University hosts "female Catholic bishop"? Really?

University hosts "female Catholic bishop"? Really? April 5, 2011

Someone should do a better job of checking her credentials.


Rutgers University in Camden will host a woman theologian next week whom the university describes as a “female Catholic bishop.”

“Roman Catholic Bishop Patricia Fresen, one of only three ordained female bishops in the world,” will lecture at the university at 12:20 p.m. April 15, according to a Rutgers news release.

Fresen was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in 2008, according to

“Patricia Fresen is not a Roman Catholic bishop. That would be the position of the Diocese of Camden,” said Peter Feuerherd, diocesan spokesman, on Monday when contacted about Rutgers’ symposium.

The lecture is being sponsored by Rutgers-Camden’s department of philosophy and religion and the gender and women’s studies program.

The university holds monthly symposiums at which sometimes controversial topics are discussed, said John Wall, an associate professor of religion.

A colleague of his had heard that Fresen would be in the Philadelphia area for another talk, “so we invited her,” he said. “Fortunately, she agreed to come.”

You can read more here.

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33 responses to “University hosts "female Catholic bishop"? Really?”

  1. The diocesan PR man said: “Patricia Fresen is not a Roman Catholic bishop. That would be the position of the Diocese of Camden.”

    “Would be” the position of the diocese? Would be … if what? How conventional. Why not just say it, “Patricia Fresen is not a Roman Catholic bishop. She is an excommunicated Roman Catholic. There is a difference.”

  2. Would like to hear her speak. Why is the church so worried about what she is called? She probably considers herself a RC bishop, thus the college is using her title. My guess is that most of the students will know the church excommunicated her, and if not, I suspect she will tell them in her speech. Doesn’t the church have more important things of concern?

    [Well then: slap butter on my butt and call me a biscuit. There. I’m a biscuit. Sheesh. Just because someone SAYS they’re something doesn’t make it so, whether they believe it or not. Dcn. G.]

  3. pagansister — Suppose I call myself a Massachusetts State Trooper (which I’m not, according to them), get a uniform and an “unmarked” police car and start issuing traffic citations to speeders and directing traffic at jams?

    If she wants to call herself a bishop, she can do it, but calling herself a Roman Catholic bishop is either a lie or a delusion. People have a right not to be deceived, and the Church has both the right and the duty (consumer protection) to inform people of the truth of the matter.

    As for the question, “Doesn’t the church have more important things of concern?” the integrity of its sacramental life is pretty high among the matters of concern, but even granting the implied answer, there is no reason to suppose that the Church can’t attend to more than one thing on any given day.

  4. Nor is she one of only three ordained female bishops in the world. Other denominations have women with the title “bishop”…

  5. I think I’ll say I am a phd. from Rutgers the next time I apply for a job. I like the sound of Dr. Bresnahan.

  6. Okay, well, what the heck:

    You are all invited to my commissioning as a civilian officer in the U.S. Army. I will fulfill a life-long dream to become an Army officer when, in full regalia, I will be sworn in as a civilian Major General by two non-com buddies and a retired officer (who, unfortunately, must remain secret).

    I regret that my commissioning as a civilian officer will not be recognized by the current military hierarchy, and I look forward to the day when pioneers like me are free to serve in all branches without fear of recrimination. I do plan to commission other civilian officers in the near future. I am available for interviews with complaint secular media and for lectures on trendy college campuses.

    That said,

    If some lady wants to fancy herself a Catholic bishop, and if she doesn’t care that the only history she made thereby was by providing Abp. R. L. Burke with the opportunity to teach us all how to run a precision penal trial under canon law, that’s her call.

    But why, why, is a state university enabling her to carry on her game? Is Fresen really, as in formally, representing herself to Rutgers as one of only three female R.C. bishops in the world? Are they paying her anything based on such representations? Don’t they have the slightest obligation to check the credentials of speakers?

    Or, would Rutgers like to have the nation’s first commissioned civilian Army officer speak at mutually agreeable time?

  7. naturgesetz, calling yourself a MA State Trooper is breaking the law. Harm can be done in that case. In this case, calling oneself a bishop isn’t. Actually, I agree with you, the people have a right to be told the truth—as it still has some scandal issues to over come.

    Agreed DeaconK, she can call herself anything she wants, and it is not necessarily so, but she considers herself to be a bishop and as I said above, I would expect the audience she will be addressing knows that she is no longer connected with the RCC. If her future audience is ignorant of her current status with the church—that is their fault.

  8. pagansister, actually, impersonating clergy IS against the law in several states. I am not recommending enforcement, necessarily, but your claim above is inaccurate. ps: you need a new moniker. pax tecum, edp.

  9. Dr. Peters, do you really thing that Rutgers has no idea that she is no longer connected with the church? My guess is they have checked her status—and if not—shame on them.

    Enjoy your military commission!! You could retire with nice income!!

    [From my perspective…they are presenting this woman as a female Roman Catholic bishop. If they know she’s excommunicated, and no longer a Catholic in good standing, and not really a bishop, it’s — at the very least — false advertising. Dcn. G.]

  10. Dr. Peters—OK, so in some states you can’t call yourself a member of the clergy. I stand corrected. Guess it depends on what state she is in whether she is breaking the law. There are many so called “preachers” (many in the south) who call themselves just that—who fill churches all the time and many have no formal training or degrees.
    Since I have never taken Latin—whatever you said is “Greek to me”. BTW, what is wrong with my moniker? Fits me—believe me. :o)

  11. Ah, but, you see, she is still connected tot he R.C. Church, as excommunication does not cast one out of the Church under the 1983 Code. Long story omitted. And I don’t think it incumbent upon an audience to know that one who claims to be XYZ is not in fact XYZ, especially if one is being billed as being XYZ by the sponsoring institution. That’s a pretty high expectation to put on an audience. In fact, in other context, I think folks would say it’s nutty, or flat out fradualent.

