US bishops welcome Vatican statement on gravity of attempted women’s ordination

Archbishop Donald Wuerl and an attempted ordination by Roman Catholic Womenpriests.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl and an attempted ordination by Roman Catholic Womenpriests.


Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine welcomed the Vatican’s recent clarification on the canonical penalties for the attempted ordination of women, saying the action shows “the seriousness with which it holds offenses against the Sacrament of Holy Orders.”

In a July 15 statement the Vatican said that the attempted ordination of women was a “grave delict,” a Church crime that is always referred to the Holy See for adjudication.

Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, said the clarification was “a welcome statement.”

“The seven sacraments are an integral and identifying part of the Catholic Church and the faith life of each Catholic,” he commented. “To feign any sacrament would be egregious. The Catholic Church through its long and constant teaching holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times.”

Archbishop Wuerl noted that all Catholics are called to “Christian service.”

Women have responded to this call with “extraordinary generosity” and have had an “essential role” in the life of the Church. They now serve in “Church leadership positions at all levels,” he commented, reporting that they hold nearly half of diocesan administrative and professional positions, about 25 percent of the top diocesan positions, and make up about 80 percent of lay parish ministers.

“The Church’s gratitude to women cannot be stated strongly enough. Women offer unique insight, creative abilities and unstinting generosity at the very heart of the Catholic Church,” Archbishop Wuerl continued.

Pope John Paul II, in his 1994 apostolic letter “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” reaffirmed that the Catholic Church has no authority to ordain women. The issue was also addressed by the U.S. bishops in their 1998 pastoral response.

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