Roman Catholic Women Priests


SAUL GONZALEZ, correspondent: At a Los Angeles ceremony, a group of Catholic women is about to commit an act of religious faith, but because they are women it’s an act the Vatican has condemned as a grave crime against the Roman Catholic Church and what the church sees as its divine laws.

“Bishop Olivia and members of the community, I am honored to testify on behalf of Jennifer’s readiness to be ordained to the priesthood.”

GONZALEZ: In a faith that prohibits females from becoming priests, these women are rebels, gathering here this afternoon to ordain this woman, Jennifer O’Malley, as a Catholic priest.

(to Jennifer O’Malley): Do you love the Catholic Church?

JENNIFER O’MALLEY: I do. It’s who I am, so I can’t leave. You know, I’ve gone to other churches and they’re beautiful, but I’m Catholic, and I can’t separate myself from that.

GONZALEZ: O’Malley is a member of a group called Roman Catholic Women Priests. It was started in 2002 when seven women, in an act of defiance against the Vatican, were ordained as priests by a male bishop in Europe. Ever since, the group’s been fighting for full acceptance of women into the priesthood. In the last decade, Roman Catholic Women Priests has ordained more than 100 women in ceremonies similar to this one for Jennifer O’Malley.

“We choose you our sister Jennifer for the order of priesthood. Thanks be to God.”

GONZALEZ: The ordinations are held in non-Catholic churches and definitely without the sanction or recognition of the Catholic Church. In fact, under Vatican policy O’Malley’s ordination, like the women who have done this before her, brings automatic excommunication. That means she’s barred from receiving the church’s sacraments or participating in the liturgy, unless she repents.

O’MALLEY: You know, in a sense it’s hurtful, and the fact that I’m being excommunicated by people who don’t even know me. But on the other hand, again, it is a consequence of doing what God has called me to do.

GONZALEZ: And your response to those who think at worst this is heresy, out and out, and at best some sort of a stunt, really. What do you say to them?

Jennifer O'MalleyO’MALLEY: You know, it’s a call from God, and I believe it to be a true call, so those other things have to be put aside. And if that means breaking a law within the church, I know within myself, within my intellect and emotionally, that it is the right thing to do.

GONZALEZ: Catholic leaders, of course, see the ordination of women very differently.

REV. THOMAS RAUSCH (Professor of Catholic Theology, Loyola Marymount University): The Catholic Church is not ready for the ordination of women right now.

GONZALEZ: Father Thomas Rausch is a priest and professor of Catholic theology at L.A.’s Loyola Marymount University.

RAUSCH: As far as the church is concerned, these are not valid ordinations. Ordination is an act of the whole church, and this is not an act of the whole church. In a sense, this is an act against the communion of the whole church. It is very difficult to call yourself a Roman Catholic if you are not living in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and communion means you are recognized by the bishop and you have this network of relationships, which is…It’s the kind of glue that holds the Catholic Church together

Father Thomas RauschGONZALEZ: The theological justification most often cited for barring women from the Catholic priesthood goes back to Jesus’ choice of men only to be his disciples. That was followed by centuries of male-dominated customs developed within the church.

RAUSCH: I think that, you know, the culture was patriarchal. It was very much male-centered. Males were educated. They took roles of leadership. They played leading roles in the churches. So I think those cultural reasons really have to be taken into account in order to understand the exclusion of women from ordained ministry in the life of the church.

GONZALEZ: Although there was talk about the possible ordination of women in the wake of Vatican II 50 years ago, in re cent decades the church has taken a tougher stand against the idea of women in the priesthood. In 2008, the Vatican formally declared its policy of excommunication of women who completed ordination. That was followed two years later by the listing of the ordination of women as a “grave crime” against Catholic sacramental law. The church says it’s taken these steps to maintain theological purity and centuries of Catholic tradition and unity. Many who favor the ordination of women, though, say sexism and chauvinism are the real reasons women are barred from the Catholic priesthood.

JANE VIA: When I chose to get ordained, it was because I feel that intelligent, articulate women must act to try to change the church.

GONZALEZ: Jane Via is a Catholic woman priest in San Diego.

VIA: I realized there are no clergymen who are going to stand up to this authoritarian, totalitarian, patriarchal, sexist system, because they have too much invested.

Jane ViaGONZALEZ: Via is one the most prominent figures in the women Catholic priests movement; partly that’s because of her unusual background. Along with having a PhD in theology, Via was also an assistant district attorney in San Diego for over 25 years. That courtroom experience, she says, has helped her in her present conflict with the leaders of the Catholic Church. Via says the evidence she’s gathered shows women had a prominent role in the early church.

VIA: There no are no scriptural barriers to the ordination of women, and the first 300-400 years of the early church I believe the evidence shows clearly included the ordination of women as deacons, the ordination of women as priests, and the ordination of women as bishops.

“Let us pray.”

GONZALEZ: Via leads a congregation in San Diego, with masses held in a borrowed Lutheran church.

Via blessing child: “Giles, God bless you and keep you…”

GONZALEZ: Although worship services here aren’t recognized by the local Catholic archdiocese, Via carries out all of the typical duties of a male priest. The people who attend mass here say that despite this congregation’s outsider status within the Catholic Church, they’re secure in their own religious identities.

(to congregants) How do you identify yourself? What’s your faith?

Group of congregants: Roman Catholic.

(to congregant): What would you say to your fellow Catholics watching this who look at this and see a woman as priest and say that just isn’t real, and the mass you’ve gone to has no legitimacy.

Congregant: For me it is real. It’s as real as a male priest standing there. What’s the difference? Just because one is a woman and one is a man? I don’t think God distinguishes.

GONZALEZ: But Via acknowledges that her battle with the Catholic Church has cost her, from broken friendships to the pain of excommunication.

VIA: I remember being really grieved about not being able to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. That was sort of the ultimate exclusion. You can’t take the sacraments. I knew I would be excommunicated so I knew I could not accept the sacraments in a canonical Catholic church anymore, unless I was unknown to the population there, which is hard for me to be in San Diego.

