Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Support of Women's Ordination

Women religious raise their voices to "Break the Silence" on women's ordination

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, over 100 women religious go public in their support of women's ordination and Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who was informed by the Vatican that he would be excommunicated if he did not recant his support of women's ordination within 30 days. He did not recant, and no further communication has been received. In collaboration with the campaign spearheaded by the Women's Ordination Conference (WOC), titled "Break the Silence. Shatter the Stained-Glass Ceiling." the National Coalition of American Nuns wrote the letter addressed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The 113 signatures add to the over 200 women religious that signed two petitions in conjunction with the "Break the Silence" campaign since November 11, when WOC opened the first petition.

"Catholic women religious are among the most prophetic people within our Church," stated Aisha Taylor, executive director of WOC. "The Vatican has intentionally created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, and the women who signed the letter and our petitions add their voices to the thousands of WOC members who, for over 30 years, have called for women's full inclusion in the Roman Catholic Church. Many of the signers have been members of WOC since the first conference in 1975."

Among the signers are Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, who defied the Vatican in 2001 and spoke at the first Women's Ordination Worldwide conference in Dublin; Sr. Theresa Kane, RSM, who made national headlines when she publicly requested, with Pope John Paul II sitting near-by, that he ordain women; Sr. Ivone Gebara, CND, one of Latin Americas leading theologians.

Bourgeois' threat of excommunication is the second attempt this year in silencing the voice of women and men religious who prophetically stand in support of women's justice and equality in the church. On June 26, Sr. Louise Lears, a Sister of Charity who dedicated her entire life to serving the Church, was penalized by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis for attending the ordination of two Roman Catholic women.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission found in 1976 that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit the ordination of women. The Bible describes how women were prominent leaders in Jesus' ministry and early Christianity. In all four gospels, Mary Magdalene was the primary witness to the central event of Christianity-Christ's resurrection.

"It is long overdue for the Vatican to respond to the church's need for an inclusive clergy, which embraces women--all of whom are created equal and can be called by God to serve as priests in an accountable and inclusive Catholic Church," Taylor concluded.


Founded in 1975, the Women's Ordination Conference is the oldest and largest national organization in the world that works solely to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic church. WOC represents the 63 percent of US Catholics, and millions of Catholics around the world,that support women's ordination. WOC also promotes new perspectives on ordination that call for more accountability and less separation between the clergy and laity. For more information, visit www.womensordination.org The NCAN letter follows.


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