A “Priesthood” Disingenuous, Thoughtless and Vain UPDATED

“I am Long Island’s first female priest!”

Deacon Greg has the story, from Newsday (while Tom has the impatient snark):

A Sag Harbor grandmother says she has become the first Long Island woman to be ordained as a priest in a group that seeks equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church.

Eda Lorello, a longtime church worker, said she was ordained during a service in Wellesley, Mass., on Aug. 10 organized by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an advocacy group that says it has ordained 120 women to what it calls the priesthood in the United States in the past decade.

The Vatican does not recognize the ordinations as legitimate, and has said that the women automatically “excommunicate” themselves when they take part in such services. Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, called the effort to make Lorello a priest “absurd.”

“It’s wrong for her to portray herself as a Roman Catholic priest,” he said. “She is not.”

Lorello, who said she did not want her age disclosed, said she was dismissed earlier this summer by the diocese from her volunteer position as a lector at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic parish in Sag Harbor. The parish’s pastor, after consulting with the diocese, “told me you can’t be a lector anymore because it will confuse the people,” she said.

Aw, you poor dear! Not being allowed to proclaim scripture for the Catholic church, after bending over like Miley Cyrus to shove your sacred feminine into its face and sticking out your tongue.

I generally don’t pay attention to these “women priests” stories, but this one is happening in my backyard, so to speak, and there are three things that are really annoying me about it: the vanity (so much vanity), the disingenuity, and finally the thoughtlessness that borders on cruelty.

Let’s start with the vanity: there is a ton of it, threaded within an article full of self-involved, self-congratulatory “firstness” and “I-ness” and “Me-ness”. I have never met a great, pastoral priest who was all about himself, but this gal manages to communicate herself and her desires in her every sentence. Interestingly, she mentions “justice” and what she believes she is due, and she talks of Augustine and Ghandi and Martin Luther King, but never Christ Jesus or service or sacrifice or laying down one’s life, or denuding oneself interiorly and materially in order to pastor the sheep in need, which is what a good priest does — is called to do.

Perhaps her “sacrifice” was being told she could no longer lector at Saint Andrews, except that she is not characterizing it as such. It’s just something else being denied her. Poor thing.

Her vanity hits the nadir when she refuses to disclose her age. She wants to pastor the people, and gather them in, or something…but she will not give enough of herself, be open enough with herself, to even tell them her age.

Ain’t she priestly, though? Really pastoral! Just like Francis!

Her disingenuousness also seeps through the page, like the second person of a fabulist trinity, beginning with the notion that she can willfully separate herself from the church due to a principled disagreement, but should still be able to proclaim from its ambo. And then, per Newsday, She called herself “a faithful daughter of the Church…” without caring (or perhaps without realizing) that one cannot claim to be faithful in a relationship while stepping out from it, or breaking trust with it. This woman has done both. She can no longer say she is “faithful.” Nor can she claim “obedience”, which is one of the anchors of the Catholic priesthood — so heavy it helps to keep the entire church well-grounded.

Finally, this woman is offensive in her thoughtlessness. To drag her priest and his canonical duties into her passion-play was gratuitous and unnecessary; it’s of-a-piece with her self-involvement, though. She was thoughtless to the pastor and priest who served her — I am sure very faithfully — the whole time she was collecting the theology degree that seems, to some women, to be all one needs to be ordained a priest (as though the credential proves the calling).

I know the pastor at St. Andrews, Father Peter Devaraj, and can assert that he is no dogmatic terror: he is a really exemplary, humble and sweet-natured priest whose whole purpose in life is to serve the People of God and his church. I’m sure that when this woman announced her “priesthood” and then expected to continue lecturing at Catholic Mass (which she had to know was not happening) she put a kind, gentle and shy man into an uncomfortable spotlight — one from which all manner of unfair assumptions will be made of him, by people whose axes are always grinding, and whose knees are on auto-jerk.

This seems profoundly unkind and selfish to me, and even a little mean-spirited. Yes, she’s so very priestly, isn’t she? Really looking out for others!

