Why was Vatican mentioned in Womenpriest story?

Why was Vatican mentioned in Womenpriest story? May 26, 2013

The editor will be announced in an LA Daily News board meeting. The printing press, symbolizing publishing, will be made out of lollipops. The staff will agree to follow the direction of “our editor and blackjack dealer.”

But the real departure from Los Angeles Times tradition will be evident when Maria Eitz approaches the computer to write her first story.

Does any of that make sense to you? How about this lede to a story that ran in the Los Angeles Times this week?

SAN FRANCISCO — The priest will be ordained in a purple Lutheran church. The Communion bread, symbolizing the body of Christ, will be gluten-free. The congregation will pray to “our mother our father in heaven.”

But the real departure from Roman Catholic tradition will be evident when Maria Eitz approaches the altar Sunday for the laying on of hands that turns parishioner into priest.

So, according to the logic here, you can deny transubstantiation, get ordained in, literally, a Lutheran church (no, not my kind!), and get all gender-weird about God the Father and that’s totally cool and not even a “real” departure from Roman Catholic “tradition?” In what world? Why is Roman Catholic even mentioned here? Seriously?

Also, these aren’t items of tradition, but doctrine. Someone who doesn’t understand the difference between Christian doctrine and Christian tradition has no business writing a story on non-Catholics getting ordained in non-Catholic ceremonies. Period. When editors and reporters are so unfamiliar with Christian doctrine — and tradition — that they produce stories such as this, we all lose.

These stories have been so bad for so long that I’m beginning to wonder if journalists didn’t, like, sign a pact with some agent of journalism darkness to see how much idiocy could be spread under one story topic. It’s just that bad.

Take the headline:

Women becoming priests without Vatican’s blessing
Small numbers of Catholic women are ignoring the ban on female priests and are ordained without the church’s acknowledgment.

The Roman Catholic church is an organization that sets it’s own rules. This headline makes no more sense than saying:

Auto mechanics becoming professors without UCLA’s blessing
Small numbers of auto mechanics are ignoring the rules on who becomes professors and are given tenure without UCLA’s acknowledgement


Golfers becoming infielders without Yankees blessing
Small numbers of golfers are ignoring MLB rules and are being named infielders without the Yankees’ acknowledgment

I’m sure you could do better than me at this game.

The story is riddled with errors and weirdness.

We’re told, for instance, that “more than 120 women worldwide … have been ordained as Roman Catholic priests and deacons” and then a line later that those ordinations weren’t valid according to church law.

It has all the trademark puffiness of every single other Womenpriests story you’ve ever read. After acting like the women we’re reading about are really good Roman Catholics, though, we learn:

The congregation’s core beliefs are another story too. Rue and Eitz support abortion rights, contraception, married priests and same-sex marriage. Rue is a married lesbian who has been out since 1973.

We learn that the sacrament isn’t administered by the priests so much as the congregation. I’ll just quote the last three paragraphs for your enjoyment about these faithful Catholic women who are held up only by the misogynistic leadership of Rome:

What calms her mind? Hafiz, a Sufi poet from the 14th century, and Mary Oliver, whose poems weave the natural and spiritual worlds.

With fog blanketing her Inner Richmond neighborhood and her cocker spaniel sleeping at her feet, Eitz opens a collection of Hafiz’s work. She has marked her favorite poems with feathers. She begins to read out loud.

“I / Have / Learned / So much from God / That I can no longer / Call / Myself / A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim / A Buddhist, a Jew,” she read, beginning to relax. “The Truth has shared so / much of itself / With me / That I can no longer call myself / A man, a woman, an angel / Or even pure / Soul.”

Yeah, man! Was that poem published by the Vatican? Because it sure sounds about as Roman Catholic as anything else I’ve ever heard, you know?


If someone can no longer call herself a Christian and her ordination takes place in a purple (why was that an important detail?) Lutheran church and she deviates from Christian teaching on most major points, one might wonder why there is any media coverage for her schismatic group, but one definitely wonders why the story was framed as it was to begin with.

Better work next time, kids.

Image of someone dressing up as a Politico editor via FishbowlDC.

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

10 responses to “Why was Vatican mentioned in Womenpriest story?”

  1. Herchurch! AKA Ebeneezer Lutheran, http://www.herchurch.org/. That’s a pretty well known San Fran church in various religious circles (famously or infamously depending on one’s views). I believe it’s a bit of a cultural/social landmark in the area. So the purple could be mean more to the readership area out West with a bit more inside knowledge.

