ordain a Lady,” did the same thing. If you really loved the Church, and valued your membership in the Church as the Body of Christ, you’d be a little broken up about being excommunicated . . . you wouldn’t be glowing. And while St. Paul is the king of the run-on-sentence that’s no reason to throw him out of the Bible; the fact that he writes things you find inconvenient is an equally bad reason to ignore what he says. That’s basically like saying ignore any part of Scripture that you disagree with. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what they’re saying.

If you go to the Women’s Ordination Conference’s website and flip through it you’ll glean some interesting information. They think the Church is racist, sexist, and, of course, homophobic. They signed onto a press release from Catholics for Choice supporting the HHS mandate, indicating their support for not only abortion and contraception but for making the Church pay for it. They support married clergy. They support gay marriage. So basically, they disagree with almost every teaching of the Church in regard to gender, sexuality, and family (how convenient) and think it’s institutionally horrible. I don’t understand why anyone would voluntarily associate themselves with people they think so poorly of . . . but they say they deeply love the Church. I mean, hey, they were baptized . . . but so was Henry VIII, so I’m not really sure what that’s supposed to mean.

Don’t get me wrong, I looked into the St. Therese quote and I’m kind of ambivalent about it. Here’s the passage often cited by Womyn Priest advocates:

“I feel as if I were called to be a fighter, a priest, an apostle, a doctor, a martyr; as if I could never satisfy the needs of my nature without performing, for Your sake, every kind of heroic action at once. I feel as if I'd got the courage to be a Crusader, a Pontifical Zouave, dying on the battlefield in defence of the Church. And at the same time I want to be a priest; how lovingly I'd carry You in my hands when you came down from heaven at my call; how lovingly I'd bestow You on men's souls! And yet, with all this desire to be a priest, I've nothing but admiration and envy for the humility of St. Francis; I'd willingly imitate him in refusing the honour of the priesthood."

Of course they cite it out of context, but I’ve learned that is to be expected. They cite the fact that she’s a saint as proof for their position. I’m going to cite another saint for them, one they might want to emulate: St. Pio. The Church wrongly cracked down on Padre Pio; in his canonization he was exonerated. A true calling would call you to obedience, and it may be a horrible struggle, but it would be one you would undertake for love of God and Church. If these Womyn Priests embraced the cross of obedience in this world, and renounced their false ordinations, and lived holy lives, while writing privately of their struggles, and died and were later canonized they’d be vindicated . . . but they’ve chosen excommunication over obedience, which makes it impossible for me to listen to anything they say.

The bottom line for me is this: If you reject virtually every teaching of the Church, why stick around? If there is no papal infallibility in matters of doctrine, then there is no apostolic succession, and therefore no reason to not just start your own Womyn's Catholic Church: just co-opt the liturgy and vestments, bring in some liturgical pole-dancing, celebrate gay marriages, and distribute free condoms and Plan B in the basement. It's a free country.

Kathleen Burke lives and works in the District of Columbia. She blogs on occasion at

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