.- Eight women excommunicated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church after presenting themselves yesterday to be ordained priests in a ceremony on the rivers of Pittsburgh.
The attempted ordinations were organized by a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which has organized three other ceremonies, usually on international waters, since 2002. Last year’s ceremony on the St. Lawrence River in Canada led to the excommunication of nine women from the Roman Catholic Church.
The women who took part in yesterday’s invalid ritual, “have effectively placed themselves outside the Roman Catholic Church,” reads the official statement, issued by the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh.
The ceremony also “undermines the unity of the Church,” says the statement. “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.”
The statement adds that those who attended the ceremony, giving their encouragement to this fundamental break with the Church, also place themselves outside the Church.
“This separation is not a discipline, judgment or mandate of the Church. Nor is it the result of opinion or advocacy of a theological view by those involved,” the statement continues. “Rather, by conducting and taking part in such a ceremony, it is the choice of the participants to place themselves outside the community of believers.”
The statement says the Church is prepared and eager to welcome back those who have separated themselves and urges Catholics to pray that these people will reconcile with the Church.
The Catholic Church’s unwavering position on the ordination of women is based on a theological truth, which is divinely inspired. The issue of women priests is also not one that will be debated in the Church. Several popes, including Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, clearly stated during their pontificates that such a debate was closed and would not be formally entertained.
“The ordination of males to the priesthood is not merely a matter of practice or discipline within the Church,” reads the archdiocese’s statement. “Rather, the Church has determined that this is part of the Deposit of Faith handed down by Christ through his Apostles. The Church is therefore bound by it and not free to change in this regard.”
“The call to the ministerial priesthood comes from God and is authenticated by the Church, not by any individual,” the statement continues. “Holy Orders is a gift that those called do not earn, deserve, or have as a right. The call to ordination is received unmerited through the grace of God.”