Father-Sister-Doctor Michele Birch-Conery
(not in her priestly vestments)
The Ottawa Citizen
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
GANANOQUE, Ont. - Nine women were ordained as Roman Catholic priests and deacons on a riverboat that sailed down the St. Lawrence River yesterday, defying the Vatican, which considers such ceremonies invalid and illegal.
The hymn-filled ceremony was the first of its kind in North America, and the five new deacons and four new priests -- including Canadian Michele Birch-Conery, 65 -- risk excommunication from the church for their actions.
Whether Fr.-Sr.-Dr. Birch-Conery is excommunicated for participation in this wonderful spectacle is, of course, for her Ordinary (bishop) or the Vatican to decide.
As I stated last Friday, I support the new deaconesses and priestesses in their chosen vocations and look for their support and attendance at my upcoming inauguration as President of the United States. I believe we ought to actualize our inner dreams however odd they might seem to others.
I simply will not allow my status as a Canadian citizen and my birthplace in Canada to determine my exclusion from the office of the president. Like Robert Mugabe of Zimbawbwe, I shall crawl from oppressed excluded obscurity into the kindly light of great political power.
Once I'm their president, I wouldn't want to be an American cattle rancher who struggled in the US courts to keep our Canadian mad cow beef out of American supermarkets. I think they were wrong to restrict consumer choices to US mad cow burgers only. I'll put our Canuck mad cows up against their mad cows any day. But I digress.
Today's ordinations may raise certain questions among observers. The web site
dedicated to the priestess movement has some relevant questions and answers. Here is one.
Why not build up a different model of church and simply bless ministries? Since the dualistic system of clerics and laity in the church has become corrupted by the abuse of power, why ordain women to become part of that system?
Good question indeed. Here's their answer.
1. Because we are in a transitional time, we need to claim for women their equal right with men to be ordained. And we need to do this 'contra legem', to break an unjust law and yet to remain firmly within the church. (Excommunication does not put one outside the church: it is a punishment which forbids one to participate in the sacraments.) If, in this initial transitional stage we do not ordain women, but merely bless the ministries of everyone, we will do nothing towards claiming equal rights for women in the church. And I believe that no-one would take us seriously. We would be seen as just another sect. ....
No one take them seriously? Seen as just another sect?
Perish the thought.
On their web site the priestesses draw comparisons with their repression in the Church to that of oppressed blacks South Africans in liberating their country from white-only rule. I can definitely see the parallels myself (see my Robert Mugabe comment above). Read this (abridged) sampling of the bios of the ordinands and see if you don't agree that they are greatly oppressed people in dire need of liberation.Michele Birch-Conery
, M.F.A., Creative Writing and Ph.D in English Literature is a published poet and a feminist literary critic writing in an experimental genre she calls "Inclusive Discourse." She is an educator at North Island College, a multi-campus community reaching people in rural areas of Vancouver Island. Since 1990, she has taught Canadian and Women's Literature, Global Perspectives and Issues in Women's Health in Women's Studies. From 1963 to 1974, she studied and taught with the Sisters of the Holy Names in Oregon and Washington.Rebecca McGuyver
, Ph.D. is a university biology teacher, a professional science writer, and an invited speaker on the bio-theology of sex and gender. ... A divorcee and avid tennis player, Rebecca McGuyver lives alone with her two dachshunds.Regina Nicolosi
, MA, was born in a small town on the Rhine River. She was a teacher in Germany before she came to the USA. She and her husband Charles, a radiologist and deacon, raised four children. Regina participated fully in CharlesÂ’ preparation to the diaconate. She earned her Masters Degree in Pastoral Studies, worked as a chaplain in both a correctional facility for boys and in a drug and alcohol recovery unit, and as housing manager for seniors. Her present ministry is as a chaplain in a nursing home. She and her husband Deacon Charles have been married for 36 years.Victoria Rue,
M.Div., Ph.D. is a feminist theologian, and writer/director/teacher of theatre. She teaches at San Jose State University in Comparative Religions and Women's Studies. She lives with her beloved Kathryn, her partner of fifteen years.Jane Via
has a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Purdue University, a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Marquette University and a J.D. from the University of San Diego. She is a county prosecutor in San Diego, California and teaches Religious Studies part time.Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg
, M.S., M.Div., is a feminist theologian, clinical therapist, and trauma specialist. She is presently doing counseling with the disenfranchised. Ms Vandenberg's current ministries include: counseling, adjunct graduate educator, hospital chaplain, and active in several ministries in her parish.
Well, you can now see for yourself that the life experience of these deeply oppressed clerics is quite similar to that of the average black South African with whom they strongly identify. I shall not belabour the point by drawing further attention to the awful quality of their lives. Toiling as a feminist theologian in a North American university, for instance, is fraught with great hardships you might not fully appreciate. The newly ordained, however, are modest clerics and would not want me to dwell on their plight. Hagiography is so embarrassing to the hagioged.
I hope and expect that they will have as much success in their new vocations as I hope and expect to have in mine.
President of the United States (self-Elect)
John the Mad
P.S. Oh, I nearly forgot to thank the main stream media for not placing scare quotes around the words "ordained" or "priests." It is so important not to show favouritism by siding with the Episcopal authority of the Catholic Church and faithful laity which might consider the ordinations to be invalid, silly, feminist, guerrilla theatre undertaken by pampered, middle class academics with an axe to grid against two thousand years of Church doctrine, tradition, scripture and magisterial authority. Bless you.