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Declaration of Excommunication of Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath

by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D.

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  • Description:
    On March 12, 2008, Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis excommunicated three women — Rose Hudson, Elsie McGrath, and Patricia Fresen — for taking part in an attempted ordination of women to the priesthood.
  • Publisher & Date:
    Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO, March 12, 2008


Statement Regarding Those Involved in Attempted Ordinations of November 11, 2007

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has issued the following statement regarding Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson, and Elsie McGrath:

As Archbishop of St. Louis, it is my responsibility to safeguard the unity of the Catholic Church and protect the souls of the faithful.

I have communicated with Ms. Fresen, Ms. Hudson, and Ms. McGrath, and informed them that if they participated in an attempted female ordination, they would be excommunicating themselves from the Catholic Church. In the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that the Catholic Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. This teaching is to be held definitively by all the faithful as belonging to the deposit of faith. Because they participated in the attempted ordination, Church law requires me to publicly declare the excommunication.

The situation is sad for the whole Church. It is cause of great concern for me as archbishop. Please join me in praying that both will be reconciled with the Church and that the great harm which has been caused to the Church, with the help of God's grace, will be healed.


March 14, 2008

Declaration of Excommunication of Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath

In fulfillment of my solemn duty to protect the One True Faith and the unity of that portion of the Universal Church, confided to my pastoral care, and of my obligation to exercise vigilance over any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls (can. 747, §2);

Considering, specifically, that Patricia Fresen is domiciled at Berger Weg 1, 82335 Berg, Germany; Rose Marie Hudson, née Dunn, is domiciled at 602 North Mill Street, in Festus, Missouri 63028-1419; and Elsie Mae McGrath, née Hainz, is domiciled at 2303 Arsenal Street, in Saint Louis, Missouri 63118-2538; and that all three are baptized Roman Catholics, and are, therefore, obliged to observe the norms of the Code of Canon Law (cf. can. 11);

Considering that the Roman Catholic Church has always taught and proclaimed the doctrine, de Fide tenenda, that the ordination of women to the priesthood is utterly invalid; and that the same truth of Faith has been set forth by the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium as infallibly defined and binding upon all baptized Catholics;

Noting that, on August 5, 2002, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger of Austria, and Gisela Forster of Germany, were excommunicated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for having attempted to receive priestly ordination from the hands of the excommunicated schismatic Romulo Antonio Braschi, and for having pertinaciously rejected the aforementioned definitive truth concerning the invalidity of woman’s ordination; and that Patricia Fresen after having attempted to receive diaconal ordination, at the hands of the just-mentioned Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and Gisela Forster, on August 5, 2003; attempted to receive priestly ordination on August 7, 2003; and Episcopal ordination on January 1, 2005;

Noting furthermore that Patricia Fresen, in the manner of the leader of a schism, has formally and directly engaged in the founding and development, in the United States and abroad, of a new and separate sect, known for now as "Roman Catholic Womenpriests – USA" in the United States of America, and as "Rk Priesterinnen Europa-West" in Europe; and that the same Patricia Fresen has publicly stated that her sect is outside the hierarchy of the One True Church willed by the Savior Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ;

Considering that Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie Mae McGrath attempted to receive diaconal ordination on August 12, 2007, at the hands of the same Patricia Fresen;

Observing that the undersigned exercises lawful jurisdiction over Patricia Fresen in virtue of can. 1412 of the Code of Canon Law; and over Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath in virtue of cann. 1408 and 1412;

Recalling that a canonical admonition (cf. cann. 1339 and 1347, §1), warning the just-mentioned three women against any attempt of priestly ordination, was delivered by the undersigned to Patricia Fresen on November 6, 2007; to Rose Hudson on November 5, 2007; and to Elsie McGrath on November 5, 2007;

Recalling especially that on November 11, 2007, Patricia Fresen, presenting herself as a Roman Catholic bishop in the Synagogue of the Central Reform Congregation at Saint Louis, recited words of a formula used to confer priestly ordination; and imposed her hands upon the heads of the attempted ordinands Hudson and McGrath; and that all three thereby demonstrated their consummate disobedience, and their withdrawal from full communion with the Roman Pontiff, the local Archbishop and the faithful loyally subject to them;

Noting that the three women have publicly affirmed, by word and deed, the validity of the ordination of women to the priesthood, in contradiction to the perennial, constant and infallible teaching of Catholic Church;

