The Archdiocese of Saint Louis has warned two Saint Louis women they will excommunicate themselves if they undergo a planned “ordination ceremony” scheduled for this Sunday.
Rose Marie Dunn Hudson, 67, and Elsie Hainz McGrath, 69, are to undergo the ceremony, which will be led by a former nun, according to the Associated Press. They are part of a Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement that began in 2002.
Saint Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke warned the two women of the excommunication in letters delivered by courier. The archbishop warned them that by participating in the ceremony they would commit a "grave error" and an "act of schism".
He reiterated that the pope has stated infallibly that only men can be validly ordained. He said if they proceeded they would automatically incur excommunication "in order to protect the faithful from grave spiritual deception."
Archbishop Burke also wrote "additional disciplinary measures will also have to be imposed."
"What is he going to do, burn us at the stake, or what?" Ms. Hudson asked. "We're going to just totally ignore it. This is not unexpected. We wondered why it took so long."
"It's a typically hierarchical form of intimidation, and we will not be intimidated," Mrs. McGrath said.
Both women have graduate degrees in religious studies. Ms. Hudson is a retired teacher who has done prison ministry for the past 15 years. Mrs. McGrath is the widow of a Catholic deacon and has worked for the archdiocese, for the theology department at St. Louis University, and as a campus minister.
The "ordination" ceremony will be led by a former nun from South Africa who now lives in Germany, Patricia Fresen. Ms. Fresen, who claims to have ordained other women, also claims to have been ordained a bishop in Germany in 2005 by an unnamed bishop in communion with the Pope. The ceremony will take place at a St. Louis synagogue.