An awesome group of Catholic feminists has been ordaining female deacons and priests around the United States. It's a move still at odds with the official Vatican policy that says only single, celibate men can be Catholic priests and only men can be deacons, but whatever WE DO WHAT WE WANT.
"The time has come for a holy shake-up that will bring new life, creativity and justice to the church and beyond," said Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan, the ordaining bishop from the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. With members throughout the United States and South America, the association seeks to "prepare and ordain qualified women to serve the people of God."
"We use equal rites to promote equal rights to achieve justice for women in the church," the ARCWP website says. Five women were ordained in Louisville, Kentucky on Dec. 8, one as a priest and four as deacons. The new priest, Mary Sue Barnett, is married and has two sons. “I long to embrace girls and women worldwide through the women priest movement that seeks to renew the institutional church," she said in a press release.
The institutional church needs it. For decades, the number of men going into Catholic priesthood has been declining (though recently it's been on a slight upswing). Letting women become priests doesn't just make sense from a moral or social justice standpoint — it's just good practical sense for the future of the Catholic church. There are now more than 160 women priests in the ARCWP, a number that would surely grow were women actually given the official sanction from the Vatican.
But though the ARCWP calls on Pope Francis "to follow Jesus’ example of Gospel equality and the early church tradition of women in liturgical leadership as deacons, priests and bishops," Pope Francis and others at the Vatican have rejected the idea. Though going against official policy, the ARCWP says its goal is "neither a schism nor a break from the Roman Catholic Church, but rather a renewed priestly ministry within the Church ... We are loyal members of the church who stand in the prophetic tradition of holy obedience to the Spirit’s call to change an unjust law that discriminates against women."