October 22nd, 2010
07:00 AM ET

The life of a so-called woman priest

Editor's Note: CNN's Philip Rosenbaum, Jonathan O'Beirne and Carl Graf bring us this story and video from Staten Island, New York.

It's a busy Sunday morning in August for Gabriella Velardi Ward in her modest home in the New York City borough of Staten Island.

Velardi Ward lights candles, gingerly lays out prayer sheets and looks at herself in the mirror, mindfully putting on her white robe and vestments.

A short woman with a behemoth sense of spiritual self, Velardi Ward also attends to earthly matters.

While she makes sure the table is full of healthy vegetarian dips and finger foods, umbrella-carrying worshipers trickle through the door before the heavens unload. She hugs new arrivals who take seats in a rough circle in the humble but welcoming suburban living room.

To any stranger, this would be a scene to behold: a demonstration of belief, perhaps similar in passion to 1960s war protests whose organizers loved their country but felt deep pain over some of its most troublesome acts.

Velardi Ward leads this sing-a-long and prayer-filled sit-in of devotion and rebellion on behalf of God, his creatures great and small and her half of humankind.

She says this is a Catholic Mass.

She says she is the priest.

"I was five when I told my sister that I wanted to be a priest and she laughed at me and said, 'You can't, you're a girl."'

"I've been a Roman Catholic priest since July of 2008," Velardi Ward says, in proud defiance of official Church doctrine, which strictly forbids women from the role.

Velardi Ward, ordained by a worldwide organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests, says some express surprise that she is a woman of the cloth. Like her sister many years ago, others say that's not even possible.

"Women and men are created equal by God and can therefore equally represent Christ," the vision statement of Roman Catholic Womenpriests says in its counterpoint.

Before being ordained as a woman priest, the group requires a college degree in divinity, theology, or other related subject, a litany of religious and community experience, plus a written "synopsis of one's life story of the applicant's growing awareness of a possible call to priesthood."

"Rooted in a response to Jesus, who called women and men to be disciples and equals in spreading the Good News, we are called to exemplify the changes we wish to see in the Church," the statement says.

"For me, it was falling in love with the Mass. It was falling in love with Benediction. It was falling in love with prayer. It was falling in love with just being with God, even at that age," says Velardi Ward, who, as a child, drew chalices and tabernacles, while classmates were more into Rock and Roll, G.I. Joe and Barbie.

In third grade, Velardi Ward joined a vocation club geared towards entering the convent. She also began reading religious philosophers and later explored other faiths, such as Bahá'í and Buddhism.

"I wanted to find God. I wasn't feeling it. I wasn't finding it in this way because I was rejected," she says, because of her gender.

The 63-year-old mother of two broke off from the Church after high school and did not come back until she was in her 40s, when she became very active in a local church and once again felt the overwhelming desire to be a priest.

She went to seminary to study for the calling.

"We are members of the Church. We are a reform movement within the Church. We are not a schism, we are not leaving," she says.

But the Church does not agree, to put it mildly. In July, the Vatican's Chief Internal Prosecutor Monsignor Charles Scicluna called women’s ordination a “grave delict.”

Ordained women are subject to ex-communication according to Canonical law.

"We stand in a long line of prophetic disobedience to an unjust law. Ex-communication doesn't have power unless you give it power. So, to me, it doesn't mean anything," she said.

Most striking, rules recently issued by the Vatican have made the ordination of women as priests a "crime against the faith" that it puts on a similar level of sin as pedophilia.

"To compare people who destroy lives of children to we, who want to serve the people of God, is outrageous to me," Velardi Ward says.

"How dare, how dare they put that in the same sentence?" she asks, adding that women are also made in the image of God.

Citing a 1976 statement from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Roman Catholic Womenpriests writes that there is no scriptural reason women cannot be ordained.

The group paraphrases Galatians 3:28 as saying there is "no male or female in Christ Jesus" and says there is archeological evidence of women priests, deacons and bishops.

"In obedience to Jesus, we are disobeying an unjust law," the statement says.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests last year called on Pope Benedict to lift the decree "as a gesture of reconciliation and justice toward women in the church," saying in a news release that it would be a "step away from the institutional church's treatment of women as second-class citizens."

An architect by profession, Velardi Ward estimates that about 125 women priests have been ordained around the world, some keeping it secret to avoid trouble.

What does she believe Jesus Christ would say about the controversy?

"I think Jesus would say to the church, "What are you doing to my church? This is not the church I founded. I included everyone. I taught women who were not allowed to be taught back then. I associated with, I had theological conversations with the women."

Velardi Ward says anyone who sees only males as priests is "worshipping the male." Women make good priests, she says, because they're "compassionate" and bring a balance of male and female energy she says is missing.

Velardi Ward is hopeful about the future and prays for change.

"Right now we are on the fringes and the Church is the center," she says.

"But I think in 50 years, what might happen is that the fringes will grow so large and the center will become so small that after a while the fringes will welcome the center back into the church."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • New York • United States • Vatican • Women

soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. TLH

    Postscript: there is more to the Catholic world than the Roman Church, folks. Anglicans are Catholic. Episcopalians are Catholic. I think the people of the Roman Church need to get over their arrogance and realize they are not the only game in town.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  2. A Case For Women In Scriptures

    Still, there is one more dimension of the renewed image of God that looks more like what we see in the Old Testament. It is not a dominant theme, but it is there nonetheless. In 2 Timothy 2:13 we read that enduring present suffering has a not yet realized future dimension: “If we endure, we will also reign with him.”

    I don’t know what this means, but it seems that the final step of the Christian journey is some type of eschatological ruling authority. This is not explained anywhere—and I am not going to venture a guess as to what this looks like. Suffice it to say that there is “something more” to what Ch-rist in his re-sur-rection has already done in restoring the image of God. The New Testament is more concerned with how God’s people here and now embody Jesus’ life of servant-leadership.

    God made humanity in his image. This image has a very focused meaning in the Old Testament—being God’s representative rulers over his creation. That image was marred and eventually restored and transformed in Jesus, the Son of Man, the exact representation of the image of God. Those who are in Christ take part in this new humanity.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  3. TLH

    Um, why are people acting as if female clergy is something new? Methodists ordain women. The priest at the Episcopal Church that I attend is a woman. Episcopalians have been ordaining women to the priesthood since the 1970s. In some places, yeah, it's still a hot button issue, but for the most part, American Episcopalians are ok with women priests.

    October 23, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  4. A Case For Women In Scriptures

    The "yes" c-o-nclu-sion: Women can serve in ministry.

    Many others view the New Testament prohibitions simply as prac-tical advice to preserve the sanct-it-y and tranqu-ility of the church and to avoid scandal. Although the New Testament writers passively accepted sl=avery (1 Corinthians 7:20-24, Colossians 3:22-24, 1 Peter 2:18-21), few people would argue today that we should return to the ho-rrors of sl=avery

    . In the same way, although the New Testament writers passively accepted the oppression of women, it does not imply that a leadership role for a woman would be wrong in today's very different society. In fact, some of the great leaders and pro-phets of Israel were women (Exodus 15:20, Judges 4:4-5, Esther 4:15-17, Luke 2:36-38, etc.), so God could not have intended to exclude women from spi=ritual and pol-itical leadership.

    Paul's procla-m-ation of equality (Galatians 3:26-29) and Jesus' willingness to defy con-vention and accept women into his larger circle of disciples (Luke 8:1-3, 10:38-39) should be the guiding principles rather than the customs of the Ro=man Emp-ire in the first century.

    Women took as large a role in the early Church leaders=-hi-p as was allowed by the co-n-ventions of that so-ciety (Acts 1:12-14, 18:24-26, 21:7-9, Romans 16:1-16), so women today should be able to serve the Church in whatever posi-tions they are qualified for.

    Jesus' at-t-i-tude toward women was rad-i-cally different from what was cu-sto-mary at the time. Women normally stayed home and attended to do-m-estic duties. But Jesus allowed women to travel with Him and His twelve disci-ples (Luke 8:1-3).

    "Proper" Jews did not speak to Samaritans, and certainly not to Samaritan women. But Jesus had a long conversation with a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well that led to her conversion (John 4:4-30, 39-42).

