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Statement from Cardinal Rigali Regarding DiFranco

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Recently, there has been extensive media attention regarding an attempted ordination of women, which took place on a river boat outside Pittsburgh on July 31, 2006. Eileen DiFranco, who is known to members of Saint Vincent DePaul Parish in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, participated in the event. Accordingly, the following statement is issued regarding this activity.

Recently, there has been a good deal of publicity about a woman of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Mrs. Eileen DiFranco, participating in a simulated ceremony of ordination to the priesthood on a river boat outside Pittsburgh.

The long-standing and constant teaching of the Church, based on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and confirmed in Church law, states that the Church is simply not authorized by Christ to confer Holy Orders upon women, and cannot do so, no matter how ardent a person's desire may be. Therefore, such a simulated ordination of a woman to the priesthood is clearly and simply invalid. I am saddened when anyone publicly jeopardizes his or her relationship with the Church, which Mrs. DiFranco unfortunately has done by her action.

Although I attempted to dissuade Mrs. DiFranco from participating in this invalid ritual, nevertheless she proceeded to do so. Now I am left with no alternative than to report this matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, as I am obligated to do. The ultimate goal of any action taken against Mrs. DiFranco is to encourage her repentance and reconciliation with the Church. I shall continue to pray for this intention.

Each and every Catholic man and woman brings different gifts to the Church and exercises them in a variety of roles, according to the state of life to which they have been called by Christ. United in the love of Jesus, we are all at the service of His Body, the Church. In pledging to avoid scandal and discord, we can help to reap a bountiful harvest for our Lord Jesus Christ.

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