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faking it

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 26, 2007


Darling, isn't it? An ex-Jesuit and his ex nun, ex-Catholic wife modeling matching albs and his-'n-her Sandinista stoles. He's got an indelible mark somewhere, and she has a video of herself prostrate on a riverboat deck. The tame journalist plays along to help reinforce the confusion between a valid sacrament illicitly performed and a counterfeit ceremony that is no sacrament at all:

Rev. Juanita Cordero, an ordained Catholic priest, was up on the altar, celebrating the Mass. Cordero, a Los Gatos resident, has been a priest since July. Prior to her ordination she spent 10 years as a Holy Names nun.

Emphasis mine. By silently adopting Cordero's self-description as a priest, the journalist (as we've come to expect) is taking sides in a controversy about which she is supposed to be reporting from neutral ground. Catholics have frequently protested this persistent inaccuracy, but it's an inaccuracy too useful for the media to do without. There's nothing newsworthy in Lefty layfolks strumming folk guitars in the basement, but if you can work the shell game with the key words swiftly enough, you can hand the progressives the semblance of ecclesial legitimacy:

"The Vatican, of course, doesn't recognize women as priests," Cordero notes. "We now have a pope who'd like to return the Mass to Latin, so that's not likely to change anytime soon. But throughout history, if a bishop or priest had been validly ordained by another bishop, even if that new bishop or priest did something wrong he was still validly ordained. My succession line comes from those male bishops so we are validly ordained, even if the Vatican considers us 'illicit.' "

No, the Vatican doesn't consider women priests "illicit"; the Holy See understands and declares that the ordination of women was, is, and always will be invalid -- a sacramental "nothing." Cordero certainly knows this, and the dishonesty of her misrepresenting the mind of the Church must be employed with the tactical purpose of convincing the heathen and the inattentive that the distinctions are mere hair-splitting.

There's a radical incoherence in the stance of a dissenter like Cordero who takes the trouble to acquire a "succession line" from an institution whose authority over that succession she rejects. Yet this incoherence is doctrinal, and Cordero and her ex-Jesuit husband obviously aren't interested in doctrine. What they are interested in is mystique, and the Church by her gravity and antiquity is freighted with lots of potent hieratic symbolism they'd like to tap into.

They're playing church. And that means dressing up. And whatever their theology, they never dress up as a missionary fixing a pump handle.


It may be the case that the status of women priests has been somewhat blurred by the focus on their attempts to preside at the Eucharist, as opposed to the Sacrament of Penance. I'd be interested to know how many High Church Anglicans, e.g., with a strong belief in the need for sacramental absolution, would resort to a female priest for confession. I wonder how many "Catholic" pretenders like Cordero would encourage others to make confessions to them. Picture a Cordero with a job as a city hospital chaplain, at the bedside of a dying Catholic -- a pious Mexican, say -- whose failing vision and lucidness made him unaware that he was being ministered to by a woman. Would Cordero, for all her feminist bravado, have the audacity to hear his last confession and give him her bogus absolution? With the stakes raised by the deathbed, would her flippancy about the Pope and the Latin Mass still speak to her? Would her Nicaraguan vestments strengthen her resolve? With salvation and damnation in the balance, could she be positive that she was doing what a Catholic priest could do?

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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Sep. 27, 2007 9:00 PM ET USA

    Re: ladybird & Remigius - Mrs. Priest WOULD "hear" "Confession", but would likely see it as a therapeutic moment for the layperson to, say, get in touch with the Christ-Spirit within, without which (whom?) we live full of guilt etc. etc. I once confessed to a now mildly-well-known anti-war priest; it was a penance in itself. We couldn't even agree on what sins I'd committed - he felt that "actual" sins weren't the problem as much as my guilt over them. Thank God, he did *finally* absolve me.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 27, 2007 2:31 PM ET USA

    Another interesting point: even in the case of validly ordained priests, when they don't have the permission of their bishop to perform the sacraments, three of them become invalid - CONFESSION, marriage, and confirmation.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 27, 2007 12:53 PM ET USA

    I think Remegius must be right. The two priests have descended into paganism - their loving and merciful god has no damnation in store for any transgression, heresy, or sin. So, then, why would either of them hear any confession, deathbed or otherwise? What purpose would it serve. To their way of thinking, ALL IS FORGIVEN - no need for confession, repentance, or intention to reform and conform to God's will. If I don't think I've sinned, then I haven't! Right?!

  • Posted by: - Sep. 27, 2007 12:36 PM ET USA

    The deceiver is nothing if not audacious

  • Posted by: - Sep. 27, 2007 11:11 AM ET USA

    "With salvation and damnation in the balance, could she be positive that she was doing what a Catholic priest could do? " Is there any chance that Ms. dress-up "priest" believes in damnation? Maybe at one time, before her descent into heresy. The liberal theology she has embraced considers Hell a myth best forgotten. For the female fake priest, "ordination" not about salvation; its all about the self-affirmation of seizing power while pretending to serve others. No one else is served here.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 27, 2007 7:35 AM ET USA

    Your reference to her hearin a deathbed confession is really a question about whether she would knowlingly commit a sin so dreadful that it merits Hell. It makes me shudder to think about it......

  • Posted by: - Sep. 27, 2007 1:07 AM ET USA

    These two are practicing self and mutual validation of religious fantasy. Maybe they are too lazy to go out and get a real job that they can qualify to do. Are there really enough crazies out there to fill their collection plate? Being located in Los Gatos does not validate her standing even if the Jesuits still have Sacred Heart Center there.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 26, 2007 9:10 PM ET USA

    Of course she could and she would. Everybody she knows does. Priesthood of the faithful, baby! If the fancy dress-up clothes make the client feel better, so be it. The likelihood is not small that she has already been directress of a hospital's Clinical Pastoral Education.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 26, 2007 5:13 PM ET USA

    You make a brilliant observation in the second half of this post that I never considered and I'm betting you're right. I seriously doubt that any of these female frauds is SO convinced of the validity of their orders that they would hear a deathbed confession. They would likely still have a shell of a conscience thus preventing them from such a despicable deed.

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