GONZALEZ: What do you say to those who would say join another community of faith, join another faith, become something else, but don’t stay in the Catholic Church with your views. You would say what?

VIA: For me to just turn my back on this institution and say, “You’re all a bunch of worthless idiots, and I’m not participating anymore. I’m going to do my own thing. I’m going to go be Episcopalian and I can be a priest there” is completely irresponsible. This is my community. If everyone who is progressive-minded, progressive thinking, and willing to stand up to the Vatican leaves the church, the church will never change.

O’MALLEY (at altar): “…and for this we always thank and praise you.”

Ceremony: “We join with the saints of all times and places as they sing forever to your glory.”

GONZALEZ: Yet despite the hardening position of the church against their movement and its ordinations, the women Catholic priests say they aren’t retreating. They say they believe that although they might not see it in their own lifetimes, women will one day be allowed to become Roman Catholic priests—and with the support and blessings of the Vatican.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Saul Gonzalez in Los Angeles.

  • Gene Church

    This report is a travesty. You have intentionally slanted this to be as if discrimination was involved. You do nothing to present the truth concerning the priesthood, and you allow Jennifer O’Malley, a woman who gives false history and incorrect analysis, to speak as to what it means to be Catholic. You make no attempt to find someone with the Church who would be more than willing to accurately address the truth here. It is a pity that you present yourself to the public as anything even close to balanced in your coverage.

  • Pam Rodehaver

    Jennifer O’Malley and others like her are the faithful, who wish to celebrate their faith and open a dialogue with all Catholics about our faith. Her concern for our souls and her guidance are blessings.

  • Gretchen
  • James L. Bullock

    A bit along the lines of the previous post I feel compelled to point out that the Catholic Church is not an NGO or a corporation, and it is definitely not democratic. Its internal beliefs and rules can be scrutinized and criticized by individuals, inside or outside of the church, but those beliefs and rules are not subject to democratic process, or to American cultural sensitivities for that matter. It is what it is. I would suggest that Mr. Gonzalez call these women “self-styled priests” or “schismatic priests” or some such denominator, but not “woman Catholic priests” for the reasons just stated. They may be Catholic (although obviously in conflict with their Church) and they surely are women, but “women Catholic priests” they surely are not.

  • Father Jeremiah Donohue

    Yours is the travesty if you think you can appropriate the term Catholic for Roman Catholics alone. I am as Catholic as you are and I am not a Roman Catholic. So are my Anglican Catholic brothers and various other Catholic denominations. Might does not automatically mean right. You stay on your side of the Tiber and I’ll gratefully minister to the many driven from the Roman Catholic Church among others we welcome.

  • Graham

    FUNNY how you just interviewed only ONE side, and take an opinion of a priest in MaryMount with progressive and liberal hintings.

    You should have also included the side of well-respected Theologian, rather than focusing on promoting this Anti-Catholic, liberal, progressive, disobedient Heretics.

  • Michael

    Please pray for these women who are clearly interiorly torn by what they are doing (to the point of tears in the interview… heartbreaking).

  • Bernie

    Gene, What historical inaccuracies are you referring to?

  • David Ross

    Christ knows his sheep, and they, in turn, know their masters voice. Amid the din of our fallen world Christ’s gentle voice can just be heard, whispering in the breeze: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

    The fact that ordination is reserved to baptized males only is not a question of opinion, but an infallible teaching of Christ.

    “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance…I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
    (JPII, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis)

    God help us all.

  • Jeff Sandstrom

    I agree with Gene Church. Another article slanted with bias to make the Roman Catholic Church look irrational. The main thing to note is these people are acting out of emotion and not reason. “I know within myself, within my intellect and emotionally, that it is the right thing to do.” Emotionally says it all. Throughout Church history there have been numerous “bad” Popes yet none of our core beliefs and traditions have changed and that says a lot for the Church being guided by the Holy Spirit.

  • MonaV

    If everyone who disagreed with Rome left the church, the church would never change. – I agree. If Paul had given up fighting for the inclusion of Gentiles there would be no Christianity. The greatest challenges to established “rules” have always resulted in the greatest changes, sometimes for the worse. If Rome and its pope had not been so corrupt we would not have had a reformation; without the reformation we would not have had a Trent, which was a step forward at the time in many ways. The problem with Rome since then has been this nostalgia for Trent, as if what was needed then suffices now. Trent is as anachronistic now as the Vatican clerical fashions. Old answers, old translations, old theological arguments, old vestments – dusty, withered, dry and suffocating. While women dressing as men dressing as women isn’t the answer to the catholic church’s problems, it’s a step in the Light direction!

  • Father Jeremiah Donohue

    Why did you reject my comment?

  • JDE

    @Gene Church: ” You make no attempt to find someone with the Church who would be more than willing to accurately address the truth here.”

    Rev. Thomas Rausch, a theologian at Loyola Marymount, isn’t good enough for you? Why – because he isn’t saying something sufficiently condemnatory?

    How dare these people offer an opinion that forces you to confront the inadequacies of your belief system!

  • Bruce Robinson

    Bigotry, whether it be based on gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, etc. is still bigotry even if it is justified by a person’s or a group’s interpretation of their holy book.

    I have long felt that a person affiliated with a faith group has as their prime responsibility the detection of — and active opposition to — bigotry within their group

  • Debra

    Sorry to be be the one to have to break this to you but she is not validly ordained and NEVER will be. Was never meant to be, if she so desires she can go join a Protestant sect where anything goes but she will never be recognized a validly ordained Catholic Priest.

  • Jean Stokes

    Back in the day when the Church accepted slavery, there had to be those who began to envision and move toward a change in that stance. Back when the Church thought that democracy was a dangerous form of government, there had to be those who saw that monarchy wouldn’t work anymore. Back when the Church was preaching “only Catholics can go to Heaven” there had to be those who said “wait a minute, that’s not right” that led to ecumenical enlightenment. The church has changed its posture on other issues like usury and evolution. These women priests are very brave people leading the way to another adjustment–the full acceptance of women with all of their gifts.

