St. Louis Claims First Pregnant Catholic Priest

jessica_rowley.jpg

A little over a year ago, 26-year-old Jessica Rowley shattered the stained-glass ceiling, so to speak, by being ordained a Catholic priest. Now the St. Louisan is on the verge of giving birth to her first child, and a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for women’s ordination says that makes Rowley the world’s first pregnant Catholic priest.

"I'm due November 19, but the doctor believes it could be any day," says Rowley. "I'm feeling very ripe."

Rowley is one of roughly a dozen pastors with two X chromosomes presiding over churches in the Ecumencial Catholic Communion, a splinter group of the Roman Catholic Church.

Members of the ECC, which formed in 2003, don’t claim any papal lineage, in contrast to Roman Catholic Womenpriests, another splinter group that ordains women and which does claim direct ties to the Vatican.

St. Louisans Ree Hudson and Elsie McGrath became Womenpriests last fall, causing quite the hullabaloo in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and prompting former Archbishop Raymond Burke to ex-communicate both women. Rowley, though, says she never heard a peep from the Archdiocese, and doesn’t expect to.

Ecumenical Catholics believe in promoting lay people to positions of leadership within the church and, obviously, in the ordination of women. In the ECC, priests are allowed to marry. The church also welcomes into the fold groups that have traditionally been marginalized by the Roman Catholic Church -- divorced people, gays and lesbians, for instance.

Rowley grew up in Chicago and attended Catholic schools there. She got her Master's of Divinity here in St. Louis at Eden Theological Seminary and last year became associate pastor at Sts. Clare & Francis, the ECC Church in Webster Groves which was formed in 2005 by former Roman Catholic priest Frank Krebs. He and Rowley share the pastor-ing duties. Their congregation numbers about 90, and consists mainly of ex-Roman Catholics.

Rowley says her congregation cheered when she told them she and her husband, a minister for the United Church of Christ, were expecting.

So what church – the ECC or the UCC -- will Rowley’s baby boy join?

"That's a good question," says Rowley, with a laugh. "It's a topic of conversation in our home a lot. We're going to baptize him in both churches. But eventually he'll be able to make a decision for himself."

-Kristen Hinman

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61 comments
jb82
jb82

to have a woman "priest" is not to believe in Catholicism.... why call yourselves such when you are not?  It is like Mormon's trying to be labeled as Christians. 

Hugh West
Hugh West

Obviously this woman is not a Catholic priest. She seems human, courageous, forward thinking and kind -- all things that by no stretch of the imagination can be ascribed to the Catholic church or to Catholics in general. She should really move on and just drop the vestiges of this ancient, supersititious, fear-mongering sect. And good riddance.

Fr. Brian
Fr. Brian

You can not be a true Catholic if you are married and pregnant or have kids as a priest! There is only one condition and that is adoption.There are several rather involved theological reasons for a male priesthood, involving the Divine Fatherhood of God, the gender of Christ, and the priest as "alter Christi", literally standing in the place of Christ. However the simplest valid reason is that Jesus is perceived to have clearly taught that a male priesthood is His divine will. Jesus taught both by word and by example. His example in selecting males twelve times in succession is taken as a definitive and irrevocable statement by Jesus Himself of His holy will regarding His priesthood. Based on that perceived teaching, the Holy Father has declared as an article of faith binding on all the faithful that the Church does not have the authority to ordain women. By that action of the Vicar of Christ, the matter is settled for all time. No such declaration by any Pope has ever been reversed by a subsequent Pope.

_ Paul

Joseph
Joseph

That is unreal. That is against the catholic faith and that goes along the guidelines of marriage. Has anyone heard of chastity! once you take those vows you have to practice chastity and obedience to God. This is a disgrace. Other religions would put catholism down because of this. I am very faithful and a Roman Catholic. My brother will be a priest in three years, he is studying in Rome. I go to a catholic school with religion everyday! Even though I am in High School this is not right. I hope you know other things like abortion is wrong and much much more. This is coming from the Pope and the Vatican.

Mary
Mary

First of all, I wish that everyone who had a comment about the technicalities of the article would have written the journalist/paper directly. Airing your issues in public won't cause anything except for anger and hurt.

As a devout Roman Catholic and a journalist, I can realize without reading the article what the truth is .. and guess what so can everyone else...there are more fallacies in everyone's comments than there are in the article.

So my advice is let this be the last post - everyone knows the truths they believe. There ARE Catholics who are faithful Catholic who follow the pope, and aren't the Roman Rite ... the ECC does not claim to follow the pope therefore there's no need for argument.

