On Sunday April 15, 2012, the Feast of Divine Mercy, a 71 year old former nun named Maria Thornton McClain attempted to be ordained as a Catholic Priestess by the laying on of hands of Maria Regina Nicolosi, who pretends to be a Roman Catholic Bishop. The event took place at Friedens United Church of Christ on the south side of Indianapolis.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Catholic Online) - On Sunday April 15, 2012, the Feast of Divine Mercy, a 71 year old former nun named Maria Thornton McClain attempted to be ordained as a Catholic Priestess by the laying on of hands of Maria Regina Nicolosi, who pretends to be a Roman Catholic Bishop. The event took place at Friedens United Church of Christ on the south side of Indianapolis.
Last year, Norma Jean Coon of San Diego, California, repented of committing the very same act in 2007. She offered this public confession and request for reconciliation, "I wish to renounce the alleged ordination and publicly state that I did not act as a deacon as a part of this group except on two occasions, when I read the gospel once at mass and distributed communion once at this same mass."
"I withdrew from the program within two weeks of the ceremony because I realized that I had made a mistake in studying for the priesthood. I confess to the truth of Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis . I confess the authority of the Holy Father on these issues of ordination and recognize that Christ founded the ordination only for men"
"Formally, I relinquish all connection to the program of Roman Catholic Women Priests and I disclaim the alleged ordination publicly with apologies to those whose lives I have offended or scandalized by my actions. I ask God's blessings upon each of these folks and their families." (Norma Jean Coon, RN, MFCC, PhD , San Diego, California)
She was referring to the apostolic letter of Blessed John Paul II addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church entitled "On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) It is a short, succinct affirmation of the clear teaching of the Catholic Church and should be read by every Catholic - and any other Christian - who wants to understand the who, what, where and why of this entire question. There is no room for dissent, debate or disagreement on it. The letter ends with these words:
"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."
The arguments against this teaching sometimes come from people who do not understand that the priesthood is not a job and have succumbed to the "rights" mentality of the current age. Other times they come from people who have no understanding of the sacramental nature of the Church.
Both groups may include among them Catholics who, as in too many other areas of doctrine, have not been properly catechized. However, there are those who know the teaching and its authoritative nature but have willfully chosen to publicly dissent and lead others astray. "Roman catholic Womenpriests" is such a group.
They deceptively refer to themselves as an "international initiative within the Roman Catholic Church". They are not within the Catholic Church because they have broken communion. They claim "the mission of Roman Catholic Womenpriests is to spiritually prepare, ordain, and support women and men from all states of life, who are theologically qualified, who are committed to an inclusive model of Church, and who are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to minister within the Roman Catholic Church."
In fact they have, by their own choice, placed themselves outside of the very Church they purport to serve. The members of the group, who dress up in priestly vestments and purport to exercise a priestly ministry, are in heresy. They do not, they cannot, hold the office they claim. On April 17, 2012, Bishops Christopher J. Coyne, SLD, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, issued the following statement on the attempted ordination:
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Earlier this week, you may have read or seen news reports about a schismatic group calling itself "Roman Catholic Womenpriests" attempting to ordain or confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon a woman. This group has no valid connection to the Roman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Any supposed "ordination" this group performed has no relationship with the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church and is not valid.
The Roman Catholic Church does not ordain women. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear on this issue. As it states in the Catechism, #1577: "Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible."
The ordination of men to the priesthood is not merely a matter of practice or discipline with the Catholic Church, but rather, it is part of the deposit of faith handed down by Christ through his apostles. The Catholic Church has always followed Jesus' example and does not believe it has the authority to change what Jesus instituted. The will of Christ is not arbitrary.
The woman who attempted ordination this past weekend may have chosen to be a priest in some other "catholic" church but it is not the one headed by Pope Benedict XVI. She cannot be a priest in a church that has not called her to that priesthood.
She herself states that by attempting ordination and denying the Roman Catholic Church's teaching in a public act, she has placed herself outside of the Church's communion. This offers further argument against her "ordination" since to be ordained to the sacred priesthood is to be ordained to obedience in mind and soul to the Church's magisterium. One cannot serve in obedience if one was ordained in an act of disobedience.
The Catholic Church's teaching on the ordination of women does not mean that the Church values women less than men. The Catholic Church is sustained by the important contributions of women each and every day. The Catholic Church has always taught that men and women have the same dignity, but they have different duties or gifts. All these gifts are central to the faith and the life of the Catholic Church.
In secular society today we talk about equal rights and equal protection under the law. That means many different things to different people. In the Church, we believe in an equality of dignity between men and women that is bestowed on each of us by the Holy Spirit in our equal call to holiness. The only universal call is the call to holiness.
No one has a right by baptism to ordination. Ordination to the ministerial priesthood is a distinct gift. It is a gift that exists for the service of God and the Church. In accepting and handing on this gift, the Church is bound by fidelity to the example of Christ to reserve ordination to males who have legitimately received this call from God and who are accepted by the Church as having received this call.
I am saddened that the woman who attempted ordination and anyone who took part in this invalid ceremony have chosen to take such a public action to separate themselves from the Church. I am sorry they have chosen this path. It is clear that they believe they are doing the right thing. I wish them all the best but hope they will decide to return to the Church's communion.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, SLD
Archdiocese of Indianapolis
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