From Catholic World News
Vatican, May. 30, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican has announced that any Catholic bishop who attempts the ordination of a woman to the priesthood, and any woman who participates in such a ceremony, is subject to automatic excommunication.
The decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published in the May 30 issue of L'Osservatore Romano, takes effect immediately and applies throughout the universal Church. The document was signed by Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation.
"Both the one who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive a sacred order, incurs excommunication latae sententiae."
The Vatican document declares that "he who attempts to confer Holy Orders on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive Holy Orders, incurs excommunication latae sententiae." A latae sententiae penalty is incurred automatically, and no public decree is necessary. Only the Holy See will have the authority to lift that penalty.
The decree cites #1378 of the Code of Canon Law, which prescribes the penalty of excommunication for anyone who simulates a sacrament. That canon specifically mentions only the simulation of Mass and Confession; the May 30 decree extends the scope of the canon to apply to a simulated ordination ceremony as well.
The Vatican document eliminates any possible ambiguity about the status of women who claim to be Catholic priests, and bishops who may participate in their supposed ordination. Pope John Paul II (bio - news) declared in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (doc) that the Church "has no authority" to ordain women. The Pope added that making an authoritative statement, "to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
Also this from Catholic News Service:
"Text of Vatican congregation's decree on attempts to ordain women"
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Here is the English text of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's general decree on the attempted ordination of a woman, signed by Cardinal William J. Levada, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Angelo Amata, secretary. It was released by the Vatican May 30.
In order to protect the nature and validity of the sacrament of order, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in virtue of the special faculty given by the supreme authority of the church (cf. Canon 30, Code of Canon Law), in the ordinary session of Dec. 19, 2007, has decreed:
Without prejudice to the prescript of Canon 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive a sacred order, incur an excommunication "latae sententiae" reserved to the Apostolic See.
If, in fact, the one who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, or the woman who attempts to receive a sacred order, is one of Christ's faithful subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, that person, without prejudice to the prescript of Canon 1443 of the same code, is to be punished with a major excommunication, the remission of which is also reserved to the Apostolic See (cf. Canon 1423, Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches).
This decree, once published in L'Osservatore Romano, comes into force immediately.
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