From Boston comes word of another spiritual self-immolation by three women who refuse to take no for an answer:

An activist group hoping to pressure the Roman Catholic church into dropping its long-standing prohibition barring women from the priesthood says it ordained three women on Sunday. Church officials did not recognize the ordination, and the has previously warned that women taking part in ordination ceremonies will be excommunicated.

Church officials did not recognize the ordination, and the Vatican has previously warned that women taking part in ordination ceremonies will be excommunicated.

The group known as Roman Catholic Womenpriests held the ceremony at the Church of the Covenant, a Protestant Church in Boston.

The group said the three women — Gloria Carpeneto of Baltimore, Judy Lee of Fort Myers, Fla., and Gabriella Velardi Ward of New York City — are responding to a heartfelt call to serve the church as priests.

They’re hoping to “pressure the Roman Catholic church” into changing its stance on women’s ordination, as if the RCC was simply a political institution that one can embarrass into doing what one believes is the right thing. These women may be Catholics, but they think like Episcopalians.

The group says the women who are ordained remain loyal members of the church and will act as priests whether they are excommunicated or not.

I’m not sure whether they remain members of the church or not, but they are anything but loyal. As for their “acting as priests,” I can put on make-up and pretend I’m the Joker, but that doesn’t make me Heath Ledger.

Sunday’s ordination ceremony was performed by two women the group describes as bishops — Ida Raming of Stuttgart, Germany, and Dana Reynolds from California.

The ceremony “is not in compliance with their man-made rules, but it’s certainly in compliance with the Roman Catholic ordination rituals because our bishops were ordained by all-male Roman Catholic bishops who are in good standing with the church,” as provided by the church’s ordination rituals, said Bridget Mary Meehan, the group’s spokeswoman.

Were in good standing, dear, were. The moment those bishops stood up to lay hands on Raming and Reynolds, they were themselves excommunicated. Raming and Reynolds, of course, are no more Roman Catholic bishops than they are daughters of Xenu. All in all, it was a monumental waste of everyone’s time, unless, of course, they are planning on starting their own ecclesiastical organization. Maybe they could call it the Church of All Worlds.

UPDATE: James Hutchins of offers this from the Boston Globe:

The ceremony was held at the Church of the Covenant, which is affiliated with both the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ. The interim pastor of the church, the Rev. Jennifer Wegter-McNelly, declared the ordination of women “an important part of this church’s identity,” and said “we stand with you today.”

The former president of the Massachusetts conference of the United Church of Christ, the state’s largest Protestant denomination, was among several Protestant clergy who attended the ceremony to express their support for the women seeking ordination as Catholic priests.

“Prejudice in liturgical clothing is still prejudice,” said the Rev. Nancy S. Taylor, the former conference president, who is now senior minister of Old South Church.

Jim asks a pertinent question and makes several pertinent points:

The ordination of women is “an important part of this church’s identity.” That’s fine… but what does the ordination of catholic women have to do with the UCC?

OK… the truth is no one has a clue as to why the United Church of Christ is meddling in the ordination of priests. It is one thing to open our doors and proclaim God’s love for ALL of us, but it’s quite a bit different when you tell other faiths what they should believe and how they should practice their faith. This doesn’t seem right at all.

What is ironic is that while UCC leaders go nuts over a phony conspiracy of church stealing by outsiders, we find ourselves also meddling in other faiths. You would think this would be obvious to Nancy Taylor who is considered by many to be a potential candidate for UCC General Minister and President. I can’t help but wonder if there is a creeping anti-Catholicism bubbling in the United Church of Christ.

Nancy Taylor, for those who think the name familiar, is the senior pastor of the congregation that hosted the virulently anti-Israel Sabeel conference in Boston last year.

UPDATE: Gotta love the arrogance (or the capacity for self-delusion, which seems to be positively limitless). File this under “said the gnat to the elephant”:

“We are a threat to the structures of the church,” said Bridget Mary Meehan, the group’s spokeswoman. “We are leading the Roman Catholic Church into a new era of equality for women. We are trying to change the hierarchy of the church into a more participatory and inclusive church.”