Argent took some really cool pot shots on this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Now it's my turn to take some pot shots. (BTW, nice work Argent!)
In the three weeks since Joan Clark Houk's plans to be ordained as a Catholic priest became public, the McCandless woman's media baptism has involved six interviews and one letter writer's claim that she was well educated in witchcraft.
That letter writer might just be right. Further, let's clarify the part up to the first comma. Mrs. Houk (pictured left, in front of the Cathedral of St. Paul Offices in Pittsburgh) claims she's going to be ordained as a Catholic priest. Instead, she's simply going to become a poncho lady in a bogus ritual on a boat, kinda like a bunch of young girls in a dollhouse "playing school".
But Mrs. Houk, who celebrated her 66th birthday last weekend, remains resolute. On July 31, the cradle Catholic will join 11 other female candidates in an ordination ceremony aboard a rented boat here -- the first ceremony of its kind in the United States. Eight are seeking to become women priests and the other four, deacons.
It'll be another year or so before the last four can get that poncho. It's such a shame how someone can just flush 66 years of Catholicism down the twah-lette!
The event, a public challenge to the Roman Catholic church's teaching that only baptized men can be priests, will disturb traditional believers.
The traditional believers, I believe, will know better. The "cafeteria Catholics" may fall for it, causing a disturbance on their souls. As for these twelve women, they are already disturbed, as Argent rightfully points out.
Last month, the Rev. Ron Lengwin, a spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said the women are walking away from the church. If Mrs. Houk holds herself out as a priest after the ceremony, she risks excommunication. Mrs. Houk believes the best way to spur the church to ordain women is to violate what she believes is an unjust law.
Father Lengwin is absolutely right. Again, 66 years of Catholicism simply gone to waste. Too bad! So sad! Sorry. Holy Mother Church does not just waver on two thousand years of what they (and we) believe is a just law.
"The church has to take a stand for women ... that they are the image of God and are to be respected and treated on an equal, human level. This is really why I have to do what I am doing," she said in a recent interview.
Well, they are treated on an equal, human level. Guys can't be nuns now, can they? No. Not even after a sex change! So, don't even go there!
Since the 1980s, tens of thousands of American Catholics have consistently told the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago that they favor ordaining women as well as married priests.
HA! What a crock! One - who paid these "tens of thousands" to satisfy their little agenda? And, two - how about the remaining "hundreds of thousands" who make up the remainder of America's Catholics. Oh, and, uh, three - were these "tens of thousands" really Catholic, or were they never Cathoic, or former Catholic, either by excommunication or by their own will? Wait - excommunication really is by one's own will.
"A majority of American Catholics for quite some time have supported those changes in church doctrine. The public has been open to more innovation in the church than the church itself has been," said Tom Smith, director of the center's general social survey.
Well, these so-called "American Catholics" that were so surveyed are supporting a lost cause.
"I believe the ordination will be valid and part of the apostolic succession," said Mrs. Houk, who earned her master's in divinity on a full scholarship at the University of Notre Dame in 1996.
Sure. Just as much as Elvis Presley will rise from the dead.
About 400 invited family members and friends will observe as three female bishops from Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an international group of Catholics who support women's ordination, will lay hands on the candidates' heads and anoint their hands with oil. Unlike priests, the women, some of whom are married, will not take a vow of celibacy.
Ah yes, four hundred people will witness these twelve people as they are made into poncho ladies. And as an added bonus, they will check you for lice, just like in this picture on the left. "Bishop in the middle" seeks the advice of "Bishop on the left" - Bad news. She checked positive, followed by a reply of Pass her for now. We'll deal with the lice later. "Bishop on the right" also does a thorough check.
"We do not promise obedience to our bishop. We promise obedience to Jesus and the Gospel," Mrs. Houk said, adding that each candidate will receive a glass chalice engraved with her name and the date.
The first sentence is another reason why there's no such thing as a Roman Catholic woman priest. And the glass chalice makes for many a great prom souvenir. Why not a good strong ceramic stein to hold the excessive amount of liquor she's been drinking that led her to her decision to stray from the Church?
During a meeting last week, officials of the Gateway Clipper Fleet assured Mrs. Houk that despite some negative comments, they will honor their contract because they do not discriminate when they rent boats to groups. "They have been really wonderful to work with," Mrs. Houk said.
Of course. The boat company ain't gonna give a rat's behind who they rent their boats to, as long as there's a licensed, responsible captain on board who will bring the boat back in one piece, and as long as they're getting paid.
Two-thirds of the 35 e-mails that Mrs. Houk has received since the announcement have been supportive. "I am very uplifted by all the support I am getting from everyone," she said.