    Jewish women were generally not educated or allowed any active role in the affairs of religion. But Martha's sister, Mary, sat at Jesus' feet in the role of a disciple while Jesus taught her. Jesus suggested that Martha do the same (Luke 10:38-42).

    Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, Joanna, Susanna and other women were prominent among Jesus' devoted followers. Some remained with Jesus to c-o-mfort Him at His cruci-fixion when all His apostles had fled in ter-ror (Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41). Mary Magdalene and other women were privileged to be the first to discover that Jesus had risen from the de-ad (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-11).

    The early Christian Church
    The early churches apparently followed Jesus' example. Women were treated as at least near-equals and allowed to hold positions of responsibility. Many women, including Jesus' mother, Mary, as well as Dorcas, Julia, Lydia, Persis, Priscilla, Phoebe, Tryphena and Tryphosa were important in the early Christian Church (Acts 1:12-14, 9:36, 16:14, 18:24-26, 21:7-9, Romans 16:1-16).

    The Apostle Paul
    Paul affirmed the equality of all Christians. There was no difference based on birth, status or ge-nder. All had the same privileges and blessings as children of God.

    You are all sons of God through faith in Ch-rist Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Ch-rist have cl=ot=hed yourselves with Ch=rist. There is neither Je-w nor Greek, sl-a-ve nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in C-hrist Jesus. If you belong to Ch-rist, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NIV, Galatians 3:26-29)

    Paul also wrote this paragraph which seems to contradi-ct some of his other teachings:

    As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be su-bor-dinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (NRSV, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35)

    We know from 1 Corinthians 11:5 that women were allowed to pray and pro-phesy. We also know that many women were pro-min-ent in the churches and that Paul approved and encouraged them. Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians talks about the various ab-uses and disr-uptive ac[tivities of some church me-mbers, so this passage is probably directed at a specific problem that had oc-c-u–c-red in the church at Corinth. We don't know exactly what that problem was, but perhaps some women had been dis-ru-pting church services by talking or asking in=ap-pr-opri-ate questions.

    October 23, 2010 at 10:11 am |
    • CatholicMom

      A Case For Women in Scriptures,

      I remember this line on a past comment page….

      ‘Women took as large a role in the early Church leaders=-hi-p as was allowed by the co-n-ventions of that so-ciety (Acts 1:12-14, 18:24-26, 21:7-9, Romans 16:1-16), so women today should be able to serve the Church in whatever posi-tions they are qualified for.’

      And just as before, I will remind you that women are able and do serve the Church in whatever positions they are qualified for.

      October 23, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  5. Maria

    Once a week, CNN throws out some story like this to give its audience a chance to bash the Catholic Church and all of you eat it up. I read it because it's entertaining. What I don't understand is, if all of you have these issues with the Church, why do you pay attention and get so would up about it?

    Because some of us care, thats why we get wound up about it. I am Catholic, but I do agree with the fact that our church needs some serious reform. Our priests haven't exactly set a great example of being spiritual fathers, in the image of Christ! I do blame the Pope, who has authority to do something about all the s-e-x abuse within the church. But instead, they cover it up, That just allows for more of the same.

    Your post indicates "its no big deal" , that people just want to bash our church. It would be nice if more of us would take a stand against the type of behavior within the Vatican, that allows "bashing" to begin with. Our voices need to be heard from within. Then we can present our church as the bride, without spot, stain, or wrinkle. It is a far cry from that right now. I am not so sure that Jesus would be very happy with the way this has been handled.

    October 23, 2010 at 8:48 am |
    • Sum Dude


      The Catholic Church, always concerned with appearances and "washing the outside of the cup" makes the CC the modern version of the Pharisees....and I fully expect Jesus to say something along those lines when he condemns the CC as never having followed him as they have obviously usurped the position from whoever did have it. What happened to Peter?
      Why is Paul the one who started the CC?

      Reform? Why not just give it up and start fresh...like being born anew. Don't even use the word "Catholic" anymore. Who knows? You just might do something worthy of being called "reform" that way. You guys are gonna have to divorce yourselves from the evil being done under the false umbrella Catholics like to claim is "unstained".

      Refusing to admit to the truth is a shameful and pitiful reaction to what the whole world sees as more than just a "stain".
      Jesus is not described as saying anything that would prevent the destruction of the CC.

      Call things by their rightful names and not by the devious directions of criminals who seek to hide behind false words and human proclamations.

      October 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      Actually Maria, I don't want to bash the rcc or any other huose-of-silliness. My hopes are much greater, and sorry to dissapoint, the rcc is not at the center of my attention. I hope that in my lifetime all believers will come to their senses, get mental health help or become so embarrassed by their beliefs that they don't dare admit in public that they continue to believe in their tribal myths, and that all supernatural belief based organizations shutdown as a result. I will settle for all believers simply shutting up and stopping trying to influence others, especially politicians. The more it looks to me like the USA is headed to becoming a theocracy, the more I will be intolerant of believers in the supernatural.

      October 23, 2010 at 10:01 pm |

    It is simple, Jesus is the Bridegroom, the Church is the bride. (It's all over the bible). Priests are male because they stand in Persona Christe. They too, 'marry' the Church and become spiritual Fathers, in the image of Christ. Marriage cannot occur between a bride and a bride. Despite popular opinion, you need a bride and a bridegroom. Thus women cannot 'Marry' the Church in the image of Christ.
    Once a week, CNN throws out some story like this to give its audience a chance to bash the Catholic Church and all of you eat it up. I read it because it's entertaining. What I don't understand is, if all of you have these issues with the Church, why do you pay attention and get so would up about it?

    October 23, 2010 at 7:45 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Perhaps they would like to pull the Catholic Church down to their level so they have no one telling them about the evil that is of the world....
      All eccesial communities seem to try so hard to please man and his wishes and ways...they want the Catholic Church to do the same. People don't want any reminders of sin and what that can lead to. After all, they are saved and nothing can change that and so why bother the conscience....

      October 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  7. capnjammer

    I think this is silly. A woman who wants to be a priest? Why? That's like a g-ay wanting to be a Christian (or relig-ious at all, for that matter). I will never understand the odd power that reli-gion has over people. Paul spoke so poorly of women that you'd think they were sub-human, but here's one who wants to pro-pagate the rel-igion that has for 2,000 years kept her entire gender "in the kitchen" so to speak. I love how people will defend their Holy books till the end, but when you recite something out of it they don't agree with they're quick to come up with an explanation.

    October 23, 2010 at 1:19 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Gays can be and are devout Christians. Why do you think that being gay means they cannot be Christian? That is like saying that a straight person cannot be a Christian…because you obviously think that all straights commit adultery or fornication; is that your point?

      October 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • capnjammer

      @Catholicmom. I'm sorry you are so ignorant. You think you are such a loving wonderful individual but I doubt you have ever spent time with anyone from the LGBT community. You would quickly find several things... First, many are no different than you and are indestinguishable. Secondly, they really love each other. In fact, I daresay that if they were allowed to marry as frequently as straight people their divorce rates would be lower. Third, hom-ose-xuality is not a sin or an abomination. It is natural. That is like God saying he hates you because you have bre-asts, with the exception that you could always cut them off if you wanted. My statement stands: Why would ga-ys want to be Christians when their own religion would accuse them of being evil when they are simply being who they are?

      I understand your ignorance, though. It comes from the misconception that being g-ay is a choice, which is what your evil organization teaches when it is not causing thousands to die of AI-DS by telling them that contraception is a sin and mole-sting children. I don't understand why you say I'm the hateful one. I am upset by your choice to be a part of this evil organization, but you think I'm hateful because I believe it's wrong of you to say that g-ay people shouldn't have the right to exist. Because really, that's what you are saying. The only g-ay people that have "changed their lives due to Christ" were either straight people who made the choice to experiment with ho-mos-exuality or g-ays who are currently living lives of fear, unfulfillment, and repression. That's probably why there are so many child mole-sters in your camp.

      October 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Your question of ‘Why would gays want to be Christians when their own religion would accuse them of being evil when they are simply being who they are?’

      First of all gays are not evil and they can be Christians most loved by God. They have a special cross to bear….some have found glory in their cross while others call their cross a curse, and still others act upon it and glory in that action.

      Some of the things you have said…’gay people shouldn’t have the right to exist’, ‘I think I am such a loving wonderful individual’,…are not things I have ever thought or said. You also said ‘I never spent time with anyone from the LGBT community’, another falsehood.

