Sunday, July 30, 2006

Catholic women face excommunication

I Wish you Peace and my Blessing
Stand up Ye Women of faith
The church must accept women as priests
They are worthy and useful to those
they minister to

I wish I could be there
I will be in Spirit
GOOD FOR YOU
WOMEN OF FAITH
Stand up and be counted
and accountable


Joan Houk, a Roman Catholic, shows her blessing cup she used while at the Holy Cross Church in Jackson, Ky. in the dining room of her Wexford, Pa. home on Thursday, June 28, 2006. Behind her is a painting of "The Last Supper" by Polish artist Bohdan Piasecki. Houk will be one of a dozen women participating in a ceremony Monday in which eight will proclaim themselves priests and four deacons. The ceremony won't be recognized by the Catholic church, which has a 2,000-year tradition of an all-male priesthood. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

By JENNIFER C. YATES

PITTSBURGH Jul 30, 2006 (AP)— Joan Houk has ministered to the sick and needy, run two Roman Catholic parishes that were without priests and has presided over baptisms and funerals. Her calling now, she says, is to be a priest.

Houk will be one of a dozen women participating in a ceremony Monday in which eight will proclaim themselves priests and four deacons. The ceremony won't be recognized by the Catholic church, which has a 2,000-year tradition of an all-male priesthood.

Similar ceremonies conducted by the group Roman Catholic Womenpriests have been held before in other countries, and most of the participants have been excommunicated. It's the first time the group is holding a ceremony in the U.S.

The Pittsburgh Diocese issued a statement saying the ordination would not be valid.

"This unfortunate ceremony will take place outside the Church and undermines the unity of the Church. Those attempting to confer Holy Orders have, by their own actions, removed themselves from the Church, as have those who present themselves for such an invalid ritual," according to the statement released by the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, a spokesman for the diocese.

The diocese said they will welcome back anyone who chooses to leave the church.

Liberal Catholics say the ongoing clergy shortage and the dramatic rise in female lay leaders in American churches will eventually create pressure to ordain women. More lay people than priests are working full-time in American parishes and a significant number of the lay leaders are women.

But conservatives believe only males can be priests, as evidenced by Jesus' choice of men to be his apostles and the church's long tradition of only allowing men to serve.

A majority of Catholic respondents to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll taken just after the death of Pope John Paul II last year said they favored ordination of women.

Women priests said a male priest presided over the first ordination of seven women sponsored by the group in 2002 in Austria; the women were excommunicated by the Vatican in 2003.

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