Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Women Behaving Religiously"/Debra Meyers: First Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Cincinnati, Ohio

http://article25news.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/women-behaving-religiously/
Catholic woman ‘illegally’ becomes a priest
By Gregory Flannery

left to Right Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and Debra Meyers, Photo by Eric Fox

"One person’s heretic is another person’s saint. Witness Jesus of Nazareth or Joan of Arc or Debra Meyers of Batavia. No one is yet calling Meyers a saint, but there most decidedly are those – men, mostly; celibate men, especially – who call her a heretic because of what she calls herself: a Catholic priest.
Meyers was ordained May 25 in a rite presided over by a woman who calls herself a Catholic bishop. No officially sanctioned Roman Catholic parish would abide such an ordination. Indeed, Meyers’s ordination occurred next door to Annunciation Church, affiliated with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The parish didn’t send flowers. Never mind the Vatican’s ecumenical efforts at improved relations with Judaism, Islam, the Anglican Church and other faiths – it will hold no truck with these women.
But St. John Unitarian/Universalist Church welcomed Meyers’s ordination as a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP).
“The woman priest movement is welcome here at St. John’s,” said the Rev. Amy Shaw, pastor.
The Cincinnati Enquirer sent regrets. It fell to Robin Buchanan, administrative assistant to Editor Carolyn Washburn, to RSVP that the paper wouldn’t be covering the “illegal” ordination. Responding to a reminder inviting a reporter, the Enquirer declined to cover the religious crime in progress.
“Thank you for the reminder,” Buchanan wrote. “I asked if we would be providing coverage. I was told no, as you admit in your email that your ordinations are considered illegal. You may want to write a letter to the editor noting the event but we will not be providing coverage at this time.”
Never mind that “illegality” – literally, an exception to the rule – would seem to enhance newsworthiness and that Meyers’s ordination was the first of its kind in Cincinnati. The Enquirer, the only daily newspaper in Cincinnati, covers a region that is home to many Catholics. Did the paper take a pass so as not to offend orthodox Catholic sensibilities?
Equipment check
At the same time that it sought to publicize Meyers’s ordination, the ARWCP fretted about perceived risks. The ordination included a “media-free” zone, hoping it would protect nuns, lay employees of Catholic institutions and anyone else who didn’t want to be photographed attending the ordination. Excommunication is the maximum hazard a woman would face in this country for proclaiming herself a Catholic priest.
In Italy, a woman priest can face at least inconvenience. In March, police there briefly detained the Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska, who participated in Meyers’s ordination, for appearing in public in priestly vestments. She was released without charge. (Disclosure: Sevre-Duszynska is a contributing writer for Article 25.)
But for Catholic nuns and lay employees who support women’s ordination, excommunication could be a very serious matter, leading to expulsion from their convents and/or loss of their livelihoods.
That kind of treatment is the stuff of ancient Christian heritage, according to Bishop Mary Bridget Mary Meehan, who presided over Meyers’s ordination.
“Rejection, hostility and jail are nothing new for followers of Christ, either in the gospels or in our contemporary world,” Meehan said.
She mocked the Vatican’s ban on women priests, summarizing it thus: “Only men have the right equipment.”
The Vatican, of course, holds that God provided the job description for priests. Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, cited the late Pope John Paul II.
“Several years ago Pope John Paul II restated definitively what has consistently been the position of the church, that it doesn’t have the authority to allow the ordination of women priests.”