      First off, I believe gay people are treasures God has created and these souls will glorify God more beautifully in Heaven because of the extra-special cross they endure.

      Secondly, I do not think I am such a loving wonderful individual though I want to be and try to persevere towards that goal.

      Last of all, I have spent time with a gay man, he was my best friend even to this day…I traveled with him many times to Key West, his favorite place in the USA,... we created art together…we grew up together…,my sister and I were the first people he told about his secret,… I watched him suffer and die with HIV/AIDS…and I attended his funeral in his Catholic Church which was full of everyone who ‘knew him’…his friends and townsfolk, and, all of us, his brothers and sisters, who loved him, too.

      My brother and I were barely a year apart in age…made our First Communion together….never lived more than two hours away from each other…were only separated for the time when he served his country honorably in the Army…and now by death, but I am hopeful that I will see him again.

      He never separated himself from the Church even through his struggles… and he had a very holy priest who helped him along this earthly journey and helped him with his funeral plans; my brother went to a retreat before he was very sick and when he came home he was a changed man in that he loved everyone, everything…even a stone was precious!…and all things had a kind of ‘halo’ around it which only he could see. He begged all of us ‘kids’ to consider going on a retreat, too.

      No one should live a life of repression, fear, or unfulfillment, as you say….unfortunately too often people lose their way…they don’t know or forget where they can gain the beauty that life has to offer…and it has everything to do with God.

      October 25, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
  8. Princess Leah

    @Sum Dude
    LOved that post, you hit it right on the nose, and in such a few short sentences! Truer words were never spoken,lol!
    I just read on another thread about how the Vatican was ran by the Mafia! EEKS!
    http://www.crc-internet.org/oct84.htm very interesting!

    October 22, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  9. Joe Vadis

    She is not Roman Catholic. She has stepped outside of the church by her own will and doing.

    October 22, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Seems to me Father Velardi is, and all other priestesses are, catholic until the catholic church says she is/they are not, in other words until the infallible pope-a-dope applies the churches infallible canonical (sp?) laws and excommunicates them. Any chance pope-a-dope doesn't dare do that 'cause of the backlash he'll get if he does?

      October 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  10. Dani3l

    -Ordaining- women is the crime against the Church, not -being ordained-. The Church forbids recognition of irregular ordinations, although if the sacrament is bestowed by a legitimate bishop, it is in theory valid and more to the point irrevocable.

    I do dislike hearing about women priests, however, as female clerics are more correctly priestesses.

    October 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  11. Sweet Gender Switch Potato Fry From Transs[e]xual Transylvania

    I am open to the idea of female priests but I worry if the theology is correct with a lot of them. There was another article with a female priest claiming that Mary is part of the Trinity. To me, this movement is a left over of second wave feminism from the '70s, with the radical nonsense of feminist spirituality that came with it, thanks to people like Mary Daly, and the age of the ladies involved bears that out.

    October 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      lol...I always laugh at your name now....and even more at the abbreviation! LOL
      Since the Catholic Church is not and never has been the "first" church to follow Jesus, read up on history and the role of women...you might be surprised.
      If a potato can be surprised, that is...

      October 22, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
    • Sweet Gender Switch Potato Fry From Transs[e]xual Transylvania

      It makes me feel like a clown! But, whatever.

      No, educate me. What was the 'first' church to follow Christ?

      October 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      A good question. There were many divisions among the "first" followers of Jesus, and I've only heard of a handful. Any records of the rest, or even "who was first" are lost to us, I guess.

      Since I expect that the Catholic Church had a hand in sup-pres-sing such knowledge in order to advance their agenda in those days (heresy anyone?), then you really should read up on it.

      Paul is known to have taken over the "church" at that time, and is not even "Peter" himself, who is put forth as being the "legal" boss in charge of taking care of Jesus' "sheep"...once again according to what we have...which is of suspicious and dubious origin in it's own right...

      What happened to Peter? Where did he go? Why is Paul the power broker here?

      No, my friend, the Catholic Church has NOT proven itself to be without stain at any time that I have ever heard of....
      ...and selling "forgiveness" for MONEY just proves that Luther was on the right track and closer to the truth – but you are on the inside looking out...they keep you away from the windows and doors....and you must follow an arbitrary list of nonsense rulings and proclamations from other humans...

      Pharisees who worship their own pomp and outer coverings...could it be any more obvious?

      October 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Good grief what a time I had getting that to post! And it all came down to "susp-icious" as the culprit.
      I used "html ent-ities" to keep from using a dash, but dagnabitalltohell! I must have gone back and forth a dozen times before I found it.

      October 22, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • Sweet Gender Switch Potato Fry From Transs[e]xual Transylvania

      Okay, so this is all just your susp!cion, then? I guess it all just comes down to who you want to believe.
      As for Luther: The Church was reformed from inside by faithful Catholics. The Protestant rebellion was not needed.

      October 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Reformed from the inside? Is that when they started abusing children systematically?
      Frank, your Catholic Church has no excuse for selling "forgiveness", and it still does it. So where's the reform?
      On this topic you are in a deep hole of ignorance and indoctrination, and I am only tossing in tiny pebbles at you because I like you.

      Perhaps we shouldn't argue about the Catholic Church, since I get pretty revved up when I start reviewing the humongous list of evil deeds done by the CC – many of them AFTER whatever BS "reform" you say happened...
      They just make me boil over. And, as I am in a horrible mood right now anyway, I will just stop there and surf somewhere else. When I cool down, I will come back.

      October 23, 2010 at 1:20 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Sum Dude,

      You said, ‘A good question. There were many divisions among the "first" followers of Jesus, and I've only heard of a handful. Any records of the rest, or even "who was first" are lost to us, I guess’;…..

      Catholics are the first from the start….anyway…what matters is who is ‘lasting through the age’….so far Catholics have 2000 years and continuing….who is next with the most history…..Protestants of what branch...Lutheranism? But which Lutherans…or which protestants…..are they at 500 years counting from when they started following their man, Luther?

      With the newer break- aways, is the original still the same? Actually when all protestants started accepting contraception….didn’t that bring about a whole new doctrine for them then? Possibly the original Lutheranism protestantisms doesn’t exist anymore….does anyone know? What do historical records/doc-uments show?

      October 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      I'm going to ignore your wobbly post, if you don't mind, since I've seen you do better.
      I just wish you were a little more street-wise...it would give your posts one of the things they always seem to lack.

      October 24, 2010 at 1:26 am |
    • Peter F


      So you guys just assume Catholics have been around for 2000 years? I don't get it. What evidence do you have for Catholicism being in place pre 400-500 AD. I'd really like to know. So much of your doctrine and tradition clearly comes from after that anyway.

      October 24, 2010 at 1:38 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Peter F,

      Check out Church/History doc-uments. Read Church Fathers, start with first centuries and move forward.

      Here is something by Fr. Damen that you may enjoy….copied from a Catholic site….
      The One True Church, by Fr. Arnold Damen S.J.(1815-1890)

      About this Article and its Author:

      Father Arnold Damen was born in the province of North Brabant, Holland, on March 20, 1815. He was admitted to the Society of Jesus, November 21, 1837, and was one of the band of young novices brought over to this country by Father DeSmet, renowned Jesuit missionary to the American Indians. In his illus-trious career, which spanned some fifty years of apostolic work before his death on January 1, 1890, Father Damen and his companions conducted missions in nearly every principal city of the United States. He is said to have been more widely known in this country, and at one time to have exercised personally a greater influence than any bishop or priest in the Catholic Church.

      Little wonder, for by his majestic presence and force of eloquence, Father Damen as a missionary rose to a success that surpassed anything ever before - or since - known in America. The fiery apostolic zeal of this beloved and pious priest can only scarcely be measured by the twelve thousand conversions to Catholicism for which he was responsible, often receiving as many as sixty or seventy souls into the Church in one day. For it must be noted, too, that in the midst of all this remarkable labor, he also managed to found and to organize the great Jesuit insti-tutions of Chicago.