Those who haven't sent an e-mail have better things to do, most likely, than to waste their verbage on a lost cause.
At the ceremony, presiders will be Patricia Fresen, Gisela Forster and Ida Raming, who live in Germany and are bishops in RC Womenpriests. The three women believe they are part of the church's valid apostolic succession because Roman Catholic bishops in good standing ordained them secretly.
Man, were they ever deceived. And this "RC Womenpriests" - wow! Sounds official! Sounds important! It isn't. RC could really stand for Royal Crown, like the soda, or Royal Caribbean, like the cruise line. Or it could be a more honest acronymn, like Royally Crocked.
Ms. Raming joined the "Danube Seven," a group of women ordained on the Danube River near Austria in August 2002. In January 2003, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, excommunicated members of the Danube Seven.
Next in line for excommunication: the "Pittsburgh Twelve".
Mrs. Houk believes her life's work has prepared her for this step on her pilgrimage. The eldest of four children, she grew up on the North Side where her father, Bill Clark, worked as an optician and her mother, Dorothy, was a beautician and a seamstress.
Mrs. Houk graduated from St. Peter High School on Arch Street in 1958. For 50 years, her maternal grandfather ushered the faithful into 6 a.m. Mass at St. Francis Xavier, where he helped stoke the church furnace.
And a Catholic education, too. Even more reason to repeat that strain - Sixty-six years of a Catholic life down the drain.
"Church was our life," Mrs. Houk recalled, adding that she recited the rosary with her grandmother Mary Halligan while they waited for bread to bake.
Note my emphasis on the word was. Well, still is. Just not the true Holy Mother Church anymore.
Mrs. Houk and her husband, John, a retired civil engineer who worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation, celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary in June. The couple have lived in Alaska, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Washington and Kentucky. Three of their six children are adopted, including a grown daughter from South Korea who teaches English and lives in California.
In 1997, the Houks moved to Jackson, Ky., where Mrs. Houk served as pastoral director at Holy Cross Parish, which had never had a resident priest.
I'll bet it did at one time. What stopped it?
"Personally, I have a lot of respect for Joan and John. I like them as individuals," said the Rev. Michael Chowning, a Franciscan who is based at Mother of Good Counsel in Hazard, Ky., and who knew the couple. "They were just neat people. They cared a lot about the church and about the people in general."
I used to work for a pastor who used the line "They're good Catholic people" as an excuse to give them what they want, even if the Church doesn't agree. I was sacked by same pastor after only a year - the only pastor to ever sack me in my 25 years as an organist.
In July 2000, the Houks moved to Mt. Sterling, Ky., where Mrs. Houk served as pastoral director at St. Patrick while living in the church rectory with her husband. St. Patrick, founded in 1862, had always had a resident pastor, but Mrs. Houk assumed those duties. "I did do funerals. I led Communion services when the priest couldn't come. When a priest was not available, I led Sunday celebration, and I did preach," Mrs. Houk said.
Bad on all counts! Now, I had always understood that Communion services were lead by a deacon (permanent or transitional). In fact, I had learned, from a good permanent deacon friend of mine, that the Communion Service was often nicknamed the "Deacon's Mass". Preaching: reserved for deacon or priest. Not laity. Lay men can't even preach.
Besides her service in Kentucky, she has worked on a marriage tribunal; (mis-)taught catechism as well as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults; and worked with her husband to prepare engaged couples for marriage.
"Brrrr, I can just imagine what heterodoxy she spewed," says Argent. Amen to that, Argent! I can just imagine the shrinking of the parish size once she got established.
In December 2002, the couple returned to Pittsburgh and settled in McCandless, where they are members of St. Alexis parish.
Mrs. Houk is deeply concerned about the lack of an open forum for Catholics who are struggling with their consciences and want to discuss abortion, women's ordination and the need to minister to people who feel estranged from or abandoned by the church. If primacy of conscience leads to dissent against the Church, then it is false. "I know that we have that right because it's in canon law," Mrs. Houk said, citing section three of Canon 212. The canon provides that the Christian faithful "... have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the church ... ."
And the pastors have the right to tell such dissenters why they are wrong.
The current atmosphere within the Diocese of Pittsburgh does not foster open discussion, Mrs. Houk said. "The church is saying that we need to be able to speak to our pastors and to other Catholics about matters of conscience and concern, and yet we don't have a forum, especially in this diocese. We're closed out. We're not allowed to talk," she said.
Talk all you want, but in the end, the Church will not waver. Period. Here. Talk to my cat, Mrs. Houk. BTW, she's very ticklish.