Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What would be the result if the Womenpriests movement got up and running?

I expect you have now read the Sandro Magister piece on the "Roman Catholic Womenpriests" movement. It appears that there have been more than a dozen attempts to ordain women to the priesthood, and that some have even attempted ordination to the episcopate. They claim that they have 150 other women ready to make the same attempt.

Of course, it is quite clear that none of these are real priests or bishops, and certainly they do not operate within the institution we know of as "The Catholic Church". They, and those who participated in their ordinations, are all excommunicated latae sententiae. They are not, and never will be, in communion with the Bishop of Rome. They might one day even attempt to set up their own papacy (who knows?) - with the result being some sort of mix between the madness of the sedevacantists and the myth of Pope Joan - but it will always be perfectly clear that this group of people is NOT the Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, they are active and calling themselves "Catholic" priests and bishops. And they seem to be attracting congregations. So, what effect would this have if this "movement" really got off the ground?

The result would be two-fold:
1) a new "ecclesial community" would be formed (has been?), without valid orders or sacraments, and therefore without the true character of a "local church"

2) A good number of dissenters (but possibly not as many as we might think - dissenters, despite all their complaints, show a marked reluctance to leave the Catholic Church - they can tell the difference between the real deal and imposters) will leave the Catholic Church for the "Womenpriests Church". Thereby shifting the balance in the pews of the Catholic Church toward the position of faithfulness to the magisterium.
An interesting thing about the piece is the claim that real, active bishops in the Church have been involved in these ordinations. The ordained women are keeping mum about the identity of their ordinators. Yet if they want to claim "validity" of their ordination, they really do have to be able to cite WHO ordained them (an ordination certificate at least should be able to be produced). So to substantiate their claims to validity, the identity of the ordinators must be put forward, and once that comes out, these bishops will be excommunicated, no? (Technically, they are already, which raises other interesting questions...)


At Wednesday, August 06, 2008 4:27:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Mmm. I confess to being a little sceptical about the claims of involvement by Catholic bishops. When we consider that the women ordained in these ceremonies identlfy themselves as validly ordained Catholic priests, a view they know that Rome rejects, we must recognise the possibility that they exercise a similar latitude when identifying Catholic bishops.

There are various liberal Catholic movements or offshoots which have, or can make a respectable claim to, valid episcopal orders, and it wouldn’t surprise me if bishops from these movements were involved. But they are not “Catholic bishops” in the sense of being in communion with the Bishop of Rome, which on any view of the matter is a fairly important sense of the word “Catholic’.

At Wednesday, August 06, 2008 5:22:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I suspect (and HOPE!) that you are right, Perry. I cannot think what a bishop in good standing and active ministry would think that he is gaining by secretly participating in such ordinations. As a comparison, think about the way in which Anglican Archbisop Peter Carnley went ahead without authorisation in ordaining the first Australian Anglican women priests - he did it publically to "force the hand" of the whole Australian province. Catholic bishops, of course, would know that all they would achieve if they attempted a public ordination would be latae sententiae excommunication and the end of the episcopal career (at least in the Catholic Church!). Since everyone knows that you can't force the hand of the Pope (they are notoriously stubborn on when it comes to outside pressure!) such public ordinations would be useless in advancing the cause the WO. But secret involvement in such "ordinations" would achieve even less - absolutely diddly-squat. So I suspect you are right. If they had really been ordained by REAL Catholic bishops, you'd think the so-called women "priests" would be eager to announce their pedigree in the cause of their own self-validation.

At Wednesday, August 06, 2008 5:55:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if they were "ordained" by real bishops, their "ordinations" would mean diddly-squat. A bishop cannot ordain a woman any more than he can turn oil into the Body and Blood of Christ.

It would, of course, be a scandal nonetheless.

At Wednesday, August 06, 2008 10:47:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

If they had really been ordained by REAL Catholic bishops, you'd think the so-called women "priests" would be eager to announce their pedigree in the cause of their own self-validation.



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