The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Failing the test of TIME: their story about “women priests” — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

The problems with this item in TIME magazine begin in the second sentence:

Alta Jacko is the mother of eight children. She is also an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

Actually, no. Whatever else she might be, Ms. Jacko is not ordained. What she experienced would be termed an “attempted ordination.” It has no validity or sacramental value, and is not recognized by the Catholic Church.

female_priest_0924.jpgMoving on, the reporter, Dawn Reiss, interviews a priest who helped Jacko in her quest for ordination — teaching her liturgy, and how to say the mass, among other things — and outlines the growing number of women who are taking part in these ceremonies.

Well, that’s a story we’ve heard again and again over the last few years. It’s become a bit predictable. 

But on closer inspection, this piece is particularly bad.  As a journalist, I have to note that the imbalance and bias throughout this account is breathtaking. Any and all appearance of objectivity has been tossed out the window.   No other voices are heard, except those that belong to “women priests,” those who helped them, or those who support them. The legitimacy or validity of their orders are never questioned. An authoritative spokesman for the Church is never cited. Nowhere does the piece mention that, according to canon law (just clarified again this past summer)  these women have committed a “grave sin,” and that they and those who are involved in attempted ordinations are automatically excommunicated. Instead, these women are all presented as heroic victims — each and every one seemingly a Rosa Parks, consigned to the back of the Catholic bus, and breaking Church law to become, in their eyes, “ordained.” 

The debate over women being ordained priests won’t be ending any time soon — and the Church has its hands full trying to explain and make explicit something many in the pews find hard to understand in the first place. Intelligent people can disagree about whether or not the Church’s stand on this issue is theologically sound or socially just. (Though the official Vatican document leaves little room for dispute.)

But what can’t be disputed is that TIME’s treatment of this particular story is just plain shoddy. 

I’d like to hear a TIME editor explain why this piece was allowed to be published in its final form, without even attempting to follow the kind of basics taught in Journalism 101. 

As a member of the Catholic clergy, I find this sort of inaccurate and incomplete reporting annoying and disappointing. 

But as a journalist?  It’s just embarrassing.

UPDATE: The blog Get Religion caught wind of the piece and — in an even more devastating critique — noted:

“Whether or not you are an ‘ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church’ is similar to whether or not you are a starting pitcher for the Yankees. It’s not about what you feel called to do. It’s not about feelings at all. And a journalist can check out this fact just as easily as she can check out the roster for a baseball team….Unfortunately, the story is just a complete train wreck.”

As for me, I’m still waiting for the TIME editor to defend this “train wreck,” and why it was permitted to see the light of day to begin with.



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Paul

posted September 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm


I can only hope that a reply from either the USCCB or an individual prelate will be soon forthcoming, clarifying the issue. Let’s see how well Time handles that one.
Seriously, though – even if the ordination mentioned were valid (which it isn’t), she would have to be incardinated into a functioning local church (which she won’t) in order to render the services to which she ordained (again, which she isn’t). No amount of circular arguments from WO proponents anywhere can change this. None.
Meanwhile, those of us among the laity – of both genders – are perfectly happy working for the Church as lay ministers, catechists, parents, married persons and single persons – out of our common priesthood of the Baptized. WO proponents seem to have a faulty understanding of the lay vocation and its relationship with the vocation of the ordained; to them it’s all about power. Or, of course, someone “not listening.”
Yawn.
The Anchoress has already bitten to the bone about the PR-unworthy move by Rome of lumping the attempted ordination of women to the priesthood in the same memo as that of delicts done by sex abusers, so there’s no sense in taking that further. But after the lessons are learned with that fiasco, the fact remains – when it comes to priestly ordination of women (leaving diaconate aside), the Church can’t, so the Church doesn’t. Period.



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Marian

posted September 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm


“Nowhere does the piece mention that, according to canon law (just clarified again this past summer) these women have committed a “grave sin,” and that they and those who are involved in attempted ordinations are automatically excommunicated.”
Which puts them right up there with clerical child-abusers, except of course that the latter often get ignored or kicked upstairs out of harm’s way. That would never happen to a woman who “attempted” to be ordained to serve God and God’s people.



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Dawn Reiss

posted September 26, 2010 at 9:31 pm


Hi. I’m the journalist who wrote the story you are discussing. As Votaire would say, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
For the record, I have more than a decade in the business and have covered a variety of topics from life in the slums of Cambodia to the trial of Rod Blagojevich and one of Maya Angelou’s lone interviews in her home in Harlem.
I certain did do my due diligence as a journalist. The Vatican’s recent statements about how ordaining women is on par with pedophile speak for themselves.
For the record, after I wrote, the second sentence you referred to, that Jacko is also “an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church,” I say: “Officially, of course, the Catholic Church’s canon law 1024 says that only baptized men can receive holy orders. But there is a movement against the no-women rule, one that began eight years ago when a cluster of renegade male clerics (including a European bishop whose identity the female priests won’t reveal in order not to risk his excommunication) ordained the first women. Now, in Jacko’s hometown of Chicago, three women have entered into the priesthood.”
I encourage open commentary. I might add that the gospel today pointed to the story of Lazarus, about how everyone should be treated with respect, decency, and without hatred.



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Klaire

posted September 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm


Marian if you actually knew anything about the priesthood, you would be embarassed for your false assumption. The only people these women are attempting to serve are at the gates of hell; be it willful ignorance or pride.
Perhaps TIME is in competition with CNN, for the worst of journalism as they air their totally erronous “story” on Pope Benedict.
http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=711
How do these people sleep at night?



