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Catholic Women Priests on CNN

 |  NCR Today

CNN featured the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement on its Emmy-nominated American Morning show today, September 16, 2010. Rev. Andrea Johnson and Rev. Gloria Carpeneto were interviewed and shown leading a small Eucharistic community of mostly women. The footage was compelling. Except for the gender of the celebrants, this could have been a regular parish mass.

What I found most fascinating, however, was the positive spin that CNN gave to this growing movement. Although they pointed out that the Vatican does not approve, and has told these women that they have “excommunicated themselves” (something they do not accept), their official hierarchical spokesperson, Rev. Joseph Tobin, simply said he “had to accept” what the Vatican says on this issue. His response was weak in the extreme, without any attempt at theological arguments. (That could be because there are none that make sense any more).

tCNN was also fascinated by the “secret bishop” whose ordinations of the original women started all this, noting that his identity will not be known until he passes away. They also pointed out – thanks to John Allen – that large majorities of Catholics favor the ordination of women. But the women did say that they did not expect to be legitimized in their lifetimes.

Still, this is a story that won’t go away. Women are rising in leadership in faith traditions across the board, especially mainstream Protestantism and Judaism. Denominations that refuse to treat women with equality will find it very hard to grow in the 21st century.

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