By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Women seeking priestly ordination to the priesthood used the occasion of the meeting of the worldwide Synod of Bishops in Rome to bring attention to their cause by marching on the Vatican.
According to a report by the Associated Press (AP), a small group of women representing “Catholic” organizations around the world marched near St. Peter’s Square wearing signs with the names of prominent women from the early days of the Church. The group handed out fliers in St. Peter’s Square and delivered a petition to Vatican police.
“Ordain women! Ordain women!” they chanted.
The executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference in the United States, Aisha Taylor, said they wanted to call attention to the issue during the synod when 253 bishops would be meeting.
“The exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice in our church … (and) a blatant example of sexism,” she told reporters in Rome. “Even though leaders have come out saying no, and it’s over and over again, I do believe that cannot continue for too many decades.”
The Church’s position on female ordination is unlikely to change as it based on the fact that Jesus chose only men to become apostles. Some argue that this was due to the inherent sexism of the time, but this argument is out of character for Christ who repeatedly defied the misogynistic tendencies of the culture in regard to women. Because women priests were quite prevalent in other spiritualities of His time, and He had the perfect candidate for female priesthood in His mother, but failed to ordain her, the Church believes it was His intention that the priesthood should be male-only.
In May of this year, the Vatican restated this position in a decree written by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith calling for the automatic excommunication of any woman “ordained” to the priesthood as well as any bishop who tries to ordain them.
However, women’s groups such as Roman Catholic Womenpriests have repeatedly defied Church teaching and claim to have “ordained” 28 women in the United States over the years. The group claims these ordinations are valid because its first bishops were ordained by Catholic bishops in good standing. The identity of these bishops has never been revealed in order to protect them from being sanctioned by the Vatican.
The latest protest in Rome will have no impact on the issue. Taylor conceded to the press that no discussion on women’s ordination was likely to open soon, and certainly not at the synod which is a gathering devoted to discussing the relevance of the Bible for contemporary Catholics.
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