Story by Olivia O’Hea
Photo by Luke Nankivell
The event featured a screening of “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” as well as a panel discussion following the film.
Mary Kay Kusner, a Roman Catholic Woman Priest, sat among the panelists along with a sister from St. Catherine of Siena Catholic church, an ordained reverend from the United Church of Christ and Drake professors Leah Kalmanson and Beth Younger.
The documentary analyzed the decision to exclude women from higher positions in the church, primarily focusing on women’s ordination.
It included exclusive interviews with several Catholic Woman Priests, who were ordained on international waters by bishops in the Roman Catholic Church.
Patricia Fresen, a South African writer and ordained Woman Priest, helped lead the modern Woman Priest movement.
“I could teach these men how to preach, but I was never allowed to speak myself,” Fresen said of the inequality within the church hierarchy.
Ordained Woman Priests like Fresen often come from backgrounds within the church, either as nuns or theologians.
Current Woman Priests appointed as Bishops can ordain other women, spreading the movement throughout the world.
All Woman Priests hold a master’s degree in religious studies, though the majority of women interviewed also have doctorate degrees.
The church demands the excommunication of all Woman Priests, forcing many to teach in new denominations or branches of Catholicism.
Modern Woman Priests critique the forced excommunication as extreme, especially compared to the punishments for other scandals in the church, like sexual abuse.
Both the panelists and the documentary discussed the historical prevalence of women in the church. Archaeological finds show women in leadership positions in the early church, and the Bible mentions female apostles like Junia.
Mary Magdalene was historically known as the apostle of the apostles since Jesus came to her after his resurrection, according to Biblical narratives.
All panelists agreed that women can be called to higher roles in the Church just like men and that the exclusion of women is a social construct rather than a divine law.
According to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who was interviewed in the film, the church follows tradition, and traditionally women have been excluded from ordination.
He explained that Jesus put men in leadership roles and the Church strives to follow his legacy.
Students, professors and residents of the Des Moines community attended the event, which was organized by first-year John Noble.
“It was really informative. I’m actually excited to discuss it with my mom who is a pastor herself,” said first-year Nathan Jacobson, who attended the event on the advice of one of his professors.
The event was one of the first events sponsored by SAGE this semester, following the Vagina Monologues.
SAGE and the Drake Women and Genders Studies program frequently host events that are open to students and community members.