Taking into account that a summons (cf. can. 1720, 1º) and canonical admonition (cf. can. 1347, §1), extending the faculty to exercise the right of defense (cf. can. 1720, 1º), was delivered to each of the three women at the close of the ceremony of attempted ordinations, requiring them to appear before the undersigned, so that they might take cognizance of the accusation and proofs pending against them, and so that they might be held accountable for their most grievous violations of universal ecclesiastical law; and that, by the same summons and canonical admonition, an extra-judicial penal process (cf. can. 1720, 1º) was initiated against the three women;

Noting that all three accused failed to appear in compliance with the summons, without proving the existence of any just cause precluding the observance of their obligations; and that decrees of contumacy and forfeiture of the exercise of the right of defense have been lawfully notified to them, because they have not withdrawn from their now verified pertinacious contumacy in the manner required by can. 1347, §2;

Noting the established and most recent jurisprudence of the Holy See, regarding the finding of the delicts of schism, pertinacious rejection of a definitive truth of Faith, and simulation of the administration of a Sacrament;

Considering the most grave accusations made against Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson, and Elsie McGrath: the first of whom is accused of having committed the canonical crimes of: 1) schism (cf. cann. 751; and 1364, §1); 2) the pertinacious rejection of the doctrine mentioned in can. 750, §2, coupled with the refusal to retract after having been admonished by the Ordinary (cf. can. 1371, 1º); and 3) the simulation of the administration of a Sacrament apart from the case of that mentioned in can. 1378 (cf. can. 1379); and the second and third of whom are accused of having committed the canonical crimes of: 1) schism (cf. cann. 751; and 1364, §1); and 2) the pertinacious rejection of the doctrine mentioned in can. 750, §2, coupled with the refusal to retract after having been admonished by the Ordinary;

Therefore, after having weighed all of the proofs and the arguments with the help of two assessors (cf. can. 1720, 2º), with God alone before my eyes, I, by this my definitive sentence, consigned to writing, declare and pronounce, by reason of the lawful exercise of jurisdiction, and the quality and preponderance of the proofs extant in the acts of the case; and with moral certitude (cf. can. 1608, §1), that Patricia Fresen is guilty of having committed the canonical crimes of: 1) schism (cf. cann. 751; and 1364, §1); 2) the pertinacious rejection of the doctrine mentioned in can. 750, §2, coupled with the refusal to retract after having been admonished by the Ordinary (cf. can. 1371, 1º); and 3) simulation of the administration of a Sacrament, apart from the case mentioned in can. 1378 (cf. can. 1379); and that Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath are guilty of having committed the delicts of: 1) schism (cf. cann. 751; and 1364, §1); and 2) the pertinacious rejection of the doctrine mentioned in can. 750, §2, coupled with the refusal to retract after having been admonished by the Ordinary (cf. can. 1371, 1º); and

Furthermore, I declare that the same delicts are fully imputable to the aforementioned guilty parties by reason of malice (cf. can. 1321, §§1-2), without exempting or mitigating circumstances (cf. cann. 1323-1324), within the time limits established by the Code of Canon Law, concerning both criminal (cf. can. 1362, §§1-2) and penal (cf. cann. 1363, §§1-2; and 1720, 3º) actions and, therefore, are fully punishable.

Wherefore, by the commission of the most grave delict of schism, all three of the guilty parties have lost membership in, good standing in, and full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, which bond each and every baptized Catholic is obliged to maintain, in accord with the norm of cann. 95; 205; 209, §§1 and 2; and 212, §1, of the Code of Canon Law;

Wherefore, in the most sincere hope and with the prayer that the application of the due canonical penalties will lead the guilty parties to seek the cure of their most grievous sins and canonical crimes, I declare and pronounce the following:

1) Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath have incurred, latae sententiae, the censure of excommunication by reason of the crime of schism, as established by the Code of Canon Law (cf. cann. 1331; and 1364, §1);

2) Upon Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath is imposed a ferendae sententiae censure of interdict for having pertinaciously rejected a definitive truth of the Faith after having been admonished by the Ordinary (cf. can. 1371, 1º);

3) Upon Patricia Fresen is imposed a ferendae sententiae censure of excommunication by reason of the crime of simulation of the administration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders (cf. can. 1379).

