Kerry WeberJuly 16, 2010

From a U.S.C.C.B. press release:

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, Chairman of the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded to a clarification from the Vatican that raised the attempted ordination of a women to a “more grave delict,” or a Church crime that is always referred to the Holy See, in a July 15 statement. The archbishop’s full statement follows:

The Vatican’s clarification today of the seriousness with which it holds offenses against the Sacrament of Holy Orders is a welcome statement.

The seven sacraments are an integral and identifying part of the Catholic Church and the faith life of each Catholic. To feign any sacrament would be egregious. The Catholic Church through its long and constant teaching holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times.
All Catholics are called to Christian service. Women have responded with extraordinary generosity. Historically, women have had an essential role in the life of the Church. This is true especially through their volunteer work in parishes, their professional service and their membership in religious communities, lay movements and other organizations, where they serve in a range of areas such as health care and education.
Today women serve in Church leadership positions at all levels. Women hold nearly half of diocesan administrative and professional positions—a fact that compares favorably to the U.S. workforce as a whole. Women also hold about one-quarter of the top diocesan positions, such as chancellor, school superintendent or chief financial officer. About 80 percent of lay parish ministers are women.
The Church’s gratitude to women cannot be stated strongly enough. Women offer unique insight, creative abilities and unstinting generosity at the very heart of the Catholic Church. Their activity and determinative participation explains much of what makes the Catholic Church the powerful force for goodness and holiness that it is.

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ed gleason
10 years 10 months ago
Let me change the bishops words about women and subsitute immigrants... and see how welcome would  these words be in the present pressure cooker politics of both women and immigration.  

"The Arizona government's .  clarification today of the seriousness with which it holds offenses against illigal immigration is a welcome statement.'The legal laws are an integral and identifying part of the State of AZ.  and the community life of each citizen. To feign letting any illigal immigrant  in would be egregious. The USA  through its long and constant teaching holds that immigration has been, from the beginning, reserved to legals, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times.'
 and then follow with     a lot BLAH BLAH BLAH about how we love Mexicans and all they do  if only they would stay in their place. .. .
Gail Grazie
10 years 10 months ago
With all due respect to the Archbishop who I am sure meant well and intended no insult, I find this statement insulting and demeaning. If I understand the Archbishop correctly, women make up the vast majority of the Church workforce and it is the love, dedication, commitment and hard work of women that fuels the Church machinery. Yet women are forever barred from real decison making authority in the Church because that authority is only available to the ordained and only men can be ordained. If women had any real authority or respect as decision makers  in the Church then their voices would have been heard and respected on the health care bill. Instead, the women religious were attacked for their position and accused of going against the Bishops. who it was claimed, are the  only ones who can speak for Catholics on any and all issues - even secular political matters. While the Church hierarchy may truly believe that there is a theological basis for prohibiting women from being priests, I have not seen any theological basis for prohibiting women from true decision making authority and why that authority can only be vested on an ordained male. Women must be allowed a real opportunity to participate in the hierarchy and the magisterium. Otherwise some may say our labor is being used and exploited.
10 years 10 months ago
"The Catholic Church through its long and constant teaching holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times."

The Catholic Church's assumption that ordination was from the beginning reserved for men is just that - an assumption.  In a manner of speaking, the church seems to say it's Jesus' fault women can't be priests but he didn't say that and it's only assumed from his choice of apostles. 

Robert Egan SJ has an article about whether Jesus really intended only men to be priests - "Why not?  Scripture, history & women's ordination"  that speaks to this issue  ...
Vince Killoran
10 years 10 months ago
I think the most offensive line is "The Church’s gratitude to women cannot be stated strongly enough."

Women don't need "gratitude"-that is not what informs our Catholic faith.  They-we-are the Church and the denial of full participation in the sacraments is a tragedy.
Jim McCrea
10 years 10 months ago
Of course I'll love you tomorrow.

We're here to help.

The check is in the mail.

As the Irish Jesuit said:  BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.
Judy Jones
10 years 10 months ago
So Bishop Wuerl, do you consider this grave offense of women being ordained a priest to be the same as the grave offense of kids being sexually abused by clergy?

