A historic event took place Saturday near Passau, Germany on the Danube River, and in the life of the Roman Catholic Church. It is with hope, and in solidarity, that the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) announces the ordination of seven women to the Catholic priesthood. The women from Germany and Austria, who have prepared for ordination by completing degrees in theology and participating in a ministerial training program over the last three years, were ordained by Archbishop Romolo Braschi of Argentina and Bishop Rafael Regelsberger of Austria. In the shadows of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, Catholics everywhere are in agony yet they continue searching for moral guidance. These ordinations are a light of hope in the church’s healing process. Women are courageously creating a just, inclusive church, and their actions will spark continued dialogue, growth and change in the church. WOC has advocated for women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church for twenty-seven years, always with the goal of creating a renewed priesthood in a vibrant and inclusive church. The ordination of women is clearly consistent with both the teachings and ministry of Jesus. After his death, Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene, making her the ‘apostle to the apostles’ and demonstrating Christ’s understanding that she would go forth to proclaim the gospel message. These ordinations should be viewed in the same light as the lives of the many female leaders who served in the early church. Rev. Ludmila Javorova, ordained in 1970 in Czechoslovakia’s underground church is another example of this tradition. Now, in the year 2002, more courageous women have stepped forward, and Catholic bishops have broken years of institutional silence by righting unjust church law. WOC is aware that some may question these ordinations on canonical grounds or because of the ‘standing’ of the ordaining bishops. WOC, however, chooses to recognize them as another important step in the struggle for women’s equality in the church. These new priests can not deny the spirit’s call to serve. Even the hierarchy’s culture of secrecy and requirements for silence cannot stop the ordination of women among the People of God. Ida Raming, a German theologian and one of the ordinands said, "We are aware that the step we take today is contrary to a valid canon in church law and contrary to the magisterial opinion of the church leadership. However, Canon 1024, which says only a baptized man can validly receive sacred ordination, and the church’s underlying teachings about it, are based on a grave lack of respect for the human dignity of women and their Christian existence." According to Raming, "Women who feel called to ministerial priesthood and want to live out their vocation, find themselves in a situation of grave conflict of conscience. On one hand they face the position of church leadership. On the other hand God is calling them to priestly service in the church. ‘It is Christ’s love that drives us.’ We are not willing to accept this distressing situation so this is our solution." Raming went on to say, "A belief that valid ordination is reserved exclusively to men ignores the status of women as baptized and confirmed persons. Canon 1024 also denies that women are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27), and contradicts the teachings of Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, para. 32 et al.) and Galatians 3:27-28 which says: All baptized in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus." The work of the Women’s Ordination Conference is infused with love for the church and driven by a passion for justice. Genevieve Chavez, WOC’s Executive Director said, "We support our sisters who find a way to respond to God’s call to ordained ministry. We celebrate these courageous women and bishops whose actions illustrate the value of women’s spiritual leadership to Catholics around the world." Chavez continued, "Until the day women are ordained to a renewed Roman Catholic priestly ministry, the church will have failed to fully reflect the glory and gifts of all God’s people in the life of the church." The Women’s Ordination Conference will continue its commitment to assure women’s recognition as full persons, created in the image and likeness of God, and able to represent Christ through celebration of the Eucharist. Chavez claims, "Now is the time to be direct with bishops regarding our vision of church and how we view reconstruction of the priesthood to include women." She concluded by saying, "Let us pray that other Roman Catholic bishops will follow the prophetic actions taken Saturday. May they all find the courage and willingness to ordain women to priestly ministry."