As for "priest" Jessica, I hope that you and your husband have/had a healthy beautiful baby! I am sorry if any of these posts have been hurtful, please know that the Catholic Church in line with the Vatican is not a hateful church/people. So often people do not realize that what they write/say/do is hurtful and in that they are not being true to their faith. If they had issues with the technicalities that is one thing and should have been directed to the editor - not to public comments. So we'll respect that you are a minister/pastor, and would only respect that you speak the truth to your parishioners as well.

P.S. If you are a Christian you only have to be baptized once...even the Catholic church realizes that baptism is a sacrament within any branch of the Christian faith.

God bless, Vaya con Dios!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Rowley says her congregation cheered when she told them she and her husband, a minister for the United Church of Christ, were expecting. EVE Times 3X Ecumenical ChaosShe is going to have an illegitimate child and is going to raise the child without a proper home of two parents that are baptized Catholics.

What is this nonsense about her being an adulteress and her child being illegitimate? The article states that she has a husband. If you want to call her a herectic or a Protestant, fine. But to say she is an ADULTERESS is just a plain old lie and hate speech. Even the strictest Canon Law person would acknowledge that she and her HUSBAND are married. If they are not married, because they are not Roman Catholics, then does that mean that every child born to parents from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds are fornicators and their kids are bastards?

Good grief!

Camille Adams
Camille Adams

Perhaps all of you should attend a Sts. Clair and Frances Communion service on a Saturday evening sometime. ALL Are WELCOME. Then you may see for yourself what a truly holy experience it is. "Catholic" according to Webster's dictionary means "broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests". This certainly defines the spirit of the community. Jesus excluded no one. Neither does this group of true Catholics.

Trixie
Trixie

I was raised Roman Catholic and reluctantly left after many years of the bullying and dishonesty that is pervasive in that religious sect. Recent examples of such bullying are the scandals of sexual abuse and the use of parishioner's charitable donations to settle cases out of court. The Ecumenical Catholic Communion has a Catholic Mass that is closer to the Roman Catholic Mass than any other religious service I have attended. I encourage any disengaged Roman Catholics (and there are MANY American Roman Catholics who are disengaged)to try and attend an Ecumenical Catholic service. You may be pleasantly surprised.

jen
jen

I am certainly not Roman Catholic, but I am absolutely Catholic. Rome can say otherwise forever, but I do not claim to be Roman Catholic. I am Catholic.

The Romans can have their church and think what they wish and God bless them. I belong to a more progressive Catholic church.

There are many churches. My church blesses each one of them. Why so many cannot reciprocate that same love, which seems to be a mandate of Jesus Himself, I cannot understand.

Perhaps if each of us would heed His command to judge not, we'd all be more faithful to His command and example.

Tray
Tray

This is Hilarious! I mean, congratulations on her pregnancy for sure, but she is not a Catholic Priest. You are not some sort of branch off. I was unfortunate enough grow up Catholic and went to Catechism and all that bull. There are no Catholic branch offs. Not gray areas... it's black and white. Catholic or some other form of Christianity. Sorry, Charlie.

Brother Phillip
Brother Phillip

I congratulate Rev. Mother Jessica Rowley on her pregnancy and certainly bless her in her ministry.

And in regards to the rest of all these comments... I hardly see any church on here at all. Who cares whether or not she is Catholic or heretic or Protestant or pregnant or priest?!?! Honestly, I am more concerned about the fact that Christians (who are ALL ONE IN CHRIST... see Galatians) are arguing so vehemently with each other over something so trivial. This supposed Christian Church (or Catholics and ecclesial communities or whatever you want to call it) cannot even seem to get along on a religious internet post. I admire you all for your passions and deep convictions. While holding onto those, maybe it would be more progressive to dialogue with each other about them peaceably instead of through ridicule, harassment, and/or name-calling.

Anyone who actually reads my comment, i appreciate your time and consideration.

Peace to you all my brothers and sisters in God... whoever you are.

Red Rob Red
Red Rob Red

Paul: Jesus did give Peter special authority that no one else had. "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Paul
Paul

I don't want to throw the cat amoungst the pidgeons but the authority claimed by the Bishop of Rome was part of an Eleventh century worldly power grab.

Peter never claimed the priviledges claimed by the Pope. Jesus never gave him those priviledges. and for a thousand years no Bishop of Rome asked for or expecred it.