  • Marta I Baez

    This has been long time in coming. The ordination of women and easing on the celebacy requirment must be addressed. We know that full celibacy does not take effecf until the 11th century. Mary Magdellen was the first to see the resurrected Jesus. It was a woman, Mary, that carried Jesus for 9months in her womb and then when through the birthing process. Not to mention that with exception of John it was women who stayed to the very end of he crucifixion, took
    Him down from the cross and then cleaned him up for burial,

    I think these are enough arguments to support the ordination of womsn.

  • Ed Shuttleworth

    The profoundly sad irony of this report is the insistence of these women that they wish to remain part of the Catholic Church, yet have cut themselves off from it. (That is what “automatic” excommunication means.) Indeed, they have not joined another religious tradition but have begun their own sect. Jane Via claims she does not want to say, “I’m going to do my own thing.” Yet isn’t this precisely what she and her confreres have done? To refer to them as “Roman Catholic” in any way is entirely disingenuous.

  • DM

    Rev Thomas Rausch is a Professor of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount University. He has addressed the truth concerning the priesthood. He makes no condemnation of women priests; only says the Church was formed in a patriarchal culture, which anyone can check online. The Catholic Church was modeled after Middle Eastern Culture that treated women as inferior. For the first 300 years after Jesus died and was resurrected, there were many versions of the Church. In the 4th century, the Emperor Constantine threw his support (both militarily and politically,) behind the Christian sect we know today as Catholic. The Church then modeled itself along monarchal political lines. The Catholic Church is still an absolute monarchy accountable to no one. As anyone can see, this has created enormous problems in the institution–think sexual abuse of children and lack of transparency in financial matters (ie alliances with the mafia and other corrupt organizations through the Catholic Bank. This happens elsewhere, of course, but it is monumentally troubling in an organization that claims to represent God. The focus of Women Priests is on the words of Jesus–to love one another–not on a complicated hierarchy of clergy.

  • Bob Green

    I wonder how the story would have been told if this had been a woman proclaiming herself to be an Imam? First of all the story would have to done very quickly–before she was stoned to death!
    Gene is 100% correct in his assessment of the story and the inherent bias against the Cotholic church.

  • TiM

    Everything wrong with the Church today is represented by Fr Thomas Rausch. A professor of theology at a known Catholic college who doesn’t even understand and won’t defend his own priesthood. His answer that the Church isn’t ready for women priests shows he has no grasp of Catholic sacramentology. And his superior/bishop allows him to continue as teacher…..

  • Doorman

    I don’t care what the Catholic Church teaches, I will create my own teachings even if they are contrary to what the Church teaches and has always taught, and still call myself a Catholic. Sounds like an immature spoiled brat.

    Fundamentally, this questions is about the Divinity of Christ Jesus. He either 1) acted with total free will as the second person of the trinity, or 2) he was just a man, who acted in a way conditioned by what he was in the time he was, lacking total free will to do what was right. You could almost make the case that if he had been born in the Southern US during slavery, he would have supported slavery because it was and institution at the time. You can’t have it both ways. All the Christ did can be questioned if you believe ’2′ above. These rebellious women, by their very acts, are calling Jesus Christ nothing more than a slightly more than regular 1st century teacher, constrained by the more’s of the time. Again, this means that everything he taught and did can be questioned, under this same premise. Did he teach Love of neighbor, or was that just part of his chosen subculture to garner support, did he teach about forgiving others, or was that just a result of his cultural upbringing, did he institute the Eucharist, or was this just a culturally significant language to teach us a lesson about sharing meals etc… The group which call’s itself ‘Roman Catholic Women Priests’ is just a cultural construct, but not born out of faithfulness to the Catholic faith, but born out of a demented Feminist movement which attempts to equate all things to power and influence, and strains to remove all differences between men and women. It attempts to equate men and women to just mere insignificant cosmetic differences, and therefore not necessarily complementary, but incidentally mildy different. These women have deformed their intellects and faith so completely, that not only are they not Catholic, they are borderline not Christian. They want to make Christ no more than a wise sage and guru. More of a mythological idea figure.

    In Contrast to the week and flaccid non Catholic Theology these women propse, the Church teaches that Jesus Christ is the one and only God Man, who, by every act he did, and every word he said, he acted with utter and complete freedom, with purpose and intent, to provide the most sure way for our salvation. We are only to understand more deeply what he was calling us to, so we can grow in holiness, humility and love.

    The Sure Mark of EVERY Saint who has existed is Humility and obedience to the Church.

    Instead of exemplifying Christ with their actions, these women are more accurately mimicking Judas. He made such a commotion about the expensive perfume trying to seam like someone concerned about the poor, but in fact more concerned about the money, and in the process betraying our Lord. These ladies pretend to be concerned about the Catholic Faith, but really are just motivated by their selfish Feminist ideology, and in the Process betray our Lord and his Church.

  • Bob Cushing

    As a Catholic wrestling with these issues for more than 40 years, I am challenged to go deeper in the historical analysis when hearing Jane Via’s reasoning and lived faith experience. I admire her courage and pluck. Perhaps she is a prophet who needs to be listened to by the larger Catholic Church. This is a most heated and emotional question: whether women can ever be ordained. The present Roman Pontiff has closed the door on any discussion, so I think that those who wish to continue the dialogue and act on convictions of faith, as these women have, will have a life of radical faith in a very counter-cultural way. It seems that they will be in good company with Jesus who lived with the same tension. Bless them.

  • H. E. Baber

    Jane, my colleague, I always wonder about the “this is what I am.” I’ve heard it a lot but it sounds almost racist: this is my culture-religion, coded into my genetic make-up, so “what I am.”

    As an Episcopalian I’m also a little disturbed. So forgive my dogmatism: Anglicanism IS the Catholic Church for English-speaking peoples. The Anglican Church is in the Apostolic Succession and, more importantly, is a church in which the sacraments are central. Why kick against the goads? Join us.

  • Jennifer O’Malley

    Thanks for the great story! Find out more about us on our website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter: RCWomepriests.

