MANASSAS, VA, July 29, 2005 ( – An organization that illegitimately “ordains” women as Catholic clergy has revealed the identity of a “deacon” who teaches scriptural studies at the University of San Diego, an institution that claims dedication to “witnessing and probing the Christian message as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church.”

R.C. Womenpriests, which on July 25 hosted the “ordinations” of nine women on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque, Ontario, also announced that Jane Via had been “ordained” a Catholic deacon in June 2004 on the Danube River between Germany and Austria. The 2004 ceremony was led by two female “bishops” whom the Vatican excommunicated after they refused to renounce their “ordinations” in 2002. Previously Via was identified by a pseudonym, “Jillian Farley.”

Research by the Cardinal Newman Society’s identifies Via as a Deputy District Attorney in San Diego County and an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego (USD). In 1977, Via was hired by USD as a full-time Assistant Professor and was tenured in the early 1980s before shifting to part-time employment. In 1985, San Diego Bishop Leo Maher banned Via from speaking at Catholic events in the diocese because she signed a statement published in the New York Times that challenged Catholic teaching on abortion. It is not apparent that USD took any action to restrict Via’s teaching following the bishop’s ban, and the Diocese of San Diego could not immediately confirm whether the ban is still in effect.

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), a national organization dedicated to the renewal of Catholic identity at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities, has contacted USD president Mary Lyons and San Diego Bishop Robert Brom, urging Via’s removal as a Theology and Religious Studies professor if she refuses to disavow her previous abortion advocacy and her “ordination.” CNS also asked Bishop Brom to consider Via’s actions when determining whether she should be awarded the mandatum, a Canon Law requirement for all teachers of Catholic theology that acknowledges a professor’s intent to accurately present Catholic doctrine.

“It is scandalous that a Catholic university would knowingly employ a public dissenter to teach religion,” said CNS president Patrick J. Reilly.“It would be deceitful for the same university to claim a Catholic mission while employing a religious studies professor who falsely claims ordination as a deacon of the Catholic Church. Why should a Catholic parent entrust their son or daughter to USD?”

Last weekend, critics of Catholic Church’s teaching on male-only ordination gathered for the Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) conference in Ottawa, Canada. Conference speakers included three religious studies professors at U.S. Catholic universities:

– Deborah Halter, Instructor in the Department of Religious Studies at Loyola University of Chicago, is touted on Loyola’s Web site for her service as national coordinator of the U.S. Women’s Ordination Conference in 2000. She is author of The Papal “No”: A Comprehensive Guide to the Vatican’s Rejection of Women’s Ordination (Crossroad, 2004).

– Teresia Hinga, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, teaches subjects including African religions, Christian theology and women’s studies.

– Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI, Professor of Religious Studies and coordinator of the undergraduate religious studies program at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, is a liturgical dancer and peace activist who has said she desires to be a priest, according to a Baltimore Sun article in Nov. 2000.