Cardinal Denounces Invalid Ordination of Women

Says Church Is Strong When God-Given Gifts Are Respected

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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, APRIL 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Justin Rigali is decrying the "pseudo-ordination" of two women that occurred within his archdiocese Sunday.



In a statement released Monday on the Philadelphia archdiocesan Web site, the cardinal said, "I am concerned pastorally for the souls of those involved and for the Catholic faithful who may be confused."

Referring to a 2007 decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he affirmed that "those who present themselves for ordination at such an invalid ceremony -- as well as those who falsely claim to be ordaining the women -- are, by their actions, automatically excommunicated from the Church."

Cardinal Rigali explained: "Such a ceremony is in violation of the constant teaching of the Church, based on Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

"Both clearly indicate that Jesus called only men to follow him as Apostles, and the Church has always regarded his choice in this matter as normative for all time.

"Therefore, it has always followed Jesus' example by choosing only men for the ministry of Holy Orders. This teaching has been confirmed by the supreme authority of the Catholic Church as definitive and not reformable."

"Consequently," he said, "the Church is not authorized by Christ to confer Holy Orders upon women, and cannot do so, no matter how ardent a person's desire may be."

Philadephia's Inquirer reported that the ceremony took place in a Christian chapel inside a Reconstructionist Jewish synagogue, with the pretext of ordaining Mary Schoettly, 66, as priest, and Chava Redonnet, 51, as deacon.

Distinct gifts

The cardinal emphasized the "different yet equally valuable gifts" that men and women bring to the Church.

He added, "The Church is strongest when the gifts given by Christ to all her members are celebrated and respected."

He quoted Pope John Paul II, who said that "the presence and the role of women in the life of the Church, although not linked to the ministerial priesthood, remain absolutely necessary and irreplaceable."

"God's gifts, however, are never given to individuals merely for their own fulfillment," the cardinal added, "but for the unfolding of his plan of salvation in the Church for the benefit of the whole community of the faithful, and no one's true personal dignity in the Church can be fostered in opposition to the will of Christ himself."

"Consequently," he concluded, "such a pseudo-ordination ceremony denigrates the truth entrusted to the Church by Christ himself, and demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the respect and dignity accorded to women by Christ and his Church."