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Catholics, women, and the priesthood - Part One

This is part one of a series.

In today's Scripture readings, Catholics throughout the world listened to the words of Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, which read, in part:

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

This reading is especially apropos given that, as happens occasionally, a group of women proclaiming themselves ordained Catholic "womenpriests" appears in the media.  This time around, Washington Post reporter Katie Balestra profiles some womenpriests in her column "Female priests defy Catholic Church, hope to change it."

Balestra begins her column this way:

Inside a red brick house in Falls Church, Bridget Mary Meehan placed a silver chalice of wine and a plate of flatbread on the coffee table in her living room and prepared to lead a sacred, forbidden ceremony.

"As we gather around this table, this intimate little house church table, let us remember that God is raising us up, all of us," she said, smiling at the four worshipers who had come to hear her say Mass.

Three and a half years ago, Meehan joined a group of Catholic women from across the United States known as the Roman Catholic Womenpriests -- ordained as bishops, priests and deacons, sometimes in secret ceremonies, against Vatican law. The first ceremony took place in 2002, when a renegade bishop ordained seven women in a boat on the Danube River near Passau, Germany. Most, if not all members, have been excommunicated.

The reasons behind the womenpriests are, usually, all the same: equality, challenging the heirarchy, rethinking the role of women in the Church.  Yet proponents of women's ordination fail to clearly articulate the theological and spiritual reasons why the Catholic Church has, and always will, only ordain men to the priesthood.

Using 1 Corinthians as a scriptural base, this series will set out to explain why womenpriests are a theological impossibility in Catholic teaching, why the agenda behind womenpriests is not spiritual or salvation-centered but rooted in a political ideology masquerading as religious equity, the bias in media coverage and how the average Catholic woman feels about the all-male priesthood and the Church's teaching on issues related to marriage, sexuality and abortion.

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