8 Women Ordained as Priests Not Excommunicated
August 4, 2006
8 WOMEN ORDAINED AS CATHOLIC PRIESTS HAVE NOT BEEN EXCOMMUNICATED
On July 31, 2006, eight Roman Catholic women were ordained as priests in Pittsburgh. They were validly ordained by three consecrated female bishops.
Whether or not U.S. bishops recognize these priests as validly ordained is not the point. What is very much to the point is the fact that bishops have incorrectly stated that the women who were ordained have excommunicated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church.
Under the carefully crafted guidelines for excommunication, there needs to be a process for such action. There is no such thing as "self-excommunication,” although one could make an argument that if a person announces that he or she is leaving the Roman Catholic Church, an interpretation of self-excommunication is possible. However, in the case of the eight women ordained as priests on July 31, there were no announcements from these women that they were leaving Roman Catholicism. They do indeed consider themselves to be Catholic and are therefore not self-excommunicated.
In the fullest sense, excommunication is the result of a process initiated by a diocesan tribunal. In brief, a formal charge needs to be made, after which the accused have an opportunity to be represented by a Canon lawyer at a trial in front of a tribunal. Even if a tribunal should decide that excommunication is in order, there is an appeal process.
In summation, no formal charges have been made against the eight women who were ordained as priests on July 31. Therefore, an excommunication process has not been initiated. If a bishop should choose to initiate such a process, it is reasonable assume that he would be the subject of ridicule. Therefore, trials by tribunal seem to be rather unlikely.
CORPUS (the national association for an inclusive priesthood) fully supports the July 31 ordinations. In addition, CORPUS prays for the day when the Vatican comes to recognize the need for an inclusive priesthood - a priesthood that does not discriminate on the basis of gender, marital status or sexual orientation.
Media Liaison for CORPUS (www.corpus.org)