Here she is, Miss Female Catholic Priest

Miss America PageantToday I was crowned Miss America. Except by “Miss America” I mean my husband said I was “one foxy-looking pregnant lady.” It’s a shame that pageant organizers do not recognize this triumph and bestow on me the crown I so rightfully deserve.

I joke, but check out the lede to a story from Portland’s KOIN News:

Oregon’s first female Catholic priest was ordained in Gresham on Sunday. It’s a history-making milestone, but one the Catholic Church does not recognize.

The Vatican says only men can be priests. But since 2002, there has been a growing international movement to defy that law and give women the same status as men, and ordain them.

Toni Tortorilla said she was called to the priesthood when she was 5 years old, and she believes the law is unjust.

The bishop who ordained her at a United Church of Christ, Patricia Fresen of Germany, was herself ordained by a male bishop in good standing in South Africa. Fresen’s Dominican order expelled her, but she became the driving force to ordain more women.

There are now 22 women priests and five deacons internationally. None of them has been ex-communicated, but neither will the Church recognize them.

By the end of the summer, the women priest program expects to ordain another nine North American women as priests, and 14 as deacons.

The debate within the Church is whether the ban on women priests is human law or divine.

I know that Oregon, where my husband is from, is known for its lack of religiosity, but this story is so bad that it’s hard to know what to say in response. Even the little things are bad. What does the phrase “at a United Church of Christ” mean? Where is any information about the name of the organization that ordains the women? What is the name of the South African bishop in good standing? Where are any quotes from any people knowledgeable about the situation? What the heck is that last line? Seriously. What does that last line mean? This rivals that bout of bad stories from last year.

Anyone fluent in broadcast television news-speak who can translate any meaning from this story? Until then, I promise to fight for world peace and literacy as part of my platform.

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  • JT

    Sojourners recently had a more informed (albeit even more sympathetic) take on Ms. Fresen’s movement. Here it is.

    Oddly enough, years ago I happened to be invited to dinner with a group of Catholic priests . . . who proceeded to spend the entire evening in front of the TV watching the Miss Universe pageant. I think you might be onto something.

  • Elmo

    If you were ordained “at a United Church of Christ” and the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize your ordination, are you really a Catholic priest? How can it be a “history making milestone” in the Catholic Church if it isn’t recognized as having happened?

  • Paul Barnes

    Ya, I thought most, if not all those “women priests” were excommunicated…

  • Bill Elwell

    I wish you luck with world peace. I fear there is much less hope for literacy.

  • Martha

    I note the irony that, in order to read the “Sojourners” article about breaking the bonds that deny full participation in the ordained priesthood by every person regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or degree of belief, I must first register and (optionally) subscribe to their magazine.

    Maybe the womenpriests should get involved in smashing this outmoded patriarchal model of exclusion and privilege? Free access for all now! No fencing off! Let whomever will, read all your articles without let or hindrance! Jesus never required registration by the multitudes before preaching to them!

  • Eric

    This piece betrays the journalist’s anti-Catholic bias. They sound like a lapsed Catholic with an ax to grind. He or she made no effort to understand the teaching on this issue. The Catholic Church does not ban priestesses–it doesn’t have to because there is no such thing!

    The story is couched in such a way that the debate becomes traditional versus progressive–and not the theological context that it requires.

  • Jim

    It is probably less confusing to say “at a United Church of Christ,” rather than “at a United Church of Christ church.” I mean no one would write “at a United Methodist Church church.”

  • Tom Stanton

    As a former long-time Portland resident – I have to tell you that KOIN wouldn’t know a religion story is the Baptist starting dunking people in the Willamette river. Not to be too snarky – but most of the religion stories in and around the Portland area are all about breaking down religious boundaries. I haven’t found the Oregonian to be any better.

    Side pregnancy note: When are you due Molly? My wife is giving birth to our first child this month (supposedly Aug 27, but I’ve got the hospital packing list ready to be put together this weekend, just in case). God bless you and your family.

  • cheryl

    Sigh. A couple of days ago the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story on local woman who (pretended!) to be “ordained” a Catholic priest last year. The headline was “A Year Later, Woman Priest Sees Growth.”

    All I can say is, reporter Marylynn Pitz is no Ann Rogers (the Post-Gazette’s excellent religion reporter). Every story Pitz writes on this subject is filled with references to “woman priest” and “ordained in defiance” etc.

    The “masses” this woman holds take place in a local Presbyterian church. It would be nice if the reporter would take notice of this fact. Of course, if the facts were stated that a protestant female celebrated a protestant worship service in a protestant church, there wouldn’t be much of a story, would there?

    I have considered writing a letter to the Post-Gazette announcing that I have appointed myself governor of Pennsylvania. Think they’ll cover it?

  • rw

    Oh stewardess! I speak broadcast.

    The reporter is trying to convey how wonderful it is that women priests are being ordained, even if the benighted Catholic Church refuses to recognize them. The reporter doesn’t know what a “United Church of Christ” is, but thinks it must be a branch of Roman Catholicism that doesn’t hate women.

    Also, the reporter doesn’t want to confuse the viewer with details like the name of the organization, the name of the bishop “in good standing,” or the women priests’ inability to perform a Mass that would be considered legitimate by the Church. That would confuse the reporter’s central message of how courageous these women are.

