A woman claiming to be a Catholic bishop “ordained” a so-called womanpriest and three “women deacons” at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Chicago on Saturday. In response, a spokeswoman from the Archdiocese of Chicago said that her act automatically excommunicates the participants.
Dana Reynolds, from Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, claims that she was ordained a womanpriest in 2006, the California Catholic Daily reports. At an April 9, 2008 ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, she became the first self-described U.S. bishop for the dissenting Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement.
A May 29 statement from the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterated traditional Church teaching that the Church has no power or authority to ordain women as priests. The statement also noted such attempted ordinations incur an automatic, latae sententiae excommunication for both the ordainer and the would-be ordinand.
On Saturday Reynolds “ordained” 60-year-old Barbara Zeman as a womanpriest. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Zeman claimed she was disobeying an “unjust law.”
“I am following my conscience, and I am obeying God's call. I'm not doing this for myself. I'm doing this for the generations of women to come, because I don't want those women to have the fight that I've had,” she said.
Reynolds also “ordained” three women deacons: Alta Jacko of Chicago, Linda Wilcox of Afton, Minnesota, and Mary Styne of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Archdiocese of Chicago condemned the ceremony and repeated the Vatican’s excommunication decree.
“Cardinal George could declare that those persons have been excommunicated by the law itself, but they are excommunicated whether the cardinal declares them so or not," archdiocesan spokeswoman Susan Burritt told the Chicago Tribune.
Reynolds has held several ordination ceremonies at liberal Protestant or Unitarian churches. Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois is being investigated for joining Reynolds in an attempted August ordination of a woman at a Unitarian church in Lexington, Kentucky.
The priest has been given a “canonical warning” and a future violation could result in dismissal from his order.