Monday, August 14, 2006

Female Priest Defies the Catholic Church

In San Diego, Jane Via leads a Mass by herself. She is facing possible excommunication.

In an article today the L. A. Times reported that:

Jane Via said she would probably cry and, sure enough, she did.

Midway through her homily at the rented San Diego church used by her upstart congregation, Via choked up, thanking the packed house of 100 worshipers for sustaining her over the last week.

Sunday's service was the second Mass that Via has led since her illicit ordination in Switzerland in June, and the first over which she has presided alone.

It also marked her congregation's first gathering since she met with San Diego Bishop Robert Brom to discuss the consequences of her ordination, which could ultimately include excommunication.

Via, 58, is among 15 American women who have received ordination in recent ceremonies.

Unlike the Episcopal and Anglican churches, which now allow women's ordination, the Catholic Church bars women from becoming priests or deacons.

The Vatican's position on women entering the priesthood has not budged, despite polls showing a majority of American Catholics favor allowing them to do so.

A Roman Catholic canon says only baptized men can receive ordination.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not taken a formal position on the issue, but three of the American women have received letters from diocese officials warning that they had chosen to excommunicate themselves.

Via called such consequences "unwelcome," but also, in a sense, liberating.

"I was so angry for so long at the church and church men who weren't willing to make even the smallest change in language to include women," she said. "My anger is gone."

Last November, Via co-founded the congregation where she is a priest, the independent Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community. Its roughly 65 regular members include many people who found themselves increasingly discontented with aspects of mainstream Roman Catholic churches.

The complete story may be found here:,0,3390859.story?coll=la-story-footer


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