To the editor:
I write today in response to the article entitled “Following Her Heart, Local Priest is Changing the Face of the Catholic Church” that ran in your Dec. 15, issue. There were several misconceptions in that article, which members of my parish as well as the larger community have found confusing, misconceptions that I would like to correct.
Despite what the name may imply, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is not an organization sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. As such, the Church does not recognize any ordinations performed by the Association as valid, and no member of the Association can be considered a validly ordained bishop or priest.
The Roman Catholic Church does not recognize Mary White’s status as a priest. While it is unlikely that formal excommunication proceedings will be initiated, by pursing an unrecognized and invalid ordination, Mary White has chosen to leave the Church and put herself outside its communion.
While I am sure that Mary White is a person of sincere good will and is acting with the best of intentions, the Roman Catholic faithful should be aware that they separate themselves from the Catholic Church by participating in or attending any “simulations” of a Mass or other sacraments by a member of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. All excommunicated persons are barred from participating in the liturgy in a ministerial capacity and from receiving the Eucharist or other sacraments though they are not bared from attending Mass.
Entirely aside from the issue of the Association’s standing within the Church, under canon lay the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. The sacrament of Holy Orders—in which a man is ordained a priest—has always been reserved to men, in fidelity to Christ’s example and to apostolic practice since the time of Christ. The Church considers this unbroken tradition to be in accordance with God’s plan, and Pope Francis has repeatedly affirmed this stance, most recently just last month in response to a reporter’s question.
I make this statement out of pastoral and spiritual concern for those who present themselves for invalid rituals, who by their actions place themselves outside the Church. And I pray that those who have placed themselves outside the Church will be reconciled with the Church and that the harm and any division caused will be healed with the help of God’s grace.
Rev. Kyle Stanton
Good Shepherd Parish in Berlin
Holy Family Parish in Gorham