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“Jesus, You Make Me Worthy”: How Women Priests View Excommunication and Work towards an Inclusive Catholicism

Head shot of Alysha Matson

Name: Alysha Matson
Majors: Religious Studies and English
Advisor: Jeremy Rapport; Terry Reeder (second reader)

This project examines six individual interviews of women for have been ordained as Roman Catholic Women Priests and have been, according to the Roman Catholic Church, excommunicated because of their invalid ordinations under Canon Law. By examining the identities, views, and ministries of each of these women priests it becomes apparent that despite their shared ordinations, there is much variety amongst priests ordained through RCWP and ARCWP. Through listening to the stories of women priests rather than looking strictly at their religious identities, I argue that despite the diverse beliefs and modes of ministry amongst the women priests interviewed, they all view their excommunication as functioning opposite of what the Vatican intends. By being cast off from the institutional church, these women find validation in the Church’s rejection of their ministries, and they are thrusted into joining or creating their own communities to live out their inclusive Catholicism. Once in this Alternative Catholic spaces and communities, each priest transforms Roman Catholic elements and embodies their priesthood as they wish without the influence and threat of the institutional church. In doing so, they reimagine priesthood, Catholic spaces, and liturgies to expand Catholicism and include not only women, but all who the Church deems incompatible with the institution – some even hope to reform the Roman Catholic Church, itself.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 11, 2023.


4 responses to ““Jesus, You Make Me Worthy”: How Women Priests View Excommunication and Work towards an Inclusive Catholicism”

  1. Jeremy Rapport says:

    Fantastic work, Alysha!

    Congratulations!

    Professor Rapport

  2. Prof. Claire Eager says:

    Congratulations, Alysha! I’m very impressed with how the presentation includes so much detailed information so clearly, and therefore how rich the project behind it must be. Did you have any bonus English or literary takeaways in the end?

  3. Prof Cowing says:

    Congratulations, Alysha! This is a great project.

  4. Mark Graham says:

    Hi Alysha — This is excellent work. I’ve been aware of what you are working on through the school year, and so it’s great to see it in this form now. Thank you for doing the work and sharing it here! I am interested to read the entire IS, if that’s possible.

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