Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted Letter Says Only a
Baptized Man Can Be Validly Ordained
Here is his letter posted in the Catholic Sun.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As reported in the news this week, a schismatic group in Tempe known as the Ecumenical Catholic Communion attempted to confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon a woman. It was also reported in the news that Fr. Vernon Meyer, a priest of our diocese, participated in the attempted ordination.
Actions such as these are extremely serious and carry with them profoundly harmful consequences for the salvation of the souls participating in this attempted ordination. To feign the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Orders results in the penalty of excommunication. This penalty applies both to the person attempting the ordination and the person attempting to be ordained.
The attempted ordination of a woman is a grave offense against a sacrament and the structure of the Church. As it states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1577: “Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”
The Church’s position on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, of course, does not mean that women are of any less value or dignity than men. We are all called to Christian service, and women have always played an instrumental role in the life and holiness of the Church. Women serve in various levels of Church leadership and hold nearly half of diocesan administrative and professional positions, including chancellor and school superintendent in our own diocese. Women serve as presidents of Catholic colleges and universities in our country, and nearly 80 percent of lay parish ministers are women.
However, it is of paramount importance to recognize that the Catholic Church teaches that only a baptized man can be validly ordained to the ministerial priesthood. The Catholic priesthood, today as in ages past, mirrors the actions of Christ, who lived as a celibate male and chose to ordain only men.
You or your parishioners may also have seen it reported in the news that the Holy See allegedly considers the attempted ordination of women to be on par with the sexual abuse of minors. This is simply not true. This portrayal arose following the release of a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the public July 15, 2010, which concerns updates to norms related to grave crimes that were outlined in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. It expands the number of offenses to be referred to the Holy See and deals with such issues as sexual abuse of a minor, pornography, violations of the seal of the confession, and the attempted ordination of women.
Please pray for all involved in this divisive, scandalous act against the Catholic Church.
Grace and wisdom in the risen Christ,
+Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix