Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Wages of Clericalism

Well, it happened... and Ann Rodgers was there.
On a riverboat cruising the confluence of Pittsburgh's three rivers yesterday, eight women held hands triumphantly and danced with three others they call bishops, as one of the latter proclaimed: "It is with great joy we present to you our newly ordained women priests."...

The ceremony followed the form of the Catholic rite, but with changes in ritual and language.

Dagmar Celeste, a former first lady of Ohio who was among the group's first ordinands in 2002, said, "Today we give honor to our mother God ... Just as the water broke in the wombs of our mother, so we open the waters of mother church."

In the most traditional part, the candidates -- most of whom are grandmothers or old enough to be so -- prostrated themselves on the floor before a makeshift altar. The congregation chanted a litany of saints with many traditional names, but also those of non-Catholics, such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and whose lives also challenged Catholic teaching, such as Harvey Milk, a gay San Francisco city councilman who was shot to death in 1978.

But at the prayer of consecration, they offered their first Eucharist, "together with Benedict, our pope, and with all our bishops, men and women."

"This is a sad moment for us. It has fostered even greater disunity in the church than what existed before this day began. We pray for reconciliation we pray for unity," said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

"Either you accept the teaching of the church or you don't. If you don't in the public manner in which they have done today, then they are choosing to separate themselves from the church, even though they say they are not doing so."

Joan Houk, 66, of McCandless, who was declared a priest, said she would abide by the church's most basic restriction, and not go forward for communion in her parish.

"I will remain in my pew and pray for all of those others who also cannot receive communion," she said.

Her master of divinity degree would easily enable her to be ordained an Episcopal priest. But she chose Roman Catholic Womenpriests "because I'm Catholic," she said.

PHOTOS: AP/Gene J. Puskar