Well here’s a new spin on female ordination

Let’s begin this post with this link to the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law:

Can.  1024 A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.

Now, keep that in mind as you read this Miami Herald story about Madre Laura, who was beatified by Pope Francis on Sunday:

In her lifetime, Laura Montoya’s stubborn determination to help Colombia’s indigenous people brought the reproach of society, the political elite and the church, which viewed her work with suspicion and accused her of being unstable.

But on Sunday, an adoring nation celebrated the woman, better known as Madre Laura, as this Catholic country’s first saint.

We learn about how her hometown celebrated the momentous occasion. We learn about some of her early life experiences before we get to this paragraph:

In 1914, even before she was ordained, Montoya organized an expedition of six women, including her aging mother, and took a 10-day trip into the wilderness to live with and minister to an indigenous Emberá Katío clan near the town of Dabeiba. Initially, the mission didn’t have the church’s backing, as officials thought that such risky ventures were best undertaken by men. Church leaders called her “crazy” and “visionary,” and suggested that she might be looking for a husband in the wilderness, according to her biographer Manuel Díaz Álvarez.

It’s all really interesting, but … “ordained?” What is the writer confused about, exactly? To what is he trying to refer?

The rest of the story is well done, including discussion of Laura’s legacy and how other women followed in her path, such as:

“Laura taught us that our teaching had to come from a place of love and respect for their customs and their beliefs,” Parra said.

Montoya required her nuns to learn the local languages and live, sleep and eat in the same conditions as their congregation. That sometimes meant living in abject poverty.

The story does a good job of personalizing Montoya and describing her not just as a saint but a humorous and down-to-earth person as well. One nice detail is that one of the two people involved in the miracles attributed to Laura presented Francis with Montoya’s relics on Sunday.

I also thought this might have been a buried lede:

Last December, then Pope Benedict announced Montoya’s canonization along with that of two others: Antonio Primaldo, an Italian who was martyred along with 800 in 1480 by Ottoman invaders, and María Guadalupe García Zavala, a Mexican nun who founded the Congregation of the Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary of the Poor, and who died in 1963.

“Martyred along with 800 in 1480 by Ottoman invaders?” Would you not like to read more about that story?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Martha-OKeeffe/100002559433793 Martha O’Keeffe

    “Ordained” is confusion about religious – they are not in Holy Orders, either male or female religious, but in consecrated life.

    And it wasn’t just Antonio Primaldo who was canonised, it was all 800 of the Martyrs of Otranto.

    • MollieZHemingway

      Thanks, Martha!

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    The mainstream media didn’t seem particularly interested in a group of Catholics martyred by Islamic invaders. Every brief account I saw gave only the information that those who did the killing were “Ottomans” or “Turks.” But how many Americans are historically savvy enough to know the Turks–or Ottomans- were Moslem–and that the killings were because the Italians wouldn’t convert to Islam????
    Musn’t disturb the fiction that the only bad guys in the religious conflict between Islam and Christianity were the Christian Crusaders. In fact, repeatedly one reads in the media and some popular history books the false claim that Islam always respected the religion of those they conquered.

    • Carlh

      I think it’s fair to move from the general to the specific and wonder how many American reporters are that historically savvy. While I’m certainly in the camp that is willing to have concerns about the fictions our media seems determined to maintain to protect what certainly appears to be a common “narrative,” the failure of the writer to connect the dots may simply reflect ignorance that there are connections. Given how things Catholic–and this Pope’s election, in particular–have been so routinely (and dare I say, predictably) covered lately, the focus of this article and its deficiencies is hardly surprising.

  • wlinden

    I recall a commenter here referring to “ordained sisters”.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2010/09/media-ordains-female-priests/

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    Mollie, they must have seen this, because they made the correction: “In 1914, even before she took her vows, Montoya organized an expedition of six women…”

    And I didn’t see this before, but you need to make a correction. You stated “Now, keep that in mind as you read this Miami Herald story about Madre Laura, who was beatified by Pope Francis on Sunday…” Madre Laura was canonized on Sunday, not beatified. She had been beatified however many years ago. Though putting “beatification” in for “canonization” is certainly much less of an offense than putting “ordination” in for “taking vows.”


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