  • martin

    To state that it was a “sign of the times,” or whatever, that Jesus didn’t have any women in His group of the twelve is an absolute outright lie. Women had high places of honor and prestige in the temple culture of Judaism, and were even priestesses in the pagan culture. It was a deliberate choice on His part to have only men. EVEN if that wasn’t the case, to also state that He couldn’t do it because of the times is another blatant disregard to the scriptures… when on earth did Jesus care about what people thought on His actions? He, at the same time respecting and continuing the Jewish customs, was considered (and still is, mind you) a radical in His teachings. To state those things, and say it was simply because of an chauvinistic culture is to not look at the history, and choose to not accept the facts.

    NOT TO MENTION, the Church has stated, definitively in 1994 via Bl. JPII that the Church has “no authority whatsoever” (Paraphrased) to change the stance. It is NOT a matter of, for now, but rather, never because it is simply metaphysically/ontologically impossible.

    Please PBS, if you are going to publish a story on something, do your research. From reading this it’s obvious the only research done was talking to these women. The actual Church’s position was not represented adequately for the level of professionalism you claim to have.

  • Edward Huff

    The sexist, patriarchal ways of the Catholic Church need to stop. There is no room for ‘all the created children and adults of God” not to be full members, including priesthood, if one is called. This is simple realism, equality, and justice for all humans. Blessings to those brave lay men, and women who are trying and doing the work of the Catholic Church from within its structure, as they see the word of God and the practice and message of Jesus.

  • David

    She’s a priest. She may find some group who will call her one and she can pretend to celebrate sacraments, but she’s nothing more than a lay person.

    The Catholic Church believes she has no authority to ordain women to the priesthood.

    As Gene pointed out, it reflects badly on PBS to do such shoddy reporting. The question is, was it a case of the author doing no research or was it a case of deliberate dishonesty?

  • David

    My previous comment should have started with “She is *not* a priest.” The omission of the “not” was accidental

  • Thomas Draney

    Talk is cheap. The record of history shows that women were involved in ordained ministry. I suggest those who doubt this obtain a copy of the calendars published by Dorothy Irvin, an archeologist, who documents through historical remains the roles of women in ministry.

  • Gina Redig

    Thank you for this bit of RCWP coverage. I am 82 now but ever since I was a teenager, I knew my call to be a priest. It was never fulfilled but I pray for the younger women now who know that same call that they may have the courage to follow it. There’s more opportunity and support for it these days, though it is still very challenging and coslly in going against what is declared to be the only truth.
    The respondent before me states that you made no attempt to speak with someone who is willing to address the truth as it is in the Catholic church. I presume he means the church of the Vatican thought. Was that not your aim in speaking with Father Thomas Rausch? He certainly stood with that element of the present church, even though he said the Catholic church is not ready for the ordination of women right now. I hope he meant that someday it will be. Otherwise, his statements don’t hold water. Because Jesus’ era was patriarchal and he was part of that culture, does not mean that we must continue to be so. If Jesus were physically here today and establishing his church, we know what he would do in terms of inclusion. He did it as far as he was able, withstood the criticism of the hierarchy of his own time and at the end gave his life for the truth.
    Thank you again for giving the people of faith a window to another part of us where the flaps of the tent are raised and we can look further than our own noses.

  • Kathleen Fegan

    Thank you to all Roman Catholic Women Priests and Bishops.You have answered your call by God to the service of others. This is complete dedication as you will not be compensated in any way – no salary,no benefits, no housing,no pension and no status.God will bless you for your courage and dedication to an ungrateful male dominated church.

  • kaya schneck

    I cannot agree more. The show is just a propaganda and has nothing to do with Catholic issues. The moderator’s job was not to probe and ask unbiased questions, but to support anything this person says. The Catholic rules have been in existence for thousands of years, it is the “political correctness agenda of self-centered “ex-lawyers” who put themselves above God in an attempt to satisfy their own ego.
    I was just about to send my annual contribution to your station. After this show not a penny will EVER come your way. If you plan to be a TV station of extreme left, have those to pay for it.

  • Tim Balliett

    Thank you for coverage of this movement. However, I do think this story could have greatly benefited from a clearer presentation of Roman Catholic Church teaching on this issue. Pope John Paul II stated in his apostolic letter of 1994, Ordinatio Sacerdoltalis (Of the Catholic Church on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone, #4,

    “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

    As a point of clarification, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican congregation responsible for matters of Church teaching, has held that the prohibition against women priests is an infallible teaching, that is, it is a definitive truth that cannot be changed at any time in the future by anyone.. (See the following for the CDF letter, signed by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and approved by Pope John Paul II:

    It is because of this position of the Church, that women can never be ordained priests as a matter of unchangeable truth, that the Church views attempted female ordination such a grave matter.

  • Lynda Asato

    The reporter interviewed Father Thomas Rausch to give the “other side” of the report. The “truth” as you see it is “veiled”, and there is discrimination and distortion on the part of the “official” church. I know Jennifer O’Malley, and she does not give false history or incorrect analysis. We are Catholic, and the “official” Roman Catholic Church is not true to itself or to all Catholics. Change will come… in our time.

  • chris brown

    well have you all considered to use the word of god to back your clame to the calling i to believe women are called to the preaching the word i may not be a catholic i don’t much give thought to the divisions the church has put forth to man kind so thy may hold there position in high seats i am a humble man of god who reaches out to Christ only for my salvation but none the less through my studies one thing comes to mind some thing for you to go to god about is John 20 “marry went to hang on Jesus neck and he said touch me not for i am not ascended go tell the brothern i am ascended” so the facts are by the command from the king him self marry a woman to be the first one of man kind to preach the good news “death barrial “””and resurrection”””””””” of the master and to none other than the twelve how can the catholic church miss this fact

  • maureen liptack

    Blessings on Jennifer….may she persevere in her ministry to us…Young women look up to her for her courage…May we continue to support all women called to the ministry….

