I’m a Catholic woman who was allowed to preach at Mass—until it was banned

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Editors’ note: For another take on the question of women preaching during Mass, read “Should Catholic women preach at Mass? Here’s a better question.

“Mary,” Jesus said to her. When she heard him call her name, she responded, “Rabbouni!” Teacher.

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“Go to my brothers,” he said, delivering a direct commission to announce the “good news.”

“I have seen the Lord,” she told the disciples.

•••

In our parish in Northern California, lay women began to preach the good news during the Sunday liturgy in 1996. The practice emerged from within the faith community. Several women had approached our pastor and spoke of the devastating lack of women’s spiritual wisdom and leadership in the church for 2,000 years. We asked: Couldn’t women, who feel called and are prepared, give a homily—a teaching that expands on the message of the Scripture readings and invites listeners to a change of mind and heart?

“I wondered if anyone would ever ask,” he said.

Mary of Magdala (Icon by Bonnie Hardwick, a secular Franciscan living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.)
Mary of Magdala (Icon by Bonnie Hardwick, a secular Franciscan living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.)

Like Mary of Magdala, women who gave homilies had experienced a deep call and felt commissioned to share the good news. We had discerned both with our spiritual directors and pastor. All of us who were lay preachers had studied theology at the university level—some had earned a masters of divinity degree. Some were or had been members of a religious order or had special knowledge of a particular pastoral issue within our parish community. We had demonstrated an expertise or experience of the lay faithful, as required by Canon Law (No. 766).

Members of the congregation told us they were eager to hear our words. One parishioner said to me: “Hearing a Catholic woman reflect on the Word during Sunday’s liturgy is a breakthrough experience for women and for men. It strengthens us as the body of Christ.” We felt that the church, local and universal, recognized in us the gifts bestowed on us by the Spirit—the fresh perspectives we contributed to the community—just as the early Christian church had recognized women’s leadership.

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Each time one of us preached, the pastor who had first invited us wrote a two-page, single-spaced letter to whomever had spoken, warmly commenting on the delivered homily. Once a year, the parish priests invited us lay preachers to dinner at the rectory, where together we discussed what went well and what we might do better. We women felt enmeshed in the prophetic leadership of the parish.

Parishioners might say, as the townspeople of Samaria did 2,000 years ago, “We believed in Him on the strength of the woman’s testimony” (Jn 4:3).

•••

In 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accordance with No. 766 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, declared that “preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily.” Nevertheless, the conference recognized the right of each bishop to permit the practice of lay preaching in his own diocese, though not during the time traditionally set aside for the homily.

Like Mary of Magdala, women who gave homilies had experienced a deep call and felt commissioned to share the good news.

Our bishop and our parish priests, years earlier, had recognized the gift of lay preaching. Nobody expected that the clock might be turned back. But in 2009, restrictions began to be put in place. A new bishop in our diocese mandated that the priest celebrant must read the Gospel at Mass and he alone give a short homily. Lay people could then offer a “reflection,” sharing our thoughts. But we could not give a homily.

The congregation was stunned. Yet this was an order, and we lay preachers had no choice but to obey. In 2013, another new bishop arrived, and we lay people were told we could no longer give even a “reflection.” The crushing ban has spread to many U.S. dioceses.

A friend of mine in Wisconsin who had preached monthly at her parish for over 20 years wrote to me in “great sadness and disappointment.” She shared with me the letter she was sending to Bishop Rembert Weakland, a former archbishop of Milwaukee (1977-2002). She began by thanking the bishop for “opening the door” years ago by allowing lay ministers to be trained and formed to preach through the diocese’s preaching institute. She knew she had brought the Gospel to life in the hearts and minds of many who heard her.

We who preached had a particular gift to offer to the church, which our faith community affirmed. An institutional decision rejected the giving of gifts.

The clerical decision to ban lay people from preaching affects women in a particular way. Women are not allowed to be deacons, deemed unworthy of holy orders. Only in the last century have we been admitted to study theology at Catholic universities. In the movements begun by the Second Vatican Council calling for a greater place for the laity at every level of church life, women have seen new opportunities to share our gifts in the church, and lay preaching was one important way to do that. Of the 13 lay preachers in our parish, 12 were women.

In the past months, I have asked others in our parish whether they believed the ban on lay women delivering a homily affected their feelings about their place in the Catholic Church. Most said that they carry within themselves a sense of loss, of dislocation. Some women said they felt anger, others disappointment and discouragement.

I found myself in grief, as though a loved one had died. As mourners are often counseled to do, I realized I had to name and claim the loss to heal and go forward. We who preached had a particular gift to offer to the church, which our faith community recognized and affirmed. An institutional decision rejected the giving of gifts.

Catholic women are seeking community, are worshipping and sharing their faith in new ways.

Catholic women are seeking community, are worshipping and sharing their faith in new ways. While remaining Catholic, one woman I know now also participates in an Episcopal parish where she says she finds more inclusive language in worship. Another, who is lesbian, joined a Methodist church where she said she felt more welcomed in her sexual orientation. Some visit Protestant parishes where women preach. I have met Catholic women who have left the church to serve as ministers in Methodist and Unitarian congregations or as Episcopalian and Presbyterian priests.