      What explains the inspiring achievement of Father Damen? As one writer expressed it, "He cared nothing for applause or criticism. He was working to save souls." In other words, his noble accomplishments were the fruits of immense charity. That is, charity in the truest sense: He loved God and his fellow man so much that he would spare no energy or effort that was necessary to wrest a soul from the spiritual error and darkness which would bring about its eternal loss. And to this saintly Jesuit, such was the certain fate always and everywhere present outside the one true Church.

      Father Damen preached in an age quite recent to our own, when Catholics not only still universally believed but lived by the infallibly declared, immutably constant dogma of the Faith, "Outside the Church there is no salvation." This was, in fact, his whole creed and teaching, by which he effectively converted so many.

      We are pleased to reprint Father Damen's compelling sermon, "The One True Church," unedited, exactly as it was first published shortly after his death in 1890. In so doing, we have two purposes: One is to recall to our fellow Catholics of whatever rank or dignity within the Church that the unequivocal belief in the doctrine on salvation is not only essential to the recovery of the Faith from the grave errors which now corrupt it, but it is the inseparable mark of the true Church Militant. The second and all important purpose, of course, is to encourage Catholics to place this imperative message in the hands of non-Catholics. By so doing, all of you who help in such apostolic labors will be continuing the blessed work of the venerable priest, Arnold Damen.

      Nihil Obstat: T.L. Kinkead, Censor Deputatus. Imprimatur: Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York. "The Only Church That Christ Established Is The Catholic Church." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned." - Mark XVI, 16.

      From these words of our Divine Saviour, it has already been proved to you, that faith is necessary for salvation, and without faith there is no salvation; without faith there is eternal damnation. Read your own Protestant Bible, 16th verse of St. Mark, and you will find it stronger there than in the Catholic Bible. Now, then, what kind of faith must a man have to be saved? Will any faith do? Why, if any faith will do, the devil himself will be saved, for the Bible says that devils believe and tremble. It is, therefore, not a matter of indifference what religion a man professes; he must profess the right and true religion, and without that there is no hope of salvation, for it stands to reason, my dear people, that if God reveals a thing or teaches a thing, He wants to be believed. Not to believe is to insult God. Doubting His word, or believing even with doubt and hesitation, is an insult to God, because it is doubting His Sacred Word. We must, therefore, believe without doubting, without hesitating.
      I have said, out of the Catholic Church there is no divine faith - can be no divine faith out of that Church. Some of the Protestant friends will be shocked at this, to hear me say that out of the Catholic Church there is no divine faith, and that without faith there is no salvation, but damnation. I will prove all I have said. I have said that out of the Catholic Church there can be no divine faith. What is divine faith? When we believe a thing upon the authority of God, and believe it without doubt, without hesitating.
      Now, all our separated brethren outside of the Catholic Church take the private interpretation of the Bible for their guide; but the private interpretation of the Bible can never give them divine faith. Let me, for instance, suppose for a moment, here is a Presbyterian; he reads his Bible; from the reading of his Bible he comes to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is God. Now, you know this is the most essential of all Christian doctrines - the foundation of all Christianity. From the reading of his Bible he comes to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is God; and he is a sensible man, and intelligent man, and not a presumptuous man.
      And he says: "Here is my Unitarian neighbor, who is just as reasonable and intelligent as I am, as honest, as learned and as prayerful as I am, and, from the reading of the Bible, he comes to the conclusion that Christ is not God at all. "Now," says he, "to the best of my opinion and judgment, I am right, and my Unitarian neighbor is wrong; but, after all," says he, "I may be mistaken! Perhaps I have not the right meaning of the text, and if I am wrong, perhaps he is right, after all; but, to the best of my opinion and judgment, I am right and he is wrong." On what does he believe? On what authority? On his own opinion and judgment. And what is that? A human opinion - human testimony, and, therefore, a human faith. He cannot say positively, "I am sure, positively sure, as sure as there is a God in heaven, that this is the meaning of the text." Therefore, he has no other authority but his own opinion and judgment, and what his preacher tells him. But the preacher is a smart man. There are many smart Unitarian preachers also, but that proves nothing; it is only human authority, and nothing else, and therefore, only human faith. What is human faith? Believing a thing upon the testimony of man. Divine faith is believing a thing on the testimony of God.

      The Catholic has divine faith, and why? Because the Catholic says: "I believe in such and such a thing." Why? "Because the Church teaches me so." And why do you believe the Church? "Because God has commanded me to believe the teaching of the Church; and God has threatened me with damnation if I do not believe the Church, and we are taught by St. Peter, in his epistle, that there is no private prophecy or interpretation of the Scriptures, for the unlearned and unstable wrest the very Scriptures, the Bible, to their own damnation." That is strong language, my dear people, but that is the language of St. Peter, the head of the Apostles.
      The unlearned and unstable wrest the Bible to their own damnation! And yet, after all, the Bible is the book of God, the language of inspiration; at least, when we have a true Bible, as we Catholics have, and you Protestants have not. But, my dearly beloved Protestant friends, do not be offended at me for saying that. Your own most learned preachers and bishops tell you that, and some have written whole volumes in order to prove that the English translation, which you have, is a very faulty and false translation. Now, therefore, I say that the true Bible is as the Catholics have it, the Latin Vulgate; and the most learned among the Protestants themselves have agreed that the Latin Vulgate Bible, which the Catholic Church always makes use of, is the best in existence; and, therefore, it is, as you may have perceived, that when I preach I give the text in Latin, because the Latin text of the Vulgate is the best extant.

      Now, they may say that Catholics acknowledge the Word of God; that it is the language of inspiration; and that, therefore, we are sure that we have the Word of God; but, my dear people, the very best thing may be abused, the very best thing; and, therefore, our Divine Saviour has given us a living teacher, that is to give us the true meaning of the Bible. And He has provided a teacher with infallibility; and this was absolutely necessary, for without this - without infallibility we could never be sure of our faith.
      There must be an infallibility; and we see that in every well-ordered government, in every government - in England, in the United States, and in every country, empire and republic, there is a Const!tution and a supreme law. But you are not at liberty to explain that Const!tution and supreme law as you think proper, for then there would be no more law if every man were allowed to explain the law and Const!tution as he should think proper. Therefore, in all governments there is a supreme judge and supreme court, and to the supreme judge is referred all different understandings of the law and the Const!tution. By the decisions of the supreme judge all have to abide, and if they did not abide by that decision why, my dear people, there would be no law any more, but anarchy, disorder and confusion.
      Again, suppose for a moment that the Blessed Saviour has been less wise than human governments, and that He had not provided for the understanding of His Const!tution, and of His Law of the Church of God. If He had not, my dear people, it would never have stood as it has stood for the last eighteen hundred and fifty-four years. He has then established a Supreme Court, a Supreme Judge in the Church of the Living God.

      It is admitted on all sides, by Protestants and Catholics alike acknowledged, that Christ has established a Church; and, strange to say, all our Protestant friends acknowledge, too, that He has established but one Church - but one Church - for, whenever Christ speaks of His Church, it is always in the singular. Bible readers, remember that; my Protestant friends, pay attention. He says: "Hear the Church," - not hear the churches - "I have built My Church upon a rock" - not My churches. Whenever He speaks, whether in figures or parables of His Church, He always conveys to the mind a oneness, a union, a unity.
      He speaks of His Church as a sheepfold, in which there is but one shepherd - that is the head of all, and the sheep are made to follow his voice; "other sheep I have who are not of this fold." One fold, you see. He speaks of His Church as of a kingdom, in which there is but one king to rule all; speaks of His Church as a family in which there is but one father at the head; speaks of His Church as a tree, and all the branches of that tree are connected with the trunk, and the trunk with the roots; and Christ is the root, and the trunk is Peter and the Popes, and the large branches are the bishops, and the smaller branches the priests, and the fruit upon that tree are the faithful throughout the world; and the branch, says He, that is cut off from that tree shall wither away, produce no fruit, and is only fit to be cast into the fire - that is, damnation.
      This is plain speaking, my dear people; but there is no use in covering the truth. I want to speak the truth to you, as the Apostles preached it in their time - no salvation out of the Church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

