ATLANTA -- A Metro Atlanta woman, a former nun, will be ordained a priest in a ceremony on Saturday that is part of her mission to helpchange the Roman Catholic Church.

On Saturday in Atlanta, Diane Dougherty, 67, of Newnan, is going to be ordaineda priestin an organization called The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

It is an international organization, a movement, that the Church condemns.

But Dougherty wants to be part of changing the Church she loves, realizing and accepting the consequences of what the Church considers to be her defiance and disobedience.

She is just obeying God, she said Wednesday.

"God calls all of us, and if we happen to be a woman, there shouldn't be these structures that keep us from it."

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests has ordained, worldwide, some 140 women as priests in its organization, so far.

The campaign for women priests drew Pope Benedict's personal condemnation this past April.

He said, "Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?" The Pope reaffirmed what he considers the irreversible position of the Church, that the ban on women priests is part of the Church's "divine constitution... set forth infallibly."

"If God calls, you have to respond," Doughtery said, never more certain that her mission is divinely inspired and led. "So I've said I'm not leaving Catholicism, I'm just going to lead it in a different direction."

Dougherty plans to serve as priest to a community of believers in Metro Atlanta that wants the church to change.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in a statementhis office emailed to 11Alive Newsthat the church cannot ordain women, "since among His 12 Apostles, Jesus Christ did not include any women in spite of His open association and friendship with women throughout His ministry."


Archbishop Gregory's entire statement:


"I'm saddened by the Archbishop and the notions he has that women cannot be priests," Dougherty said, "because it's Christ who gives the calling, and if Christ gives the calling and a woman has the calling, and they say we can't do this, then it's almost idolatry, because how do they know God would or God wouldn't?"

Dougherty is a reluctant rebel, almost in mourning, trying to maintain faith that this is the path she must take.

"This is like a psychological tear that they throw in front of you when they say, 'You're going to be excommunicated.' It's like you're put on an ice floe, and you're just washed away from the community. And it's very hurtful. If pain were described between number one and a ten, ten being the highest, the pain I feel is probably about a hundred. But I've decided, for the next generation and for all of the little girls...."

She talks of her baby grandniece and the Church that she wants her grandniece to love and serve as she grows up, convinced that "women will be priests within the next ten years."

Polls have shown that a slight majority of Catholics wants the church to allow for women priests. But all recognize it will be a matter possibly for the next Pope to consider, many years from now.

"And, you know, I kept saying to God, this is too hard. You know, take this away from me, like Paul, take this away from me. And I know it would never, never be taken away. So I came realize I just am a disciple of Jesus."



Diane Dougherty's blog:

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests:

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