    I am not holding my breath on ever getting payment by the Army according to my rating. It’s part of the systemic persecution I must suffer for being a pioneer in a civilian officer role.

  12. Point taken, Deacon G. Just a thought—perhaps in the interest of getting a larger audience, the school is publicizing her as an RC bishop? That might draw curious folks, knowing that the RCC doesn’t have women priests/bishops.

  13. Dr. Peters, you didn’t translate the Latin for me? Guess I’ll have to Google it!
    And an audience should not have any knowledge of who they are going to see? These are college students—perhaps they might—or not.

  14. @ pagansister

    I view this woman’s claims of being a Roman Catholic Bishop as fraud. You advertises herself as a RC Bishop and gives lectures, ministry, and church services as such. She is intentionally deceiving the public despite being warned by the RC church to stop in writing.

    How can some one who professes to be a ‘woman’ of the cloth lie about her bonafides? In my opinion, she is nothing more than a scam artist.

  15. “pagansister,” that’s the Deacon’s point. They’re lying to gin up hype for this.

    Patricia Fesen may consider herself a bishop, but she’s lying or insane if she claims to be a “Roman Catholic” bishop. She’s objectively not in communion with Rome. To claim that she is either insane or deceptive, and Rutgers enables this by repeating the obvious lie as truth.

    As you point out, this was likely to encourage others to come and listen to her message. That makes the deception all the more malicious. They’re marketing her based on qualifications she doesn’t possess. Rutgers either doesn’t know anything about the basics of Catholicism, or doesn’t care, and would prefer to promote fiction over an objective truth. Either way, shame on them.

    Any way you slice this, Rutgers failed (big time) as an institution designed to educate. It miseducated its students either through culpable negligence or (more likely) lying.

  16. George, she believes she is who she is—-right or wrong in others eyes. You believe her to be a scam artist—-others might not.

    How can the minister who burned the Quran in Florida claim to be a man of the cloth? To me, he is a fraud. How can he represent Christianity? I have more admiration for Fresen no matter whether she is an actual bishop or not, than I do for that “preacher”.

  17. pagansister,

    Roman Catholic Canon Law requires proper matter AND form to be present in order to effect a sacrament. In the case of this deluded woman, the proper form was used (presumably) in the ordination ceremony. However, there was no proper matter (a male candidate). Therefore, no sacrament.

    If a priests pours sprite or pepsi over a baby’s head at a baptism and uses the correct words, the form was there, but not proper matter (water). Therefore, no baptism.

    This rebel knows all of this. By the very definitions of the Church she claims to be a bishop in, her Holy Orders are invalid. The truth about being a bishop is that they are bound, not free in these areas. Pope John Paul II, invoking both the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium of the Church has declared:

    “4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

    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.”

    get the rest here:

    That’s it. This is DEFINITIVE teaching, on the same order as Transubstantiation. Case closed.

    I understand the Episcopalians are picking up our women dissenters.

  18. I understand the Episcopalians are picking up our women dissenters.

    Picking up? An ex-Catholic woman is running the joint.

    (Into the ground, IMHO.)

  19. To become and remain a judge in Michigan, I had to (1) obtain a valid law degree, (2) receive a valid appointment from the state governor, (3) successfully run for re-election.

    For someone to simply put on a black robe and claim judicial office by appointment from some secretive authority is laughable. The two law schools where I taught as an adjunct would certainly not host such a fraudulent judge to address the students.

    Brother Deacon Greg’s response—“Slap butter on my butt and call me a biscuit”—says it all.

  20. Deacon Greg: A question—your expression about “slapping butter on your butt etc” made me laugh. Have you ever lived in the south? I have a life long friend who uses expressions like that a lot.

    Gerard: Rules, rules, rules! Aren’t rules meant to be broken? :o)

    [Well, I was born and grew up in Maryland. 🙂 Dcn. G.]

  21. Pagansister,

    I guess the Wrong Reverend Fresen would say “yes” to rules being meant to be broken. 😉

    Deacon Greg,

    That visual was my Lenten penance for the day!

  22. pagansister:

    With all the love I can muster,

    “If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart!”


  23. Pagansister: According to the article looks like the speaker may have duped the prof from the Theology Dept. who states:

    “he had not heard that Fresen was excommunicated, but knew that she had to give up a teaching position after her ordination.

    “She belongs to an organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests,” he said.

    If this Theology prof is uncertain of her status why should we assume that the public understands?

  24. I know liberal Catholics keep saying we must have priestesses and bishopesses or the Church will collapse. But have they even taken the time to see that it is the mainline Protestant churches who have done everything right by liberal standards (ordained women, endorsed gay marriage, supported abortion) which are cracking and crumbling into insignificance.
    And I just saw that in England converts to Islam–the most virulently anti-feminist religion on the planet and the fastest growing overall
    — in the last count 62% were women.
    Maybe real women want men to behave, act, and believe like real men and stop apologizing for everything feminists don’t like about men.

  25. pagansister,

    You said, “she believes she is who she is—-right or wrong in others eyes. You believe her to be a scam artist—-others might not.”

    And see, that is the problem. Whether or not a person is a Roman Catholic bishop is not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of verifiable fact. She can believe all she likes, but the university is being negligent at best and malicious at worst by advertising something that is objectively untrue.

  26. First, Deacon G: Born and raised in Maryland? Great state. Lived there 11 years and my son was born in Baltimore during those good years. Beautiful state—great memories.

    Rick, good point. If the professor didn’t know her status, I will concede that it is probable that the audience wouldn’t know it ahead of time.

    JIm, If I start hearing anyone’s voice, I’ll let you know. Blessed Be

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