Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Colombian woman priest denounces sexism in the Catholic Church

Caracol Radio (English translation by Rebel Girl)
April 3, 2015

Olga Lucía Álvarez from Antioquia, the first ordained woman priest in Latin America and one of fourwomen priests in Colombia, laments the sin of sexism that still exists in Catholicism, that applies canon 1024, according to which only baptized men can be ordained.

"Is the water with which they baptized men different or is it that we don't need baptism," Álvarez wonders in a conversation with 6 AM Hoy por hoy.

She said that although the Catholic hierarchy says they are excommunicated, "we don't accept it, because they can't take away our baptism nor can they throw us out of the Church."

Olga Lucía Álvarez belongs to the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests -- ARCWP, whose bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ordained her in December 2010 in Sarasota, USA.

In Colombia they have 4 headquarters, two of them in Medellin and Soacha. However, she clarifies that they don't have churches or buildings. They tend to the people in their homes or in some church that their Protestant brethren lend them.

She notes that unlike in the Catholic Church, authority is circular, not vertical and not of power but of service.

"Jesus never built a church. He commanded his disciples to serve and that mandate was underscored by Mary," said Alvarez the priest, who asserts that they have the support of some priests.

Olga Lucía Álvarez pointed out that she began serving the needy hand in hand with Monseñor Gerardo Valencia Cano, bishop of Buenaventura, whose secretary she was.

The hierarch was known as the "red bishop" for his work with the poorest communities.

She asserted that in her opinion celibacy should be optional because it goes against divine law. She said that the association she belongs to has women who have celebrated the marriages of their children and baptized their grandchildren.

On the issue of abortion, she stated that it's a matter of personal conscience. "One would have to look at each individual case. Have mercy and listen to each woman who has a different case. They aren't all the same," she said.

(end of Caracol Radio article)

* Translator's note: A fifth woman living in Colombia was ordained a "Catacomb" priest in March 2015  in Sarasota, Florida, by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan under the assumed name "Luz Galilea." "Catacomb" priests do not publicize their real names because doing so might negatively impact themselves or their loved ones.

Colombian women priests in the press

The Colombian women priests have been getting a lot of media coverage this month thanks to Agence France Presse. Aida Soto, Olga Lucia Alvarez, and finally Judith Bautista are shown in the following video produced by the news agency.

The news agency also produced a print article about the women, Latin America's first women priests challenge Church. Judith Bautista neatly sums up ARCWP's stand at the end of this article. "I believe the spirit is called to a renewal, not only on women in the priesthood, but on inclusiveness in the Church," the priest told AFP.

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