all very cordial

By Diogenes (articles - email) | Jul 30, 2006

A Wisconsin woman who (surprise!) sits on her local parish council plans to participate in the sham "ordination" ceremony in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Kathy Sullivan Vandberg told her story to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. In part:

Q: Did you speak with him?
A: I have met with Archbishop Dolan. He invited me to come in. We had a very cordial meeting last September. I'm not excommunicated. I'm a full member of the Roman Catholic Church at this time. He was very gracious and we talked about the situation.
Q: And after Monday? A: We didn't talk about that.
(An archdiocesan spokeswoman told the Journal Sentinel on Friday that Vandenberg has had a "time of discernment" and that her case will be forwarded to the Vatican if she goes through with Monday's ordination and does not recant.)

Cordiality is an asset, and Archbishop Dolan has plenty of it. Moreover, we're getting only one side of the story; the archbishop may have been more forceful than this account suggests. Still, her perception of the meeting raises questions:

  • When a member of the flock is planning a very serious step, which will separate her from the means of salvation, should it be possible for her to think of the archbishop's response as "cordial?"
  • Since she has already claimed ordination as a deacon-- thus testifying that she participated in a ritual illicitly simulating a sacrament-- why is she so certain that she is "a full member of the Roman Catholic Church at this time?"
  • By participating in a fake ordination ceremony, she will incur the punishment of excommunicate latae sententiae. The local archbishop has the authority to announce that excommunication. What need is there to forward the case to Rome-- except perhaps to give the archbishop some distance from the inevitable decision, and pin the blame on that nasty old Vatican?
Oh and by the way:
  • Since Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg implicitly admits that she might not be "a full member of the Roman Catholic Church" after the ceremony, will she still claim to be a Catholic priest?

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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