These days we depend upon experts’ opinions for just about everything. But I’m not hesitant to express my own views on certain things, because I grew up in Korea with the proverb: “Even if your mouth is crooked, you must speak what’s in your heart.”
Recently, the self-proclaimed Catholic Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ordained two women priests: a Kansas City resident, Georgia Walker, 67, who had been a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph for some years but never took her final vows, and Rita Lucey, 80, a great-grandmother from Orlando, Fla., who had never lived in a convent. Both women were excommunicated following the ordinations, but they still call themselves Roman Catholic priests.
In a Catholic seminary, candidates with college degrees in their chosen fields go through a six-year program, including two years of pre-theology and four years of study in divinity, philosophy and more. What could the two newly ordained women priests preach?
The world had never heard of Catholic women priests until June 29, 2002, when a group of seven women from Germany, Austria and the U.S. were ordained on a floating boat named “Passau” on the Danube River in Austria by an “independent” bishop named Romulo Antonio Braschi, an Argentinean priest who was excommunicated decades ago for his independent thinking. The Vatican declared the ordination invalid and the seven women were also excommunicated.
The Vatican decision did not dent the spirits of the women. In fact, it energized them. In July 2005, another bunch of women were ordained as priests by different “independent” bishops, this time, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which flows from Lake Ontario to Atlantic Ocean. One website has the following:
“That historic moment in 2002 gave birth to the Danube Ordination Movement, now called the RC Womenpriests Program, generating a response from women around the world who aspire to a ‘truly Roman Catholic’ (as they see it) ordination. Then in August 2003 at a secret ceremony in Spain, the newly consecrated bishops Mayr-Lumetzberger and Forster ordained Dominican Sister Patricia Fresen of South Africa. This generated public outcry from Rome, and in response to Vatican pressure, Dr. Fresen’s South African order ousted her after her ordination.”
The following year, in 2006, Bridget Mary Meehan was ordained a priest by Fresen, and a short time later, a bishop. Ever since, Meehan has been busy making “women priests” around the country. Today the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests boasts that it has more than 200 female priests worldwide and about 150 in the U.S. alone.
Meehan, who has degrees in theology and also wrote books, states that in the earlier century, women served as deacons and priests in the Roman Catholic Church, and that some mosaic wall-decorations in some ancient temples depict scenes of a bishop ordaining a woman as priest. But how could we believe such theories when we can’t go back to centuries ago or travel to the places she’s talking about?
Though I’ve never taken a theology class in my life, I was born in a Catholic family and have been going to church most of my life, so I know this much: The Catholic liturgy is fashioned after the Last Supper Jesus had with his 12 disciples during which he said, “Do this in memory of me!” There’s nothing confusing about the role of a priest at Mass, in which the celebrant personifies Jesus through words and gestures the way the disciples had witnessed two millenniums ago.
Can a woman play Hamlet, the prince in Shakespeare’s most loved play, without losing the integrity and symbolism the playwright intended?
Men and women are made differently for purposes, yet we’re in harmony within the divine plan. I hope that the so-called Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests stops fighting the Vatican authorities and find their own path as a non-Catholic confraternity for the sake of peace within the church.
Retired musician and freelance columnist Therese Park has written three novels about Korea’s modern history.