Some Catholic women cannot find a home.

What kind of church are American women looking forward to in this 21st century? My friend Kristi, a lay associate of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, answers for many of us: “a beloved community.”

Kristi supports low-wage workers and immigrants who are fighting for justice and dignity in the workplace by helping them to organize for unions, health care and a living wage. “I am doing what I am doing in the world because of my Catholic faith,” she said.

In each of the four Gospels, Jesus commissions Mary of Magdala to go to the brothers and herald the good news.

Yet Kristi feels she no longer has a place in the church. “I had just been invited into lay preaching when the bishop stopped it in our parish,” she told me. “Days later, I dreamt I was being gagged, a black cloth covering my mouth, silenced, powerless.”

“At this point,” she said, “this church is not a healthy place for my soul.”

At a recent lecture at Santa Clara University, theologian Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., pointed out that for centuries the church excluded women’s voices and spiritual wisdom “because of our so-called feminine nature.” But she advocated for “courage and hope.”

Today women “do not have the authority of the church office, but they have the authority of their baptism,” Sister Johnson said. We were given new birth by water and the Holy Spirit. Girls and boys. We have to be deeply prayerful despite the conflict, she said. “You cannot do this alone.” Sister Johnson suggested we form support groups.

In our parish, we have formed a bi-monthly lecture, reflection and discussion series, just for women. Feminist biblical scholars examine overlooked stories of women in the Bible and provide skills to reconstruct biblical history in which women were central and active agents. Muslim women dialogue with us on their faith, and undocumented mothers share their stories, as do women ministering to girls who have been sex trafficked. We inform one another of needed social actions that reflect Catholic social teaching. We make retreats together; we visit monasteries where we search for wisdom for our everyday lives. Wanting to seek and share contemplative intimacy with God, we are forming prayer and spirituality study groups in our homes and apartments. Some women have joined religious communities as lay associates; others are forming new base Christian communities.

Women’s experiences and ways of relating to the mystery of God can be a vital source of spiritual wisdom, can help build up a vibrant and inclusive community and offer collaborative forms of leadership. After all, in each of the four Gospels, Jesus commissions Mary of Magdala—or Mary with other women—to go to the brothers and herald the good news.

Michael Caggiano
10 months 2 weeks ago

Respectfully, the USCCB did not ban lay preaching in 2001 - they decided to reiterate the canon which had already prohibited lay preaching during Holy Mass. Just because a law was ignored for a period of time does not mean that it was always okay to ignore it.

You are still free to preach and instruct outside of the Mass, just as any other lay person, such as myself, is. But, because the Mass has become the only thing people go their parish for anymore because of the absolute disintegration of parish life in the last 50 years, I can understand the frustration.

Perhaps the correct move, rather than to lament our bishops actually enforcing Church discipline, is to try to revitalize parish life. Give people a reason to congregate other than the Mass. Celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours as a parish and have lay people speak to the readings in the Office of Readings. Pray the Rosary as a parish with lay-led reflections. At the current moment, the parish being only seen as a Sacrament dispensary is a pressing issue. Perhaps this helps to solve both issues.

Mary Peitler
10 months 2 weeks ago

Well, Michael, you hit the nail on the head with "the absolute disintegration of parish life" But why is this? Because Bishops haven't been laying down the law? No, because of the tremendous hypocrisy and clericalism many of us have seen during these decades. The pedophile crisis and incredibly terrible way it was handled, the lack of respect for women in the church, the elitism of higher clergy - so many people said "Why am I here and why am I supporting this institution?" If women were given equal rights as they are in the Episcopal Church things might not have "disintegrated." I attend an Episcopal Church and the best preachers are the women, priests, deacons and seminarians alike.

Josef Herz
10 months 2 weeks ago

Mary you are right, I have seen Seminarians and Priest who are arrogant and un-caring. Rattling off their duty of the prayers and disappearing faster than they showed up. Woman in the Pulpit would revitalise and revive the morose church.

Anne Jeremy
10 months 2 weeks ago

A group of presumably young Seminarians and 1 singular priest, should not be basis to refer to the entire Catholic Church made up of well over a billion followers, 'morose'! The Church, which is made up of all sorts of followers, some possessing stronger faith than others, is not perfect, but through Jesus Christ, is made perfect. The Catholic Church as its stands, possesses much theological riches and truth, that what is needed is for people to better practice it.

Mary Peitler
10 months 2 weeks ago

Well, Michael, you hit the nail on the head with "the absolute disintegration of parish life" But why is this? Because Bishops haven't been laying down the law? No, because of the tremendous hypocrisy and clericalism many of us have seen during these decades. The pedophile crisis and incredibly terrible way it was handled, the lack of respect for women in the church, the elitism of higher clergy - so many people said "Why am I here and why am I supporting this institution?" If women were given equal rights as they are in the Episcopal Church things might not have "disintegrated." I attend an Episcopal Church and the best preachers are the women, priests, deacons and seminarians alike.

