Feb. 23, 2008
In the Feb. 23rd edition of the Sarasota Herald Tribune,the Catholic Diocese of Venice posted a public notice about our inclusive Catholic Mass at Mary, Mother of Jesus Catholic Community House Church in Sarasota stating "that no such worship site exists within the diocese. " I offer the following clarifications to the public:
I am a Roman Catholic priest. I was ordained on July 31, 2006 in Pittsburgh, PA. by women bishops who were ordained by Roman Catholic male bishops in full communion with the pope. Our women bishops are in full apostolic succession, therefore our ordinations are valid. Roman Catholic Womenpriests are breaking an unjust law that keeps women subordinate in the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus, who called women and men to be disciples and equals, modeled Gospel equality. Mary of Magdala was the first witness of the Resurrection and was referred to as the “apostle to the apostles. For the first 1200 years of Christianity, women served as deacons, priests and bishops.
St. Augustine taught that an unjust law is no law at all and does not bind us. The prohibition against women’s ordination negates women’s baptism which opens all the sacraments to the baptized. Therefore, we are disobeying an unjust law by our reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders. The doctrine of infallibility states that only those articles of faith which are embraced by the community of believers and have been a part of the tradition of the church since its earliest times can be declared infallible. Surveys reveal that 63-70 percent of Catholics support women’s ordination, so it is clearly not the sense of the faithful that women cannot be priests.
The Roman Catholic church teaches primacy of conscience. However, the church also has a long, sad history of condemning visionary, prophetic women. Some women have suffered excommunication, interdict and even death at the hands of the hierarchy. One example, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for following her conscience and later canonized a saint. In one century, the Catholic church condemns, and in another century , the church canonizes.
Like Rosa Parks whose refusal to sit in the back of the bus ignited the civil rights movement, Roman Catholic womenpriests are reclaiming our ancient heritage, and offering our beloved church the gift of a renewed model of priestly ministry in which the identity of priest reflects the experiences of women as equal images of the holy . The Roman Catholic Womenpriest initiative affirms that the full equality of women in the church is the voice of God in our time.
Bridget Mary Meehan, Roman Catholic Womanpriest