Deus non alligatur. God is not bound. Nibbanam paramam sukham. Unbinding is the Highest Happiness. The Heart is Divinity. God is the primal radiance of Divinity. Nature is the primal manifestation of Divinity. The Buddha is the primal realization of Divinity. La ilaha il Allah. Allah is Complete Wholeness.

13 December 2007

A Nice Problem to Have

The speaker was Patricia Fresen, a bishop in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement. The day, Nov. 11; the occasion, a jubilant ceremony at a Jewish synagogue, during which Fresen would ordain two women -- the latest of a series of such ceremonies, aimed at helping women to fulfill what they say is their calling: to serve the church as Catholic priests.

Fresen, presider and homilist at the event, is a former Dominican nun of 45 years and a former seminary professor in South Africa. As a native English-speaker, she oversees the movement’s formation program for candidates in English-speaking countries and has quickly become its best-known bishop in the United States.

Though still a small organization, Roman Catholic Womenpriests has grown exponentially since it began just five years ago with the ordination of the so-called Danube Seven -- seven women ordained on a boat on the Danube River in 2002. The growth -- its leading edge in North America -- has surprised some, met expectations of others, and is clearly worrying some members of the church hierarchy.

“We have a lot of new applicants,” Fresen said in an interview the week before the ordinations. “I now have five assistant program coordinators, and we can barely keep up. It has amazed me. We never thought it would take off like this.”

Given the international dimensions of the movement and the increasing frequency of ordinations, tracking the numbers has been a bit tricky, but Bridget Mary Meehan, U.S. spokeswoman, finds it “a nice problem to have.” By Fresen’s count, since those first ordinations in 2002, 50 people -- including six men -- have been ordained, bringing the total to 37 in the United States and Canada and 50 worldwide. Leaders report that another hundred or so have entered the movement’s formal pre-ordination training program. In the United States, the rising numbers prompted a decision last fall to divide the country into five regions to deal more effectively with the demand.


Alice C. Linsley said...

She is no recognized as a priest by the Roman Catholic Church, nor are those women she ordains. What will she do?

Is it possible for a woman to be a priest in the Tradition received by Christianity from the Afro-Asiatics? Are there female brahams? There are no female priests in Africa.

Dharmashaiva said...

There are some movements in India in which women may be Vedic priests. I'm not up on the latest arguments, but some believe that some of the authors of the Vedas were women, and possibly priests; the modern movements would then be seen as attempting to restore women priesthood in the Vedic tradition.

Of course, when you get to the tradition of Avatars, all of the major Avatars are men; and all of the Buddhas in Theravada Buddhism are men (though women can be enlightened). In Jainism, the more strict Jains claim that all of the Jinas (the Jain "prophets", so to speak) were men and that only men can be enlightened. Among the less strict Jains, one of the 24 Jinas is believed to have been a woman, and woman can be enlightened.

There's an interesting pattern in India, in which the brahmin caste (the priest caste) rarely produces an enlightened being. For instance, neither Krishna nor Rama were brahmins, and neither was the Buddha. So women being priests, in India, would not really count for much in terms of enlightenment, but it might count for much in terms of social functions. It also seems that the sacrifice in the Vedic tradition might play a different role in relationship to gender than the role played by the Christian sacrificial Divine Liturgy or Mass, thus affecting the role of women in said sacrifices.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks. That's helpful.

I'm wondering if women involved in blood sacrifice wasn't a taboo among the earliest Afro-Asiatics (and here I am including the earliest Indus peoples).

Dharmashaiva said...

Blood sacrifices is an interesting point. If I remember correctly, some Vedic sacrifices did not involve blood, and perhaps those sacrifices were overseen by women.

I do know that at least one case of women acting as priests in the modern Vedic tradition involves the women performing yajnas, which call for the pouring of offerings like ghee into the sacred fire; apparently, the offerings never involve blood offerings, only dairy or vegetative offerings.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Then the offerings of females pertains to plant and dairy which represent life. That's fitting as the blood sacrificed by females is the blood shed in birthing. This cannot be mixed with the blood shed by killing.