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Another adventure in journalism: the non-ordination of non-Catholic non-priests

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 25, 2013

Let’s start with the first sentence of the WJLI news report: “Even though the Roman Catholic Church has a new pope, there’s no sign of change in letting women be priests.”

You might not like that opening sentence; it hints at the possibility that a new pope might have changed the perennial teaching of the Church on the impossibility of ordaining women to the priesthood. Still as it stands the sentence is accurate, and rightly conveys the fact—fact, I repeat—that women cannot be ordained as Catholic priests.

So now look at the headline on the same story: “Roman Catholic women priests ordained in Falls Church.” How could that be, if women can’t be ordained as priests? Which is true: the headline or the lead sentence? They can’t both be right.

Read on, and the confusion mounts. The ceremony took place at the First Christian Church. One of the women who claimed ordination is a chaplain at an Adventist hospital. Her husband is a Methodist, the story tells us, “but she said she couldn’t give up her Catholic faith.” Then, a few sentences later, we’re told that “the women taking part are automatically excommunicated.” So then she did give up her Catholic faith, didn’t she?

Fellow journalists, this really isn’t that hard. You can’t be a Catholic priest if you’re not a Catholic. Since the Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests, women who claim to be priests must belong to some other organization. You can argue against Catholic teaching, and can champion the cause of these women, if you like. But the principle of non-contradiction still applies.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bnewman - Jun. 28, 2013 12:11 PM ET USA

    The Press seems to have completely abdicated any sensible evaluation of the unintelligible comments of certain favored ideological groups, particularly those who criticize the Catholic Church. Well done Phil. Keep pointing out this nonsense.

  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Jun. 27, 2013 9:39 AM ET USA

    "You can argue against Catholic teaching, and can champion the cause of these women, if you like. But the principle of non-contradiction still applies." This is water off a duck's back. The point is, that such people are not interested in arguing against the Church's teaching, but of enforcing their will upon the Church regardless of all reason and logic. Their will must prevail against the will of God - or else.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Jun. 25, 2013 5:39 PM ET USA

    Well put! I'm going to share this with some of my fellow parishioners who are a little hazy on the subject.