Roman Catholic priest does not give birth

clericalsI am so sick of looking at the shoddy coverage of non-Roman Catholic priests who are female. But since it's our job here to root out shoddy coverage, let's look at this piece and then pray that the coverage improves. The latest one is from KSDK in St. Louis. The headline is: "St. Louis woman becomes world's first Catholic priest to give birth." The comment from the reader who submitted the story was:

And it doesn't stop at the headline, either. AAAARRRRGH!!!!!

The text of the story adds to the deliberate confusion of the proud mother in the story, a member of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion that embraces females in the priesthood, and the Roman Catholic Church that has a male-only priesthood:

Ever since Jessica Rowley can remember, she's had a strong sense of her Roman Catholic identity. From her confirmation, to Catholic youth conferences, to her Jesuit education at Marquette University, she has always been devoted to her faith.

Though the story trades on Roman Catholic teaching of a male-only priesthood, there's no comment in defense of or even explanation of that teaching.

This bit was somewhat funny, though:

Rev. Rowley does not belong to the organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Last year, Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie McGrath were ordained in St. Louis and quickly excommunicated by Archbishop Raymond Burke.

"This is different because this individual clearly belongs to a community separate from the Catholic Church," said Lawrence Welch, the religious affairs spokesperson for the St. Louis Archdiocese. "What is different about last year is these women were claiming incorrectly and falsely they could somehow be catholic and participate in worship outside of the church."

The ECC has claimed no ties to the Vatican. Members say they are Catholic, just not Roman Catholic. But according to the St. Louis Archdiocese, there is no difference between Catholic and Roman Catholic. And in the eyes of the archdiocese, Rev. Rowley is not a Catholic priest.

"To be Catholic, authentically, is to be in union with the Pope and the bishops of the Catholic Church," Welch said.

It's funny that the reporter acknowledges that to many, including some in the Roman Catholic Church, the term Catholic is shorthand for union with the pope (lower case in Associated Press style, of course). And yet if that's true, how did that headline get written? Was it just to slap those people in the face?

Anyway, congratulations to the Rowleys (husband Joe is a pastor at a United Church of Christ parish in the area) on the birth of their son and a pile of demerits to KDSK for weak reporting.

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