    That said, it also could very well be this reporter is just caught up in the whole novelty of the situation and wanted to convey the same to her readers. I think it’s the same thing she tries to do with the description of their church’s Mass, describing the white robes and their use in that particular service. Of course fawning over something is quite different than providing objective reporting, which is what is really needed on this topic.

    • I expect this kind of thing from ‘herchurch’ because they’ve got form about this kind of thing (e.g. the goddess rosary) but what intrigues me is that Ms. Eitz is involved with “Sophia in Trinity”, a Catholic community of the kind the Womenpriests organisation sets up. This is at the invitation of an Episcopal church:

      “September 28, 2008, Bishop Otis Charles and the community of Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco invited Dr. Victoria Rue, a Roman Catholic woman priest, to preach at their Sunday Eucharistic liturgy. After the Eucharist, Bishop Otis and the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church with the blessing of its community asked Victoria if she would like to begin a Roman Catholic community at Trinity. They invited her to celebrate the Eucharist on a regular basis in St. Mary’s Chapel, attached to Trinity’s main church. Dr. Rue presided at the first Roman Catholic Eucharist at Trinity at 10:30 am on January 10, 2009, and this liturgy has continued bi-monthly since that day.

      Thank you Bishop Otis and the Vestry!”
      Now, I find this very interesting, given that The Episcopal Church nationally is involved in various lawsuits trying to (and in many cases succeeding in) suing departing congregations out of their socks when it comes to property, who has the right to call themselves Episcopalian or even Anglican – the Presiding Bishop herself has likened it to ‘we’re the licenced brand and we can’t and won’t allow competitors to set up’ – and they have made much of the hierarchical nature of the church, how the bishop and the diocese are the foundational units, and how there is no worse or greater sin than ‘boundary crossing’ where bishops and/or clergy of other Anglican churches come in and set up or encourage former Episcopalians to be Anglicans in another province.
      And yet, here is an Episcopal church not alone supporting but inviting the setting up of a rival ‘Roman Catholic’ parish or church, contrary to what the local bishop or the national (let alone global) church wishes, permits or says is law. That is something I’d like to see explained?

      • How bizarre. Why would an Episcopal pastor do that at all? Dont Episcopalians have enough trouble filling their churches (I mean that literally, not in a snarky way)? Why would they invite anyone to set up a “community” at their church? Unless they are renting it out and making money — an Episcopalian church in my neighborhood does that, renting their building to some kind of non-denomination church for certain hours of the weekend.

      • I would hope other Anglicans would take note of these actions and present them as counter evidwence to Jefferts claims to be running a hierarchical and orderly Church, when in fact she runs a church that engages in mislabeling and avoiding truth in advertising.

      • You do realize that the bishop mentioned has no jurisdictional power in that diocese, as he is the retired bishop of Utah. He is a parish member it appears, and nothing more. So the vestry made a decision about a different denomination being allowed to worship there. That is not uncommon in many mainline churches, and sometimes rent or a donation is involved. Therefore the statement that the Presiding Bishop is behind this is not only untrue but an inflammatory bit of defamation. It never ceases to amaze how you far-right wing RC get agita, with red face vein popping, at anything TEC does or in this case doesn’t do (at least on the national level). Mind your own business and clean up the mess in your own church where never a day seems to go by without another scandal. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  2. Near the beginning, the article brings up the clergy shortage in the Catholic church, implying women priest might be one way to solve it. Later on we are told the “congregation” of this group is a couple dozen. Somehow I don’t think this is going to solve the problem.

  3. Regarding low-gluten or gluten-free hosts, there are hosts that meet the rubrics for consecration. However, even if they are using the correct hosts, there is no consecration taking place (rather, a simulation of at least two sacraments) so there isn’t even the denial of transubstantiation taking place.

    I thought I recognised that purple Lutheran church, though 🙂

  4. Well, after reading these people claiming to be Christian ranting about the “divine feminine”, I don’t think anyone can attack Mormons for not being Christian when they speak of “Heavenly Parents”. Of course, I really have never seen anyone attack Mormons for beliving in a Heavenly Mother as well as Heavenly Father, and as was seen by removing Gail T. Houston from BYU’s faculty in the mid-1990s because she advocated praying to Heavenly Mother, Mormons have no tolerance for those who try to twist the theology too far and change the method of prayer.
    This leads to an interesting question, would a Catholic priest invoking the divine feminine in prayer be grounds for removal from ministry, or are there priests who actively speak of such things and remain in office?