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 26, 2010 at 9:45 pm


Thank you for your response, Dawn. Obviously, I disagree with your evaluation of your piece. If I were your editor, I wouldn’t have let it go, for all the reasons I mentioned.
But I look forward to hearing what others have to say.
Dcn. G.



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Klaire

posted September 26, 2010 at 9:48 pm


I certain did do my due diligence as a journalist. The Vatican’s recent statements about how ordaining women is on par with pedophile speak for themselves END QUOTE
But did you do it as a CATHOLIC Dawn? Spiritually, it IS on par with, if not worse, than pedophile. Do you even have a CLUE as to what takes places doing a Holy Mass. Let me give you the fist clue. The holy mass makes reparations for sins like yours; misleading the masses right over a cliff. For every person you wrongly influence, you are accountable.
Isn’t it interesting that you point out the the gospel message of sins of ommission when you as a “journalist” can’t even educate yourself before you put the next piece of “the big bad anti-women” church. Heaven forbid you should find yourself some Catholic saint to write about.
That said, I do admire your courage for coming onto this blog.



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Gen X Revert

posted September 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm


The comment is as bigoted and biased as the article. Is it any wonder no one reads magazines anymore?



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AndreJohn

posted September 26, 2010 at 10:07 pm


wanna look at women priests/ministers?
go home back to your Anglican Church people!



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Klaire

posted September 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm


Dawn, I ask this as a serious question:
Do you or TIME have any intention of doing a similar “repressed women” piece on Muslim women, as they too, at least based on your elemetary understanding of Catholicism, aren’t affored the same ‘rights’ as the Muslim men?



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Robert Helfman

posted September 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm


Garry Wills has some enlightening things to say in his book WHAT JESUS REALLY MEANT.
For myself, I can agree with Wills that the priest is not an alter christus. I do not believe any priest has the power to offer reparation for sins, only Jesus can.
I am Catholic, but not stupid, And I have not lost one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the fear of God. And I know this: the unloving, nasty attitudes of so many conservative Catholics cries to Heaven for justice.
You are in danger of the fires of hell, all you so-called Latin rite loving, rule enforcing, unloving hypcoritical acolytes of religious condemnation. Bullying, nasty, unloving, proud, what you need is someone to stand up to you all call your bluff.
I do not make a case for women priests, for or against in this post. I am taking on spiritual pride, pompous quackery, and monarchical, fascistic spritiually degenerate speudo-orthodoxy.
And if you want to quote your Latin and your Canon law to show me the error of my ways, take it up with the Lord. The love you show your brother and your sister is more important that your fidelity to religious oppression. The fear of man is a snare. The fear of God is wisdom. And what does this teach? That if God is love, we offend when we fail to love others as an image of Christ. It is more important to love as Jesus loved us than any other thing. I would remind the timid that the Gospel teaches that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.
I don’t need a catechism for permission to quote that. Even St. Augustine taugth reliance on the plain meaning of a text.



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Edmond J Bondy

posted September 26, 2010 at 10:59 pm


I don’t know what all the fuss is about, If you don’t believe the Catholic church is the church that Jesus started and set up the magisterium, Then why not belong to any other church that meets your beliefs?
I believe that Jesus set up his church just as he wants it, and I believe that It is very much like it was 2000 years ago. I also will die defending it as a true believer and not as a denier.



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IC

posted September 26, 2010 at 11:01 pm


“The Vatican’s recent statements about how ordaining women is on par with pedophile speak for themselves.”
Dawn, speak for themselves in what way? Plenty of Catholics thought that was ridiculous timing to name both as grave crimes at the same time. But how does that prove women’s ordination is instituted by Christ?
Oh…right, it proves, in your mind, that the Vatican cannot be trusted in any of these matters. So why bother getting an “opposing view” quotation from any of those folks, right?
As for your last statement, who is the Lazarus here? I’m not sure if you’re referring to bloggers/commenters hating and disrespecting you (I don’t, but I don’t agree with your presentation of this piece), or the Church hating/disrespecting … women? I’m sorry, but upholding a male priesthood in concert with the beauty of all the wide variety of Christian vocations doesn’t necessitate hate or disrespect at all. Indeed, perhaps it encourages hate’s opposite, love.



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Joe Cleary

posted September 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm


Dawn
Thanks for coming to the site to provide a defense of your article.
To be fair, I read your article and I think you made it very clear that anyone who participates in an ordination of women is subject to strict church penalty including excommunication.
Nonetheless I believe Deacon Greg’s very critical analysis about this article and it’s weakness on a journalistic basis remain valid. Your response did not address why you wrote an article on a controversial topic and did not speak with / quote ANYONE who disagreed with the people who were the focus of your article. To suggest that you referenced a Vatican document condemning woman’s ordination really is rather weak defense for you gathering all of the perspectives in a well written article. ( I think you know this too)
Instead of the usual “chancery statements” perhaps you could have asked the church spokespeople to not only explain the reason the ordinations are not recognized but also the difficulty of excommunicating a group who seem to be focused on sincerely helping others know Christ or even how some of the clergy and laity may agree the Church should recognize the ordination of woman but not support the methods of those who are going outside of the church that you highlight.
Also Deacon Greg did not attack you personally or I think treat you without respect. If you look him up his journalistic chops within the MSM rival almost anyone you work with at Time or even the down in St. Pete or in Dallas. That doesn’t necessarily make him correct– but take his feedback sincerely as someone who knows the medium.
(A hint – next time you need to talk to someone who can help explain the Roman Catholic Church in a clear way– you could do far worse then to contact Greg Kandra.)