      Now, which is that Church? There are now three hundred and fifty different Protestant churches in existence, and almost every year one or two more are added; and besides this number there is the Catholic Church. Now, which of all these varied churches is the one Church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? All claim to be the Church of Jesus. But, my dear beloved people, it is evident no church can be the Church of Jesus except the one that was established by Jesus. And when did Jesus establish His Church? When? When He was here upon earth. And how long ago is it that Christ was upon earth? You know our Christian era dates from Him. He was born many centuries ago. That is an historical fact admitted by all. He lived on earth thirty-three years. That was about nineteen centuries before our time. That is the time Christ established His Church on earth.
      Any Church, then, that has not existed thus long, is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but is the inst!tution or invention of some man or other; not of God, Not of Christ, but of man.
      Now, where is the Church, and which is the Church that has existed thus long? All history inform you that is the Catholic Church; she, and she only among all Christian denominations on the face of the earth, has existed so long. All history, I say, bears testimony to this; not only Catholic history, but Pagan history, Jewish history and Protestant history, indirectly. The history, then, of all nations, of all people, bears testimony that the Catholic Church is the oldest, the first; is the one established by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
      If there be any Protestant preacher who can prove that the Catholic Church has come into existence since that time, let him come to see me, and I will give him a thousand dollars. My dear preachers, here is a chance of making money - a thousand dollars for you. Not only all history, but all the monuments of antiquity bear testimony to this, and all the nations of the earth proclaim it. Call on one of your preachers and ask him which was the first church - the first Christian Church. Was it the Presbyterian, the Episcopalian, the Church of England, the Methodist, the Universalist or the Unitarian? And they will answer you it was the Catholic Church. But, my dear friend, if you admit that the Catholic Church is the first and the oldest - the Church established by Christ - why are you not a Catholic?
      To this they answer that the Catholic Church has become corrupted; has fallen into error, and that, therefore, it was necessary to establish a new church. A new church, a new religion. And to this we answer: that if the Catholic Church had been once the true church, then she is true yet, and shall be the true Church of God to the end of time, or Jesus Christ has deceived us. Hear me, Jesus, hear what I say! I say that if the Catholic Church now, in the nineteenth century, is not the true Church of God as she was 1854 years ago, then I say, Jesus, Thou has deceived us, and Thou art an imposter! And if I do not speak the truth, Jesus, strike me dead in the pulpit - let me fall dead in the pulpit, for I do not want to be a preacher of a false religion!

      I will prove what I have said. If the Catholic Church has been once the true Church of God, as is admitted by all, then she is the true Church yet, and shall be the true Church of God until the end of time, for Christ has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. He says that He has built it upon a rock, and that the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.
      Now, my dear people, if the Catholic Church has fallen into error, then the gates of hell have prevailed against her; and if the gates of hell have prevailed against her, then Christ has not kept His promise, then He has deceived us, and if He has deceived us, then He is an imposter! If He be an imposter, then He is not God, and if He be not God, then all Christianity is a cheat and an imposition.
      Again, in St. Matthew, 28th chapter and verses XIX and XX., our Divine Saviour says to His Apostles: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you." "Lo," says He, "I, Jesus, the Son of the Living God, I, the Infinite Wisdom, the Eternal Truth, am with you all days, even until the end of the world." Christ, then, solemnly swears that He shall be with His Church all days to the end of time, to the consummation of the world.
      But Christ cannot remain with the Church that teaches error, or falsehood, or corruption. If, therefore, the Catholic Church has fallen into error and corruption, as our Protestant friends say she has, then Christ must have abandoned her; if so, He has broken His oath; if He has broken His oath He is a perjurer, and there is no Christianity at all.
      Again, our Divine Saviour (St. John, 14th chapter) has promised that He would send to His Church the Spirit of Truth, to abide with her forever. If, then, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, teaches the Church all truth, and teaches her all truth forever, then there never has been, and never can be, one single error in the Church of God, for where there is all truth there is no error whatsoever. Christ has solemnly promised that He will send to the Church the Spirit of Truth, who shall teach all truth forever; therefore, there has never been a single error in the Church of God, or Christ has failed in His promises if there has.
      Again, Christ commands us to hear and believe the teachings of the Church in all things; at all times and in all places. He does not say hear the Church for a thousand years or for fifteen hundred years, but hear the Church, without any limitation, without any reservation, or any restriction of time whatever. That is, at all times; in all things until the end of time, and he that does not hear the Church let him be unto thee, says Christ, as a heathen and as a publican.
      Therefore, Christ says that those who refuse to hear the Church must be looked upon as heathens; and what is a heathen? One that does not worship the true God; and a publican is a public sinner. This is strong language. Could Christ command me to believe the Church if the Church could have led me astray - could lead me into error? If the teaching of the Church be corrupt, could He, the God of truth, command me without any restriction or limitation to hear and believe the teachings of the Church which He has established?
      Again: Our Divine Saviour commands me to hear and believe the teaching of the Church in the same manner as if He Himself were to speak to us. "He that heareth you," says He, in His charge to the Apostles, "heareth Me, and he that despiseth you despiseth Me." So then, when I believe what the Church teaches I believe what God teaches. If I refuse what the Church teaches I refuse what God teaches. So that Christ has made the Church the organ by which He speaks to man, and tells us positively that we must believe the teaching of the Church as if He himself were to speak to us. Therefore, says St. Paul, in his Epistle to Timothy, "the Church is the ground" - that is, the strong foundation - "and the pillar of the truth." Take the ground or foundation of this edifice away, and it crumbles down; so with regard to these pillars upon which the roof rests; take them away and the roof will fall in; so St. Paul says, "the Church is the ground and the pillar of truth," and the moment you take away the authority of the Church of God you induce all kinds of errors and blasphemous doctrines. Do we not see it?

      In the sixteenth century Protestantism did away with the authority of the Church and const!tuted every man his own judge of the Bible, and what was the consequence? Religion upon religion, church upon church, sprang into existence, and has never stopped springing up new churches to this day.
      When I gave my Mission in Flint, Michigan, I invited, as I have done here, my Protestant friends to come and see me. A good and intelligent man came to me and said: "I will avail myself of this opportunity to converse with you." "What Church do you belong to, my friend," said I. "To the Church of the Twelve Apostles," said he. "Ha! ha!" said I, "I belong to that Church too. But, tell me, my friend, where was your Church started?" "In Terre Haute, Indiana," said he. "Who started the Church, and who were the Twelve Apostles, my friend?" said I. "They were twelve farmers," said he; "we all belonged to the same Church - the Presbyterian - but we quarreled with our preacher, separated from him, and started a Church of our own." "And that," said I, "is the Twelve Apostles you belonged to - twelve farmers of Indiana! The Church came into existence about thirty years ago." A few years ago, when I was in Terre Haute, I asked to be shown the Church of the Twelve Apostles. I was taken to a window and it was pointed out to me, "but it is not in existence anymore," said my informant, "it is used as a wagon-maker's shop now."
      Again, St. Paul, in his Epistles to the Galatians, says: "Though we Apostles, or even an angel from heaven were to come and preach to you a different Gospel from what we have preached, let him be anathema." That is the language of St. Paul, because, my dearly beloved people, religion must come from God, not from man. No man has a right to establish a religion; no man has a right to dictate to his fellow-man what he shall believe and what he shall do to save his soul. Religion must come from God, and any religion that is not established by God is a false religion, a human inst!tution, and not an inst!tution of God; and therefore did St. Paul say in his Epistles to the Galatians, "Though we Apostles or even an angel from heaven were to come and preach to you a new Gospel, a new religion, let them be anathema?"

      You see then, my dearly beloved people, from the text of the Scripture I have quoted that, if the Catholic Church has been once the true Church, then she is yet the true Church. You have also seen from what I have said that the Catholic Church is the inst!tution of God, and not of man, and this is a fact - a fact of history, and no fact of history so well supported, so well proved, as that the Catholic Church is the first, the Church established by Jesus Christ.
      So, in like manner, it is an historical fact that all the Protestant churches are the inst!tutions of man - every one of them. And I will give you their dates, and the names of their founders or inst!tutors. In the year 1520 - 368 years ago - the first Protestant came into the world. Before that one there was not a Protestant in the world, not one on the face of the whole earth; and that one, as all history tells us, was Martin Luther, who was a Catholic priest, who fell away from the Church through pride, and married a nun. He was excommunicated from the Church, cut off, banished, and made a new religion of his own. Before Martin Luther there was not a Protestant in the world; he was the first to raise the standard of rebellion and revolt against the Church of God. He said to his disciples that they should take the Bible for their guide, and they did so.
      But they soon quarreled with him; Zuinglius, and a number of others, and every one of them started a new religion of his own. After the disciples of Martin Luther came John Calvin, who in Geneva established the Presbyterian religion, and hence, almost all of those religions go by the name of their founder.
      I ask the Protestant, "Why are you a Lutheran, my friend?" "Well," says he, "because I believe in the doctrine of good Martin Luther." Hence, not of Christ, but of man - Martin Luther. And what kind of man was he? A man who had broken the solemn oath he had made at the altar of God, at his ordination, ever to lead a pure, single, and vir-ginal life. He broke that solemn oath, and married a Sister Catherine, who had also taken the same oath of chast!ty and virtue. And this is the first founder of Protestantism in the world. The very name by which they are known tells you they came from Martin Luther. So the Presbyterians are sometimes called Calvinists because they come from, or profess to believe in, John Calvin.

