Monsignor Angelo Amato

Vatican Puts Its Foot Down on Female Priests

May 30, 2008 06:11 PM
by Cara McDonough
The Vatican announced it will excommunicate anyone who attempts to ordain a female priest, as well as the woman herself.

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Top ranking Vatican official Monsignor Angelo Amato said the church made the decree after what it described as “so-called ordinations” held in various parts of the world.

Catholics who are excommunicated cannot receive the sacraments.

The church has always banned the ordination of females by stating that the priesthood is for men only, but the new decree explicitly addresses the issue and attaches consequences. “The church does not feel authorized to change the will of its founder Jesus Christ,” Amato said.

The decision may only serve to strengthen the cause of women fighting against the church’s age-old rule barring them from priesthood, however.

Regina Nicolosi, a program coordinator for the group Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which ordains women as priests while maintaining its dedication to the Catholic faith, said the move could backfire. “This is bringing more and more women into our group, and I think we’re getting more support from Catholics who are saying this is getting ridiculous,” she said.

Others—even some sympathetic to the cause—say there is little chance the rules will change, barring major overhaul in the church as a whole.

“Women’s ordination will happen when there is a pope who is open to it, or when the depletion of male priestly ranks becomes so acute as to demand it,” said Fr. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theology professor, quoted in a July, 2006 Salon article.

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