Over the weekend, the Reuters news wire posted a factually inaccurate piece about female priesthood. On April 27, they said that a Kentucky woman, Rosemarie Smead, was ordained “as part of a dissident group operating outside of official Roman Catholic Church authority.” Mead is one of 150 women worldwide that are ordained priests within their congregations, as they’ve chosen not to “wait for the Roman Catholic Church.” Yet, the piece is riddled with inaccuracies, which wouldn’t be the first time Reuters got something demonstratively wrong.
Fresh off their George Soros obituary fiasco, Mary Wisniewski, who authored the piece, noted how 70 percent of U.S. Catholics support female priesthood, according to a NYT/CBS News poll. She added that:
The Catholic Church teaches that it has no authority to allow women to be priests because Jesus Christ chose only men as his apostles. Proponents of a female priesthood said Jesus was acting only according to the customs of his time. They also note that he chose women, like Mary Magdalene, as disciples, and that the early Church had women priests, deacons and bishops.
This simply isn’t true. The Catholic Church has never ordained female priests in its entire history. Second, to borrow a term from George Will, it's “journalistic malpractice” to not mention that the church Mead was ordained in was a splinter group from the real Roman Catholic Church. It isn't in communion with Rome, nor recognized as a valid Catholic institution by the Vatican.
At another point in her story, Wisniewski insisted that the "modern woman priest movement started in Austria in 2002, when seven women were ordained by the Danube River by an independent Catholic bishop." Of course, there is no such entity as an "independent Catholic bishop" as Catholic bishops by definition are in communion with the pope, the Catholic bishop of Rome, to whom they are accountable.
According to the BBC, the bishop in question, Romulo Antonio Braschi, was "himself ordained as a Roman Catholic priest but has since joined a church not recognised by the Vatican." In other words, Braschi is no longer a Catholic bishop, being a cleric in a church that is not in communion with Rome.