I don’t know if you regard the non-ordination of women within our Roman Catholic Church as an injustice or not, but the newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) agrees with Fr. Roy Bourgeois. As you know, I regard Fr. Roy as my personal friend. I came to know him “up close” when he came as our keynote speaker for our Call To Action-Michigan state Conference a year or two ago. I know this is dangerous for me to say this in this public way because I too can receive the same fate that happened to him. By this I mean, I too can be dismissed from my religious order as he has been. This scares me as it did him.
But I too believe the non-ordination of women is a sin of injustice. I am saying I am having difficulty in accepting the Church’s teaching about the ordination of women because I believe that discriminating against them in this sacrament is a sin, an injustice. I see it the same as racism when our society kept black people and white people apart and separate. I believe all human beings are created “equal”. I see no reason to separate one from the other. Why does one need to do this? Why can they not be treated equally as human beings in all 7 of our sacraments rather than limiting women to only 6 of them when it comes to our Church’s sacramental system?
But as a woman religious, I also want to “sing the praises” of this particular newspaper. Without this newspaper, would our voices as USA women religious be known if it were not for this newspaper? I doubt it. I am referring to last August when the men in the Vatican started the Assessment of our leadership (LCWR). Earlier than this Assessment, NCR had also related well our experience as ordinary or “plain” Sisters (those of us in “the ranks”, not in the leadership positions among us) as we underwent the “Visitation” (Investigation) under the Vatican’s delegate, Mother Clare Milea.
I think a very big and important question to ask now with what NCR has done is to ask, “Would any other Catholic newspaper be able to survive within our Church as I believe they will”? The reason I say this is because this newspaper is run and operated by the “sensus fidelium” or outside the so-called “canonical structures” of our Church. In other words, no employee will be “OUT OF THEIR JOB” because of what they are saying in this their editorial statement. In this way I believe they are very strong and will continue into our future.
I hope you notice that they have been keeping very good “historical” facts since 1976 regarding the ordination of women within our Church?
Women's Ordination Conference 1975
The first Women’s Ordination Conference happened here in Detroit in 1975. I know because I went to it. At that time, I commuted from Toledo where I was working as a Pastoral Associate within a parish. I find it interesting that it was the same year as the start of Call To Action under Cardinal Dearden that the Doctrinal Office (Cardinal Ratzinger) commented about the Church not being able to ordain women. Then Pope John Paul II and the men in Rome were quiet about this issue until 1994. It was during this time (in the 80’s), as I recall, that the American bishops attempted to write a Pastoral “about women” much like the Pastorals they had written earlier on “War & Peace” and “Economics”. I remember participating in the listening sessions they sponsored for us women across the country during that time. However, every time, they sent their draft to Rome, it came back as being “unacceptable.” After 9 years they finally gave up attempting to write it. They “shelved” it because they were going no where with it with Rome.
What I also find interesting with what the staff of NCR is saying in this editorial is that they know that all Bishops do not agree with the men in the Vatican. We know of two Bishops in Australia via their newspaper who do not. One, Geoffrey Robinson, even wrote a book about it after he retired. Then we also know by way of Patricia Fresen (a former Dominican Sister from South Africa) with the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement that there are several bishops in Europe or somewhere who also believe women can or should be ordained. That story can be found on their website.
Lastly, as NCR says here, others in the USA have also suffered in the past because of this issue or belief. Fr. Roy is not the first one. Bill Callahan, SJ was pushed out of the Jesuits quite a few years ago. After that he started the Quixote Center. Within this Center, the “Priests for Equality” translated the Bible into an “inclusive” language. This Bible is now available for purchase through this Center. Sr. Carmel McEnroy went back to Ireland after she was let go from St. Meinrad’s seminary.
Kate Conmy and Erin Hanna of WOC
Lastly, I would love for you to meet the young women who now lead the Women’s Ordination Conference. If you are not members of this organization or subscribe to this newspaper, you should; because, as Matthew Fox said at the last national CTA Conference in Louisville, KY, it is this “99% generation” (our young adults) or are “on fire” regarding justice issues within our Church. Therefore, if you want to work for justice, I suggest you stand with them as they continue to work in solidarity with Fr. Roy and his passion for justice for women within our Church. It can be a very exciting group to be a part of. You will note that they sing and dance as well as work for justice…
Beth is a longtime WOC Member and supporter, living in Michigan.