For Immediate Release
Contact: Erin Saiz Hanna, [email protected] or (202) 675-1006, U.S. mobile in Rome 011-39-401-588-0457
Women’s Ordination Advocates Hold Press Conference During Vatican Year for Priests Celebration,
Vigil Calling on Pope to Ordain Women
ROME, ITALY – Today, at 11:00 o’clock in the office of redazione di ADISTA, Via Acciaioli 7, 00186 Roma, representatives of Catholic organizations from around the world called for the full and equal participation of women in the Roman Catholic Church, including ordination as deacons, priests and bishops. The remarks came during a press conference held by Women’s Ordination Worldwide and other pro-ordination groups held in Rome to protest the Vatican’s "Year for Priests" celebration, which begins tomorrow. After the press conference, the groups staged a vigil in St. Peter’s Square.
"The absolute hypocrisy of the ‘Year for Priests’ celebration cuts to the core of what is wrong with the hierarchy today," said Erin Saiz Hanna, executive director of the U.S. based Women’s Ordination Conference. "The Vatican is all too happy to turn a blind eye when men in its ranks destroy the lives of children and families, but jumps at the chance to excommunicate women who, in good conscience, are prophetically answering their call to ordination and responding to needs of their communities."
On June 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI declared a ‘Year for Priests’ to celebrate and honor the male, clerical, priesthood. From June 9-11, 2010, the year-long celebration culminates with an international gathering of priests hosted by Pope Benedict in Rome to pay tribute to their work.
"At the end of a disappointing ‘Year for Priests’ and a disastrous year for the Roman Catholic Church we call for a Decade of the People of God," stated Angelika Fromm, representative from International Movement We are Church and the Purple Stole Movement in Germany. "The current global crisis within the church demonstrates that the clerical hierarchy alone can’t serve any longer as the foundation of the Catholic church’s institutional structure and authority." Fromm continued, "Our church urgently needs large numbers of male and female pastors to serve our parishes. Charisma should be important, not gender."
Therese Koturbash, a Canadian lawyer and International Coordinator of the womenpriests.org campaign, stated, "Thanks to historical research, we now know conclusively that women did receive the sacrament of Holy Orders, at least in the diaconate. And we know that the Council of Trent stated clearly that the diaconate is part of Holy Orders. However, somewhere along the way, the door to women slammed shut." Koturbash continued, "During this ‘Year for Priests,’ we have asked that women’s historical service in Holy Orders be remembered and that reforms be put in motion to welcome women into priesthood! Women can and should be priests."
Mary Ann M. Schoettly, ordained through Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP), an international initiative within the Roman Catholic Church that advocates for a new model of priestly ministry, stated, "After years of considerable study and reflection, the women of RCWP are following their well formed consciences and accepting the gift of ordination."
According to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, in a statement published on May 29, 2008 published in L’Observatorio Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, all Roman Catholic Womenpriests and the bishops who ordain them are automatically excommunicated, known as latae sententiae.
Schoettly continued, "Roman Catholic Womenpriests reject the penalty of excommunication. We are loyal members of the church who stand in the prophetic tradition of holy obedience to the Spirit’s call to change an unjust law that discriminates against us."
"The discrimination against women in faith communities and in particular by the Catholic Church underpins the violence against women in everyday life," stated Mary Leslie of Catholic Women’s Ordination, UK.
Colette Joyce from New Wine, another UK based group, continued, "It is very difficult for a Catholic woman active in her own parish and community to come forward and say this is her calling because there is nowhere for her to take it. I want to talk to the leaders of my church about women’s ordination – not journalists – but every time I try the door is continually being closed."
In 1976, the Biblical Commission of Pope Paul VI determined there was no scriptural reason to prohibit women’s ordination. Despite the Commission’s finding, the pope issued a statement later that year declaring the Vatican is not authorized to ordain women. In 1994, Pope John Paul II officially closed discussion of the subject. Today, an overwhelming Catholics support the issue, yet people who work for the church can be fired if they even talk about women priests.
"For far too long, only ordained, male, celibate clergy have dictated -or tried to dictate- how Catholics worship, pray and make decisions," concluded Hanna. "Canon 1024, which states that only men can validly receive the sacrament of ordination, is unjust and does not value the gospel message of Jesus. It must be changed."
Women’s Ordination Worldwide, founded in 1996, is an ecumenical network, whose primary mission at this time is the admission of Roman Catholic women to all ordained ministries.
Catholic Women’s Ordination (CWO) is a national group of women and men in the UK (including Scotland and Wales) who seek a renewed model of priesthood in the Catholic Church so that there is proper scope for the distinctive ministry of ordained women within it. Renewal of the Church is our first aim but the importance of women’s ministry is integral to that, as is women’s leadership within the church. Contact: Mary Leslie, [email protected]
Housetop’s www.womenpriests.org is the largest internet site providing information and documentation on the ordination of women. Though its focus is on the Catholic Church, its work benefits all Christian Churches. Offering thousands of documents in English and 24 other languages, the website covers decrees of councils and synods, the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, medieval theologians, recent papal decrees, contemporary articles and ongoing discussions on scripture, tradition and the teaching authority of the Church. Contact Therese Korturbash, [email protected]
International Movement We are Church (IMWAC), Founded in Rome in 1996, is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it. We are Church evolved from the Church Referendum in Austria in 1995 that was started after the paedophilia scandal around Vienna’s former Cardinal Groer. We are Church is represented in more than twenty countries on all continents and is networking world-wide with similar-minded reform groups. Contact: Christian Weisner, [email protected] or Angelika Fromm, [email protected] or mobile in Rome: +49-177-9224542
Lila Stola (Purple Stole Movement) founded in 1996 in Mainz/Germany, is a section of We are Church that is active in promoting full equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church. At ordination ceremonies of male deacons and priests women as well as men regularly demonstrate for the renewal of ministry wearing purple stoles as their symbol. Purple is the colour of the women’s movement as well as the ecclesiastic colour of repentance and new beginning. Contact: Angelika Fromm [email protected] or mobile in Rome: +49-177-9224542
New Wine is a group for women who live in Great Britain and provides an informal context for the mutual support, nourishment, and development of women in the Roman Catholic tradition, who believe they are called by God and by the community to ordained ministry in that tradition. Contact: Colette Joyce, [email protected]
Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) is an international initiative within the Roman Catholic Church that advocates for a new model of priestly ministry united with the people with whom they serve. The movement is an initiative within the Church that began with the ordination of seven women on the Danube River in 2002. Women bishops ordained in full apostolic succession continue to carry on the work of ordaining others in the Roman Catholic Church. Contact Mary Ann Schoettly, [email protected]
Women’s Ordination Conference, founded in 1975 and based in Washington, D.C., the is the oldest and largest national organization working for the ordination of women as priests, deacons, and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church. WOC also promotes new perspectives on ordination that call for less separation between the clergy and laity. Contact: Erin Saiz Hanna, [email protected] or U.S. mobile in Rome 011-39-401-588-0457