From the Wall Street Journal:
HOUSES OF WORSHIP
The Problem With Liberation Ordination [The choice of title is important. Most of the feminist thing in the Church is rooted in a Marxist starting point.]
By KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ
August 22, 2008; Page W13
A few weeks ago, a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests staged what it called an ordination, [This writer gets it! Brava!] vesting three Boston-area women in white chasubles and red stoles. It told the local papers that the ordinations were valid, despite the Catholic Church’s teaching to the contrary; it even asserted episcopal approval from a rogue bishop whose name it won’t reveal. But, as a statement from the Archdiocese of Boston put it: "Catholics who attempt to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the women who attempt to receive a sacred order, are by their own actions separating themselves from the Church." In other words: The ordinations were not Catholic.
Don’t tell that to Judy Lee, one of the "priests." She insists that the archdiocese’s pronouncement will be a dead letter: "We are Roman Catholics. . . . The all-male hierarchy and their legal traditions came along with the spiritual package that we embrace. ["spiritual package"… ?!?…. Tradition? Sacraments? Regula Fidei?] We do not have to embrace both if they are contradictory." Bridget Meehan, spokeswoman for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which claims 61 priests in North America, including one bishop, insists: "Nothing or no one can stop the action of God’s Spirit moving in the Church. . . . We are not discouraged by excommunication. In fact, in many ways, it is a catalyst for growth." Ms. Meehan, who was ordained in 2006, believes that a "more transparent, community model" can bring nonpracticing Catholics back into the fold. [Sure! Look what that has done for the Anglicans!]
The Womenpriests come from a dissenting feminist tradition in the Catholic Church — one in which a leading religious sister has even declared the Eucharist "defective and inadequate" for women. [Not part of their "spiritual package"…. What deep theological reflection… "spiritual package".] This tradition argues for renewing the church with a model "not geared to a hierarchy but inclusivity," as Ms. Meehan explains it. But those who are faithful to Rome argue that it is precisely the focus on the Eucharist — and Christ’s identity — that necessitates an all-male priesthood. In 1994, Pope John Paul II declared that "the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women." [So… what is ordination for? You have to ask what they think priesthood is for.]
Mother Assumpta Long, a statuesque, media-savvy Dominican sister in Ann Arbor, Mich., says that the Catholic Church already recognizes the equality of women — and that the dissenters confuse equality with identical opportunity. "All people are created by God equal in that we each possess an immortal and individual soul. [But] we are each unique in our talents. . . . Women are called upon to be mothers (spiritually and, for many in marriage, physically as well); whereas men are called upon to be fathers (spiritually and, for many in marriage, physically as well)." These sound like roles in a healthy family — not the artifact of a stifling, misogynistic patriarchy.
The same weekend as the "ordinations," I joined 30 fellow lay Catholics gathered in Birmingham, Ala., for a sold-out retreat at the Casa Maria convent. The retreat is run by a group of Dominican-Franciscan (they follow both saintly models) religious sisters. Now in their 18th year as an order, the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word are as far away as one can imagine from that scene in Boston.
"As an active woman religious working in the field of retreats and catechesis in the Bible Belt South, I have to say that I am far too busy . . . to feel slighted by the fact that the priesthood is not open to women," insists Sister Louise Marie, a member of the order. She suggests that if Catholics and non-Catholics understood what a "powerful role women religious have," they would never "feel sorry for [us]."
The Sister Servants, like many relatively new orders, are filled with young, orthodox enthusiasts. The nearby cloistered Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration, seen on the Catholic Eternal Word Television Network, have a waiting list of young women wanting to join. Whenever they get more space, "there’s always someone right around the corner waiting to move in," says Sister Marie St. John, speaking for the group. Most of the new orders are members not of the notoriously liberal Leadership Conference of Women Religious but of the newer, more strict Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. Their energy appears a personification of "the New Pentecost" that Pope Benedict XVI talks about, calling on faithful Catholics to be apostles in the modern world.
Not all religious sisters are happy. Overall, their numbers have been dwindling — from 179,954 in 1965 to 59,208 today, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. And some frustrated women "priests" do come from their ranks.
But the women’s ordination movement may well be dying. It has neither momentum nor standing within the church, and the momentum surrounding papal events and traditional orders appears to suggest that Catholic sentiment is flowing in the opposite direction. Sister Sara Butler, the author of "The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church," says: "These women do not represent most Catholic women, and they do not represent most women religious."
A 2007 study found that 66% of those considering religious vocations were drawn to them most by a "desire to live a life of faithfulness to the Church and its teaching." The young women in this majority don’t feel the need to remake Catholicism in their own image. Christ’s is more than good enough for them.
Ms. Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.
My gloss… mutatis mutandis….