      After them came Henry VIII. He was a Catholic, and defended the Catholic religion; he wrote a book against Martin Luther in defense of the Catholic doctrine. That book I have myself seen in the library of the Vatican at Rome a few years ago. Henry VIII defended the religion, and for doing so was t!tled by the Pope "Defender of the Faith." It came down with his successors, and Queen Victoria inherits it to-day.
      He was married to Catherine of Aragon; but there was at his court a maid of honor to the Queen, named Ann Boleyn, who was a beautiful woman, and captivating in appearance. Henry was determined to have her. But he was a married man. He put in a pet!tion to the Pope to be allowed to marry her - and a foolish pet!tion it was, for the Pope had no power to grant the prayer of it. The Pope and all the bishops in the world cannot go against the will of God.
      Christ says: "If a man putteth away his wife and marrieth another, he committeth adultery, and he that marrieth her who is put away committeth adultery also." As the Pope would not grant the prayer of Henry's pet!tion he took Ann Boleyn anyhow, and was excommunicated from the Church. After a while there was another maid of honor, prettier than the first, more beautiful and charming in the eyes of Henry, and he said he must have her, too. He took the third wife, and a fourth, fifth and sixth followed.
      Now this is the founder of the Anglican Church, the Church of England; and, therefore, it is that it goes by the name of the Church of England. Our Episcopalian friends are making great efforts nowadays to call themselves Catholic, but they shall never come to it. They own that the name Catholic is a glorious one, and they would like to possess it.
      The Apostles said: "I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church" - they never said, in the Anglican Church. The Anglicans deny their religion, for they say they believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church. Ask them are they Catholics, and they say, "Yes, but not Roman Catholics; we are English Catholics." What is the meaning of the word Catholic? It comes from the Greek word "Catholicus" - universal - spread all over the earth, and everywhere the same. Now, first of all, the Anglican Church is not spread all over the earth; it only exists in a few countries, and chiefly only where the English language is spoken. Secondly, they are not the same all over the earth, for there are now four different Anglican churches: The Low Church, the High Church, the Ritualist Church and the Puseyite Church.
      "Catholicus" means more than this, not only spread all over the earth and everywhere the same, but it means, moreover, at all times the same, from Christ up to the present day. Now, then, they have not been in existence from the time of Christ. There never was an Episcopalian Church or an Anglican Church before Henry VIII. The Catholic Church had already existed fifteen hundred years before the Episcopal came into the world.
      After Episcopalianism different other churches sprang up. Next came the Methodist, about one hundred and fifty years ago. It was started by John Wesley, who was at first a member of the Episcopalian Church; subsequently he joined the Moravian Brethren, but not liking them, he made a religion of his own - the Methodist Church. After John Wesley several others sprang up; and finally came the Campbellites, about sixty years ago. This Church was established by Alexander Campbell, a Scotchman.

      Well, now, my dear beloved people, you may think that the act of the twelve apostles of Indiana was a ridiculous one, but they had as much right to establish a church as had Henry VIII, or Martin Luther, or John Calvin. They had no right at all, and neither had Henry VIII, or the rest of them any right whatsoever.
      Christ had established His Church and given His solemn oath that His Church should stand to the end of time; promised that He had built it upon rock, and that the gates of hell should never prevail against it - hence, my dear people, all those different denominations of religion are the invention of man; and I ask you, can man save the soul of his fellow-man by any inst!tution he can make? Must not religion come from God?
      And, therefore, my dearly beloved separated brethren, think over it seriously. You have a soul to be saved, and that soul must be saved or damned; either one or the other, it will dwell with God in heaven or with the devil in hell; therefore, seriously meditate upon it.
      When I gave my Mission in Brooklyn several Protestants became Catholics. Among them there was a very highly educated and intelligent Virginian. He was a Presbyterian. After he had listened to my lecture he went to see his minister, and he asked him to be kind enough to explain a text of the Bible. The minister gave him the meaning. "Well, now," said the gentleman, "are you positive and sure that is the meaning of the text, for several other Protestants explain it differently?" "Why, my dear young man," says the preacher, "we never can be certain of our faith." "Well, then," says the young man, "good-bye to you: If I cannot be sure of my faith in the Protestant Church, I will go where I can," and he became a Catholic. We are sure of our faith in the Catholic Church, and if our faith is not true, Christ has deceived us. I would, therefore, beg you, my separated brethren, to procure yourselves Catholic books. You have read a great deal against the Catholic Church, now read something in favor of it.
      You can never pass an impartial sentence if you do not hear both sides of the question. What would you think of a judge before whom a policeman would bring a poor offender, and who on the charge of the policeman, without hearing the prisoner, would order him to be hung? "Give me a hearing," says the poor man, "and I will prove my innocence. I am not guilty," says he. The policeman says he is guilty. "Well, hang him anyhow," says the judge. What would you say of that judge? Criminal judge! unfair man; you are guilty of the blood of the innocent! Would not you say that? Of course you would. Well now, my dearly beloved Protestant friends, that is what you have been doing all along; you have been hearing one side of the question and condemning us Catholics as a superst!tious lot of people, poor ignorant people, idolatrous people, non-sensical people, going and telling their sins to the priest; and what, after all, is the priest more than any other man?
      My dear friends, have you examined the other side of the question? No, you do not think it worth your while; but this is the way the Jews dealt with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and this is the way the Pagans and Jews dealt with the Apostles, the ministers of the Church, and with the primitive Christians.
      Allow me to tell you, my friends, that you have been treating us precisely in the same way the Jews and Pagans treated Jesus Christ and His Apostles. I have said this evening hard things, but if St. Paul were here tonight, in this pulpit, he would have said harder things still. I have said them, however, not through a spirit of unkindness, but through a spirit of love, and a spirit of charity, in the hope of opening your eyes that your souls may be saved. It is love for your salvation, my dearly beloved Protestant brethren - for which I would gladly give my heart's blood - my love for your salvation that has made me preach to you as I have done.

      "Well," say my Protestant friends, "if a man thinks he is right would not he be right?" Let us suppose now a man in Ottawa, who wants to go to Chicago, but takes a car for New York; the conductor asks for his ticket; and he at once says: "You are in the wrong car; you ticket is for Chicago, but you are going to New York." "Well, what of that?" says the passenger. "I mean well." "Your meaning will not go well with you in the end," says the conductor, "for you will come out at New York instead of Chicago."
      You say you mean well, my dear friends; your meaning will not take you to heaven; you must do well also. "He that doeth the will of My Father," says Jesus, "he alone shall be saved." There are millions in hell who meant well. You must do well, and be sure you are doing well, to be saved. I thank my separated brethren for their kindness in coming to these controversial lectures. I hope I have said nothing to offend them. Of course, it would be nonsense for me not to preach Catholic doctrines.

      October 24, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
    • Frank

      Sum Dude, if you're talking about Indulgences – they're not sold. Otherwise, I don't know what you're talking about.

      October 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • Peter F

      @Catholic Mom

      No offense, but I didn't ask you that question so you could copy and paste pages upon pages of some doc-u-ment written by a Catholic scholar. I wanted to hear from you why you think Protestants don't have it all together and Catholics do. I know a lot of Catholics believe their religion has been around since Christ, but I see nothing in the Bible to make me believe Catholics are more "authentic" than the average Protestant tradition... nothing at all. If you can point me to a passage, or two, or three... by all means, go for it.