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Eka

posted September 27, 2010 at 12:02 am


Dawn,
With all due respect, I believe the weakness of your article is that it fails to acknowledge the seriousness and sacredness with which the Roman Catholic Church views her responsibility in the administration of the sacraments. This is why she does not lightly consider marriage annulments and the laicization of priests…both of which require complex canonical trials.
I have even heard of some individuals who say that by viewing the sexual abuse of minors as a serious crime, within the general category of (although not synonymous with) illicit sacraments is in fact a statement of how grave sexual abuse is considered.
The problem here seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding and respect for what a sacrament is.



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Eka

posted September 27, 2010 at 12:32 am


I must also add that Carol Costello did a piece on women’s ordination for CNN last week during the pope’s UK visit that was very similar to the Time article. It was quite stunning to see how one-sided the presentation was. The women were treated as heroic figures standing up to the powerful Catholic Church…without any discussion of the damage that is done by treating a sacrament with such arrogance.
In fact advocates of woman’s ordination were even surprised at the presentation of the story, leading Maureen Fiedler to write in the National Catholic Reporter “What I found most fascinating, however, was the positive spin that CNN gave to this growing movement.” http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/catholic-women-priests-cnn
Because of the strong relationship of CNN and Time magazine, I am wondering if the authors of both pieces worked together since they seemed to share both premises and journalistic pitfalls.



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Dana MacKenzie

posted September 27, 2010 at 12:53 am


While I’ll give props to Ms. Reiss for defending her piece, the defense she offers is rather weak.
[Hi. I'm the journalist who wrote the story you are discussing. As Votaire would say, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."]
She opens with a non-sequiter.
[For the record, I have more than a decade in the business and have covered a variety of topics from life in the slums of Cambodia to the trial of Rod Blagojevich and one of Maya Angelou's lone interviews in her home in Harlem.]
She offers credentials that, while interesting, do not serve as exposition for her particular ability to understand or accurately report on church matters, which are often, um…extremely nuanced…while there is nothing at all nuanced about her subject or her bias.
[I certain did do my due diligence as a journalist. The Vatican's recent statements about how ordaining women is on par with pedophile speak for themselves.]
Had she done her due diligence as a journalist she would have made a point of managing to get a quote or two from church representatives on the issue, and since she makes a spite remark about the timing of new norms presented in these two issues, her “due diligence” would have included a thorough exposition of just how the Vatican DID NOT equate the two issues in precisely the way she is lazily lumping them together. Although, in fairness, everyone in the secular press did that, and the Press Office of the Holy See is to blame for that. In any case, I do not see how a journalist can claim “due diligence” by inserting one follow-up line that (with a rather dim tone, in my book) is meant to provide “balance” to an entire article that really does misrepresent both the scope of the controversy (regardless of how women, non-Catholics, “bright” Catholics, “educated and agreeing with Wills” Catholics or others might see things) AND the championing of these no-longer-Catholic women as “ordained priests in the Roman Catholic Church” and as some sort of civil rights heroines. The priesthood is not a right. As Archbishop Dolan once said, it is not “a trophy earned, but pure gift.”
For the record, after I wrote, the second sentence you referred to, that Jacko is also “an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church,” I say: “Officially, of course, the Catholic Church’s canon law 1024 says that only baptized men can receive holy orders. But there is a movement against the no-women rule, one that began eight years ago when a cluster of renegade male clerics (including a European bishop whose identity the female priests won’t reveal in order not to risk his excommunication) ordained the first women. Now, in Jacko’s hometown of Chicago, three women have entered into the priesthood.”
[I encourage open commentary. I might add that the gospel today pointed to the story of Lazarus, about how everyone should be treated with respect, decency, and without hatred.]
Another rather dumb non-sequiter. It’s a “don’t be mean, you’re almost being mean and I’m here to warn you against it” line, meant to get the Deacon to toe the line. Except he had not been disrespectful, indecent or hateful toward the author.
In all, a weak and unconvincing defense. Also, Mr. Helfman, your comments are an almost comical study in irony. In your attempt to portray yourself as enlightened and broad-minded, you actually presume to tell others about the states of their souls and that they’re going to hell.
Actually, this is all so stupid, and so poorly argued, I don’t know why I’ve even responded. Too much coffee.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/09/failing-the-test-of-time-their-story-about-women-priests_comments.html#ixzz10hZrlAJL



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Gerard Nadal

posted September 27, 2010 at 2:01 am


Dawn,
Due Diligence would have been explaining the following letter from Pope John Paul II:
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html
which concludes:
4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.
You might then have explained to your readers what the Magisterium is, that the Pope appealed to the inviolability of the ordinary Magisterium, and then acted in his role as “Peter”, declaring in the extraordinary Magisterium as well, that women can NEVER be priests, and that this is now to be held as definitive teaching by the Catholic Church.
Due diligence would have been explaining that definitive teachings in the Catholic Church are relatively few, but include the Eucharistic transsubstantiation, the Resurrection of Jesus, body and soul; the Immaculate Conception and perpetual virginity of Mary, etc.
Die diligence in this regard would have prevented you from making the false and misleading statement that any woman has entered into the priesthood.
Due diligence would have led you to an understanding of what proper matter and form are in the valid celebration of a sacrament and that the laying of hands on a woman with the intent of making her a priest has no more effect than if the bishop had laid hands on a llama.
Your article was a hack piece by a reporter with a heavy bias and obvious agenda.
Due diligence? Really?