Alexander Fretheim
10 months 2 weeks ago

Actually the law does not even technically prohibit lay preaching during the Mass, it only prohibits lay homilies. This is actually why we Catholics refer to the sermon given at that time as a homily, because it is a specially honored and revered sermon given by the priest himself at a point of profound significance during the Mass at the very pivot to the beginning of the sacrifice. There is an earlier part of both Novus Ordo and Tridentine Masses typically reserved for parish announcements when lay sermons can in fact be given, in the priests judgment, but they are not to be homilies and they are not worthy of a homilies honor. Although I'm not sure the law specifically mentions this, while it is not an exact requirement for every Mass to have a homily, it would seem proper intuitively for any Mass that has a lay sermon to have a homily as well.

Latrell Castanon
10 months 2 weeks ago

Well said. A lay person (man or women) does not have apostolic authority to give a "homily". There should be a distinction between preaching a sermon or lesson and the Homily that is reserved for a priest who has been ordained.

Nora Bolcon
10 months 2 weeks ago

Why? If the homily is equally powerful to the sermon of an un-ordained person why do you care there is a distinction? Who are you trying to serve? God does not care that priests and bishops get treated as higher in status than the lay people they serve so why do you? This is what clericalism is in action. This ridiculous labeling of things by the person's title, as though that labeling of the same work somehow made the servant's work more or less powerful. Like when we call lay people "Readers" instead of "Lectors". I know many a Reader who is far more powerful at exhorting the scripture in a meaningful way over many ordained priests and bishops. Pay the tribute to the Holy Spirit who works through all equally who give of their efforts to serve the cause of Christ. Do you believe the Holy Spirit does not help the lay person equally to the priest when they call upon the Holy Spirit to be potent in their same service to God at that same moment? What kind of God does that describe? Sorry, lay person, but I am only going to let you be mediocre at preaching my Truth to the congregation so the priests don't look bad.

Larry Motuz
10 months 1 week ago

Any 'apostolic authority' that does not recognize women as carriers of the good news to others is simply a claimed authority to do what Christ himself did NOT do: namely, excluding women from preaching his gospel. Canon Law can be changed. It has been changed many times in the past. When it frustrates women's callings to preach, it may not claim to be respecting Christ's own acknowledgment of the central role they played in spreading his teachings.

Michael Bindner
10 months 2 weeks ago

There is an old saying about what animal the law is in cases like this.

Crystal Watson
10 months 2 weeks ago

I joined the Catholic church in the early 90s in N. California. We had a progressive priest, girl altar servers, women were encouraged to take part. Now my church, to which I no longer go, is super conservative with constant eucharistic adoration. Things will not improve for women under Pope Francis - he has made clear what he thinks of women and their purpose.

Michael Caggiano
10 months 2 weeks ago

You say constant Eucharistic Adoration like its a bad thing - why is that? What do you make of the beautiful experience many, both male and female, have had through Adoration?

Please do not catch up the Worship of our Eucharistic Lord in petty squabbles between "progressive" and "conservative". There's no need for Adoration to be used as a watch-word against "the other".

Nora Bolcon
10 months 2 weeks ago

And here is the problem:

"In our parish, we have formed a bi-monthly lecture, reflection and discussion series, just for women. Feminist biblical scholars examine overlooked stories of women in the Bible and provide skills to reconstruct biblical history in which women were central and active agents."

SEXISM DOES NOT CURE SEXISM! If women make men feel like they have no role in fixing this problem of hatred and oppression in our church then they will fail to achieve justice due to their own exclusive choices.

Men and Women created the sexism in our church, both, from some making sexist and misogynistic church laws, and equally by others not fighting against those laws, to the death, if necessary.

Both genders are equally accountable from my standpoint (one of a woman called to ordained priesthood from my youth). I read about women standing up against this discrimination in organizations like Call to Action and WOC - Women's Ordination Conference, as a teenager, 40 years ago, and watched a church leadership excommunicate them, and a laity sit by in their pews, and watch, and do nothing.

Oppression must be fought against powerfully, obviously, and aggressively by both genders, which contain many people who realize how wrong and harmful and dehumanizing this discrimination keeping women from same ordination has always been.

Yet, even in this article, the writer is afraid to write how the underlying problem is unjust discrimination against women not being given exact same ordination opportunities as men. She mentions Holy Orders but only complains women can't be deacons, not priests which is where equality begins - not with the diaconate. Permanent Deacons have no authority. So in merely avoiding the topic of women priests and bishops, she is cooperating with the very oppression she is complaining about. Which makes her look ridiculous!

Until we, all who recognize how sinful and self-destructive these biased rules and traditions and doctrines are, stand up against our hierarchy and demand (not request) immediate and full change and immediate ordination of women to both priesthood and episcopate (and there are many women qualified and trained now to be ordained as both priests and bishops literally today), then we remain the reason change has not taken place. These men and women I am describing include laity, priests, nuns, bishops and cardinals. Stop cooperating - Start rebelling! Cooperation with sin is sin - no matter who commands you to sin. Biased treatment of groups of people constitutes a direct breaking of Christ's command that we treat all the same and the same as we wish to be treated in Everything!