It is lamentable that a line of power hungry psychopaths have managed to get themselves appointed to that office. Strange that papal infallibility was never claimed by Peter, in fact he is perhaps best known in the Bible for making mistakes and not necessarily being the first to understand a concept.

So, the RCC is not the one true church, in fact it seems certain to be the least likely candidate for that honor and definitely shouldn't be described as Catholic.

Martha
Martha

I'm shocked.

I am not Catholic, but I am studying the Roman Catholic Church and splinter groups.

I am not a person who dwells on Tradition. But this is wrong.

This is NOT a true Roman Catholic Church. I'm a 21-year-old, U.S. soldier, searching for the truth... currently I am a Protestant, and I am offended... Imagine how God feels!

Jeff Pinyan
Jeff Pinyan

"We are a part of smaller, ancient and non-Roman branch of Catholicism."

There are lots of articles on that web site. Could someone please summarize just how, exactly, the ECC is "part of [a] smaller, ancient and non-Roman branch of Catholicism"?

Where is the historical evidence of the ordination of women to the priesthood? For priests to marry AFTER ordination?

What brand of theology is taught in the ECC? Do they believe that the Eucharist is a true sacrifice, being the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ offered to the Father in a re-presentation of the one sacrifice of Calvary?

I'm just curious how they claim to be Catholic without actually adhering to the Catholic faith and praxis.

Lauri Lumby Schmidt
Lauri Lumby Schmidt

Praise God for a woman who has the courage to stand in the truth that God has revealed to her - that she is called to be a priest and found a way to live that out freely in a way that honors her love of the faith in which she was raised. AMEN!

Thank God for those who have the courage to follow God's call to provide an opportunity to live out our Catholic faith in a way that is inclusive, accepting and compassionate.

Thank God in turn for all those men and women who have the courage to stand in the truth that God has revealed to them - to have the courage to stand in that truth regardless of what the men in Rome have to say and regardless of the sure persecution from those who stand in fear.

Tom McK
Tom McK

See these Christians how they love one another. One God. One Truth.

I would hope that more of us could learn to be confident in our own faith and tolerant and loving of others. Isn't THAT the important part?! Love God. Love your neighbor. End of story.

Tom McK.

p.s. Jess is a wonderful person. So is her husband. The child is blessed to be part of such a loving family.

From Canada
From Canada

Well she's something but say what you or she or whomever wants she is not a Catholic priest. There is no such thing in the Church. She belongs to something but it isn't the Roman Catholic Church. Journalists love this nonsense and simply don't get it.

Gregory Solman
Gregory Solman

The Catholic Church recognizes baptism as valid if the proper Biblical form is used. If there is even a chance that a convert to Catholicism has been baptized with the proper form and matter in another Christian church, they are given a "conditional" baptism in the Catholic Church, so as not to insult the work of the Holy Spirit by ignoring an infusion of grace already bestowed. The fact that this fraudulent "priestess" is going to baptize her baby twice is proof enough that she hasn't given five seconds of study to the Church founded by Jesus Himself on the rock of Peter (Matthew 16:18) before rejecting it for her own ego gratification. That's either invincible ignorance or heresy. Either way she's not in good way spiritually.

DPM
DPM

This woman is a heretic and a schismatic, nothing more. You could "ordain" my dog and he'd be as much of a priest as she is. Well maybe more, since at least he's male.

Anonymous
Anonymous

EVE Times 3X Ecumenical Chaos

I suppose a woman by any other name could be called an adulteress since a priest is not allowed to be married in the Catholic Church. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CATHOLIC CHURCHOnce you get married if you are a priest you are supposed to get defrocked. GETTING DEFROCKED IS WHAT THE ECUMENICAL CHURCH DOES TO ITS PRIEST EVERYDAY.However in this case the female priest was defrocked before she got married and has got pregnant. ECUMENICAL CHAOS.Therefore she has lost her priesthood and has failed to give her child a name that is legitimate. I BELIEVE THE WORD WITCH IS MORE LEGITIMATE.

She has disobeyed the church becoming a women priest. She got pregnant, not being married. She is going to have an illegitimate child and is going to raise the child without a proper home of two parents that are baptized Catholics.

DOES THE WORD DISOBEDIENCE play any role in the life of this disturbed person? NO NOT IF YOU ARE NO LONGER A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH.

