|Succession, Yes; Legitimacy, No
October 1, 2010
Time magazine has taken another stride in its campaign to confer some sort of media-inspired legitimacy on the women who masquerade improbably as Catholic priests. Having reported—with a straight face—about a Chicago woman who claimed to be a priest, Time now follows up with a sympathetic report on Bridget Mary Meehan, a woman who claims to be a bishop. How did that happen? Time explains that Meehan wanted to celebrate Mass.
So in 2006 she was made a priest by a group of German female theologians who four years earlier had been ordained by a renegade cleric — and who were made bishops, they claim, by a sympathetic European bishop whose identity they won't reveal. If true, that Da Vinci Code — like scenario, they argue, gives the Womenpriests the legitimacy of apostolic succession, the priestly line that dates back to Jesus' Apostles.
There’s that inaccurate reporting again. The German female theologians were not “ordained by a renegade cleric.” The cleric attempted to ordain them, accomplishing only his own excommunication. Women cannot be ordained as Catholic priests.
But the more interesting part of Time’s report is in the latter part of the paragraph above. The comparison with the Da Vinci Code is apt; this story too is an outlandish tale, cobbled together from untruths and distortions. If indeed some bishop attempted to ordain women as bishops, they could plausibly point to a line that traces all the way back to the apostles. But “legitimacy” is not the word to use for a fraudulent act, done in secrecy to avoid accountability, by a man who wanted to break away from the very tradition now being cited.
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