  • Theresa Zehe

    The travesity is the Roman Catholic Church’s view that ordaining women is not discrimination and is not a justice issue. How can the Roman Catholic Church advocate social justice when there is no justice in the church? Women had leadership roles in the beginning of Christianity and there is no reason that they should be barred from having leadership roles in the Roman Catholic Church currently.I would suggest reading The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination by Gary Macy published by the Oxford Press in 2008.

  • Roberta Morris

    May God bless Jennifer O’Malley, in her ministry.

    A woman, a Catholic priest myself, people do ask ‘What kind of Catholic are you?” I reply as honestly as I am able, “I’m Irish Catholic.” I was ordained and continue to serve with a bishop of the American Catholic Church, in communion with the Old Catholic and Episcopal Church — in short and in truth, with anyone who professes love of God and tries to live up to the call to love God and one another.

    In truth I do feel that my faith comes to me first through the grace of God, the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and also through my family of origin on my mother’s side, and her mother, born Molly Murphy, witnessed the strength of faith, the love of justice, and caring for the poor that I aspire to, and want to live up to her faithfulness in Christ.

    I don’t think she would be much bothered that I’ve been ordained. She might even by proud, though I don’t know. But this isn’t about her, it isn’t about me, and it isn’t even about Jennifer, although her witness provided the occasion for this conversation to continue. It’s about God’s boundless grace and love. Surely those who would deny that God’s grace is boundless and not gender-specific will catch up in time.

    Peace and prayers,
    Roberta Morris, M.Div, PhD
    American Catholic Church

  • Joan Daly

    Thank you for this interview with Jennifer O’Malley, Roman Catholic priest. She brings the dedication and
    spiritual leadership Catholics so need at this time. May goodness and kindness follow her all the days of her life.

  • Julia Kneissl

    I support and pray for your continued success and persistence for not only yourselves, but all women of Catholic Faith. In whatever denomination of Church you practice the Catholic liturgy – it fulfills the spiritual needs of Catholics in ways that our diminishing priesthood cannot do. I find it interesting that women can be educated in theology, carry out all functions in the traditional church, yet be denied any leadership role without severe repercussions. The argument about Jesus’ disciples is false, he was a feminist of an early order, and it is on record that his ministry was financed by women followers. There is a term for men who dislike women – misognist- but we never hear that word expressed. I also want to applaud the many male priests who do live by catholic standards and show exemplary spiritual leadership, but also suffer persecution with open minded thinking.

  • Mona Villarrubia

    If everyone who disagreed with Rome left the church, the church would never change. – I agree. If Paul had given up fighting for the inclusion of Gentiles there would be no Christianity. The greatest challenges to established “rules” have always resulted in the greatest changes, sometimes for the worse. If Rome and its pope had not been so corrupt we would not have had a reformation; without the reformation we would not have had a Trent, which was a step forward at the time in many ways. The problem with Rome since then has been this nostalgia for Trent, as if what was needed then suffices now. Trent is as anachronistic now as the Vatican’s clerical fashions. Old answers, old translations, old theological arguments, old vestments – dusty, withered, dry and suffocating. While women dressing as men dressing as women isn’t the answer to the catholic church’s problems, it’s a step in the Light direction!

  • Christopher

    To have a female priest is less akin to the entirely true statement that “women are as good as men” and far more akin to the statement that “women have penises”. The role of bridegroom is not something that can be separated from maleness, just as the role of bride cannot be separated from femaleness, and thus the priest — insofar as he participates in the very role of the Divine Bridegroom, Jesus Christ — must be male.

  • Storm

    I don’t really know what to believe. As a Catholic myself, I want to be faithful to my religion, but I see things my church can improve upon (lack of technology for homilies, for one), and that makes me question other things such as this.

    On the other hand, Jesus chose twelve male apostles. Not one of them was female. Why is that? I don’t care what the “early church” did. I want to know what Jesus would do now and today.

  • Joseph Jaglowicz

    If the Church of Rome is going to claim itself as catholic, its ordained ministries must be catholic as well. Jesus ordained nobody to sacred orders.

    The primitive Christian communities did not have ministerial ordination, much less the ministries of deacon, presbyter, and bishop with which we are familiar today. Their liturgical presiders, presbyteroi or episkopoi (terminology depending on local community usage and not to be confused with our understanding of *priest* and *bishop* today), served in this capacity by virtue of their *community* leadership. Despite the absence of ministerial ordination in these earliest Christian communities, the Church of Rome has never declared that our primitive ancestors in the faith did not receive the body and blood of Christ at their eucharistic liturgies. Women’s ordination, like ordination in general, is ultimately a *disciplinary* matter, not a doctrinal one.

    Cardinal Ratzinger, in clarifying JPII’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, stated, “It should be emphasized that the definitive and infallible nature of this teaching of the Church did not arise with the publication of the Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis…. In this case, an act of the ordinary Papal Magisterium, in itself not infallible, witnesses to the infallibility of the teaching of a doctrine already possessed by the Church.” According to Ratzinger, the infallible nature of JPII’s pronouncement was based on the belief that the world’s Catholic bishops, while dispersed in their respective local churches but in communion with the pope, have constantly preserved and applied the traditional teaching of the Church on this matter. However, this assertion has been challenged by experts in various professional disciplines. Under canon 749.3 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the pope and fellow bishops bear the burden of infallible teaching: “No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.” To date, the pope and fellow bishops have not made their case. JPII’s pronouncement has not been *received* by the Church.

  • Jonathan

    Why don’t the RCWP’s just ordain everyone who attends their services? It seems pretty authoritarian to deny the chance for everyone to be a priest, and that way everyone can concelebrate.

  • Padretom73

    There are plenty of men who believe women should be ordained priests — many in an organization called Call To Action — I believe the Holy Spirit works through the body of Christ and can call to the priesthood anyone she wants! These women were called By a body of Catholics, therefore, by the Holy Spirit — who are we to decide the will of God? What one pope “binds in heaven … And earth” can be “loosed in heaven … And earth” by another representative of Christ here on earth, so the man-made decision NOT to ordain women can be changed by another pope — If the current pope would listen to the Holy Spirit and allow the ordination of women and married men, we would not be having the scandalous priest shortage which denies the Eucharist to so many rural Catholics!