Lorello said she has felt called to the priesthood since she was 7 or 8 and used to stage pretend Roman Catholic Masses in her house, complete with her dolls lined up as “parishioners.” . . . “I waited through five popes, now six, to change that canon law that says only males can be ordained,” she said. “I got tired of waiting.”

What a perfectly…not-unique experience of Catholic girlhood! Well, ma’am, those romantic childhood games should have informed you that you had nothing to “wait” for:

. . .whether I could ever be a priest or not meant nothing to me. Although I could not have articulated it at that tender age, an instinctive understanding resided within me, recognizing that what God wanted of me was holiness, and a relationship of intimacy. If I wanted those things too, I knew, then I would become holy, and a kind of priest, if not an ordained one. There was nothing that would or could impede that, if it was what God wanted.

For some, priesthood is a prize of attainment rather than a surrender to service — a right to be won, rather than a gift bestowed. Unless their preaching is done from behind a pulpit, they think, it is devalued and illegitimate.

Catherine de Hueck might have called the pursuit of female ordination a distraction and a waste of opportunity when there is so much to be done, when we are all called and the work of our priesthood is already before us. The Carmelites of Compiègne understood this, as did St. Catherine of Siena, Dorothy Day, St. Teresa of Avila, Elisabeth Lesuer and Sister Dorothy Stang, none of whom waited for someone to hand a priesthood to them.

We fall in love with ideas, and then we make idols of them. We serve our idols, and our idols are always ourselves.

The Catholic priesthood is a romance, of sorts, but a romance that does not mature into a willingness to sacrifice, to endure the word “no” and to surrender to something larger than the self, will always be lacking the heft of authenticity, and it will anchor nothing beyond the ego.

“The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.” ~St Gregory the Great

UPDATE:
Fr. Dwight has more thoughts: The problem is, they are invariably simply adapting to the spirit of the age–and usually they are about thirty years behind the spirit of the age. As far as I can make out most feminists have moved on from the “I want to do what all the guys get to do” and are more in favor of developing the fullness of their feminine gifts within their chosen professions. That the priesthood is not essentially feminine has escaped them.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Christine~Soccer Mom

    People have a warped view of the priesthood being all about power. A couple years ago, I had this stark revelation that it’s not about power in the least. If you’ll forgive my blatant self-promotion, here’s a link to my thoughts:

    The Passion and the Priesthood: Realizations | Domestic Vocation
    https://domesticvocation.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/the-passion-and-the-priesthood-realizations/

  • http://www.thedeaconspeakin.com/ Deacon Sean Smith

    If nothing else, she shouldn’t expect to serve as a lector, because that is a role most typically filled by a layperson.

  • Donna

    I can’t get past her extreme narcissism and the inherent irony of such a self centered person wanting to stand in place of Christ.

  • Romulus

    It’s a demonic corruption of the Liturgical Movement. A good initiative to get the laity more engaged in the liturgy, fouled by post-conciliar clericalism that convinced the pious their piety wasn’t worth jack unless they were up and about: rushing the sanctuary, distributing Holy Communion, waving hands in the air — doing priest stuff.

    The Mass is reconstructed as a school play: it’s mean not to give everybody a little part to play. Sitting in the “audience” is for losers.

  • kimbergrl

    Question. I thought a lector was an ordained position (below deacon)? So was she a lector or a reader before she was excommunicated? Can women be lector (ordained position)? I thought we could just be readers….

  • tj.nelson

    Church ladies! They want to take over. ;)

  • Maeve

    The only trinity that woman worships is the unholy “Me, Myself & I”.

  • Tony

    If the lady had an inkling that she was to lead her soldiers forth in battle against the spirit of the age, and that she would have to be willing to be crucified, she’d say she’d rather allow the man to lead. The fact is that the women who want to be priests do not want any part of that battle. They would turn the Church, at best, into a nice social club for old ladies with a taste for spirituality.

