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Re "The 'ordination' of 'womenpriests'" (C.I. Oct. 2005, pp. 10-15).

Editor: In the 'ordination' of 'womenpriests' article Donna O'Connor-Hunnisett, O.C.D.S. wrote the following about the June 2001 Women's Ordination Worldwide (W.O.W) conference in Dublin:

"During the two days of the conference, we sat through one speaker after another seriously distorting the teachings and doctrine of the Church and her history, and expressing anger and sometimes hatred toward the Pope and cardinals, especially Cardinal Ratzinger. We did not engage in their discussions however until one of the speakers, John Wijngaards, a former priest and "theologian" from the Netherlands, and a frequent contributor to the London Tablet. stated that the Pope was a dictator worse than Hitler because Hitler only killed the body. When a statement of that nature is made against the Holy Father, silence on our part would have implied consent. When asked to retract his statement, he reluctantly did so, and that retraction was recorded on the conference tapes that were distributed."

Subsequently, we have received the following letter from Dr. Wijngaards by e-mail:

1. Regarding what I said in Dublin about Pope John Paul II, O'Connor-Hunnisett totally falsifies what I stated at the Dublin Congress. This what I said:

"Now all this seems dramatic language and the comparison to the Nazi war machine or Japanese Banzai militarism may seem totally inappropriate. I highly respect the Holy Father and his assistants. I do not want for a minute to imply that, as persons, they resemble Hitler and his staff. I am just following the example of Jesus himself who drew valuable lessons from observing 'the children of this world' (1) [Luke 16,8]. And while the Pope is no doubt utterly sincere in pursuing what he believes to be the right course, he does resemble Hitler in the absoluteness of power. Hitler claimed the right over life and death of his citizens. The Pope has an even greater power for he holds spiritual authority over the faithful. 'Do not fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul,' Jesus said (2) [Matthew 10,28]. Where there is authority, even if it is spiritual authority, the dangers of suppressing legitimate dissent, promoting a culture of misplaced docile acquiescence among subordinates, ruling by decree rather than by consultation, defending mistaken decisions for the sake of not seeming to lose face, in short: 'of stifling the Spirit' are real (3) [1 Thessalonians 4,19].

You can check it. It is exactly what I said in my book The ordination of women in the Catholic Church (Continuum 2001, p. 181).

I am all the more hurt because Donna O'Connor-Hunnisett challenged me after my talk, saying that I must hate the Pope by what I had stated. I re-iterated again precisely what I said, saying that I did not want to doubt the Pope's integrity but that the Pope yields a greater power than Hitler and that mistakes, however well-intentioned, in the exercise of spiritual authority lead to a greater tyranny.

Editor: The reader may judge whether Donna O'Connor-Hunnisett has overstated the case or not.

With regard to the website, Doctor Wijngaards writes the following.

2. Regarding the orthodoxy of [the website]

The title of the article, its contents, and your editorial comments give the impression that everyone present in Dublin or Ottawa agreed with the ordinations 'contra legem' performed by the Passau group of women. Because you keep referring to the "womenpriests" group, you point the finger at

I myself and the website of which I am the academic adviser ( have consistently stated that we do not agree with the ordinations that are performed without the sanction of the legitimate authorities of the Catholic Church. We advocate that the Church admit women to priestly ordination, but we are convinced this should be done through the route of internal Church reform, not by taking the law into one's own hands. Herts, UK

Donna O'Connor-Hunnisett, ocds, replies:

I find it absurd that John Wijngaards takes exception to my report on the talk he gave concerning the Holy Father at the conference in Dublin, June 2001. In his e-mail, he makes reference to the wording from one of his books as being that which he used at that conference. The message is the same. This kind of rhetoric used in public, and put into print, carries the most extreme message of hatred toward the hierarchy of our Church. It is indefensible.

Editor: As for the websites, there are two: one named as above, the other named The term 'womenpriests' in our article referred to the latter.

We have added this correspondence to our website.
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Article Details
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Author:O'Connor-Hunnisett, Donna
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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