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BobRN

posted September 27, 2010 at 2:48 am


Respectfully, Deacon Greg, I’m surprised that your surprised. What I see is yet another example of an uninformed, lazy journalist with an agenda exploiting her position to trash the Church, while relying on the gullibility and anti-Catholic stereotypes of her readership to eat it all up, no questions asked. Ms. Reiss’ editor allowed the article to be published because he or she is almost certainly as uninformed and lazy as she, and is in line with her agenda.
Our Lord told us to expect this sort of thing. Recall when Peter and John left rejoicing after being punished for proclaiming the gospel. Perhaps we should adopt such an attitude. These attacks are confirmation of our fidelity. TIME magazine would never run such an article about a church whose creed was capitulation to the secular culture.



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Patrick NY

posted September 27, 2010 at 6:30 am


Honestly, I don’t know what I think about women’s ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood…but I do know that the Time magazine article was really poor. It would have been an interesting topic to treat seriously…but really, it was just silly and full of mistakes.
…and goodness, what does one make of the priest in the article? He was pretty embarrassing in his wishy-washy-ness wasn’t he!



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RomCath

posted September 27, 2010 at 7:34 am


“an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church”
As Deacon Greg pointed out, the problem begins with the second sentence. The woman is NOT an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church. While the author goes on to quote Canon Law, she never retracts the totally false statement.
As for Mr. Helfman saying the priest is not an Alter Christus, I think perhaps the Gary Wills school of theology needs to brush up on their sacramental theology courses.



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Bill McGeveran

posted September 27, 2010 at 7:45 am


Dcn Greg. I agree that the article was too onesided; it should have included elements that you mention, including a reference to excommunication, and was just wrong in saying that these women were now Catholic priests. I’d say the writer got swept up into the enthusiasm and theatrics involved, and needed some editing. At the same time, the article did acknowledge the church’s position. Personally I am not so much indignant over the article as I am distressed by the church’s adamant opposition to considering allowing women to become priests. I don’t say it is a central issue that deserves all the attention it gets, but I think the church’s stance in the long run is unconvincing and counterproductive.



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Mary

posted September 27, 2010 at 8:07 am


Dawn, you and TIME magazine and CNN, are very biased in your reporting of the Catholic Church. You and your company are engaged in a modern form of muckracking journalism in which you hope to change the institution. Yet, as Deacon Greg has pointed out,you have not represented Catholicism only dissent. Muckrackers of the past are considered heroes in the past wars for social change and is a time honored way of doing journalism. However, in the end, when truth is ignored for the sake of activism, everyone suffers and the change, if brought about, has more negative than positive effects because it is not based on truth.
As a woman, I do not want female ordination. I am happy with the notion that the Catholic Church is modeled after the apostolic structure created by Jesus. I love Jesus and he is the way, the truth and the light. He treated women much more fairly than many priests and bishops do. Many also treat women well. Many women have great influence in the church and always have. The complexity of the role of women in the Church might make a better story than the battle for patriarchy.
I, for one, would leave the Catholic Church should women be ordained. It would mean a break not with tradition but with Scripture. The Church would then be the ultimate hypocrite. I would die in defense of this.



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Mary

posted September 27, 2010 at 8:10 am


PS. Something else to think about and probably disagree with me about? Why would I follow women who are ordaining themselves if they have so little respect for Scripture as well as for me? What do they possibly have to give to me if they think they are the Church?



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RomCath

posted September 27, 2010 at 8:56 am


Upon rereading the article, I don’t know if the author is Catholic, but the language used certainly isn’t. Apart from the glaring error calling the woman an “ordained priest”, the author refers to a priest who mentors the woman on how to “Say the liturgy”, “say reconciliation and say the homily”. I have never heard such innacurate language. At the very least, a Catholic editor could have corrected the very imprecise wording. Shoddy job.



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MD Catholic

posted September 27, 2010 at 10:23 am


Let me add to the excitement that the author uses words like “many” and “more”, but offers no empirical statistical evidence to back up her claims. This is like reading a Freshman-level paper in which I have to go back to the student and ask them to back up their claims. All-in-all, a pretty poor article, but what I’ve come to expect from publications like Time. Too bad! Time used to be such a great magazine until journalists with an axe to grind took over.
I’m reminded of a cartoon I saw many years ago in which it portrayed a blindfolded journalist with a dart in his hand aiming at a board. The board had the words written, “Today I am an expert in:” and then below it had pieces of paper with all different kinds of subjects written on them such as Politics, Law, History, Education, Religion, etc.



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Rick

posted September 27, 2010 at 10:32 am


This article, along with an article at Pope Benedict earlier in the summer, has convinced me not to renew my subscription to Time. I don’t mind if people disagree with my faith or teachings of the Church, but it bugs the hell out of me that they misrepresent teaching and try to make it sound like ignorance. There doesn’t seem to any attempt to understand what the Church is saying–just a blanket condemnation of the Church’s error. Kind of ironic.



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Sarah Marie

posted September 27, 2010 at 10:57 am


I actually emailed Dawn Reiss, the “reporter,” and her reply to me was as follows: “Sarah, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m actually very familiar with Catholic hierarchy. Best, Dawn.”
This leads me to believe that this article was a deliberate and biased attempt to push the “womenpriesthood” forward.



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Rudy

posted September 27, 2010 at 11:01 am


I was sworn as President of the United States last week, I mean why should only elected persons from on party or other be President? There is a movement (well of one, mainly me) that thinks every one should be able to be President. Of course, the law says that only the elected guy can be President, but this in my view an injustices. I can already hear the hateful speech that am crazy, etc., etc. I have already put the seal of office in my house, car and podium. I have a record that plays “Hail to the Chief” when I walk out of my home too. So there, I am President of the United States of America. (Absurd? Well, I hope the Times picks up my story).



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RP Burke

posted September 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm


Looks like it’s time to communicate with the writer’s boss.



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cathyf

posted September 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm


Hey, Rudy, can I be your chief of staff?



