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Fraud detected but unpunished

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 28, 2006

Jean Marie Marchant is one of the 9 women who claimed to have been ordained as Catholic priests in a surrealistic ceremony that took place last year in international waters. Like most of the other would-be priestesses, Marchant showed her courage by using a false name.

But now she had identified herself in a letter to Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, forcing him to make some public response. Here it is:

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."

Translation: By participating in a mockery of the sacraments, Marchant has incurred the penalty of excommunication, but the cardinal isn't going to say that out loud. Why not?

And hey, wait a minute. Marchant didn't separate herself from the Catholic Church after her alleged ordination. Or rather, to be more accurate, she didn't separate herself from the archdiocesan payroll. After her public show of contempt for Church teaching, and the public act that incurred her formal excommunication, she continued to serve as director of health-care ministry for several months before finally tendering her (well publicized) resignation. Since she couldn't accept the Church's teachings, I suppose we can assume that she refused to accept payment for her services.

There's more. The sympathetic Boston Globe story minimizes the damage done by Marchant's treachery, assuring readers that she did not often perform priestly functions, although "she has quietly anointed some she has quietly anointed some sick people and privately consecrated the Eucharist."

Wrong. She pretended to anoint sick people and consecrate the Eucharist. She can't actually perform those priestly functions, because she isn't a priest. (Yes, I know she thinks she's a priest. But if you wake up tomorrow under the illusion that you are Napoleon Bonaparte, you still won't have an army.) Insofar as any bewildered Catholics relied on Jean Marie Marchant to fulfill their spiritual needs, they were denied the sacraments-- by an official of the Boston archdiocese.

From the pastoral perspective that is a very, very serious offense. Even from the secular perspective it's a form of fraud. And in response to that fraud, the cardinal-archbishop "has imposed no penalty." Thereby making it very likely that similar frauds will occur in the near future.

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Show 21 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: snowbird - Jul. 30, 2006 4:46 PM ET USA

    A press release should have been issued by the Archdiocese to advise all of the faithful of Boston of the Church's position in this matter. What has been left unsaid shows little regard for the serousness of this woman's previous actions. Too, those unknowledgeable in Canon Law have never heard of self-excommunication [latae sententiae]. Another case of sweeping it under the rug for the Boston Archdiocese!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 29, 2006 11:58 PM ET USA

    Leo13 said: "The Archdiocese's inaction is prompted by fear -- fear of committing a policitcally incorrect, intolerant act --- fear of incurring the wrath of radical feminists within the church." I am inclined to be more paranoid: The Archiocese's inaction is propted by those who are in secret sympathy with this imposter and who know that a strong condemnation of her would also be a condemnation of themselves. Edward59

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Jul. 29, 2006 3:16 PM ET USA

    Cupertino: She may have been "out of the church" already by latae sententiae, but how many lay Catholics understand that? How many understand how deeply sinful her action was? Where is the outrage, the sense of the enormity of the offense of playing priest? I'm not looking for her to be "scourged and stoned"; I just want her actions publicly and vigorously denounced. There's a big difference.

  • Posted by: Ross Dee - Jul. 29, 2006 10:06 AM ET USA

    Where are the Bishops and Cardinals of the USA?. When is a "Catholic Womenpriest Program" okay? First of all a women can NEVER BE a Priest. it is a "given" that there is ONLY ONE HIGH PRIEST AND THAT IS JESUS CHRIST, in case you missed it, HE IS MALE.These women are even dressing like a Priest which is clearly "impersonation". For the Bishops and Cardinals to just make a "few statements", that these women are automatically excommunicated, IS NOT ENOUGH! IT IS Clearly, FRAUD & IMPERSONATION.

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Jul. 29, 2006 9:18 AM ET USA

    that is destruction not distruction - ah the curse of a language whose spelling does not correspond to sounds -

  • Posted by: hUMPTY dUMPTY - Jul. 29, 2006 7:36 AM ET USA

    waptco64: I have yet to see a rendering of Christ without a beard, and that includes the Shroud. AMDG

  • Posted by: Moneo - Jul. 29, 2006 3:02 AM ET USA

    Ignacio, you are probably correct. All is not rosy in Spanish Catholicism though, as it tends to be very bourgeois & cosy in the parishes, and an aggressive campaign of materialism & secularism, along with some of the "social justice Catholicism" which have plagued the US Church since the early 70s have wreaked havoc on the faith of a generation here since the early 80s. But in general I am very happy with our bishops. They teach with clarity and lead in most cases. Whether people respond...