  • Alex

    The greatest form of priesthood is motherhood. And no male can ever dream of achieving it. The girl from Nazareth was not a priest. She was something infinitely more noble: she was a woman, she was a mother.

  • Jack

    I was ordained deacon, priest, and bishop in what is called the independent movement. When I became convinced that the best thing I could do for the salvation of my own soul was to enter the Catholic Church, I did so. My orders have not been recognized. Guess what? I don’t care. I’m in a safe, secure, and STABLE spiritual enviornment for a change.

  • Jim

    …preferably a bachelor (aka. a sub-deacon, also called a custos as in Redemptoris custos.)

    http://youtu.be/jVuKiiDbI1Q

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Does anybody know of a single member of these “women priests” who is pro-life? That seems to me to be a bare minimum for feminine holiness.

  • Jim

    “Blessed art thou, O Lord, teach me thy statutes,” say she.

    “Why mingle ye myrrh with tears of pity, O ye women disciples?” say He.

    It is not fitting for you.

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

    Wow….terrific.

  • TedCoates

    Minor Orders, of which lector was one, were abolished by Paul VI. It and the former minor order of Acolyte now exist as “stable ministries” and are open only to men. A person not in stable ministry is properly called a “reader”, although the term “lector” is used (incorrectly) more often than not.

  • dnb03

    Cool. Just say it and it shall be done. Okay, then I’m the first female pope in the United States. Lucky me!

  • smileymainer

    So very well spoken. Thank you!

  • Victor

    (((That the priesthood is not essentially feminine has escaped them.)))
    Long story short, “Jesus The Christ” picked only male apostles and in so many words told them to take nothing but the clothes on their back and in so many other words, told His men to stay in the house who welcomed them and HE told His chosen men in so many words to give them their peace and stay there while helping them and when they no longer wanted them, they should then shake the dust from that house and then take their peace back and go to a house that would accept them..
    Longer story short, a lot of woman in the past have shown GOD (Good Old Dad) that they are more worthy than many men but that does not change the fact that GOD only chose “Men” to be priest and longer story short, just because some woman have had dreams of becoming priest since childhood should not be a reason in our twenty first century to assume that GOD through Jesus Christ made a mistake.
    As far as I’m concerned many woman in reality have done just as much good as some priest but that’s no reason to be allowed to become woman priest.
    What we need in today’s society is more woman like “Mother Theresa” and past other Saintly Woman who followed what Jesus The Christ started when HE created His Church through His Apostles.
    God Bless Peace

  • David_Naas

    (sigh)
    Silly Rabbit, is no one able to parse a sentence? Can a male be ordained as a ‘priestess’? No? Then, how can a female be ordained a ‘priest’?
    Congratulations to this lady, she is now an Episcopalian. Maybe KJ-S can make her a bishop?

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Is it me? Every time I look at women dressing up as priests, i burst out laughing. It’s so silly. Like that man who tried to give birth. There are some things which are gender specific.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    That’s an excellent point. I’ve never met any or seen their views on abortion but I would guess they are not pro-life.

  • Victor

    (((We serve our idols, and our idols are always ourselves.)))
    So, so true!
    Speak for yourself Victor! :)

  • Proteios

    People do these things. What I don’t get is a responsible and objective media giving people like this play. If that’s the case, I’ve always fancied myself king of Sweden and its a type of class warfare that Im not allowed to be king. So where’s my 60 minutes piece?

  • Proteios

    I’m not sure I agree with your ranking system, but I no doubted lay agree that motherhood is something incredibly holy. God implemented it directly and made woman to create and nurture life….Gods single greatest gift alongside salvation. Because life and salvation are meant to be as one as man and woman are, I have to imagine the sacrifice of motherhood and a priest are at the very top of Gods plan…whatever such a ranking would mean…mothers deserve every grace.

  • Proteios

    Not a historian, but it seems with the …more or less….dissolution of the traditional Latin mass there was less of a need to clearly dilineate a hierarchy. It opened up opportunities for whoever to do whatever. In many parishes, mine included, the loss of this hierarchy has decreased the number of participants and parish goers…and if you listen to historians, decrease in vocations, but I can’t speak to that. There certainly is a need for vocations, though.