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Tom

posted September 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm


Regardless of the possible bias of Dawn Reiss, it did give me some insight into the mindset of dissident Catholics. If they do believe their philosophy to be most true & pure in the eyes of God, then in does make since that they would work from the inside (as well as the outside when need be) to bring about the changes they see fitting.
For instance, Mz. Jacko followed the priest’s directive not to lector & distribute Holy Communion in her Church, so that in no way would her holy orders be compromised in comparison with canonically recognized Holy Orders (and hence she broke the rules of invalid ordination while simultaneously obeying the ordinary norms of a functional priest). I am rather curious as to how many “confessions” these “priestesses” hear in comparison with the average parish priest, or is it only a novelty performed during Lent & Advent?
I do see the eerily comparable situation betwixt the embattled underground woman priesthood movement and life in the slums of Cambodia (okay, I’m reaching swipe swipe). Do I smell another Dan Brown bestseller looming over the horizon?



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It's Me

posted September 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm


The best leaders within any organization are those who possess the qualities of leadership… gender has nothing to do with it.



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Gerard Nadal

posted September 27, 2010 at 6:48 pm


Rudy, can I be Ambassador to the Vatican? Pretty Please????????????????



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted September 27, 2010 at 8:01 pm


I think what most people resent about the (formerly??) powerful mainstream media (being abandoned by so many because of its liberal bias) is the way they use their “voice of God” to state as fact things that are clearly wrong or a bold-faced
lie in support of their bias
Such a perfect example is the sentence–supposedly indisputibly factual– “She is also an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church.”–right near the start of the story.
The writer may defend herslf by claiming she got around to giving more truthful information later, but the well was already poisoned, so to speak. And most people don’t think such tactics are accidental.



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Robert Helfman

posted September 28, 2010 at 4:55 am


I look at these comments, and mine (even if over-the-top) and I discern spiritual evil. This history of the Church has bloodshed, murder, torture, extortion-some of the worst human rights abuses in the history of civilization (not to forget the saints).
What is clear is that the psychological need for religious certainty trumps compassion in today’s church, as it did in Jesus’ time.
The TIME article lacked journalistic integrity on a purely academic level, but it is a benchmark for the status of the R.C. church as a cultural icon; something she has earned.
I do not know if it is wise to participate in a system I perceive as a manifest evil. I can say with a clear conscience that the defense of sacramental theology at the expense of charity and compassion smacks of idolatry.



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BobRN

posted September 28, 2010 at 9:42 am


Mr. Helfman,
Where do you see a defense of sacramental theology at the expense of charity and compassion in this story?
What do you mean by “the psychological need for religious certainty” trumping compassion?



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted September 28, 2010 at 11:01 am


Unfortunately, in our spoiled brat world of unbridled narcissism, to say “NO!” to anyone no matter how sound the reason, history, Tradition, or documentation, is considered a gross trashing of charity or compassion. When someone today stamps his or her feet, the only acceptable answer is “Yes!” to what they demand, otherwise you are proven an ogre and an evil person of the worst sort.
Maybe that is one reason why the Bible and the saints warn us about “worldlings” and their values and code of conduct.



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wineinthewater

posted September 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm


Robert Helfman,
I’m not sure exactly how you meant your comments, but they inspired a couple of thoughts.
On those things for which we can be certain, *lack* or religious certainty *is* a lack of compassion. Failing to defend sacramental theology is a failure to be compassionate. There can be no compassion without truth. To abandon someone to their error is not to be compassionate, but the exact opposite. We must be loving while being corrective for sure – and that is a critique that many commenters on-line should particularly heed – but if we are not corrective, we are not being compassionate at all.



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Bob

posted September 28, 2010 at 7:57 pm


When Jesus gave Peter the keyes to the kingdom, He also stated: “Wathever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you shall lose on earth shall be losed in Heaven”. With these words Jesus gave Peter and his successors absolute authority concerning the Church and its mission to establish the Kingdom on Earth. In addition, Jesus said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” – ie: The Holy Spirit will protect the Church (and Peter) from doctrinal and moral error. To me, if the Church decided to allow the ordination of women, it could do so – apparently the Holy Spirit either is preventing it from happening, or He just hasn’t gotten through to His Vicar – just yet.
The notion that just because Jesus didn’t have any women as apostles, the Church is NOT PERMITTED to ordain women, lies in the face of the above quoted absolute authority (it does not contain any ifs and or buts) He granted His Church.



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rich the engineer

posted September 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm


Well, that’s TIME for you, mouthpiece of American Bolshevik (formerly Democratic) Party. Accuracy is not permitted to interfere with proselytizing in name of the one true faith, Marxism-Leninism, it’s god, Marx, and it’s one true disciple, Lenin.
Anyone who thinks TIME is relevant is clueless to the threat facing our world.