  • Judith Molinelli

    I believe that the Pope could speak ex cathedra on this issue if he is so sure, through divine inspiration, that women can never become priests. To my knowledge this has not been done.

    Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, c. iv: “We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.”

  • Gail Finke

    Oh please. In the first place, their organization’s name is Roman Catholic Womenpriests. In the second place, they’re not priests no matter what they say. I can get someone to hold a graduation ceremony and tell me I’m a doctor — that doesn’t make me one. And since when did PBS become so credulous that a group of people claiming that anonymous people ordained their original members in secret is something you take remotely seriously? This is extremely poor journalism. I’ve noticed a definite decline in PBS standards lately, and this is another example.

  • David Ross

    I submitted a comment, but it wasn’t posted. Why?

  • Linda Hayes

    I’m thankful for the courage of women in the Roman Catholic Church who have felt the call to priesthood and have followed it. The church will change, and one day our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be saying “Can you imagine–they didn’t even allow women to be priests back then! What could they have been thinking?

  • Carlos Mejias

    Only men can become priest. During one ordain ceremony one of the question is their disposition to obey the Pope (St. PETER) successor. This women and the bishop that ordain them are violating a most sacred truth in the Catholic church.

    They are to be a shame. They are behaving like any other protestant group, when they don’t like a rule or a doctrine, one goes and established another group. Sad, very sad those that do the DIRTY WORK of the EVIL ONE…..they ought to look themselves and ask whom are they really helping…..

  • Stanislaw

    As a journalistic report this piece is so bad that is good. It deserves an SNL Weekend Update “REALLY?”. Lack of definition of terminology; lack of historical, philosophical, and/or theological context; lack of the voice of those who actually hold the opposite view point; lack of challenging follow ups; extreme sentimentalism. Great material for a “telenovela”.

  • Augustine

    PBS has become the broadcast media arm of the Democratic party and the liberal, pseudo-intelectual elite. It’s deteriorated dramatically in the last 15 years. I can’t believe the decline that this once unbiased and respected organization has undergone. There was real intent to put a slant to this story. This was not an accident or a blunder by some reporter who
    didn’t know his/her facts. The liberal establishment hates the Catholic Church with a passion and is doing its best to undermine and distort everything about it. And through it all, the American tax payers are paying for nothing less than left-wing propaganda and state-run media. PBS should be de-funded.

  • Alicyn

    Thanks for doing what you do, PBS. Visibility is important for these women. Their like will save the Catholic church, if it lasts long enough to change its ways.

  • Javier

    The Roman Catholic Church is not forcing anyone to be their members. If they want to be Roman Catholic, it involves following certain rules, customs, believes, etc. One cannot ignore these rules, believes, leaders and still call themselves Catholics. And Mr. Gonzalez should stop calling them “woman Catholic priests”. Ordaining women is not being progressive, is against the rules of the Church.

  • Yusuf

    Replying to “Jonathan” Why doesn’t the RCWP ordain everyone so all can con-celebrate:

    Essentially in the RCWP services I have attended that’s exactly what happens, con-celebration. All the congregants participate in the consecration with the presbyter as a way to confirm each persons call to be part of a “Royal Priesthood”of believers.

    My only regret about this movement is the lack of recognition within itself that what it is doing is wholly new in many ways. It is actually a new call of discipleship in Christ and a return to the tradition of early Church.

  • D Miles

    The Pope decreed himself infallible in 1869, less than 140 years ago and a whole long way from the teachings of Jesus. His decision to institute the dogma of infallibility was controversial then even within the church. 60 bishops left Rome the day before the vote in a silent protest against any claim that the church is infallible. Furthermore, it is highly questionable whether Jesus ever wanted one person so rule as a Benefactor, Ruler or Pope over his people. Check Mark 10:42-44: “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must become your servant, and whoever wants to be made first must be slave of all.” One must realize the church is constantly changing.

  • Charles

    I think it women want to do something in his church they need to be a nun. Priest are takeing from among men. So God be with all these women and these people who aprove this devilish act.

  • Ronda

    The Roman Catholic Church has tied its hands again. It has limited itself in answering the Holy Spirit’s call to receive/accept and ordain women and other groups who have been marginalized who are called. I do believe the RC Womanpriests ordained have received a valid ordination in a valid line of apostolic succession, done by a RC Bishop and later RC WomanBishops. The RC Church does not have the only valid claim to apostolic succession. There are many lines of such succession.

  • Suzanne

    When will we begin to “get to the bottom” of this issue? Is it perhaps a “battle of the sexes”? After being a female pastoral minister and theology teacher in the Roman Catholic Church for over 40 years, I will say that I’ve had a fulfilled vocation and have done some good. On the other hand, I have come to see that most “people in the pews” are still very conflicted about female leadership in the Church. Until the general culture accepts and supports the wholesome essence of what it means to be man or woman, and the inate ability of both sexes to exercise spiritual leadership – until then, the culture will never accept women priests (even if the institutional Church allows their ordination).

  • Maryam

    If the Church is to grow, She must listen for the direction of the Spirit. For me, the RCWP movement is the way of the future. The Masses I have participated in are very reminiscent of how the Church was immediately following Vatican II with it’s excitement and expectation of the Spirit directing our way into the future.

  • katherine krage

    This is an excellent article and I appreciate how it fleshes out the narrow info I have about women in the priesthood. We are all the church, just as the power and authority grabbers are the church. Spirit is movin’.

