The Centre and the Margins: Roman Catholic Women Priests, ordained extra legem, and their Eucharistic liturgies

Susan K. Roll, Special to The Review | May 1, 2020

June 29, 2020 marked the eighteenth anniversary of a daring initiative that took place on a rented boat in the middle of the Danube River. Seven women – four German, two Austrian and one Austrian-American – were ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood according to the official ritual by two Roman Catholic bishops who were, at that moment, not in good standing, although their ordination was valid according to the principle of apostolic succession. The seven women claimed the validity of their ordination based on the same principle – that the sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by a bishop on a priest down a line of succession that, at least in theory, traces back to the original apostles of Jesus the Christ. Their ordination was, however, contrary to Canon 1024 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law that governs the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. This canon states, “A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.”

Over 200 women worldwide have been ordained outside the currently valid law with further ordinations scheduled. The vast majority serve in small house church groups or social justice projects. In a way that echoes the original ordination of women priests they plan and preside at Eucharistic celebrations, but with some theologically and occasionally structurally-significant differences compared to a Eucharistic celebration according to the Roman Missal. In this article we will sketch the genesis of this movement, then examine the structure and dynamics of two major public Eucharistic celebrations planned and presided by Roman Catholic Women Priests: the closing liturgy of the conference, “Gender, Gospel, Global Justice” organized by “Women’s Ordination Worldwide” in Philadelphia (USA) in September 2015, and a Eucharistic liturgy on a smaller scale held in Ottawa, Canada in May 2017. Needless to say these two representative liturgical events were not held in Roman Catholic churches: the latter was held in a neighbourhood Anglican church, and the former in the large banquet hall of a downtown hotel. As a result of their ordination extra legem women priests are immediately and automatically excommunicated.


1. A short history of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Since the 1960’s several organizations of Roman Catholic women worked to research and to promote the question of the admission of women to the priesthood, organizations such as St. Joan’s Alliance and the Women’s Ordination Conference in the United States. By the early 1970’s in both Germany and Canada a majority of bishops supported opening up the question for study – Cardinal George B. Flahiff of Winnipeg presented a petition on behalf of the Canadian bishops at the Vatican. The Pontifical Biblical Commission studied whether Scripture alone could be used as a warrant either to promulgate or to refuse priestly ordination to women, and in 1976 agreed that it did not. But two papal proclamations, in 1976 and 1994, stated categorically that the Catholic Church did not possess from Jesus Christ the authority to ordain women. Nonetheless, according to opinion surveys the idea of women priests was becoming more and more acceptable, even self-evident. In 1996 the network “Women’s Ordination Worldwide” was founded at the First Women’s Synod in Gmunden, Austria, in order to coordinate the movement for the ordination of women worldwide and to promote awareness of the questions around a renewed priestly ministry in general.

In June of 2002 seven women were ordained priests on a boat on the Danube, by two Catholic bishops who were themselves ordained bishops validly but no longer exercised ministry licitly. (A third bishop was prevented by several of his peers from attending the rite.) This was the start of RCWP, of which there are today more than two hundred priests worldwide. One year later two of these women were ordained bishops, by bishops at least one of whom remained anonymous, but whose apostolic succession was properly documented and notarized, so that they in turn could ordain future women candidates to the priesthood. This meant that ongoing ordination of women deacons and priests in the RCWP movement by women bishops could appeal to the tradition of apostolic succession as an argument for the legitimacy of their ordination, in the face of its non-licit character.

The women priests, in turn, committed themselves and their local communities to a renewed model of priestly ministry as pastoral service and accompaniment, not governance. Several characteristic foundation stones of the Roman Catholic priesthood, such as mandatory celibacy and the promise of obedience to one’s bishop, do not exist in RCWP. Many of the priests (including a few men) are in fact married. RCWP associates include among others the spouses of priests, a few of whom are men who were themselves ordained and who left the active ministry later. The renewal embodied in the RCWP movement includes a synodal and not hierarchical organization of local communities, inclusivity and welcome to all persons in their diversity. RCWP is in essence a Roman Catholic church reform movement.

As of 2008 all the women priests ordained previously (and subsequently) were to be considered excommunicated latae sententiae, that is, automatically with no explicit declaration required from the Vatican.