    The thing to remember about broadcast news outlets is that they love the sizzle and often care less about the steak. Today, the story is about Ms. Tortorilla trying to change the face of Jesus’s representives on earth. Tomorrow, it will be another story about the face of Jesus on a tortilla.

    :::Suddenly, I have a hankering for fajitas.

  • MikeL

    Quick note on “the debate within the Church” – it was ended in 1994 with John Paul’s encyclical ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS.

  • Joel

    The bishop who ordained her at a United Church of Christ, Patricia Fresen of Germany, was herself ordained by a male bishop in good standing in South Africa.

    The article doesn’t name the bishop, but if he “ordained” a woman, then he’s not in good standing anymore. Deliberately attempting to confer an invalid sacrament carries automatic excommunication with it (Code of Canon Law, Canon 1382, if anybody cares.)

    BTW, I lived in Portland for a lot of years, and I second Tom Stanton’s statements about KOIN and Portland media in general. To be an orthodox Christian in Portland (of whatever denomination) is to be the enemy.

  • Kathy

    I think that the last line is by far the most interesting. Some people believe that Jesus’ Sitz im Leben is what led him to appoint only male apostles. If so, it’s only his human nature involved in that decision. Whereas if there is more to it, it could be a decision of his divine nature. (This is a very schematic, inadequate way of putting all of this, obviously.)

    Frankly, though, I think it’s a queer fact of fallen human nature that some people are much more aware of Jesus’ Sitz im Leben than in their own…

  • Stephen A.

    Another excellent example of poor reporting with little background for the confused reader as well as a heavy dose of bias mixed in. Perfect.

    rw wrote:

    Oh stewardess! I speak broadcast.

    The movie Airplane!, right? LOL Hilarious, and from a classic scene! (I wonder how many other people got that?)

    Sometimes, it takes a translator to wade through the bias.

    I’ll add to Bill Ellwell’s comment above and hope contestents in the future vow to work for World Religion Literacy.

  • Chris Bolinger

    Mario Lopez changed his last name to Hemingway?!

  • Stephen A.

    I wonder if this WomanPriest will allow a Mime Mass in her Presbyterian/Catholic church? (I’m sorry, it’s a “very rare” modernized mass, as liberal Catholics constantly remind us is the case, despite dozens of examples of Mass Abuse.)

    Photos here: (prepare to LOL and these two photos)

    hat tip:

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The dropping circulation statistics of many MSM publications show that more and more Americans are fed up with the incompetence and/or bias of these publications. They are tired of the liberal spin put on news stories that could and should be reported straight-forwardly and accurately and not be mini-propaganda pieces for the religious left.

  • Joel

    “Mario Lopez changed his last name to Hemingway?!”

    Either way, it sounds like he’s about to become Papa. :)

  • Will

    I understand that excommunication with full *sententiae* (I keep forgetting the term to distinguish it from latae sententiae) is seldom used now *the last one I remember is the Ceylonese priest accuse of heresy). In most cases, the ordinaries are content to note that, e.g., someone like Kerry has “excommunicated” himself by his conduct.
    I have heard of an “Excommunication Watch” somewhere on the Web which could be used to verify this.

    In comments on previous posts, I tried raising the question of just what the “dissidents” think makes them “Catholic” rather than “Protestant”, and, as usual, could not elicit a straight answer.

    The issue arose some time ago when an “independant Catholic” complained that he was discriminated against by being refused the job of “Catholic” chaplain at a prison. Perhaps the sages of Religionlaw could illuminate that case.

  • colm

    Yea, so the article is terrible, but then most MSM articles on intra-Catholic issues are. There are always terribly one-sided, and almost always on the politically liberal side. I think everyone knows this of either opinion.

    It’s interesting how even the term ‘woman priest’ betrays the writer’s bias to one particular position on the issue of female orindation. The grammatically correct term for a woman fulfills priestly duties is of course ‘priestess’, but you’ll never, ever hear anyone who supports female ordination actually ever use that term. That alone is a good point of discussion: Why does the MSM never refer to these women as priestesses? Why always as ‘woman/en priests’? Is priestess still too pagan a word for the public to digest?

    On a side note, I don’t think the women have been excommunicated because they partook in this mock ordination, but the ‘South African Bishop’ certainly has. For the women, it was an occassion of grave sin, but not excommunication, unless you consider a state of mortal sin to be akin to excommunication, which many do. I think the excommunication would fall on the Bishop.

  • Julia

    I think the women have excommunicated themselves. A few yers ago, when some women did this on a boat in the area of Germany-Austria, the local bishop announced that they had excommunicated themselves by their actions. It’s not necessary to announce it, but it is helpful for folks to know that any “Mass” that will be presented by them is not licit for that reason.

  • KaraLynn

    This woman the other women who have been “ordained” are seriously delusional. They are not and can never be Catholic priests. Pope John Paul II dogmatically proclaimed that the Chruch does not have the authority to ordain women, not now and not ever.

    These women have excommunicated themselves from the Church. Any Sacraments they “perform” are not valid. The wafer will remain a piece of bread and people will be worshipping not the Body and Blood of of Christ, but bread and wine.

    These women are shameless feminazis.