Girls gone wild

In all the hubbub over Justice O'Connor's retirement, the resurgence of the Plame affair, and the usual raucous Canada Day celebrations, I'll venture to guess that most readers of GetReligion (including literate woodpeckers) have not heard of the latest controversy on female ordination in the Catholic Church. Well, "in" might be overstating it. According to The Christian Science Monitor,

A French woman defied a threat of excommunication by the Roman Catholic Church and held a ceremony proclaiming herself a priest on Saturday [that is, today].

In a small ceremony on a boat, Genevieve Beney was joined by other women from around the world who have taken similar dramatic action to draw attention to the church's policy against women priests.

The report inexplicably doesn't say where the boat was located. For that we turn to Reuters, where Janey-on-the-spot reporter Catherine Lagrange explains that Beney, "a 56-year-old physical education teacher with a theology degree, took her vows on a boat on the Saone river near [Lyon] before some 60 Catholic activists who support female ordination."

From the Reuters report, we learn that Beney is not only female but also married. No word on whether she has children. Beney insisted, in a statement before she boarded the boat, that this act did not constitute a break with the Catholic Church, "because deep down I remain in spiritual communion with the universal community."

The local archbishop was of a different opinion. Philippe Cardinal Barbar said the auto-ordination "does not fulfill any of the conditions required by the Catholic Church, and such a ceremony unequivocally constitutes a serious act of rupture with the Catholic Church." A formal excommunication will likely be forthcoming.

No word in either report on why Beney chose to take her stand on a boat. The only thing I can think of is, she was trying to invoke the age old captain-at-sea rule, wherein seamen can conduct marriages and the like. But, to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, the church has never granted captains the power to mint new priests, let alone dame divines.

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