Santa Fe Archdiocese: Woman’s Attempted Ordination Invalid

Anne Tropeano was the recipient of an attempted priestly ordination held Oct. 16 at the Cathedral Church of St. John, an Episcopalian cathedral in Albuquerque.

The Cathedral Church of St. John in Albuquerque, N.M., seat of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, which hosted the attempted ordination of Anne Tropeano Oct. 16, 2021.
The Cathedral Church of St. John in Albuquerque, N.M., seat of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, which hosted the attempted ordination of Anne Tropeano Oct. 16, 2021. (photo: teofilo via Flickr / (CC BY 2.0))

SANTA FE, N.M. — The supposed ordination of women is invalid, the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe reiterated Monday, shortly after a woman claimed to have been ordained a priest in Albuquerque.

“As Pope Saint Paul VI explained, because Jesus freely chose only men for apostles, ‘…in fidelity to the example of the Lord, [the Church] does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.’ Thus, the Roman Catholic Church does not see attempted ordination of women as valid and, indeed, is [sic] an excommunicable action,” Father Glennon Jones said Oct. 18.

Anne Tropeano was the recipient of an attempted priestly ordination held Oct. 16 at the Cathedral Church of St. John, an Episcopalian cathedral in Albuquerque. She simulated Mass the following day at St. Paul Lutheran Church, an ELCA community in Albuquerque.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decreed in 2007 that whoever “shall have attempted to confer holy orders on a woman as well as the woman who may have attempted to receive holy orders, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.” That decree was reflected in a 2010 modification made to the norms regarding more grave delicts, which added the attempted ordination of a woman to the delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The existing Code of Canon Law makes clear that ordination is validly received only by “a baptized male,” and a revision that will enter into force in December codifies the 2007 decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In its 1976 declaration Inter insigniores, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said it is necessary to recall that the Church “does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.”

St. John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis taught definitively that only men may be ordained priests.

Prior to the promulgation of Inter insigniores and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, that holy orders can be validly received by a baptized male only was held to be a theologically certain teaching.

But subsequently, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded to a dubium regarding whether the apostolic letter's teaching, that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

In a 1995 response, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith answered in the affirmative, writing that “this teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff … has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of faith.”

And in a 1998 doctrinal commentary related to Ad tuendam fidem, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote that the doctrine that priestly ordination is reserved only to men is to be held definitively, it having “been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”

Last year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith required submission to the proposition that only a baptized male can be ordained validly as the condition for the return to ministry of a priest whom it had barred in 2012.

The Irish Times reported in September 2020 that the congregation had written to the Redemptorists that Father Tony Flannery “should not return to public ministry prior to submitting a signed statement regarding his positions on homosexuality, civil unions between persons of the same sex, and the admission of women to the priesthood.”

According to the Association of Catholic Priests, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked that Father Flannery, to return to ministry, sign a proposition that “according to the Tradition and the doctrine of the Church incorporated in the Canon Law (c. 1024), a baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.”

This proposition regarding the reservation of priesthood to men was supported by excerpts from Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and from Pope Francis' 2020 apostolic exhortation La querida Amazonia.

‘Tearing Us Apart’ book cover, with authors Alexandra DeSanctis and Ryan T. Anderson

Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing (July 2)

Roe v. Wade has been struck down. Abortion on demand is no longer the de facto law of the land across the United States. The question of the legality of abortion has returned to each state and the democratic process. The work to protect the unborn and create a better environment for women and families doesn’t end now. Instead it must continue with even greater vigor. Our guests Ryan Anderson, head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Alexandra DeSanctis, a National Review journalist, know that reality well. Their newly released book, Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing, makes the case that abortion hurts more than simply an unborn child. Abortion harms society far more than it helps it. They join us today on Register Radio.