  • Brett

    I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I respect the church’s decision to be ordered as it sees itself directed to be ordered, including its belief that it is not authorized to ordain women. So I also think these stories, especially those involving the Womenpriests organization, are universally silly and often made sillier by credulous or incautious media coverage. But with all respect, Anchoress (and I am a regular and appreciative reader of this blog), this paragraph strikes me as uncharitable and uncalled for, not to mention quite a bit of a stretch:

    “Aw, you poor dear! Not being allowed to proclaim
    scripture for the Catholic church, after bending over like Miley Cyrus
    to shove your sacred feminine into its face and sticking out your
    tongue.”

    I believe your critique — with much of which I agree — would be stronger without it.

  • Dcn Chris

    M’am, there’s a perfectly lovely Episcopal place down the street. And if you ask nice, they might even call you a bishop.

  • Cari

    Do you know her? Have you met her? Do you think a short newspaper article tells the whole story? Does the media get everything right? Maybe she talked about her love of Jesus, the long discernment process she went through, the difficult decision she had to make as to whether or not to follow what she believed was God’s call to her. If you yourself haven’t been called to the priesthood, then maybe you don’t understand what it’s like. You can be sad….or angry…that she has violated Church law, but please don’t be judgmental, cruel, and mocking. Until you have walked in her shoes, maybe you should just pray for her and for those around her who may be displaying very un-Christian attitudes in response to what she has done.

  • kimbergrl

    Thank you. That is what I thought. I did not realize that it had been abolished by Paul VI, thanks!

  • Unbeliever Prime

    If the Church is feminine, if the priesthood is feminine (as the author claims), then why is the Church hierarchy/priesthood composed solely of males?
    It doesn’t make sense.
    It would be like saying that driving cars is a masculine activity, so only women can be allowed to drive cars.
    But regardless of whether it makes sense, the Catholic Church cannot and will not accept female priests. Its too inherently patriarchal.
    Everybody would be happier if these wannabe (female) priests simply left the Church.
    Believe me, there are plenty of groups who would be willing to accept them.

  • Unbeliever Prime

    Let’s be honest here.
    Traditionally women have not been given any special status or consideration (in comparison to men) simply by virtue of their ability to get pregnant.
    I am a man, and I have never envied a woman’s ability to get pregnant and give birth. In fact, I’m glad that pregnancy/childbirth is something that I will never have to endure.
    From everything I have seen and heard, its long, uncomfortable, and all too often painful. Moreover, in extreme cases pregnancy can be life threatening.
    Moreover, except for the Virgin Mary (who is very much a special case) the Catholic Church has never honored motherhood to nearly the same extent that it honors priestly celibacy.
    Assuming that you take everything the Church says about itself at face value the priesthood comes with a lot of spiritual power. Furthermore the priesthood itself (or at least the pope and bishops who are all priests) decides what’s part of official Catholic doctrine, which (according to the Church) governs the proper way for humans to behavior, think, and act.
    Motherhood doesn’t automatically come with any of those things. In fact being a mother (i.e. female) specifically bars you from all those things.

  • Antonius

    Sancta Narcissa … ora pro te ipsum …

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com/ JoAnna Wahlund

    “Moreover, except for the Virgin Mary (who is very much a special case) the Catholic Church has never honored motherhood to nearly the same extent that it honors priestly celibacy.”

    This statement is ludicrous. Read Casti Connubi, Evangelium Vitae, and Mulieris Dignitatem to name a (very) few.

    I’m pregnant with my 7th child (5th here on earth), and yes, pregnancy is often painful and etc. But it’s also a gift beyond measure and description. Like priests, parents are called to be sacrificial, giving of themselves constantly. The two vocations are equal in terms of worth and dignity.

  • http://doverbeach.blogspot.com Bob

    Oh, puh-leeeeeze!

