“Pope Francis called women an ecclesial challenge but we wonder if are we witnessing a Spirit inspired vision of ordained priesthood second only to the Spirit inspired visons of Vatican II. ”
Since the mid 1800s, women’s rights movements pursued greater opportunity for women in leadership. After Vatican II (1965), this movement included women seeking ordination to the priesthood. The Vatican shut down conversation through an Apostolic Letter published in 1994. By 2000 scandals of pedophilia and sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests caused thousands of Catholics to question their loyalty to the institution. The conversation related to ordination of women burst forth in response to the scandal.
Responding to the “priest crisis” in a new way, three bishops ordained 7 women to the priesthood on the Danube River in 2002. They were immediately excommunicated, as were those who participated in any way. They reject the excommunication. The precedent started a movement that has now produced 250 Roman Catholic Women Priests (RCWP) working throughout the world.
This phenomenological study searches for transcendent themes that describe the faith journeys, thus the spiritual lives, of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Using interviews, field notes, artifacts and ethnographic observation of congregations in worship, the study will document how they embody biblical and spiritual themes.