Roman Catholic Diocese Reacts to Woman Priest
The Spartan Daily, May 10, 2006
by Zeenat Umar

The Diocese of San Jose has publicly condemned Professor Victoria Rue of San Jose State University for claiming that she is a female Roman Catholic priest.

On April 23, the diocese issued the following statement in response to news reports of Rue who leads Mass celebrations twice a week at the Spartan Memorial Chapel.

"Victoria Rue is not a validly ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Roman Catholic Church should not participate in celebrations of the sacraments that are conducted by Victoria Rue, as those celebrations are not in union with the local or universal Church."

Roberta Ward, director of media relations Diocese of San Jose, said the statement was issued to inform people that Rue's services do not have the backing of the Church.

"We don't want people to be confused," Ward said. "There doesn't seem to be confusion on campus. People need to know what Victoria holds in the Chapel is not a valid Mass."

Rue said that her initial reaction to the reproof of the diocese was to the absence of open dialogue.

"The bishop did not try to communicate with me before making his statement that was published in all parish bulletins of San Jose," Rue said. "I want the bishop to hear my story of how I have been called to be a priest and how I was ordained a priest."

Rue said that she and Don Cordero, a married priest who celebrates the Masses with her, have spoken with Father Jose Rubio at Catholic Ministries in San Jose regarding the issue, but they wish to talk to the Bishop
"I want him to hear Don Cordero's story as a priest who is married but forbidden to practice as a priest because he is married," Rue said. "I am hopeful that when the bishop hears our stories, and we hear the bishop's story of how he himself was called to be a priest, that we can find common ground for understanding."

Ward said the conversation hasn't taken place because the bishop has not been available, but added that if one were to occur, there would not be a whole lot to talk about.

"The Bishop has been out of the country for a while, but in all seriousness, even it they did talk, it would not be a long conversation." "Quite frankly, it would be a short conversation because she is simply not a validly ordained priest."

Father Rubio was not available for comment.

John Wilhelmsson, a Ministry Center volunteer at the Campus Ministry in San Jose and a practicing Roman Catholic, said the reason the diocese might not have responded to Rue is because, most likely, by engaging in dialogue with Rue, the Diocese would be instigating room for debate.

"It is pretty obvious to anyone who has studied Catholic theology that a woman cannot be a priest," Wilhelmsson said. "It is against the deposit of faith and against who we are."

Wilhelmsson said the issue has become fused with the rights of women to fully participate in the Church. In his opinion, those in favor of women's ordination believe that clericalism is the most significant part of the Church and ignore a healthier model of the Church that promotes all participants equally.

According to Wilhelmsson, the gist of the problem is the attachment of the label of Roman Catholic in Rue's practice.

"Most practicing Catholics are upset she's saying she's Roman Catholic," Wilhelmsson said. "She's simply not."

Wilhelmsson believes that there may be an agenda behind Rue's acclamation to being a woman priest in conjunction with being Roman Catholic.

"She wants to bring about a change in the Roman Catholic Church, but it's improper," Wilhelmson said. "It's telling a big lie and telling it over and over again."

However, Rue insists that her practice is in union with the Roman Catholic Church.

"The Masses that Don Cordero and I preside at on Sundays at 4 p.m., and the Mass that I preside at on Thursdays at 1 p.m., are Roman Catholic Masses that are in union with the Roman Catholic Church," Rue said. "I am a validly ordained Roman Catholic priest."

Rick Solsten, part of the SJSU staff at the Instructional Resource Center, attends Mass with Rue regularly and said that the diocese is in the wrong for denying Rue's validity.

"Though I believe it is their lawful right to deny validity, I think they are making a great mistake and are on the wrong side of history," Solsten said. "Women were apostles, priests and bishops with full rights through the third century of the Church."

Solsten said that the diocese should at least be at the stage of discussion at this point and that he refuses to practice with the real Church until it includes people of all kinds.

"No, I will not practice my faith with the real Church until they adopt basic human rights for women, gays, lesbians and others they currently marginalize," Solsten said.

Rue said that the statement by the diocese has not appeared to affect any of the people attending the Masses, but in fact has assisted in shedding light on the reason people attend.

"If anything, the statement has only helped to clarify why people are there," Rue said. "And these Masses will continue."

A press release by Rue and Cordero states that Rue was ordained last summer by three women bishops and that this summer four women are scheduled to be ordained as women priests and four as women deacons. The women bishops had been ordained in Europe secretly by male bishops who feared reprisal from the Vatican.

"What we are really doing as women priests and women bishops is following prophetic obedience," Rue said. "We hope that instead of condemning the Roman Catholic women priest movement, church leaders will learn about the history of women's ordination in our Roman Catholic Church and dialogue with us on shaping together a more inclusive, Christ-centered church of equals."

© The Spartan Daily, 2006

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