Questions About Roman Catholic Woman Priests? Thirsting For the Living Water
This writer and Priest so appreciates your reading this blog. It is written with love for inspiration and information. There is a deep thirst within us that responds to the Living Water that Christ gives in his teachings, in Himself, and in his time here on earth. I love trying to capture that and share it with you. But for those who may pass this blog by because they do not know what on earth a Roman Catholic Priest who is a woman is, or what the Movement is about, or because they find us unacceptable given the Church’s denial of the “ability” to ordain women, I would like to make some resources available to begin to answer your questions. As a former Master’s level University Professor of 27 years I have confidence that learning can open both minds and hearts. So if you are open to learning, I will recommend some websites and books here. By now there are several books about and by Roman Catholic Women Priests, but I will highlight three here. And I also welcome your thoughts and questions.
In today’s Lenten reading we learn that Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt 5:17). In his Lenten reflection for today Pope Francis notes that:
“By accepting the Law of God in our heart, one understands that, when one does not love one’s neighbor, to some extent one kills oneself and others,because hatred, rivalry and division kill the fraternal charity that is the basis of interpersonal relationships… And Jesus is aware that it is not easy to live the Commandments in such an all-encompassing way. That is why he offers us the help of his love…”(( CNEWA Lenten Reflections, p.32, From the Angelus, 16 February 2020).
Roman Catholic Woman Priests would like to help fulfill the promise of Church as Jesus intended it to be: inclusive and loving of all, without exception. We would like to claim the “fraternal charity” and the kind of love that affirms the dignity and worth of all human beings, including women who may also be called by God to a variety of jobs to realize the kingdom/kin-dom of God on earth, including calls to the Priesthood. As Jill Peterfeso notes in her book Womanpriest: Tradition and Transgression in the Contemporary Roman Catholic Church ( Fordham University Press, 2020:p.8):
“Womanpriests do what they do because they hold separate and seemingly opposing beliefs. While they believe that Roman Catholic traditions are too precious to lose, they also believe that Catholic women deserve the opportunity to serve the church through the ministerial priesthood. By getting ordained illegally and disobeying Vatican teachings, womenpriests are declaring that sacraments are important, priesthood is important, and the Roman Catholic Faith is important….Quite simply, the RCWP Movement believes that positive change for Roman Catholicism demands the inclusion of women in priestly office”.
To put it more simply and to the point I quote Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, “We are not leaving the church we are leading the church”- to necessary reform that affirms the dignity of all people, women, divorced people, the LGBTQT community, and every single human being in her or his difference or relationship to man-made church law. All are included, all are welcome-no exceptions. Or as Pope Francis says, despite his, perhaps reluctantly, “closing the door” on women, “when one does not love one’s neighbor, to some extent one kills oneself and others…” Jesus consistently and beautifully always put people above the finer points of the law. He healed on the sabbath, and picked corn on the sabbath when hungry. And so we seek to follow Jesus in affirming all human beings, and all of Creation, even if we must, therefore, break some of the man-made laws of the Church (particularly about which gender only can be ordained) to affirm the Law of Love that God commands. With Christ’s help we seek, like him, to fulfill the law of LOVE.
Below is the cover of the book cited by Jill Peterfeso that is well worth your reading if you’d like to know more about Roman Catholic Women Priests. On the cover is Rev. Gabriella Velardi Ward of New York who was ordained along with Gloria Carpeneto of Maryland and myself on July 20,2008.
Another book I love and recommend is the discussion of the Movement and the first compilation of the stories of some of the earliest priests:
Women Find A Way: The Movement and Stories of Roman Catholic Womenpriests ( Edited by Elsie Hainz McGrath, Bridget Mary Meehan and Ida Raming, VBW Publishing, 2008).
In this book we are invited to “Meet Roman Catholic womenpriests who are shaping a more inclusive,Christ-centered,Spirit-empowered Church of equals in the twenty-first century. All are welcome at the sacred Eucharistic table. Meet women bishops ordained in full apostolic succession who continue to carry on the work of ordaining others in the Roman Catholic Church. Meet women who are seerving the People of God in many ways including house churches and parish communities,hospital and hospice chaplaincy,anointing of the sick and elderly,and ministering with the homeless. Roman Catholic Womenpriests are leading the Catholic Church into a new age in which the identity of priest reflects the experiences of women….”
In my last blog I referred you to the powerful chapter by Bishop Patricia Fresen in this book: “A New Understanding of Priestly Ministry: Looking At A Church in Crisis.” It also has a leading chapter by the first ordained women priests: the Danube Seven. My call to the priesthood within my lifelong call to serve the poor, the different, and the “outcasts’ is included in the book and all of the twenty-three chapters tell stories you will not want to miss.
And, finally I want to heartily recommend the book written by one of our strongest supporters, our Priest Brother, Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic Priest for forty years: Male Supremacy In the Catholic Church: An Insider’s View ( 2020, released January 2023 : ISBN 9798436033976). This is a critically important book that could have only been written by a male Priest. We are so thankful for his support and all that he has risked and lost to support us.
Fr. Roy said: “….An all-loving God created everyone of equal worth and dignity. There are no exceptions! This memoir, written by a Catholic priest for forty years, addresses the injustice of male supremacy, sexism and the spiritual abuse of women in the Roman Catholic Church….In 2012, he was expelled from the priesthood because of his public support for the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church”. May God bless our courageous brother, Roy Bourgeois! Do consider getting this book, I think you will find it challenging and perhaps cherish it as I do.
Bless you as you listen to the voice of God within and seek to learn,
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Ministries, Fort Myers, Florida
Thank you for your prophetic voice.
Thank you for this information. Also, thank you for leading the way for those of us women called by God to service.