  • Gabrielle

    I know Jen and she has a masters in Pastoral Studies among other master degrees. Jen has remained faithful to the Catholic Church through both the Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Catholics and Roman Catholic Women Ordination.
    I was appalled at what Father RAUSCH said when he stated “I think that, you know, the culture was patriarchal. It was very much male-centered. Males were educated. They took roles of leadership. They played leading roles in the churches. So I think those cultural reasons really have to be taken into account in order to understand the exclusion of women from ordained ministry in the life of the church.
    Today in the Daily Breeze there were pages and pages about the Catholic priests who have sexually abused children in the Catholic Church. And you know that they are going after the former Cardinal Roger Mahony. If the priests can’t keep it in their pants and they are suppose to be educated then having only male priests in the Catholic Church really hasn’t work.
    I believe if Jesus came back today all churches would be very surprised at what he would throw out as not being apart of what he meant the church should be. Jesus never left the Catholic Church in charge.

  • Therese

    The Vatican do e right, because our Lord only choose male apostle n none of them is female.
    If those who teach or support lady to become a clergy it’s really against the will of God, the priest is e representtive of Jesus n Chrst is a man not woman how can woman be a priest or deacon?

  • Henstridge

    Sorry Ladies but Jesus did leave the Church in charge. JPII has stated that the Church does not have the Authority by Christ to Ordain Women and all Catholics must believe in this. This has been infallibly declared. All 7 sacraments within the church need proper matter. In Ordinatin proper matter is the male form because the Preist stands in the place of Jesus – a man.

    I pray that all these women open there hearts to the Holy Spirit so they make themselves right before God. Come back to the Church Ladies for the Gates of Hell will not prevail against her.


  • joshua

    sorry,,I don’t get it….most of the women that I see, appear really ‘butch’ looking …do you really want to be a can no more be a priest than I can become a nun…little boys want to wear dresses in Colorado…and parents file sue to let them wear dresses to school…high school girls want to play football and file suit to do so..regardless of your formal education…you are female…I think…I have the utmost respect for women religious…especially if they wear clerical attire…habits…so…go ahead pretend to be ordained…I’m sure there are individuals that will follow you and support you…but I believe we are to look to Rome for answers in these matters

  • MAry Healey

    Until all adult Catholics are willing to take responsibility for understanding exactly what the Catholic faith means, and has become to them, personally, the status quo will continue. Too many Catholics(sadly, those who attend weekly Mass and even daily Mass) are the ones who continue to believe as”little children”.
    Catholics need to “put away the things of a child and start taking their faith serously and personally, as an adult.
    It’s too easy to think that if they follow certain rules, give enough money, they are”safe”. The tragedy with this is the perpetuation of “myths” presented as “faith”. If we as Catholics really took our faith seriously, those who are priests would be inspiring all those they come in contact with to actively deal with the poor in our world. Tehy would not be taking cruises, having golf memberships, fancy cars, beautiful homes. The questions that thinking catholics have would be encouraged, rather than dismissed. The culture of the churches would reflect, not the same “culture” of the political world ; but instead stand as a beacon of light showing another value system. Until individuals are willing to put the time in to actively research, meditate, and pray about our faith, they have no business making such ignorant comments. The “majority” once thought the world was flat!
    Should we continue to keep our heads in the sand and just pretend that our faith makes a difference???????????

  • Ashley H,

    This was a very interesting article…being an ordained “public” minister I do agree that God does dignify women in giving them privileges to preach publicly and to encourage younger sisters in the congregation.

    However, the scriptures are plain that only a man is to be in oversight over a congregation and even then the men are limited in the power because they are subjected to the Christ who is also subjected to God.
    (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9)
    This order of arrangement is not demeaning to us as women because we have the privilege to share in the greatest work of all and that’s preaching the good news publicly.

    So to these zealous hearted women, embrace the true and orderly position that God has set out for you because he is not a God of disorder but of peace. ( 1Cor 14:33)

    Which brings us to the ever so important task of examining whether or not we are worshiping in Spirit and truth as Jesus said in John 4:24.
    He said that we must worship God in truth.
    So really it would be vital for all of us who are endeavoring to have a relationship with Our Heavenly Father, to make sure the form of worship we have chosen is really one that God approves.

  • Ordained Female

    I wrestled with this for years with feeling that I could not do God’s work, not including the prejudice that I constantly received from men. Therefore, my spiritual life also suffered. I believe in God but the Apostle Paul was a man and I believe he made mistakes too. He admits himself that he is not perfect. I guess women are also not to speak in Church, cover their head, don’t cut their hair, etc. Being a pastor, male or female is not a glorified position so I do not understand why people continue to argue over it. It is servanthood and to get a church going from scratch is a real challenge.

    Most men do not even go to church so why waste time arguing if a sister pastors, which is rare anyway. Christians do not practice love as Jesus taught, do not reach out, and according to the research I have done, church membership has been decreasing because of the increased hypocrisy. I say “love one another” and if men would step up to the plate, maybe women could be helpers.

  • Onyedika George Nnadozie

    I am not a catholic, I am an Anglican… Priest to be. Here in Nigeria, you will never find such things like female priests except for all this new pentecostal liberal churches owned by individuals. I personally don’t agree with the female priest of a thing… Naturally and Biblicaly it is unaccepted.

  • Robert

    Do Catholics believe the Pope receives revelation from God? If so, why do these women feel they can receive revelation for themselves that contradicts a church policy that is supposedly from God? Why remain Catholic at all if you no longer believe the church does not receive divine inspiration?Seems like a fundamental flaw in logic to me. If a church were going to claim to be inspired by God that they would at least attempt to organize itself the same way Christ did. With a prophet and twelve apostles. I would think this would be the norm. Instead, there is only one church that I am aware of who has this structure.

  • tom

    There is no such thing as a woman priest. Priest are always male, females are priestesses. And the above reporter is in error. These women are not ordained priests as even though the words are said, no ordination takes place. No sacramental grace is given and no ability to consecratebread and wine or forgive sins is given. When you go to a women priest mass all you get is bread and wine, there is no body or blood of Christ. Don’t fool around with your salvation. Go to a male Catholic priest with faculties to have your sins forgiven and to receive the actual body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Your eternal soul is at stake.

  • Timothy

    Habemus Papum! New Pope Francis I is Catholic. No women’s ordination anticipated.

  • JDE

    @tom: ” Go to a male Catholic priest with faculties to have your sins forgiven and to receive the actual body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Your eternal soul is at stake.”