In order to protect the members of the flock of Christ, placed in my pastoral care, who are in growing danger of being led astray from the One True Faith and Church of Christ, specifically by the usurpation of the name, Roman Catholic, by the guilty parties and by their acts of proselytism, I hereby decree and pronounce, effective immediately upon the publication of this Declaration, the revocation of any license or permission, extended to Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson or Elsie McGrath to enter upon the grounds of any property of any parish or other institution of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, until they have formally and publicly withdrawn from their contumacy (cf. cann. 1336, §1, 2º; and 1347. §2);

Wherefore, as excommunicates, all three of the guilty are forbidden to have any ministerial part whatsoever in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or any other sacred rite of the Church; to celebrate and receive any Sacraments, or to celebrate any Sacramentals; and to hold any ecclesiastical office or ministry or function, or posit any act of governance (cf. can. 1331, §1);

Wherefore, the entire Archdiocese of Saint Louis is notified that no ordinary or extraordinary minister may lawfully administer Holy Communion to any of the guilty parties, without the same minister, ordinary or extraordinary, committing a most grave sin;

Wherefore, every priest serving in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis is notified that Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson, and Elsie McGrath may not receive absolution from their sins as long as they have not repented, publicly retracted their rejection of a truth of Faith, made amends for their commission of the delict of schism (cf. can. 987), and had the censure of excommunication lifted from them;

Wherefore, unless the guilty parties have withdrawn from schism, according to the norm of Church law, they are barred from burial in blessed ground, and are deprived of a funeral in the Church (cf. can. 1184, §1, 1º);

Wherefore, the three guilty parties are notified that, if they desire to file recourse against this Declaration, they are required, for validity, to submit a petition to the undersigned within ten useful days from the publication of this notice;

Wherefore, the entirety of the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis are warned by the present Declaration that any of the Sacraments attempted to be celebrated by Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath are utterly null and void; and that any assistance or attendance at, and direct or indirect participation in their supposed sacramental rites or rites of prayer are strictly forbidden.

So that all may know the present Declaration, I order its publication in the next edition of the St. Louis Review, which publication, in accord with my decree of particular legislation issued on the ninth day of November, in the Year of the Lord 2007, constitutes notification by edict of this Declaration of Excommunication.

Issued and read at Saint Louis, on the twelfth day of March, in the Year of the Lord 2008.

SEAL

(Most Rev.) Raymond L. Burke

Archbishop of Saint Louis

(Rev. Msgr.) Henry J. Breier

Notary

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Questions and Answers Regarding Excommunication of Those Involved in Attempted Ordinations

Q. What is the most recent development?

A. Archbishop Burke has declared Ms. Fresen, Ms. McGrath, and Ms. Hudson excommunicated.

Q. What does it mean to be excommunicated?

A. Excommunication is knowingly and willingly placing oneself outside the full communion of the Catholic Church. A person excommunicates himself/herself. When the archbishop declares an excommunication, its purpose is meant to be healing, and a call for the person to reconsider the action and reconcile with the Catholic Church.

Q. Were they given any warning by the archbishop, and, if so, what kind of warning?

A. The archbishop wrote each party asking them to refrain from the attempted female ordination, and invited each three times to meet with him to be reconciled.

Q. What is the Church's stand on female ordination?

A.In the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that the Catholic Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women. This teaching is to be held definitively by all the faithful as belonging to the deposit of faith. For more information, click here.

Q. Why is the archbishop delclaring excommunication of Ms. Fresen when she is in Germany?

A. Ms. Fresen is being excommunicated because she committed her offense here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and her actions have brought scandal and harm to the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Q. Why does the Church need to declare the excommunication of Ms. Fresen if, as she says, "her sect is outside the hierarchy of the One True Church."?

A. She still proclaims herself Catholic and professes that she validity celebrates the Eucharist even though her beliefs are contrary to the Catholic Church. Her actions and statements could lead others astray, so the need was seen to proclaim publicly that her views are contrary to the Catholic beliefs, and thus she is outside the communion of the faith.

Q. Can Roman Catholics attend a service led by the women?

A. Any attendance at or direct participation in their supposed sacred rites is strictly forbidden.

Q. How can priests, deacons, and Eucharistic ministers refuse them Holy Communion if they do not know what the women look like?

A. The only people who come to Communion who would be refused communion would be those who are known to be outside the communion of the faith. A minister should not refuse communion unless they are sure that this person has been excommunicated.

Q. Is excommunication final, or can the women come back to the Church?

A. They must publicly repent and make amends for the offense that they committed and unite themselves once again with the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church.

© Archdiocese of St. Louis

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