The Danube Seven (Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger, Adelinde Theresia Roitinger, Gisela Forster, Iris Muller, Ida Raming, Pia Brunner and Angela White) are a group of seven women from Germany, Austria and the United States who were ordained on a ship on the Danube on 29 June 2002 by Rómulo Antonio Braschi, an Independent Catholic bishop whose own episcopal ordination was considered 'valid but illicit' by the Roman Catholic Church.. The women's ordinations were not, however, recognised as being valid by the Roman Catholic Church. As a consequence of this violation of canon law and their refusal to repent, the women were excommunicated in 2003. Since then several similar actions have been held by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a group in favor of women's ordination in Roman Catholicism. "The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and [...] this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
The admission of women to the priesthood in many parts of the Anglican Communion, including the Church of England in 1992, fueled some Catholics' calls for a greater role for women in ministry. At the same time the Anglican Communion's moves created an apparently insurmountable obstacle to Anglican-Catholic unity. Pope John Paul II wrote of the theological impossibility of ordaining women, arguing that the action is unfounded in holy scripture and absent from the church's bimillenial tradition. Pope John Paul II maintained that it is ontologically impossible for the church to ordain women because the priesthood is a participation in the relational aspect of the Trinity which is dependent on a masculine nature. Supporters of women's ordination argue that there are both indirect scriptural references to women's ministry, and an ancient tradition of ordaining women, some say intentionally clouded over by the male hierarchy.
The Danube Seven have chosen a controversial path, that of ordination by an Independent Catholic bishop not in communion with Rome. The sacramental validity of the ordination is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Rómulo Antonio Braschi left the Catholic Church to lead an international missionary congregation, the Catholic Apostolic Charismatic Church of “Jesus the King”. Although the women believe that they are validly ordained, the Roman Catholic Church believes that because the matter for ordination (in this case a male person) was not present, no ordination took place. It is claimed that this teaching is based on Divine Law. Despite the opinion of these seven women and some liberal Catholics, the Roman church continues to consider the ordination of women to be impossible.
- ^ General Decree regarding the delict of attempted sacred ordination of a woman 
- ^ Connoly, Kate and Willan Phillip. "Vatican casts out 'ordained' women", "The Guardian", August 6, 2002.
- ^ http://www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org/NEWhistory.htm
- ^ John Paul II. "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis", Number 4
- ^ Code of Canon Law Book 4, Can. 1024
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