LOS GATOS (CBS13) — Inside one of the oldest churches is a new practice emerging that could change Catholicism forever.
Juanita Cordero is a woman priest, but some would call her a rebel committing a crime against her own religion.
However, to this group she opens her Los Gatos home to every week, she is their reverend.
She’s one of a very small, yet growing group of women ordained in the United States to be a priest. But being ordained isn’t easy since the church refuses to ordain women.
Cordero says they must find bishops willing to ordain the women. And one way it’s become possible is by the 10 female bishops in the world. They exist because of two male bishops who believed in them more than 10 years ago.
“Some European bishops, we can’t name these two, said if we don’t ordain some of you women as bishops, and they found out who we are, the movement will stop,” she said.
There are now 124 woman priests worldwide according to the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Although they call themselves priests, the Vatican refuses to recognize them.
“I cannot celebrate Mass, I’m not accepted in the formal Catholic Church, in the institutional church, but I’m accepted by God,” Cordero said.
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in the world, and in the last couple of decades, sex abuse scandals have hurt its reputation.
Now some wonder if women priests can change that image and win back Catholics who have turned to other religions.
“This is a new way to breathe new life into the church,” said parishioner Mike Reddig.
Women priests open their homes or rent churches, like one woman priest and her parishioners at Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco who are now part of the growing movement.
“This idea that you need a penis to be an ordained priest is absurd,” said parishioner Joan Minninger.
“People frankly have had enough of an organization saying, ‘I’m sorry, some of you are OK and some of you are not OK,’” said woman priest Victoria Rue.
The women priests believe Pope Francis is starting the momentum of change, as he’s called for a discussion to reconsider old beliefs.
“The bishops are starting to discuss these issues,” Cordero said.
While these women priests see hope, they don’t believe the change will happen soon.
“He was come out and said we need to give women a higher position in the church,” she said. “I don’t know if it’ll happen in my lifetime, because I’m a little older, but it’s going to happen.”
Still, women aren’t waiting. More and more are being ordained and gaining support from parishioners as they answer what they say is a call from God into priesthood.
“We’re not going away,” Rue said.
According to the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, ordained women ministers are in more than 29 states in the U.S.