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Pope Francis, Meet your Priest: Ludmila Javorová

Release date:
July 14, 2021


Kate McElwee, Executive Director, Women’s Ordination Conference,
Deborah Rose-Milavec, Co-Director, FutureChurch

As Pope Francis arrives in Slovakia, we urge him to publicly recognize woman priest Ludmila Javorová, who 51 years ago was clandestinely ordained a priest by a Roman Catholic bishop as part of the underground church in Czechoslovakia during the country’s authoritarian Communist rule.

Entrusted by her bishop, Javorová courageously served the church at a time it seemed all but certain that Catholicism would be erased from Czecholavakia, risking her own life and safety. She offered sacraments to a community threatened by religious persecution, and along with so many other brave Catholics, answered the call of God to keep the faith alive. Today, she is 89 years old.

In 1970, Bishop Felix Maria Davidek of the underground Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia ordained Javorova and at least seven other women and married men, at a time when the persecuted Catholic community was in dire need of ministers. Davidek also ordained several bishops who continued the practice in the underground church.

The story of Javorová’s vocation and clandestine ordination are captured in the book Out of The Depths, by Sr. Miriam Therese Winters, Ph.D, who will join FutureChurch and the Women’s Ordination Conference in dialogue Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at noon EDT.

“The Magisterium so often claims, ‘We can’t ordain women because we never have,’” said Kate McElwee, of the Women’s Ordination Conference. “Here we have a living example of a woman ordained by a Roman Catholic bishop. Shamefully, the Vatican is choosing, once again, to ignore its own history.”

Instead of lauding her courageous act of faith and evangelization, the Vatican forbade her to exercise her priesthood in 1996, with the reason that her ordination was invalid simply because she is a woman.

“Ludmila accompanied the people of God in a time of immense difficulty and ensured those on the farthest margins received the Eucharist, “ said Deborah Rose-Milavec, of FutureChurch. “She is a model of the kind of priest the church needs today. ”

We call on Pope Francis to embrace Javorová’s priesthood, and open his eyes to the ministry she and so many women long to share with the People of God. The Pope has an opportunity and a moral responsibility to right this wrong.


About FutureChurch Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership. It is a national coalition of parish centered Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch is a nonprofit organization that makes presentations throughout the country, distributes education, advocacy and prayer resources and recruits activists who work on behalf of its mission.