The Bishop of Winona has said that a woman will excommunicate herself for undergoing an ordination ceremony administered by the excommunicated Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, the Winona Daily News reports.
Bishop Bernard Harrington said the situation was “very, very sad.”
He praised the work of Kathy Redig, a chaplain at Community Memorial Hospital who plans to undergo an ordination ceremony on May 4. However, the bishop said her participation in the ceremony purporting to ordain her to the Catholic priesthood “will cause more confusion than good.”
Bishop Harrington said the Church’s teaching that women cannot be ordained was exhaustively outlined in Pope John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter Dignitatis Mulierem. He explained that Catholic teaching was rooted in Christ’s actions when he called only men to be his 12 apostles.
While Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke formally excommunicated three women who took part in an attempted ordination in his archdiocese, Bishop Harrington said a formal excommunication was not necessary in this case.
“She, by her actions, has excommunicated herself,” he said, speaking of Redig. “Archbishop Burke did something that formally had already taken place. It means my job is easier.”
Bishop Harrington noted there were many opportunities for women to serve in the Church. He said that in Catholic theology the Virgin Mary is “held in the highest esteem of all human beings.”
“Mary is our single, solitary boast,” he said.
He also said that many men were also turned away from the priesthood, since they must have both a vocation and approval from the bishop to become priests.
“There are many people who seriously feel called but are not suited,” Bishop Harrington said. “Yet it’s a very deep, deep call.”
The bishop has used the planned event to teach Catholics in his diocese, placing in “The Courier,” the diocese’s official newspaper, a full-page article on Catholic teaching regarding ordination to the priesthood.
“I have to let the Catholic community of this area know what is proper and true,” Bishop Harrington said, according to the Winona Daily News. “This is not a proper ordination by Catholic teaching and tradition. The Catholic community needs to know they need a validly ordained priest.
“If they choose to go to her the Catholic community ought to know — must know — that confession is not being validly heard, that the sacraments and words used may be the same, but it’s not valid. After all, we see Mass in the movies and see Masses in plays, but we know they’re not real.”