      October 25, 2010 at 1:26 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Peter F,

      I am sorry you didn’t appreciate Fr. Damen’s homily.

      You seem to appreciate the Bible. Do you know how the Bible came about?

      Not all information is in the Bible but at least it does say that the CHURCH is the pillar and foundation of Truth. This is talking about the House of God in this verse. Now if you believe in all the verses of the Bible…they will lead you to know where you can find the fullness of Truth. But if there is some reason you do not think this is the Catholic Church then you will have to figure that one out for yourself. Hundreds if not millions of people are still searching for ‘this Church’, even starting new churches and claiming to have the One Truth that the Holy Spirit is all about. But these are man-made ecclesial communities, and as in love with the Lord as they may be, they are struggling without the fullness of Truth…one or two Sacraments…and now many are saying they don’t even need those…just their Bible and themselves.

      If people want to be honest with themselves and try to get past their hatred for the Catholic Church they will find themselves enveloped by Her and realize She is what they have been trying to live without.

      No one needs to live without…but they also need to realize once they enter into Jesus Christ’s Church they will then be hated by the world also because the world hates what is not of the world.

      I could go on, but I think you like shorter posts best…and I am on my way to the Church Center to make jellies and jams for our next community/gathering/sale. I will check back this evening.
      Thank you for not being rude…

      October 25, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  12. VistaNow

    She said ..."We stand in a long line of prophetic disobedience to an unjust law. Ex-communication doesn't have power unless you give it power. So, to me, it doesn't mean anything," Yes, because you have already dug your own hole, nobody did it for you, you did it to yourself. You may have power for a little while with this stunt, but your source of power is not from the Holy One

    October 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  13. Vasputin


    October 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  14. Vasputin

    Yea, pretty ironic, everybody gone to hell, but the Catholics. Gotta a pope that is a di-ctator and thinks he is God incarnate. Wonder if anybody ever took the time to look into the Vacticans first popes, the ones that were launderin money for the mafia? Not to mention all the other crap the catholic church does, marian worship, lieing to people about prugitory and second chances after ya croak,! LOL.

    October 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  15. Vidiot

    I should point out that the Episcopal Church has a very beautiful liturgy that's quite similar to the Catholic mass, and fully welcomes women; the denomination's Presiding Bishop is a woman, and there are female bishops, priests, and deacons.

    October 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      According to Catholics you all are going to he ll in a hand basket. It's silly when you think about it, how could anyone know which is the right path to glory?

      October 22, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Reality

      Too bad Henry VIII was not as accommodating to women.

      October 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Where do you get your information about Catholicism? I have never heard such a thing….’where the Church is condemning people to hell in a hand basket’….

      No, the Church does not condemn, but will explain how YOU can condemn yourself to hell in a hand basket.

      October 23, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  16. JohnQuest

    This is the funniest (read ridiculous), article I've read in a long time. Consider the following; if God had come to the earth as a woman (2010 years ago) how would it have been perceived, would we have a Christian religion now? If God is neither Male nor Female then what difference does it make which se x represents it? Since the Church choose only to use the holy books written by men is their any wonder why women have such a small roll.

    October 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • Magic

      "...any wonder why women have such a small roll."

      Heh, it looks like a big, honkin' "roll" that she is 'consecrating' in that picture... her "role" is perhaps smaller.

      October 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
    • NL

      Had Christ come as a woman her ministry likely would have ended as soon as she approached Simon and Andrew to become her disciples. They'd have been outraged by the forwardness of the woman, an angry crowd would have formed, and then the stones would have flown. Choosing a man at least indicates God's knowledge of how primitive His people's society was at the time.

      October 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      NL, that is an interesting view, but consider the following; all disciples, angles, and 99.9% of characters of note are male in a society that was roughly 50-50. God is neither male nor female, why would God care more about one s ex over the other? This only makes sense if God, disciples, and angles were a creation of a male dominated society.

      October 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      God does not care about one s3x more than the other…..

      Obviously you are not jealous of women having been chosen to bring new life into the world; women were revered for having this status at one time, but somehow society has diminished it to almost an evil…yes, evil to some, anyway, making the killing of the baby in the womb [and outside the womb, should it live through the ordeal] expected of women for a variety of reasons. ‘How dare women bring another baby into this world when abortion is legal and free to any who will ‘just do it,’ say many.

      So motherhood has been reduced to worthlessness, unnecessary, or deemed a curse. What are little girls to think….'Oh, to be a ‘father’ would be special.' Being a father is special but not anymore special than being a mother.

      How do we expect girls to love motherhood as well as fatherhood in a society that is now saying ‘marriage between two men or two women is what is beautiful because bringing life into the world isn’t necessary anymore, in fact, it is frowned upon by many.

      This woman wanting to be a priest is just another product of how society has told women ‘they have no role in society unless they can take one from a man!

      October 23, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  17. CatholicMom


    ‘Changes in the environment?’ Yes, if it is raining go get your raincoat! Man always adapts the best he can with his environment…but when man tries to ‘change’ the environment….keep the snow from falling on his head…grow corn in the Antarctica…he has to deal with the consequences.

    In this case, accept Truth for what it is and learn to cooperate peacefully with things that cannot change.

    Don’t blame the Pope for not changing the unchangeable; the Holy Spirit is guiding and guarding His Church and has for 2000 years…man has tried for all those years, hasn’t he, and what has it gotten him?......thousands if not hundreds of thousands of ecclesial communities each with a differing ‘truth’ and yet he is not satisfied!

    If you don’t want to be Catholic you don’t have to be Catholic!

    October 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • Reality

      Yesterday's holyghost, todays holyspirit but said existence of either is nil.

      October 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Respondere

      The Catholic Church did a pretty good job instilling in my mind the fact that they are the utmost authority on Theism and religion. When I slowly discovered the myths, the contrived history and the erroneous leaps of logic which are the basis of their beliefs and teachings, it was inc-umbent upon me to leave all religion behind... no need to wade through the 'sloppy seconds' on the way out.

      October 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • Tom

      @Reality. Exisitence is in the heart and mind of the beholder. You choose to believe in yourself and your own personal knowledge. People of faith embrace that which is felt and not necessarily seen.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  18. Tranquility

    My father's side of the family is Catholic and I'm dating a Catholic man, but I will never become a Catholic because of idiotic things such as this. I completely agree with everything this woman (priest) is saying. It is unjust and if the Pope will not budge I don't blame this movement one bit. Make the world as you see fit and make it better than you found it.

    I have seen good and bad religious/spiritual leaders and not once did it matter what their gender was. There was good and bad of both. For the Catholics having issues with this, it sounds like it's just a matter of wording and semantics. Who would want to follow a religion when your gender, class standing, etc determines how you will be treated? It seems pretty archaic. Of course, on the other hand, if an organization doesn't change and evolve over time to deal with changes in the environment it will wither and die and be replaced by something else that is (usually) better.

    October 22, 2010 at 11:41 am |
    • NL

      When it comes to all religion what you term as 'idiotic' is just a matter of scale as all of them have aspects that are really hard to swallow. Everyone just has different levels of tolerance is all. Some of us have so low a level of tolerance for this kind of stuff we gave up trying to ignore it entirely. Remember that, while you hold your nose at this, somebody else is holding their nose at something you believe in.

      October 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • Tom

      I'm sure whatever beleifs you have could be ripped apart as idiotic. More than likely you are not educated enough in your own beliefs to even begin to know enough about another belief you don't practice. Faith and spirituality is an education and journey that takes time to understadn and grow. One does not "get it" becasue they read out of a book or worshipped in a building solely.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  19. Reality

    Celebration of a mythical "last supper" event whether by a single white guy called a priest or a "priestly" mother of two does not change the significant stupidity of it all.

    October 22, 2010 at 10:08 am |
    • NL

      Still, Reality, I fail to see how any sect that does not celebrate some form of the 'last supper' can truly call itself Christian. If the gospels make anything clear it's Jesus' command to 'do this in memory of me', right?

      October 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Reality


      But did the simple, preacher man actually ut-ter e.g. Luke 22:7-19??

      According to many contemporary NT exegetes, he did not!!


