Critics Challenge Pope’s Stance Against Ordaining Women

CHICAGO (CBS) — Sharp criticism from the Pope directed at those he called “disobedient” priests has touched some nerves in Chicago.

CBS2’s Mike Parker reports.

At Vatican Holy Thursday observances, Pope Benedict stood firm against ordaining women as priests. And he blasted dissident priests who are questioning church doctrine, as “desperate to  change the church in accordance with their own preferences and whims.”

Barbara Zeman is one of several Chicago area Catholic women who have been “ordained” as priests in recent years by other rebellious clergy.

“As Catholics, first and foremost, we speak to the primacy of conscience. Conscience trumps any obedience,” she says.

“We have disobeyed ae law,” she adds. “I will not argue with that. However, it is a law that is made by human beings, specifically by men.”

The former pastor of St. Gertrude’s parish in Chicago believes in the ordination of women.

“It’s going to happen eventually,” says Father Bill Kenneally.

He’s not afraid of speaking out against church doctrine. He’s retired.

“I’m in a position where you can say whatever you want to say, because they can’t take anything away from you,” says.

Kenneally believes most active priests secretly agree with him.

Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George agrees with the Pope. He has been quoted as saying the Sacrament of Ordination of male priests  is a gift from Jesus.

Zeman says she believes in Jesus’ law. That, she says, is “written in our hearts.”

More from Mike Parker
  • dissidentdaughter

    God bless this priest of conscience — leading by example. A true example of faith.

  • Fred0321

    This is not the pope’s “stance.” This is the teaching of the Church given to us by Jesus. Retired priests like Fr. Kenneally are expressing their own, private, and frankly, erroneous opinions. The priesthood is a gift given to the Church by the Lord. It is not a right, and it is not a human-constructed tradition. Humility is called for.

    • leon

      Fred: Just in case we’ve missed something, could you please point out to us where in the Gospels Jesus said women should not be ordained? I know Fr. Kenneally. He reminds me a heckuva lot more of Christ than Benedict and Cardinal George on their best days. Don’t forget, also, that these two have a history of silence and obfuscation concerning protection of innocent children. Can you say the same about a holy and learned man like Fr. Kenneally?

      • Ron

        As Roman Catholics, we are not limited to what is written in Sacred Scripture, but by every word that comes from the mouth of Christ. What is written in Scripture, however, is that if every thing that Jesus said and did in the presence of his disciples were to be written, the world couldn’t contain the volumes. As Catholics, we are to humbly accept the teachings given to us through the Apostles, trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide the Church without error until Christ returns. Anybody who believes in the possibility of a reversal of the male only priesthood rule is only deluding themselves.

  • Eileen Hogan Heineman

    And on this day when we remember that the resurrection of Jesus was told first to his disciple Mary Magdalen, perhaps THAT’s the message the Pope and Cardinals should hear. Women have ears to ear and eyes to see, and it was a woman to whom God entrusted the most important message of our faith. When will these myopic men open THEIR eyes???

    I, too, know both Fr. Kenneally and Barbara Zeman, and they are spreading Jesus’ message of “love God and your neighbor” every day, in word and action. cannot say the same for very many in the hierarchy!

  • Joan Daly

    Recently Rev. Zeman visited Clevealnd for a presentation and Mass and
    I attended. Her dedication to being a priest seems profound and. The reflection she presented was thought provoking. No doubt in my mind that
    Rev Zeman is a priest I could believe and follow!