The Rev. Donna Rougeux, a woman priest participating in the ordination, challenged that assertion.
“History and archeology indicate that women served as deacons, priests and bishops for the first 1,200 years of the church. … In the ordination of a woman priest, we assist in the restoration of our tradition,” she said. “We are being faithful to the original intent of our brother, Jesus.”
The claim that women were ever ordained by the Catholic Church is inaccurate, Andriacco said.
In her homily, Meehan argued that the gospel reading at the ordination, the story of the “Woman at the Well,” points to Jesus’ rejection of traditional sexual roles in religion.
“Jesus engaged a woman in a theological conversation – the longest conversation in the gospels,” she said.
Meehan also criticized the Vatican’s “hostile takeover” of a U.S. nuns’ organization, accused of being influenced by “radical feminism.”
“Jesus was a radical feminist,” Meehan said.
‘How unjust’
In an interview prior to her ordination, Meyers spoke to a reporter at St. John’s Church near a print depicting the Edict of Torda, the 1568 declaration of religious tolerance, making the new Protestant denominations welcome in Transylvania. A statement about the painting includes these words: “At most places, the Catholic Church attacked the new beliefs and persecuted the people who held them.”
“They are still sort of doing it,” Meyers said.
A professor of history, women’s studies and gender studies at Northern Kentucky University, Meyers said she was raised Catholic.
“We were an interesting mix of a family, staunch Irish Catholics on my mother’s side, lackadaisical Catholics on my father’s side,” she said. “My mother ended up divorcing my father after an abusive marriage. Priests had long told her to stay with him and make the most of it. It had an impact in my life, just seeing how unjust some of the advice was.”
Religious diversity is something Meyers is familiar with. She has two adult children, a son who practices Judaism and a daughter who is a Unitarian/Universalist. What matters is taking care of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized, she said.
“As long as my kids are doing those things, I don’t care what they call themselves,” Meyers said. “They’re living God’s word, and that what’s important. Everyone need their own spiritual path. That’s why God provided us with so many religious options.”
Meyers said her ministry will focus on the needs of single mothers and their children.
“I am committed in my ministry to helping women,” she said. “That really has been short-changed by the traditional church. You may feel very uncomfortable going to a (male) priest, and a priest may not be the best person to aid in your spiritual journey.”
Meyers said she has known since childhood that God called her to the priesthood.
“I had been called as a very young child to be a priest,” she said. “I knew that as much as I knew my own name. Everything I’ve done up to this point – as a mother, as a teacher and as a community member – is really pastoral and is a ministry. So even though I was denied being a Catholic priest, everything I was doing was what a priest would do. This is what I have been preparing for all my life.”
Meyers said her ordination as a Catholic priest is a way to help reform the church in which she was raised.
“I can help move the church into the 21st century, to become more loving and inclusive,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I chose not to go toward an Episcopalian priesthood.”
Why, though, does Meyers want to be a Catholic priest – that is, a member of an institution that explicitly rejects her gifts? Denying her vocation, she said, would be a sin.
“Whether or not the traditional Catholic hierarchy recognizes me doesn’t matter at all,” she said. “I would rather reconcile my actions with God. That’s more important to me than what the Vatican thinks. From my perspective, I am still following the path of the Roman Catholic Church.”
For more information, visit www.arcwp.org

