I’ve dealt with the issue of women priests in the Roman Catholic Church before. They are sad, deluded, self-centered individuals who think that the church must bow to their desires rather than be faithful to what it believes is the revealed will of God, all in the name of “diversity” and who knows what all else. I was put in mind of this subject again because of a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that comes with a priceless picture that I’ll get to in a moment. First, the story:

Dressed in a priestly white robe and green stole, Monique Venne lifted communion bread before an altar — defying centuries of Catholic Church law.

Despite promises of excommunication from the Vatican, she and six other women in Minnesota say they are legitimate, ordained Catholic priests, fit to celebrate the mass. They trace their status through a line of ordained women bishops back to anonymous male bishops in Europe.

There have been no “promises of excommunication.” Women who get somebody to lay hands on them and call themselves priests are automatically excommunicated. Monique Venne, for instance. As for her “status,” she is a lay excommunicated Catholic playing dress up. The “line” of poseurs through whom she traces her dress-up privileges have no more standing in the Roman Church than the Dalai Lama.

“We love the church, but we see this great wrong,” said Venne, 54, who cofounded Compassion of Christ Church, a Minneapolis congregation that just celebrated its first anniversary. “Not allowing women to be at the altar is a denigration of their dignity. We want the church to be the best it can be. If one leaves, one cannot effect change. So we’re pushing boundaries.”

Ms. Venne may think she’s Catholic, but she isn’t. She has left the building, crashed through the boundaries, rendered herself utterly irrelevant to the church she claims fealty to. She is a splendid Episcopalian, however.

Several Protestant denominations have allowed women to be ordained ministers for decades. But the Catholic Church views an all-male priesthood as unchangeable, “based on the example of Jesus, who, even though he had revered relationships with women who were his disciples, chose only men to be his apostles,” said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“Women who claim to have been ordained Catholic priests in fact have no relationship to the Catholic Church because their ordination is not valid,” he said.

An increasing number of Catholics disagree with the church on this. In a poll last year by the New York Times and CBS, 59 percent of U.S. Catholics favored letting women become priests, with 33 percent opposed.

As a matter of polling information, this may be correct. It is a sad commentary on the state of catechesis in the Catholic Church is it is. And not to burst their bubble or anything, but the opinions of those 59% mean absolutely squat. Last time I checked, Rome didn’t determine doctrine on the basis of polls, but what it considers revealed truth. I know that’s a foreign concept to most Americans, but there you have it.

That’s encouraging news for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, founded nearly nine years ago in Europe. It began after seven women were ordained aboard a ship on the Danube River by three male bishops. The group claims their ordinations are valid because they conform within the bounds of “apostolic succession.”

Which is to say that they said the magic words, exchanged the secret handshake, and declared black to be white. It means nothing more that the ravings of the members of the Flat Earth Society.

Dozens of U.S. congregations are being led by women priests, a movement many Catholics view as a means to solving the church’s problem of declining numbers of male priests. Roman Catholic Womenpriests is the first group to claim “apostolic succession,” said Marian Ronan, associate professor at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

The church sees that as a threat to its authority, Ronan said.

No, it doesn’t. It is enforcing its discipline by declaring these women excommunicate, but it is no more “threatened” by them than the Empire State Building is “threatened” when Hulk Hogan says he’s going to push it over using his head. As for Womenpriests being “the first group to claim ‘apostolic succession,'” I’m not sure what the significance of that is. There have been episcopi vagantes around for centuries, and no one’s ever paid them any mind other than the two or three dozen followers who ooh and ah when they don fancy robes and ridiculous titles. These women are no different.

Oh, and as for those those “dozens of congregations” led by priestesses, if any of them have more than a handful of members, I’ll eat Ms. Venne’s alb.

Asked why they insist on remaining Catholic when they could be welcomed as ministers in other denominations, the women say, in so many words, it’s their religion, too.

“I’m as much Catholic, — I feel like it’s a nationality, — as I am English, German and Polish,” said Linda Wilcox, 64, who felt called to become a priest after working in the St. Paul library system for nearly 35 years. She is one of four women priests at Compassion of Christ.

Venne and other women at Compassion of Christ recall “playing mass” when they were children and pretending to be priests. As young girls, they felt rejected that they could not be altar servers, let alone priests.

“At the core of my being I knew that couldn’t be,” said Judith McKloskey, 65, of Eden Prairie. “Jesus included everybody.” For years at her parish church, Pax Christi, she served as a lay preacher and ran a national association for lay ministry. She was ordained in 2007.

These people would make splendid Unitarians. They’ve never read the Bible, know nothing about Christianity, and think that they are entitled to just make stuff up and substitute it for the real thing.

Anyway, I promised you a picture, so here it is:

Is it just me, or does this woman (Ms. Venne, in case you’re wondering) look like your grandmother pressing you to eat something made out of brussel sprouts and tofu while saying too loudly, “EAT THIS! IT TASTES GREAT AND IS GOOD FOR YOU, TOO!!”

(Via MCJ, where Chris Johnson has a very, very funny takedown of this.)