We, Roman Catholic Women Priests Are Here To Stay: Pope Francis,Please Open The Door!

Here are two landmark articles and a link to a third that continue the discourse on women ordained as Roman Catholic Priests.

By Kevin Coughlin From MorristownGreen.com

It was the Lord’s Prayer… but with an updated introduction:

“God, our mother and father … “

And there were a few other little changes in Saturday’s Catholic Mass in Morristown.

For starters, the priests were women.

Which is why the service was celebrated in the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, not a Catholic sanctuary.

An organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests ordained seven women, who invited excommunication by defying centuries of canon law from the Vatican.

Priests from the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a dissident group, after ordinations in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Pope Francis has been emphatic on the question of women priests, declaring in 2013: “The church has spoken and says no… That door is closed.”

“It’s a man-made law from the middle-Middle Ages that does not ring true to what we know about men and women and who we are as human beings. We have a very different view of humanity today than we did at that time,” countered RCWP Bishop Andrea Johnson, who traveled from Annapolis, MD, to preside over the ordinations.

Johnson said she anticipates women priests eventually will become part of Catholic orthodoxy–because people will demand it.

Sex abuse scandals — which have cost the U.S. Catholic Church nearly $3 billion since 2004, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — could have been averted if women served alongside men as priests, Johnson said.

“I think we would have had a much different scene,” the bishop said. “Investigations would have been immediate and very straightforward.”

Established in Germany in 2002, RCWP now counts about 200 women priests in Europe and North- and South America; the majority are in the United States.

The Rev. Susan Schessel, newly ordained by the Roman catholic Womenpriests, gives wine at communion in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“We are committed to a ministry that is all-inclusive, and we believe that the law of the church that prohibits women from being ordained is an unjust law,” said the Rev. Susan Schessler, a former nun from High Bridge who was ordained into the RCWP priesthood on Saturday.

When the Archdiocese of Newark — unjustly, in her opinion–fired some priests who were her friends, Schessler said she resolved to press for changes by pursuing ordination.

“Enough is enough,” she said.

Asked why she did not convert to the Episcopalian faith, which welcomes female clergy, Schessler said she loves the Catholic church and wishes to help bring reforms.

“We are prophetic people, believing that the Catholic Church needs reformation in terms of its work in dealing with women, and others as well in the human race,” said Schessler, a nun for 32 years who now volunteers with a Newark group that advocates for the disadvantaged.  She plans to establish a ministry in Bergen County.

The other new priests hail from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland.

They were installed during a service that ran more than two hours, in front of pews packed with friends and family who applauded and cheered at the event’s conclusion. The ceremony included a ritual in which the initiates prostrated themselves on the church floor.

Traditional hymns were punctuated with liturgical dancing by The Rwandan Women in Diaspora.Communion was offered to everyone. The communion wafer, symbolizing the body of Jesus Christ, was gluten-free. The wine, representing the blood of Christ, was alcohol-free.  The women priests received communion after everyone else.

The Rev. Cynthia Black, pastor of Redeemer, said her church was thrilled to host the service.

“It’s part of our DNA to support and be hospitable to women in this way, especially to our Roman sisters,” she said.

Bishop Johnson’s closing blessing was delivered “in the name of our Mother and Father, God.”

Rev. Judy’s explanation of Mother/Father God: 

Indeed, the early feminist theologian Mary Daly said it well: “If God is male then male is God”. Clearly throughout the Scriptures there are feminine images of God: in Hebrew:  Shekeinah-the breasted one, El Shaddai-Sophia Wisdom, Ruah. Jesus used the Aramaic word Abwoon in his prayer for the disciples and it means Birther God. What is masculine about that? Jesus chose feminine imagery when he said of Jerusalem: “I have longed to gather your children together ,as a hen gathers her children under her wings…(Matthew 23:37”  In another place the fierce love and  protection of God is likened to a bear protecting her cubs. As Jeanette Clancy says “God is not three men on a cloud , two with beards”. God is Spirit and we are all made in the image of God, all- the male and female of us. hence we pray God, our Mother/Father. 

In the second article below we see that Pope Francis is passionate and courageous in calling for equal pay for women. Yet,women who are ordained Roman Catholic Priests support themselves, and sometimes their churches when they work primarily with the very poor. It is disheartening to see Pope Francis “holding the line” that the door to the priesthood is closed to women when In 1974 the Pontifical Biblical Commission said that there was nothing in Scripture to prevent women’s ordination. It is only man-made tradition that developed canon law and negated( after the twelfth century) the presence of women priests, deacons and bishops in the early church. Most likely one man, even the Pontiff, could not change this  cannon law/tradition made in a paternalistic era long gone by without great difficulty and risk, if at all. But Pope Francis is prophetic in so many other ways that his leadership in this would  crack the door open a little letting light in. We call upon Pope Francis to let his light shine on women’s ordination. He has to know that we are validly but illicitly ordained. The validity of the ordination through a male bishop in good standing whose name will be revealed upon his death will not be questioned. We are in prophetic obedience to break the unjust canon law 1024 in order to bring in a new era of justice and accountability in the church. There are over two hundred of us in the world and the number is increasing rapidly. We are not going away and joining or forming other churches. We are in the best prophetic traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. We are concerned with the recognition that God can call whomever God calls to be priests. We will serve without pontifical or curia affirmation, God has called. We have answered-no matter what penalties men impose. Some courageous male priests have risked everything to stand with us-Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Fr.Bill Brennan among them. Many other male priests  stand in silent assent. How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the messengers of God.

This is the link to an article that includes Fr. Brennan’s sacrificial support of women’s ordination. 


 The second article is from RT.COM

Pure scandal’: Pope Francis slams pay disparity between men & women

Published time: April 29, 2015 17:08 RT.com

Pope Francis (Reuters / Max Rossi)

Pope Francis (Reuters / Max Rossi)

Pope Francis in a highly emotional appeal called for equal pay for men and women during his weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square, Rome.

“Why is it taken for granted that women must earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. The discrepancy is a pure scandal,” he said as cited by Reuters.

According to statistics from Eurostat, women in the EU were paid 16.4 percent less than men in 2013, while in the US a women earns 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid.

The pontiff called on Christians not to accept disparity between men and women.

“As Christians, we must become more demanding in this regard: for example, [by] supporting the right to equal retribution for equal work,” he said.

Francis said he wants women to have a greater role in the Catholic Church, but yet despite his forceful remarks on the status of women to date he still says the “door is closed” for women to become priests.

Advocates of female priesthood say the view of the Roman Catholic Church is outdated. Women priests have been ordained into the Anglican Church in relatively high numbers since the 1970’s but some provinces still only ordain men.”


Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

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