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Friday, June 14, 2013

"The Rebel Priests"/ More Magazine

http://t.meredith.ly/YKVoXam
Interview with Roman Catholic Woman Priest  Donna Rougeux, ARCWP
www.arcwp.org
left to right, Elly Marinaro, Donna Rougeux, Bridget Mary Meehan, Rosemarie Smead

"I Choose Joy: The Story of Adele Decker Jones, ARCWP, A Roman Catholic Woman Priest" by Dr. Judith Lee, ARCWP

  

Adele Jones, Roman Cavholic Woman Priest in San Antonia, Texas

Rev. Dr. Adele Decker Jones is no usual octogenarian. On 9/10/11 at age 84 she was ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Her ordination is valid as it is in a line of apostolic succession continued when a male bishop in good standing with the Pope ordained women bishops in Europe in 2003 to ordain other women. The name of this male bishop is known and will be revealed upon his death. But in accepting Holy Orders Adele is breaking Canon Law 1024 that states only males can be ordained. The penalty is automatic excommunication from the Roman Church,the church she has loved since early childhood. Rev. Dr. Jones, like other women priests, does not accept that anything or anyone can separate her from the love of Christ but this does not make the penalties of ostracism any the less difficult.
What kind of elderly woman chooses such a difficult road? Where does she get her conviction and her courage? Where does she get her strength? At a time of life when many of her Catholic peers are picking out peaceful plots in sacred ground, a Roman Catholic Cemetery, Adele is finding joy in prophetic obedience to the God she has served all of her long life. She is finding a way to bloom where she is planted now,in a retirement home in San Antonio, Texas where she has lived since 2009. She is a quiet presence, sought out without any level of self advertisement as she does not want to offend anyone. A tall and beautiful woman who looks younger than her 86 years with silver white hair that reflects like a halo, staff members and residents alike call her Dr. Jones and seek her counsel and prayers for their lives. Her unassuming but clear priestly presence makes a difference to all who know her.
She risked the wrath of the Roman Catholic Church when in 2008 the church compared women s ordination to pedophilia, as the same genre of mortal sin. When she learned of this comparison she was incensed and decided to find the women priests that the church now condemned and find out if she could become one of them.
When she found the website at ARCWP.org and called Bridget Mary Meehan, the ARCWP Bishop, she found that there was no upper age limit. What was important was her call to serve as a priest and her preparation. Adele is extraordinarily well prepared. She has had a full career as a psychiatric nurse and counselor. She has a Masters in Theological Studies earned in 1988 at the Oblate School of Theology in Texas. She also has a MDiv from the Oblate School earned in 1991. At that time Protestant denominations encouraged her to become ordained with them, but she wanted to remain a Roman Catholic. She reflects that it was very hard to get into the MDiv program as the archbishop had to approve. She refused to promise him that she would never seek ordination, but said that she could never agree to the Archbishop running every aspect of her life at any rate! They agreed that it was unlikely that she would be able to become a priest in her lifetime. With that understanding, having excelled on her entrance exams, she was admitted to study and was the fourth woman who graduated from the Oblate School of Theology in 90 years with a MDiv degree. In 1997 she graduated from Garret Theological School of Northwestern University with a Doctor of Ministry Degree. This completed her professional preparation for pastoral counseling and for the priesthood as the MDiv is the same as the preparation taken by the male priests. Many young Franciscans were in the MDiv program with her and it was then she realized her own bent toward Franciscan spirituality. She became a Third Order Franciscan and entered the Fraternity with her male Seminarian friends. They also assured her that they welcomed women s ordination in the Church. She describes this experience with the Franciscans as an experience of grace.
She notes that St. Francis charism was joy. As she looks back on her life she realized that there were many times in her life when grief and sadness might have overwhelmed her: but she chose joy instead. While she was in utero her mother experienced the death of her mother, Adele s grandmother. Adele was aware of her mother s deep grief, yet her mother, also a Nurse and a devout Catholic worked hard so that Adele would experience the joy of her family and the strength of the women who were her legacy. The family also struggled with the Great Depression and economic hardship as they struggled to put grief in its place and find the joy in life.
Adele loved her father, a policeman, very much but was challenged by her parents divorce and her mother s burden as a single Mom. She was also deeply effected by the death of her father when she was fifteen. Yet she chose to hold on to the joy that her father brought into the lives of herself and her younger brother. With help from her Aunts she was able to attend Catholic School from grade school through high school. There she loved the nuns who shaped her life spiritually, first the Dominicans, then the Sisters of St. Vincent De Paul. She learned to play the trumpet and earned a music scholarship to the Catholic High School. There she learned to discern her calling. On her seventeenth birthday she entered nursing school perceiving service to the sick as her calling.
In 1947 she became a psychiatric nurse and also met and later married her husband Lloyd. In 1952 and 1965 her sons were born, Randy and Rick. They were and are the joy of her life, as are Randy s children and grandchildren. Yet learning for Adele was also a great joy and she completed her AA in 1963 and her BA in 1976 at the University of Texas Victoria Campus. The additional degrees were helpful as she faced a divorce,also in 1976 after almost 30 years of marriage. This caused much grief, but she was also able to move on alone and to choose joy once again. In 1980 she moved to San Antonio and worked for the Chancery also hosting a program on Catholic Television.
As Adele faces the many adjustments of aging and health she does so without complaint or depression. Once again, she faces the inevitable set backs of life with prayer and with joy. She reflects that she identified with her Aunt Katy who was a red head with keen wit and a wonderful sense of humor. In her own life and in her career as a nurse and pastoral counselor she has been faced with both tragedy and comedy. It is a grace that she saw comedy where others could only see pain. Never once did she minimize the pain of others, but she sought to help them find ways to adapt and cope even in the midst of tragedy. And, she taught them to laugh wherever this was possible.
It is one who seeks joy where there is disappointment and grief that has the courage to choose to become a woman priest. Adele notes that God has worked in dramatic ways in her life. Opening the door to the priesthood to women in the Roman Catholic Women Priest Movement is one of those dramatic occurences. Rev. Dr. Jones says that all of the preparation she had academically and experientially came to a fulfillment in the unexpected grace of her ordination. Every moment of her life has led to this and every moment that she has left will be dedicated to serving quietly and modestly as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest . Another Priest, Judy Beaumont and I went to San Antonio to minister to Adele,our older sister priest. Instead she ministered to us and we came away immeasurably enriched, knowing that we had been in the holy presence of a woman of great wisdom, and joy.
Rev. Dr. Adele Decker Jones, ARCWP
Story as told to: Dr. Judith Lee, ARCWP
www.arcwp.org



