Two Catholic women are being ordained
Roman Catholic Womenpriests here Nov. 11, prompting outrage from Catholic officials — outrage
that, surprisingly, is directed less at the women aspiring to the
Catholic priesthood, or at the movement ordaining them, than toward a
rabbi who agreed to host the event.
The women to be ordained are Elsie Hainz McGrath, a retired writer and
editor for a Catholic publishing house, and Rose Marie Dunn Hudson, a
former teacher. Bishop Patricia Fresen, who was for many years a
Dominican nun, ordained the women as deacons Aug. 12 and will perform
the ceremony here. The women are among a growing number of deacons,
priests and bishops ordained in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests
movement. Based on responses to formal invitations, Hudson said
organizers are expecting 300 to 400 to attend.
Noting that ordaining women is forbidden by Catholic canon law, St.
Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke wrote to Rabbi Susan Talve, senior rabbi
at Central Reform Congregation — the synagogue host — urging her to
revoke her offer of hospitality. Meanwhile, the director of the
archdiocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Fr.
Vincent A. Heier, has excoriated Talve for her role, likening it to a
Catholic pastor inviting a Holocaust denier to speak, and describing
Talve�s action as a major setback to the area�s strong, hard-won
The president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Mark
Fasman finds it inappropriate for a synagogue to host an event no
Catholic parish would allow and, though stressing that he speaks only
for himself, acknowledged that among rabbis he is not alone. He is
worried that what should be a Catholic issue — whether women can be
ordained — will provoke a backlash against Jews.
I doubt there will be any such
backlash, but I am glad for the statement.
But in some ways this is quite
appropriate. After all they are only imitating the women
priests that they had in in Levitical priesthood. Oh wait –
that didn’t happen. Funny how God can be so consistent.
Hudson, a longtime teacher, was
certified by the St. Louis archdiocese
as a lay pastoral minister in 1998, after completing a two-year
formation program, and received a master�s degree in pastoral studies
in an extension program offered by Loyola University, New Orleans. She
was the first woman to serve as parish council president at her former
parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Farmington, Mo.
McGrath worked with the St. Louis archdiocese to develop a family life
commission, earned an undergraduate degree in theology at St. Louis
University while working as a secretary in the theology department in
the 1980s. Invited to join the editorial staff at Liguori, the Catholic
publishing house, she stayed for 12 years, while earning a master�s
degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology in 2002. Her late husband was
an ordained deacon in the St. Louis archdiocese, and she attended
courses with him throughout a rigorous formation program.