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Vatican sends threat over women priests

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  • Vatican threatens to excommunicate anyone who ordains a woman as a priest
  • Women who are ordained also face immediate excommunication
  • Opponents predict church's resistance will backfire
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From CNN Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci
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ROME, Italy (CNN) -- The Vatican announced Thursday in a general decree that it will excommunicate anyone who would attempt to ordain a woman as a priest and the woman herself.

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The Anglican Church has taken a different approach to ordaining women -- even accepting women as bishops.

According to the decree, the excommunications would take place with immediate effect.

The decree was signed by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.

It was not persuasive to Regina Nicolosi, a program coordinator for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, who was ordained two years ago.

"We have come not to take that too seriously," said Nicolosi, a 66-year-old married mother and grandmother who lives in Red Wing, Minnesota, and said her group is composed of 40 to 50 women priests, none of whom are recognized by the church hierarchy.

"It's one of the very last patriarchal hierarchies in the western world, and I don't know when they will be ready to let go of that."

Though she said she wants to reform the church from within, she will continue her work as a volunteer in a nursing home who celebrates mass in small groups even if she is excommunicated, she said.

She predicted that the church's resistance will backfire. "This is bringing more and more women into our group, and I think we're getting more support from Catholics who are saying this is getting ridiculous," she said.

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