Bedford woman defies Catholic law; ordained by dissident group
Monday, April 29, 2013 11:00 AM
LOUISVILLE (AP) - A former nun and theology student from Bedford, Ky. defied Roman Catholic law by being ordained as a priest in a ceremony Saturday.
"It is a Medieval bullying stick the bishops used to keep control over people and to keep the voices of women silent. I am way beyond letting octogenarian men tell us how to live our lives."
Rosemarie Smead was ordained by the dissident group Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests on Saturday at a Louisville church.
Smead, 70, was raised as a devout Catholic, briefly lived as cloistered nun and has worked as a college professor.
It was the first such ordination in Louisville by the Women Priests group, which has been holding those services around the world. Smead's service took place in a Protestant sanctuary, St. Andrew's United Church of Christ on Saturday.
"It's illegal, but it's valid," Smead said. "In order to challenge this law, we have to break it."
Smead told the Associated Press that she had no worries about being excommunicated from the church as so many other women who have preceeded her have been.
"It has no sting for me," she said. "It is a Medieval bullying stick the bishops used to keep control over people and to keep the voices of women silent. I am way beyond letting octogenarian men tell us how to live our lives."
Roman Catholic canon law restricts the priesthood to baptized men.
Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said in a statement the Women Priests group is not an entity of the Roman Catholic Church.
"Its action in carrying out a simulated ordination of Dr. Rosemarie Smead stands in direct opposition to the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on the priesthood," Kurtz said.
Kurtz said the "simulation of a sacrament carries very serious penal sanctions in Church law, and Catholics should not support or participate."
In 2008, the group ordained a Lexington woman, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, leading to the defrocking of a Roman Catholic priest, Roy Bourgeois of Georgia, who took a prominent role in the ceremony.
Smead, a native of Bedford who spent three years in a convent, admits she hesitated to seek ordination at retirement age. She said the decision "would require me to have a great deal of courage and to stand up to the dudes."
But, she added, "I have never been a stay-in-the-box person. Because of my relationship with God, I have no fear of excommunication."
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests said it has ordained about 100 women priests worldwide, including several bishops, many leading small congregations independent from Vatican authority.