  • Dan

    They were not abolished in the sense they don’t exist any longer. Canon Law ARTICLE 2: PREREQUISITES FOR ORDINATION required by canon 1033 thru 1039 that men seeking ordination into Holy Orders must be Installed by their ordinary at a special mass into these special ministries of Lector and Acolyte. These still exist today. Anyone not installed by their bishop are “Readers”.

  • slainte

    In a recent article published by Crisis Magazine entitled “The Priesthood and the Choice”, Jeffrey Tucker offers a model of the male celibate priesthood that is a gift of selfless, sacrificial beauty. The sublime truth underlying this most beautiful and uplifting piece bears little resemblance to a priesthood claimed as a matter of right and entitlement.

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-priesthood-and-the-choice#.UjJuX3KRwBk.email

  • Kelly Seppy

    “We fall in love with ideas, and then we make idols of them. We serve our idols, and our idols are always ourselves.”
    my favorite.

  • Patti Day

    Woe to those who perform and participate in these sham “ordination” ceremonies.

  • donna

    I don’t find understand the need to compare the relative importance of the priesthood or motherhood. Aren’t both of these vocations calls to empty yourself and be of service, not to focus on how much they are respected or bring honor?

  • donna

    The priest stands in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. As Christ was incarnate as a male, only males can stand in his place. Also, I don’t see where the author claimed the Church or the priesthood is feminine.

  • cestusdei

    A very perceptive analysis of the silliness of radical feminism.

  • Unbeliever Prime

    Actually JoAnna the Bible says that people (or at least men) should be like Saint Paul (adopting religious celibacy) if their strong enough (1 Corinthians 7).
    IT IS BETTER TO MARRY THAN TO BURN is hardly a ringing endorsement of marriage and motherhood.
    But frankly humanity needs mothers (we would go extinct within a generation without them) far more than priests. For one thing, without mothers there would be no priests (whereas you can certainly have mothers and even daughters without the Catholic priesthood involved).
    From any POV but a (particular) Catholic one, motherhood is far more important.

  • Survivor

    Excommunications used to be a lot more majestic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym6Qgj55e3Y

  • Victor

    (((The Passion and the Priesthood: Realizations | Domestic Vocation

    https://domesticvocation.wordp…)))

    Thank You for sharing this with me Christine and by the way, did you know that you have the name of Christ, in your name. :)

    Long story short, I recall when I use to attend our old NOW dismantled Holy Angels Church and as a child I was chosen to have my feet washed by Saint Francis, I call this priest a Saint although he’s never been ordained a saint and as far as I know he’s only ever been a priest. Anyway because he indirectly paid me a visit the night that he died, he’s a saint in my book.

    Longer story short, I guess we’ve all got our cross to carry and/or maybe we could call “IT” our own Gravity! :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pcmExQZotc
    God Bless Peace

  • Survivor

    Let’s not forget the ME-gesterium.

  • http://mrsdbliss.blogspot.com/ MrsDBliss

    Hi Christine, just looked at your page and it’s awesome a I’ve added it to my list of blogs on my bog roll at mrsdbliss.blogspot.com.
    Why don’t people get that modern gender equality doesn’t appreciate women at all, but strips it of all that actually makes us female?

  • http://mrsdbliss.blogspot.com/ MrsDBliss

    Ha, ha! Before I read your response I was just thinking that they should agree her priesthood and send her to a war torn country where Catholics are persecuted! I wonder how long she would believe in her ordination then?

  • Slocum Moe

    The majority of Catholics accept women priests. The hierarchy are too afraid to oppose them outright anymore. They simply say that they have no authority. That’s a switch. Usually, they are all about the authority.

  • http://mrsdbliss.blogspot.com/ MrsDBliss

    rhis sentence jarred for me as well. Well put.

  • Athelstane

    If you yourself haven’t been called to the priesthood, then maybe you don’t understand what it’s like.

    Cari, if someone is calling her to a priesthood, it’s not God, but some other spirit.

    No one has a right to be ordained – not even men. No matter how many theology degrees they might have.


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