Thursday, June 13, 2013

Batavia Woman Fighting tochange Catholic Church

BATAVIA — A Batavia woman is fighting for change in the Catholic Church by becoming a priest.
Debra Meyers May 25 was the first woman in Cincinnati to be ordained as a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Bridget Mary Meehan of Falls Church, Virginia, and Sarasota, Florida, was the presiding bishop.
Despite the ordination, which took place at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church, 320 Resor Ave., in Cincinnati, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati does not recognize Meyers as a priest.
“From our point of view as Roman Catholics, it (ordination) didn’t really take place,” said Dan Andriacco, communications director for the archdiocese.
Ordination can only be conferred by the proper authority, he said. The proper authority in this case would be a bishop.
Because the archdiocese does not recognize women as bishops, Meyers’ ordination is illegal and invalid, Andriacco said.
“The clear and consistent teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Catholic Church cannot ordain a woman as a priest,” he said.
Meyers said she does not care “one way or another about what other people think.”
Every individual baptized Roman Catholic is called on by the Vatican II documents to be a prophet, priest and shepherd, she said.
“That’s the new covenant,” she said.
Meyers, who is a professor at Northern Kentucky University, holds a master’s degree in religious studies and a Ph.D in history and women’s studies.
She knew when she was a small child that she wanted to be a priest, she said. While many people told her she could not be, she found their words to be disturbing, not discouraging.
“I have always been a minister,” she said.
Before her ordination, Meyers provided pastoral care as a mother, a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, pregnancy crisis centers and a professor, she said.
While she knows many women who sought other religious affiliations to be ordained, Meyers said she feels a duty to fulfill her role as a Roman Catholic.
“I feel called to help the church move forward into the 21st century with an inclusive society,” she said.
She wants to help marginalized followers inside and outside the church, including women, gays, lesbians and individuals who are divorced and wish to remarry.
“It’s hard to believe in the New Testament and see how many people are excluded in the church today,” Meyers said.
As a priest, she hopes to perform weddings and serve Mass for alienated Catholics and may offer pastoral care through in-house churches, she said. She also plans to continue teaching at NKU.

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