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Vatican rejects appeal by women priests

The Vatican said yesterday that it has upheld its decision to excommunicate seven women who call themselves priests, saying the move was necessary to protect the rest of the faithful.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a statement that it had rejected the women's appeal of the excommunication order because of the "gravity of offences committed".

The women - who include the former first lady of the US state of Ohio, as well as women from Austria and Germany - participated in an ordination ceremony aboard a boat travelling Europe's Danube River on 29 June last year.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation declared them excommunicated on 5 August after they refused to renounce their claims and prohibited the women from celebrating Mass or receiving the sacraments.

The women appealed the decision and asked for clarification on what constitutes "schismatic" conduct and on Biblical passages regarding equality of women.

The Vatican rejected the appeal and explained Monday that the women were "accomplices in schism" for having participated in the ordination ceremony with Argentine Bishop Romulo Braschi, who had already been excommunicated.

In addition, the women "formally and obstinately reject a doctrine which the Church has always taught and lived ... 'that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women,'" the statement said, citing a document by Pope John Paul II.


Vatican stands firm on women priests (BBC)
Excommunication of 7 women "ordained" in Austria is confirmed (Vatican Information Service)
Vatican comments on excommunications of women 'priests' (8/8/02)
Church removes women 'priests' (6/8/02)
Catholic women in unofficial ordination (1/7/02)

28 Jan 2003