The first Catholic woman to be ordained in Italy

Rome — Maria Vittoria Longhitano became the first Catholic woman to be ordained in Italy on Saturday. The 35-year-old Sicilian is a member of the breakaway Old Catholic church. But she was made a priest at the Anglican church of All Saints in Rome ‑ an act some in the Vatican are likely to see as provocative, not least because the organist at the service was dismissed by the Catholic hierarchy after deciding to change sex.

Longhitano, who is married, told the congregation: “I have opened the way.”  She said she was convinced the laity in Italy were “ready to welcome a female ministry” and that in her native Sicily people often asked her: “Why don’t we have the joy of women priests?”

The Italian Old Catholics broke away from the main Catholic Church in the 19th century in a bid to establish a Catholic faith outside the Vatican’s authority. It is allied to the broader Old Catholic denomination, which is strongest in German-speaking countries. Old Catholics reject some key Roman Catholic dogma, such as the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary and the doctrine of papal infallibility, which the Vatican formally adopted in 1871.

The Catholic church has defined rules on who may be ordained into the clergy.  In the Latin Rite, the priesthood is generally restricted to celibate men who  deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies.

The number of priest who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.

The Catholic church has stated that homosexual desires or attractions themselves are not necessarily sinful.  After Pope Benedict XVI was elected pope, the Congregation for Catholic Education issued an “instruction” prohibiting any individual who “present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture'”, or any individual having had such “tendencies” within the past three years, from entry to seminary, and thus from joining the priesthood.

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