A department head at the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has resigned her post after revealing that she had secretly participated in a ceremony last year in which she says she was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.
Jean Marie Marchant, who for the last four years has been director of healthcare ministry for the archdiocese, offered her resignation to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in a letter last week in which she said that a year ago, using a pseudonym, she had been among nine women who had participated in an ordination ceremony on the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada. That group, whose ordination ceremony is considered invalid by the church hierarchy, also included another woman from Massachusetts, Marie David, a Harwich innkeeper who now leads a weekly liturgy on Cape Cod.
“I’ve always seen my role as to stay within the church and to push the boundaries," Marchant said in an interview. “But I really came to see in the archdiocese that the change was not going to come about because we women were doing a good and worthy job, but that something more dramatic and drastic had to happen. Until we really took a very strong step and defied this very unjust law — the canon in canon law that restricts ordination to men — nothing was going to change."
O’Malley, who has repeatedly said that women cannot be ordained as priests because Jesus did not have female apostles, immediately accepted Marchant’s resignation. Although in 2003 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, announced the excommunication of seven women ordained as part of the same movement, the Archdiocese of Boston has not sanctioned Marchant and has chosen less confrontational language in its conversations with her, an e-mail alert to priests, and a statement to the Globe.
“In her resignation, Ms. Marchant acknowledged that her having participated in an ordination ceremony with Roman Catholic Womenpriests is irreconcilable with the position she held with the Archdiocese of Boston," O’Malley’s spokesman, Terrence C. Donilon, said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate Ms. Marchant’s many years of service in healthcare ministry. The archdiocese greatly values the ministry of lay and religious women. Their contributions are vital to the life and mission of the church."
…Donilon, O’Malley’s spokesman, said yesterday that “the cardinal has imposed no penalty on Jean Marchant, because, according to church law, she separated herself from the church by her own action."
I don’t think that this is true canonically. A commenter previously brought up Can. 1378 and 1379 that this would occur a incur latae sententiae excommunication (automatic). But Canon Lawyer Pete Vere replied to this comment "She cannot be excommunicated for impersonating or simulating a priest because she is a woman and women are incapable of being receiving valid ordination. Thus the aforementioned canons are not applicable."
So I think it is unfortunate that the Cardinal does not excommunicate her as other bishops have done in recent years. I think it minimizes the problem and leads to confusion on the part of the people. This type of softness can be seen as a weak encouragement.
The title of this Boston Globe article was "Making a stand for women priests." Well Custer also made a stand.
Update: The Lady in the Pew has her own reaction.
Spokesman Terrence Donilon:
"We greatly appreciate Ms. Marchant’s many years of service in healthcare ministry. The archdiocese greatly values the ministry of lay and religious women. Their contributions are vital to the life and mission of the church."
I think this is a load of bleep. In any case, I do not "appreciate" Jean Marchant’s "service."
I do not appreciate that, as far back as 2001, while in the Archiocese’s employ, Jean Marchant attended the 2001 "ordination " of Mary Ramerman of Spiritus Christi Church, Rochester, New York. (Google this "church" if you can stomach it.)
I do not appreciate that the Archdiocese’s employee, Jean Marchant, said that she "always seen my role as to stay within the church and to push the boundaries."
But far more seriously, I do not appreciate the fact that, since her "ordination," Jean Marchant has "quietly `anointed’ some sick people and privately `consecrated the Eucharist’."
In fact, I find it worse than appalling.
Understand that I do not judge Jean Marchant. However, I strongly condemn the statement of "appreciation" released by the Archdiocese.