James Barre
James Barre

Dear Priestess: After you get through playing "church" you can come over to my house and we can play "doctor"

nodjam
nodjam

This woman did not shatter any stained-glass ceiling - she is a fraud for presenting herself as a 'Catholic priest'. But the gereater danger is that she is leading others astray and setting a bad example. Would that she could see the error of her ways and return to the Church.

parochus
parochus

If I went around declaring myself a Major League ballplayer - yet unrecognized by Major League Baseball - would headlines saying "Major League Ballplayer Gets Speeding Ticket" if I got one? Of course not. Now, if I were committed to a psych ward, they might say "Man Claiming to be Major Leaguer Committed."

Pat
Pat

It depends on what you mean by the term "Catholic priest."

Tex
Tex

I'm reminded of something my friend Andy, a good ol' boy from Louisiana, sometimes says: "You can put your boots in the oven, but that don't make 'em biscuits."

As if this article isn't ridiculous enough, that last paragraph really caps it off. Two baptisms, indeed!

Gabriel Espinosa
Gabriel Espinosa

Again we see sensationalism journalism at it's worst. Spreading lies as journalists are apt to do for a greedy dollar or two. There should be penalties for media outlets which pervert the truth and lie outright. These people are NOT Catholics...PERIOD.

Deacon Joe
Deacon Joe

Let's just hope and pray that when he grows up he chooses the real Catholic Church....not the pretend one that mommy plays in.

Jon
Jon

Dear Angry Roman Catholics: I'm very glad to break it to you that you don't hold the license on the term "catholic," even Episcopalians are catholics and they don't swear allegiance to the Pope. As for we of the ECC - we are spreading across the country like wildfire with the true love of Christ inclusive of ALL. Peace. Jon W. Member - Church of the Holy Family Ecumenical Catholic Communion - Aurora, CO

Fred
Fred

Pastor Kris:

One Lord, one faith, one Baptism. Yes, Kris, there was, and has been for 2000 years one Catholic (not only Roman) Church. Differences arose, and were settled in Church councils in time. The sign of unity was always, and remains, union with Peter. And as for St. Paul ordaining women as priests and bishops - wishing it doesn't make it so.

This woman "priest" is not a Catholic priest. She is a Protestant minister. When one leaves the Church, one ought to have the integrity to be honest about it. Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia.

Fred
Fred

Pastor Kris:

One Lord, one faith, one Baptism. Yes, Kris, there was, and has been for 2000 years one Catholic (not only Roman) Church. Differences arose, and were settled in Church councils in time. The sign of unity was always, and remains, union with Peter. And as for St. Paul ordaining women as priests and bishops - wishing it doesn't make it so.

This woman "priest" is not a Catholic priest. She is a Protestant minister. When one leaves the Church, one ought to have the integrity to be honest about it. Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia.

Will
Will

She is as much a priest as Guido Sarducci, which is to say she pretends to be something she isn't.

Rev. Kris Avise-Rouse
Rev. Kris Avise-Rouse

Some of these folks need to read or reread the the Epistles and take a course in Church history. There was NEVER ONE unified church, NEVER... St. Peter's churches and St. Paul's churches didn't get along because Paul ordained women and made them bishops!! "Catholic" means universal - something no single church can claim - only all of the churches of Jesus Christ, made one in Christ can ever claim absolute catholicity. That said, the Orthodox Churches in Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Ethiopia are ALL older than the church in Rome and are every bit as catholic and every bit as directly connected to the Apostolic Succession as Rome. So, get your facts straight before you claim that their are no ancient non-Roman Catholic churches.

Thank you to the writer who called me and my church heretical, I take that as a high compliment. Jesus was accused of heresy, blasphemy and a number of other things for loving and including the marginalized which I suspect is also why you call our UCC heretical. I mean this sincerely, Thank You!

Peace and blessings,Pastor Kris

NorthoftheBorder
NorthoftheBorder

Baptize the child in both? Twice? LOL. If your going to play pretend priestess at least *pretend* you know *something* about Catholic theology. Lord have mercy!

Matt Altepeter
Matt Altepeter

This article is nothing short of absolutely disgusting. This poor woman is not a priest, and she cannot possibly receive Holy Orders. The hypocrisy of these individuals is blatantly obvious; Her husband is UCC (heretical group). Obviously, since she�s debating where to have the baby baptized, she suffers from the misconception that all Christians are equal and everyone�s going to be okay. This is false. There is the True Faith and then there�s everyone else. But hey, if she feels everyone is equal, why didn�t she just join the UCC, instead of trying to claim the label of �Catholic� for her perversions.

