A few weeks ago, a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests staged what it called an ordination, vesting three Boston-area women in white chasubles and red stoles. It told the local papers that the ordinations were valid, despite the Catholic Church’s teaching to the contrary; it even asserted episcopal approval from a rogue bishop whose name it won’t reveal. But, as a statement from the Archdiocese of Boston put it: “Catholics who attempt to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the women who attempt to receive a sacred order, are by their own actions separating themselves from the Church.” In other words: The ordinations were not Catholic.
Don’t tell that to Judy Lee, one of the “priests.” She insists that the archdiocese’s pronouncement will be a dead letter: “We are Roman Catholics. . . . The all-male hierarchy and their legal traditions came along with the spiritual package that we embrace. We do not have to embrace both if they are contradictory.” Bridget Meehan, spokeswoman for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which claims 61 priests in North America, including one bishop, insists: “Nothing or no one can stop the action of God’s Spirit moving in the Church. . . . We are not discouraged by excommunication. In fact, in many ways, it is a catalyst for growth.” Ms. Meehan, who was ordained in 2006, believes that a “more transparent, community model” can bring nonpracticing Catholics back into the fold.