By Dennis Gruending
When Pope Benedict XVI pays a visit to England and Scotland on September 16-19, poster advertisements taken out on London buses will say “Pope Benedict – Ordain Women Now!” Father Stephen Wang, the dean of studies at London’s main seminary for Catholic priests, published a semi-official defence against that request in a column that was carried by Catholic websites throughout Britain and on his own blog. The American television network CNN also interviewed Wang. He says that that Pope John Paul II declared in 1994, and Pope Benedict agrees, than the church has no authority to ordain women because Jesus chose 12 men – and no women – to be his apostles. That choice, Wang says, was deliberate and significant not just for that first period of history but also for every age. Men and women are equal in Christianity, but women cannot fulfill a basic function of the priesthood, “standing in the place of Jesus.”
Explanations such as these are unacceptable to Therese Koturbash. She is a young lawyer who is on leave from her job with Legal Aid Manitoba and she now finds herself living and working in London as the international coordinator for womenpriests.org, one of the groups that will be active during the pope’s visit.