Canonical status of secretly-ordained women priests and bishops


#1

I have recently heart that at least one Catholic bishop has been secretly ordaining women priests. Further, I heard that this bishop wanted to ensure that these ordinations would take place after his death, so he found two other validly-ordained Catholic male bishops to ordain at least one female bishop.

First, I would like to ask if anyone has information or references to these ordinations.

Second, I would like to ask about the canonical status of these ordinations. I have heard that, for example, the ordinations of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre in the SSPX are considered “valid but illicit.” Obviously, the ordination of women as priests and bishops would be illegal under canon law. However, would they be considered “valid?” if, other than the sex of the person being ordained, the rubrics for the sacrament were followed? Or would the fact that the persons being ordained automatically make the ordinations invalid?

I’m not a canon lawyer, but if there are any in the crowd, your help is appreciated.


#2

I’m not, but I am fairly certain I read from Ed Peters that the ‘matter’ (male sex or ‘man’ being ordained) being invalid in a ‘so-called ordination’ of a woman, that the ‘ordination’ would be invalid.
That’s why, just as with gay ‘marriage’, you will see posts from most authoritative Catholic sources about women’s ‘ordinations’ with the relevant words in ‘quote marks’, indicating that people may be CALLING them such, but that they are not, in fact, such. In a gay ‘marriage’ the priests (God help them) might use the formula for marriage (slightly ‘updated’) and have the INTENTION to ‘marry’, but because the matter (male/male or female/female) is not correct male/female, such a ‘marriage’ would be invalid. Also the ceremony would be illicit as well because the priests would have no permission to do such a thing.

The ordination of SSPX bishops were valid but illicit because the matter (male sex) and formula were correct, (that is the valid part) but the bishops did not have permission to ordain and so the ordinations were illicit.

"Women’s ordinations’ would be invalid (lack of matter) and illicit ( lack of permission) as I understand, again from reading some time ago on a canon law site.


#3

I haven’t heard about any secret ordinations of women. Usually they like to be right out front about it in order to challenge Church teaching. But if it’s happening it would be invalid not to mention illicit.

Second, I would like to ask about the canonical status of these ordinations. I have heard that, for example, the ordinations of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre in the SSPX are considered “valid but illicit.” Obviously, the ordination of women as priests and bishops would be illegal under canon law. However, would they be considered “valid?” if, other than the sex of the person being ordained, the rubrics for the sacrament were followed? Or would the fact that the persons being ordained automatically make the ordinations invalid?

I’m not a canon lawyer, but if there are any in the crowd, your help is appreciated.

Both invalid and illicit since women cannot be ordained. The SSPX only ordain men, so their status would be very different. At least they are meeting one of the main criteria for ordination, that the candidate be male.


#4

Attempting to ordain women as priests or bishops is both illicit and invalid. And attempting to do so incurs automatic excommunication for all those involved.

I have seen the websites for these groups, though I won’t post the links here. They’re not hard to find, though. They do not name the original bishop who started off the whole thing (because he naturally does not want to get in trouble). And I think there is a woman or two that is listed anonymously because of her situation. Otherwise, they are pretty forthcoming about who is being “ordained”.

All of that matters not, though. Invalid ordinations are not real ordinations. And apostolic succession does not and cannot follow.


#5

Invalid.


#6

the women are up-front and center about it. They were ordained in an UCC Protestant Church supposedly by a Bishop who wanted to keep his identiy a secret. The women have already been ex-communicated.

However, if it was a truely a Catholic Bishop do did this, we don’t know who. However, it’s also possible that the women had an excommunicated or laized Bishop do it or even made the whole thing up.

But no matter what, it’s totally invalid.


#7

Correct conclusion, but the premise is wrong. A man is the subject of Holy Orders, not the matter, which is the laying on of hands.

Likewise, the matter of the Sacrament of Matrimony is the exchange of consent, while the subjects are a man and a woman.


#8

Canon 1024: Only a baptized man can validly receive sacred ordination.

Dan


#9

I think it would be prudent to avoid providing specific names and specific links. Some think it is “unjust” of the Church, but the Church is following the example set by Jesus Christ Himself, who, as God, did not follow the customs and practices of the time and acted freely.

Peace,
Ed


#10

They’re not even ordinations. There’s no such thing as an “invalid ordination.” It either is or it is not.

They were and are (and always will be) invalid attempts at ordination. The ceremonies are simulations of a Sacrament.

That’s an important point, because it stands as a reminder that the Church does not forbid these ordinations; rather the Church recognizes the fact that no ordinations take place.


#11

Only males can be priests. This is an infallible teaching of the Church. There should be no confusion among Catholics about this. Obviously the story is either false or we need to pray for some bishops.


#12

Thank you. I knew there was something off but I couldn’t remember what. Ah, of all the things I had in my youth but not now, I miss my mind the most. . .


#13

Here are some examples:
arcwp.org/


#14

Thanks for the quote, Dan!

As to the other comments, about “matter” versus “form” being absent, could someone point me to a link about that issue in theology or canon law (e.g., an introduction to Thomism)? I think the Magesterium has avoided making statements about the ontological differences between men and women, and instead has focused on precedent received from Jesus and the Twelve. Am I right?


#15

Pope John Paul II made things quite clear. Men and women each have characteristics that are different and complementary. Those things things that make a person truly feminine and truly masculine.

vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html

Peace,
Ed


#16

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