  • Janice Poss

    I am proud to know the womenpriests I do and that this movement in the church will not go away. We all have been cheated for 2000 years by the missing of half of humanity at our table. Yes, blind obedience without conscience is just plain stupid, and that is what the Vatican is asking and so with conscience we stand up and say, ‘No’!
    And I might add, who wrote the Bible and the OT and NT, but human men. So a deeper issue is at stake here, is the word of the Bible the inspired word of God or the wishful thinking of patriarchal men who back 2000 years ago wished to diminish the power of the female-led, ‘pagan’ religions and institute their own? One needs to go back ‘behind’ the text of the Bible and see where these ideas originated and how the exclusion of women happened. Remember that the all-female temples were officially banned around 300 AD in Rome.
    It is complex and one that I have only touched the surface on. However, if we keep discussing it, the truth will achieve a stronger consensus and the Greek/Aristotelian idea of women as ‘aborted’ males will be brought to light and refuted for the unscientific imbalance that it is. If slavery can be abolished,even though supported by the Scriptures, then the barring of women from ordination can also be overturned.
    If we are all priestly by our right of baptismal call and are all Imago Dei, then the grey-haired, Mother-wounded (yes, there is a fear of females inherent in their actions that stems from this psychological wounding) male priest hierarchy can no longer stand on this illogical belief.
    In all of my writing for my Masters in Theology, I have searched the reasoning that undermines and weakens this argument of an all-male Roman Catholic Priesthood, psychologically and theologically. The arguments are there, but need to enter the mainstream lexicon. Apart from the obvious arguments about Jesus in the Scriptures being around women and involving them in his ministry–known or unknown; there are other theological writings that support equality of women in our Church.
    The first most compelling argument comes from John Foley, SJ, in Creativity and the Roots of Liturgy, Pastoral Press, Chaps. 1 & 2, pps. 1-91: We are all the product of 26 female and male genes and are; therefore we are all half the products of our mothers and fathers. How can the Vatican’s argument of male embodiment hold when we are biologically, humanly equal? I ask; whose idea was it to make us this way–26 + 26 = 52, anyway — but God, huh?
    Ken Untener’s chapter entitled: The Ordination of Women: Can the Horizon’s Widen, in the Practical Prophet, Paulist Press, 2007, p.205-215, talks about where the idea of In persona Christi comes from and how this idea was not always with us–another human male fabrication. And if this was made on authority in the Church; well, then the ‘authority, can revoke it!! He addresses how our ideas change as well when our horizons are broadened by new information that then refutes a heretofore believed truth. new discoveries evolve us into new and different understandings. What was thought heretical at one point in time has now blended into our mainstream tradition and replaced antiquated ideas that no longer function with relevant meaning. I am not throwing out the baby with the bath-water here, but saying that we evolve jumping from new knowledge to new knowledge that changes old perspectives; it is how our brains function-another gift from God.
    At the Religious Education Congress a few weeks ago in Anaheim, Ca, I attended a session by Michael Crosby who spoke about the difference between power and authority and the dangers of confusing the 2, such as our US bishops are doing now on the abortion question by stating if, we as Catholics are not with them; then we might as well leave the Church because we cannot disagree with them. Why not? Hasn’t that always been our inherited right as Catholics, to debate the issues we may not agree with? Are we up against another prosaic, Pharisaic notion of: ‘If you are not with me, then you are against me’ mentality? This is a dangerous time if that is the case. Freedom of thought is on the line here and that also is another issue. As Americans we cannot stand by silently and allow a lack of dissident voices to be heard and as Catholics we cannot allow the use of power to trump humility, compassion and love as Christ would have shown us.

    Lastly, Rosemary Radfird Ruether’s book Goddesses and the Divine Feminine takes a look at the history of the goddess and her place in our legacy as women; this is never looked at in male theological circles, but must be taken seriously because women are the bearers of life and were revered for that when we look at the artifacts of the fertility figures(I.E., Venus of Willendorf and others). Sadly they cannot tell their story in writing, but leave it to our imaginations as to the hermeneutics of our pre-historic past that pre-dates any Bible, Torah, Vedanta, Sutra, etc., by several thousands of years!! That’s our tradition as the feminine that is divine and one that does not need verification by a grey-haired, all-male priesthood who denies us our equal rights as women in our Church and one that we need to express with a voice as loud as those white-frocked lines of males who walk with authority, but who know deep within their own souls that the day is coming when ‘we, as women, will take our place alongside them’ and walk this path together filling in the empty space at the altar that all of humanity has been cheated of for over 2000 years!

  • Ron

    You’ve been duped by a pack of disobedient,unhappy children who have rejected true faith for the false religion of feminism. It may well be true that men held the pen, but the Holy Spirit is the author of Sacred Scripture. This same Spirit is the guarantor of the inerrant teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Yes, it truly is a matter of being either with the Church or against it. We have Christ’s own words that tell us that. In the gospels he stated; “He who hears you (Apostles), hears Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me.

    There have been many female Saints in church history, though I can’t remember any of them being hailed as advocates of a female priesthood. To say that they were intimidated into silence on the subject, would deny them the respect due them for the things that they accomplished, often times in the face of powerful opposition. Saints Bernardette of Lourdes and Joan of Arc come to mind.

    Finally, if there is one thing that gives this Catholic a great degree of satisfaction, it is the knowledge that the Church will always remain true to Christ , Her founder and will never change the teachings entrusted to Her through the centuries.

  • Charlene

    “disobedient, unhappy children”—Is that how you see women? As a teacher of church history, I KNOW that there were women in the first centuries of Christianity who were presiders of their Christian communities. Chloe (whom Paul mentions by name in his letter to the Corinthians) is one such woman.

    The Catacombs have paintings of women presiding at the Liturgy—and the Popes and the Curia can’t deny that.

  • f1

    Women are only rib bones.

  • Charlene

    Yeah, and men were made from mud.

  • Ron

    I didn’t limit my comment about disobedient children to women.Catacomb paintings to the contrary, there never were, and there never will be, female ordinations in the Roman Catholic Church. Barbara Zeman is doing nothing more than playing dress up. The irony in this silliness is this; the Catholic priesthood is a calling, and the fact that I am a male, gives me no more a right to be ordained than a woman has, since I am not called to be a priest. This is nothing more than a lust for power. A true priest is called to serve and there are many ways that one can serve the people of God. You do not need to be ordained to serve God.

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