is getting to be a very old story: When the secular media cover events in which
women claim ordination as Catholic priests, reporters abandon all ordinary
journalistic standards. A National Public Radio (NPR) story about a ceremony in
Maryland offers a fairly spectacular example.
story begins: "In 2002, seven women were secretly ordained as priests by
two Roman Catholic bishops in Germany. After their ordination, a kind of domino
Just a week earlier, Roman Catholic Womenpriests had been claiming that three Roman Catholic bishops
participated in that supposed ordination in 2002. When one of the bishops was
exposed as the leader of an odd little schismatic sect, the number dropped down
to two. Who are those two bishops? Do they really exist? Are they really
members of the Catholic hierarchy? If they are real Catholic bishops, a reporter
who could identify them would have a blockbuster story: the names of bishops
who defied the Vatican. If they aren’t real Catholic bishops, a reporter could
prove that Roman Catholic Womenpriests is entirely fraudulent. Yet the
reporters who cover these mock ordinations do not follow up on the question.
They are evidently satisfied with a quick portrayal of women playing at being
Catholic priests; they aren’t interested in the big story.
NPR report continues: "Those seven women went on to ordain other women, and a
movement to ordain female priests all around the world was born."
Terry Mattingly of the website Get Religion pointed out, any halfway competent
reporter covering the religion beat should recognize that something is amiss
here. Even if you believe that those seven women were validly ordained as
priests, that’s not enough to sustain the Womenpriests delusion. In the
Catholic Church, priests don’t ordain priests; bishops ordain priests.
suppose, for the sake of the argument, that there really were two legitimate
Catholic bishops participating at that 2002 ceremony on the Danube. Let’s
suppose that they intended to ordain at least one woman as a bishop. The licit
ordination of a Roman Catholic bishop requires the approval of the Holy See.
Anyone who ordains a bishop without Vatican approval is subject to automatic
excommunication. So even if that Danube ordination had been otherwise valid,
the participantsboth the ordaining bishops and the ordained priestesseswould
have separated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church.
still have not even reached the most important reasons for recognizing the
Womenpriests movement as delusional. As Blessed John Paul II proclaimed in
1994, the Church has always taught and believed that women cannot be ordained. The late Pontiff wrote in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: “I declare that the Church has no authority
whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to
be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
point here is not that the Church chooses to withhold ordination from women.
The point is that the Church “has not authority whatsoever” to ordain women. A
priestly vocation is a gift of the Holy Spirit, not merely a credential passed
out by the hierarchy. If the Holy Spirit confers that gift only upon menas the
Church definitely teaches that he doesthere is nothing Catholic bishops could
do to change that reality. Even if there were bishops on the Danube, and even
if they intended to ordain women, and even if (per impossibile) they were able to finesse the question of a
Vatican mandate, they still could not
have ordained women as Catholic priests. It’s an impossibility.
key paragraph of the NPR report reads: "On a recent June day in Maryland, four more women were
ordained as priests. The gallery at St. John’s United Church of Christ was
filled with Catholic priests and nuns, there to support the women and the
ordination movementthough visitors were asked not to photograph them."
many flagrant departures from ordinary journalistic standards can you find in
that paragraph? There are several:
news stories begin with a dateline, giving the time and place of the events
described. Here we have only “a recent June day in Maryland.” Maybe that should
be a tip-off, letting us know how much accuracy we should expect from the
the report tells us that four women were ordained. There is not a hint that
anyone could deny the validity of their ordinationlet alone the rather obvious
fact that its validity is denied by the very group to which they claim
membership: the Catholic Church.
a very lackadaisical reporter should recognize that some explanation is
necessary when the supposed ordination of Catholic priests takes place in a
building belonging to the United Church of Christ. No such explanation is
the priests and nuns in the gallery are part of the storyand this reporter did
mention them, so they arethe journalists who agreed not to photograph them are
not giving us the whole story. They are only giving us those parts of the story
that are convenient to the claims of Womenpriests and their supporters.
The NPR story gives us a partial explanation of the willingness to
protect the anonymity of the supportive priests and nuns: they might be
punished by the Church for attending this illicit ceremony. Yes, that’s true.
They might be deprived of the jobs they now hold, representing an institution
whose authority they secretly disdain. A crusading journalist of a different
type might expose those priests and nuns, and thus help to eliminate corruption
within the Catholic Church. But the journalists covering this event are
committed to a different agenda.