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Peace Activists Bob Graf, Franciscan Jerry Zawada and ARCWP priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska visit Jesuit Padre Bill Brennan, SJ at a Milwaukee hospital on June 12th


Let us pray for healing for Bill Brennan, SJ.

Both Jesuit Bill Brennan and Franciscan Jerry Zawada are courageous, prophetic priests with a long history of action on behalf of justice in the church and world. They celebrated liturgy with Janice Sevre-Duszynska, arcwp, at SOA Watch in 2011 and 2012. Maryknoll Roy Bourgeois was removed from his order by the Vatican for participating in Janice's ordination  as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Lexington, KY. in 2008.  In my view,Roy, Jerry, and Bill, our brother priests ,are following Jesus' example of Gospel equality and partnership.
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp, www.arcwp.org

"Batavia Woman Fights for Change in the Catholic Church"/Debra Meyers, First Woman in Cincinnati to be Ordained as a Priest by ARCWP


BATAVIA — A Batavia woman is fighting for change in the Catholic Church by becoming a priest.
Debra Meyers May 25 was the first woman in Cincinnati to be ordained as a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Bridget Mary Meehan of Falls Church, Virginia, and Sarasota, Florida, was the presiding bishop.
Despite the ordination, which took place at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church, 320 Resor Ave., in Cincinnati, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati does not recognize Meyers as a priest.
“From our point of view as Roman Catholics, it (ordination) didn’t really take place,” said Dan Andriacco, communications director for the archdiocese.
Ordination can only be conferred by the proper authority, he said. The proper authority in this case would be a bishop.
Because the archdiocese does not recognize women as bishops, Meyers’ ordination is illegal and invalid, Andriacco said.
“The clear and consistent teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Catholic Church cannot ordain a woman as a priest,” he said.
Meyers said she does not care “one way or another about what other people think.”
Every individual baptized Roman Catholic is called on by the Vatican II documents to be a prophet, priest and shepherd, she said.
“That’s the new covenant,” she said.
Meyers, who is a professor at Northern Kentucky University, holds a master’s degree in religious studies and a Ph.D in history and women’s studies.
She knew when she was a small child that she wanted to be a priest, she said. While many people told her she could not be, she found their words to be disturbing, not discouraging.
“I have always been a minister,” she said.
Before her ordination, Meyers provided pastoral care as a mother, a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, pregnancy crisis centers and a professor, she said.
While she knows many women who sought other religious affiliations to be ordained, Meyers said she feels a duty to fulfill her role as a Roman Catholic.
“I feel called to help the church move forward into the 21st century with an inclusive society,” she said.
She wants to help marginalized followers inside and outside the church, including women, gays, lesbians and individuals who are divorced and wish to remarry.
“It’s hard to believe in the New Testament and see how many people are excluded in the church today,” Meyers said.
As a priest, she hopes to perform weddings and serve Mass for alienated Catholics and may offer pastoral care through in-house churches, she said. She also plans to continue teaching at NKU."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pope Francis Tells Nuns Not to Worry about Vatican Investigations, and Admitted "Stream of Corruption" in Vatican Curia

http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-downplays-threat-vatican-scrutiny-religious-orders

