Two women were ordained to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church at an event in Minneapolis in mid-August.
The ordination of Judith McKloskey and Alice Marie Iaquinta marked their addition to the approximately 60 other women who have been ordained nationwide. The Vatican, the Catholic Church’s highest authority, does not recognize the ordination of women into the priesthood, and in Iaquinta’s case, the ordination could result in excommunication.
The West Bend, Wis., woman’s ordination has raised the ire of the Catholic Church in that region. Archdiocese of Milwaukee Communications Director Kathleen Hohl told WTMJ, an NBC affiliate in Milwaukee that they will turn Iaquinta’s information over to the Vatican.
“It is our duty and obligation to forward this information to the Vatican for consideration,” said Hohl.
Iaquinta says it doesn’t matter. “The truth is no one can be excommunicated from their faith. By baptism you are born into Christ, and that’s that,” she said.
The Vatican’s official stance on banning women? They’ve always been banned, so they will continue to be banned. Pope John Paul II wrote in 1994:
“[The Church] holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.”
Catholics advocating the inclusion of women into the priesthood disagree with that stance and that version of history.
Michael Bayly, executive coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, attended the event with more than 200 others. “These women demonstrate that not only do they feel called by God to minister as priests, but there’s a long, albeit, suppressed history within Catholicism of women’s ordination,” he said. “It’s that reality that they’re reclaiming, believing, as they do, that such reclamation will make the Church a healthier place and a truer reflection of God’s all-inclusive love.”
Bayly covered the event at his blog, the Wild Reed.
Presiding over the ordination liturgy was Bishop Patricia Fresen. “It is unjust that there are seven sacraments for men and only six for women,” said Bishop Fresen. “Women and men are created equal by God, and we equally represent Christ. Representing Christ, standing in the person of Christ, surely does not depend on having a male body. Being Christlike is bringing good news to the poor, healing broken hearts, proclaiming release to captives, comforting those who mourn.”
“In the early church,” says Bishop Fresen, “we know that women and men presided at Eucharist. We know from some very scholarly research by people such as Dr. Dorothy Irvin, that there were women who were deacons, bishops and priests for many, many centuries.”
“It was only after the 12th century, when the first canon law code was compiled, that women were officially excluded from ministry as priests . . . . Corruption and dysfunction in our beloved Church [has resulted from this exclusion]. Yet [the Church] is our family, the family that we love. And we want to work for a renewed ministry within a renewed Church.”
Asked what the ordination means for non-Catholics, Bayly said, “It’s a clear sign that the Roman Catholic Church isn’t as monolithic as those in power would like us to believe.”