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Robert Helfman

posted September 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm


I am pleased someone took the time to answer my post. I would like to clarify my position on this. I believe the Roman Catholic church has the right not to ordain women. Whether they do or not is not the issue, although Junias, a woman, is referred to by St. Paul as an apostle. The issue is how authority expresses itself in action.
I mentioned the history of the church to show that claims to infallibility are specious, at best. One of Hans Kung’s recent books was given a good review in AMERICA magazine (published by the Jesuits) yet he says in it that the Roman system is neither Catholic or Christian. I happen to agree.
I have never failed to encounter defenses of what is supposed to be Catholic truth and absolute authority couched in language that is either nasty, intimidating or both. What is at issue here is the fact that those claiming to possess the mandate of God and absolute truth are going to have to answer for the abuses of the past-which I mentioned briefly in my post.
Popes have been guilty of crimes against humanity and heresy, for example. Do I want to claim infallibility for a church with a history like this? I think not.
Again, it is not a matter of whether women are ordained as Roman Catholic priests. Anyone has the right to serve, and one may do so without offense elsewhere. The issue is whether people have love and compassion for others, not whether they agree with one another first.
It is patently absurd to say that ordaining a woman to the priesthood is as serious an offense as child abuse. No-one in their right mind, even in secular society, would believe that. I find that notion offensive, I find it a blatant disregard for truth, and I find it symptomatic of the cover-up of abusive priests world-wide.
I will say it again: I do not believe it is necessarily unloving and not compassionate to hold that women may not be priests in the Roman rite. It is a matter of how this issue is conducted in the public forum, and it has gotten nasty.
As far as the claim for absolute authority, this is where the historical record shows that in the defense of absolute claims to truth and absolute authority people have been murdered, they have been tortured, and they have been enslaved, deprived of their property and imprisoned. I speak of the history of the Roman Catholic church. I love the Saints, but how many people know that Therese of Lisieux wanted to be a priest, or that had not St. John of the Cross escaped from prison where he was being beaten and starved to death by the Inquisition, we never would have the riches of his spiritual legacy?
As far as I am concerned, these manic defenses of absolute Truth coupled with naive references of Papal documents and Canon law are without foundation and lack academic and theological credibility-unless your Savior is a thief, a murderer, a torturer, a liar and a despot. All these things, and yet we have a legacy that gave us St. Francis and St. Catherine of Genoa, who cradled the head of a recently guillotined man in her lap.
The PEOPLE are the Church-the PEOPLE OF GOD are the church. This would include the clergy, and anyone of good will everywhere. What is NOT the church is criminal conspiracy to aid and abet the cover-up of the sexual abuse of minors, Fr. Maciel’s escapades, or the decimation of the Jewish population in Spain during the Inquisition, for example.
I am deliberately not mentioning the many and important contributions the Church has made because the point here is to show that I discern an ugly spirit of pride in the church and the ultra-Montanist defenders or orthodoxy that no mature and compassionate adult will encounter without concern.
I maintain that the Last Judgement parables show how saying “Lord, Lord” and not doing what Jesus commanded will earn you an everlasting rebuke-“I never knew you”. Whereas, having love for the least of these finds an everlasting reward, for “If you did it to the least of these, you did it to me”.
Without entering into the debate with the same florid and intemperate rhetoric that has already poisoned rational dialogue on these matters, let me say this: fundamentalism in whatever form has an evil side, an uncompromising, irrational fear-driven motivation that has nothing to do with faith and everything to do with ideology and religious fascism.
Caveat Emptor.



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BobRN

posted September 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Mr. Helfman,
Well, for someone who decries the claims of absolute authority, arrogance and lack of compassion in the Roman Catholic Church, you sure got a lot of it in your post, sir. I will take heed of your admonition and never again attempt rational dialogue with you. I can see clearly that it would serve no purpose.



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RomCath

posted September 30, 2010 at 1:57 pm


First, the original post was about the lousy job TIME did on an article about a woman “priest”. To bring up the Inquisition, the sex abuse scandals serves no purpose in this non-existent debate about women’s ordination. The case on that is long closed.
To refer to Hans Kung and the Jesuit magazine America is also not pertinent. America is as useful as TIME in speaking about Catholicism.
I might add the the Church never claimed infallibilty on the part of the Pope in all things. It is only when speaking on “faith and morals”. Have some made tragic mistakes? Sure. Haven’t we all?



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Cathy H

posted October 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm


Mr. Helfman: Really? Hans Kung? I mean…really??? Kung? Well. There you go.



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Klaire

posted October 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm


FYI, no pope, even the worst of them, (and yes we’ve had some duzzies), albeit not in some time, EVER went against dogmatic teaching or inflicted heresy into the magesterial teachings; more proof that the Holy Spirit is always protecting Holy Mother Church, despite the sins of it’s members, even bad popes.



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Robert Helfman

posted October 2, 2010 at 9:45 am


I would like to bless all Roman Catholics and Christians everywhere.
I have no problem with the R.C. church being what it is, as long as I find some way out of it. For example (and I apologize if anyone was offended) someone posts AMERICA magazine is like TIME. This IS a Catholic magazine with a national reputation.
My point was completely lost. The lack of civility shown by people who post on these blogs is a travesty. The issue of ordination in the R.C. church is not the issue I raised, but the hostility and lack of charity shown by those involved in the debate, on all sides.
I maintaint that I don’t like the kind of people who post in defense of the Church on these blogs, and could not in good conscience worship God in a church where these people may be found.
I hope I will avoid posting on these blogs again. It is clear that some of the nastiest, uncharitable and unChristian people in America are Catholic. I am not proud to say I belong to a church that can count such among their number.
I will say one thing, and this I will say: the devil can quote scripture, as the Bible says. Now I know that Lucifer knows the Catechism as well.



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BobRN

posted October 2, 2010 at 11:20 am


Mr. Helfman, you certainly have a right to worship where you please, and to leave the Roman Catholic Church for whatever reasons you conjure. Your comment here, however, is an transparent attempt to shift responsibility for your choice to leave Catholicism onto others. You are the only one responsible for that choice, sir, no one else.
In reviewing the content of the comments posted on this particular thread, I see none of the lack of civility, hostility and lack of charity you use as an excuse for leaving the Church, with the one exception of your own comments. The great majority of posts do disagree with Ms. Reiss’s article, finding it a example of poor journalism and an attack on the Church. But, their criticisms are generally respectful and genuine efforts to point out Ms. Reiss’s failures in her article. Your own attacks on these comments are the ones lacking charity and respect.



