Posted by: L. E. Barnes | June 21, 2011

A Tail Is Not a Leg

It’s been said that Abraham Lincoln would test people’s reasoning skills by posing the following question: If someone says that a donkey’s tail is a leg, then how many legs does that donkey have? People would answer, “Five.” But Lincoln quickly refuted that, pointing out that calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.

Well, it seems some folks in the Catholic Church need to learn a similar lesson:  Just calling someone a priest does not make that person a priest. A recent NPR story just about curled my hair (or it would have if I didn’t keep my head shaved):

Female Priests Defy Catholic Church at the Altar

by Lily Percy

In 2002, seven women were secretly ordained as priests by two Roman Catholic bishops in Germany. After their ordination, a kind of domino effect ensued.

Those seven women went on to ordain other women, and a movement to ordain female priests all around the world was born. The movement, named Roman Catholic Womenpriests, says more than a hundred women have been ordained since 2002, and two-thirds of them are in the U.S.

On a recent June day in Maryland, four more women were ordained as priests. The gallery at St. John’s United Church of Christ was filled with Catholic priests and nuns, there to support the women and the ordination movement — though visitors were asked not to photograph them. Witnessing the ceremony was enough to risk excommunication.

The audience turned to watch as the women made their way down the aisle, beaming like brides. The two-and-a-half-hour ceremony ended with Holy Communion — the moment they’d been waiting for. Each woman performed the rites for the first time as a priest, breaking bread and serving wine as tears of joy flowed down their faces….

[One of the women] recognizes they are breaking Church law — specifically Canon 10:24 — but says, “when you have an unjust law, sometimes it needs to be broken before it can be changed.”

You can read the full article here (if you can stomach it). It’s probably significant that this “ordination ceremony” took place at a church belonging to the United Church of Christ, a denomination so liberal that some have joked that its initials (UCC) stand for “Unitarians Considering Christ.”

Sorry, ladies, but you're still not priests. Please take off your costumes, go to confession, and let a REAL priest absolve you of your pride and rebelliousness.

The weblog Insight Scoop responded to NPR’s propaganda with this wonderful satire piece that I just have to pass along:

“Male Nuns Defy Catholic Church by being ‘Nun-fied’!”

In 1993, seven men were secretly turned into nuns by two Roman Catholic bishops in Toledo. After their transformation, a kind of domino effect ensued.

Those seven nuns went on to make other men into nuns, and a movement to create male nuns all around the world was born. The movement, named Roman Catholic Men-to-Nuns, says more than a hundred men have been nun-ified since 1993, and five-thirds of them are in small towns in Oregon.

On a recent January day in Bozeman, Montana, five more men were turned into nuns. The gallery at the Second Community Church of Anybody Who Shows was filled with four news reporters, three from NPR, and six family members, half of them there to support the men and their nun-icization movement, though visitors were asked not to photograph them. Witnessing the ceremony was enough to risk outbursts of laughter.

The audience turned to watch as the men-nuns (or “nun-men”, as some call them) strutted down the aisle in action nunwear, beaming like fugitives from the early 1970s. The six-minute ceremony ended with with a whole lot of dancing and prancing. Each nun-man performed tasks such as advocating for “more social justice”, demonstrating their abilities to handcuff themselves to fences (for demonstrations again nuclear weapons), and saying the name “Gaia” in seven languages, all of them made-up on the spot.

Bill Bonkers was one of the nuns created that day, and like his fellow nun-oids, he was raised in the Catholic Catholic (“Well, not really in it”, he explained, “My family drove ten minutes to Mass and were always very late.”). His mother had a black dress at home, and when Bill was a child, she would sometimes wear it and mutter things in Latin while giving him with fertive glances.

“I think she was trying to perform an exorcism. Or something,” he said, admitting the action nunwear chafes his legs, but is also “slightly slimming”.

“My brother and sister would be kneeling behind me, and if I said, ‘Dominus vobiscum,’ I would turn around and say, ‘You’re supposed to say ‘Et cum spiritu tuo,'” Bonkers said.

Fellow nun-fellow Rocky Smith III, had a similar experience growing up. He came from a close-knit Italian family, and always felt comfortable in the Catholic Church. In the late ’70s he got married, had two kids, and was working as an assistant at a local boxing training facility.

