The intense reaction from many Roman Catholics to my ordination on October 16th was anything but Christian. I was verbally attacked, insulted, cyberbullied, harassed. “Demon.” “Clown.” “Deranged.” “The worst thing to ever happen was to give women rights.” “Snip off those sin buttons, and correction administered via open hand for the lot of you.” It was painfully obvious that I was not to be considered a human being worthy of basic respect. I sincerely ask all who participated in this behavior: Is this conduct becoming of a Christian? Is this what the Holy Spirit looks like? As far as I am concerned, these individuals might as well be gathered in a circle yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” I genuinely wonder if they were amassed in a crowd if they would stone me to death in the name of Christ.
The bottom line is that this reaction reveals the power that doctrine has to maim the Body of Christ and lead people away from God’s vision of justice. When a doctrine is anti-God it leads to oppression, derision, hatred. Whether the Church condones the vitriol is a red herring: it simply cannot be denied that the teaching of an all-male priesthood instills the idea that women are defective and deserve to be subjugated. This exclusion is a moral outrage that not only goes against everything Jesus taught, it also carries enormous costs both within and beyond the Church—costs that can no longer be ignored. I challenge every Bishop and the Pope himself to PRAY WITH the comments on Facebook and Twitter in response to my ordination and, in the light of the Holy Spirit, ask themselves: is this what God really desires?
The more successful I am in my public work for Church justice, the more dangerous things will become. I will have to continually discern questions around my safety: whether to hire security for my Masses, whether to live alone, whether to screen my email and social media. This is the product of theologizing sexism in the name of God while practicing an arrogance that assumes the Church already has all the answers to what it means to be human.
Regardless of this appalling response to my ordination, I will not allow anyone to dismiss my vocation. Roman Catholics can continue to flog me, crown me with thorns, and nail me to the cross, but it will not change my path. I am willing to be publicly humiliated and crucified for all the world to see if this helps God create the world that God desires. Our Creator has already shown us through Jesus that no matter how we resist, human beings ultimately cannot stop the power of the resurrection from flowing into the world. This is God’s initiative, not mine—I am simply being obedient.
The historical, archeological and scriptural evidence demonstrates that God has been calling women to serve as equal partners in the Church since its inception. This is a FACT. The time has come for the Roman Catholic Church to right this age-old wrong and bring its teachings into alignment with the gospel. The more the Church resists, the more damage it does to our credibility as an institution and to our ability to carry out the mission of loving the world. People not only leave the Roman Catholic Church because of this teaching, but they are often turned off of God. And THAT—not my ordination—is the true scandal.
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