  • Posted by: Cupertino - Jul. 28, 2006 10:58 PM ET USA

    Explain how someone who had already separated herself from the Church could have been excommunicated by the Cardinal? Answer: Could not have happened since he had no jurisdiction over her, she was out of the Church already. All this demand for a "show" of toughness in this case is troubling. The woman at the well gets sent away with all gentleness but this unfortunate (crazy?) woman has to be scourged and stoned for the benefit of some. What is Christian about that?

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jul. 28, 2006 9:13 PM ET USA

    One of my colleagues once told me that any man who has a beard is hiding something. Of course, people without beards may be hiding things too. . .

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Jul. 28, 2006 9:05 PM ET USA

    moneo That is the difference between Spain and the US. In Spain under the Zapatero regime there is open warfare between the Church and the Liberal Government. Here we are still under the dilusion that we can be nice with those who wish and work for our distruction.

  • Posted by: Lucius - Jul. 28, 2006 8:33 PM ET USA

    Unfortunately Cardinal O' Malley has not shown himself to be a champion for the Faith. We need some bulldogs for the Faith not PR press releases that the Globe could have written.

  • Posted by: Gino - Jul. 28, 2006 8:32 PM ET USA

    She will probably show up again as a Professor of Theology at Boston College!

  • Posted by: Janet Baker - Jul. 28, 2006 8:32 PM ET USA

    Julian, in light of this obvious abdication of duty on the part of Cardinal O'Malley, what causes you to opine that he is a holy man?

  • Posted by: Pete133 - Jul. 28, 2006 7:33 PM ET USA

    OK, Uncle Di. I've got the army. Now, if I get my legs shortened can I be Napoleon? Would that mean I have to find a Josephine? Humor is the only response I can use when it comes to the continual disregard of Church teaching in the Boston Archdiocese. What a shame an otherwise good man like Cardinal O'Malley still does nothing about the constant abuses. I thought he was Irish!!

  • Posted by: Moneo - Jul. 28, 2006 7:19 PM ET USA

    Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid, has publicly reprimanded the city's mayor, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, who is scheduled to officiate at a same-sex civil union tomorrow, for adding to the moral confusion in society. The cardinal has publicly reminded him that marriage can only be contracted by a man and a woman and that the Church's moral doctrines are binding on all Catholics, POLITICIANS INCLUDED. Note to the USCCB: this is what having some backbone looks like.

  • Posted by: Coemgen - Jul. 28, 2006 5:52 PM ET USA

    We have one of the deluded here in Minnesota. She is currently being paid as a hospital chaplain. To top it off, her husband, a deacon, took part in the simulated ordination. Then he was allowed to become an oblate at St. John's Abbey - even though they knew abuot his actions and that he was by definition excommunicated. However, excommunication means nothing if the bishop doesn't make it official and public. I think there are only a couple bishops in the US who have enough spine to do so.

  • Posted by: Moneo - Jul. 28, 2006 5:19 PM ET USA

    Time after time people like Marchant just spit in the face of the Church and make a mockery of their membership in the Body of Christ, and our "shepherds" do nothing. It is the flock which must protest and fight back, and defend itself from the wolves in our midst. Amazing. I do no think Our Lord had this kind of spineless silence in mint when He said to turn the other cheek. He gave His Church REAL AUTHORITY to bind and loose in His name. O'Malley's "leadership" bodes ill for Boston.

  • Posted by: Andy K - Jul. 28, 2006 4:45 PM ET USA

    "But if you wake up tomorrow under the illusion that you are Napoleon Bonaparte, you still won't have an army." You know how to ruin my dreams, Diogenes!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 28, 2006 4:29 PM ET USA

    The Archdiocese's inaction is prompted by fear -- fear of committing a policitcally incorrect, intolerant act --- fear of incurring the wrath of radical feminists within the church.

  • Posted by: FrPhillips - Jul. 28, 2006 4:15 PM ET USA

    No disrespect intended to His Eminence, but she appears to be more of a man than he is.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 28, 2006 3:51 PM ET USA

    I love Cardinal O'Malley because I know he is a holy man, but ... why the timidity on this issue and so many others. Why can't shepherds just call a spade a spade?

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