We all too often hear about lapses and failures of our bishops in the United States, especially in the areas of leadership and catechesis. Today I was heartened and inspired as I read a letter written by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis to the faithful under his care. The subject is the so-called ordination ceremony that took place in St. Louis on November 11 under the leadership of the dissident Roman Catholic Womenpriests.
While this kind of handling of a difficult situation is typical for Archbishop Burke, this particular letter provides of glimpse of the Archbishop’s genuine love of the faith and concern for his flock.
While the Church teaching regarding the reservation of priestly ordination to men only should be clear to all Catholics, Archbishop Burke took the time to notify the women involved prior to the illicit ceremony. He provided them with the Church’s teaching and the reasons, and made clear to them the canonical penalties associated with such a sacrilege. He also contacted the Jewish synagogue, where the “ordination ceremony” was to take place. He asked them not to host the event out of respect for the Catholic faithful and explained why such a ceremony would be offensive to Catholic sensibilities. The leaders of this synagogue did not honor his plea.
After the ceremony took place, Archbishop Burke personally notified the two women of the interdict he was placing them under.
In the meantime, he wrote a detailed letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, explaining the situation, its gravity, his response and the reasons for it.
I hope others will recognize Archbishop Burke for the leader and pastor that he is and other bishops will look to him as an example. His letter can be found here.
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