VIRGINIA

Roman Catholic women priests ordained in Falls Church

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Even though the Roman Catholic Church has a new pope, there’s no sign of a change in letting women be priests. But over the weekend, a group of five women openly defied the church.

At the First Christian Church in Falls Church Saturday, several women were ordained as deacons and priests. One of them was Joleane Presley of Manassas.

“Following Christ, it’s a difficult plan,” Presley says. “I think this is taking the next step for me. It’s validating that call.”

Presley, a chaplain at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital, is married to a Methodist, but she said she couldn’t give up her Catholic faith. She has joined the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. Small but growing, it claims women were clerics in the early church.

“Women are answering God’s call and justice is rising in the Roman Catholic Church,” says Bishop Mary Meehan.

But the church considers the attempt to ordain women heresy, and that the women taking part are automatically excommunicated.

Presley’s family from Massachusetts supports her, as does her husband, William "Scott" Presley.

“I was absolutely proud, 100 percent,” he says. “Women have a right to be ordained. It’s not just a man’s game.”

Presley doesn’t know what the fallout will be, but she says she is ready.

In a statement Monday, Bishop Paul Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington called the ordinations invalid:

"The church does not have the authority to change her doctrine on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which has been passed down... from our Lord Jesus Christ... It is a great sadness when Catholics choose to reject the truths of the Faith... I pray for their return to the fold."

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