2. The historical roots of RCWP Eucharists in feminist experimental ritual

To better understand the nature and the spirit of the two Eucharistic liturgies to be examined, one must briefly survey the phenomenon of the feminist liturgical movement, sometimes called the women’s liturgical movement, and sometimes more explicitly Womeneucharist. This movement which dates to the mid-1970’s gave to many a great deal of freedom for creativity in the design and the execution of formal or informal common prayer in the Catholic faith tradition, celebrated by women themselves.

During the 1980’s groups of feminist women around the world experimented with developing and enacting meaningful rituals that were highly original but rooted in their own lived experiences of women’s lives, and therefore contextual in nature. Such a ritual might address a pastoral need for which no corresponding ritual exists in official denominational liturgical books, or for which the existing ritual does not fully respond to the perceptions of those involved. Healing from various types of trauma may be emphasized. Multiple leaders are far more common than a single presider. Feminist rituals characteristically employ symbols that come from nature, whether organic or not, and express a clear orientation toward cosmic phenomena: solstices, equinoxes and the turning of the seasons, for example, or alternately the natural life-cycle of the female body such as menstruation or menopause. They may use Scripture texts, apocryphal texts such as the story of Thecla, texts composed by such eminent women as Hildegard of Bingen or Teresa of Avila, or also spiritual texts of other provenance such as literary or poetic texts. Music might be taken from standard hymnals when the language and imagery does not render women invisible or stereotyped, but often has been written or adapted from various sources in the past three decades. The language used is of paramount importance: not merely non-sexist or even inclusive language, but the ideal must be what Marjorie Procter-Smith calls emancipatory language. Natural foodstuffs such as bread in various forms, fruit, or liquids may be blessed and shared, or used as visual symbols.

The worldwide feminist liturgical movement highlighted a pre-existing and deeply-rooted, if often unconscious, misogyny at the heart of the Catholic Church. Unlike the Liturgical Movement of the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, it could not appeal to precedents validated by historical-critical research nor could it argue for credibility from pastoral experimentation in particular world cultures such as the experiments with an RCIA-like process for adult initiation in 1950’s France and West Africa. But for the majority of participants, the priority was to find, or if necessary to create, a free space which permitted possibilities for spiritual healing, for genuine creativity, to enter into a living dynamism of action and meditation, and to become subjects, no longer simply objects, of their own liturgical life.

Ultimately the most significant aspect was that of women presiding at public worship, on their own terms so to speak, as agents of liturgy in a way that did not exist in the official rites of the Catholic Church. Not only would the experience of creative feminist liturgy have shaped the possibilities for vibrant and engaging worship enacted by those ordained as women priests, but even more did the possibility itself of a woman or women standing in the midst of the worshipping community, in a holy place (though that might be contextually defined), and embodying the community’s access to the Sacred.

For the purposes of this article we can isolate several key elements in which the two case study RCWP Eucharists either diverged from, or reinterpreted prescribed Roman Catholic liturgical norms: the configuration of space and locus of visible ritual leadership; bodily positioning and movement within the space or defined segments of space; visual aesthetic elements: décor, fabric, colour; aural aesthetic elements: music and text; and use of bread and wine.

Of the two case studies of an RCWP-planned and led Eucharistic liturgy, the celebration that closed the conference “Gender, Gospel and Global Justice” conference in Philadelphia was by far the larger and more complex of the two. It also involved a larger and international planning committee and a more extended planning process.

3, The WOW closing liturgy in Philadelphia

In mid-September 2015, just a few days prior to the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia, 500 women and men participated in the third international colloquium for the Roman Catholic priestly ordination of women under the auspices of Women’s Ordination Worldwide (acronym WOW,) organized by the U.S.-based Women’s Ordination Conference which had been founded in 1975. The Eucharistic celebration that closed the colloquium illustrated the original approach that also characterized rites and liturgies presided by these women priests: engaging, joyous, with a great deal of dance, colour, theatrical elements and a creative use of classic texts and songs.

It was in the spirit of creative feminist liturgies full of colour and movement, but also with the confidence to celebrate the Eucharist among a large assembly of 500 persons including a number of women priests that the planning committee began its work. The planning process lasted eight months, with regular meetings among the planning group of twelve from five countries, by Skype or via conference-calling.

