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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK
Church kicks out women 'priests'
Gisela Forster (L) and Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger
The women had campaigned against excommunication
The Vatican has excommunicated seven women who were ordained as priests by a controversial archbishop.

The women had refused to give up their claim to be priests.

The seven, from Germany, Austria and the United States, were ordained in June in Austria during a ceremony led by Argentine cleric Romulo Antonio Braschi, who is from a breakaway church.

Argentine bishop Romulo Braschi
Romulo Braschi is not recognised as an archbishop by the Vatican
The women were given time to renounce their ordination, but the Vatican watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said they showed no sign of what it termed "repentance".

Women cannot be ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

One of the women, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger, said they planned to appeal against the order, which effectively casts them out of the Roman Catholic Church, removing their right to take part in its rites.

"This reaction is completely out of proportion. It is another act of discrimination against women," the former nun, who is now married and a schoolteacher, told the French news agency AFP.

She vowed to carry on working as a priest undaunted.

"People have asked me to lead the service at their weddings, and I will carry on my pastoral work unhindered," she said.

Boat ordination

The ceremony ordaining the women, which took place on a boat on the River Danube in Austria, was witnessed by 300 people.

Four of the women are German - Iris Mueller, Ida Raming, Gisela Forster and Pia Brunner.

Ms Mayr-Lumetzberger and Sister Adelinde Theresia Roitinger, who are Austrian, were also ordained, along with an Austrian-born American who used the assumed name of Angela White.

After the service, they were sent a warning by the Vatican, urging them to "repent" by a deadline of 22 July.

"Because the women... did not give any indication of amendment or repentance for the most serious offence they had committed... they have incurred excommunication," said a Vatican press release.

See also:

15 Jun 02 | Americas
28 Jul 99 | UK
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