Saturday, May 31, 2008

Women's Ordination Conference Statement on Vatican Decree of Immediate Excommunication of Ordained Women

Media Advisory FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2008

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Saiz Hanna
(202) 675-1006

Women's Ordination Conference Statement on Vatican Decree of Immediate Excommunication of Ordained Women

Aisha Taylor, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference, issued the following statement about the Vatican's decree that ordained Roman Catholic women and the bishops who ordained them incur latae sententiae excommunication, which means that the excommunication is immediate and self-imposed.

The Women's Ordination Conference is outraged by yesterday's Vatican decree, which reminds Catholic women once again of the animosity they face from the hierarchy, despite being the backbone of most Catholic parishes throughout the world.

Out of fear of the growing numbers of ordained women and the overwhelming support they are receiving, the Vatican is trying to preserve what lit tle power they have left by attempting to extinguish the widespread call for women's equality in the church. It will not work. In the face of one closed door after another, Catholic women will continue to make a way when there is none.

We reject the notion of excommunication. In our efforts to ordain women into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, we see it as contrary to the gospel itself to excommunicate people who are doing good works and responding to injustice and the needs of their communities. While the hierarchy prattles on about excommunication, Catholic women are working for justice and making a positive difference in the world.

This unreasonable excommunication and the Vatican 's stance on ordination are based on arguments that have been refuted time and again. In 1976, the Vatican 's own Pontifical Biblical Commission determined that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit women' s ordination. Jesus included women as full and equal partners in his ministry, and so should the hierarchy.

The call for women's equality in the Catholic Church is reverberating loudly in the public consciousness. Around the world, over sixty women have been ordained as priests, deacons or bishops by the group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP), and there are nearly 100 women in the RCWP preparation program. There are 16 national organizations from 11 different countries that advocate women's ordination, and a vast majority of US Catholics support the ordination of women.

The refusal to ordain women is nothing more than a blatant manifestation of sexism in the church. It is time for the Vatican to listen to its own research, its own theologians and its own people who say that women are equally created in the image of God and are called to serve as priests in a renewed and inclusive Catholic Church.


Founded in 1975, the Women's Ordination Conference is the oldest and largest national organization that works to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church. WOC represents the 63-70 percent of US Catholics that support the ordination of women as priests. WOC also promotes new perspectives on ordination that call for more accountability and less separation between the clergy and laity.


The following is the English translated text of the decree written by the Vatican 's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that was published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

Regarding the crime of attempting sacred ordination ofa woman

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to
protect the nature and validity of the sacrament of
holy orders, in virtue of the special faculty
conferred to it by the supreme authority of the Church
(see canon 30, Canon Law), in the Ordinary Session of
December 19, 2007, has decreed:

Rema ining firm on what has been established by canon
1378 of the Canon Law, both he who has attempted to
confer holy orders on a woman, and the woman who has
attempted to receive the said sacrament, incurs in
latae sententiae excommunication, reserved to the
Apostolic See.

If he who has attempted to confer holy orders on a
woman or if the woman who has attempted to receive
holy orders, is a member of the faithful subject to
the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches,
remaining firm on what has been established by canon
1443 of the same Code, they will be punished with
major excommunication, whose remission remains
reserved to the Apostolic See (see canon 1423, Canon
Law of the Eastern Churches).

The current decree will come into immediate force from
the moment of publication in the 'Osservatore Romano'
and is absolute and universal.

William Cardinal Levada
Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbi shop of Sila

Women's Ordination Conference

P.O. Box 15057

Washington, DC 20003 USA

Phone: 202 675-1006


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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