Sorry, I have been way too busy to follow the Belleville Diocesan news, but Peggy at Southern Illinois Catholic has the continuing coverage if you want to check it out.
As Archbishop of St. Louis, it is my responsibility to safeguard the unity of the Catholic Church and protect the souls of the faithful.
Q. What is the latest development?
From his blog, In the Light of the Law:
Abp. Burke’s excommunication of the “women priests”
I would like to say that Abp. Raymond Burke’s excommunication of three women who recently participated in a pseudo-ordination in Saint Louis is a “text-book illustration” of how (non-judicial) excommunication is supposed to be applied in the Church today, but I can’t say that: Why not? Because Abp. Burke’s attention to juridic details and his provisions for the pastoral care of the people entrusted to his care so exceed what the textbooks teach, that it is the textbooks that must copy from him, not him from the textbooks.
The four-page decree of excommunication deserves to be read in its entirety, but I’ll summarize the sanctions themselves, for they are quite interesting.
1. All three women (Fresen, Hudson, & McGrath) are declared to have incurred latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication under Canon 1364.1 for schism. The consequences of excommunication are set out in Canon 1331.2.
2. All three women are also declared to have incurred ferendae sententiae (formally imposed) interdict under Canon 1371.1 for pertinaciously rejecting a definitive truth of the Faith (namely, that women cannot be ordained priests) subsequent to a specific warning to avoid such conduct. The consequences of interdict are set out in Canon 1332.
3. One of the women (Fresen) is declared to have incurred ferendae sententiae excommunication under Canon 1379 for simulating a sacrament other than the Eucharist or confession (here, holy orders). The consequences of excommunication are set out in Canon 1331.2.
A) Burke avoided a one-penalty-fits-all-crimes approach; different offenses (schism, pertinacious rejection, and simulation) were punished differently (excommunication, interdict, and excommunication respectively). His hands were basically tied in regard to the penalty for schism, but for pertinacious rejection he chose a sanction less severe than excommunication, namely interdict; he went back to excommunication, however, on Fresen for simulation, I’m thinking because she pretended to be a bishop conferring holy orders instead of, say, pretending to be a priest conferring anointing of the sick.
B) Each of the women is free to repent without the cooperation of the others; indeed it even seems possible, however unlikely, for them to repent of just one or two of the crimes and be reconciled in regard to that/them only. How so? Well, for example, Fresen could say “I still believe that woman can be ordained, but I sincerely regret taking the issue into my own hands and conferring what I think are holy orders, and I promise not to do it ever again.” She would have a good chance of being reconciled at least on that charge, I would think.
C) If the women take recourse against the penalties (my guess is they will, as others have done before them) the enforcement of the sanctions will be suspended per Canon 1353. I personally think this is an overly generous provision of canon law (indeed, an innovation over 1917 CIC 2243.1) in regard to those who have already been found guilty of grave crimes, but Abp. Burke would certainly honor it.
D) While Abp. Burke’s specific notification not to distribute Holy Communion to the three women was only published in Saint Louis (the limits of his jurisdiction), it applies throughout the world to anyone who comes into knowledge of the excommunications and interdict. Canon 915.
Burke’s action also indicates, by the way, where he stands on an interesting canonical dispute, namely, whether canons that authorize “a just penalty” (e.g., cc. 1371 and 1379) can be enforced by censure (e.g., excommunication). I’ve always held that they could. Nice to know I’m in good company.
I need hardly add that the faithful may, and in charity should, join Abp. Burke in praying for the reconciliation of all three women. Might I suggest, in that vein, seeking the intercession of St. Hippolytus, the some-time antipope who later reconciled with the Church and died a martyr’s death for her about 235. Miracles happen. +++
A pretty fair account, as far as the secular media go. Some of it quite relevant to the commentary to be posted here soon. Excerpts below from the full story at STLToday:
Roman Catholic women priests declared excommunicated by Burke
By Tim Townsend
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has declared two Roman Catholic women who live in the archdiocese, and another who lives in Germany, excommunicated.
The Roman Catholic Womenpriests excommunications will be the first since 2002, when the organization was founded in Germany. That year, seven women were ordained aboard a boat on the Danube River. All those women, dubbed the Danube Seven, were later declared excommunicated. Bridget Mary Meehan, a spokeswoman for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, said there were 53 ordained North American members of the organization, which Burke, in the document sent to Hudson and McGrath, called “a new and separate sect.”
[Self-syled “womanpriest” Bridget Mary] Meehan said she didn’t believe Burke had the authority to declare Fresen excommunicated because she did not live in the St. Louis archdiocese. “We think he’s overreaching,” she said.
But Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at Catholic University, said a bishop was responsible for canonical infractions that happened in his diocese, regardless of where the person who committed the infraction lived.
“The reason for that is because the problem surfaces on his turf, and he’s responsible for restoring order in his local church,” said Green.
Monsignor John Shamleffer, the archdiocese’s chief canon lawyer, said Burke had sent three letters to Hudson and McGrath in the last four months, asking them to meet with him “to give them the opportunity to recant, hoping that through pastoral means this could be resolved.”Hudson, 68, of Festus, and McGrath, 69, of St. Louis, co-pastor a faith community and hold a worship service for about 35 people Sunday evenings at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis in the Central West End.
In a statement Thursday, Hudson and McGrath said that they “and all Roman Catholic Womenpriests, reject the penalties of excommunication, interdict, and any other punitive actions from church officials. We are loyal daughters of the church, and we stand in the prophetic tradition of holy (canonical) disobedience to an unjust man-made law that discriminates against women.”