Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Roman Catholic Womenpriest, in an article published by the Cincinnati.com said that today there are about 100 women ordained as Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Sevre-Duszynska was ordained a Roman Catholic Womanpriest on August 9, 2008, in Lexington, Kentucky.
In her article she provides a brief historical overview of the priesthood of women in the Catholic church. For those who are interested in the history of women in the ministry, the article is very illuminating. The following is an excerpt from the article:
Several months ago, former Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk barred Sister Louise Akers from teaching in archdiocesean schools because she supported the ordination of women. Recently, when a reporter asked him why he did this, the archbishop said: “The formal teaching of the church is women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. I am bound by that … She was representing the church. You can’t represent the church and teach things that the church doesn’t teach. I believe I was forced to take some action.” (The Enquirer, Dec 21, 2009)
There are numerous publications by theologians which attest to the history and tradition of women’s leadership in early Christianity and up until the 12th century – as deacons, priests and bishops. See, for example, the calendars of archaeologist/theologian Dorothy Irvin and books by scholars Gary Macy, Karen Jo Torjesen, John Wijngaards, Lavinia Byrne, Ida Raming, Ute Eisen, Joan Morris, Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek.
Catholics must search for the above information by themselves because male priests do not mention the words “women’s ordination” from the pulpit at Sunday Masses. Those who follow their conscience and have spoken out for women’s justice within our church and world community have been severely reprimanded by the Vatican. One such person is Father Roy Bourgeois, Maryknoll priest of 38 years and founder of the School of the Americas Watch. He and SOAWatch have been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Theologian Dorothy Irvin, who has a pontifical doctorate in Catholic studies from the University of Tübingen, Germany, with specialization in Bible, ancient Near-Eastern studies and archaeology, has found archaeological evidence that women were priests.
I traveled with her to Rome, Naples and North Africa. We visited catacombs and churches. We studied frescoes, mosaics and tombstones. I have seen firsthand frescoes of a woman at the altar celebrating Mass and women celebrating Eucharist. I have seen the Roman mosaic of four women ministers, including a woman bishop, which attests to a continuous succession in church office from Mary through Praxedis and Pudentiana to Theodora.
Above her head is her title, “Episcopa,” with the feminine ending, meaning a bishop who is a woman.
Jesus treated women and men as equals and partners in ministry. Among his disciples were many women. Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter the risen Christ, was commissioned by Christ to be the “Apostle to the Apostles.” St. Paul called Junia “an outstanding apostle.” In 1976, the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded that there is no biblical reason to prohibit women’s ordination.
I have written an article on Junia and how she was considered an apostle by the early church. If you want to read my post on Junia, click here.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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