The space was to be the grand ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, with ribbons in eight selected colours on the projection screen in front of the assembly. The participants were seated eight to a table, facing each other around round tables at which eight ribbons in various bright colours had been placed crosswise from side to side, forming a sort of wheel with sixteen spokes. A small group of musicians sat off to the left side, with a grand piano and guitar accompaniment.

This celebration began with a short staged theatre piece authored by Victoria Rue, a professor of theatre arts in California and an RCWP woman priest. Twelve fictional characters played by conference participants and following the script, shared their impressions of the conference, their feelings and their hopes going into this weekend, what they had learned and what had struck them. The characters spoke of the ministries and social action projects they were involved in at home, often in the margins of the official Church. At the end the characters spoke directly from the elevated stage to the audience, saying “We invite you to share your own story, briefly, at your table.” Each table broke into sharing and chatter for several minutes. Then a leader called their attention back and instructed each person at each table to choose a coloured ribbon. A greeting and welcome rite followed:

“Those with green ribbons, please stand in body or spirit,” then “We welcome and are in solidarity with all who work for justice in North America.” The entire assembly responded, “Welcome! and Peace!” Then the same rite occurred with the yellow ribbon (for South America), the orange ribbon (for Africa,), red for Asia, pink for Australia, purple for Europe, Gold for “all people and places worldwide that need justice,” and finally blue for “the cosmos.”

Then followed an opening song, “Spirit of our Elders,” an opening prayer in which all participants took part via invited arm gestures, then another song “Sister Wisdom.” The next element was a “Litany of Women” that names various courageous and prophetic women in the Catholic Church throughout history up to the present, most of whom were ignored or silenced in their own time, with the sung response “Sister Wisdom, Spirit of Grace, Arise! Awake in us!”

The Liturgy of the Word, readings and citations chosen by members of the planning committee to fit the themes of women’s wisdom and prophetic leadership and not the readings assigned to this Sunday in the Lectionary, included a first reading by one lector from the book of Wisdom 7: 23-25a. Then seven readers each presented a quotation from a woman leader related to a phrase in the Wisdom reading, which at the same time was projected on overhead screens with several images illustrating each quote, while a dancer on the assembly floor interpreted the quotes. The highpoint of the readings corresponded to the Gospel reading in a standard Eucharistic celebration, Luke 1: 46-58, the Canticle of Mary (Magnificat). This was proclaimed using music and dance: the assembly sang the “Canticle of the Turning,” the version set by composer Rory Cooney to an Irish folk melody, « The Star of the County Down:

“My soul cries out My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great / and my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait / You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn / So from east to west shall my name be blessed, Could the world is about to turn? My heart shall sing of the day you bring, Let the fires of your justice burn / Wipe away all tears for the dawn draws near / And the world is about to turn.

At the same time a company of five women dancers led by a professional liturgical dancer twirled joyously with brilliantly-coloured veils and streamers in the wide centre aisle among the tables of participants. The atmosphere became energetic and empowering as the radically revolutionary words of the Magnificat, particularly in the Rory Cooney rendering, channeled a powerful and dynamic hope for thoroughgoing change in the liturgical leadership of the Catholic Church and the dignity of all the baptized.

The place of the homily was given to two speakers, one highly-respected RCWP bishop and one young woman columnist for a national Catholic newspaper. When they had finished speaking the participants were invited to share their thoughts in a brief discussion at their respective tables.

For the Prayers of the Faithful, five participants came forward and announced prayer intentions in, respectively, Spanish, German, French, English and Polish ( a translation was provided in the paper program.) A song was sung as a collection was taken up to support young Catholic women studying theology in preparation for ministry.

The Eucharist was celebrated in a deliberately decentralized manner, simultaneously but at each table, where gluten-free bread and grape juice had been placed. The speaking parts were identified by the colour of the ribbon chosen at the start by each participant and now placed over each one’s shoulders in the manner of a priestly stole. The texts were identifiable as adaptations of the wording of a typical Eucharistic prayer, for example “Let us give thanks to Wisdom/Sophia // It is right to give thanks and praise.” The next text sections, corresponding to a ribbon colour, were proclaimed by the one at each table holding that ribbon, such as, the purple ribbons,

Blessed are you, God of Thecla, Phoebe, Junia, Prisca. We thank you for raising up strong women house church leaders to transform our church and world. You called them to be one of your kindom of priests. And so we join with all creation and praise you singing…

After acclaiming Wisdom Sophia as holy, the words of consecration were spoken, from the printed program, by all participants in unison, as one person at each table elevated the bread, then the grape juice. After a unison prayer of blessing, the bread and juice were shared immediately.

