To the editor:
I would like to offer clarification about the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Although the Vatican does not recognize our women priests, our ordinations are valid because we have apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church. Apostolic succession is the "unbroken tradition" going back "to Christ's example and to apostolic practices" that Father Kyle referenced in his letter.
The principal consecrating Roman Catholic bishop who ordained our first women bishops has apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church, and remains in communion with the Pope. This courageous man followed his conscience, and corrected a grave injustice within the Church by restoring the priesthood to women. Therefore, our bishops validly ordain women (and men) as deacons, priests, and bishops.
Women priests are not leaving the Catholic Church. We are leading it! Women priests are modern day prophets, who proclaim Jesus' radical message of equality and justice for all people. We are following our consciences, and answering God's call to serve the Church we love.
The Roman Catholic Church is experiencing great challenges. The number of celibate male priests is dwindling. The current number of celibate male seminarians is not enough to replace priests who retire or die. The Church in the United States has paid over four billion dollars for sexual abuse settlements. Mass attendance is down. Financial support of the Church is down. Catholic parishes and Catholic schools are closing. The Church is in desperate need of healing, renewal, and transformation.
The People of God... who are the Church... are seeing these signs of the times, and are calling for the Church to start putting new wine into new wineskins. This includes ordaining women.
Scholarship and archaeological evidence show that women were ordained in the early church as priests, deacons, and bishops. Approximately 70 percent of American Catholics favor ordaining women as priests. The Vatican's own Commission determined there was absolutely nothing in the Scriptures to support the ban on ordaining women as priests.
I offer to view the award-winning film, Pink Smoke Over the Vatican, which summarizes much of this evidence, with anyone who is interested in watching and discussing the film with me.
For those who identify themselves as Catholic, but are seeking a different way to be Catholic, I invite you to consider a local alternative. The Open Door is an inclusive and non-judgmental Catholic Faith Community. Our summer home is at the Shelburne Union Church. In the winter, we celebrate Mass in private homes, like the early Christians did.
The words of Jesus serve as our foundation: "I certainly will not reject anyone who comes to me" (John 6:37).
At The Open Door, all are invited to enjoy full participation in the Mass. All are welcome to share their wisdom and insight during our shared homilies. All are welcome to receive Communion.
I invite anyone who wants to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Marriage (including those who are legally divorced or want a same sex marriage), Anointing, or Ordination to contact me.
Reverend Mary C. White, ARCWP
Pastor, The Open Door: An Inclusive and Non-judgmental Catholic Faith Community