Vatican punishes Wisconsin priest for saying Mass with female priest
A 76-year-old Wisconsin priest and peace activist has been ordered by the Vatican to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance for concelebrating the Catholic Mass with a female priest in 2011.
Father Jerry Zawada had been previously sanctioned by his religious order, the Franciscan Friars Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province in Franklin, for the November 2011 incident, pending Vatican review.
The Vatican order, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith this month, strips Zawada of his right to function publicly as a priest, and orders him to spend his life in prayer and penance at the order's friary in Burlington.
"I don't mind the prayer part," Zawada told the National Catholic Reporter this week. "But ... when they say that I need to be spending time in penance, well, I'm not going to do penance for my convictions and the convictions of so many others, too."
Zawada could not be reached at the Burlington friary on Friday. A friar who answered the phone there said he had fallen and was taken to the hospital.
Zawada is among two Milwaukee-area priests sanctioned for concelebrating Mass with Mother Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Milwaukee native ordained in the dissident Catholic women priest movement, at annual protests at Fort Benning, Ga.
In 2012, a Milwaukee Jesuit, Father Bill Brennan, was ordered not to celebrate the Eucharist or other sacraments publicly, or present himself publicly as a priest, for saying Mass with Sevre-Duszynska. That sanction followed the excommunication and defrocking of School of the Americas Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who participated in Sevre-Duszynska's 2008 ordination.
The Roman Catholic Church prohibits the ordination of women.
Sevre-Duszynska is ordained in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. They say their ordinations are valid because they were conducted by bishops who stand in "apostolic succession" — the line of Catholic bishops who stretch back to Jesus' apostles. The Vatican rejects that argument.
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