Thereafter followed a moment of silence throughout the assembly, then a closing reading, Phil 1: 3-9, and a “Blessing Song.” Everyone was invited to stand if they could, then four participants went forward to pronounce each of four blessings over the assembly. A Greeting of Peace closed the spoken rite, followed by singing “Sister Carry On” (a song that had been sung at the 1996 European Women’s Synod where WOW was founded), then a reprise of the “Canticle of the Turning” and the twirling dancers as participants chattered exuberantly and slowly made their way out.

3. Characteristics of this celebration according to the criteria above

3.1.1 Configuration of space and locus of visible ritual leadership

The hotel banquet hall provided a spacious setting for the assembly that allowed freedom of movement between the tables and up and down a corridor created in the centre of the space. All of this facilitated participation in the dance portions of the ritual and unimpeded access from the tables to the wide centre aisle. The round tables promoted a spatial sense of dialogue among equals, a priority in women’s ordination organizations, and a concretization of what might be meant by table fellowship of equals. A hotel ballroom of course can be transformed into congenial space but not “sacred space” except on a temporary basis. For a complex, geographically widespread and activist population such as those who participated in the WOW conference such a space may well have been perceived as friendlier precisely because it did not need first to be mentally de-patriarchalized, so to speak.

Somewhat unavoidably the high stage from which plenary and large-workshop speakers and their PowerPoint presentations had been clearly visible, intimated a higher-than-the-assembly ranking on the part of leaders including various women priests. For the prologue to the Eucharist, the theatre piece, a stage worked beautifully to make the actors visible. Thereafter it became a very much raised equivalent of an altar space, normally a spatial “message” that feminist liturgy generally will do everything possible to avoid. This was somewhat offset however by the way the structure of the liturgy rotated speaking parts among a variety of participants, and the fact that for some parts such as the Prayers of the Faithful the speakers remained on the same floor level as the assembly. Clear sight lines in an assembly of 500 would have posed problems in any case.

3.1.2. Bodily positioning and movement within the space or defined segments of space

The primary element of movement, apart from the transition of various leaders and speakers up to the front of the assembly and back, was that of the dancers and their invitation to anyone who wished to join in the dance. At various moments of prayer all present were invited to lift up their arms or to extend their arms in other ways. All of these represent creative movement introduced into the structure of a Eucharistic celebration. A classic element of bodily movement and displacement that was missing from this event were formal processions to bring up the gifts at the Preparation of the Gifts (because the bread and wine had already been placed on each table), and a procession forward of those receiving Communion (because distribution of the blessed bread and wine was done around each table while participants remained seated.)

3.1.3. Visual aesthetic elements: décor, fabric, colour

Swirling bright-coloured diaphanous fabric scarves and whirling skirts on the part of the dancers, as well as the constructed symbolism of the eight colours of the ribbons laid across the tables and the subsequent ritual use made of those ribbons according to the colour of each, reflected sensuality and exuberance. The presence and repeated use of the overhead screens above the stage, on the other hand, proved distracting when a long text had to be read from the screen at the same time that another text or a ritual action was being performed. While the screen introduced the idea of coloured ribbons using a famous poster designed in the 1960’s by Corita Kent right at the beginning, as the celebration progressed the screens added to what some experienced as a frustrating complexity of visual stimulation.

3.1.4. Aural aesthetic elements: music and text

Because of the relative simplicity of the musical accompaniment for hymns sung by the community and the small choir, the music seemed to support the celebration and did not, as did the visual elements, threaten to overwhelm and distract participants. The acoustics were appropriate to the size of the space, the amplified sound neither too loud nor too faint. Readers could be clearly heard from the microphone, although there was some scattering of sound during the theatre piece as various speakers around the table on stage took their cue to speak.

