Cincinnati Nun Excommunicated For Simulating Ordination

Cincinnati Nun Excommunicated For Simulating Ordination November 2, 2015


The National Catholic Reporter has the sob story.

Cincinnati Nun Excommunicated After Admitting Illegal Priestly Ordination

A nun in Cincinnati was excommunicated and dismissed from the Sisters of the Precious Blood after admitting she was secretly ordained as a priest this spring.

Sr. Letitia “Tish” Rawles was serving as a “catacomb” priest in order to not cause trouble for her religious order.

“A catacomb priest is a priest who functions privately in service of a specific community,” said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP). Rawles’ specific community is the Atria Northgate Assisted Living Facility in Cincinnati, where she ministers to the sick and dying. She is seriously ill with multiple sclerosis, late stage liver disease, and diabetes. She has been a nun for 47 years.

Rawles knows what she would choose if there was an option on returning to her order.

“If I could stay in the order and also be a priest, I would definitely want to go back,” she said. “If it’s choosing between being a nun and being a priest, then I am a priest.”

An online petition is currently underway which the ARCWP hope will send a message to Pope Francis to allow Rawles to continue as a Sister of the Precious Blood and overturn her excommunication and others in the Year of Mercy.

Read the whole thing here.

A few corrections.

First, she was not ordained a priest this spring. She simulated an ordination (what I term ‘fauxrdination’). Despite what she or her supporters say – she is not a priest. The Catholic Church – who has authority in these matters – says she is not a priest.

Second, Bridget Mary Meehan is not a Bishop. No such thing as a woman bishop. See above.

Third, she isn’t choosing between being a nun or a priest. She’s choosing between being a nun or an excommunicated nun. Those are her choices. Because see first correction.

Fourth, regarding the online petition. Hmmm.  Let me put this Pope Francis quote right here:

“Third, on women priests, that cannot be done. Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly.” 

The thought of Pope Francis overturning her excommunication is ridiculous. The appeal to mercy without contrition is appalling. The attempt to co-opt the Year of Mercy is shameless.

There’s one way for Rawles to have her excommunication lifted: go to confession, admit her sin, have firm resolve to amend her life, and receive absolution. That’s it. She needs to put away this nonsense – not only for her soul’s sake, but also for those who abetted and supported her. Based on the article’s description, her health seems precarious. I’m no doctor, but MS, late stage liver disease and diabetes sounds like a dangerous triple threat. Now isn’t the time to dawdle. She needs prayers, not false hope of a papal intervention, and definitely not further support in her sin.

Image credit: Russ Bowling [Creative Commons] via Flickr

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