A former Ohio first lady revealed Tuesday that she was secretly ordained as a Roman Catholic priest this year and then excommunicated by the church.
Dagmar Braun Celeste, ex-wife of former governor Richard Celeste (D), said she was the only American among seven women ordained as priests by Bishops Romolo Braschi of Argentina and Rafael Regelsberger of Austria on June 29 in a ceremony on a boat on the Danube River between Germany and Austria.
The church excommunicated the women Aug. 5 after warning them that they must renounce their posts by July 22.
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone of the Vatican said the ordination attacked "the fundamental structure of the Church as it was wanted by its founder." Church teaching holds that because Jesus chose men to be his apostles, only men can serve in the priesthood.
The women have appealed their excommunication.
Celeste, 60, said she has not celebrated Mass or performed other priestly duties such as confession or consecration of the Eucharist, but would do so if asked. "Women, just like men, deserve to follow their conscience and calling," Celeste said.
Officials with the Diocese of Cleveland said Celeste is no longer permitted to participate in church Sacraments. "She's been excommunicated. Anything she does is invalid," a spokesman said.
The Rev. Ralph Wiatrowski, chancellor of the diocese, said Braschi was excommunicated after breaking with the church in 1998.
Celeste, a native of Austria, runs Tyrian, a Cleveland nonprofit ministry group. Her 33-year marriage to Richard Celeste, Ohio's governor from 1983 to 1991, ended in divorce in 1995.