Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Female Clergyperson?

As a journalist I am more than sensitive about the rank ignorance that so many of my colleagues demonstrate in their coverage of religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular. This story contains some real gems -- linguistic, journalistic and theological -- not all of them the fault of the poor reporter. Spot them all.

Church ordains city's first female Episcopal priest

Carol Petty was ordained as a priest Monday night at Trinity Episcopal Church in Longview, becoming the city's first female ordained priest in the Episcopal church.

"It's a great honor to be ordained as a priest in the church," Petty said. "I've been in ministry of various kinds for about 15 years."

Petty attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at its Houston campus, earning two degrees. However, she soon became interested in the Episcopal church, being "drawn to the beauty of the liturgy and the grace," she said.

Kevin Wittmayer, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, called the ordainment "monumental for us," adding, "We couldn't have a better woman to be our first female clergyperson. It's a real good thing for us."

Petty attended a year of Anglican study at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin after entering the discernment process for holy orders at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Beaumont. She came to the Longview church in July.

According to Rayford High, the assistant bishop of Texas, females were allowed to be ordained priests and bishops in 1976 at a general convention meeting in Minneapolis. Before that, women could be ordained only as deacons.

High confirmed Petty's ordainment as the first of a female in the Episcopal church in Longview and said female ordinations are commonplace throughout the country.

"There are only three out of 100 diocese that don't ordain females," High said – in Fort Worth; San Joaquin, Calif.; and Quincy, Ill.

By Gabriel T. Brooks at the Longview News-Journal

10 comments:

poetreader said...

just one more shovelfull on the grave. Sad to see.

albion said...

Yes, Ed, but what did you spot?

poetreader said...

First and most important is the absolute ignorance that there is an issue of any kind involved and a total misunderstanding of what priesthood is. But, of course, his sources all manage blithly to assume that there is no issue.

Then there's that strange word "ordainment" - where did that come from?

Wasn't 1976 the illegal ordination of the first tribe of women? In spite of being a history major, I have a hard time remembering dates.

I'm also unsure whether he has the number and identity of proitesting dioceses correct. I don't keep up with the details in ECUSA.

Basically, rather than a lot of details, what I catch is very much like what I catch in almost all mainstream reporting (not merely on religious issues), and that is the lack of a desire to do the research and get things right. The most obvious thing in this piece is a general fog of ignorance and lack of content.

albion said...

Ed has hit on several points, but there are still more.

I'll give you one: What linguistic contortions must the good rector have gone through to come up with such an ugly rendition of clergywoman?

poetreader said...

but you can't hang the guilt for 'clergyperson' on the reporter - that's a direct quote from the rector. Another imoentrable piece of verbiage: "drawn to the beauty of the liturgy and the grace," is also a direct quote, from the 'ordinand'. A reporter can't change direct quotes, can he?

albion said...

Ed,

You're right about female clergyperson. Recall that I said it was not all the fault of the reporter.

You have just now picked up on another point. Petty is made a "priest" because she is drawn to the "beauty of the liturgy and the grace." Theological question: What in heaven's name is the grace?
And while we're at it, she makes it sound like her 15 years in ministry entitled her to some sort of reward. Though I may be reading too much in to this, it is not Catholic vocation.

And, no, a reporter should not change direct quotes. But they should make sense in the context.

Anonymous said...

The error is women's "ordination" at all, not just women as priests. The line that before 1976 they were being ordained as deacons is wrong. The "ordination" of women ended the lay ministry of deaconess, confusing it with the Order of Deacon.

Anonymous said...

The error is women's "ordination" at all, not just women as priests. The line that before 1976 they were being ordained as deacons is wrong. The "ordination" of women ended the lay ministry of deaconess, confusing it with the Order of Deacon.

1:06 AM

Fr Robert Hart said...

The error is women's "ordination" at all, not just women as priests. The line that before 1976 they were being ordained as deacons is wrong. The "ordination" of women ended the lay ministry of deaconess, confusing it with the Order of Deacon.

1:06 AM

poetreader said...

precisely, Albion: If years of experience as a Protestant minister gave one the 'right' to be a priest, with 25 years of experience, I'd be one. Though I still feel so called, it's not effectively a vocation until the Church, through the bishop agrees. The bishop hasn't agreed, and I have no rights to defend. Neither does she have 'rights' in the matter. In a Catholic church, that's the way it is.