Did you know that if an adult sexually abuses a child, this is a crime and the perpetrator can land in jail?

Did you know that if a woman is ordained a priest, it is NOT a crime and she can not land in jail?

There is something quite insane about these new guidelines the pope has made public, and it does not take a very intelligent person to know that you are just trying to dismiss the real problem that plagues the catholic church. Lack of complete integrity !!

Judy Jones,  SNAP Midwest Associate Director,
Molly Roach
10 years 10 months ago
I believe that Roman Catholic bishops are profoundly indifferent to the people they are pretending to lead.  In fact an old soviet motto sums up our situation well: they pretend to lead, we pretend to follow.
10 years 10 months ago
In trying to buttress Vatican actions, our Bishops keep under mining the credibility of Rome and themselves!
I think Bishop Wuerl should tell cardinal Rode how good our women religious are - if he has any real power in that regard,
In the meantime, his stemen treeks of condescnsion and advances the dicussion not at all.
Tom Maher
10 years 10 months ago
WHY DOES THE USCCB HAVE TO ALWAYS BE SO APLOGETIC about not ordaining women?   The church has always had stability and unity  problems.  Why experiment with a 2,000 year old working leadership system in a organization that has otherwise a proven inability to adapt and self-correct?  Gender inclusiveness is not magic and does not make  an organization such as the church succeed were it has failed.  Celiate male leadership is of  questionable value so why make things worse by also having celebrate female leadership?  The gender sameness game quickly compounds the church's problems of governing and becomes an absurdity.  What value would female celibrate leadership bring to the church? None.   Why apologize for not doing something that would likely harm the church,alter its mission, and disunite the church?  
Livia Fiordelisi
10 years 10 months ago
Unfortunately, and cynically, this simply seems to be another version of "keep them barefoot and pregnant," fruitful but dependent. The bishops are unable to see this.
David Pasinski
10 years 10 months ago
Abp. Wuerl's statement is disturbing for at least two reasons
1. In stating that the "Church's gratitude cannot be stated strongly enough," he separates the Church from women- as if they were there to serve but are not part of the Church which is thanking them- even though numerically and in terms of formal and informal service they are in the majority! Are they therefore, as Church thanking themseselves, or is Abp Wuerl appropriating the notion that the hierarchy IS the Church in thanking them?  Write simply that that "The hierarchy cannot thank women enough" if that is what you mean - then the condescension would at least be clear! Would it be the same if some antebellum historian wrote "The South's gratitude to the Negroes [sic] cannot be stated strongly enough."
2. His very listing of the many ways that women of service betrays more aptly than anything why they should not be objectified as excluded from priestly office. Likewise, it is simply a lie to say that "women serve in Church leadership positions at all levels." They obviously do not - unless we not consider the role that varous priests have excluded to women and the role of the hierarchy itself NOT to be "Church leadership."  Hmmmm... perhaps he's on to something alfter all....  
James Lindsay
10 years 10 months ago
Ordination occurs within the confines of the government of the Church.  It does not help matters to ordain women outside of this.  To disobey this rule is to actively resist the structure of the Church and it is no surprise that the hierarchy will react badly. 

Whether ordination of women is invalid does not depend on whether it is illicit.  Ancient history indicates that there were women at all levels of the Church in its earliest times, but the counter-cultural nature of this was quickly overcome by the dominant male culture.

It is naive, however, to claim that a valid ordination will ever be accepted as licit without first gaining permission and it actually hurts the cause of female ordination to do so - at least within the context of the Roman Catholic Church.  Within the context of a non-Roman Catholicism that seeks its own legitimacy, what Rome says is moot.  I am sure we can debate what is more scandalous - strking out on one's own or forcing women into doing so.

The old bulls who insist that female ordination is invalid will retire or die soon enough.  Time will not wait for them nor will time end when they are gone.  This explains the stridency of their current rhetoric.  The fact that A/B Wuerl is joining the chorus is only proof that they are dangling a red hat in front of his face.  Whether he maintains the status quo after he receives it and the old bulls have retired will be one of the most interesting questions in the life of the Church.

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