Canadian Bishop Urges Continued Pressure for Ordination of Women

A Roman Catholic bishop from Canada says the issue of ordaining women to the priesthood “has become a symbol of the willingness or refusal of the Catholic Church to come to grips with the challenges presented by contemporary society.”

Bishop Remi J. De Roo of Victoria, British Columbia, urged a gathering of Catholic feminists in Washington last weekend to continue raising the issue: “Evading the issue will cause irreparable harm to the Catholic Church.” De Roo said ordination of women, which is barred both by canon law and Vatican interpretation of church doctrine, involves more than the desire of individuals.

“At stake is how we continue effectively to image God, to understand our membership” in the church, as well as how the church and its mission are defined, De Roo said.

Roman Catholic involvement in efforts for Christian unity are also at stake, he said, citing the current worldwide Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue that is beginning to focus on ministry. The fact that Anglican churches in Canada and the United States, among others, ordain women as priests is showing “another side” that the Catholic Church will have to reckon with, he said.

De Roo was the final speaker at the conference, which drew more than 2,400 participants--almost all women--from throughout the country. The unusual gathering, organized and conducted by an Annapolis, Md.-based firm specializing in Catholic interests, had no official church status and therefore produced no resolutions or proposals for action. A substantial number of the participants, perhaps as many as half, were nuns, who have formed the backbone of Catholic feminist movement.