CLEVELAND (AP) -- A former Ohio first lady who was secretly ordained as a priest said she was trying to send a message that the time has come to admit women into the Roman Catholic clergy.
Dagmar Braun Celeste, ex-wife of former Gov. Richard Celeste, said Tuesday that the church excommunicated her for refusing to renounce the ordination.
"Women, just like men, deserve to follow their conscience and calling," she said.
Celeste, 60, was the only American among seven women who were ordained 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.
Celeste runs a Cleveland nonprofit ministry group called Tyrian. She was born in Krems, Austria, a small city on the Danube, and holds dual citizenship in the United States and Austria.
Celeste is no longer permitted to participate in church sacraments, Cleveland Diocese officials said.
"She's been excommunicated. Anything she does is invalid," said diocese spokesman Bob Tayek.
The Rev. Ralph Wiatrowski, chancellor of the diocese, added that Braschi was excommunicated after breaking with the church in 1998.
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone of the Vatican said the ordination attacked "the fundamental structure of the Church as it was wanted by its founder." The church holds that because Jesus chose men to be his apostles, only males can serve in the priesthood.
The women have appealed their excommunication.
Celeste said she was ordained under the pseudonym Angela White because she did not want to divert attention from her daughter's wedding in September. But she said she planned to use her real name as a priest.
She has not celebrated Mass or performed other priestly duties such as confession or consecration of the Eucharist, but would do so if asked, she said.
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