3.1.5. Use of bread and wine

The planners for this event were careful to choose foodstuff for Eucharist that would permit wide participation. For this reason the only bread used was gluten-free, and grape juice was used to permit participation by those who might need to avoid alcohol for medical or recovery reasons. The loaves were large enough to symbolize generosity and abundance, and could be broken by hand in a meaningful Eucharistic gesture visible at each table at close range. The pouring of the juice and the symbolic effect of its red-purple colour spoke eloquently as visual as well as tactile and taste-symbolism.

4. The Eucharistic celebration at CNWE in Ottawa

The second example of an RCWP-planned and presided Eucharistic liturgy took place as part of the biennial meeting of the Canadian organization Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (acronym CNWE) that took place in Ottawa, Ontario, at the end of May 2017. This event was considerably more modest in scope because the participants numbered no more than 75. The conference was held at a local university but the venue for this liturgy was a small Anglican church with a classic pews-facing-forward layout and an altar area raised by one step, a configuration not normally favoured by RCWP because of its stiffness and inherent hierarchical ranking of participants. RCWP liturgies, as in the feminist liturgical movement generally, are almost always organized in a circle of chairs with a visual display, or a table to use for a Eucharist, at the centre. This liturgy followed the Roman Catholic Eucharistic liturgy more closely in structure and content than did the 2015 Philadelphia liturgy, although many texts were edited to align with the emphasis on inclusivity, multiple voices and more contemporary theology. While considerably less exuberant and visually stimulating than the 2015 liturgy, in this celebration the differences in Eucharistic theology between the feminist liturgical movement as developed and given textual expression by the women priests and associates of RCWP, and the formal Eucharistic liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, came to the fore. Some of these characteristics included an emphasis on inclusivity and the absence of the theological theme of sacrifice.

This Eucharist was planned over a three month period by the former RCWP bishop for Canada and several experts who communicated via E-mail and phone calls. RCWP already uses a Sacramentary of its own with some of the key texts edited or adapted from the Roman Missal to express the prophetic and inclusive nature of RCWP as a church reform movement. The fact that it was held in a small Anglican church meant that music and most sung service parts were chosen from the Canadian Anglican hymnal Common Praise. Participants received a small paper program along with the hymnal when they entered the worship space, and the overhead screen to the side was not used. Accompaniment was provided by two guitarists with modest amplification. The spoken and textual material was primarily in English with one reading and several prayers in French.

During the opening song, “Will You Come and Follow Me” five presiders, four women and one man, processed in wearing albs and stoles. When the song was concluded the RCWP bishop introduced each of the co-presiders and noted that exactly ten years previously the first RCWP priestly ordination on land (as compared to boats on rivers or in international waters as had been the case since from 2002 until 2007) was held, at a United Church in Toronto. Then she began, “In the name of God who is Source of all Being, Eternal Word and Divine Wisdom,” then “Peace be with you” to which the congregation responded “And also with you,” deliberately using the ecumenically-agreed translation used in the English-speaking Roman Catholic church worldwide from 1975 until 2011.

The next part was a familiar Kyrie, slightly adapted “Jesus, you came to reconcile us to one another and to Creation…” The Gloria was especially written for this occasion in response to a request for a Gloria “without Lamb of God language.” The opening prayer referenced the Ascension since this weekend marked the Feast of the Ascension in Canada.

The Liturgy of the Word used first, Acts 1:1-11 as prescribed for the day, then as the second reading Wisdom 9: 1-6 and 9-11, a text often used in feminist ritual groups because of its references to Wisdom as a female figure, proclaimed in French. In place of the Psalm in between the assembly sang Teresa of Avila’s “Nada te turbe.” The Gospel was the prescribed Matthew 28: 16, 18-20, slightly edited to say, “…baptizing them in the name of God Source of All Being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit.” Because of the size of the assembly one presider gave a homily on the readings; normally a presider might begin but all present would be invited to contribute their thoughts.

The Profession of Faith avoided both patriarchal references to the Three Persons of God and also the recitation of prescribed doctrine. A presider invited all present to meditate silently on “I believe in God,” then “I believe in Jesus Christ,” then the Holy Spirit, the Communion of Saints and the “Life to come.” The Prayers of the Faithful followed the standard template and included a prayer for all women called to ordained ministries. At the Preparation of the Gifts the ancient blessing prayers were audible, in the ecumenically-agreed translation.