It is time to protest in and out of our parish buildings and chapels openly and loudly until justice is met. That means nuns and priests and bishops face even excommunication because if you are not willing to stand up for what Christ commands because the Pope ordered you not to do so then you have made yourselves worthless servants more harmful to the actual cause of Christ in our Church than supportive. This is also a set of rules which must be changed, the ones demanding priests and nuns be obedient to the Pope even when he demands they do harm and act against the clear teachings of Christ found in the Gospels. Such laws are an extreme detriment to the whole church and must be expelled from our church's canons as they represent an excuse to sin and even in some cases a demand to sin from the obedient.

Lisa M
10 months 2 weeks ago

I'm sorry you consider anything short of identical to men as being oppression and sexism towards women. I don't. We are not identical, only equal. There's a big difference. I prefer embracing our differences rather than demanding we do everything the same, always. As far as I can tell, we are not sitting in the back pews, nor have we been silenced. Should women play a greater role in the Church? Probably, but that doesn't mean they need to be priests and bishops. How has that helped the other denominations? Bottom line is no one has been able to explain away why Christ chose only men to be his apostles. He still held women in high regard, no question about that. We don't change the priesthood according to our present day expectations or customs. We must go with what was given to us. Why Christ chose only men is a mystery of the faith that we can only speculate on, but it most certainly had nothing to do with sexism.

Crystal Watson
10 months 2 weeks ago

It's not about being identical, it's about having equal worth and equal opportunities as human beings. Imagine if the church wouldn't let people of another race be priests, because they weren't "identical" to Jesus' original disciples.

Lisa M
10 months 2 weeks ago

Yes, but that's not the case. How do you get around the all male apostles? Do you think Christ was a sexist? I certainly don't see women as being denied equal worth. There are of course priests and bishops that may have twisted views, but the teachings themselves are hardly oppressive.

Crystal Watson
10 months 2 weeks ago

Jesus didn't pick women to be apostles, but the reason could have been just practical, that it was too dangerous, that people wouldn't listen to them, etc. And anyway, that was not Jesus choosing who would be priests - he didn't choose anyone to be priests. It's very easy to go down the "separate but equal" road and that is all about discrimination.

Michael Bindner
10 months 2 weeks ago

There were women who accompanied the Jesus and the Twelve (including his wife, whose feast we celebrate). Apostles included first Mary Mags, then Peter, his brothers James and Jose's on the road to Emaeus, then the group of them then the 500, 2t0 married pairs, who witnessed as apostles. Paul says so.

Cinaed Mac Seamas
10 months 2 weeks ago

I think the idea that Jesus was conforming to social expectations and afraid to challenge people of power is very difficult understand as valid.

Certainly later, the Montanists had no trouble having women as priests and proclaimers. But in the wider Greco-Roman culture women as #priestesses was an ancient and accepted role. So those asserting females as priests was just not done are just wrong. It was done. Christianity was counter-cultural, in fact, for not doing it.

A woman was accepted in this role because in pagan religions the female is embodying, personifying, the fertility of the Earth Mother.

In Judaism this was not so. Priests were, by mosaic law, male Levites only. In Christianity a male priesthood personifies the Incarnation of the Word made Flesh, in his person as a created male and by his ordination in persona Christi, he embodies and hearkens to the historic intervention of God into our world.

Females as priestesses would have introduced veneration of Earth as a goddess and the priestesses as sacramental spokespersons, as at the Oracle of Delphi. And that's why women will never be in the priesthood.

Crystal Watson
10 months 2 weeks ago

There were NO priests in the early church. Jesus didn't choose anyone to be a priest. What he did was choose disciples to go out through the land, two at a time, to preach about the kingdom of God. It's possible he would worry about sending women off that way.

Lisa Weber
10 months 2 weeks ago

Crystal - When Jesus sent out the 72, he sent out “others”. That included women. The ban on women preaching cannot be supported with Scripture.

Anne Jeremy
10 months 2 weeks ago

Crystal Watson, what I find funny about some Religious converts to the Catholic faith, in the first instance, they come into it like you, obviously finding something very attractive about it, to make the faith conversion - yet when they do, aren't happy and want to change things, that many long standing Catholics, women included, are completely happy with anyway. Serving others in the Church is not really about some equal rights agenda based on world standards; or ambition thing - but is about pleasing God in the task of serving others, and often humbly. Are you at all familiar with St Theresa of the Little Flower story? Beautiful reading in it! Historically, and continuing, there are some many great women who fulfill many important roles in the Church, some even being recognised as great Saints and Doctors of the Church e.g. St Catherine of Siena; St Theresa of Avila who foundered the Carmelite order , who did not remotely feel any need to perform as a priest or similar to be worthy to God. Here I think of modern Saints as Mother Theresa who served the poor and the lest of all faith denominations, especially those who were left to die alone in the street, acknowledging there are 1000's and 1000's more of women equally serving God, who by the world standards, go unnoticed, but which they know is not the focus of their vocations. For those of true faith, it is never about achieving worldly recognition, as it is about pleasing God. The greatest service to God is often performed in the service of His lest and most vulnerable as well. Yours and others like you commenting as you are on this general post topic, honestly sound like you speak a completely different and radical language than most informed Catholics would understand. I just thought you and others like you should consider this!

