The Roman Catholic Church in Toronto says an ordination ceremony held May 27 by a group that calls itself “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” has “no connection whatsoever to the Roman Catholic Church.”
The ceremony in the tiny West Hill United Church here saw Marie Evans Bouclin, a Sudbury, Ont. woman, ordained by South African woman Patricia Fresen.
Fresen was part of a ceremony in 2002 on the Danube River in Germany, where seven women were “ordained” by a schismatic Argentine bishop. The women were subsequently declared by the Vatican to be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
Since then, the group has performed several other public ceremonies and now claims 14 women priests in Canada and one in the United States.
In the Toronto event, two American women were ordained as priests and three others were ordained as deacons. One of them was the group’s first male, Jim Lauder of Victoria, B.C.
However, the ceremony had nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church, according to the archdiocese press release issued just prior to the event.
“To avoid misunderstanding, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto is issuing this statement to point out that, despite its name, (Roman Catholic Womenpriests) has no connection whatsoever to the Roman Catholic Church, nor do its ceremonies have any relationship with the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church.”
The statement said the church has no authority to restructure the sacraments, especially that of priestly ordination.
The Womenpriests organization kept the site of the ordination secret until the day of the event, which took place at 3 p.m. A press conference was held after the ceremony, but it garnered almost no media coverage in Toronto except for a couple of radio reports.
A press release from the organization said the first ordinations in 2002 were designed to “protest an unjust, discriminatory law of the roman Catholic Church, namely, that women were denied access to ordained ministry.”
The organization is now trying to “model another way of being Christian in the Roman Catholic tradition, a way that is more in keeping with what Jesus taught and lived.”
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