For the second time in four days, the Los Angeles Times has reported about the illicit and invalid "ordination" of women who call themselves Catholic. The latest effort is by Times staffer Robin Fields, "Female Priest Defies the Catholic Church" (Monday, August 14, 2006). Fields profiled Jane Via, of San Diego, one of several bogus "priests" who have been falsely "ordained" and recently presided over a "Mass." Far from being a balanced piece, the article directly quoted four vocal supporters of Via (including Via herself) and not one dissenting voice of her actions. Balanced reporting at the Times? Not even close.
In addition, Fields appears to have some problems reporting on the facts. On the issue of female ordination, she writes, "The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not taken a formal position on the issue." Uh-oh. I'm afraid the Times' "historical ignorance" and "theological naiveté" has reared its ugly head again.
In 1994, Pope John Paul II issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which he formally declared that the Church cannot ordain women. (Emphasis mine:)
"Although 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 firmly taught by the magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) 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."
Quite simply, the very nature of the Church and its sacraments forbid the Church from allowing women to be ordained. (Read Ordinatio Sacerdotalis here.)
This may come as news to Ms. Fields, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is in full communion with the Vatican and the Catholic Church. To write that the USCCB "has not taken a formal position on the issue" displays an ignorance of how the Catholic Church functions. In addition, not long after John Paul II's letter, the USCCB released "Strengthening the Bonds of Peace: A Pastoral Reflection on Women in the Church and in Society." The letter began (emphasis mine),
"Earlier this year the Holy Father issued the apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, reaffirming the teaching and practice that priestly ordination is restricted to men. We bishops recognize this clear reaffirmation of Catholic teaching as a pastoral service to the whole Church, and we accept that it be definitively held by all the faithful."
No matter how the Church functions, that might sound like a "formal position" to a lot of people.
Generally, those who question or approve of ordination of women are completely unaware of the theology and history that make such an event impossible. Here are a couple of great, simple readings that may shed some light on the issue for many:
"Women Priests: No Chance," By Joanna Bogle (This Rock magazine, October 1997) ...
"Women and the Priesthood" (Catholic.com) ...