100 Catholic sisters protest Vatican action

Over one hundred Catholic sisters, sponsored by the National Coalition of American Nuns, have written to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in support of Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest (or former Maryknoll priest depending on his status) who participated in a women’s ordination rite this summer. 

From the NCAN site:

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--The nuns’ Dec. 12 letter says the Vatican’s action "has diminished our Church."  They believe that "excommunications depend not on edicts or laws, but on compliance" by the faithful. If the faithful do not exclude or shun someone from the community, they are not excommunicated. The letter asserts that Bourgeois is not outside the community because they "embrace him wholeheartedly."  The letter was organized by the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN).

"In the first century, Christians resolved their disagreements about following traditions such as circumcision and kosher dietary laws by dialogue and discussion," said Sister Beth Rindler, speaking for NCAN.  "We need to follow their example by promoting public discussion about the ordination of women," the Franciscan Sister said.

"We hope the excommunication is not issued," said Dominican Sister Donna Quinn, one of the coordinators of NCAN. "The medieval punishment of excommunication serves only to embarrass our Church in the eyes of the world and fuels further anger and resentment among the U.S. faithful."

"Many of the signers have served the Church for more than 40 or 50 years.  Many are prominent leaders in their fields," said Loretto Sister Jeannine Gramick, another NCAN coordinator.  She pointed to Mercy Sister Theresa Kane, who made worldwide headlines when she asked Pope John Paul II to open all ministries to women on the occasion of his first visit to the U.S in 1979, and Dominican Sister Carol Coston, who founded Network, a Catholic social justice lobby.  She also noted the signatures of Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, a prolific writer in the field of spirituality, Notre Dame Sister Ivone Gebara, a noted Brazilian feminist theologian, and Loretto Sister Maureen Fiedler, host of the public radio show Interfaith Voices.’    --NCAN

