Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ordination in Detroit draws protesters

Catholic group intends to demonstrate outside archdiocese for women to get right to be priests.

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
May 9, 2008

DETROIT -- The Archdiocese of Detroit will ordain five men to the priesthood Saturday, a sacred, joyous event for Catholics who are concerned about the dwindling number of men who hear "the call" to what is, by any estimation, a difficult life.

But outside of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Woodward, a group of Catholic men and women, organized by Call to Action of Michigan, intend to demonstrate in favor of the ordination of women and married men, asserting that while they fully support the five new priests, the church must be far more inclusive.

"I find it very oppressive," said Sister Beth Rindler, of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. "I mean, our church tells us we can't even talk about it, but I feel very keenly about justice for women in the church."

Rindler, who works in Hamtramck among the burgeoning population of immigrants from Bangladesh, says that she has longed to be a priest and desired to join some of the nuns who have been ordained in violation of the rules of the church. "But seeing how many younger women have taken that step, now, I feel it is less necessary that I do it," Rindler said. "Besides, a lot of pressure is placed on the leadership of our orders when we even talk about women as priests, let alone take that step."

Roman Catholic "Womenpriests" were "ordained" in unofficial, underground ceremonies as early as the 1990s in the United States. In 2001, a woman was ordained in Rochester, N.Y., and others have taken similar vows since then. Bishops who dissent from the church's position on women priests have performed the ceremonies, including two involving women in Michigan, over the years.

"It is something I have long wanted to do," Rindler said.

Married men also will demonstrate Saturday for a broader approach to the sacrament of Holy Orders, in which priests are ordained. Some are former priests who have married, but still say Mass and perform baptisms at the request of Catholics. They refer to themselves as "married priests."

"I transitioned from the priesthood to married life when I got involved in studying social work," Arnie Messing said. "I was not going to stay in a very narrowly focused, celibate world.

"We commend all of the young people who are being ordained," Messing said. "We tell them: We commend you, we pray for you, but we are sad for so many of the people who would have committed, too, but who are not allowed. Among Catholics in the United States, about 80 percent favor optional celibacy. To me, it is an old story that should have been settled long ago."

Some priests were allowed to marry, to varying degrees, until 1123, when celibacy was adopted as the policy even for regular parish priests, as opposed to priests, monks and friars of specific orders, who practice various disciplines to worship God -- including celibacy, poverty and silence.

But the church considers its official dogma on the issue incontrovertible: priests are celibate men, except in rare circumstances.

A few years ago, as he announced a significant reorganization of parishes in the archdiocese, based in part on a shortage of priests, Cardinal Adam Maida said that he does not expect to see women or married men ordained to the priesthood in his lifetime.

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