    Or perhaps you’ve just bought into a lot of nonsense.

  • Leticia

    So you are taking the word of a few nutty women who claim to be Catholic and call themselves priests? Well, there are many public figures who call themselves Catholic but their intent is to destroy it (ie, any so-called Catholic who goes against the Church’s teachings). However, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If you want to know what the Catholic Church teaches, look up EWTN. com or Catholic Answers (Catholic. com) or better yet, get the Vatican copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church was built on the rock of Peter (which is the Pope), not the pope built on the crazies out there that would re-define 2000 years of Christ’s Church.

  • HJK

    I wonder what would happen if the people of God would spend 30 days fasting and praying, and then ask our Heavenly Father if He has an issue with His daughters serving in the priesthood. That would mean we would have to be willing to obey His leading and direction, leaving behind our prejudices and preconceptions, and stop all of this animosity.

  • Ana Mendibles

    Oh come on!
    Almost all Roman Catholic nuns and sisters in secular orders have crop or if you will have short boy haircuts the hair style don’t mean nothin’. Grow-up Roman Catholics. Blah, blah, blah!
    Such people with ignorance to argue about whose in clergy and who cares if they are lesbian, hetero, or married or whatever. Let them serve God their way. Tell me how many RC men and women haven’t sinned, not many I assure you.
    We are all sinners and need to repentance.
    Stop the stone throwing, take the speck out of your own eye before you talk about another sinner. : )

  • Little Flower

    You want to make a real change? Support the women priests through prayer and donations (time and money).

    I no longer give to ANY entity (religious or otherwise) that does not treat women equally.

    Don’t waste one bit of energy arguing with anyone.

    Men priests are not in any position to understand your call.

    Cheers! Blessings! And most of all, LOVE.

  • francis ng

    These women are just lazy. If they believe so strongly in their right to getting ordained, why don’t they organize mass hungerstrikes on the Vatican steps. Few of them SHOULD die of starvation for the cause. Gandhi did hunger strikes and he achieved his goal. He got skinny as a result, but so did St. Francis and MR.Teresa. If they are not willing to suffer for their rights, then they don’t deserve it. They can become martyrs for their faith, and in the future they may even be canonized. It takes a little getting used to discomfort, which most American women despise. They want to be ordained so they can say Mass in air conditioned rooms and bless little children. A real Catholic priest’s work is difficult and mandates much physical discomfort. There are many air conditioned priests, but that’s not what being a Christian is about. It’s about preaching Christ in the harshest environment. If these women think they deserve to be priests, they should first aspire to be like Mother Teresa, who preached in the face of death as a humble nun.
    Take Care and may this lent season bring us all enlightment!

  • Pius

    The call to be christian is a call to be humble and humility comes from obedience to christ and the church on earth. Been a priest does not guarantee humility, instead from what i hear from “pro female priests” it is a postion of pride. No! Instead It is a call to chastity, poverty and obedience. Did i hear some one saying the priests live in big houses and nuns in small convent, well what a perfect opportunity to be humble for those nuns, may be you think a priest in a big house will have higher chance of heaven than a nun or lay person in a small house, which i dont think so. Service to God can be done as a catholic without been a priest. I see no humility in these women. There was something my cathecist in the neocathecumenal way of nigeria told us, “that a lay person in the village can be holier than the pope”. For me, Better to be a lay person and go to heaven than be a priest and go to hell, to be a priest will not guarantee you heaven( i am not saying to be a priest reduses your chances either, but to be a proud and coveteous priest can, so just be humble & carefull).

  • Casey

    Obviously, what’s needed is for the 9th Circuit to issue a court order compelling the Holy Spirit to provide to women the gifts of ordination that it provides to men.

    Of course, that would require these women to actually understand what ordination is.

  • Paula

    I admire these strong women. I am glad they are taking the priesthood back for women. Study your history– women used to be priests until they were finally banned in 12th century. I’ve thought when woman leave the church and take their children with them the narrow thinkers would change. But this just might work. I personally left in favor of the Episcopal church. They truly follow Jesus’s word instead of man made laws. Women in pedophiles out.

  • Dave


  • Jo Peterson

    Amen and the truth.

  • Sheila

    Thank you Jane. I am a woman in the Catholic Church and while I have no interest in becoming a priest I am ashamed of our church’s position. The church needs to change and understand that Jesus came in the male form, but he was not a male, he was our Lord and Son of God. I like others have thought that women should leave the church, and then the church might see the evil in their ways, but I would rather see the church grow and change and treat all the church family equally. Jane you need a facebook media to help get the word out.

  • Nick

    Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory sent FOX 5 a statement saying, in part, “The attempt to ordain women by the group titled Roman Catholic Women Priests brings division and fractures unity in the Church…those who attempt to confer Holy Orders on a woman, and women who attempt to receive Holy Orders, incur automatic excommunication. Excommunication is knowingly, intentionally and willingly placing oneself outside the communion of the Catholic Church.”

  • Liz Perrott

    When people in all conscience do not agree with an organisation but still follow the rules, surely they are no different from those who went along with what went on in Nazi occupied Europe ‘ we were obeying orders’ means you are addicting responsibility. The catholic church has always talked about the ‘ supremacy of conscience’!

  • Liz Perrott

    I really can’t accept that the call to priest hood is dependent on genital arrangements!!!

  • James Clovispoint

    This is not a question of women’s rights or equality of the sexes. It is all about authenticity.
    Either the scriptures have validity and are inerrant, or a religion has no authority or authenticity. Protestantism lost its authenticity and authority in matters of Christianity long ago under Martin Luther. It became heretic by interpreting scriptures ad lib and ad nauseum.
    Either way, if the scriptures say that no woman is to be a priest, then no woman is to be a priest, period.
    By forcing religion to twist its inerrant scriptures, women only demonstrate their ignorance of dogma and tenets of the very religion they claim to know and love.

  • James Clovispoint

    Why don’t you ask him? Apparently, though he is computer illiterate, he may just “speak” to a lot of people who claim they communicate with him quite well.