|Anne Soupa being interviewed on the porch of the Église de la Madeleine. Photograph: Lara Marlowe|
..."From the nuncio’s residence, the founders of Toutes Apôtres made their way to the Église de la Madeleine, Mary Magdalene’s church, on her feast day, July 22nd.
Fewer than a dozen people normally attend the 12.30pm Mass. On Wednesday there were close to 100. “I am surprised to see so many worshippers here today ... Perhaps I’ll be the first African pope!” the black priest who said Mass joked, implying solidarity with the women.
When Mass ended, Christina Moreira called the women to gather at the foot of a statue of Mary Magdalene. Moreira was ordained in Sarasota, Florida, by Bridget Mary Meehan, one of four bishops elected by the Association of Roman Catholic Womenpriests. The association has ordained about 280 women, Moreira said. “We have a lot of Irish women with us.” (* Please note 280 is the total number in the worldwide Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement which includes ARCWP)...
The church has excommunicated women in the association, but Soupa told me Moreira was “ordained by a legitimate organisation”. In her application to the nuncio, Moreira asked to be assigned to a parish.
After leading a prayer to St Mary Magdalene, Moreira turned and blew a kiss towards the statue...."
“I am a theologian with solid diplomas from the Catholic University of Lyon, better than a lot of bishops,” Soupa says. “The diocese of Lyon is emblematic of all that is wrong with the church.”
A disparaging remark by Cardinal André Vingt-Trois 10 years ago prompted Soupa to found the Committee of the Skirt, which now counts close to 500 members. The committee merged with another group called Oh My Goddess!! to create Toutes Apôtres.
On Wednesday morning, Soupa and seven other women pushed their dossiers as candidates to be bishop, nuncio, parish priests or deaconesses through the letterbox of Celestino Migliore, the papal nuncio in Paris. The nuncio submits a terna, or list of candidates, for church appointments to the pope for decision.
Soupa denounces the “contemptuous silence” of the church regarding her bid to become archbishop. “I am sorry that my church has no culture of debate, of dialogue, of listening.” She appeals to French women to inundate the nuncio’s office with similar applications.
The founders of Toutes Apôtres convened on Zoom during the coronavirus lockdown, and met for the first time in person on the evening of July 21st. Soupa’s husband, Philippe, a retired banker, chilled Champagne for the occasion.
Toutes Apôtres chose Mary Magdalene as their patron saint. Soupa blames Pope Gregory for conflating the identities of three women in the seventh century, saddling Mary Magdalene with a false reputation as a prostitute. The group’s manifesto says Christ’s male apostles were “terrified, hiding in their house” when Mary Magdalene went to his tomb “in a reversal of traditional roles”...
Today some priests still say women are unfit to give Communion. “When they say women are meant to receive, not to give, it is a sexual image,” Soupa says. “They reject sexuality among the ordained, but it works away silently in their subconscious. Male imagination is burdened with the hyper-sexualisation of women ... The celibacy of priests cuts them off from real life, and hurts us all.”