Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Voice of America on female ‘priests’

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 20, 2023

The news from Voice of America (your tax dollars at work) now features a report on “Female priests secretly celebrating Catholic Masses”. Not too secretly, I guess, since the celebrants sat down for interviews.

To be fair to VOA News, the narrative makes it clear that these female celebrants are not recognized by the Catholic Church. The captions on the interviews, identifying the women, put the word “priest” in scare quotes. The report includes a simple but clear explanation of why the Church cannot ordain women, and quotes Pope Francis as saying: “This door is closed.”

So what is the story about, really? Watch the video, and you see a few ceremonies, involving a handful of people sitting in folding chairs, conducting themselves with the level of reverence and formality that you might expect at a meeting of the local homeowners’ association. The settings don’t look like churches, the participants don’t look like worshippers, and the ceremonies don’t look like a Catholic Mass.

Which of course they aren’t. Again you might credit VOA News for accuracy, since the report lets viewers know that the “celebrants” are excommunicated for staging a mock liturgy. The reporter tells us: “No one thinks that females will be allowed to officially celebrate Mass anytime soon, if ever.” Right.

Is it news, though, when someone unofficially celebrates Mass? In this case “unofficially” doesn’t simply meant that the ceremony is not on the record books. It means that the ceremony is illicit and invalid. Nothing of note happens. The community-center basement remains a community-center basement. The bread is still bread.

Nevertheless the Voice of America thinks this is a story worth telling. The narrator tells us that there may be as many as ten female “priests” in the region of Washington, DC. This is a “global movement,” she assures us, with as many as 250 female priests scattered around the world. But they aren’t priests. And if you tell me that there are 250 women in the world living out a fantasy—ten of them somewhere near our nation’s capital—I am not impressed. Just to keep things in perspective, more than 250 people will read this column before sundown today.

Alas, the readership of my commentary is not generally recognized as a “global movement.” But I can’t help wondering whether, if I accused Jesus of committing “gender apartheid” and announced that the Catholic Church “has been wrong before, and it is wrong now,” would I rate a feature on VOA News?

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: feedback - Jan. 23, 2023 1:17 PM ET USA

    Good questions: Why does VOA News (propaganda arm of the US Gov't) find this newsworthy? And, why are the "masses" described as done in secret? What could be the reason for the alleged secrecy other than, perhaps, the fear of embarrassment? Wikipedia says that until 2013 "Voice of America was forbidden to broadcast directly to American citizens under § 501 of the Smith–Mundt Act... The intent of the legislation was to protect the American public from propaganda actions by their own government."

  • Posted by: CorneliusG - Jan. 21, 2023 5:01 PM ET USA

    Well, our culture encourages living out fantasies, however detached from reality they are. Indeed, reality itself is a patriarchal, heteronormative, oppressive, white supremacist construct, yadda, yadda, yadda. There is only my WILL. I will, therefore I am.