Parts of the Eucharistic Prayer were distributed among the five presiders, and the entire assembly pronounced the words of consecration together. Participants were invited to pray the “Our Father” in either English or French, but the English used, in two places, “kin-dom.” The invitation to Communion is one Missal text that has been adapted in several different ways for use in RCWP-led worshipping groups because of its seeming self-shaming and unnecessary penitential focus, coming immediately before Communion. The version at this liturgy was, (presider) “This is the Bread of Life given to us that we may become ‘body of Christ,’ allowing the Spirit to move freely in our lives. Blessed are we who are called to the table.” (assembly) “Jesus, you call us to the abundance of peace, justice and hope for all. With grateful hearts we receive your gift of everlasting life.”

Communion was distributed to a line of participants who came forward, a communion hymn “Sister Let Me Be Your Servant” followed, then a closing prayer voiced in sections by three presiders in turn, a final blessing, and a recessional hymn, “Go To the World.”

4.1 Some distinctive characteristics of this otherwise fairly standard Eucharistic liturgy:

4.1.1 Configuration of space and locus of visible ritual leadership

Although leadership in the RCWP church reform movement emphasizes the fundamental equality of all the baptized and a corresponding repudiation of whatever smacks of clericalism or dominative power, this liturgy kept the usual parish configuration of space (the pews were bolted into the floor and could not be moved in any case) and the position of the clergy in front of the assembly. As a result, instead of interacting dialogically with each other, the members of the assembly all faced the same direction and saw mostly the backs of the heads of those in front of them. In the setting of a medium-size conference in which organizers must adapt to the facilities available, this was almost inevitable. Interestingly, this liturgy was taking place in an Anglican parish church pastored by an Anglican woman priest, which may inadvertently have illustrated the shape of the evolving questions of whether women clergy can, or will, influence the direction of growth and development in the liturgy itself.


4.1.2. Bodily positioning and movement within the space or defined segments of space

Physical movement of the participants was extremely limited and consisted primarily of coming forward to receive Communion. Even the five presiders on the dais had only limited space to move. On the other hand, the bodily posture involved standing throughout the Eucharistic prayer because of the theological principle that the baptized people of God stand during this highest prayer of thanksgiving because of the dignity of their baptism.

4.1.3. Visual aesthetic elements: décor, fabric, colour

The organizers of this liturgical event did not introduce an unexpected use of flowing fabric or eye-catching colour: in fact the five presiders had discussed at length whether to wear chasubles and decided it would be an exaggeration if they did. The space itself provided ample colour because of the modest size of the church interior, the relatively low ceiling, and the relative proximity of the stained-glass windows.


4.1.4. Aural aesthetic elements: music and text

The prayers and readings, sourced from the official Roman Catholic liturgy and keyed to the feast of the Ascension, were nonetheless carefully examined to be sure that the text did not exclude or denigrate persons in any way. Penitent elements were limited to the “Kyrie,” and even the presider’s washing of the hands at the altar used a more positive text, spoken sotto voce, “O God, wash away all negativity and give me a joyful heart.”

4.1.5. Use of bread and wine

A mishap occurred in which the bread and wine had not yet arrived at the beginning of the liturgy: an organizer made a quick dash home to retrieve them. Both the bread and the wine were homemade by conference organizers, and the bread was low-gluten.

Conclusion

If to a large extent development and evolution in worship practice takes shape by creative, often daring, experimentation at the grassroots, and then gradually seeps its way to the level of liturgical policy-making and legislation, these liturgical events portend some interesting possibilities for the future, not only for more engaging, eloquent and joyful liturgy but for the credibility of the Church as such. Both events were to a large extent planned and presided by women ordained to the priesthood outside the current law of the Roman Catholic Church, and who have as a result been automatically excommunicated. Yet, perhaps in the spirit of Martin Luther in this anniversary year plus three of the Reformation, prophetic insight, held tenaciously, proclaimed and enacted in public without fear, may just hold a key to the future.

[Susan Roll is a retired professor of theology specializing in liturgy, sacraments and feminist theology, as well as a lifelong activist for the equal baptismal dignity of women in the Church.]


                                                                                                        
   

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