July will mark the sixth anniversary of when eight women were ordained on a Pittsburgh riverboat by Roman Catholic WomenPriests, which claims they were were valid Catholic ordinations because the first women in the movement were secretly ordained by a male bishop in the line of apostolic succession.
In honor of the event, there will be showing of the documentary “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.in the Hollywood Theater, 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. There is no admission charge, but donations will be sought.
One of those ordained was Joan Houk of McCandless, a former pastoral associate at two Catholic parishes, who has a master of divinity degree (the basic one required for a Catholic priest) from the University of Notre Dame. The Post-Gazette doesn’t use “the Rev.” and “Bishop” as courtesy titles for clerics and prelates in this movement since they claim to be part of a church that doesn’t recognize them -- a standard that we would use for any other company or religious body with a similar dispute over employment. But Ms. Houk was elected by her fellow clerics in 2009 to become bishop of the Great Waters Region for Roman Catholic WomenPriests.
With her educational background and personal qualities she could easily have been ordained for the Episcopal Church (or several other Protestant bodies), where there would be no dispute over her credentials. She chose the RomanCatholic Womenpriests route because she believes it's a form of civil (canonical) disobedience similar to that practiced by the Rev. Martin Luther King in an effort to abolish unjust laws. In a recent statement she cited examples of people who were once condemned by the church who are now held up as role models, and even as saints.
“We follow a powerful Church tradition: Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake and later canonized; Mother Mary MacKillop who founded the women’s religious order of Josephites in Australia and was excommunicated by Bishop Sheil in 1871 and canonized by Benedict XVI in 2010,” she said.
She quoted a recent statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their protest against a federal mandate that would involve Catholic hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions in providing free contraceptives, sterilization and morning-after drugs to employees.
“An unjust law cannot be obeyed,” the bishops wrote. “In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them.”