Crystal Watson
10 months 2 weeks ago

Yes, I've read about St Theresa, a conservative favorite, and I didn't like her ideas much. I don't care if I sound odd. Perhaps the reason you think I do s because you haven't spent much time around Catholics like me. They do exist ... theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether ... Sister Sandra Schneiders ... Fr. Roy Bourgeois ... Jon O'Brien of Catholics for Choice, etc.

Anne Jeremy
10 months 2 weeks ago

You say, "St Theresa, a conservative favourite, and I didn't like her ideas much", seems with respect, a contradiction in terms! Of what I would term, Catholic radicals or renegades , yes I have known a few - & I usually have no hesitation in calling them out when I must encounter them. They are phony; they also know it, thus offer no help to the genuine Catholic in search of true holiness - they exist as muddy waters, steering people off track. Your last reference to 'Catholics for Choice' demonstrates your complete confusion to everything that is of God, for if you cannot stand for the lest and most vulnerable of His brethren, then you are no true friend of Jesus, for in His Kingdom, is made up of such as these. And I know you know this - which makes you the one that is laughable in your hate and obvious mockery of Jesus for when it really matters. I trust you do find though the true faith in your continuing life journey. This is every soul's right, yet choice. I do understand finally what you are about though! May God guide you to Himself!

Crystal Watson
10 months 2 weeks ago

.

Nora Bolcon
10 months 2 weeks ago

Hi Lisa,

I believe we have already had this discussion. Jesus, according to what is written in the Gospels, has no problem with you, or the pope, or anyone believing that men and women and white and black people, or you and your sister, or son and his brother are all completely different people, all with different characterics. However, Jesus did have a serious hang up about anyone, meaning his apostles, disciples, you, Pope Francis, or anyone TREATING groups of people differently than others, or TREATING any individual differently than another individual, or any individual TREATING another individual differently than they wish to be treated themselves. THIS WAS CONDEMNED IN EVERY ACCEPTED GOSPEL BY CHRIST HIMSELF. TREATING PEOPLE DIFFERENTLY BASED ON HOW THEY ARE BORN IS NOT ALLOWED AND THAT IS CLEARLY WRITTEN - NO ONE WAS ORDAINED A PRIEST BY CHRIST BUT IF WE ARE TO ORDAIN PRIESTS THAN WE MUST NOT BREAK THE COMMANDS OF CHRIST IN OUR CRITERIA OF SELECTING AND ORDAINING PRIESTS AND WE ARE DOING THAT. DISCRIMINATION IS SIN WHETHER OR NOT YOU DON'T MIND IT YOURSELF OR WOULD APPROVE OF IT YOURSELF. THAT IS GOSPEL TRUTH.

Matthew 7:12 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

I do believe I have given you this info. before but since you are acting like you don't realize that Christ picking the original 12 had nothing to do with making priests, and it didn't - I will cut and paste from past comments on the same question and give this info. to you again. You need to remember Jesus did discriminate against men based on race, in picking the 12, because he had to fulfill the promises to both Abraham and King David by his choice for judges- They were only of the Hebrew Race and men who carried Abraham's actual bloodline in their veins. So no women and no Gentiles! were among the original 12.

The Truth (since we clearly can't count on our hierarchy to stand up for what is actually written in scripture and in the gospels which we used to consider dogma, as it was written, in Catholicism):.
No where in the entire new testament is there any word or action that can be accurately described as ordination done by Christ or the apostles. This is fact not opinion. Also, there are Female deacons and presbyters and even apostles described in the book of Acts. So again the fact that the most recent popes, being personally afflicted with the spiritual malady of misogyny (based on their writings and statements) having decided to interpret the scriptures in a way which discounts only the sections which disprove their case tells us only that they are not an unbiased source for scripture understanding.
More truth:. Never did the Apostle Peter or any other of the original twelve ever write or state according to all scriptures that he or any of the original twelve were belonging to any priesthood other than the royal priesthood which he, The Apostle Peter, professed all other believers in Christ equally belonged.
More truth:. There is no gospel that explicitly states that women and other disciples of Christ were not at the Last Supper and John actually has us believing all the disciples (which accurately translates to any follower male or female) as not only being there but fully participating in all rituals such as the foot washing and assumed First Holy Eucharist.

The Gospels are written in the Jewish perspective which included the knowledge that all Seder Meals (which is what is taking place at the last supper a Great Seder Passover Meal) are meals that by Mosaic Laws must include all family and close friends. This includes women and children. For St. Mary, the mother of Christ and St. Mary Magdalene to be able to take part in the traditional, and obligatory, Seder Meal, and be present at the foot of the cross the next afternoon, they would have had to stay in Jerusalem that night before. For Jesus to follow Mosaic instructions written in Exodus demanding all members of the family take part in sharing the sacrificial lamb, he would have had to invite his Mother and his constant companion Mary Magdalene. A Messiah who rejects his family at Passover would be proving himself a fraud by doing so which is why we know they were there and why the writers of the gospels felt no need to spell it out. Seder Meals are always family meals. Let us remember, since all disciples male and female would have shared in the Passover sacrificial meal, then when Christ says to them all, male and female, "Do this in memory of me", he is telling this to the women as well as the men.