      1a) Mark 14:12-16 = Matt 26:17-19 = Luke 22:7-14
      (1b) GEbi. 7

      In Crossan's view, this is the third example of a plurally attested complex from the first stratum which, although summarizing "principles or practices, themes or emphases, of the historical Jesus, stem not from him but from the liturgical creativity of the early communities" [Historical Jesus, 360]. (The other examples were 13 Two As One and 120 The Lord's Prayer.)

      Crossan [Historical Jesus, 360-67] proposes five major stages in the development of this complex:

      1. The general anthropology of eating and the more specific historical customs of Greco-Roman commensality: and specifically the two-part structure (deipnon then symposion) of the Greco-Roman formal meal.

      2. Open commensality practiced by Jesus and his followers as an expression of radical social egalitarianism.

      3. A ritual meal within the early Jesus communities, such as those prescribed in Didache 10 and 9, with no paschal imagery, no Last Supper tradition, and no connection with the death of Jesus.

      4. The pre-Pauline tradition of the Last Supper during which Jesus insti-tutes the eucharistic ritual and links the bread and wine to his body and blood.

      5. Introduction of Pa-ssover character as part of a re-working of the Last Supper tradition by Mark.

      "Luedemann concludes that the portrayal of Jesus celebrating such a ritual on the night before his death is not historical. He is clear that there is "no generic relationship" between any actual final meal and the Lord's Supper understood in cu-ltic terms. He also denies the Passover character of the supper as a Markan creation. Like Meier (below), Luedemann does accept the saying (Mark 14:25) about drinking wine in the kingdom of God as authentic. He concludes: (this saying) "hardly came into being in the early community, for in it Jesus does not exercise any special function for believers at the festal meal in heaven which is imminent. Only Jesus' expectation of a the future kingdom of God stands at the centre, not Jesus as saviour, judge or intercessor."

      October 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      LOL you asked for that. 😀

      October 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • NL

      I wasn't talking about it being historically true, or not. I wouldn't be able to prove if anything in the New Testament actually occurred, but the 'Last Supper' is in there, several times. Paul makes a big deal out of it and the accounts in the Gospels shine out in the "red letter" sections big time. So, if you believe that the Bible is the actual inspired word of God, and take 'Sola scriptura' seriously then they should be observing the Last Supper, right?

      October 23, 2010 at 9:24 am |
    • Reality


      Yes, Christians celebrate/reenact what they think was the last supper of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus but the historical records and common sense do not support the event therefore Christians have been wasting their time for the last 2000 years thinking their priests are converting bread into the flesh and water and wine into the blood of JC. Even modern Catholic theologians have a problem with this daily ritual.

      To wit:

      ". Transubstantiation is still a Catholic doctrine, but it never meant a
      literal transforming of bread and wine into the physical body and blood of
      Jesus. "Substance" in medieval philosophy referred to the essence of a thing
      and was not reducible to material appearance. Transubstantiation is a way of
      expressing belief that Jesus Christ is SOME HOW present in the consecrated
      bread and wine in a special way. Some theologians believe that
      "transignificantion" would be a better term today than transubstantiation.
      [Note: both Episcopalians and Lutherans believe in the real presence of
      Jesus Christ in the Eucharistized bread and wine.]"

      October 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Reality, you said, ‘Even modern Catholic theologians have a problem with this daily ritual’…. Yes…a very small number of theologians, starting with Martin Luther and Zwigley [probably spelled wrong] who were Catholic priests….but the vast majority of Catholic theologians love the Mass and understand what Persona Christi means for all of us Catholics.

      October 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • Reality


      We await your list of contemporary Catholic theologians who believe in the "bloody" version of the Eucharist.

      October 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Good Heavens! You expect me to docu-ment every theologian who believes in Transubstantiation? Don’t you know winter is coming on and I am in the process of getting ready to be snowed in very soon….

      Perhaps you could do your own investigation ‘person to person’ since you are the one questioning this Truth….

      October 23, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • Reality


      You listed only two theologians "transubbers" i.e. Luther and some "no name". Looks like you have a reading project for the winter. Get back to us in the Spring with any "truths" you might discover.

      October 24, 2010 at 1:09 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Sorry, Reality,

      There will be no list of the sort you want from me…I am not interested in any theologian who has weak faith…I prefer reading the Church Fathers…saints lives.…The only interest I would have in a theologian with weak faith is to put him on a prayer list.

      October 24, 2010 at 10:21 am |
    • CatholicMom

      The key word in your statement is ‘DO’… ‘do what?’ and do this (?) for what reason…do it to remember HIM. How many do this event as HE did it? Should He not be brought to memory daily…or is just once a month or twice a year or once a year sufficient?

      October 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • Tom

      @Reality. Whew! Somebody like to study a lot of crap written by recent philosophers and historians. Besides the Bible, all one needs to do is read the letters of th eearly church fathers in relation to the Eucharist. Start with St Ignatius (1st century) and go to St Augustine (4th century). When one reads these works, the formation of the early church is quite eveident to include beleifs on the Eucharist, Blessed Mother, sacraments and prayers to angels and saints.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Reality


      An update on today's religions (for new eyes only):

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      "New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. "

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:

      Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      4. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.
      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.
      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."
      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"
      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      October 25, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  20. Peace2All

    I say... good for the ladies...!!! Why should the guys get to do all the bible talkin'

    However, can't wait for the Catholics to weigh in on this one.

    @CatholicMom.... Your up...!

    October 22, 2010 at 7:25 am |
    • Peace2All


      October 22, 2010 at 7:26 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Peace2all,...hi, nice to see your concern!

      The article reports, “I think Jesus would say to the church, ‘What are you doing to my church? This is not the church I founded……’
      Exactly! So why go against the Church in this self-indulgency?

      Having the history that has been shown of Gabriella Velardi Ward …studying alternative ‘ideas’ sometime after 3rd grade forward and finding those religions also without women priests, she finds a group claiming to be Catholic and decides at age 63 after studying theology ‘where?’, that if she is going to have her childhood fantasy and become a priest, she will have to continue ‘playing church’ in her house.

      Of course, she is not a Catholic priest as a Catholic priest has ordination through the power of Apostolic Succession. This show reminds me of little girls that are still having their ‘tea parties’ but without the real hot tea.

      She doesn’t want to excommunicate herself from Jesus’ real Church but she has, along with all those others who persist in this hersesy.

      Jesus was a man and he never intended women to stand in Persona Christi…to say this is My Body and this is My Blood…because Jesus did become Incarnate and it was an event where He took a man’s body, not a woman’s body for His own. He made the distinction.

      Men and women are equal but not the same! Priests are as Fathers to us as God is Our Father…not our Mother. He has a Mother, Mary, who is not a man but a woman; she is our Mother, too. Jesus glorified women through Mary who was the first Tabernacle to hold ‘the Bread of Life’.

      October 22, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • civilioutside

      So the argument is "Jesus was a man, therefore only men can be priests?" Let's see... do these other statements, which share the same logic, also hold true? "Jesus was a Jew. Therefore only Jews can be priests." "Jesus was a carpenter. Therefore only carpenters can be priests." "Jesus was brown-haired. Therefore only brown-haired people can be priests." Jesus had any number of attributes that could be fit into the argument structure "Jesus was X, therefore only X can be priests." Picking X to be "male" is arbitrary, and more likely to be the product of patriarchal prejudice than divine mandate given that Jesus never explicitly said anything like "only men may guide my church." Though of course my personal favorite would be "Jesus-as-son-of-God is mythical, therefore only mythical people can be priests."

      October 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • VistaNow

      Well said catholicMom!

      October 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      You should try reading the story for comprehension as I assume you did not mean to agree with "Father" Velardi...

      When she said "...This is not the church I founded...", and you seeminly agreed, she was slamming the current version of the rcc! Why shouldn't she (or anyone else) try to bring the church back to what they beleive was intended by jc? Or is this just another demonstration that religion is man made?

      October 22, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
    • ScottK

      @caolicmom – Thank God bible law does not = Catholic doctrine, though I wil admit, this woman has no place considering herself a Catholic. It would be like the leader of an anti-ga y christian orga nization that turned out to be ga y... er, wait, um...it would be like a republican fiscal conservative that added hundreds of billions of unpaid wars & pork to the defecit, er, well, um...wait...seems we live in a world of hypocricy.

      October 22, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
    • Dobray Utra

      What would be really brave of CNN would be to find someone what is pushing to be a female imam.

      October 24, 2010 at 1:26 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.