"After telling the Latin American Leaders of Religious Orders not to worry, if the Vatican CDF investigated them...
Francis also reportedly admitted the existence of a "gay lobby" within the Vatican, and confessed that he is "disorganized" when it comes to administrative matters such as reforming the Vatican Curia..., Francis admitted that his task as head of the church's central administration, the Roman Curia, is "difficult."
In the Curia there are "holy people," he said, but "there also is a stream of corruption." "The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there. ...
We need to see what we can do..."
Bridget Mary's Response:
I am impressed by Pope Francis ' candid interview. He sees the elephant in the church's living room and it is a little overwhelming! He stated the obvious about corruption.The Vatican bank comes to mind for one, the abuse of power by the Curia comes to mind too.   One wonders why is he worried about a gay lobby, what is the underlying issue here, prostitution? The Italian press has written articles about a prostitution ring.  It is sad that the institutional church does not affirm the integrity of gay priests. So many are in the closet. And the institutional church is hypocritical on this issue.
In response to reform of the Curia, there are so many resources available.
Ask nuns  like Sister Joan Chittister or Sister Simone Campbell  to make a few proposals. The community of the baptized is ready to help.  And by the way, Pope Francis, it is ok to be disorganized and human!
Many of us know what that it feels like to be overwhelmed at what life throws at us!
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp
www.arcwp.org

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Liturgies in Sarasota, Florida/Return to Early House Church Model of Community as Celebrant of Eucharist

MMOJ Community gathers around Table for the Eucharistic Prayer at which Community Recites Words of Institution together and individuals around circle recite Eucharistic Prayer, thus returning this prayer to the Community. As St. Augustine taught, the Mystical Body of Christ gathers around the table and is on the table.


Lee, Carol Ann, Roman, Theresa co-preside with members of community on Pentecost 2013



Terry Binder Proclaims the Word at MMOJ Liturgy on Pentecost
Lee and Carol Ann Breyer, a married priest couple co-preside at MMOj
Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida Welcomes You

Our Description:
We are a Christ- centered community of equals, consisting of women and men, ordained and non-ordained, powered by the Spirit whose mission is to worship, to serve, to promote compassion, justice and care for creation.
 
Our Sacred Tradition:  Principle Celebrant of Eucharist is the Community
 
Our Liturgy reflects an adaptation of earliest centuries of Christianity where the community gathered in the homes to celebrate the Eucharist. 
 
Gary Wills, in his book, What Jesus Meant writes “Nowhere is it indicated
there was an official presider at the Christian meal (agape), much less that
consecrating the bread and wine was a task delegated to persons of a certain rank. 
It is a mark of the gospels’ fidelity to the followers’ original status that not one of them mentions a Christian priest or priesthood.  When the term “priesthood” finally occurs, in the pseudo-Petrine letters, it refers to the whole Christian community (1 Peter 2.5, 2.9) and the “Peter” of this letter refers to himself not as a priest but as a “fellow elder” to the other elders …” (p. 69-70) Scholars such as Gary Macy in The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination, conclude that women performed priestly functions as leaders of house churches in the early church.  He concludes that women were ordained during the first twelve hundred years of the church’s history.
 
