Catholic women in unofficial ordination
Nine women were 'ordained' as Catholic priests in a secret ceremony in Austria on Saturday which could lead to their excommunication from the church.
he women, who are from Austria, Germany and the United States, gathered on a boat on the River Danube for the ordination.
The ceremony was conducted by Argentine Archbishop Romulo Braschi, who was himself ordained as a Catholic priest but has since joined a church not recognised by the Vatican.
The ordination of the women was fiercely opposed by leaders of the Catholic Church in Austria and Germany, who described it as a "cult spectacle".
The group, who include several pioneer theologians, argue that the Church's refusal to ordain women has no basis in the scriptures.
But Roman Catholic groups campaigning for the ordination of women distanced themselves from the group, saying it was better to fight within the church.
Austrian church authorities said that the ceremony represented "a fundamental break with the Catholic Church".
"Only men can be ordained," said Maximillian Aichern, the bishop of Linz. "The simulated ordination of a woman is not only invalid, but also blatantly contradicts the rules of the Church."
Women plan Catholic ordination (AFP)
7 women 'ordained' Catholic priests (Denver Post)
1 Jul 2002