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RomCath

posted October 2, 2010 at 11:40 am


America magazine has a national reputation. True enough. The reputation it has though is clearly not as an advocate of what the Church clearly teaches. Its reputation is as a “moderate to liberal” journal. You can google that. It is often at odds with what the church says and if you look back on its former editor Fr Reese, I think he may have even been removed from that position. TIME also has a clear agenda. When it reports on the church it does so from a bias that is obvious in the article in question. Time is no longer an objective news magazine. It doesn’t speak for all Americans any more than America speaks for all Catholics.
I won’t even bother commenting on Hans Kung. His record is clearly documented.
Nowhere were comments made without civility. If you interpret truth-telling as uncivil, I can’t help you.



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Tony de New York

posted October 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm


The article is weak and all over the place.
I ask:
Why is it that Dawn Reiss do not mention that the 21 independent Ortodox Churches do NOT ordain women either?
That it is based on the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition?



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Pat

posted October 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm


Woman priests? Ordained in Catholic church? Support abortion and give
freedom of conscience as a “personal” issue?
Where did they get their Catholic catechism? Not from Catholic church or God!! What are you writing such biased articles withoug investigation? Just listen to lip service without investigative reporting? How small of you…and erroneous!!
They are NOT ordained, nor will their beliefs ever be accepted by the
Catholic Church or by Catholics. We do not ok abortion…(or they would not be here!! as it is they are because their mothers believed in their right to be born)…
Gay marriage, no…civil unions yes…but marriage is between man and woman…as God created them to “fit” together for love and procreation…a beautiful thing. They pray to “gender neutrality?”
as Father AND Mother??? God created Adam (man) in HIS image..and woman as companion from rib..to walk beside him… HIS IMAGE does not
mean gender neutrality, for Pity Sake!! Get a grip on reality…not what you manifest because it is EASIER for you to accept!! Start your own “church” with your own adapted belief system..but do not call yourselves Catholic as you are a far cry from it, Women “priests”!!
The bible is God’s history…it is not to be watered down, dummied down or re-invented because of your comfort…
Pedophilia…why not address this in the Protestant arena? It existed there also…and may God forgive and stengthen those this touches. We do not approve..and our Catholic Church is rectifying what was done, and admitted shame and apology, asking for forgiveness…Can we please move on?? or continue to beat a old horse to death!! while overlooking
this biased article…? Will you ever interview Deacon Kandra of The Deacon’s Bench or any other Catholic leader for rebuttle??? I will be surprised to hear that you will or even have. It is much easier to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to Catholic bashing then to listen & perhaps learn the FACTS…and report them.
As for priests marrying…take a look at the Protestant or other churches divorce rate…may surprise you to know and learn that you can’t serve 2 masters in the same house, unless the wife or the husband supports your ministry 110%. Priests are on call 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (if they don’t get the vaction they deserve!) how can one be Father, husband, friend, provider, playmate, spousal mate and still go out at 2 am AS A PRIEST to minister to a troubled lady? family? man? illness, etc. etc. and don’t compare to a Dr. they are paid way more than any priest ever dreamed of…which they take the vow to serve the Lord only, and in doing so, serve His people.
Catholocism has survived since the beginning of the ages, inspite of all types of heresy, abuse,ignorance, ridicule, suspicion & in some cases – failure to do right – others who have ridiculed and attempted to discredit and destroy…you can not destroy the word of the Lord…
Ye Gads, We do not attack other churches…yet lies and biase based in ignorance and injustice swirl around us for ages..
We will pray and believe in our Catholic faith…as God’s people forever. I have protestant friends and we all get along just fine, respecting one anothers right and freedom of faith to practice our respective faiths…we have dialogue without ridicule and we both love
GOD Our FATHER!
God bless you
Pat



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Kris Marshall

posted October 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm


I just finished reading the TIME story you refer to. Or at least you claim to refer to. It is innocent of roughly all of the charges of bias which you fire at it. It specifically cites the Vaticans issuance of an order of Gravitas dictum, and that these women are on par with pedochiles. (go with what you know, I guess…. )It states that they and anyone attending a service offered by them is unceremoniusly and automatically excommunicated. In fact, I think all of your complaints were well addressed in the piece. So is your sole purpose to drum up anger at TIME for daring to discuss the issue, or did you not in fact read the article in question? When the alleged moral pillars of a community resort to total disregard for the facts, we all suffer.