James Martin, SJ

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9 years ago
Unfortunately it is these nuns that have 'diminished our Church' through their disobedience to the Pope and the ordinary magisterium and ultimately to the will of Christ. Instead they should be praying Fr. Bourgeois to repent.
9 years ago
I'm sure that if some of these outspoken woman were around when Jesus chased some out of the Temple, they would probably be the first to say something like, Who gives you the authority of telling these people what to do here? Are you just another male chauvinist or what? Where do you get off by saying destroy this Temple and I'll build it up in three days Nobody but Jesus Christ and His appointed Apostle have the right to tell His Church what to do! God Bless, Peace
9 years ago
I hope these nuns did not attend a Jesuit Institution for their education. It would be another example of the poor Catholic education that we have received.
9 years ago
The Vatican's teaching on the ordination of women is summarized in JP2's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which argues against ordaining women from two premises: 1) The Church has never done this; 2) Jesus only 'ordained' men. The history of the early Church is replete with examples of women being ordained, though this was never popular with the Vatican in Rome, so '1' is simply wrong. It is an assertion in defiance of history. The Pontifical Biblical Commission, made up of the RCC's finest scripture scholars, likewise said that '2' is incorrect, that scripture offers no support for any assertion that Jesus ordained anyone whatsoever, much less men alone. The Vatican's teaching on the ordination of women has no discernible basis in history or scripture.
9 years ago
Good on these nuns for speaking out. They are right. There is no good reason to excommunicate Fr Roy. Michael, I'd love to see the evidence for your claim about women presiding over the agape meal and a women being St Paul's superior. God Bless
9 years ago
To paraphrase what Timothy Radcliffe wrote in a Tablet article about whether gays can be priests, a vocation is a call from God - though it might be received through the Church and for the Church, it's God who calls. I think that's also true for women priests. Here's a quote from William A Barry SJ, from his book 'Paying Attention to God: Discernment in Prayer' ....... '[...] In the contemporary Catholic Church in the United States and elsewhere there are hundreds of women who identify with Therese's desire [to be a priest]. They feel that God has called them to ordained ministry in the church, and they find themselves unable to follow through on the Lord's call because of the stance of authority in the church ..... For a number of years I have been a co-worker in ministry with and sometimes spiritual director to a number of women who feel so called [to be priests] ..... Those whose prayer experience I know best have developed a relationship of intimacy with God and his Son Jesus that has moved from the discernment of the beginner to that of a companion of the Lord. They have asked to be with Jesus on mission, even on dangerous mission, and have been consoled by his acceptance of their desire ..... They ask the Lord whether they are deluding themselves about the desire for priesthood since the door seems to be even more firmly closed now than ten years ago. Nothing in their prayer experience points towards such a discernment of delusion. In fact the opposite seems to be the case ...... All my instincts, training and experience lead me to the conclusion that these women are experiencing an authentic call of God ..... '
8 years 12 months ago
Can Mr. Miller or Mr. Bindner supply any source information for us that demonstrates the claim that women in the early apostolic Church were ordained to anything beyond the diaconate, or that they presided over the agape meal in a way that included consecrating the Eucharist (because remember, a deacon can preside over a Eucharistic celebration today that is not a Mass, where there is no celebration)? I am a theology grad student and a classicist who has studied the early Church history extensively, and I have never once come across such evidence. I am willing and desiring to read any information you can show me that proves otherwise. Thank you. In Christ, Michael
9 years ago
Sometime I wonder where we would be without the courage and generosity of Nuns who are willing to continue to serve a Church they love dearly and have dedicated their lives to, in spite of the avid attempts of the hierarchy to judge harshly everyone who stands for justice, equality and peace while turning a blind eye to a climate of sexual abuse of epic proportions. Jesus, our Leader, broke so many rules of the old testament to come to the aid of women and children and ended up being handed over to be killed by the hierarchy of his day. Tell me who is more like Him, the finger wavers or the brave ones who stand for the dispossessed? He told us live eternally by following the law written in our hearts and not the letter of the law, which kills. THANK YOU JESUS AND NUNS!
8 years 12 months ago
Books selected, by men, for inclusion in the canon of the Bible most likely written by men in a patriarchal society tells us that Jesus only had male Apostles. However, the first disciple is Mary, his mother. Jesus' resurrection was told by Jesus first to women. Women should be included to preside at the celebration of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
9 years ago
Good for them. If avowed brothers can be ordained to the priesthood and consecrated to the episcopacy, avowed sisters should be too. Not doing so gives amunition to those who say that the Church's stand on life and sex issues is misogynistic. Historically, women could preside over the Agape meal, the early Mass. Additionally, you can either have exclusively male ordination and consecration or a line of ordination going back to the Apostles. You cannot have both, as one of Paul's superiors - and presumably the Apostle who ordained him, was a woman. Since he was eventually what amounted to be the Archbishop of what is now the Roman Church you can have it either one way or the other - not both. Go with history and ordain and consecrate sisters.
9 years ago
Am I missing something? The NCAN website says 'Since 1969, NCAN has been working, studying and speaking out on justice issues in Church and Society.' This is bad? Is it any different from religious brothers and sisters who work in hospitals or prisons, or hold other jobs out in the world? There are just a few posts here so far, but all save one are incredibly negative -- the nuns are disobedient scolds, Catholic education is poor, Fr. Martin is part of an 'ilk' of Jesuits (huh?), Catholics who are 'uncomfortable' should become Episcopalians (what?). I can't find any substantive arguments here. If as #5 says, 'Justice flows from our relationship with Christ,' then doesn't it follow that this relationship can motivate some people to go out into the world to work for justice (among other things)? If not, then what is a spiritual vocation all about anyway?
9 years ago
I accessed the site, and it was exactly as I expected (feared?). The blurb at the top says it all - "Since 1969, NCAN has been working, studying and speaking out on justice issues in Church and Society." Heaven forbid they should emphasize their spiritual vocation. I am so tired of Catholic religious orders that sound more like the Democratic party than the Catholic Church. For this ilk, which includes many Jesuits, it is politics first, and Christ's Church second, and only if it fits the first. Father Martin obviously feels kinship with this viewpoint. Of course all Catholics are against injustice and for doing right by all peoples, but I don't come to Church for political guidance. Justice flows from our relationship with Christ, which takes priority over all else. Please, if you don't feel comfortable in the Church, then leave. Leave it to the rest of us who do believe in its teaching and the Magisterium. The Episcopal Church will gladly take you. I understand they are badly in need of converts, and they think and act just like you.
9 years ago
What a sad little church we have here in the good old U.S.A.. On one side we have the people who want to follow Jesus without the middle man, and on the other we have the people who want the middle man to tell them how to follow Jesus - this is what causes fights in the parking lot after mass. For his part, the middle man claims historical rights, and assures anyone who will listen that they posses these rights enough to give themselve grandiose names like, 'magisterium'. Sounds a bit Oz-like, doesn't it? Comes complete with incense. Flashy and fashionable garb. Bells and whistles. Smoke and mirrors. You know...stuff. So who's correct? Whose opinion counts more? Which side will be the sheep and which side the goats? And when it comes time to convince the cannibals not to eat their neighbors, what message is it that will proclaim the truth more, well, truthfully? It's a shame, ne? Both sides playing God as monkey in the middle. In the end, it always comes down to God knows all but we know best...
9 years ago
Our relationship with Christ should move us to perform works of mercy and seek justice for those oppressed by rulers or the greater society. I think of the brave priests and religious who joined with their more vocal and active non-Catholic brothers and sisters to seek an end to the notorious racial discrimination that was the law of the land in some areas of the country and existed de facto in much of the rest of the country. Courageous avowed men and women have worked to have gay men and lesbians feel included in a faith that shuns them, with some forced abandon this call by God to maintain their status as clergy and religious. While some (it seems too many) demand the expulsion from this country of anyone who even looks like an immigrant, there are many in the Church who reject the portrayal of them as 'the other' and work to ensure immigrants and people of color are protected and not persecuted. These role models for true Christianity reflect Christ's message to his followers that I learned from my parents, through my education by the Sisters of the Resurrection and the Jesuits, and by priests, brothers and sisters who truly heed the Christian call of service to others. Of course, for Church leaders and some faithful who only believe in 'pray, pay, and obey,' this is unacceptable and it is easier to attempt to silence their "foes" than to enter into dialogue to find common ground.
8 years 11 months ago
Michael, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1993/issue37/3726.html Also, see the November 10 issue of America Magazine, the article on Paul and Women. It is clear from scripture that women presided over house churches and that Paul's leader and benefactor in the Church of Rome was Pheobe. If this is so, might Pheobe be the real first Bishop of Rome?

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