Co-Presiders
Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic community is blessed with both ordained and
non-ordained in a vibrant community.  We have two women priests:
Katy Zatsick and Bridget Mary Meehan www.arcwp.org
and two married priest couples:
Lee and Carol Ann Breyer and Michael and Imogene Rigdon
who have presided at our liturgies during the past several years. 
Now we are expanding and inviting co-presiders to share in this
important ministry of liturgical leadership. 
We provide the preparation, resources and work together
to design beautiful celebrations. 
In addition to co-presiders, we invite you to consider
Ministers of Hospitality, Outreach, Prayers for the Sick, etc.
Community Participation.
We use inclusive language. 
We invite the gathered assembly to participate in a
 dialogue homily, gather around the Banquet Table to recite the
 Eucharistic Prayer. 
The community serves one another the bread and alcohol free wine,
and then, each person returns to their pew after Communion for
prayerful reflection. 
Our liturgy concludes with a communal blessing.
1.  There were no priests in the first centuries of Christianity. 
Peter, Paul and the other apostles were not priests or bishops. 
Women were apostles Junia (Romans 16:7) and Mary of Magdala,
whom the Risen Christ appeared to and sent her to proclaim the
core belief of which Christianity is based, the Resurrection.
2.  The Catholic scholar Raymond Brown wrote, “Peter never served
as the bishop or local administrator of any church.  Antioch and Rome
included.”  St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote that there were no bishops
in his lifetime and none in Rome until the second century. 
The Twelve were an eschatological symbol that the Twelve
would preside over the reunion of the Twelve Tribes of Israel at the end of time.
3.  Apostolic Succession does not go back to Peter and there is
no unbroken line of succession.
Three popes claimed to be pope at one time and Council of Constance
appointed a different/new pope in 1417.  The history of the papacy i
s triple x rated – popes waged wars, granted indulgences for killing infidels (Crusades), 
papacy brought and sold for money,
Gregory 1, “When a woman has given birth she should abstain from entering
a church for thirty-three days if she had a boy, sixty-six if she had a girl.” 

 Pope Gelasius wrote “Nevertheless we have heard to our annoyance
 that divine affairs have come to such a low state that women are
 encouraged to officiate at the sacred altars and to take part in all
matters imputed to the offices of the male sex to which they do not belong.” (Gelasius
Letter to the Bishops of Lucania, 494)
Sources: Rome has Spoken by Maureen Fiedler and Linda Rabben, and Gary
 4. Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant writes:
 “Exclusion returned with the reinstitution of a “Christian priesthood,
along with revived holiness codes, consecrated altars and consecrated men
and “consecrating fingers”, with the extrusion of the laity (especially women)
from altars from secret  conclaves, from decision making from control of the
 believers’ money.  The “rood screen” separating clergy from laity was a great
barrier in the Middle Ages and it  survived for a long time in
the “communion railing”.  Women returned to the unclean
 status given them by menstruation under Jewish (and other) law, were not
 allowed  inside the sanctuary of a church- even the altar cloths had to be c
arried out to the nuns who washed them.  For these groups,
Jesus cleansed the Temple in vain.” Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant. p. 85-84
5.  The Roman Catholic Women Priests’ Movement offers a renewed priestly
ministry in a community of equals that is rooted in Jesus’ example of inclusive
embrace of allespecially those on the margins. 
We offer a paradigm shift that women are equal  images of God, and therefore
worthy to preside at the altar.  We offer a new model of  partnership in an
empowered community of equals that is non-clerical or hierarchical.
On a deep, spiritual, mystical level we are beginning a healing process of
 centuries-old misogyny in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men. 
We are moving  the church toward partnership in a Christ-centered,
Spirit empowered community of equals. 
For some like the Catholic hierarchy women priests are a revolution. 
For millions of people the time has come for a holy shakeup that will
bring new life,   creativity and justice to the church and beyond.
6.  Additional resources: www.arcwp.org, www.brigitmarysblogspot.com,

Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,
co-presider at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community,
Sarasota, Florida

Letter by Pope Gelasius on Women Priests/494 AD

http://www.womenpriests.org/minwest/gelasius1.asp
"A letter by Pope Gelasius reveals the existence of women's ministries in the South of Italy... The most significant information contained in the letter concerns the possible existence in those regions of women who seem to have ministered as presbyterae for their communities. This may be confirmed by other evidence, such as tomb stones of presbyterae in the same area..."
Pope Gelasius's admonition: "With impatience we have heard that divine things have undergone such contempt that women are encouraged to serve at the sacred altars, and that all tasks entrusted to the service of men are performed by a sex for which these [tasks] are not appropriate! "

Pope Gelasius