..."The Catholic Church hierarchy strongly opposes Lewis’ ordination, as it has that of the other roughly 150 women priests ordained by RCWP over the last 12 years. In a two-page letter dispersed at Catholic Masses last weekend, Bishop Paul J. Bradley of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo made reference to the ordination and warned Catholics not to attend.
In a statement to The Tribune, the bishop threatened to issue declarations of excommunication against Catholics who show up.
“Any Catholic attending or participating in this, or any invalid and illicit attempt at the sacrament of ordination, places themselves outside of full communion with the Catholic Church,” Bradley said. Should Lewis proceed with her ordination, she, too, by her actions will be declared excommunicated, he said.
But in an interview this week, Lewis left no doubt as to her commitment. A Chicago native educated in Catholic schools who worked as a “street minister” before assisting and training priests in Chicago’s inner-city churches, the married mother of four said it was only a few years ago that she entertained thoughts of becoming a priest.
“I had no ambitions to be a priest. I think what put me over the top was all these scandals in the last 10 years,” she said of accusations of child sexual abuse leveled against Catholic priests.
“It just festered long enough that I thought I was going to look into this (RCWP),” Lewis said.
Pointing out that other denominations have allowed women priests, Lewis said she has refused pursuit of different faiths because those aren’t her tradition. Also, she said she never had any interest in becoming a nun because they have no authority.
As for the looming declaration of excommunication, she said she’s not bothered by it.
“This is going to cost me but the Lord is telling me what to do,” she said.
Kathleen Sprows Cummings, an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, said Lewis’ ordination and that of other women who have become priests through RCWP represents “an extreme view.”
“But, on the other hand, it indicates a larger sense of frustration about women who have gifts and feel they have something to offer the Church,” she said."