January 12, 2014:Women Become Priests w/o Vatican Blessing

Posted on : Jan 9th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Imagine my surprise when on May 25, 2013, I opened the Los Angeles Times and read the bold heading:  “Women becoming priests without Vatican’s Blessing.”  The heading continued:  “Small number of Catholic women are ignoring the ban on female priests and are ordained without the church’s blessing.”

Mind you, this was pre-Pope Francis.  The archconservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict XVI was still in firm control of the Roman Catholic Church at that time.

The Los Angeles Times isn’t known for “sensational journalism,” they’re much too staid for that, so I immediately started reading the article to see who was pushing the boundaries of ordination.  Turns out it was a woman in the San Francisco Bay area who was being ordained.

Photos: Turning a parishioner into a priest

Deacon Maria Eitz, 72, of San Francisco,  received the cup of wine from the Rev. Victoria Rue during Mass for the Catholic congregation Sophia in Trinity inside Mary’s Chapel at Trinity Episcopal Church. On Sunday, (May 26, 2013) Maria  will become one of a small number of Roman Catholic women ignoring the ban on female priests and being ordained without the Vatican’s acknowledgment.

The article went on to say:

The more than 120 women worldwide who have been ordained as Roman Catholic priests and deacons say their faith gives them comfort and hope. But that same faith also is bound by Canon Law 1024. Short and blunt, the church edict states that “a baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.”

The Vatican has said that women who presume to be priests, and those who help them, are committing a grave sin. And like Catholics who have abortions or commit heresy, female officiants are subject to the ultimate penalty — automatic excommunication. The church does not acknowledge ordained women or the sacraments they offer.

The first female priests were ordained in 2002 on a boat on the Danube by a bishop who previously had broken ranks with the Vatican. A year later, bishops who asked to remain anonymous until after their death for fear of reprisal ordained the first female bishops so that they, in turn, could ordain other women.

According to Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA Inc., more women are expected to be ordained as priests and deacons in 2013 than in any previous year.

To Maria Eitz, the threat of excommunication is meaningless. It has happened to her once already, when she became a deacon in 2012. She ignored it then and ignores it now, she said, because “if you are baptized, you cannot be unbaptized. If you are called to the table that God calls people to, you cannot be excluded.”

The soft-spoken 72-year-old said she was taking the controversial step because “it is right and just.”

“It needs to happen. Not so much for myself … but for the people who will come after,” she said. “For the girls. For the other women.”

I loved it!  It so reminded me of our activist days in the Presbyterian Church where we encountered exclusion from ordination because the silly church decided that they knew more than God about ordination and sexual orientation.  Our response was, “If you’re not going to ordain us, then don’t baptize us.”

Baptism is one powerful sacrament!  Maria says it beautifully:  “If you are baptized, you cannot be unbaptized. If you are called to the table that God calls people to, you cannot be excluded.”

I think much of the anger, violence and self-destruction we see in ourselves and others today comes from a lack of feeling that we are loved and valued in the very core of our being.   Baptism is the antidote to those feelings.  It is the profoundly powerful feeling of knowing that each of us (you and me) is deeply loved and valued, just as we are.  And nobody can tell us we’re not.  The power of Baptism is the power of love at work in our lives and the world.  Nothing empowers us more than feeling loved.  Jesus is a wonderful example of that.

This Sunday as we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, we need to hear and feel what Jesus heard and felt at his Baptism:  the voice of God saying, “I love you to the very core of your being.  Your very being delights me.”  When we embrace the reality of that experience, we find within ourselves the power of our own Baptism.




~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Luke 3: 15-17; 21-22

The Baptism of Jesus

As the people were in expectation, all of them questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but one who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; that one will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  With winnowing fork in hand, that one will clear the threshing floor, and gather the wheat into the granary, but will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Child; with you I am well pleased.”

Leave a Reply