...In addition to the sacrilege of the attempted ordinations to the Sacred Priesthood, there is added the sacrilege of any attempts by the women involved to offer the Holy Mass, after their supposed ordination. They have, in fact, announced that they will "co-pastor the Thérèse of Divine Peace Inclusive Community on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. beginning December 1, 2007," which will meet in Hope Chapel at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis at 5007 Waterman Avenue. One has to suppose that they will attempt to offer the Holy Mass, a most grave offense against our Lord and His Church.
Need of Prayer for Those Involved
Given the most sacred nature of the sacraments which will be simulated, the women involved and any Catholic who knowingly and deliberately assists them risks the eternal salvation of their souls. They commit mortal sin. Because of the most grave, public and obstinate nature of the proposed act of attempted ordination, the Church automatically applies medicinal penalties to the parties who complete the act. Medicinal penalties, for example, excommunication and interdict, are aimed at calling the persons away from their sin and to reconciliation with Christ and His Church. The women involved have been duly admonished regarding the penalties which they will incur, should they proceed with the attempted ordination. Any medicinal penalties or censures incurred will be appropriately declared, so that the ecclesial status of the parties involved may be clear for all...
Then ask yourself: Where is our God, who is a God of love, best represented?
By Michele Munz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
ST. LOUIS — To the Roman Catholic Church, the ceremony was not an ordination. In fact, it wasn't even Roman Catholic. But to two women and the approximately 600 people who came to cheer them on, history was made Sunday in St. Louis as the two became the first women ever in the city to be ordained as Catholic priests.
And the first ever, perhaps in the world, to be ordained in a synagogue.
Rose Marie Hudson, 67, of Festus, and Elsie Hainz McGrath, 69, of St. Louis, were ordained as priests by an organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which defines itself "as an international initiative within the Roman Catholic Church."
Not only is the Archdiocese of St. Louis upset about the women participating in an ordination ceremony, but the church and others in the interfaith community were upset that the Central Reform Congregation, in the Central West End, hosted the event.
"The event of today is really very sad because the name Roman Catholic has been misused and misapplied," said Dr. Lawrence J. Welch, a Kenrick-Glennon Seminary theology professor. "There's been no ordination of Roman Catholic priests. In fact, there has been a profaning of something Roman Catholics believe is very sacred."
To members of the diverse crowd — the dozen ministers in robes and stoles of different colors, those wearing yarmulke, and some wearing buttons saying "God loves us, just ask her" — the ceremony showed unity and understanding.
"What a day, what an occasion, what a case, what a rabbi," said Patricia Fresen, the ordaining bishop with Roman Catholic Womenpriests, referring to the synagogue's rabbi, Susan Talve. The room boomed with applause.
Fresen, from Germany, told the audience how when she saw the St. Louis Arch, she asked what it was for. She was told it was the symbol for the Gateway to the West.
She added: "For us in St. Louis today, the Arch is a symbol for the gateway to justice and equality for women."
Hudson said that after she turned 60, she had thought she would never realize her calling of becoming a priest — a calling she said she's had since she was 14 — until she heard Fresen talk in April 2006 at the Ecumenical Catholic Church in Webster Groves.
Hudson told Fresen she wanted to be ordained, and Fresen began the process. Hudson enlisted the support of the local Catholic Action Network, a grass-roots group that works for social justice within the Catholic Church. It was there she met McGrath and learned of her calling, and they began their journey to ordination together.
The process brought them close — so close that they will co-pastor a faith community at First Unitarian Church of St. Louis in the Central West End. Their first service will be Dec. 1.
Three months ago, Hudson and McGrath were looking for a place to hold the ordination ceremony. After visiting several Protestant churches, they visited Central Reform at the suggestion of a friend. Talve immediately welcomed them, telling them that opening her sanctuary to them was what she was all about.
"It felt right," Hudson said. Talve's board agreed as well, unanimously agreeing to host the ceremony.
The action irked some. The Rev. Vincent Heir, who directs the Catholic Church's interfaith efforts in St. Louis, said the archdiocese will not participate in any more interfaith events if Central Reform Congregation is "a leading player." St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who has threatened to excommunicate Hudson and McGrath, asked Talve to reconsider hosting the ceremony.
Though she felt support among the throng of people there Sunday, Talve said, "There is still work to do, still conversations to have to help people to understand why we chose to do what we did. Hospitality outweighed other issues that presented a challenge."
As Hudson and McGrath welcomed hugs and congratulations in their new white vestments, Andrew Wolf, 34, of south St. Louis County, made his way to Hudson. He said that as a homosexual, he fell away from Catholicism when he was 17. He recently wanted to return but wasn't sure how — until Sunday.
"I look forward to coming to your service," he told her. "As a lifelong Catholic, you have given me hope."