Most Rev. John Vlazny Archbishop Emeritus of Portland
On Friday, Aug. 17, the Oregonian reported on a religious ceremony at Zion United Church of Christ in Gresham which was described as a Roman Catholic “ordination.” According to the report, we now have the first woman Roman Catholic priest in Oregon.
Most readers, hopefully, were somewhat suspicious about the event when they learned it did not take place in a Catholic church. Out of respect for those involved in the ceremony, I had decided to make no public statement. The Oregonian also said nothing for three weeks.
My main purpose in speaking up now is to assure you that there was no ordination of a Roman Catholic priest at Zion United Church of Christ in Gresham on July 28. Even though Catholics were involved, the claim that it was a Catholic ceremony is wrong but, hopefully, not intentionally disrespectful of a sacrament which we Catholics regard as a precious treasure, one for which we are called to exercise reverent and faithful stewardship.
Our relationships with other churches are sometimes fragile because of differences in beliefs and values. But in all ecumenical relationships Christian churches do their best to respect the diversity in practices and beliefs. I regret the apparent disregard for this understanding.
Any person who claims to have been ordained a Catholic bishop, priest or deacon without the proper authorization from church authorities not only is making a false representation of the facts but also by such an act leaves our church community. We are always saddened when sisters and brothers walk away from us, particularly in this manner. We continue to work and pray for unity in the essentials of our Christian faith and for charity and mutual respect in circumstances where we disagree.