Judaism does not outright state that a Levite woman could not be a priest as long as she followed the blood laws. However, these laws would have hindered the amount of times any child bearing woman could have served as a priest greatly. Since service was done according to lottery, even for male Levites, and this meant that not even every Levite born male may necessarily get the opportunity to serve in their lifetime, they probably figured they may as well just leave it to the males and obviously there is sexism present even in Jewish culture some too.

Jesus picked the twelve male apostles, according to two different Gospels, and stated by Jesus in both, not as priests, but only as judges for the twelve tribes of Israel to Judge along side him. Why? Because males only can pass down their rights to inherit by blood lineage. In this way the promise made to Abraham that his descendants would be limitless is fulfilled. The Jews inherit the church Of Christ thru blood, by the twelve containing both the blood of Abraham and The Holy Spirit of God through their faith in Christ, and through partaking in the blood of lamb, which is the blood of God because Jesus has only his father's blood which is not the blood of Abraham. Jesus is a descendant thru his mother's flesh and blood but she can't pass down lineage so the 12 are necessary to fulfill blood inheritance for all 12 tribes of Israel. A Gentile of any origin could never have been one of the original apostles because they have the wrong blood so this argument for keeping women from priesthood because they do not fit the qualifications of one of the original 12 equally disqualifies almost all of our present and past clergy and our current and all past popes except Peter, as invalidly ordained priests.

In Matt 7:12 Christ clearly commands all apostles and disciples as to how they must treat each other to be valid followers of Him "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up all the law and the prophets". Notice there are no exceptions written here. There is left no room for any form of discrimination, not by gender, race, ethnicity, none. That is the truth, and for any shepherd, of the people of Christ, to interpret that command as allowing any flesh based discrimination for any reason, including sacramental reasons, risks enraging the Lord Jesus, Himself, as this is a complete nullification of what Christ clearly stated.

For the record, heresy is forgivable in Christ, if it upholds justice and truth. However, blasphemy and the intentional twisting of Gospel truth for one's own misogynistic agenda may not be. This is true whether one is a Pope anointed by God, (note King Saul was anointed by God but still turned to evil and caused his own destruction.) or not. God takes no one's free will away from them and the wages of unrepentant sin remain upon the sinner until he repents and changes his way.

I and many will never assent to coerced misogyny but will continue to aggressively to fight against this abuse of women in our church until we are fully rid of all bias against women for all ordained and other ministries afforded to our brothers. Sexism which includes all forms of discrimination against women is sexual abuse and no amount of nonsense is going to distract us from that truth.

Women who support this form or any other form of misogyny are equally culpable for the hurt and damage they cause women who are called to priesthood and for the damage that occurs from having an imbalanced and unjustly run Church.

Lisa Weber
10 months 2 weeks ago

Nora,
I don’t have time to even read an argument as lengthy as the one you have presented. My take on progress is that doing what is possible will get a person more change and progress than arguing for what is clearly impossible at the present time. The critical authority women need is the authority to preach. That is clearly possible. That is why I point out the support for women preaching. Those who feel called to be priests own their feelings about it and it is not my obligation to adjust my opinions so as to alter their feelings.

Nora Bolcon
10 months 2 weeks ago

Hi Lisa,

My comment was actually to Lisa M. not you, as I had thought you were for women's same equal ordination as men in our church.

However, until you are able to read lengthy comments (which took me not even 4 minutes to read) and are willing to do actual research as to what is most definitely possible, based on actual scripture, then you will be in error and sin on account of that ignorance, and it will be sin, because you are choosing ignorance instead of understanding. You choose not to hear the pleas of real and extreme emotional and spiritual pain experienced by your sisters (who have no reason to lie). You know your decision will result in clear discrimination that many have told you causes real damage to not only women but also to our church. As an example, if you agree with and choose to believe that racism is good and not harmful, that does not make racism not harmful, or not sinful, nor does it excuse your personal sin of supporting it, in or out of church. This is no different for sexism. My long comment saved you the need to research the scripture yourself but all of it is backed by the Gospel.

Just so you know The Holy Spirit and Jesus in the actual Gospels claim that all things in Christ are possible so why is it you choose to not believe (your Lord?) See supporting scripture below - and this is just a sample:

Matthew 3:8-10 Produce fruit worthy of repentance and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

So there is truly NOTHING God cannot do thru Christ for those who believe. If God can make children out of rocks (and He can) then God can quite easily overcome a law with no basis in scripture in order to have women justly ordained priests in the Roman Catholic Church like their brothers.

Matt 7:1-12 So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! In EVERYTHING, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets.

