This truth has been forgotten even by many of those who profess to be Catholic. A few years ago I attended a vocation retreat at La Salette Attleboro as part of my discernment process (a period of some 15 months during which I was never even considered as an applicant or taken seriously - I suspect because of my orthodoxy). It was at this retreat that I overheard a couple of La Salette priests suggest that there is "wiggle room" on the question of ordaining women to the ministerial priesthood.
I wrote an email to the La Salette religious who had attended this retreat as well as to the other retreatants who were looking into the La Salette community (we had all been given an email list of retreat attendees). I expressed my concerns over being given the "run around" for some 15 months as well as my concerns over not being taken seriously because of my commitment to Magisterial teaching. I also addressed what La Salette priests had said about ordaining women to the priesthood. I received two very different responses from La Salette religious. The first response I received was from Fr. Dan Bradley, M.S., who said, "Paul, I am sorry you have not been dealt with by our community in a forthright manner. I cannot speak for the others you address this letter to, only to myself. I am not sure that your position on the teaching of the Church would be a sufficient reason for neglecting to dialogue with you about your vocation and our community. We do have a mix of people whose opinions vary, and who have different theological perspectives...Again, sorry that those charged with this responsibility did not do more to respond to you...hopefully your own experience will be a learning experience for us."
The second email was from Fr. Joe Bachand, the Provincial Superior of the La Salette Missionaries. Fr. Bachand dismissed my concerns over being given the proverbial run around ( I had said in my email that "..it has been fifteen months since I first approached the La Salette Missionaries and I am not one step closer to being admitted - or even considered - as an applicant) and wrote, "If I ever needed evidence of the evils of the internet, you have supplied it...If someone said something about women's ordination, it was not as part of the program."
Actually, it was "as part of the program." All of the candidate retreatants were sitting in the same room engaging in a conversation with the La Salette priests who suggested that there is "wiggle room" on the question of women's ordination. In fact, we had all been led to this room by La Salette priests conducting the retreat.
In his Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales ( a Doctor of the Church) says that: "If the declared enemies of God and of the Church ought to be blamed and censured with all possible vigor, charity obliges us to cry 'wolf' when the wolf slips into the midst of the flock and in every way and place we may meet him." This I did and the Provincial Superior of the La Salette Missionaries implied that I was engaging in "evil."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope John Paul II called "a sure norm for teaching the faith," has this to say:
"Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination." The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) 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." (No. 1577).
Because I defended this teaching, because I stood with the Church and expressed my concern over La Salette Missionaries suggesting that there is "wiggle room" on women's ordination, I was insulted and accused of engaging in evil. Fr. Bachand suggested that the talk about women's ordination was only "casual speculation." Is that all? That's not so serious right? Wrong. In his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, No. 4, Pope John Paul II stated clearly that:
"Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
In order to put an end to the erroneous idea that the ordination of women was "still open to debate," Pope John Paul II declared that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women and that "this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faihful."
I was asked by one individual who I thought I was to question a priest (I'm not sure who I have to be to do so) and another reminded me of a private revelation allegedly given to Mutter Vogel from Our Lord: "One should never attack a priest, even when he's in error, rather one should pray and do penance that I'll grant him My grace again. He alone fully represents Me, even when he doesn't live after My example."
But fraternal correction does not constitute an "attack," read here. If anyone was unjustly attacked, it was me. I was accused (and this is an old story) of engaging in evil for defending the Magisterial teaching of the Church. What about my priesthood? Granted that I'm not an ordained priest. Granted that the ordained priest alone "fully represents" Christ. But let's not forget, as Vatican II taught us, that: "Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ." (Lumen Gentium, No. 10).
Lay people are not "second-class citizens" in the Church. We are not garbage to be tossed aside as "useless" or treated with contempt. The first La Salette priest who responded to my email recognized this. The second did not. Perhaps he should reflect upon Romans 2: 1-3?