Jeff
Jeff

Logically, she can't be a priest. The father isn't an altar boy.

Ben Compton
Ben Compton

Ok, I've read enough of the "respect her decision and other people's belief" and feel I need to say something.

If this lady wants to be a protestant minister, then go for it. The issue that everyone takes is the papers mis-portrayal of "The Rev." as a Catholic Priest. She is neither. This must be clear from the start. She is neither Catholic, nor is she a priest. She is a minister of a protestant (not splinter) group. Ok, maybe she is a part of a splinter sect but only if you also apply this term to Calvinists, Lutherans and Anglicans, or any Christian church not in communion with the Vicar of Christ in Rome, but I think that they would disagree.

Sean
Sean

I hope he child is healthy and hale. She is not, however, a Catholic priest by any stretch of the imagination. The "ECC" is not a "splinter group of the Catholic Church". Other than in the fantasies and delusions of those members of the "ECC", there is absolutely no connection between the "ECC" and the Catholic Church.

To write such a misinformed column is a travesty of journalism.

Eyebee
Eyebee

Who cares what church she belongs to? If she's a Christian, by believing in the Gospels, then that's all that matters. This is why religion creates so many of the world's wars. Petty rivalry, even within the Christian faith itself. That is surely not part of Jesus' teachings?

It's why I have my own beliefs, but cannot abide 'institutionalized' religion. I can feel close to God without someone in Rome or Canterbury telling me how I should do it.

Red Rob Reb
Red Rob Reb

Why do groups that want to start their own church want to be called Catholic? No one would care if they just called themselves the Church Of Women. But to get attention they pretend that they are part of the Catholic Church. By defination a Catholic is submissive to the Pope in Rome. Therefore these women "priestesses" can't be Catholic. Just COWs.

False
False

I hate to break it to you guys, but women simply cannot be priests according to the Vatican. It is a First Order of Truth that women are not to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Look up the Orders of Truth. 1st Orders are Church law and cannot be changed. 2nd Orders can't be removed from Church law, but can be moved to 1st Orders. 3rd Orders can be moved up or removed. Sorry, but women will never and can never be priests, regardless of the cultural environment that may be present. It's been confirmed several times by the Vatican.

john mccormick
john mccormick

She's a Catholic priest like I am the pope. Just because you say you are something, it doesn't make you that something. A bishop or cardinal at the very least needed to be involved to make a priest. She isn't one. report the news with some attempt at truth.

Sandra McGuire
Sandra McGuire

I was raised as a Roman Catholic and married a man raised to be a Hindu priest. There was a time when I would have been ex-communicated. Instead, I had a Catholic wedding.

I think it is great that this group exists and is moving the church forward to the true words of Jesus. When he said to love our neighbors, he meant all of them, not just the ones who blindly follow the rules set by man, or who believe exactly what we do. But those who are good Samaritans and care for others because it is the right thing to do. Those who lead by their examples as much as by words they speak from the alter.

The notion of ex-communication in this mobile society is amusing. Being part of a religion is a matter of your own heart and what you practice is not controlled by others. There are no security guards standing at the entrances to any of the Roman Catholic churches to see if your name is on the list. Ex-communication is a way to scare people into behaving and not questioning man's interpretation of God's words. The final decision of whether or not we belong is based on how we live our lives and what is in our hearts. It is up to God to decide.

These are individuals living by the spirit of the Catholic church, but not by rules which do not fit the place of women in modern society.

Benedict
Benedict

I don't know how legit this really is i mean she isn't "Catholic" per-say.

Tim Hartke
Tim Hartke

This whole article is messed up on so many levels. Way to appeal to the lowest common denominator!

VoiceOfReason
VoiceOfReason

1. Not "Catholic" as far as 99.9% of the world is concerned - this headline is geared to draw people to read the article, and therefore is a success.2. I'm sure she's a great person, but I doubt she's living for the publicity3. This is another American Catholic spinoff faith designed for the inclusion of everyone, and there's nothing wrong with that.4. Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who... this is a happy occasion...

nobodyuknow
nobodyuknow

There are obviously other 'catholic' churches than just roman catholic, there are Eastern (Orthodox) churches that are catholic also.There are other catholic churches too. Please see<http: catholic="" en.wikipedia.org="" wiki=""></http:>

Whatever
Whatever

In today society, it's crazy how people pick and choose their beliefs all for self gratification. Welcome to the church of Jon.

may
may

you  are a nasty prejudice person.

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