Several times a week he would watch “The Sound of Music” during his lunch, and one day he realized, “I’m supposed to be a great singer.” But since he had a horrible voice (“I’m a passable baritone”, he insists, “but a weak soprano”), he decided to become a nun. “After all,” he said, “most of the nuns I knew had their own apartments, dressed like men, didn’t do much except complain about the Church, and didn’t have to take care of families. Sweet!”

As members of the Roman Catholic Church, these men are breaking all church rules, which allow only women to be nuns. No member of the Roman Catholic Men-to-Nuns has been excommunicated by the Church, but they have felt a certain sense of chagrin wearing polyester jump suits and carrying icons of Ghandi and Mick Jagger. “I’m a David Bowie guy myself,” admits Bonkers, “I’m a Ziggy Stardust spirit!” But they have been threatened by people offended by their poor taste in clothing, and they’ve lost friends and colleagues within the Church.

“I thought being a Catholic meant doing whatever made me feel good,” said Smith, “and it feels good to be a nun. God called me to be a singer, but I couldn’t sing. So God then called me to be a nun, because I look good in action nunwear.”

A nice bit of humor. But sadly, the rebellious actions of these women and their supporters is anything but a laughing matter. The Ignatius Scoop article goes on to make the following observations:

This must be what it’s like to be trapped walking eternally on Escher’s famous staircase:

• The priestette’s demand that their “ordinations” be recognized by the Church and they be accepted as Catholic priests. Put another way, they want the blessing and backing of the Church and her authority.

• When excommunicated for knowingly violating Church law in a grave manner, said preistettes brazenly “reject” the law and acts of the Church.

• They say their conscience is supreme without qualification, which is directly contrary to clear Church teaching, which describes their position as a “mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience” and a “rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching” (CCC, par. 1792).

• If their conscience is supreme, without qualification, it logically must have greater authority than the Church, which means 1) they have no need for the Church (so why do they seek the Church’s approval?) and/or 2) the Church’s authority is seriously flawed, even morally bankrupt, which also begs the question: why bother to be recognized and accepted by such an institution?

• Put simply, these priestettes go on and on about their desire and need to be a Catholic priest, yet always demean and even denounce the authority upon which the priesthood rests. If they can indeed “reject” Magisterial authority, that same authority is, logically, powerless to ordain them in any real and meaningful way. This is akin to Dan Brown’s claim that Jesus was a simple carpenter who had, by virtue of some unknown quality, power over his goddess wife, Mary Magdalene. Right. And I have a bridge in southern Utah that you should buy.

Which means one or more of the following:

1. They are theologically ignorant. (“Here is the badge of heresy,” wrote Blessed Cardinal Newman, “its dogmas are unfruitful; it has no theology.”)

2. They view the Church primarily in terms of human authority and position, not as a divine institution founded by Christ for a specific end, with certain functions and roles established by Christ within the Church for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.

3. They act in bad faith, or lack real faith. This is evidenced in their dismissal of Magisterial teaching; it is the “Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error” (CCC, par. 890).

4. They are immature, attention-seeking, delusional, and narcissistic, with no demonstrable love or concern for the Church, her teachings, and her mission. Like the Pharisees, they demand attention and recognition, claiming they have a superior ability to know, interpret, and live the law. Yet they lack the gravitas of the Pharisees; there is a self-absorbed flippancy to these priestettes that is both sad and sickening.

I wish I could say, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” Well, I still will pray, “Father, forgive them.” However, they know all too well what they are doing. These rebels need to remember Samuel’s admonition to Saul: “For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry.” (I Sam. 15: 23a)



  1. These women are utterly delusional and the mental hoops they put themselves through to justify their actions are stupefying. I am reminded also that just because the state of New York says homosexuals can get married doesn’t mean that a few words said over same-sex “couples” means that they are married. We have taken some pretty scary paths in the Church and in the world – not the paths God would have us take. But since the women attempted a sacrament not proper to them, maybe we can say that they have taken a path outside of the Church.

    • Exactly. You can’t be an honest Catholic and do this kind of nonsense. One of the things that makes the Church the Church is its magisterial authority, and people like these make-believe priests are acting as if the Magisterium doesn’t exist and they can just freely change the rules as they see fit. Of course, this episode shows the need for the Magisterium; otherwise, the Church would end up fragmenting into a zillion denominations and independent congregations like Protestantism has.
      Likewise, calling two people of the same sex a married couple doesn’t actually make them married. God have mercy on us all…

  2. A cavalcade of egos.

    • That sums it up quite nicely!

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