Nine Women to Defy Vatican to Become (Pretend) Priests

Nine North American women are set to join dozens in Europeans in becoming unofficial “priests” of the Catholic Church next month.

Nine women to defy Vatican to become priests (AFP)

Nine women, including one Canadian and one American, plan to defy the Vatican and become the first female Roman Catholic priests and deacons ordained in North America during a ceremony on a boat on the St. Lawrence River next month. The ceremony, which is not sanctioned by the Vatican, is to take place July 25 on the river near Gananoque in eastern Canada following a conference on women as priests at Carleton University in Ottawa. The location for the ceremony was chosen because organizers considered it to be international waters between the United States and Canada where no diocese has juridiction and thus cannot interfere.

“I only have my faith and my hope and what the global scene says to me that I believe it’s time to take this step,” said former nun Michele Birch-Conery, 65, who was ordained as a deacon last year in Europe. She will be the first Canadian woman to be ordained as a priest next month. “It is an immensely wounding part in our Catholic history to block women’s ecclesiastical participation in orders. I think people have been closed to a deeper, fuller expression of their faith by having, in the hierarchy and levels of authority and decision-making, a male-only church,” she said.

Fourteen women have already been ordained in similar river ceremonies in Europe in recent years and 65 others are planning to join their ranks soon.

While there is no logical reason I can think of to prevent women from serving as priests, especially in the parts of the world where recruiting males has become increasingly difficult, this is a laughable gesture. The Roman church is apostolic. “Priests” who are are not sanctioned by the Vatican are not “priests” at all.

One wonders how the press would cover, for example, a group of people not appointed by the president or approved by the Senate who held a ceremony dubbing themselves Supreme Court Justices. My strong suspicion is that it would be covered as an amusement, if at all.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Religion, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. whatever says:

    > While there is no logical reason I can think
    > of to prevent women from serving as priests

    Sounds to me you should start your own religion since your opinions are obviously so superior, being logical and all.

    And I see no logical reason why you shouldn’t let me guest blog from time to time.

  2. Whatever,

    His facts are straight: via church law and a very long history, priests are considered descended from the Apostles, all of whom are men. Church law can be changed and they could ordain women if they chose, but they haven’t, making this a laughable incident.