The intense reaction from many Roman Catholics to my ordination on October 16th was anything but Christian. I was verbally attacked, insulted, cyberbullied, degraded, 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.” The Archdiocese of Santa Fe published a statement about my ordination and either neglected or refused to moderate the comments, allowing inexcusable behavior to take place on its page. Regardless of the difference of opinion, it was painfully clear that I was not even considered a human being worthy of basic respect. I ask all who participated in this behavior to pray with these questions: 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.
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 and equality. When a doctrine is anti-God it leads to oppression, derision, evil. Whether the Church condones the venom of these comments is a red herring: it cannot be denied that the teaching of an all-male priesthood instills the idea that women are defective and deserve to be subjugated. It 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 really what God wants?
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 security: whether to hire security for my Masses, whether I feel comfortable living alone, whether I need someone to screen my email and social media. This is the product of criminalizing the ordination of women.
Regardless of this response, I will not allow anyone to dismiss my vocation. 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. God has already shown us through the life of Jesus that no matter the violence carried out, human beings simply cannot stop the power of the resurrection from flowing into the world. This is God’s initiative, not mine: I am simply being obedient.
As the historical, archeological and scriptural evidence demonstrates, God has been calling women to serve as equal partners in the Church since its beginning. It’s high time the Church 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. The time has come for the Body of Christ to hold our shepherds accountable for this gross violation of God’s vision of justice.