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Robert Helfman

posted October 7, 2010 at 11:47 am


BobRN: a nurse, perhaps. Thank you for your comments. It is good to have a mirror held up so that I may see myself as others see me. “Would the power thye giftie gie us, to see oursels as others see us.” (Robert Burns).
From my perspective it is uncivil to call a clearly uncanonical action such as this on a par with child abuse. It gets met going, because a careful study of history does not let me rest easy with religious idolatry.
I tried to makie a case for the beauty of thye legacy of the saints, and bring to light the rather dismal record of abuse that is part of the history of the Catholic church and Protestantism as well, to the end that the institution maynot get the glory that belongs to God alone. As for being uncivil, that is not my intent.
As for RomCath, it gets me going when I hear the truth claims made by the Church where closer inspection of the historical record and an understanding of psychoogy and sociology from a Christian perspective leaves room for doubt as to some of them. One may hold these views in good conscience without disobeying Almighty God. It may be unpleasant for me to air the past errors of the Church in a public forum, for which I apologize if anyone took offense.
The truth is VERY important. However, the RC church does not have a monopoly on truth. None of us has. It has been an extremely emotional issue for me to hear of what has been going on, to read the DA’s report from Philly (over 400 pages long) etc. and etc.
Kris Marshall has the only credible post in this blog, and I agree, when there is a total disrespect for the facts, we all suffer. I have not read the article, and took it on faith that the Deacon was telling the truth, the whole gtruth, and nothing but the truth. I am reminded here that I had better listen to the voice of conscience and rationality.
As far as Hans Kung and his “record”, I have not read anything by him that was offensive or unChristian. He challenges the authority of the Pope. I do not find that to be criminal.
One last thought: although I take apart the theological corpus of Catholic theology, I had in PRACTICE great respect for the Mass, including making myself available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, receiving the Eucharist with reverence, and not deliberately inviting friends who were not Catholic and unrepentant to church to receive communion.
It is only recently that I have had to examine everything I believe in the light of the cover-up, and the general lack of respect for truth among Christians of all denominations (not all).
“Let God be true, and every man a liar”. So says the Good Book. As for the catechism, it ain’t necessarily so. However, that is my opinion. Truth, our Lord said, is the Holy Spirit. St. Thomas Acquinas, no less, taught us to obey conscience even when it goes against Church teaching. Cardinal Neumann preferred conscience to the Pope.
There is a relationship between religious faith and mental health, where the one may contribute to the other, or be symptomatic of a clinical condition. The voice of rationality is like manna from heaven. the capacity to think critically is essential to our survival as a culture, a nation and a Christian people.



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RomCath

posted October 7, 2010 at 12:08 pm


“As far as Hans Kung and his “record”, I have not read anything by him that was offensive or unChristian. He challenges the authority of the Pope. I do not find that to be criminal.”
Well if you look back on his record you will he has been disciplined in the past. For a priest to challenge the authority of the Pope may not be criminal but is fairly heretical.
As for the having a monopoly on RC Church truth, you ought to go back and reread Lumen Gentium.



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Robert Helfman

posted October 12, 2010 at 10:43 am


B Hans Kung is not formally a heretic, insofar as Christian faith and practice are concerned. He is in dissent, and has had canonical sanctions applied (he lost his license to teach Catholic theology in institutions of higher learning). He has been recognized by major Catholic writers including Richard McBrien for his eloquence and erudition when writing about Christianity. He questioned the authority of the Pope, in “INFALIBLE? AN INQUIRY”.
I am a convert to Catholicism, a Vatican II Catholic. At one time I could sense the Holy Spirit working in the Church through the Word (the Prophets, the letters of the Apostles, and the Gospel readings). The music was inspired, including the folk liturgy with music from the St. Louis Jesuits, Marty Haugen, John Foely, S.J., among others.
YOU ARE NEAR is a song I played often at a psychiatric center when providing music for the masses offered by the Catholic chaplain. Now we can’t sing this song because it uses the word YAHWEH for God-an exercise in political correctness, and an inauthentic use of Papal authority. Furthermore, if the JERUSALEM BIBLE is used as the text for the prayer of the church, when this version referes to God as YAHWEH, how then can we not sing songs using that name?
Now, everything is about the Pope and the Holy Roman church-only this glorifying of the Church is offensive, and ultimately blasphemous. I have read the Vatican II documents, and this present Pope is in violation of the intent of same.
One last thing: I was PERMANENTLY, IRREVOCABLY BARRED FROM ENTERING THE CATHOLIC ANSWERS WEBSITE because I questioned Church teaching about Purgatory. I have supposedly offended the faith of Catholics and am so dangerous to their spiritual welfare that I will be forever barred from their holy presence.
My Lord says that if you do not forgive, your heavenly Father will not forgive you. This does not sound very forgiving. So for the record: It is websites like this one that are going to help bring about the decline and fall of the Roman Catholic churchin America-also the title of a book I read recently by a Mr. Carr, who, although he wishes to see the Church succeed, does not yet know what it means to be a Christian.
The challenge the Church faces in these times is this: is the Church going to be a house of worship for all peoples, or is it going to be a cult? It is rapidly approaching cult status. This may be a point of pride for some, but not for me.
Let the last thing I say be positive: I applaud the social justice encyclicals, the heroes of the faith, (saints) Dorothy Day, Mary Lou Williams (jazz pianist) and anything worthy of praise and recognition that may be found in the Church, past and present. I will never forget the music.



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Mojave

posted October 13, 2010 at 6:10 pm


Though I disagree with the steps those involved took to ordain the women,I’m sure we’ll have women priests in the future. Under Paul XI, a commission he set up found no theological reason to deny ordination to women. They have a great deal to offer our Church and I’m 200% sure if they had been given high leadership opportunities, they never would have allowed the cover-up scandal to perpetuate the way it did.
After looking at some of the comments on this page, I’d like to add that I’m old enough to recall hearing family members and people around me expressing the same kind of shock and disgust when women started becoming news anchors, elected officials, and other highly professional but formerly “male” occupations. Now my same family members are fine with the idea. (It really wasn’t so much women becoming professionals like doctors and lawyers that outraged them, as much as professions where they had leadership over men.)
Just last night I was listening to a podcast of a Franciscan priest telling the history of “Good Father Gus,” the first African American to be ordained a Catholic priest. How he suffered the cruelest bigotry–by fellow Catholics! People would throw a fit when he was a little boy and take their kids out of the Catholic schools he attended. No seminary would accept him here, but thanks to a fighting Irish priest, he was accepted into one of the most prestigous seminaries in Rome.
While I was listening to more and more of his sufferings, I thought how in this time of history I think we are doing the same things with women in the church and also homosexuals.
Just as we came to be more open-minded and listen, understand, accept, nuture, and defend Blacks, Catholics will sooner or later do the same with women and gays.



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