See Jesus states IN EVERYTHING - NO EXCEPTIONS, AND NO ONE IS EXCLUDED FROM SAME TREATMENT BY CHRIST WHEN HE INSTRUCTS HIS 12 APOSTLES AND THE DISCIPLES. THIS WOULD INCLUDE SAME ORDINATION or any other treatment.

There were presbyters who did the works of ordained priests (which did not exist until hundreds of years after the resurrection) and the Apostles were the first of these along with many original disciples but there were male and female presbyters and no one was ordained a presbyter.

Luke 1:36-37 Look, even Elizabeth your relative has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is in her sixth month. For NOTHING will be IMPOSSIBLE with God.”

Matt 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but WITH GOD ALL THINGS are Possible."

Jeremiah 32:17 "Oh, Lord GOD! You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!

Maybe you and your traditionalists friends need to realize it is your faith and understanding that are weak. God called me and many other women in our church to ordained priesthood. I fight for justice and same ordination for women and men, according to His Will, as He has shown it to me, and I pray constantly until this change comes to pass for the sake of the Church and the world around it. I wasn't called by any lesser feelings than the men who are called to ordained priesthood, and many of our male priests describe their calling the same exact way I have described mine. Hate is Hate, and Misogyny is Hate, and Sexism is Hate, and it is also abuse and sin, even when women support it. (perhaps more so when women support it.)

Dump your ignorance and choose to learn the Truth and Believe in it!

Lisa Weber
10 months 2 weeks ago

Nora, Your comments assume far more about my thinking than you actually know. They are also condescending. Overall, I am not persuaded by your arguments.

Nora Bolcon
10 months 2 weeks ago

Lisa, My comments answer only to what you actually stated in your comment. What is truly condescending is anyone deciding for any group of people that their full dignity and equal and just treatment is not worth fighting for in a complete form because it is easier and less work to fight for just another form of indignity rather than actual equity. You can fight for both, as I have been doing by trying to get people to reject any future ordinations of permanent deacons and instead demand their bishops train and allow lay women and men to perform all the tasks that permanent deacons are favored to do in our parishes. This would include preaching, and is already allowable and a norm in various diocese around the world since no change in law is required for this to happen anywhere. However, your comments don't just support women preaching, they state as a type of fact, that women cannot be equally ordained now and that is false according to actual scripture and history does not even really support this belief. What your comment claims to support is women being allowed to do the main work of ordination while remaining stripped of equal respect, title, pay, prestige and opportunity as their brothers based on gender alone for an immeasurable time period. If you bother to read and inform yourself regarding the damage just that kind of thinking creates in every section of society (including churches) you might change your attitude on your own. Laziness is the worst reason to uphold sin and inequality for any group of people. If you read your own comment, you will find I am merely answering to what you clearly stated and there is nothing wrong with treating the abuse of women in a condescending fashion. All hatred based discrimination deserves to be rebuked for the ignorance that it supports.

William Juliano
10 months 2 weeks ago

If you are asking yourself where do "I" belong in the liturgy, you are missing the point. We are all there as a community to perform a sacrifice and give glory to God. The ability to preach or opportunity to hear an inspiring homily are not why Catholics attend Mass. Words may inspire, but they are not the nourishment that calls us to the table. The idea that one would worship elsewhere because they are not invited to preach seems to suggest that being a member of the faith community is more an act of self-fulfillment than giving glory to His name.

Lisa Weber
10 months 2 weeks ago

I go to Mass primarily for the preaching. I like the remainder of the Mass, but the preaching is what matters most. We need to hear from women in the homilies because women see Scripture differently than men. Banning women from preaching is the church choosing to be blind in one eye.

G Reeder-Ferreira
10 months 2 weeks ago

The first time I heard a woman pastor preach was at an all-black protestant church, being the only white guy at mass was a first for me too. The way she commanded the church-goers was electrifying. She had everybody on fire! That was the most exciting time I ever had going to church. Some 25 years ago now...

William Juliano
10 months 2 weeks ago

We don't go to Church to be entertained or electrified. The focal point should not be a fantastic speaker who commands the audience. The presence of Jesus Christ should be more than enough to evoke these emotions. And, if it isn't, then we need to rededicate ourselves to growing in faith.

Michael Bindner
10 months 2 weeks ago

Wasn't the Tridentine Mass just that?

Paul Hierholzer
10 months 2 weeks ago

No, that's why they changed it.

Victoria Figueroa
10 months 2 weeks ago

William, I agree that Mass is to commemorate the Lord's passion and not to be entertained. But, Jesus Christ entrusted the Word of the resurrection, not to Peter who hid, but to the women to share with the world. We should hear that same voice of woman telling us of the good news of the resurrection at the summit of the Catholic Church, the celebration of the Eucharist.

William Juliano
10 months 2 weeks ago

It shouldn't matter from whom we hear the Word. It is the Word itself that matters, but sadly, it seems as if Catholics (and all Christians really) are more interested in conforming God's will to their own. The Church was a gift from Jesus. It has guided the faith for over 2,000 years. Some of the most profound thinkers have debated these issues for centuries. It is shameful arrogance to project our modern secular whims over hallowed traditions rooted in scripture. The Church's role is to be a shepherd that keeps its flock on the right path, not a malleable institution that leads its faithful astray.

