By Matt Campbell
The Kansas City Star.
In a few days Georgia Walker, at age 67, intends to become a priest, at which point she will be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
That doesn’t faze her.
“I don’t accept the legitimacy of that excommunication,” said Walker, who will be the first woman in Kansas City to defy the church and be ordained a priest.
The church in turn will not accept the legitimacy of her ordination because, under canon law, only men can be priests.
“That’s their problem,” Walker said of the church.
That steadfastness is a trait of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a growing movement of people who see the church as too authoritarian and unwilling to be inclusive. But instead of leaving the church, they hope to change it from within.
At other stages of her life, Walker has been a sociology professor at the University of Missouri, a financial officer and a hospital manager. In midlife she converted to Catholicism and became a Sister of St. Joseph, although she did not take final vows. She is working on a graduate degree in theology.
Walker also is a peace activist who has been convicted of trespassing at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City and at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo.
She now works with men and women coming out of prison to help them reintegrate with society.
As a priest, Walker wants to establish a regular schedule to visit prisons in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to bring the sacrament to inmates. She also wants to build a small community of worshipers while remaining a member of St. James Parish in Kansas City.
The church says no.
Canon Law 1024 of the Roman Catholic Church says that only baptized men may be ordained as priests. That is based on Jesus calling only men to be his disciples.