An unofficial Roman Catholic center here is printing "funny money" with the serious intention of promoting the cause of opening the priesthood to women.
The phony dollar bills turned out by the Quixote Center bear a portrait of St. Therese of the Child Jesus instead of George Washington, and the biological symbols for male and female instead of the seal of the United States.
Termed an "Equal Justice Reserve Note," the bills, somewhat larger than the U.S. Treasury's version, bear the legend: "This dollar is offered in the hope that the equality of women and men will become common currency in the life of the Church."
Earlier this year, the Vatican issued a document reiterating traditional opposition to ordaining women to the priesthood. Far from resolving the issue, as the Vatican had hoped, it has intensified the controversy.
The Quixote Center at 3311 Chauncey Pl., Mt. Rainier, has been in the forefront of groups pressing for change in Catholic Church policy toward women.
The reverse side of the Quixote bill, printed in a soft, money-colored green, bears the message: "To encourage the Church to celebrate the gifts and calls of women equally with those of men in all ministries, I am withholding one dollar from this collection." The donor then is to fill in his or her name, the name of the cause or organization that is getting the real dollar, then drop it into the collection at mass.
The Rev. William Callahan, who heads the pro-women's ordination Priests for Equality, said the Quixote Center, of which he is a staff member, originated the notes as "a quiet but effective protest that hits us just where we feel it most; in the financial breadbasket."
He added that "withholding and diverting funds is a very effective way to cut through our emotional opposition to equality and bring a new reasonableness."
The bogus bill identifies St. Therese of the Child Jesus as "the patroness of equality for women in the ministry." She felt called to be a priest in a Church that would not test her call.
She prayed for death at 24, the age of ordination, so she could celebrate in heaven "at the age men could celebrate the eucharist on earth." She died at 24.