In August, the Irish woman, Jennifer Sleeman, 81, urged Catholic women to boycott this Sunday's Mass in protest of their treatment by the church. Half a world a way, a handful of Portland women responded.

"We had been talking amongst ourselves about how to be a woman and be a Catholic, dealing with that angst. Her call struck a chord with us. We needed to do something, to say, 'We've had enough,'" says Sarah Granger, who is active in St. Andrew Parish in Northeast Portland.

She and other women from St. Andrew's envisioned a "prayerful, positive public witness," not a protest or a boycott. "One Spirit - One Call" will unfold at 9:30 a.m. Sunday in the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland. The 90-minute program calls for prayers, a gospel reflection, and a litany of women saints. Organizers say they hope participants will attend Mass on Saturday night or stay downtown for a special noon Mass at the Downtown Chapel.

Organizers wrote to the archbishop of Portland, the Most Rev. John G. Vlazny, and told him of their plans. He says he is resigned that "One Spirit - One Call" would go on.

"I'm not happy about it," he says. "Whenever people are disturbed, it's a good idea to get together and pray. But my job is one that tries to promote the unity of the church, to encourage the church in our evangelization."

He says he has good relationships with women in the church. "I've tried my best to treat people with fairness." He understands that the women behind the Portland event have a list of grievances, but he thinks "ordination is at the bottom of it all."

"I have no authority to change that." The Catholic Church does not ordain women to the priesthood. "No other bishop, not even the pope can change that," Vlazny says.



  1. Again with the “our hands are tied” lie. I’m sick to death of this lie, and of the people who cling to it in order to keep things the way they want them. They lie to themselves that this about God’s wishes. Oh why in the Name of God do I even bother? They CHOOSE to read scripture in a way that permits them to live this lie. I CHOOSE to read scripture in the open, expansive Our Lord read and used it, to break through the rigidity and get to the spirit of God in all people.

  2. I’ve repeatedly heard it said that even a more modern Pope’s hands would be tied on women priests.
    Yet, I’ve also heard that the Vatican has accepted there is no theological objection to women priests but has shelved this conclusion and simply declared them impossible.

    Is it really true that previous Popes have tied their own church into such knots on this issue that no modernidation would ever be possible?

  3. Is it really true that previous Popes have tied their own church into such knots on this issue

    I can’t answer that question but I’m pretty certain, if the last pope is anything to go by, that quite a few of them have probably tied themselves up – or got somebody else to tie them up. But, heck, I’ve got no problem with that as long as were careful and agreed on a safe word beforehand.

  4. I thought absolute monarchs made the rules and can change them. Granted there would be no end of twisting words to their opposite meanings but that has never stood in the way of the papacy.

  5. Sunday in the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland

    Ah, there are some happy memories (of my PDX days).

    You know, my home parish when I lived in Portland, St. Stephen’s, is only a few blocks away: I know these women would be welcome there!

    [At the time I was member (’87-’90), St Stephen’s also hosted a group of dissident RCs, who had congregation called “The Journey Will Name Us”. They had a priest who was non-canonically resident in the Portland Archdiocese (who pinged my ‘dar a mile away!). The members were mostly gay or trans. As you can tell, I attended their Sunday night mass a couple of times.]