"The Catholic Worker House in Des Moines remains barred from celebrating Mass after the Des Moines Diocese denied its restoration request.
Volunteers with the organization met with the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Des Moines on Tuesday to state their case. The council of priests told the Catholic Worker House in May it could no longer hold Mass after it let a woman perform sacramental services.
Despite the denial, volunteers with the organization say they’re thankful they were given a chance to sit in front of church leaders and present their opposition to certain Catholic teachings. Specifically, they said they spoke against the church’s views on the ordination of women, homosexuality, and open communion.
“We’re really, really grateful that the bishop and the priests truly listened to us and gave us true effort,” said Frank Cordaro, co-founder of the Catholic Worker House. The ministry operates four homes in the Des Moines area that provide food, clothing, and shelter to people in need.
In December, the Catholic Worker House invited the Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska to preside over a Eucharist service. Roman Catholic canon law dictates only men may become ordained priests and give the sacramental rite of communion or perform liturgy services. The reverend was ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, an independent group not recognized by the Vatican.
Bishop Robert Pates said that the suspension of the celebration of Mass will continue, but that the council is open “to ongoing dialogue with Catholic Worker House representatives.” “The Presbyteral Council adheres to and goes forward in the spirit of Pope Francis in his commitment to fidelity to Church teaching while being open to ongoing conversation,” Pates said in a statement.
Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, a volunteer, said the council was concerned the service was misrepresented to outsiders as a traditional Catholic Mass. It would not be recognized because a woman presided and communion was open to attendees of any faith.
“The language used to describe Janice and the spiritual practice held in our community was never intended to misrepresent or offend,” he said. “It just reflects our point of view that Janice and other women priests are legitimate Catholic priests, fully capable of celebrating Mass authentically.”
The Catholic Worker House plans to invite Sevre-Duszynska back to Des Moines for its 40th anniversary celebration in August."