Catholic Bishop: Woman ‘Ordained’ as Priest Is Automatically Excommunicated

By Michael W. Chapman | May 27, 2014 | 12:15 PM EDT

Catholic 'Bishop' Bridget Mary Meehan, left, holding hands with the ordained 'priest' Donna Rougeux in Lexington, Ky., in 2012. Meehan, with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, was the presiding 'bishop' at the ordinations in Cleveland on May 24, 2014.

(CNSNews.com) – A woman “ordained” a priest by the Roman Catholic Womenpriets, Inc. has incurred automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church, according to Springfiled, Illinois Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki.

In addition, six other women “ordained” to the priesthood and diaconate in Cleveland, Ohio over the weekend also reportedly incurred automatic excommunication for their actions.

In a statement, Bishop Paprocki said, “Please be advised that Ms. Mary F. Keldermans of Springfield, Illinois, has attempted to be ordained a priest for ‘Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Inc.’ in a ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Springfield on May 5, 2014. As a result, she has incurred an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.”

“Please note also that a schismatic group called ‘Holy Family Inclusive Catholic Community’ is being formed here in Springfield and is planning to conduct liturgical services at the Congregational Church UCC, West College Avenue, Jacksonville, Illinois,” said the bishop.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki, head of the Catholic diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

He continued, “The Christian faithful are cautioned that this attempted ordination and these purported ‘Masses’ are invalid. Those who knowingly and intentionally participate in these schismatic activities also incur automatic excommunication in accord with canons 751 and 1364, with due regard for canons 1321-1324 of the Code of Canon Law.”

Canon Law is the law governing the operation of the Catholic Church.  Canon 751 deals with the church’s stance on heresy and schism and says, "Heresy is the obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith. Apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith. Schism is the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

Canon 1364 says that a heretic, apostate, or schismatic “incurs a latae sententiae excommunication,” meaning automatic – “sentence passed” – removal from communion with the church.

In the Catholic Church, the ordination of women as priests or deacons is forbidden. The priesthood is reserved to males and the Church contends it does not have the authority to ordain women as priests.

St. Pope John Paul II (d. 2005), who declared the Catholic Church "has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." (AP)

In a 1994 letter, Ordinatio Sacredotalis (Priestly Ordination), then-Pope John Paul II wrote: “Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

Also, in a letter, Evangellii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel),  Pope Francis spoke about the priesthood and said, “The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion.”

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. (Photo: arcwp.org)

On Saturday, May 24, four women were ordained as priests and two as deacons by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) at the Brecksville United Church of Christ, in Brecksville, Ohio, which is 15 miles south of Cleveland.

One of the women ordained, Mary Collingwood, told The Plain Dealer, “I don’t accept the verdict that I am excommunicated. The men made that rule, and a man-made rule can be changed, especially if it’s unjust.”

Susan Guzik, ordained as a deacon, said, “We’re still Catholics. We believe we are the church. There have been times I’ve wondered if I’m doing the right thing. I am doing the right thing.”

CNSNews.com contacted the Diocese of Cleveland, headed by Bishop Richard G. Lennon,  on May 27 about the ordinations. The communications office said it was working on a statement.

The Plain Dealer reported that the diocese commented on the issue of women priests last week, stating that such ordinations are “not authentically Catholic,” and referenced the letter written by St. John Paul II.

“He wrote that the all-male priesthood does not represent discrimination against women, but fidelity to Christ’s action and his plan for the church,” said the diocese. “The Pope reaffirmed the basis for ordaining only men: Christ chose only men to be His apostles, it has been the constant practice of the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the magisterium’s teaching on the matter has been consistent.”


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Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman