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Viewpoint: Ordination of women: The time is now

By Robert Wedl, Corene Besetzny and Bonnie Stang

Catholics around the world "pray for vocations" meaning praying that more people will be called by the Holy Spirit to be priests. The good news is that the Spirit is hearing and answering those prayers.

Hundreds of women in Europe and the United States have answered the call of the Holy Spirit and have been ordained as Catholic priests. But because of their sex, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church refuses to recognize them as legitimate priests.

We will discuss the subject of the ordination of Catholic women in Red Wing 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 21, at the Red Wing Library. (No admission fee.)

While scientific surveys show the laity of the world in strong support of the ordination of women, as are some bishops and priests especially in Europe, Pope Francis remains adamant that women will never be permitted to be priests.

"So why bother?" is a reasonable question. Researchers involved in the study of organizational change conclude that significant change rarely comes from inside organizations as those in charge are usually comfortable with things the way they are and resist change. Pressure to do things differently generally comes from the outside and that is what is occurring with regard to the ordination of women.

Over the past 15 years, the Red Wing area has become a key community with the ordination of Regina Nicolosi and Corene Besetzny coupled with a community in support. Nicolosi was later consecrated as a bishop and subsequently ordained women priests throughout the Midwest.

In 2015 a group of lay persons, most with graduate degrees in theology, were assigned the responsibility by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform: Council of the Baptized (no affiliation with the archdiocese) to draft a paper on the subject of the ordination of women. In April of 2017, that paper, "Catholic Women and Holy Orders: The Time is Now" was published and is now being widely disseminated. Robert Wedl, a co-author of that paper, suggests that while the Church has listed its reasons for insisting that women cannot be ordained, those reasons are linked directly to Jesus being male.

Wedl asks, "Does anyone seriously believe that if Jesus was walking the streets of the world today he would say that women cannot be priests because of their sex?" He adds that the laity sees the exclusion of women as wrong and are saying, "This is our church too and we will no longer accept that our sisters are unworthy to serve as priests just as other Christian religions and the Jewish faith have already done."

We suggest that unless the Church makes major changes including permitting priests to marry, the ordination of women, and the acceptance of all not only will the Catholic not have a sufficient supply of priests but the millennials and gen-xers simply will not participate. That is already evident. The youth will practice the teachings of Jesus Christ but not within the current Catholic Church.

Women were ordained in the early church and they are being ordained again today. We believe the only question remaining is when the hierarchy will hear the voice of the Spirit.

Robert Wedl of Edina is a co-author of the publication "Catholic Women and Holy Orders: The Time is Now." Corene Besetzny is an ordained Roman Catholic Women Priest in Red Wing. Bonnie Stang is a supporter of RCWP and lives in Red Wing.