A columnist from the Saint Louis Post Dispatch asked the bumper sticker question concerning female priests: “What would Jesus do?”

Here’s what he has to say on the story of two women who say they’re Roman Catholic who want to be ordained as priests and are taking part in a ceremony at a synagogue. Confused? So is the columnist.

A Catholic ordination at a Jewish congregation. Wow!
Let’s put that tidbit aside for a moment and deal with the issue of female priests. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But, then again, I’m not Catholic.

Of course, the church hierarchy frowns on the practice. I recall the case of the women in 2002 ordained by an Argentinean bishop. They’re known as the “Danube Seven” by members of the national Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement. They were excommunicated.

Any chance the Catholic Church might soften its stand on women priests?

Absolutely not, said Lawrence J. Welch, a professor of theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary: “The church’s position is that it does not ordain women — it’s impossible. Now, some have been ordained, but in the eyes of the church, nothing happened. It’s not recognized.”

It’s Jesus’ way, Welch added.

“The church’s practice for centuries has been based on Christ’s actions,” Welch said. “An ordained man represents Christ as the bridegroom to the church. This was also Jesus’ relationship with the church.”

But there was no “church” when Christ was alive, I pointed out. I asked Welch how the Vatican could be so sure that Jesus would oppose women priests.

“During the Last Supper, Christ chose men as his disciples. They were given the authority to speak in Jesus’ name,” Welch said. “In that sense, he created priests.”

Not to take issue with the good professor, but I seem to remember a pretty inclusive definition of Christ’s flock written by one of his “priests” in Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek … neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Wow. He’s deep. Jesus said he loves everyone so therefore there must be no difference between men and women or even adults and children, I guess. But the best part is there a professor of Theology that believes he really hit the nail on the head.

“Yes! There is your proof of what Jesus wanted,” said Ronald Modras, professor of theological studies at St. Louis University. The ordination of women, he said, is simply an extension of the “sea changes” within the Roman Catholic Church that started in the 1960s to address a modern world: “What you have now is a retrieval of Jesus’ affirmation and appreciation of women. The 12 disciples were men, but Jesus also had women in leadership positions and female disciples.”

Although the Vatican opposes the practice, Modras said several factions inside the Roman Catholic Church are in favor of the ordination of women to priesthood. Students, he added, who attended “good theological schools” are well aware of Jesus’ “liberating attitude.”

“The early church was a discipleship of equals,” he noted.

There are several factions of the Democratic Party that want Dennis Kucinich to be President but that doesn’t mean he will. And you just have to love the professor saying that those who attend “good theological schools” agree with him. Thus the definition of a good school are those who agree with him. Wow he must be smarter than everyone else. So much for all that equality babble from that Jesus dude.

One of the women to be ordained, Elsie Hainz McGrath, received her master’s degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. She believes her ordination meets Christ’s approval.

“Jesus never ordained anyone. He also never organized a hierarchical system,” McGrath said. “His mission was to establish a community of caring people who administered to those in need.”

So we have a woman here who wants to be ordained as a Catholic priest who doesn’t believe in the Church’s hierarchy. So she must not believe in the supremacy of Peter and apostolic succession. So why does she want to be Catholic other than getting media coverage from shallow thinking columnists?

Now the “ordination” is going to take place at a synagogue.

The harm outside was Welch’s reference to the upcoming ceremony’s location — the Central Reform Congregation.

Actually, said Rabbi Talve, her board’s decision to host the ordination was all about respect. “We were approached by two wonderful women who asked to use our space. ‘Hospitality’ is our core value,” she said. “The board seriously considered the matter. It has never been our intent to interfere in church affairs. It hurts me that we may cause pain for the archdiocese but, in this case, our core values guided us.”

Talve acknowledged a statement recently released by the local Jewish Community Relations Council stating that her congregation is acting on its own and in no way reflects the sentiments of the larger Jewish community.

The majority of Orthodox Jews don’t recognize female rabbis, even though Reform Judaism and other Jewish denominations do. I asked Talve, who was ordained in 1981 as a Reform rabbi, if there is a kindred mission between women rabbis and women priests.

Talve avoided that issue and my “what would Jesus do” question: “It would be presumptuous for me, as a rabbi, to go there. I only hope those who take his message out into the world have compassion for women who want to serve in this way.”

Again, I’m not Catholic, but that answer sounds like something Jesus might say.

So a female rabbi is ordaining a Catholic priest. This makes perfect sense. This leads me back to the old warning: Don’t drink and theologize.