Alexander Fretheim
10 months 2 weeks ago

This was not directed towards women, it was a directive about lay preaching during the homily time in general. It is also not an absolute prohibition on lay preaching, lay preaching from both men and women is still permitted during the early part of Mass when parish announcements are typically given, it merely reserves a place of special honor for preaching from the priest, who has consecrated the host, bringing Christ to Earth and offering His sacrifice go God on our behalf, and who carries and prepares the holy sacrifice, and is specially offered himself.

Bennett Kalafut
10 months 2 weeks ago

This emphasis on being allowed to do things at the Holy Mass (clericalizing the laity) is unbecoming to the dignity of the common priesthood and perhaps a dead-end, too. To act as though it is an injustice that the priest (sacerdos) or deacon preaches and lay men and women do not diminishes the importance of lay participation in the Mass as laity, confuses what the Mass is for what it is not, and presents a false target for the ministry of the baptized.

There are 112 waking hours in the week and subtracting one for our Sunday obligation leaves 111 during which we can preach to evangelize the world and each other. Making it one's objective to conquer the Church to put to rest the supposed injustice (at its heart, an objection to Holy Orders per se) or (worse still) to empty the pews by preaching that the Church is unjust is incompatible with evangelizing the world.

William Juliano
10 months 2 weeks ago

Eloquently stated. One thing we as laity forget is that the Mass is not about filing into the pew to watch the priest perform. That's one of the problems with having the priest face the congregation...it gives the impression that he is the focal point, when, in reality, the priest is leading the laity in making a solemn sacrifice. We profess faith together, we say the words Jesus taught us together and we ask the Lord to accept the sacrifice at OUR hands for the praise and glory of HIS name. Every parishioner is entrusted with so much solemn duty during a Mass, I can't fathom how one could one possibly feel excluded simply because they can't preach.

Lisa Weber
10 months 2 weeks ago

William J - It sounds as though you are a fan of the Tridentine rite. Having the priest stand with his back to the congregation and mumble in Latin was rightly abandoned in the 1960’s.

Michael Bindner
10 months 2 weeks ago

The priesthood foes not exist to be honored.

Greg Herr
10 months 2 weeks ago

By and large, the women in our parish would be profoundly distressed if a woman homilist was permitted to preach. We're the Anglican Ordinariate (Pers. Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter), and, admittedly on the conservative end of the spectrum (I earnestly resist terms like 'conservative' but there it is...). I have a breadth of experience, including in Episcopal and a wide range of Evangelical churches, and those are live options, of course. But I thought it important that one of the feminist perspectives among Catholic Christians--and in particular, women--is to assent to Her doctrines, and that, by doing so, they demonstrate that their self-determination has been honed through spiritual discipline. I don't know if there is a more winsome way to say that; I'd like to be able to say it, though. I have great sympathy for the author's sensibilities and convictions. But this isn't a war; this is the Church. We're not struggling for hegemony. We're struggling for holiness.

Michael Bindner
10 months 2 weeks ago

You can run, but you cannot hide.

Anne Jeremy
10 months 2 weeks ago

As a Catholic believer since birth, I commend you on your post, Greg Herr! If I witnessed a woman preacher get up and sprout her ideas, in lieu of a priest, who is also I believe especially ordained to administer the Sacraments, I would definitely avoid such a Mass; as with many female fellow parishioners that I know. Women have absolutely ample opportunity to serve God in so many profound and needed roles, than to push all this equality on the pulpit positioning. If a woman is so theologically gifted, there is additional ample opportunity to teach - in schools and in other aspects of Church ministry. When I see articles like this, I am immediately put off, seeing the wrong motives in people as well. Perhaps unwittingly, people get too caught up in the worldly recognition side. Thank you for your enlightening post, Greg Herr!

Jeanne Devine
10 months 2 weeks ago

More than 45 years ago, I gave up on the Catholic Church ever recognizing the equal gifts women would bring to the priesthood. I became a United Methodist and gladly served churches in two states for four decades after my ordination. Not the path for every Catholic woman, for sure, but the right one for me. I do regret the struggles that so many Catholic women continue to face, but waiting for things to change seems pointless.

Paul Hierholzer
10 months 2 weeks ago

Amen.

Michael Bindner
10 months 2 weeks ago

Women are as much the Church as the bishops. They should stay and fight. Start by passing on the Annual Appeal, and do it vocally. The bishops created this scandal, call them to account. Indeed, as they sin against you, it is your fraternal obligation to correct them. Don't settle for half measures or schismatic ordination. Demand no less than the real thing and see who not only joins you, bit comes back to the Church to do so. Respectfully revolt.

Josef Herz
10 months 2 weeks ago

I have seen what the result of the Bishops actions and their arrogance causes in Europe, especially Germany. Less then 3 percent attendance at Mass. In not too long a time, the Priest will sit around the pulpit and have a homily among themselves, sans worshippers. Humble theyself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up, not the Bishops.

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