THREE OAKS, Mich. (AP) — A group that promotes opening the Catholic priesthood to women ordained a woman as a priest on Saturday in western Michigan, a move that has drawn a warning of excommunication from Kalamazoo’s Roman Catholic bishop.
The organization Roman Catholic Womenpriests ordained Lillian Lewis, 75.
Joan Houk, a bishop for Womenpriests, officiated at Lewis’ Three Oaks home. The ordination was originally set for First Congregational Church but was moved due to concerns about harassment.
“We were worried about being firebombed by the Catholic dissidents in this area, but instead people came with tents because they knew it was going to be hot and they knew we didn’t have a church to go to, so I am very, very happy. I’m happy. I feel so affirmed,” Lewis said. “100% affirmed.”
Bishop Paul Bradley of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo had issued a statement saying Womenpriests was not recognized by the Catholic Church and warning that anyone attending or participating in the event could be excommunicated.
“If this invalid ‘ordination’ takes place then the woman attempting ordination incurs an automatic excommunication,” Bradley said. “Any Catholic attending or participating in this, or any invalid and illicit attempt at the sacrament of ordination, places themselves outside of full communion with the Catholic Church.”
Lewis is a Chicago native longtime worker in Catholic congregations.
Womenpriests began ordaining women in Germany in 2002 and now has more than 180 priests and priesthood candidates worldwide, 146 of them in the U.S., spokeswoman the Rev. Suzanne Thiel told The Associated Press earlier.