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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2005, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Nine 'women clerics' defy Vatican
Ordination ceremony
The ceremony took place on a boat on the St Lawrence River
Nine Roman Catholic women have been unofficially ordained as priests and deacons in North America, risking excommunication by the Vatican.

The ceremony took place aboard a tour boat near Canada's capital, Ottawa.

The women - seven Americans, a Canadian and a German - were ordained by three female bishops, who were also unofficially anointed in 2003.

Seven women who were ordained in 2002 despite the Vatican's ban on female priests were later excommunicated.

'Unjust law'

Four of the nine women were ordained as priests and five as deacons aboard the Thousand Islander III boat that sailed on St Lawrence River.

Our ship will sail through some stormy weather but it will not go down
Patricia Fresen
unrecognised female bishop

Wearing white robes with hand-made stoles, they sang hymns during the ceremony.

"I believe it's valid even if it's against the law of the Church, because it is an unjust law," Germany's Regina Nicolosi, who was ordained a deacon, was quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

Married with children and grandchildren, she said she did "not fear an excommunication because I don't feel excommunicated".

The location for Monday's ceremony was chosen because it was in the international waters between Canada and the US where no diocese had jurisdiction, organisers said.

"Our ship will sail through some stormy weather but it will not go down," said Patricia Fresen, one of the presiding female bishops unrecognised by the Vatican.

There was no immediate reaction from the Vatican.

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