This from the Diocese of Venice statement concerning attempted ordinations by Roman Catholic Womenpriests:
Okay. I may have touched up the statement a bit…
The actual statement from the diocese regarding “attempted ordinations” (I like how all the statements I’ve seen on the subject these days, and from whatever diocese, uses these very same words…”attempted ordinations”). For more of the story click here and here.
Diocese of Venice in Florida Statement Regarding Those Involved in Attempted Ordinations
It has come to the attention of Officials of the Diocese of Venice in Florida that advertisements attributed to an organization known as “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” have appeared regarding a purported attempt to “ordain” women to the ministerial priesthood here in Sarasota.
The Catholic Church has always taught that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. The Church shares this teaching with our Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. The ministerial priesthood is a gift from God, not something that someone “earns,” “deserves” or has a “right” to, due to advanced education, devoted service in the Church, or simply because of one’s own personal desire.
In calling only men as His Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. Throughout His earthly ministry, Our Lord also emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, and in so doing, did not conform to the prevailing customs, traditions, and legislation of the time. Still, among His twelve Apostles, Jesus Christ did not include any women.
Sacred Scripture further reveals that Jesus did include the participation of women in His public ministry in ways that shows a differentiation of roles between men and women. Together both worked to build up the unity of the Church, avoiding divisiveness. Specific to the role of women, the Church gives thanks for the feminine “genius”, appearing in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations, and for the charisms of the Holy Spirit on women’s manifestations of faith, hope and love. However, the attempt to “ordain” women by the organization titled “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” brings division, and fractures unity in the Church.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a General Decree stating that those who attempt to confer Holy Orders on a woman, and women who attempt to receive Holy Orders, incur automatic excommunication. Excommunication is knowingly and willingly to place oneself outside the communion of the Catholic Church.
This statement is issued out of pastoral and spiritual concern for those who present themselves for such an invalid ritual, those who conduct it, and those who are direct participants, since their actions place them outside the Church.
This situation is sad for the entire Church. The Diocese prays that all those involved in this attempt to “ordain”, “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” will be reconciled with the Church, and that the harm and division caused will be healed, with the help of God’s grace.
Questions and Answers Regarding Attempted Ordinations of “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” in Sarasota on February 6, 2010
Q1: Why is the Diocese issuing this statement?
This statement is issued out of pastoral and spiritual concern for the faithful of our Diocese, and to provide clarity on the Catholic Church’s position regarding ordination to the ministerial priesthood. Further, the Diocese notes that the organization titled “Roman Catholic Womenpriests”, and those supporting this organization, are not in keeping with the Roman Catholic law on ordination to the ministerial priesthood.
Q2: What is the Church’s stand on the ordination of women?
A. In the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II affirmed that the Catholic Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. The Catholic Church shares this teaching with our Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. The Church holds that this teaching, handed down by Christ through His Apostles, is definitive and cannot be changed.
In calling only men as His Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. That being said, throughout His earthly ministry, Our Lord also continually emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, and in so doing, did not conform to the prevailing customs, traditions, and legislation of the time. Still, among His twelve Apostles, Jesus Christ did not include any women.
Q3: What are the essential elements of the teaching of the Catholic Church on the attempted “ordination” of women?
A. Ordination to the ministerial priesthood must be conferred by a validly ordained bishop on a baptized man. A candidate must receive the authorization of the Church, which has the authority and responsibility to determine if a true call to the priesthood exists for the said candidate.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Church does not have the authority to “ordain” women. The reasons for this include: the example recorded in sacred Scripture of Christ choosing His Apostles; the constant practice of the Church, which imitated Christ in choosing only men; and the Church’s living teaching authority.
Q4: What is the difference between the “common priesthood of believers” (royal priesthood), and the “ministerial priesthood”?
A. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, all Christians, both men and women, share equally in the “common priesthood of believers.” Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, priests also share in the “ministerial priesthood” of Christ, the High Priest.
No individual has the “right” to be ordained to the ministerial priesthood. Only a baptized man whom the Bishop discerns to have a vocation and calls to ordination, may receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and thus share in the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ.
In the Catholic Church, a priest is ordained in the person of Christ. The priest becomes a literal “icon” of Jesus Christ as he ministers in the person of Christ, which among many things, necessarily includes the reality of his manhood.
Q5: Can Catholics attend this attempted “ordination” or any other simulation of a Sacrament?
A. Attendance at or direct participation in any simulation of a Sacrament is strictly forbidden. Among the reasons for this is the fact that such participation sows discord and fractures unity in the Church.
Q6: What constitutes “participation” in this event?
A. The women conducting the ceremony and claiming to be bishops, and the women who present themselves for “ordination” are the direct participants. Those who, through their presence at the ceremony, encourage division and openly defy Church teaching and discipline are also considered to be direct participants.
Q7: What are the consequences for those participating in this event?
Those who take part in the ceremony, as an immediate and direct consequence of their own actions, separate themselves from the Catholic Church by automatic excommunication.
Excommunication is knowingly and willingly to place oneself outside the Catholic Church. It is the most serious penalty that the Church recognizes, reserved for the most grave offenses a person commits. It results in a loss of the right to the Sacraments and the spiritual benefits shared by members of the Catholic Church.
Q8: Is excommunication final, or can the individuals come back to the Church?
A. Excommunication is a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, intended not so much to punish the person, as to correct him or her and bring the individual back to reconciliation with the Church.
Those who excommunicate themselves must publicly repent, make amends for the offense that they committed, and reunite themselves with the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church. Again, remember it is through one’s own conscious and deliberate actions that excommunication takes place. Further, for those attempting to confer Holy Orders and for those women seeking the same, this reconciliation must come through the Holy See in Rome.
The Diocese prays that all those involved in this attempt to “ordain”, “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” will be reconciled with the Church, and that the harm and division caused will be healed, with the help of God’s grace.