Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Women Who Think They are Priests and the St. Joan of Arc Parish Fiasco

by Elizabeth Schwab - Desert Voice

The invitation to participate in the “Womenpriests Eucharistic Celebration” which appeared in the St. Joan of Arc church bulletin on August 27 caused widespread public outcry, eliciting a statement from pastor Father Jim DeBruycker and the removal of the ad from this week’s parish bulletin. The original bulletin entry made it appear that the event would be held at St. Joan of Arc Church, but according to a post on a female ordination activist website, the event is actually scheduled to take place at Normandale College in Minneapolis and is hailed as Regina Nicolosi’s “Mass of Thanksgiving” for having been “ordained” by three women “bishops” during a ceremony in Switzerland in June of this year.

An alleged email from Dennis McGrath, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, to an individual in the archdiocese stated that neither the pastor nor the associate pastor had reviewed the bulletin before it was distributed and that they had “agreed to issue a renunciation of the story about Ms. Nicolosi and her ‘celebration.’” In the September 3 bulletin, Father DeBruycker begrudgingly acknowledges that the event is not sanctioned by the Magisterium and makes the minimalist admission that it “borders on schism.” He then proceeds to introduce the idea that “women were ordained priests, if not bishops, at different times in the Church,” and leads readers into even more confusion as he insinuates that the all-male priesthood which exists in the Catholic Church is merely human tradition and not something to be regarded as dogma and part of the deposit of faith. These statements by Father DeBruycker are in direct opposition to Church teaching.

The Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, promulgated in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, states that "the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church" and definitively declares “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.” Period. Yet we have rebellious members in the household of God who refuse to accept the teachings of Holy Mother Church. Proponents for a Catholic female priesthood like to cite what they say are historical examples of women acting as priests and deacons in the early years of the Church. However, Dr. Mark Lowery, associate professor of theology at the University of Dallas, dispels these misconceptions by explaining that heretical sects in early Christianity did in fact have priestesses, but they were just that – heretical sects, mostly of the gnostic variety. Today’s “womenpriests” must also be considered a heretical sect as they refuse to obey Church dictates and operate outside of legitimate authority.

But it is important to note that the push for female priests is not exclusively a human gender issue as might appear on the surface. The feminist movement behind this is also calling for recognition of the identity of God as male-female, as many members are involved in goddess worship, and they are asking for the full inclusion of the homosexual community as well. In the June 2006 issue of Minnesota Monthly, Regina Nicolosi is quoted as saying, “It’s a very important part of my call that God is both male and female...” And her office door reportedly sports a bumper sticker that reads “In Goddess We Trust.” Concerning the homosexual element, in the document “A Brief Overview of Womenpriests in the History of the Roman Catholic Church,” three recently ordained “womenpriests” declare: “Womenpriests and deacons must be the rainbow – we reflect the people we serve: married, celibate, domestic partners, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and transgendered.” As the female ordination movement strives to bring what they call full equality to women, they are also striving for a new model of priestly ministry and complete transformation of the Church from the inside out.

Archbishop Flynn apparently wrote to Regina Nicolosi prior to her “ordination” as a deacon in July 2005 and warned her that such a ceremony would be invalid. Later in October, she and her husband, a legitimate Catholic deacon, had a meeting with the archbishop which left the matter unresolved. She continued to receive Holy Communion at her parish church and reported that her parish priest was very supportive of her endeavors. As a deacon, she performed marriage ceremonies, and now that she considers herself a “priest,” she plans to pray “masses” regularly at a Minnesota nursing home where she acts as chaplain. According to McGrath’s email, Archbishop Flynn informed her that “she is not a priest of the Holy Roman Catholic Church,” but no mention is made at all of a formal excommunication.

In August 2006, headlines were made when Bishop Galeone of the St. Augustine Diocese in Florida formally excommunicated Father Rouville Fisher who was involved in the Rent A Priest organization, a group of married priests who offer to administer the sacraments for pay. These priests are not sanctioned by their dioceses because they have entered into unlawful marriages and most sacraments officiated by such priests are invalid, with some being illicit at the very least. By issuing the excommunication, the bishop sent a clear message to the public that Father Fisher’s actions would not be tolerated by the diocese. But Bishop Galeone did not stop there. The excommunication was officially recognized on July 26, and on August 6 he proceeded to issue an announcement of Father Fisher’s excommunication in all the parish bulletins of his diocese and warned Catholics not to ask Father Fisher to administer sacraments. The spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, said, “The faithful have been advised that any knowing participation in the schismatic ministry of Father Fisher is gravely sinful.” Thus did Bishop Galeone protect his flock.

Contrast this with the article published by CORPUS, an activist group promoting what they call “an expanded and renewed priesthood of married and single men and women in the Catholic Church.” On August 4, 2006, their website proudly posted this headline: “8 Women Ordained as Catholic Priests have not been Excommunicated .” Because no formal charges have been brought against these women who were “ordained” on July 31, CORPUS claims that the women are not excommunicated because they still consider themselves to be Catholic and have not self-excommunicated themselves. The article goes on to boast: “If a bishop should choose to initiate such a process, it is reasonable [to] assume that he would be the subject of ridicule. Therefore, trials by tribunal seem to be rather unlikely.” Ridicule from whom? The schismatics themselves, of course! Obviously, quiet toleration of schismatics is not the answer. If definitive action is not taken against these abuses, it only serves to increase the boldness of the offenders.

The proliferation of homosexuality in this archdiocese is only one such example of what happens when a bishop refuses to exercise his God-given authority for the good of the Church. The same bulletin which featured the advertisement for the "womenpriest" function also unabashedly included an ad for the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) retreat held every year for parishioners of St. Joan of Arc Church. But notice how the chancery failed to raise any objection to that. Now the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis is publicizing an October speaking engagement by retired Bishop Gumbleton entitled "Is There Room for Me in This Church?" Bishop Gumbleton is a leading advocate for the acceptance of homosexuals in the Catholic Church and has been pictured wearing a rainbow mitre. He is considered one of the most liberal bishops in America and ardently supports the ordination of gay men. Widely known as a dissenter, no orthodox bishop should allow him to speak in his diocese, but he will be here in St. Paul-Minneapolis unless Archbishop Flynn prevents him from preaching his errors.

What a shame that the sheep are left as ready prey for the wolves. Where are the true shepherds whom Christ appointed to protect us? How many twisted ideologies will be permitted to spread, corrupting the minds of Catholics and leading them astray? Today we have "womenpriests" administering false sacraments and serving as chaplains. Tomorrow, what will it be? One wonders how many couples have been “married” by Regina Nicolosi, not realizing that they really aren’t married at all. How many false communions have been received from her unconsecrated hands? Now that she is celebrating her “Thanksgiving Mass” in a well-publicized event, will our shepherd step in to set the record straight by warning the faithful, as did Bishop Galeone, that knowingly participating in her schismatic ministry is gravely sinful? We can only hope that Archbishop Flynn will respond for the sake of his flock.


Anonymous said...

Bishop Gumbleton is just that, a Bishop. If he needs to be censored it should come from the Vatican directly. It is not as though he recently began preaching/teaching error. He has been a Bishop for many years and openly held these views w/o rebuke from the Vatican. Surely Pope Benedict was aware of him while head of the CDF.

Terry Nelson said...

Thank you Mrs. Schwaub! You say it well! You hit the nail directly on the head. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Nothing surprised me anymore at SJA.