Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

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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  • Posted by: New Sister - Dec. 23, 2010 12:06 PM ET USA

    "boring"? How about officious to the point of irreverence? Sure, the revised "translations" are a vast improvement, but now that I go to the Traditional Latin Mass (with my mother's 1958 Missal), I, along with throngs of others who are blessed with access to this solemn liturgy, find even the new translations– yea, modern liturgy itself – so far lacking. Why, o why, not use the rich translations and Eucharistic prayers that were in place pre-Vatican II?

  • Posted by: Lisa Nicholas, PhD - Dec. 20, 2010 1:47 PM ET USA

    I rejoice that this collect is still used on the Third Sunday of Advent in the Anglican Use (notice how it translates "magna nobis virtute succurre"): Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Dec. 20, 2010 10:31 AM ET USA

    Has anyone noticed how often good things come in November?

  • Posted by: ILM - Dec. 16, 2010 1:02 PM ET USA

    Stpetric, your comment seems to assume innocence on the part of those that defend “this stuff”. The rewrite of the Mass after Vatican II very skillfully eliminated reference to personal responsibility for sin. The example above shows this. Hopefully changes coming next November will undo some of the damage.

  • Posted by: unum - Dec. 15, 2010 8:24 AM ET USA

    They say that a giraffe is a horse designed by a committee, and boring prose is inspirational prayer translated by a committee. In many of the Church meetings we attend, we pray, "Come Holy Spirit ..." and then dive into our own agendas without giving the Spirit a chance to inspire us. The result is uninspired. I pray that in the coming year we will actually invite the Spirit so that we may produce inspired results.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Dec. 15, 2010 2:36 AM ET USA

    But the current version has fewer than 140 characters! Surely a Twitter-compliant liturgy is SO much to be preferred.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Dec. 14, 2010 10:08 PM ET USA

    These "translations" are not only put into English so bad that 3rd graders would find it boring, but it's not even a good reflection of the Latin--the worst of both worlds! How people can defend this stuff completely baffles me.